Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Intellectual Property Clinic?

The IP Clinic has two primary goals: 1) provide a real environment for students to gain practical skills; and 2) provide a viable IP resource to the community, focusing especially on those who would not otherwise have the opportunity to receive legal services.

What kind of work do students perform?

Students of the clinic will perform intake interviews, provide counseling in IP matters, evaluate invention or mark disclosures, determine patentability or registerability, counsel on intellectual property strategy, conduct prior art searches, draft patent or trademark applications, review Examiner Office Actions, and provide related counsel to clients on U.S. patent or trademark applications and prosecution. Students will likely also participate in providing free lectures to the public on intellectual property topics.

What kind of student commitment is expected for the Clinic?

The IP Clinic is limited in enrollment (the number of students is capped) and is a graded commitment, with students earning two credits per semester. Students are expected to work approximately 10 hours each week in the clinic, which includes a three-hour weekly seminar class and a one-hour live mentoring session (for the patent side). Students are expected to complete at least 80 hours of Clinic work each semester.

Are there any prerequisites for the Clinic?

Law students need to have completed the IP Survey course and at least one full year of law school before beginning their IP Clinic experience. Other IP courses such as intellectual property litigation, licensing, as well as general business and/or contract courses are helpful.

What skills do students develop in the Clinic?

The Clinic is not designed to teach you everything. However, a goal of the IP Clinic is teach a little bit very thoroughly. This is intentional. The clinic focuses on the fundamentals – client counseling, application drafting, and office action responses. The hope is that by mastering such fundamentals, students can be in a position to learn and master any additional IP concept or skill thereafter.

Who are clients of the Clinic?

Clients of the Clinic include garage inventors, small-business owners, engineers, etc. In short, we’ve provided services to those who are very knowledgeable in inventing, as well as those who have no experience. Most of the clients have not pursued IP protection before, nor have many interacted with an attorney (or received legal advice) in any manner.

What if I’m interested in patents but do not qualify for the patent bar?

At a minimum, if you do not qualify for the patent bar, you can still qualify to participate with our trademark clinic, which does not have any technical prerequisites. Additionally, keep in mind that patent litigation attorneys and patent brokers, among other positions, do not require the patent bar. The patent bar is required in order to write patent applications and participate with securing the rights to an invention for your client. However, the effects of the patent (e.g. litigation, selling, asserting rights, etc.) do not require the patent bar. That being said, if you do not qualify for the patent bar but still want to receive such training via our patent clinic, we encourage you to still reach out to us to discuss how you potentially could get involved.

If I’m interested in the patent agent program, must I sign up for any law classes as well?

The patent agent program includes participation in the patent clinic, as well as participation in two courses (which are available and open to law students as well): patent bar preparation, and patent prosecution skills. You are not required to sign up for any other course for the program.

Do I get a certificate for completing the patent agent program?

Yes. You’ll receive a certificate from the school for successfully completing the year-long patent agent program.