Intellectual Property Course Draws Eman Jarrah ’97 Back to Campus
Two days before Moravian College let out for spring break, Eman Jarrah ’97 sat in Collier Hall’s Physical Chemistry Lab leading what she called her “least-scientific class” of the semester.
Instead of the periodic table, atomic structure and other science-related topics, Jarrah, a former chemistry major, discussed the music of Cat Stevens, Coldplay and The White Stripes. Although surprising, the musicians – and their legal issues – fit perfectly into the course material for the College’s new class, “Science and Intellectual Property,” which Jarrah co-teaches with George Fairchild, adjunct professor of chemistry.
Launched during the spring 2014 semester, the inaugural course focuses on patent law for science majors, and how patents apply in the field of science. According to Fairchild, who is an inventor and worked as a U.S. patent agent prior to arriving at Moravian, the class also concentrates on intellectual property such as copyrights – hence the musicians – trademarks and trade secrets, areas Moravian science students should understand before graduation.
“One of my selling points for the course was that this is pretty unique for Moravian,” said Fairchild, who had been interested in teaching this course since coming to campus in 2008. “Not many, if any, four-year liberal arts colleges teach intellectual property. Usually, it is large universities in conjunction with law schools.
“This is an important subject for our students, especially those entering industry, to know about intellectual property and the many ways to protect intellectual property,” he added, explaining the need for a non-legal common language course. “It’s a very important skill and a very marketable skill.”
While she spent most of her own undergraduate career in Collier Hall, Jarrah pursued law instead of the laboratory post-graduation, eventually receiving her J.D. from the University of Dayton School of Law. She then practiced privately for six years before transitioning into her current position as Lehigh County’s deputy county solicitor. “Law school was cake compared to being a chemistry major,” Jarrah laughed. “I say that with all honesty.”
During her time of campus, Jarrah studied under Chemistry Professor Carl Salter, who is responsible for pairing Fairchild and his former student for the new course. He reasoned that Fairchild, who worked in industry for more than two decades, and Jarrah’s legal expertise would be a good combination for students interested in intellectual property.
Additionally, Jarrah understood the need for such a course in today’s world. “This is one of the more practical courses we could offer to a group of students that is ready to enter the workforce,” she explained. “Even if the students don't pursue a career in the legal field, it would be incredibly beneficial for them to have a basic understanding of intellectual property law as it applies to scientists. My hope is that they gain an understanding of the vocabulary and potential intellectual property issues they could face in the workforce.”
ABOVE: Fairchild (left) has served as a sounding board for Jarrah, who is teaching a class for the first time.
ABOVE: Jarrah, who works as Lehigh County’s deputy county solicitor, practiced law privately for six years.
The recent musical copyright discussion was a brief, but needed, departure from the course’s other lectures which are more “more technological and geared toward science,” Jarrah noted. “There is very little on copyrights in terms of the sciences,” she said, further explaining the musical clips shown in class.
The course, which consists of 12 students, mostly upper class chemistry and physics majors, meets once a week on Thursday afternoons. Fairchild sees great value in the course material, as well as an opportunity to highlight often overlooked career paths, such as being a patent attorney, patent agent or patent examiner. “These are careers that a lot of undergraduates don’t know exist,” he pointed out.
As the classroom emptied out post discussion, Jarrah and Fairchild gathered briefly to reflect on her lecture, with Fairchild serving as a sounding board for the new educator. “Teaching is not my field of expertise. It’s why I have been asking George to give me as much constructive criticism as possible,” she explained.
Jarrah admitted being a bit apprehensive to lead a class, but she was excited to return to her alma mater nonetheless. “I have nothing but fond memories of Moravian,” she recalled. “My entire four-year experience here was wonderful, thanks in part to my phenomenal professors. To be honest, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give back a little bit. I also missed Moravian. It’s nice to be back here on campus.”
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