Professor, student both published in law and technology journal

02.11.2013 | Faculty, Students, Law

Professor Susan Brenner and student Christina Gervasi have a lot in common. Both share a passion for cyberspace law - a field they say is growing exponentially with the advent of technology - and a desire to make a difference by improving current cyber laws.

And this month, their names both appeared on the front page of a leading law and technology journal.

Brenner, the NCR professor of law and technology, and Gervasi, a third-year student, had law review articles published by the University of North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology. Named by Patent-O as one of the top intellectual property journals in the country, the NCJOLT covers a range of technology issues such as privacy law, intellectual property law, environmental law and cyberspace law.

Brenner’s article, “Law, Dissonance, and Remote Computer Searches,” explores the legal consequences of using remote computer searches to track down and investigate overseas hackers. Using the example of a Ukrainian group that hacked into a bank in Bullitt County, Kentucky and stole $415,989 out of the county’s account, the article discusses the conflicts of law that arise in transnational cyber robberies.

“Cybercrime crosses borders,” Brenner said. “And in order to prosecute those crimes, police need evidence… but different countries have different laws when it comes to allowing police to hack into computers.”

Gervasi worked with attorneys from the Washington D.C.-based intellectual property firm Finnegan to write her article, “AIA Post-Grant Review & European Oppositions: Will They Work in Tandem, or Rather Pass Like Ships in the Night?

The article focuses on an upcoming change in the U.S. Patent Law system that will be implemented beginning this March. The article compares the U.S.’s introduction of post-grant review, which allows a third party to provide information to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after a patent is granted, with a similar process that exists in the European Patent System.

“We looked at whether the new litigation system for patents is similar to the European one, or not. We determined it probably is not,” Gervasi said. “The two systems are more different than they are alike.”

The publication of the article was especially meaningful to Gervasi, who plans to practice intellectual property law in Washington, D.C., with a focus on the cyberspace element. She was recently accepted into an LL.M. program at George Washington University Law School.

Currently in her Cyberstone Capstone class, taught by Brenner, Gervasi said she became fascinated with cyber law while taking Brenner’s cyber law class last semester.

“I loved it. I don’t think people realize how much their lives are affected by cyber law and cybercrime,” she said. “You have all of these issues with trademarks and patents and all kinds of other things. This isn't going to go away. This is the future of the law. It’s only getting bigger.”

Brenner, whose book, Cybercrime and the Law: Challenges, Issues and Outcomes, was published last fall, said people need to be aware of the growing dangers of cybercrime – and laws need to keep up.

“If you physically walk into a bank and try to rob it, you have a 62 percent chance of getting caught. But then we have these smart, sophisticated hackers, who can suck money right out of your bank account,” Brenner said. “What should police have access to? Should a bank be required to insure you against hacking? There are all these questions. There needs to be a balance between privacy and control.”

Gervasi, who was a firsthand victim of cybercrime last fall when her bank account was hacked, said she is excited to get involved in changing the law to keep up the increasing challenges cyberspace presents.

“I went to buy a coffee at Starbucks and my card was denied,” she said. “It shakes your confidence, makes you feel more vulnerable. People don’t understand the huge risks that are out there. I want to get involved in changing the law and improving it. It’s a challenge.”

For more information, contact Katie Wright at 937-229-4601 or