Entrepreneur's Guide to Intellectual Property

USC Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies breaks new ground with undergraduate IP course

September 08, 2017
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Intellectual property-protected innovation is a key driver of corporate value and national economic growth, yet today’s college students may not have knowledge of the increasingly important discipline of IP. In a recent op-ed published in The Hill, USC President C.L. Max Nikias and medical innovator and philanthropist Gary K. Michelson M.D. examine the issue and propose solutions.

USC Marshall is playing an important role in addressing the IP education gap by offering a new undergraduate course through its Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Intellectual Property.

“Given the convention of leaving IP to post-graduate studies, the enthusiastic response to our class exceeded my expectations." -- Luke Dauchot

The class, led by Luke Dauchot, a partner at the international law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, introduces the fundamentals of patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret property; demonstrates how intellectual property is put to work; and prepares students for the social and economic implications associated with IP at work. It is open to all USC undergraduates.

“This innovative course provides important foundational elements in the entrepreneurial journey, and we are proud to make this available to students across the University,” said James G. Ellis, dean of Marshall.

“IP is too important and prevalent a staple in today's global economy not to address it at an undergraduate level,” Dauchot said. “We equip students with a basic understanding of the IP value proposition that gives them a competitive advantage after they graduate. That edge is particularly compelling in the entrepreneurial context, where, more so than ever, the difference between success and failure turns on IP.”

That entrepreneurial edge fits squarely within the mission of the Lloyd Greif Center and USC Marshall to instill students with the skill set—and the mindset—to launch, join and grow dynamic ventures, many of which are driven by intellectual property. The Lloyd Greif Center is among the oldest and highest-ranked university entrepreneur programs in the country, with alumni founding such notable companies as Salesforce.com, Kinko’s, Box, Tinder and MySpace.

The Case for IP Education

In 2014 Michelson and his wife Alya Michelson donated $50 million to fund the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, which will draw faculty and students from across disciplines to fast track the detection and cure of diseases. The building—the largest on USC’s University Park’s Campus—is scheduled to open in November.

Michelson was pivotal in the Greif Center’s creation of The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Intellectual Property. He and his wife founded the Michelson 20MM Foundation to support and invest in initiatives that transform learning and improve access to educational opportunities that lead to meaningful careers. A key focus of the Foundation, is educating young people on the value and uses of intellectual property in driving innovation and commerce.

When Phil Kim, co-founder and president of the Michelson 20MM Foundation visited the USC innovation meeting convened by USC Vice President of Research Randolph Hall, he presented the extensive online resources the Foundation has created and shared. Michelson’s vision of creating college courses to teach IP. David Belasco, executive director of the Greif Center stepped up immediately. “We will create the first course at Marshall,” he said.

With support from USC Provost Michael Quick, Dean Ellis and Greif Center academic director Professor Helena Yli-Renko, the task of creating an IP course began. The course was collaboratively designed by Dauchot, the Michelson team and associate professors Pai-Ling Yin and Elissa Grossman. In only months, it was ready for introduction in the fall semester.

With IP professionals from high-profile companies speaking to the class weekly, the course is proving popular.

“Given the convention of leaving IP to post-graduate studies, the enthusiastic response to our class exceeded my expectations,” Dauchot said. “But I shouldn’t have been surprised — innovation defines this school and its students.”