INFO 237 Fall 2009 Syllabus

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University of California at Berkeley, Fall 2009
INFO 237
Intellectual Property Law for the Information Industries
Thursdays, 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (3 units)
202 South Hall

Instructor: Brian W. Carver (bcarver at ischool dot berkeley dot edu)
207C South Hall
Office Hours: Thursdays 1:30-3:30 and by appointment

Course Websites:

Grade and Attendance:
24-hour take-home mid-term exam (30%)
24-hour take-home final exam (30%)
Wikipedia Project # 1 (10%)
Wikipedia Project # 2 (10%)
Brian's Wiki Project (10%)
Class participation (10%)

The exams will be designed to be completed in three hours, but you will be permitted 24-hours in which to take them. The exams will be open book and open notes. In fact, you may use any available resource in writing the exams except for another person.

Class participation will consist of being on-call for class discussion and making substantive contributions to the class discussions.

Attendance is expected. If you need to miss all or a portion of a class, I will assume you have a good reason, so you need not detail it for me. If you like, you can simply send me an email letting me know you need to miss, but it is not necessary.

Textbook: Lemley, Menell, Merges, & Samuelson, Software and Internet Law ("SAIL") (3d ed. 2006); additional readings available online. (This textbook is also used for INFO 235 Cyberlaw, to be offered Spring 2010).

Prerequisites: None; Students from all levels (graduate/undergraduate) and schools on campus are welcome. However, this is a graduate-level course, so interested undergraduates are encouraged to meet with me before enrolling (or before the drop deadline).

Course Description (from the Course Catalog): This course will provide an overview of the intellectual property laws with which information managers need to be familiar. It will start with a consideration of trade secrecy law that information technology and other firms routinely use to protect commercially valuable information. It will then consider the role that copyright law plays in the legal protection of information products and services. Although patents for many years rarely were available to protect information innovations, patents on such innovations are becoming increasingly common. As a consequence, it is necessary to consider standards of patentability and the scope of protection that patent affords to innovators. Trademark law allows firms to protect words or symbols used to identify their goods or services and to distinguish them from the goods and services of other producers. It offers significant protection to producers of information products and services. Because so many firms license intellectual property rights, some coverage of licensing issues is also important. Much of the course will concern the legal protection of computer software and databases, but it will also explore some intellectual property issues arising in cyberspace.

Course Goals: We will survey trade secret, copyright, trademark, and patent law. Students will, for the most part, be introduced to these topics through reading of judicial opinions, in-class lectures, and discussions. Students will illustrate their understanding of the material through discussions, writing assignments, and the mid-term and final exams.

Add/Drop Policy: The university has determined that the last day to drop without a "W" is September ##.

Academic Honesty: U.C. Berkeley's Code of Student Conduct prohibits all forms of academic misconduct including but not limited to cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, or facilitating academic dishonesty. See Policy 102.01 at and It is my policy to pursue the discipline of such misconduct, including, but not limited to, the entering of a grade of F in the course and a notation (or equivalent) on the student's transcript of the reason for same.

Resources: Judges and professors use a lot of legal jargon. Here's a way to look it up.

Students with disabilities: Students with disabilities who may need accommodations for any sort of disability are invited to make an appointment to see me.

Special Thanks: to those who previously taught this course, Jason Schultz, Aaron Perzanowski, Fred von Lohmann, and Pamela Samuelson, upon whose work this syllabus is based.



August 27

  • Intro to Trade Secrets, Copyright, Patents, & Trademark Law, statutory and/or constitutional bases for same;
  • Administrative matters (exams, participation, reading court opinions, U.S. courts);
  • Explanation of Wikipedia Projects and Brian's Wiki project.

September 3

(A - L on call)

September 10

(M-Z on call)

September 17

(A - L on call)

September 24

(M-Z on call)

October 1

(A - L on call)

October 8

(M-Z on call)

October 15

(A - L on call)

October 15-16 MID TERM EXAM

  • 24-Hour Take-Home Exam
    • Available October 15, 6:30 P.M., DUE October 16, 6:30 P.M.
    • Covers material from August 27 - October 8, inclusive.

October 22

(M-Z on call)

October 29

(A - L on call)

November 5

(M-Z on call)

November 12

(A - L on call)

November 19

(M-Z on call)


December 3

  • Review and Exam Prep

December 12-13 FINAL EXAM

  • 24-Hour Take-Home exam
    • Available December 12, 9:00 A.M.; DUE December 13, 9:00 A.M.
    • Covers material from October 15 - December 3.