From the 2006 News Archive
IP Law Clinic Students file amicus brief with U.S. Supreme Court in support of Maryland's biotechnology industry
In an effort to help preserve tax credits vital to the growth and development of Maryland's biotechnology industry, faculty and students from the School of Law's Maryland Intellectual Property Legal Resource Center
have filed an amicus curiae
brief in the Supreme Court of the United States in DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno and Wilkins v. Cuno
, Nos. 04-1704 and 04-1724..
"I told the students this was an opportunity to do something in law school that some of them might never experience again during the rest of their legal careers. This isn't Moot Court; it's the real thing," said the Center's Director, Prof. Frederick A. Provorny.
"At the same time, this case is central to what we do: use the legal system as an engine to drive development and employment in the high-tech sector in Maryland."
In a decision issued on September 2, 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in Cuno that the State of Ohio's investment tax credit violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
"At least forty states use tax credits as economic development incentives. The Sixth Circuit's decision could affect them all," said Provorny.. "Indeed, Prof. Edward Zelinsky of the Cardozo School of Law and the Tax Foundation have stated that if the decision stands, virtually no state tax policy or other state government activity would be secure from challenge under the Commerce Clause."
Although Provorny anticipated that a wide range of large institutional entities – economic development agencies, multinational corporations, chambers of commerce, and states and cities – would file amicus briefs in support of DaimlerChrysler and Ohio, he saw a unique niche for a group to inform the Court about the importance of targeted tax credits to small business in general, and the increasingly vital emerging technology sector in particular.
"Nobody else was going to tell the story from our perspective, that of start-ups at their earliest stages, and the enormous instability the Sixth Circuit's ruling could create," he said.
The 11 students who worked at the Center and were enrolled in the School of Law's Intellectual Property Clinic read the entire record, as well as all briefs filed with the Sixth Circuit and in connection with the petitions for writs of certiorari... With Prof. Provorny's guidance, the students, then decided which issues to include in the brief, before dividing into teams to research and do preliminary writing. A Copy of the brief is available here
Provorny lauded the commitment and enthusiasm of his students, including one who picked up the brief from the printer and drove to the Supreme Court to file it himself.
"He dropped them off at a guardhouse where they were signed in and then sent away for decontamination. It turned out not to be a very dramatic or glamorous process," he said.
Oral argument is scheduled for March 1, 2006, and Provorny plans to have as many students as possible attend.
"It's rare that the Supreme Court grants certiorari in any case. I saw this opportunity for the Center to file an amicus
brief as an exceptional educational opportunity for our students and consistent with the mission of the Center to use the legal system as an engine to promote economic development, prosperity and job creation in Maryland's technology sector, in which the state has staked its economic future." he said.