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Emory Law Students Join Innovative New Program
[by Erica Winter]
Emory University School of Law in Atlanta recently launched a new collaborative academic program giving students real-world IP and business law experi-
ence. The “Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results” or “TI:GER” program connects science/Ph.D. and MBA students from Georgia Tech
with Emory Law students for a two-year workshop focusing on the intersections of law, business, and science.
“One student said to me, ‘If I learn nothing works.
else, I am learning how to communicate,’” Bagley advised both students that these
with professionals in other fields, says Margo The practical side of the TI:GER program is problems were examples of what could hap-
Bagley, Associate Professor of Law for Intel- that projects give the participating students pen in their legal careers and that part of
lectual Property and Contracts at Emory the chance to actually do the real work by the challenge of the TI:GER program was to
School of Law. She is the faculty member doing patent research or developing a com- decide what to do in light of what others on
who oversees the TI:GER program. mercialization plan. the team are doing.
The TI:GER program is the brainchild of TI:GER starts with Ph.D. students explain- The program provides students with “experi-
Georgia Tech professor Marie Thursby, who ing their dissertation projects to the J.D. and ences that real lawyers are likely to have,”
sought to link Ph.D. students, MBA students, MBA students. The Ph.D. students continue says William J. Carney, the Charles Henry
and law students in a collaborative venture. to develop their inventions as the program Candler Professor of Law at Emory. “I’m
Thursby contacted faculty members at Emory progresses. The MBA student needs to figure very enthusiastic about the program,” he
Law to work in developing the program, says out what the market would be for this inven- adds. Carney, who has taught at Emory for
Bagley. The first TI:GER program students tion, and how it could be sold. 27 years, was involved in the program launch
were recruited in spring 2002, and the and selecting its first participants from the
program began that next fall. The first group As for the law students, the business-track law school.
of six law students in TI:GER graduated in law student finds the best way to move
spring 2004. forward on the business front--whether When selecting students for the program,
licensing the invention to another company is first-year grades are key. Also, law students
TI:GER participants are divided into teams, the best way to go or if launching a start-up on the IP track need to have some technol-
each with two law students, one Georgia Tech company makes more sense, for example. ogy or science background, says Carney.
MBA student, and one Georgia Tech Ph.D. The IP-track law student looks at whether Law students on the business track need job
science student. One of the law students has the invention infringes on any existing experience and a demonstrated interest and
an IP focus; the other has a business law patents, how to obtain a patent, and how to ability in business law.
focus. The Ph.D. student has an idea for an determine who owns the rights to it. And the
invention as part of his or her dissertation whole team has to work together. Faculty members are finding more and more
work. The challenge: the four students on students who say that they want to come to
each team need to come up with a plan on Having all their legal, business and science Emory Law because of the TI:GER program,
how to bring this invention to market. cogs clicking is not the only challenge for TI: “and that’s exciting!” says Bagley.
GER program participants. Sometimes the
Team plans are purely theoretical, says teamwork provides a lesson in professional Demand for places in the program is high,
Bagley. The Ph.D. student may not actu- reality. One law student mentioned to Bagley with only about half of applicants being
ally develop the idea into an invention. Plus, that the science project was not as far along accepted, says Bagley. And, even if some
Georgia Tech would have ownership, even if as he thought it would be, making it hard participants leave the program part-way
the invention did become a reality. The teams to search for similar or conflicting patents. through, no new students can be brought in
in the TI:GER program develop plans as Another came to Bagley saying that the other to replace them. This is because the teams
though the Ph.D. student were an indepen- members of her team were not pulling their are set at the beginning of the two-year
dent scientist and the idea was really in the weights. course, says Bagley, and newcomers would
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never be able to catch up on the collaborative
work already done.
The most important thing the TI:GER program
does, says Bagley, is it lets the students learn
to appreciate the needs, expectations and
knowledge of the science, business and law
sides of any project in which they are them-
selves involved. For students, the program is
“expanding their minds and their viewpoints,
and that’s what education should do.”