Intellectual Property Law

What is intellectual property law? For starters, it can be a new lawyer’s ticket into the most exciting areas of legal practice. From the entertainment and sports industries to health care and international trade to the entrepreneurial spirit underlying today’s small businesses – intellectual property law is at the heart of all of it.

Thomas Jefferson School of Law professors have a broad range of professional experience across the intellectual property spectrum. To highlight just a few, they have represented famous musicians and Hall of Fame athletes, litigated trademark cases involving Barbie dolls, and investigated collusion among compact disc technologies owners at the United States Department of Justice. This real world experience gives our faculty the ability to translate the complex legal theory into understandable, practical knowledge.

Thomas Jefferson graduates have taken that knowledge and the many opportunities provided by the Intellectual Property Fellowship Program to gain practical experience while in law school, parlaying it into amazing jobs.  Today’s students benefit from real world practical classes like Introduction to IP Practice and the trademarked class the IP Practicum. The Thomas Jefferson faculty created these courses to ensure that our students can learn the practical skills not often taught in law school.

The Law School also operates United States Patent & Trademark certified clinics as part of the school’s Small Business Law Center. Students receive their own limited practice number and represent small businesses, artists and entrepreneurs before the Patent & Trademark Office under the supervision of licensed attorneys dedicated to helping their students learn all the tricks of the trade.

Students also earn law school credit while working at externships in the private and public sectors in San Diego and throughout the country and the world. Recent placements include Pfizer Pharmaceuticals; FOX Studios in Los Angeles; the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; and the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D.C.

Graduates have gone from Thomas Jefferson to in-house positions at Fortune 500 companies, to intellectual property associate positions in law firms, and to advanced degree programs nationwide.

The school's Center for Law and Intellectual Property offers a certificate program for students specializing in intellectual property law and coordinates events throughout the year that help bring students in contact with local intellectual property professionals.

 The Intellectual Property Law Association, a Thomas Jefferson student organization, provides additional opportunities for contact and training for all branches of intellectual property.

Our intellectual property faculty members have an open-door policy and are willing to provide guidance to any student who wants to pursue an intellectual property specialty.


View the Preparing for a Career in Intellectual Property Brochure


Professor Aaron Schwabach (Computer & Internet Law) has been teaching at Thomas Jefferson School of Law since 1994. He has written extensively in the field of intellectual property, including Intellectual Property: A Reference Handbook (2007), Internet and the Law: Technology, Society, and Compromises (2005), The Harry Potter Lexicon and the World of Fandom: Fan Fiction, Outsider Works, and Copyright, 73 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 307 (2009), and Intellectual Property Piracy: Perception and Reality in China, the United States, and Elsewhere, 2 Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law 65 (2007) (also reprinted in Chinese). He has also authored entries about intellectual property in the World History Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties.

Professor Steven Semeraro (Antitrust, Intellectual Property & Competition Law) joined the United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division in 1994. While there, he led civil antitrust investigations of the optical disc technology industry, and he has subsequently has published numerous articles in the field of antitrust, including Regulating Information Platforms: The Convergence to Antitrust, 1 J. On Telecomm. & High Tech. L. 143 (2002), which explored the intersection of intellectual property and antitrust law. Professor Steve Semeraro is ranked as one of the top 15 antitrust professors as measured by downloads on the SSRN (Social Science Research Network.)  http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/antitrustprof_blog/

Professor Susan Tiefenbrun (International Intellectual Property) worked in the New York office of Coudert Brothers, where she handled international commercial transactions. She is the editor of the book Law and the Arts (1999) and the author of several articles about intellectual property, including Copyright Infringement, Sex Trafficking, and the Fictional Life of a Geisha (2004). Professor Tiefenbrun is also the Director of Thomas Jefferson's study abroad programs, both of which regularly offer intellectual property courses.

Professor K. J. Greene (Entertainment Law, Music Law), practiced intellectual property and entertainment law in New York at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and at Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein & Selz, where he represented clients such as Time-Warner/HBO, film director Spike Lee, and the rap group Public Enemy. He has published numerous articles examining the film and music industries, and he has been a featured speaker on motion picture, music and intellectual property issues. Professor Greene has been named one of the Top Ten Intellectual Property Attorneys in San Diego, and his expertise cuts across the fields of copyright, trademark, and right of publicity.

Professor Sandra Rierson (Trademark and Unfair Competition, Advanced Trademark Seminar) practiced intellectual property law with the Los Angeles firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, where she became a partner in 1998. Her recent publications include IP Remedies after Ebay: Assessing the Impact on Trademark Law in the Akron Intellectual Property Law Journal.

Professor Brenda M. Simon (Patent Law, Intellectual Property) researches in the areas of patent law, intellectual property, and the biosciences. Prior to joining the Thomas Jefferson faculty, Professor Simon taught courses and conducted research in intellectual property at Stanford Law School, where she was the teaching fellow for the Law, Science & Technology program. She previously practiced law with Fenwick & West in Silicon Valley, where she represented technology clients in intellectual property litigation, counseling, and patent prosecution. Her most recent research has been accepted for publication by the Houston Law Review, Nature Biotechnology, and the Stanford Journal of Law, Science and Policy.

Adjunct Professor Mark Abumeri (Patent Law) is a partner at the law firm of Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, LLP. His practice includes the preparation and prosecution of patent applications and litigation of patents for inventions involving computer hardware/software, e-commerce, electronics, medical devices, optics, semiconductors, and telecommunications.

Adjunct Professor Lisa Cervantes (Trademark Clinic) founder and owner of IP Legal Studio, a private entertainment law practice in business for 18 years specializing in music, television, and film. Registered and certified in practice before the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) and WIPO (Madrid System), Professor Cervantes works with entities of all sizes to protect, license, assert and defend rights in intellectual property, including trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. 

Adjunct Professor John David (JD) Cowart (Patent Clinic, Intro to IP Practice) is Law Vice President and Chief IP Counsel at Teradata Corporation, where he is responsible for all aspects of intellectual property protection and counseling.

Adjunct Professor Stephen M. Novak (Entertainment Law, Entertainment Law Transactions, The Law of Television and Motion Picture Production, Contracts Drafting, Sports Law), is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Professor Novak served as a federal prosecutor under both President Ronald Reagan's and President Herbert Walker Bush's administration. Over the past 25 years, he has held several of the top legal positions in the professional sports and entertainment industries.