Home Blog Preparing for the Future of Intellectual Property Law

Preparing for the Future of Intellectual Property Law

May 05, 2021
Alum Matthew Asbell spotlight on preparing for the future of intellectual property law

The basic definitions of copyright, patent and trademark law haven't changed much in the past few decades. However, how they’re being interpreted and applied is still changing from day to day.

Matthew Asbell, a New York-based principal at Offit Kurman, is also an adjunct professor at Cardozo School of Law. As a self-described “intellectual property generalist” who focuses on practicing trademark and international intellectual property law, Asbell has spent his career working in industries like entertainment, information technology, medicine and social media. He knows firsthand how the interpretation and use of intellectual property law has changed in business, technology, arts, and even in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“I've always been trying to operate from the left brain and right brain, at the same time,” Asbell said. “I'm scientifically minded and detail-oriented and understand the technology side. I took interest in that side of the world at the same time I was interested in the arts.”

Intellectual property law rewards creativity, protecting the innovations that can transform industries. For Asbell, the broadness of the practice means his day-to-day is spent working in a wide range of fields, alongside many different kinds of people.

“It can be a startup or an individual entrepreneur, it could be a big multinational company, and it could be anywhere in between,” he explained. “It could be someone in New York City, and it could be someone in China.The issues can be as basic as protecting aspects of a creative work, a new brand, or a new technology or invention in one country or the world, or addressing more complex cross-border agreements and disputes.”

One of the main skills he puts to use: the ability to speak different languages. While sometimes that’s literal in international intellectual property law, mostly it means understanding an industry’s culture and lingo.

“We have to communicate to people in a language they understand and that means being flexible and changing how you speak with one person versus another, depending on their perspective and experience” he said. “The problems and the work that we do to resolve them change, and how we communicate about it changes based on who they are, what industry they’re in, where they're from, and what they understand about the law.”

Mastering Intellectual Property Law

An important part of Asbell’s career has been teaching and mentoring young attorneys and law students (While he was working with students during their externships at a former firm, one encouraged him to consider adding educator to his resume. He listened). For the past five plus years, he’s taught as an adjunct professor of law at Cardozo, the same school where he earned his J.D.

His experience teaching and practicing law has shown him why LL.M. programs specializing in intellectual property are so critical.

“For people who are interested in this area, what has been taught and what is taught are often grossly insufficient,” Asbell said. “It's a survey course in many law schools, so students just get a basic overview. There's not a lot of practical training to help them understand how they practice it and how it ties to what clients are trying to achieve. That is not what it's like in the actual field. ”

Ideally, law graduates would leave with the understanding and knowledge they need for Day 1 of their career, but Asbell doesn’t always find that to be the case. Often, intellectual property law ends up being learned on the job, which means a firm or other lawyers provide the real training. As an educator and alum, Asbell knows how Cardozo is taking a different approach—and how that approach is making an impact on students.

“The depth and breadth of intellectual property courses offered by Cardozo is something that attracted me, and I took great advantage of it as a student there,” Asbell said. “I think the online LL.M. is an extension of that. This better equips a student to actually be able to leave the school, start a job, and be useful."

While at Cardozo, Asbell was able to dig deep into intellectual property law and found an enriching experience, which included learning about U.S. trademark law directly from the Commissioner for Trademarks, a guest professor for the entire semester in one of his classes.

Earning an LL.M. gives a lawyer the opportunity to switch gears in their career, especially if they don’t have existing educational or professional experience in intellectual property law.

“When I look at a person’s resume, one of the things I'm looking for is a sign of a commitment to this area,” Asbell said. “Very often I notice that a person’s experiences in this field are sporadic or nonexistent, and he or she hasn’t done enough work or volunteered in bar associations or other organizations focused in this field to demonstrate a true passion.”

“I want to believe that this is what they want and this is what they're passionate about. If I see a resume that has course after course and experience after experience in intellectual property, that makes it really easy to want to meet the person and give him or her a chance.”

Find your future with Cardozo

When you decide to pursue a career in intellectual property, know you’re finding a program that prepares you to be a success, whether you decide to pursue an international career or stay closer to home. Through our entirely online program, you’ll find a breadth and depth of intellectual property courses to join this growing and in-demand field of law.

Gain the foundation to navigate how industries as diverse as technology, privacy, fashion, and entertainment are impacted by patent, copyright, as well as trademark law. Learn more about the curriculum in the online L.L.M. in Intellectual Property program today.