This past weekend, I had the honor of presenting at University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Law APALSA conference. It was an incredible event with an impressive array of speakers, including Judge Pamela Chen (U.S. District Court Judge, Eastern District of New York), Helen Wan, Associate General Counsel, Time Inc., Deeana Jang (Chief, Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, Civil Rights Division at U.S. Department of Justice, Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man), and many more.
During the panel that I was a part of, we spoke about cultural identity within the entertainment industry. We had some well-researched questions about each of our respective endeavors and were able to speak about our own observations pertaining to diversity, intellectual property law, and opportunity. Even though I was one of the few presenters who did not have a juris doctorate, I felt quite comfortable speaking about the subjects thanks to my experience with my own trademark case.
In fact, we spoke at length about the case and discussed the notion of identity: who gets to make decisions pertaining to identity? How can laws or cultural practices be changed to align with these inherent rights?
The best part of the conference was the keynote dinner with Pamela Chen. It was such an inspiration and almost made me want to enroll in law school…almost. We spoke about my case afterward and she completely agreed with me: The Slants should be a registered trademark despite some objections by the USPTO because of free speech and the fact that reappropriation is a very real and important experience for communities of color.
The students I met were all sharp, passionate about their work, and had a desire to use their respective areas of law to make a positive cultural impact in this country. In short, it was an amazing experience! I look forward to other APALSA events in the future.