LLM in Intellectual Property Law

Co-Directors John M. Whealan, M. Adelman, R. Brauneis Faculty Advisors: F. Scott Kieff, D. Nunziato, R. Schechter 

The George Washington University Law School has been a leader in intellectual property education and scholarship for more than one hundred years. By the time the Intellectual Property LLM program was first established at GW in 1895 as a "Master in Patent Law" degree, our alumni had already written the patents for Bell's telephone, Mergenthaler's linotype machine, and Eastman's roll film camera, among hundreds of other inventions, and dozens of our alumni had worked in the Patent Office. As legal issues involving technology have spread beyond the field of patent law, GW Law has remained at the forefront. In the early 1950s, long before the term "intellectual property" was in wide use, The George Washington University recognized the close relations between patents, trademarks, and copyrights by establishing at the Law School the Patent, Trademark, and Copyright Foundation, the country's first research institute in any of those areas.

In recent years, as intellectual property law issues have themselves become more tightly interwoven with issues in commercial law, computer and Internet regulation, communications law, and the regulation of medicine, GW Law has been among the first to add faculty and courses in those areas. At the same time, GW Law has not neglected its core strength in patents, and has continued to develop an unparalleled patent law faculty and curriculum. The result: an Intellectual Property LLM Program that is second to none, and that is ready and eager to equip students to deal with the innovations of the coming century.

The LLM degree program is designed for both U.S. and non-U.S. attorneys interested in intensive study of U.S., international, and comparative intellectual property law. Many U.S. attorneys complete the program to gain the specialized knowledge necessary to practice, teach, or regulate in a legal field that has been one of the hottest and most interesting for the last several decades. Many non-U.S. attorneys complete the program to get their first in-depth look at U.S. intellectual property law, while qualifying to take a bar examination that will enable them to practice in one of the United States, such as New York. While student enrollment at the Law School numbers approximately 1,860, enrollment in the Intellectual Property Law LLM program is limited to approximately 30 to 50 students each year.

Admissions Overview

Students must generally begin the program in the fall semester; spring admission may be allowed in special circumstances at the discretion of the program director.  

Both full- and part-time programs of study are offered. Part-time students in the program often hold positions with a U.S. government agency (particularly the Patent and Trademark Office), serve as law clerks in federal courts, or are in full-time private practice.  

The Intellectual Property Law Program welcomes applications from qualified graduates of non-U.S. law schools. A strong international presence in the student body is considered a vital element of the comparative focus of the program. In a typical year, we welcome students from more than a dozen countries.

Please note that the LLM is a graduate degree in law. To be considered for admission to this program, you must already have a JD or equivalent degree.

Degree Requirements 

Thesis (6690–91) and a minimum of 10 credits is required from the following courses; if the thesis is waived, an additional 4 credits in courses in the field, including 2 credits graded on the basis of a research paper, are required: 

  • Patent Law (6471)
  • Copyright Law (6472)
  • International Copyright Law (6473)
  • Trademark Law and Unfair Competition (6474)
  • Entertainment Law (6475)
  • Patent Strategies and Practice (6476)
  • The Federal Circuit (6477)
  • Licensing of Intellectual Property
  • Rights (6478)
  • Intellectual Asset Management (6479)
  • Chemical and Biotech Patent Law (6480)
  • Design Law (6481)
  • Patent Enforcement (6482)
  • Patent Appellate Practice (6483)
  • Computer Law (6484)
  • Law in Cyberspace (6485)
  • Art, Cultural Heritage, and the Law Seminar (6488)
  • International and Comparative Patent Law (6490)
  • Intellectual Property Antitrust Seminar (6494)
  • Intellectual Property Law Seminar (6496)
  • Government Procurement of Intellectual Property Law Seminar (6512) 

Courses Related to Intellectual Property Law (Please note: these courses do not qualify towards the 14 required IP credits).

  • E-Commerce (6283)
  • Sports Law (6295)
  • Antitrust Law (6402)
  • Advanced Antitrust Law Seminar (6403)
  • Communications Law (6412)
  • Telecommunications Law (6414)
  • Information Privacy Law (6486)
  • Formation of Government Contracts (6502)
  • Genetics and the Law (6616)
  • Law and Medicine (6617)

    View course descriptions


For many students, internships have proven to be one of the best ways to gain mentorship from members of the local intellectual property community. The Washington, D.C., area has the country's highest concentration of internships with nonprofit and trade groups, courts, and government agencies specialized in intellectual property, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the U.S. Copyright Office, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The GW Law Intellectual Property Program maintains an intellectual property internship guide for the benefit of students, and GW students have been successful in getting internships at these organizations. Students who arrange for an approved, nonremunerative placement may receive up to four hours of credit for their work, with five hours of work per week being required for each credit.

Research and Writing

Each Intellectual Property LLM student must write either a thesis for credit, or a substantial research paper in connection with a seminar or independent study project for at least two credits. Many students choose to write the thesis so that they can produce a published work and establish their reputation in intellectual property law. The Law School's wide diversity of faculty resources and close proximity to government institutions permit unparalleled access to the latest and most important issues in all areas of the field, both domestic and foreign. Every encouragement is given to student authors, ranging from individual counseling on topics of current academic and practical interest to the GW-only Marcus B. Finnegan IP Writing Competition, which provides substantial prize money every year. GW students have published their work not only in general law reviews in the United States (including our own Law Review and International Law Review) but also in specialized journals such as the American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal, the Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society, the International Review of Industrial Property, Copyright, and Competitional Law and the counterpart German language journals of the Max Planck Institute in Munich, the Journal of Japanese Group of AIPPI, and others.

The Dean Dinwoodey Center

The Dean Dinwoodey Center for Intellectual Property Studies, directed by Professors Martin Adelman and Robert Brauneis, sponsors research, lectures, conferences, and activities on a broad range of intellectual property issues. The Dinwoodey Center sponsors an Intellectual Property Workshop Series that regularly brings in academics from all over the United States and the world to present papers at the Law School. The Center also sponsors symposia that bring together leading academics and jurists to discuss important intellectual property policy topics. The Center is funded in part by the Bureau of National Affairs in memory of its founder Dean Dinwoodey, LLB '29.


Spotlight Item: Patent 821,393: Orville & Wilbur Wright, Flying Machine. Attorney: H.A. Toulmin, Class of 1882.

Patent 821,393: Orville & Wilbur Wright, Flying Machine. Attorney: H.A. Toulmin, Class of 1882.

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