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Date: July 13, 2004

Who owns what? Conference grapples with the law of Intellectual property

Are Internet service providers in Canada liable for the royalties that worldwide artists say are owed to them by ISP clients who download music? Can a legal decision assign ownership of genetic code to an individual or corporation? Does online cross-border shopping of generic pharmaceuticals constitute a patent or trademark violation?

International intellectual property law is changing as fast as the technology that frequently drives it. Lawyers, judges and scholars will grapple with some of its current and emerging issues at an upcoming two-day conference July 16 and 17 at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver. The conference is part of the international intellectual property law program offered jointly by UVic’s faculty of law, University of Illinois’ college of law and St. Peter’s College, Oxford University.

“The value of technology’s contribution to the economy is enormous and intellectual property law protects this new wealth generated by ideas and knowledge, but it is difficult for the law to keep up. It must be constantly developing,” says UVic law professor Bob Howell, who co-directs the program. At 8:45 a.m. on July 16, Howell and co-director David Vaver of St. Peter’s College will deliver the conference’s opening address on recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions that set higher thresholds for copyright violation and granted internet service providers immunity from collecting tariffs from clients who download music.

University of Illinois law professor and program co-director Jay Kesan will offer the American legal point of view on downloading music on the Internet as the third opening address speaker.

Other speakers include UVic chair of aboriginal justice John Borrows, who will discuss the legal protection of indigenous and other traditional groups’ knowledge, performances, art forms and artifacts (July 17,
8:30 a.m.). “Can an individual own the right to a piece of artwork or do the intellectual property rights belong to the family or group whose traditional designs inspired the work?” says Borrows. “Indigenous people should be able to participate in determining the laws that provide intellectual property protection, either through the mainstream court system or through having their institutions recognized.”

The conference is part of the program’s three-or six-week sessions for professionals and law students. The summer program alternates between UVic and St. Peter’s College, Oxford. The program is sponsored by Smart & Biggar of Canada and Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione of the United States.

The complete conference program is available at www.uvcs.uvic.ca/ip/sess2.cfm or by calling (250) 721-8166.

Media contacts:
Members of the media are welcome to attend the conference sessions.
Prof. Bob Howell (Law) at (250) 721-8186 or rhowell@uvic.ca or (250) 818-7438 July 15 to 17.
Prof. John Borrows (Law) at (250) 721-8167 or jborrows@uvic.ca
Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-6139 or lironim@uvic.ca
(Both Prof. Howell and Prof. Borrows will be at UVic until July 14. On July 15 and throughout the conference contact them at the Delta Suites Vancouver at (604) 689-8188)

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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