In the Spotlight

CPIP Welcomes Sandra Aistars, Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Program

August 21, 2015

CPIP is proud to welcome Sandra Aistars to our team. As a Clinical Professor at Mason Law, Aistars will head up the new Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Program and will serve as a Senior Scholar and Director of Copyright Research & Policy at CPIP.

Aistars brings nearly twenty years of advocacy experience on behalf of copyright and other intellectual property owners to the role. Throughout her career she has served in positions that required mastery of intellectual property issues, federal policy process and development, and the ability to understand and manage the implications of intellectual property policies across a portfolio of businesses. In addition, Aistars has a wealth of experience working with policy makers in Washington and internationally. She has served on trade missions and been an industry advisor to the Department of Commerce on intellectual property implications for international trade negotiations; worked on legislative and regulatory matters worldwide; frequently testified before Congress and federal agencies regarding intellectual property matters; chaired cross-industry coalitions and technology standards efforts; and is regularly tapped by government agencies to lecture in U.S. government-sponsored study tours for visiting legislators, judges, prosecutors, and regulators.

Immediately prior to joining Mason Law, Aistars was the Chief Executive Officer of the Copyright Alliance – a nonprofit, public interest organization that represents the interests of artists and creators across the creative spectrum. While at Mason, she will continue to collaborate with the Copyright Alliance as a member of its Academic Advisory Board. Aistars has also previously served as Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Time Warner Inc. She began her legal career in private practice at Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP.

“We are thrilled to have Sandra join the Mason Law faculty,” said Dean Henry N. Butler. “Her knowledge of copyright law and policy is second to none, and she brings with her a wealth of experience in advocating on behalf of artists, creators, and other intellectual property owners. Under her leadership, the Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Program will provide a truly unique and exciting opportunity for Mason Law students.”

Launching in January 2016, the Arts & Entertainment Advocacy Program will teach students the legal and policy skills required for engaging with Congress, agencies, and courts on behalf of copyright owners. Through experiential learning, observation, and/or modeling of practice in different settings, students will additionally learn the more subtle aspects of effective advocacy. Under the supervision of Professor Aistars, students will develop substantive legal knowledge in copyright and related areas of law as well as practical skills in research, writing, and advocacy by counseling clients and preparing legal and policy documents. Students’ work product will be submitted on behalf of non-profit organizations, individual creators, small businesses, and CPIP in multiple institutional settings in which copyright law and policy are developed.

Topics covered will include copyright registration and enforcement, client counseling, amicus brief writing and collaboration with party counsel, writing and filing comments following a notice of proposed rulemaking or notice of inquiry by a federal agency, and writing and filing testimony for congressional hearings, among others. In addition to direct instruction from Professor Aistars, students will also meet with and learn from relevant government officials and experienced practitioners.


CPIP Hosts Second Annual Summer Institute

On July 22-24, 2015, CPIP hosted its second annual Summer Institute in Patent Law in Beaver Creek, Colorado. The event brought together distinguished scholars, practitioners, and industry leaders to present cutting-edge research and to discuss important developments in patent law and policy.


CPIP Senior Scholars Join Fox News v. TVEyes Amicus Brief

On July 15, 2015, CPIP Senior Scholars Adam Mossoff and Mark Schultz joined the Copyright Alliance in an amicus brief supporting the plaintiff in Fox News Network LLC v. TVEyes Inc.

The brief argued that TVEyes’ delivery of copyrighted content to its subscribers was not “transformative” and that the subsequent uses by its subscribers did not change the unfair nature of its use.


CPIP Releases New Policy Brief and Essays

Saurabh Vishnubhakat, The Commercial Value of Software Patents in the High-Tech Industry

Prof. Vishnubhakat examines the important role patents play in commercializing software innovation and supporting technology markets. He explains how a proper understanding of this commercial role requires a broader view of patents in software innovation than the all-too-common focus on a small handful of litigated patents and legal questions of patentability and patent quality. He concludes that the flexibility and efficiency of the patent system fosters the emergence of new markets for the exchange of technology and knowledge.

Mark Schultz & Devlin Hartline, Copyright’s Republic: Copyright for the Last and the Next 225 Years

To celebrate the 225th anniversary of the first U.S. Copyright Act, CPIP is recognizing the essential contribution of copyright and commercial culture to the United States. To that end, CPIP will be publishing a series of essays highlighting the fact that, contrary to the facile narratives about copyright that dominate modern discussions, copyright isn’t simply a law designed to incentivize the creation of more creative stuff. It has much richer purposes and benefits. Copyright:

  • Supports a professional class of creators.
  • Enables a commercial culture that contributes to human flourishing.
  • Serves as a platform for innovation in both the arts and sciences.
  • Promotes a free republic.

Mark Schultz & Devlin Hartline, Promoting an Independent and Professional Class of Creators and Creative Businesses

The current academic and policy discussion of copyright focuses on balancing the gross economic benefits and harms of copyright. A more complete understanding of copyright can account for both the needs and rights of individuals and the public good. Copyright is important because it helps creators make an independent living and allows them to pursue and perfect their craft. In short, it enables a professional class of creators.

Stay tuned for the next essays in the series…


witherspoon_johnJohn F. Witherspoon, Emeritus Faculty, Pledges $500,000 to Support the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property

We are tremendously grateful to John F. Witherspoon, Professor and Director Emeritus of the law school’s Intellectual Property Program, for his recent pledge of $500,000 to support the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP).

Professor Witherspoon was for many years the Director of the law school’s Intellectual Property Law track, the oldest and largest of our specialty track programs. He joined the faculty as an adjunct in 1992. Professor Witherspoon also practiced patent law in his own firm in Washington, D.C. He previously served as an examiner-in-chief and member, Board of Appeals, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and clerked for the Honorable Giles S. Rich, U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit).

Professor Witherspoon’s donation will be instrumental to CPIP’s ability to fulfill its mission. In particular, it will enhance CPIP’s ability to support cutting-edge research on the law, economics, and history of patents, and to improve the academic, legal, and policy debate regarding patents. His donation is a testament to his commitment to the Mason Law community, and it is an inspiration and example to the Mason family.

CPIP is dedicated to the scholarly analysis of intellectual property rights and the technological, commercial, and creative innovation they facilitate. CPIP explores how strong property rights in innovation and creativity can foster successful and flourishing individual lives and national economies.

Through a wide array of academic and public policy programming, CPIP brings together scholars, industry leaders, inventors, creators, and policymakers to examine foundational questions and current controversies concerning intellectual property rights. Ultimately, CPIP seeks to promote a healthy academic discussion, grounded in rigorous scholarship, and a well-informed public policy debate about the importance of intellectual property.

We are sincerely thankful to Professor Witherspoon for his generosity.


Computer circuit boardCPIP Sponsoring Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute Conference: New IP Business Models: Innovation or Commoditization?

April 23, 2015
Palo Alto, CA

Conference Website
30% Discount Code: CPIP2015

Conference Description:

Enforceable patents fuel American innovation and economic growth.

But the innovation cycle in the United States has deteriorated with the erosion of legal patent rights and remedies and the rule set for US patents has changed. The sum of the risks and uncertainty is daunting to innovators, business owners, and investors.

New IP Business Models: Innovation or Commoditization? is the only practical patent conference offering business practices effective today. You will learn what works and what doesn’t and how to allocate resources to win. We are bringing together the premier IP executive decision makers with scholarship balanced to support property rights for US invention, innovation, and enabling technologies.

Join Robert Greene Sterne, founding director of Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Foxx P.L.L.C, and Caren Yusem, expert on the new IP business landscape, co-chairs of this year’s event and Chief Judge (ret.) Paul Michel, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and Keynote speaker for the conference, to exchange views as peers and to promote important progress for the business community with the advent of new business models for innovation.

CPIP Senior Scholar Adam Mossoff will be speaking on the “Patent Eligible Subject Matter and Infringement Damages” panel.


U.S. Capitol Building, Capitol Hill, Washington DCCPIP Senior Scholars Join 40 Economists and Law Professors in Letter Expressing Concerns About Data Behind Patent “Reform”

March 10, 2015 — In a letter to Congress today, 40 law professors and economists expressed serious concerns that Congress is considering restructuring the US patent system based on many flawed, unreliable, and unrepresentative studies of patent litigation.

The letter also points to a substantial body of research that questions much of the rhetoric behind the attack on “patent trolls.”

The scholars point out that certain studies cited by legislators and media have been roundly criticized. The letter particularly notes as flawed the claims that patent trolls bring the majority of patent lawsuits and that they cost U.S. businesses $29 billion a year in direct costs.

At a minimum, the fact that patent lawsuit filings actually decreased in 2014, including a substantial decrease in lawsuits brought by patent licensing companies, calls into question much of the rhetoric surrounding the need for further patent “reform” following passage of the America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011.

According to the letter, “those bent on attacking ‘trolls’ have engendered an alarmist reaction that threatens to gut the patent system as it existed in the Twentieth Century, a period of tremendous innovation and economic growth.” Instead of targeted reforms, many of the broad changes under consideration raise serious concerns about potential unintended consequences for American economic growth.

It is even more alarming that these wide-ranging proposals are driven by unreliable studies and data. “We are very concerned that reliance on flawed data will lead to legislation that goes well beyond what is needed to curb abusive litigation practices, causing unintended negative consequences for inventors, small businesses, and emerging entrepreneurs,” the letter states.

The main takeaway: before enacting patent legislation, Congress should demand reliable data on the state of the American patent system and should proceed with caution to ensure balanced, targeted legislation.

The letter is available here.

The 40 signatories included five CPIP Senior Scholars.

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