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Maryland Adds Cybersecurity, Patent Law To Graduate Program

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law has expanded its new master of science in law program to include specializations in patent law and cybersecurity, bringing the number of options to five.

The master's degree program, set to launch this fall, is designed to give non-lawyer professionals a deeper understanding of the way law and policy impact their day-to-day work.

The first three specializations -- in crisis management, environmental law and health care law -- were announced in September.

Given the level of interest in the crisis management concentration, adding a cybersecurity option was a natural choice, said Michael Greenberger, director of the university's Center for Health and Homeland Security.

"We've seen in our work with private companies that employees who have technical knowledge about cybersecurity would be helped tremendously if they also were able to have expertise on the law and policy of cyber," he said.

Students in both the cybersecurity and crisis management sections will have the opportunity to take courses related to the other field, and Greenberger will oversee both specializations, he said.

The patent law division is intended for engineers, software developers, inventors and others who have a vested interest in intellectual property and patent issues, said Patricia Campbell, director of the Maryland Intellectual Property Legal Resource Center.

"We're thinking about people working in technology companies, whether that's computer hardware, software or biotech -- employees who are actually inventing things," said Campbell, who will supervise that concentration.

It also might appeal to professionals in the upper echelons of a company, she said.

"Maybe they're in management and concerned with creating an IP strategy, but need to have a better understanding of patent and IP laws," Campbell said. "The program would teach those people what's a patentable invention, and train them to work more efficiently with their lawyers."

Courses in the patent law track will cover topics needed to become a registered patent agent -- someone who is able to file and prosecute patent applications, without the time commitment and expense of attending law school, Campbell said.

"If you've just finished a Ph.D. in biotech, maybe you don't want to commit to three more years of law school," she said. Each master's degree program will include a capstone requirement, in which students complete a project with practical applications related to their profession.

For the patent law concentration, this could mean preparing an application suitable for filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For a cybersecurity student, the capstone might involve legislation that increases the burden on companies to notify consumers when their private information has been compromised.

"It could be working with the General Assembly on a state statute, or working on a federal statute," Greenberger said. "We have contacts with private partners who are setting up tactical defenses to hacking or creating offensive tactics that would aid the U.S. in piercing, for example, North Korea's cyber infrastructure."

Greenberger estimated the cybersecurity concentration will enroll about six students this fall, while Campbell said she hopes to see about 15 in the patent law specialization. Classes for the program will be held at the University of Maryland, College Park, although the degree itself will come from the Maryland law school.

The law school will accept applications to the two-year, 30-credit master's degree program until April 15. Although tuition rates will not be finalized by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents until April, the estimated total cost is $22,500, or $750 per credit hour.

(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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