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Why This Profession Is Great a.k.a. Thank You Tulane and WIP IP

I just returned from the Works In Progress Intellectual Property Conference at Tulane. It was excellent. The IP crowd never fails to satisfy across a range of metrics from panel comments to individual feedback to dinner conversation about scifi, fantasy, film, and more. Glynn Lunney, Elizabeth Townsend-Gard, and Tulane were our gracious hosts and I’d like to say thank you, thank you, thank you. As Mike Madison once put it, these types of conferences get you jazzed up (he said that at Peter Yu’s winterfest). Add being in New Orleans and the description is even more apt. Just being around folks who love their work and want to help each other with constructive comments feeds the academic soul. So to all the junior folks out there, find a way to present your work. Internal presentations, works-in-progress conferences, street corners (O.K. maybe not), wherever you can present your ideas; do so. The talk forces you to distill the paper into a coherent whole. Just practicing the talk reveals flaws or problems in logic or places needing support. It is challenging and can be tough, but sharing your ideas usually leads to more good than bad results especially if you feed the system by reading your colleague’s work and share your thoughts with them. The joy of the give-take-give, give-take-give, give-take-give is contagious.

It may be that finding such a great venue is difficult. Now, I am not saying that no other area has such conferences (my guess is they do and I do not know about them, in which case share the names please). Still I know a few folks who have said they admire the way WIP IP and similar conferences operate but have not found analogs in their field. Solution: Just do it. Find a few peers and start a small workshop. Maybe it will start a wave of open workshops and conferences where junior and senior faculty mix it up. One warning: If you build it, it will grow. I would place a fairly large bet on that. Just look at the history of WIP IP. Glynn Lunney and Michael Meurer created the conference in 2003. The idea was to emulate a “protocol that was common in the field of economics, but relatively unknown in the field of law at the time. Specifically, rather than invite speakers and request presentations related to a specific topic within the field of intellectual property, the WIP IP Colloquium allows any scholar working in the field of intellectual property to present their current research projects in order to obtain feedback on their work.” As I understand it, attendance has grown significantly since the conference’s inception. Similar IP conferences such as IPSC, which Depaul, Cardozo, Berkeley, and Stanford host, and Peter Yu’s IP Roundtable are excellent examples of the way these conferences begin and evolve. Take a look. You may find a model to copy or come up with a new variation for your field. For that matter, you may come up with a model for others to follow. Either way it will be worth the effort.

So, again, many thanks to those who took the time to build these conferences and offer opportunities for us. It is an honor to be part of this group.