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Anthony Parker

October 21, 2021

Roz Bahrami

We sat down with Anthony Parker, a Current Student Ambassador (CSA) in the Intellectual Property Law program, to learn more about him, his experience in the LLM, and how he hopes to apply what he’s being taught. Read on to learn more.

Tell us a bit about you and what you do.

 I have this very obscure, little-known job within the government. I am responsible for granting intellectual property rights in an area called “plant breeders’ rights.” In the world of IP, everyone knows about patent, copyright, and trademark law, but only a few people know about plant breeders’ rights. Despite its obscurity, it’s still an important area of IP law, supporting the economic prosperity of Canada’s agriculture sector. In addition to being the Commissioner of Plant Breeders’ Rights, I also have the privilege of representing Canada in a global organization called the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV).   

A bit about who I am? I was raised on a farm in rural Ontario, and that really set the pathway for my career. My love of agriculture motivated me to pursue graduate studies in plant breeding. Yes, plant breeding as a profession is actually a thing! I worked for several years in a public breeding program, moved around a few times within government, and then was asked to become the Commissioner of Plant Breeders’ Rights. For me, essentially a farm kid and plant nerd, it is the perfect vocation. So it is brilliant, I still get to have a connection to plant breeding while supporting investment and innovation through the granting of IP rights. It allows me to give back to a sector that’s so important to me. I’ve always had a strong scientific and technical grounding for the work that I do, but no formal legal training in IP; everything I picked up has been on the job. What has been missing is an immersion in IP case law and doctrine – an essential piece that could help me in my vocation. That’s why the LLM program fit the bill perfectly. My motivation was to learn about all the other forms of IP protection so I could then apply the concepts to my work. 

That’s a perfect segue! Can you say more about your research and discernment process around the LLM? Why this particular degree? 

First and foremost, it was the reputation of the university in this particular field. I researched and looked at other universities with comparable programs, but wanted to go to a school that would have strong ‘bench strength’ – high calibre professors, a well-structured program, and an accessible schedule.  

Things can get a little hectic for me, so having a program that looked like it was consciously developed around a busy professional life was really, really important to me. It would have been very difficult to find time and availability for some other programs out there.  

Lastly my decision to enroll was based on a conversation that I had with an Osgoode alumni! Someone I respect immensely. I was batting around the idea with him, asking how his experience was as a student. Pursuing this program was based on his advice. He said it was a great school and a great program. He was the inspiration for my decision. 

What kind of expectations and concerns did you have? What did you discover upon actually beginning the degree?

In hindsight, I was excited but didn’t have any specific expectations. Certainly, I was concerned, and a bit intimidated, coming into a program where people (I assumed) generally already have a law degree. I’m someone who doesn’t. I come from a science background. Before the program started, a bit of self-doubt creeped in, and I was asking myself questions like, “Am I going to get this? Am I going to be able to do this successfully?” One of the realizations that came quite quickly to me was the fact that this isn’t structured solely for lawyers, but for anyone who has an interest in IP. The program is certainly advantageous for lawyers, but really, any professional whose job might touch on this area could fit in; government workers administering IP law, policy makers, anyone in a technology transfer office within the university sector, and those in private companies involved in IP licensing could benefit from this IP program. I was relieved and very pleasantly surprised to discover that the way the program is structured was applicable to a wide swath of IP professionals.  

Tell us a bit more about your student life.

The program is structured in such a way that students come through in cohorts. So, you certainly do develop a strong relationship with your fellow classmates. It’s important. You feel a sense of belonging with others sharing the same struggle as you are, moving through the course material together. And I think that’s just as strong in an online in a virtual world as it would be in-person. In the evenings or on weekends when we’re logging on… there’s a strong sense of camaraderie. People are logging on early to connect prior to the course beginning. You predictably see the same people week after week and it creates a bond. There’s a real sense of community.  

It’s always an enriching dialogue. The professors leave a lot of room for students to discuss and debate things back and forth. I found that surprising and really valuable. I had assumed that program would be prescriptive and it wasn’t. It’s been very enlightening. Space is created for students to put their points of view and opinions forward. It’s an open learning environment. The quality of the instructors and their enthusiasm for the subject matter is contagious. They’re so into it that it inspires the students. 

Do you have a favourite class? 

I’m only halfway through. I couldn’t pick one! Every class has exceeded my expectations and sparked my interest. The Patent Law course has the greatest applicability to my role. You could take the statute that I administer and the Patent Act and line them up, side by side, there are so many similarities. However, the Copyright Law course is intriguing – the case law and doctrine is fascinating. But they’ve all been fantastic.  

What would you say to a prospective student? 

If you have been mulling over the decision, on the fence about whether to enroll or not… take the chance, take the risk. It’s a very fulfilling and enriching experience. If you’re interested in the subject matter, the investment of effort is easy – it’s a very doable program. It just takes a mindset of engagement and commitment to be successful. Although I’m only halfway through the program, I’ve already reaped so many benefits that I can apply to my profession. 

Is there anything more you’d like to add? 

It comes down to the fact that the people make the program. The calibre of the professors and their ability to inspire interest and curiosity in the students is what really makes the IP program a success. Their commitment is contagious. All of us students soak that in and really thrive in that kind of learning environment. If there is anything that’s been key to my success, it would be the professors. 

Want to learn more about the Professional LLM in Intellectual Property Law? Sign up for an Information Session!