About

MISSION

The mission of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (BCLT) is to foster the beneficial and ethical advancement of technology by guiding the development of intellectual property law, information privacy law, and related areas of law and public policy as they interact with business, science and technical innovation.

Established in 1995 with a focus on intellectual property, BCLT has developed the leading program in law and technology. BCLT has expanded over the years to encompass privacy law, cyberlaw, electronic commerce, digital entertainment law, cleantech, biotech, telecommunications regulation and many other areas of constitutional, regulatory and business law that are affected by new technologies.

THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM IN LAW AND TECHNOLOGY

BCLT’s research and programs enable Berkeley Law to attract the very best students and offer them the world’s most comprehensive instructional program in law and technology. The program features three essential components:

• Strong foundational courses taught by Berkeley Law faculty using their own leading casebooks;
• Diverse, challenging and regularly updated advanced courses taught by leading faculty and practitioners;
• Closely supervised analytic writing- and research-oriented courses with a specific emphasis on law and technology issues.

BCLT also works closely with students on the Berkeley Technology Law Journal (BTLJ) in producing its Annual Review and Symposium issues, as well as the BCLT/BTLJ Law & Tech Lunch Speaker Series. BCLT provides administrative and financial support for several student groups related to law and technology, including BTLJ, Patent Law Society (PLS), boalt.org, Healthcare and Biotech Law Society, Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative (BERC), Sports and Entertainment Law Society (SELS), Berkeley Consumer Advocacy and Protection Society (CAPS) and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM). BCLT also provides primary funding to Moot Court for its Intellectual Property Law, Technology Law, and Entertainment Law Competitions.

AN EMPHASIS ON COLLABORATION AND COMMUNITY

BCLT has developed relationships with a variety of outstanding affiliated scholars with interests in technology law, including some of the top economists and technologists working on technology policy issues. The center works closely with other research centers on the UC Berkeley campus, including the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interests of Society (CITRIS); the Competition Policy Center (CPC); the Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technology (TRUST); and the Institute for Business Innovation. 

The center creates networking opportunities for leading academics nationwide through its frequent roundtables and programs, including the IP Scholars Conference—which brings together about 175 intellectual property scholars from over 70 institutions to present their works-in-progress—and the Privacy Law Scholars Conference. BCLT takes advantage of its location near Silicon Valley by reaching out to Bay Area law firms and leading technology companies to forge a unique technology law community. This not only provides opportunities for world-class training of students interested in technology law, but also serves as a resource for lawyers, industry groups and other affected parties as they grapple with the complex policy and legal issues arising in the wake of new developments in technology.

SUPPORTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF PUBLIC POLICY

BCLT plays a direct and important role in public-policy debates and the education of public officials. The center’s conferences and faculty research address leading-edge issues, with recent symposiums on mass digitization, the history of copyright law, IP and entrepreneurship, identity theft, copyright and consumer protection, stem cell research, spyware, patent reform and digital rights management. BCLT faculty and fellows regularly testify at legislative hearings and advise public officials.  

CURRENT RESEARCH INITIATIVES INCLUDE:

Investigating Mass Digitization
In the Fall of 2011, BCLT began a two-year project to investigate legal obstacles faced by libraries and other organizations in their efforts to realize the full potential of present and future digital library initiatives. The Berkeley Digital Library Copyright Project, led by Professor Pamela Samuelson, has examined, among other issues, challenges with respect to orphan works, library privileges, digital lending and metadata ownership. The team is exploring a full range of possible solutions to some or all of these issues, including private ordering solutions, licensing, legislative reform and the application of existing doctrines, such as the United States' fair use provision. Over the course of the first year, the project members have engaged with hundreds of legal and technology policy makers, librarians and experts in the field. In April 2012, BCLT held a major symposium which advanced innovative new approaches to orphan works and mass digitization and inspired interest from the Copyright Office. Those approaches will be further explored this upcoming year in a series of workshops, and are likely to be tested in the litigation now facing two major digital library initiatives. The Berkeley Digital Copyright Project is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  

Providing Judicial Education
Since 1998, Professor Peter Menell and BCLT, in conjunction with the Federal Judicial Center (FJC), have organized an annual intellectual property education program for the federal judiciary. These one week training sessions have drawn more than 500 judges from across the country. In addition, Professor Menell has also organized numerous advanced programs on patent law, copyright law, trademark law, cyberlaw and the interplay of IP and bankruptcy law for the FJC, as well as intellectual property presentations, panels and symposia for various circuit court and district court conferences. All told, Professor Menell has organized more than 40 education programs for the federal judiciary. Building on this work, he co-authored the Patent Case Management Judicial Guide (with Lynn Pasahow, James Pooley and Matthew Powers), an authoritative treatise on all aspects of patent case management. The Second Edition of the Patent Case Management Judicial Guide (co-authored with Lynn Pasahow, James Pooley, Matthew Powers, Steven Carlson and Jeffrey Homrig) will be published in 2012. Professor Menell is currently working on analogous projects on copyright and trademark case management, as well as a treatise on patent enforcement at the International Trade Commission.

Forging International Connections
In today’s interconnected world, intellectual property, privacy and other technology law issues must be addressed on a global scale. Recognizing this, BCLT has worked collaboratively with international scholars, lawyers, entrepreneurs, public officials and students to discuss and dissect differences in the IP and regulatory regimes of various countries, and to confront important legal issues surrounding the international development of technology law. A key component of BCLT’s International programming is a focus on China. An October 2012 conference with the Renmin University IP Academy of Beijing, in collaboration with Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, will bring together senior policymakers, academics and international practitioners to discuss the latest developments in Chinese IP Law and their impact on US and Chinese companies operating in the China market.  BCLT has strong working relationships with a number of international universities and organizations, including the Seoul National University Center for Law and Technology; Tel-Aviv University, Israel; and the Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam.

Studying the New Patent Law
Since 2002, BCLT has been a key player in the patent law reform discussion. Through publications, testimony, white papers and conferences, BCLT made significant contributions to the most comprehensive patent legislation in more than half a century, the 2011 America Invents Act (AIA). Shortly after the AIA was signed into law, BCLT hosted the patent law community at a conference where professors and practitioners provided detailed explanations of the law’s changes and discussed their impact on patent prosecution, counseling and litigation. BCLT is now actively involved in several important implementation issues at the United States Patent Office and statutory interpretation issues that will be faced by the courts.

Breaking New Ground in Privacy Research
BCLT has developed the premiere privacy program for students and researchers working in this interdisciplinary field. The faculty includes several leading privacy experts with concentrations spanning international and comparative privacy law, online privacy law, consumer privacy law and the law of surveillance. BCLT also works with chief privacy officers at major corporations to formulate best practices. BCLT recently hosted several events to present its cutting-edge privacy research, including the Berkeley Law Privacy Forum, the Web Privacy Measurement Conference, the Privacy Law Scholars Conference and the 5th Annual BCLT Privacy Lecture. Some of the research presented at these events included a new survey on consumer privacy by Professors Christopher Hoofnagle and Jennifer Urban; the concept of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) by Professor Paul Schwartz; a study of corporate privacy management by Professor Ken Bamberger; and consequences of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by Professor Jason Schultz.