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Class 01 - Introduction
Class 02 - Trade Secret
Class 03 - Copyright - Literal and Nonliteral
Class 04 - Copyright - Functional Elements
Class 05 - Copyright - Rights and Fair Use
Class 06 - Copyright - Reverse Engineering
Class 07 - Patent - Patentability
Class 08 - Patent - Examination, Validity, etc.
Class 09 - Sui Generis Protection
Class 10 - Licensing - Contract Formation
Class 11 - Licensing - UCITA, Policy
Class 12 - Guest Lecture
Class 13 - Open Source

CLASS 1: INTRODUCTION: (1-47)

Facilitators: None
Question: None

CLASS 2: TRADE SECRET: (49-97, supp.)

Facilitators: None
Question: You are general counsel to a software company. How much protection does trade secret provide for your software? What does it protect? What doesn't it protect? (See Problem 1-2 on page 83). What steps can you take to avail yourself of whatever protection trade secret law affords?

CLASS 3: COPYRIGHT - LITERAL AND NON-LITERAL ELEMENTS: (97-149)

Facilitators: M.J. Edwards, Shoba Pillay
Question: You are the lawyer for a software company. The company is developing a word processing program. Through a happy accident, they have legitimately acquired a copy of the source code of Microsoft Word. The software developers would like to know what, if anything, they can use from this source code as they develop their own word processing program. In class, the facilitators will play the lawyers, and the rest of the class members will play the role of the developers (and should therefore be prepared to ask questions).

CLASS 4: COPYRIGHT - FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS & OUTPUTS: (149-195)

Facilitators: Nat Jordan, Kimber Baumgartner, Jessica Fainman, Charles Chan
Question: Imagine that you are the lawyers in Lotus v. Borland and that it is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The facilitators will be split up in teams of two, and will argue this case on appeal. The remaining students will act as associate justices (and should prepare some tough questions for counsel).

CLASS 5: COPYRIGHT - EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS & FAIR USE: (195-228)

Facilitators: Ian Moss, Dan Gold, Glenn Pudelka, Chris Drury
Question: Are Galoob and MicroStar reconcilable? If so, how? If not, which one got it right? The facilitators have each been assigned a case from the readings to present in class and to be prepared to discuss.

CLASS 6: COPYRIGHT - REVERSE ENGINEERING: (228-257, supp., hand.)

Facilitators: Jason Bryan, Nicholas Xanthakos, Rob O'Keefe, U Jin Wong, Lisa Stone
Question: In the end, how much protection does copyright law provide for computer software? To help us answer the latter question, consider the following hypothetical. A software company wants to create a program to compete with AOL Instant Messenger ("AIM"). They would like it to have the same functionality and largely the same user interface, and would ideally like to make it interoperable, so that users could chat with AIM users. The company has downloaded a working version of AIM. What can and can't they copy, under copyright law? Now assume that it's a number of years later, and the company has developed a competing product, that looks like this. What copyright claims might AOL be able to bring? How likely would such claims be to succeed? What additional information might you need to assess this?

A number of facilitators will play the lawyers for the new software company prior to creation of the competing software, and will provide advice about what the company can and cannot do. The other facilitators wil play the lawyers for AOL after the software has been created, and will provide advice about what potential claims AOL might be able to bring. The rest of us will play high-level executives at both companies, and should be ready to ask the lawyers a number of difficult questions.

CLASS 7: PATENT - PATENTABILITY: (259-321, handouts)

Facilitators: Mandy Jubang, Jessica Fainman, Kimber Baumgartner, Jason Bryan
Question: Was State Street Bank correctly decided? The facilitators will play lobbyists testifying before a congressional committee that is examining whether to legislatively limit or overturn the result in State Street Bank. The rest of the class will play members of the committee, and should be prepared to ask questions.

 

WRITING ASSIGNMENT NO. 1 DUE MONDAY 12

 

  Find and comment critically upon a law review article on any topic involving copyright protection for computer software. The choice of article is up to you; find something that interests you or that you have a reaction to. The topic of the article can be narrow (e.g. reverse engineering) or broad (e.g. copyright protection for software generally). If you have any doubts about your choice of article, feel free to swing it by me. In the paper, you may spend a little time summarizing the argument, but please spend most of your time analyzing the arguments in the article critically, drawing upon the materials we have covered in this class. The paper should be between 5-6 pages, double spaced with reasonable margins. It is due at the beginning of class on Friday, March 8.

CLASS 8: PATENT - EXAMINATION, VALIDITY, ...: (321-364, supp., hand.)

Facilitators: Chris Drury, Daniel Scales, Charles Chan, M.J. Edwards
Question: 1. You have a friend who has written a software program and is about to distribute it on the internet. What are the patent law implications of her impending action? Might her program be infringing? Can she protect her program via patent? How would you advise her?

2. You are on the staff of the PTO, and the Commissioner has asked you to come up with three recommendations for improving the PTO's handling of software patents. Present these recommendations and support them.

CLASS 9: SUI GENERIS PROTECTION: (393-439, handouts)

Facilitators: Glenn Pudelka, Dan Gold, Shoba Pillay
Question: Do we need sui generis protection of software? If not, why not? If so, what should it look like?

NOTE: PRACTITIONER VISIT TODAY. COME WITH QUESTIONS.

CLASS 10: LICENSING - CONTRACT FORMATION: (439-500)

Facilitators: Daniel Scales, Lisa Stone, Mandy Jubang, Rob O'Keefe
Question: Was ProCD correctly decided?

CLASS 11: LICENSING - UCITA, POLICY: (500-534, handouts)

Facilitators: U Jin Wong, Nicholas Xanthakos, Ian Moss, Nat Jordan
Question: Assume that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is considering whether or not to adopt UCITA. The facilitators will play lobbying groups testifying before a congressional committee. Two will represent the software industries, and argue in favor of UCITA. Two will represent consumer groups, lobbying against UCITA. The rest of us will play committee members, and should be prepared to ask tough questions.

 

WRITING ASSIGNMENT NO. 2 DUE

 

Find and comment critically upon a law review article on any topic involving patent or sui generis protection for computer software. The choice of article is up to you; find something that interests you or that you have a reaction to. The topic of the article can be narrow or broad. If you have any doubts about your choice of article, feel free to swing it by me. In the paper, you may spend a little time summarizing the argument, but please spend most of your time analyzing the arguments in the article critically, drawing upon the materials we have covered in this class. The paper should be between 5-6 pages, double spaced with reasonable margins. It is due at the beginning of class on Friday, April 12.

CLASS 12: GUEST LECTURE: (TBA)

CLASS 13: OPEN SOURCE & CONCLUSION: (reading assignment below)

Facilitators: None
Question: What is the future of the open source software movement?
Readings:

 

WRITING ASSIGNMENT NO. 3 DUE

 

How well does the law regulate the production and dissemination of computer software? What changes, if any, would you propose making to the existing legal regime? I am interested in your personal opinion, backed up by specific arguments and examples from the materials that we have covered in this class. The paper should be between 5-6 pages, double spaced with reasonable margins. It will be due by noon on the last day of the exam period. You may turn it in by email or at my office.

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Updated: April 16, 2002
Maintained: Joseph P. Liu
URL: http://www2.bc.edu/~liujr/courses/soft02s/assignments.html
2002 The Trustees of Boston College. Legal