Professor Giuseppina D’Agostino, Founder and Director of the Intellectual Property Law & Technology Group (IP Osgoode) at Osgoode Hall Law School, stirred up the IP community yet again with her innovative and invigorating way of “tearing apart the patent system.”
On October 23 and 24th IP Osgoode along with partners and collaborators at the Lassonde School of Engineering, Stanford University’s d.school, and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office hosted the first ever legal hackathon of its kind at Osgoode Hall Law School. The focus of the hackathon was to deconstruct the unnecessarily complex status quo patent system and make the patenting process more navigable and user friendly. In order to achieve this goal, Professor D’Agostino radicalized collaboration within the IP community by inviting the different stakeholders in the patent process, such as patent examiners, patent agents, IP experts in industry, inventors, lawyers, patent agents and law students to participate in this first ever IP Hackathon. The IP Hackathon was also the result of Professor D’Agostino’s research funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
Dean Sossin kicked off the event with a warm welcome: “…Legal hackathons are rapidly evolving platforms to bring together people from multiple disciplines and thus create problem-solving tools to empower and enable its users. This event also celebrates the novelty of our law school’s highly acclaimed scholarship…Professor D’Agostino has added a new flavour to our robust experiential learning through this event.”
Inspired by her sabbatical time at Stanford University, Professor D’Agostino highlighted the importance of legal hackathons vis-à-vis conventional academic conferences: “It is high time for the legal community to learn from outside its field and adopt a user-centric approach because its voice is critical to understand how problems are defined and resolved.”
The Honourable Assistant Deputy Minister Bill Mantel was the luncheon keynote speaker and spoke of the government’s initiatives to spur innovation.
Dean Kozinski, the founding Dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering applauded IP Osgoode’s initiative to host an IP Hackathon that brought together law and technology like never before. Appropriately, kicking off the prototype-testing day of the event he said “…Lassonde School is motivated to produce Renaissance Engineers through its BEST Program which fosters innovative minds to create and commercialize technology. IP Osgoode’s legal hackathon is a unique opportunity for my students at Lassonde to work closely with their legal colleagues…”
Along with Professor D’Agostino, legal tech scholars from the d.school – Institute of Design at Stanford University, namely, Ron Dolin, Margaret Hagan, and Maya Shino, were the design hosts for the event. Together they led the four teams of hackers through the six-stage design methodology to hack into the status quo patent system and resolve user challenges. Because the design approach is user-centric, the hackers had a chance to interviews inventors and consider the needs of the inventors – user testing and continuous feedback from the inventors to the hackers formed the cornerstone of the workshop. The hackers also had the opportunity to consult with professional design developers on the usability of their prototypes and refine their prototypes. The outcome was four sets of different user-friendly prototypes with high potential for real life applications. In keeping with the objective of putting words into actions, each group also presented an action plan on how to advance and launch their prototype.
Professor D’Agostino plans to build upon the success of the IP Hackathon and host subsequent IP hackathons in the very near future to tackle other aspects of IP commercialization. The conversation and ideas will continue to flourish so please stay in the loop by visiting www.iposgoode.ca and subscribing to the IPIGRAM, IP Osgoode’s weekly e-newsletter.
Meenakshi Lakhanpal is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and is enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law Intensive Program.