The Center for Advanced Study and Research on Intellectual Property (CASRIP) was established in 1987 by UW law professor Donald S. Chisum, preeminent legal scholar in the field of intellectual property law who served on the UW faculty from 1969 to 1996.
CASRIP's mission is to foster the development of nationally and politically neutral policy relating to intellectual property matters, especially the international harmonization of patent laws. In 1992, the center became formally affiliated with the UW law school and began to expand its activities with some initial encouragement and funding from the UW Office of Research and the dean of the law school.
Intellectual property may take many forms: experimental results, a copyrighted software program, or an idea of potential commercial value. It may take the form of a new product or device, such as a new scientific instrument, or a process that can be licensed or sold, such as a novel approach for synthesizing a life-saving pharmaceutical compound. The ability to protect one's intellectual property has become vitally important to industry in the competitive marketplace and it will become an increasingly critical element for the long-term prosperity of the nation.
In recent years, trade relations between nations have been strained by clashes over intellectual property rights--the pirating of software, for example. Furthermore, patent laws vary from nation to nation; the patent filing rules and the manner and degree of protection given to intellectual property may differ between countries.
CASRIP was established as an independent research and policy development institute to focus on the complex problems associated with such patent and other property ownership rights in high-technology fields, including biotechnology, computer software, chemistry, electronics and mechanics. The center has been compared to the Max Planck Institute for comparative intellectual property law in Munich, Germany, but with a greater focus on problems associated with high- technology properties and with the Pacific Rim countries, especially the U.S. and Japan.
The center's activities are coordinated by director Michael Townsend and assistant director Toshiko Takenaka. Townsend, who holds a doctorate in mathematics as well as a law degree, worked at AT&T's Bell Labs and taught computer science at Columbia University and mathematics at Harvey Mudd College before coming to the UW in 1992. At the UW, he teaches courses on copyright, trademarks, and computer-related laws. Takenaka is a Japanese patent attorney who received her doctorate in comparative law at the UW, in which she compared German, U.S., and Japanese approaches to patent claim coverage.
CASRIP has undertaken a broad range of activities in research and policy development, and has helped to organize several international conferences on intellectual property issues. Since 1994, it has offered special 5-week, intensive summer institutes in intellectual property law, including courses in patent prosecution and enforcement, software protection, and European patent law, among other topics. CASRIP publishes newsletters quarterly and releases symposium publications on selected topics once per year.