Peter Menell

Research Expertise and Interest

intellectual property, property law, environmental law & policy, entertainment law, federal courts

Research Description

Peter Menell is a Berkeley Law professor.  He is Co-founder and Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, and Co-founder and Faculty Director of the Berkeley Judicial Institute.

After earning his J.D. and Ph.D. in economics, Peter Menell clerked for Judge Jon O. Newman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 1990 and soon began laying the groundwork for the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (BCLT), which he co-founded in 1995.  Professor Menell served as BCLT’s Executive Director from 1999 to 2005 and continues to serve as a Director.  In 2018, Professor Menell co-founded the Berkeley Judicial Institute (BJI) with former FJC Director and Judge Jeremy Fogel and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. BJI fills a long-standing need to establish an effective bridge between the legal academy and the judiciary for the primary purpose of promoting judicial integrity and judicial independence. In 2021, Professor Menell co-founded BCLT's Life Sciences & Innovation Project.

Professor Menell’s research and teaching span intellectual property across the digital technology and entertainment fields, as well as environmental law and policy, property law,  law and economics, and judiciary reform. His current teaching focuses on intellectual property law, legal protection for digital technology, technological disruption and social justice, intellectual property protection in the entertainment industries, life sciences and innovation, and judiciary reform.

Professor Menell has authored more than 100 articles and 15 books, including leading casebooks, intellectual property treatises, and research handbooks.  He has also made substantial contributions to Nimmer on Copyright. Professor Menell’s monograph-length Brace Lecture, This American Copyright Life: Reflections on Re-equilibrating Copyright for the Internet Age, is published in the Journal of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A., Vol. 61, pp. 235-371 (2014).  The Harvard Journal of Law & Technology featured Professor Menell’s monographRise of the API Copyright Dead?: An Updated Epitaph for Copyright Protection of Network and Functional Features of Computer Software, Vol. 31, pp. 305-490, in its Spring 2018 Special Issue on software interface copyright.  The California Law Review published Revisiting and Confronting the Federal Judiciary Capacity 'Crisis': Charting a Path for Federal Judiciary Reform (with Ryan Vacca) as the lead article for the June 2020 Symposium issue.  In 2021, the Berkeley Technology Law Journal published  a special issue on design patent law featuring Design Patent Law’s Identity Crisis (with Ella Padon-Corren) as the lead article.

Professor Menell has organized more than 60 intellectual property education programs for the Federal Judicial Center, including an annual multi-day program on “Intellectual Property in the Digital Age” since 1998, and a webinar series.  He is the lead author of the Patent Case Management Judicial Guide, a 1200 page treatise now in its third edition, published by the Federal Judicial Center for federal judges. Professor Menell has advised the U.S. Congress, federal agencies, state Attorneys General, and major technology and entertainment companies on a wide range of intellectual property and antitrust matters.  Congress adopted Professor Menell’s proposal to immunize whistleblowers from trade secret liability in the Defend Trade Secret Act of 2016, 18 U.S.C. § 1833. See Peter S. Menell, Tailoring a Public Policy Exception to Trade Secret Protection, 105 California Law Review 1 (2017); Peter S. Menell, The Defend Trade Secrets Act Whistleblower Immunity Provision: A Legislative History, 1 Univ. Missouri Business, Entrepreneurship & Tax Review 397 (2017).  Professor Menell has authored numerous amicus briefs on intellectual property issues.  Professor Menell is a Member of the American Law Institute and serves as an Adviser to the Copyright Restatement Project.  

Throughout his career, Professor Menell has spearheaded efforts to address important public policy challenges through consensus-building projects. Most recently, he confronted controversies over patent eligibility and patent damages. See Final Report of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Section 101 Workshop: Addressing Patent Eligibility Challenges, Berkeley Technology Law Journal (forthcoming 2018) (with Jeffrey A. Lefstin and David O. Taylor); Final Report of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Patent Damages Workshop, 25 Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal 115 (2017) (with Stuart Graham, Carl Shapiro, and Timothy Simcoe).

In 2012-13, Professor Menell served as one of the U.S. PTO's inaugural Edison Visiting Professionals, where he advised the PTO on various aspects of intellectual property policy.

In 2013, Professor Menell presented the Copyright Society of the United States' 42nd Annual Donald C. Brace Memorial Lecture. He presented the Melville B. Nimmer Memorial Lecture in 2019 and a keynote lecture on music copyright justice in 2021.

In 2016, Professor Menell founded Clause 8 Publishing to promote creation and dissemination of the highest quality and most up-to-date educational resources at fair prices.  In its six years, Clause 8 has saved law students approximately $6 million (80-90% reduction depending on the format) compared to years when these books were published by a traditional publisher.  

In 2021, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) invited Professor Menell to co-lead the development of an International Patent Case Management project. The U.S. chapter, co-authored with Allison Schmitt, is available here.

In 2022, the U.S. PTO appointed Professor Menell to serve as an Edison Distinguished Scholar and Expert Consultant.

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