Intellectual Property (IP) has become a major revenue source for colleges and universities. Trademarks, patents, and even trade secrets and copyrights are increasingly used as a money making opportunities for institutes of higher learning. In his book, The Branding of the American Mind, Jacob Rooksby argues that developing this new revenue source creates a tension between the university’s promotion of the public good and the private rights that intellectual property is designed to protect.
The first chapter explores the tension starting with the Harvard OncoMouse. A mouse that Harvard sought to patent because it was unusually susceptible to cancers, making it ideal for medical testing. The second chapter is a broad overview of IP law as a whole. The remainder of the book explores the central thesis of the book, the tension between advancing the public good and protecting intellectual property rights, through each of the main areas of intellectual property (trademarks, copyright, patent and trade secrets) and explores other areas such as publicity rights of student-athletes. Each chapter starts with an anecdote to give a human experience to what is frequently seen as a very dry topic to much of the public.
The book hopes to guide non-lawyers and lawyers alike away from pursuing the most expansive applications of IP law and to step back and develop policies for potential IP that both help the school generate revenue and protect the schools broader purpose of advancing the public good.