The Hansen IP Institute
Professor Hugh C. Hansen began his academic career in IP law at Fordham University School of Law in 1978 as a Visiting Associate Professor of Law, earning tenure at the Law School in 1986. During his early years at Fordham Law School, Professor Hansen taught and wrote extensively about international IP law, while contributing significant work to the field of antitrust law. His early mentors included Professor Walter J. Derenberg of New York University Law School and Dean John Feerick of Fordham Law. Prof. Derenberg, as a German-born IP academic, provided an international perspective on IP law that would seed the origins of the IP Institute and its international scope. Similarly, while Prof. Hansen was a member of the Fordham Law faculty, Dean Feerick was cultivating Fordham Law’s strong and longstanding commitment to the international community, in particular, the European Union.
In 1990, Prof. Hansen and Dean Feerick began discussing the idea of Fordham Law holding a conference focused on international IP law. At the time, Prof. Hansen observed that the EU was developing a Community approach to copyright protection, which had potential ramifications for IP throughout the world. Many “newly industrialized or developing countries” with “marginally developed copyright laws” would be looking to other countries, including the EU, for models. Further, he saw the EU model potentially ushering in a future of increased multilateral and bilateral negotiations. Finally, he viewed the activity in the EU as a potential influence on U.S. law and policy, in both Congress and on the judiciary. Prof. Hansen’s vision of the emerging field of international IP ultimately prevailed in convincing Dean Feerick and the Law School to host a conference on the subject. In 1992, the inaugural Fordham International Intellectual Property Law & Policy Conference was held.
Over the years, the conference grew and expanded to include speakers and attendees from six continents and over 35 countries. In 2004, Prof. Hansen added an Annual Fordham Asian IP Law and Policy Day to provide for the demand of interest in IP law in Asia, in particular Japan and China. Indeed, the growth of conference’s international scope has mirrored the expansion of IP as a significant area of law and component of global economic policy. Similarly, as IP has matured as a field of law that, early on, warranted limited academic scholarship, it has also grown in international interest and prominence to both academics and practitioners alike.
By 2009, IP programming at Fordham Law had grown so substantially that Prof. Hansen decided to establish the Fordham IP Institute to further the mission of examining international IP law and policy. The Fordham IP Institute is also known as the Emily C. & John E. Hansen Intellectual Property Institute, a gesture by Prof. Hansen to honor his parents and their contributions to his years as an IP scholar.
In 2012, the conference celebrated its 20th year. To commemorate this anniversary, the IP Institute solicited articles from noted IP authors to contribute to a special volume of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. On the anniversary, Prof. Hansen commented on how IP had moved from a once “boutique” non-digital field with few people interested in international IP to center stage of legal practice as well as popular discourse. This change could be attributed at least in part to the world becoming increasingly digital, which could have a significant impact on the future of IP law and policy. Many commentators, in both the journal volume and at the conference, shared Prof. Hansen’s view, noting that 20 years earlier, IP was a relatively nascent legal field that had since witnessed remarkable maturation.
Today, the IP Institute and conference continues to evolve to encompass the expanded interest in and importance of international IP law and policy.