By Mark Schultz
Why should the Federalist Society have an Intellectual Property
Practice Group? Is there a "Federalist"or at least
a conservative or libertarianposition on intellectual property?
Since we started this practice group a few years ago, we have heard
such questions from time to time and considered them as we organized
programs. Recently, the board asked me to set out what we have come
to envision as the purpose of this group.
Some of these questions have faded as technological innovation
has taken center stage in our economy and culture. Many of us who
knew intellectual property before intellectual property was cool
still cannot get used to hearing people exclaim "wow, that
must be interesting!" when we tell them what we do. Intellectual
property and technology do indeed give rise to some of the most
intriguing current issues.
Such attention raises the stakes. Today's revolution in information
and communications technology is reshaping the economy and society,
and tomorrow promises to bring similarly important advances in biotechnology,
materials science, and other fields. For good or ill, politicians,
intellectuals, interest groups, bureaucrats, and ordinary voters
have begun to care about intellectual property and technology. They
recognize that what we do or do not do to the law in these areas
will shape society for a long time to come.
When these issues are debated, we therefore must ensure that the
principles of liberty, free markets, and limited government are
at the forefront of discussion Although our practice area has long
been graced with a number of thoughtful and effective organizations,
they have never approached issues from this perspective. With its
successful record and effective network of volunteers, the Federalist
Society and its members can make that contribution. The Intellectual
Property Practice Group is central to the Society's interests in
intellectual property and technology.
Broadly speaking then, our practice group's mission is to examine
the role of intellectual property and technological innovation in
a free society. To answer the question posed in the first paragraph,
there is no "Federalist Society" approach to intellectual
property and technology issues. It would also be hard to find a
consensus libertarian or conservative position on these issues.
Whatever our differences over particulars and priorities, however,
we all share the same goals: We believe that people should be free
to innovate and to reap the rewards of their creativity, that technology
should empower the individual rather than the state, and that intellectual
property rights, properly balanced as the Founders intended, are
essential to a free and prosperous society.
Just as important, albeit less lofty than its other goals, the
Federalist Society Intellectual Property Practice Group exists to
foster friendships and professional relationships among its membership.
Our common interests and goals serve as a great starting point.
As in so many other areas, the Federalist Society's network has
proven to be both professionally and personally rewarding, as well
as an effective force for good in the legal community.
With the increasing attention paid to our practice area, we face
ever more new federal and state legislation, court decisions, and
international treaties that affect our practice. Our Practice Group,
with its highly praised e-mail bulletin and newsletter, serves as
an excellent practical resource while providing the tools we need
to advance the goals set forth above.
The launch of our subcommittees this summer promises to better
serve our members and to involve them even more in our activities.
Our new leaders and volunteers have many exciting ideas for programs
that will advance our goals. We hope you will participate.