The Illinois Institute of Technology and Ocean Tomo have worked together to create the only graduate level program focused on intellectual property management, the Illinois Institute of Technology Masters Program in IP Management & Markets.

While some universities offer undergraduate as well as graduate courses in Intellectual Property Management, IIT offers the first interdisciplinary master’s degree program focusing on IP and intangible assets that will produce highly qualified professionals for this growing business need.

The program consists of full-time study (30 credit hours) starting in the fall term and running through the following summer.  Courses track the life cycle of intellectual property from its inception to full exploitation.  The curriculum was developed by a group of IIT faculty led by Harold J. Krent, Dean and Professor of Law, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Dennis A. Roberson, Vice Provost for New Initiatives.

Patent Baristas talks with Jacqueline Leimer, former vice president and associate general counsel, global intellectual property, for Kraft Foods and now Director of the IPMM Program:

Patent Baristas:  You are the IPMM Director.  In a nutshell, what is the IPMM and who is your likely student?

Jacqueline Leimer:  The Illinois Institute of Technology Master’s in IP Management & Markets program provides a foundational understanding of IP that integrates the perspectives and skills of five key disciplines:  Business, Engineering, Design, Computer science and law.  The program consists of one year of full time study with courses designed to track the life cycle of intellectual property from its inception to full exploitation.  At the conclusion of the program, a capstone course provides an experiential learning opportunity that integrates the students’ newly acquired knowledge, experiences and expertise.

The profile of our target student is quite broad including those currently involved in IP, such as technology transfer managers, IAM professionals, marketing managers, licensing professionals, patent agents, IP and general lawyers, inventors, product developers, legal analysts, R&D managers, IP contract managers, financial and accounting managers, investment bankers along with new college graduates who seek a career as an IP professional.

PB: You have experience in both private law practice and in-house legal counsel.  How did you arrive at being the director of the IPMM?

JL:  While I was thinking about retiring from Kraft Foods (after 13 years there and nearly 30 years in IP law practice) I had the good opportunity to meet Dean Hal Krent from Chicago-Kent College of Law who was working on the framework for this new degree program and seeking input from industry. I knew that I wanted to become involved in education in my “semi-retirement”, so I leapt at the chance to work on this cutting-edge program.  IIT is the only university in the US to offer this interdisciplinary approach to IP education.

PB: The Illinois Institute of Technology and Ocean Tomo are collaborating to offer the first interdisciplinary master’s degree program focusing on IP and intangible assets.  Who are the main participants in delivering the program?

JL:  Instructional teams for the IPMM courses are drawn from five IIT colleges.  Nearly all classes draw instructors from at least two disciplines.  Our students also benefit from our collaboration with practicing IP professionals.  Ocean Tomo, LLC serves as adjunct instructor for the programs valuation and merchant banking content drawing from its staff of IP trained damage experts, appraisers, investors, risk managers and transaction advisors.

PB: Is the focus too narrow for a fast changing world?  Why is IP important in management?

JL:  We have moved from a “bricks and mortar” economy to a knowledge economy, where the majority of a company’s assets are intellectual in nature. As such, management is keenly interested in insuring that those intellectual assets are managed so as to maximize the return on investment and gain competitive advantage. The focus of our program is not at all too narrow… fact, we are teaching our students how to manage intellectual  assets in a variety of changing environments. For example, we offer courses on “IP and Business Strategy” and “Global IP Management”, which teach students essential strategic thinking skills and how those skills can be applied in a global environment. The course that is taught by the Ocean Tomo team exposes our students to cutting-edge thinking regarding future financial trends, including global IP markets.

PB: How does the program integrate the legal aspects of IP with technology commercialization and IP management?

JL:  Many of our courses are team taught, and the subject matter from the different disciplines is fully integrated into the course. For example, our students begin the Program by taking an intensive four-credit course which introduces the four regimes of IP protection (patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret) along with an introduction to the innovation process. The students learn how to think about IP protection as an essential part of the development process, along the same time-line. Another example is our course on “Acquiring IP”. This course teaches the legal foundations of successful IP transfers in the context they arise in business, e.g., technology licensing, joint development agreements, as so forth.

PB: Will there be a market for the students long-term?

JL:  We believe that as companies increasingly recognize the importance of their intellectual assets, there will be an increasing number of roles for IP managers, as well as an increased need for IP service providers, such as IP consultants, valuation experts, software system suppliers and the like. Our first class is graduating next month, and they are finding a wide range of employers interested in them, for a wide range of roles.

PB: What currently pending patent case do you see as having the most potential for broad impact on patent law?

JL:  There are a number of important cases pending, but if I had to name one I think it is Microsoft v. i4i. That case has the potential to change the evidentiary standard for proving invalidity, which some say would level the playing field in federal court litigation.

PB Bonus Question:  Which do you prefer, in-house, private practice or program director?

JL:  I have to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each role, for its unique aspects:  I was fortunate to start my career in law firms where I had the opportunity to learn from exceptional IP lawyers.  When you work in-house you have the opportunity to directly impact business results, especially since IP is really at the intersection of law and business. And there is nothing more rewarding that watching students grow and develop into future business leaders. I’ve been lucky to do it all.

PB:Thank you for your time.

Jacqueline A. Leimer is the IIT  IPMM Director.  Most recently she was vice president and associate general counsel, global intellectual property, at the world headquarters of Kraft Foods, in Northfield, Ill., with responsibility for the overall management of intellectual property legal issues worldwide from 2005 to 2009. She started her affiliation with Kraft in 1996 as chief trademark counsel.

Prior to joining Kraft, Ms. Leimer was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, concentrating in trademark, copyright and advertising law matters. She also has 10 years of in-house intellectual property experience with The Quaker Oats Company. Ms. Leimer was president of the International Trademark Association in 2004 and has served for many years as a director of that organization. She was appointed by Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez to serve on the Trademark Public Advisory Committee, which provides oversight of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office operations, from 2006 to 2009. She is a frequent speaker on intellectual property issues.

She is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and the Illinois state courts.

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