Power of Invention Panel

Panel: Harnessing the Power of Invention

Friday, March 17, 2006, at 2:30 pm Pound 100, Pound Hall, Harvard Law School

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Jay Thomas is a Professor of Law at Georgetown Law. Professor Thomas was formerly Associate Professor of Law at the George Washington University. He has previously joined the visiting faculties at Cornell Law School and the University of Tokyo, and also been the Congressional Research Service Visiting Scholar in Economic Growth and Entrepreneurship. Professor Thomas formerly served as law clerk to Chief Judge Helen W. Nies of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and Comparative Patent, Copyright and Unfair Competition Law in Munich, Germany; and research scholar at the Institute of Intellectual Property in Tokyo, Japan. He was previously associated with the law firm of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, L.L.P., in Washington, D.C. Professor Thomas has published numerous articles and five books on the subject of intellectual property law.


Ron Riley, founder of Professional Inventors Alliance USA, has produced inventions in a multitude of areas, including the telecommunications, biotechnology and consumer products industries. Specializing in industrial controls and product development, he is best known for five patents related to the automated industrial monorail and two patents on his revolutionary enhancement of the treadmill.

For more than 20 years, Riley has championed the cause of American inventors who face difficulties with the infringement of their patents. In the mid-1990’s he was a founding member and president of the advisory board of the Alliance for American Innovation. Based in Washington, DC, the organization lobbied members of Congress on behalf of independent inventors. The organization disbanded following the enactment of the American Inventors Protection Act.

As one of the most vocal critics of the Patent Reform Act of 2005, Riley argues that this new bill would irreparably damage America’s patent system and handicap U.S. inventors and entrepreneurs. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA). Riley often counsels members of Congress on national and international intellectual rights and on the protection of America’s intellectual assets.

Walter Bender is President of the One Laptop per Child foundation, a not-for-profit association that is developing and deploying technologies that will revolutionize how the world's children engage in learning. Before taking his leave of absence from MIT Bender was executive director of the MIT Media Laboratory. He was also former holder of the Alexander W. Dreyfoos Chair. Bender is a senior research scientist and director of the Electronic Publishing group. Mr. Bender also directed the Gray Matters special interest group, which focuses on technology's impact on the aging population. In 1992, Mr. Bender founded the News in the Future consortium and has been a member of the Lab's Simplicity, Things That Think, and Digital Life consortia. He received his BA from Harvard University in 1977. Mr. Bender joined the Architecture Machine Group at MIT in 1978. He received his MS at MIT in 1980. A founding member of the Media Laboratory, throughout his career, Mr. Bender has engaged in the study of new information technologies, particularly those that affect people directly. Much of the research addresses the idea of building upon the interactive styles associated with existing media and extending them into domains where a computer is incorporated into the interaction. He has participated in much of the pioneering research in the field of electronic publishing and personalized interactive multimedia.

Rob Berman is Acacia’s Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. Since joining the company in 2000, he has directed patent licensing and enforcement programs which have generated approximately $50 million in revenue. Prior to joining Acacia, Mr. Berman held business development and legal positions at National Media Corporation, QVC, and the law firm of Blank Rome. Mr. Berman received a B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and a J. D. from Northwestern Law School.

Josh Lerner is the Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in the Finance and Entrepreneurial Management Units. He graduated from Yale College with a Special Divisional Major that combined physics with the history of technology. He worked for several years on issues concerning technological innovation and public policy, at the Brookings Institution, for a public-private task force in Chicago, and on Capitol Hill. He then obtained a Ph.D. from Harvard's Economics Department.

Much of his research focuses on the structure and role of venture capital and private equity organizations. (This research is collected in two books, The Venture Capital Cycle and The Money of Invention.) He also examines policies towards intellectual property protection, particularly patents, and how they impact firm strategies in high-technology industries. (The research is discussed in the Innovation and Its Discontents.) He founded, raised funding for, and organizes two groups at the National Bureau of Economic Research: Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy and the Economy. He is a member of a number of other NBER groups and serves as co-editor of their publication, Innovation Policy and the Economy. His work has been published in a variety of top academic journals.

He serves as the School’s representative on Harvard University Patent, Trademark and Copyright Committee and on the Provost’s Committee on Technology Transfer.

Glenn Brown is Products Counsel at Google Inc. Before Google, Glenn was Executive Director of Creative Commons from 2002-2005.

Glenn graduated from Harvard Law School (JD), where he worked at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Harvard Law Review, and the University of Texas at Austin (BA). He served as a law clerk for the Honorable Stanley Marcus on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Miami in 2000-2001.