The IP Clinic provides the following services free of charge: client counseling, patentability and/or registerability searches, patent and/ or trademark application drafting, responses to USPTO correspondence, and Examiner Interviews, among other services.
The IP Clinic at Lincoln provides two different tracks to participate: the first track for law students and a second track for non-law students.
If you are interested in participating with the Clinic, students need to contact the school at [email protected] by the end of June. The Clinic for the following academic year is finalized during the month of July, and the Clinic begins during the month of August.
Intellectual Property Law Students
Patent Attorney (JD + IP Studies)
The difference between a Patent Agent and a Patent Attorney is that Patent Attorney may also appear in State or Federal Court to defend those patents against infringement (third parties using the invention without permission). Patent Attorneys must pass both the Patent Bar Exam (to obtain their Patent License) and a State Bar Exam (to become licensed as an attorney). Lincoln students pursuing a Juris Doctor in preparation for the California Bar Exam may take IP Studies courses and participate in the IP Clinic as electives. These students may become Patent Agents on their way to becoming Patent Attorneys.
Non-Law Intellectual Property Students
Patent Agent (IP Studies)
A Patent Agent must pass the Patent Bar Exam. Lincoln’s one-year Patent Agent Program is designed to teach students how to draft and present patents. It is the only program in Northern California that provides a Clinic in which students may practice these skills on behalf of actual inventors prior to being licensed. The Patent Agent Program also prepares students to take the Patent Bar Exam.
Frequently Asked Questions
The IP Clinic has two primary goals:
1) provide a real environment for students to gain practical skills
2) provide a viable IP resource to the community, focusing especially on those who would not otherwise have the opportunity to receive legal services.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes. You’ll receive a certificate from the school for successfully completing the year-long patent agent program.