Internet & Intellectual Property Justice Clinic

The USF School of Law Internet and Intellectual Property Justice Clinic was founded in 2000 by Professor Robert Talbot to provide legal services related to a variety of intellectual property issues while giving students hands-on experience in this critical and expanding area of the law.

IIP Justice Clinic

The clinic works often with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is a founding partner in "Chilling Effects," a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and law clinics at Harvard University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and the University of Maine.

Under the supervision of faculty members, students in the clinic provide pro bono legal services to clients involved in a range of intellectual property law issues including copyright and trademark issues. The clinic's initial focus was on handling domain name disputes between large trademark holders and individuals or small businesses in proceedings before the International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Another undertaking of the clinic provided college students accused of illegal music downloading with the legal counseling they needed to respond to letters from the Recording Industry Association of America. In another recent project, the clinic consulted and represented numerous parties who were targeted by the U.S. Copyright Group in mass filings against alleged copyright violators. Participating clinic students are certified as registered agents allowing them to practice IP law before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and draft and file trademark applications.

In 2002, the clinic helped establish, an online clearinghouse of legal resources designed to help internet users understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws provide for online activities. Specifically, Chilling Effects is designed to help users threatened with cease and desist letters, which can be used to stifle free expression on the web. Chilling Effects quickly became a noted force on the internet and today any intellectual property lawyer sending a cease and desist letter must consider that the letter will be published and analyzed on the website. Other law schools have joined the project, including George Washington University Law School, DePaul University College of Law, and others.

The clinic is associated with the USF School of Law's McCarthy Institute for Intellectual Property and Technology Law. The institute was founded by Senior Professor J. Thomas McCarthy, internationally recognized as a preeminent expert in the field, and is now directed by Professor David Franklyn. McCarthy and Franklyn both serve as consultants to the clinic.

Clinic Faculty

Professor Robert Talbot, Clinic Founder
Professor Robert Talbot is director of the Internet and Intellectual Property Justice Clinic, as well as the Investor Justice Clinic. Talbot practiced criminal law privately and as a public defender before teaching law. He has developed training programs for the San Francisco Police Department and San Mateo County Police Academy, and been a consultant to several state agencies, including the State of California Department of Water Resources and the California Tax Franchise Board. He is a legal analyst who has appeared in numerous media outlets, including CNN, CBS, local network affiliates, and Tech TV. He is also a consultant for the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Examiner.

Adjunct Professor Mehrnaz Boroumand Smith
Adjunct Professor Mehrnaz Boroumand Smith is a partner in the San Francisco office of Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP, specializing in complex commercial and intellectual property litigation matters. Her practice focuses on representing high technology companies in litigation regarding claims of patent, copyright, and trademark infringement, as well as breach of contract, breach of warranty, fraud, unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets. Her experience has ranged from working for clients in the IT outsourcing, software, laser, video gaming, arts and crafts, and toy industries as well as the semiconductor industry. She has appeared in federal and state courts and is also experienced in arbitration matters. She has also litigated trademark cases for more than 14 years.

Jessica Fajfar, Assistant Clinical Professor And Supervising Attorney
Assistant Clinical Professor Jessica Fajfar has practiced before the USPTO for the past three years. In her position as staff attorney for the Clinic she has worked on several trademark prosecution matters with students, including both responding to trademark office actions and filing initial trademark applications. She is also Of Counsel at a boutique Silicon Valley firm, RafterMarsh, which specializes in handling licensing and IP matters for technology companies, where she oversees the trademark prosecution practice. Fajfar graduated summa cum laude from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and received her LL.M. in IP & Technology Law from USF.

Clinic Consultants

Senior Professor J. Thomas McCarthy
Senior Professor J. Thomas McCarthy is founding director of USF's McCarthy Institute for Intellectual Property and Technology Law, which is named in his honor. He was the recipient of the 2003 President's Award of the International Trademark Association, the 2000 Pattishall Medal for excellence in teaching trademark law from the Brand Names Education Foundation, the 1997 Ladas Professional Author Award from the Brand Names Education Foundation, and numerous other honors. The American Intellectual Property Lawyers Association named Professor McCarthy "the most influential trademark expert of the 20th century." He is the author of the renowned multi-volume treatise McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition.

Professor David Franklyn
Professor Franklyn spent five years in private practice as a litigator for Mayer, Brown & Platt in Chicago before joining the faculty at Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law. Franklyn has authored several articles on trademark and liability issues and collaborates with Senior Professor J. Thomas McCarthy on numerous projects. In November 2009, he organized the symposium, "The Brand as Property: Trademark Law and its Challenges in the New Era," co-sponsored by the McCarthy Institute, Microsoft Corp., the Chinese law firm Unitalen, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. He has consulted on trademark prosecutions for approximately 14 years.