Last week, two MSPL students and Cathi and I spent a couple of hours volunteering at the Northern Indiana food bank. That place is MASSIVE — I had no idea how big it is, or how many people and agencies it services. It’s two floors of a gigantic warehouse, all dedicated to storing and distributing food to those in need.
Our job was to prepare meals for students to take home over the weekend so they don’t go hungry. As you can see in the picture below, the Food Bank has a great system set up — you go down one side, where Rose and Travis are, putting one of each item into a bag, and then tie the bag up and drop it in the bin at the end. Repeat on the other side (demonstrated by Cathi).
A genius two-sided assembly system
Just a quick reminder that we have a couple of Open Houses coming up soon.
I will be in Chicago this Thursday, Feb. 13; and at an Open House on campus on Feb. 17. At both Open Houses, we’ll have a couple of students joining us to talk about their experiences in the MSPL this year.
I hope I see you there!
School has been cancelled yesterday afternoon and today — we’re having an unusually cold and snowy winter.
Given that class was cancelled yesterday, but also taking into consideration that our professor for Patent Prosecution had driven all the way from Cleveland to teach, we held a virtual class meeting using Google hangouts. It was quite successful, actually! Cindy (the prof) did a great job, and I think it was a good exercise in conference-call and video-conference etiquette for our students. They learned that they need to be more responsive and demonstrative than they would normally be in class, since the prof is not able to read their comprehension as clearly as if in-person.
And, possibly the biggest upside of holding the class virtually is that we don’t have to hassle with scheduling a makeup!
By definition, the MSPL focuses on teaching our students about patents. How to get them, how to talk to people about them, what they’re good for (or not). But sometimes it’s important to step back and get some perspective.
In our Ethics class, our students will spend the first three weeks of the semester learning about the other kinds of Intellectual Property that are common in the United States: trade/service marks, copyright, trade secrets, and trade dress. (In other countries, traditional knowledge is also considered a type of IP, but we don’t cover TK in our curriculum.)
The point of having our students learn about these other kinds of IP is quite practical: clients have problems; and most clients have more than one type of problem. So, it’s almost certain that, at some point, every patent agent is going to see a TM or (c) and need to know what that means. … and whether or not s/he can provide legal advice to the person who’s asking a question (hint: NO!).
I teach these classes, and even though they’re out of my area of specialty, I really enjoy them. This year the Robin Thicke/Marvin Gaye lawsuit over “Blurred Lines” is going to provide us with some fun subject matter when we talk about copyright. And, my favorite Diet Coke will make a special appearance as a teaching prop!
Read part I here.
Read part II here.
Patent prosecution, from the inventor or applicant’s perspective, can be scary. Their patent application, which they have probably spent a lot of money to have prepared, isn’t going to become a patent after all??!!
That’s not necessarily the case, though — as mentioned in Part I, it’s quite frequent that an applicant gets a rejection for a good reason!
Here’s where a good patent agent or attorney is invaluable. The rejection will be made in highly legal and technical terms — and the patent agent or attorney will know how to rebut the rejection appropriately. They’ll be able to throw the legal and technical jargon right back at the Examiner and blow his or her argument to bits (formally known as “overcoming the rejection”).
These skills aren’t something you just pick up — the MS in Patent Law teaches our students how to systematically approach rejections from the Patent Office, so they can help inventors get patents.
Read part I here.
After a patent application has been filed, a person at the US Patent Office has to review the application and decide whether the application deserves to become a patent. The person who does this review is called a Patent Examiner.
The Examiner looks to make sure the application fulfills all of the requirements that the US Code sets out for a patent (mainly, 35 USC 101, 102, 103 and 112). The Examiner will reject any application that does not fulfill these requirements — ie, s/he won’t allow the application to become a patent. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s not unusual for the Examiner to make a rejection the first time s/he looks at an application.
Once an applicant gets a rejection, s/he gets to rebut it. In other words, the applicant gets to say why the Examiner is wrong. This process of rejection and rebuttal is known as “Patent Prosecution”. Sometimes people hear prosecution and think of going to court — but that’s not the case here at all! Patent Prosecution refers to the negotiation between the applicant and the Patent Office about whether a patent application should be allowed as a patent.
In future posts: What does patent prosecution look like from the inventor’s perspective? What do MSPL students learn about patent prosecution?
The MS in Patent Law’s spring semester starts on January 13 with the first class of Patent Prosecution taught by Cindy Murphy. This course is a very important component of the MSPL curriculum because patent agents spend so much time using the skills that this class teaches in the real world.
It turns out that filing a patent application is only the first half of getting a patent. If the application has been correctly drafted, the Patent Office’s first communication to the applicant will be to let them know that the application has been rejected. ‘What?! A well-drafted patent application will be rejected?! How is something that gets rejected well-drafted???’
Here’s the logic behind that statement: if your patent application gets allowed (ie, becomes a patent) right away, that means you didn’t ask for enough. It’s like selling your house — if your list price is too low, someone will just pay what you’ve asked without haggling over it. Patents are the same way: if the Patent Office lets you have one right out of the gate, you didn’t ask for enough.
In subsequent posts: What is patent prosecution? What does patent prosecution look like from the inventor’s perspective? What do MSPL students learn about patent prosecution?
Our last guest for the MS in Patent Law’s Football Friday lecture series this semester was Michael Sartori, PhD – chair of the patent prosecution practice at Venable LLP. Michael is a triple domer (BS, MS and PhD)… although he decided to go elsewhere for his JD.
Michael talked to MS in Patent Law students about things to consider to create a successful career in patent prosecution. Among the pointers he provided: as a new patent agent, make sure you get to work on all of patent application drafting, patent prosecution and patent litigation; and make sure that your firm has processes in place for providing a quality product to its clients — which requires knowing how to serve the clients you work for.
Michael has been a big supporter of the MS in Patent Law, from before it was ever officially created, in fact. Thanks for coming to visit and talk to our prospective patent agents, Michael!
Karen, MS in Patent Law student Josh, and Michael
Last week was a rough week for the MSPL. Mike Wack (PATL 60101- Patent Prosecution Law) got hit by a car on Thursday! Note that I didn’t say “Mike’s car got hit by a car,” … but rather, “Mike got hit by a car.” He’s doing well, but obviously we’re needing to make some adjustments to our teaching schedule. I’m taking Mike’s class on Monday, and will be lecturing on the changes to 35 USC 102 and 103 under the America Invents Act. I actually really like this topic, so, under the circumstances, I am happy to step in (although of course I’d rather that Mike hadn’t been hit by a car!).
Additionally, Hal Milton (PATL 60201- Patent Application Drafting) had to have surgery on Friday. He refers to it as “preventative maintenance,” but any kind of surgery that has to do with blood flow and heart function seems serious enough to me. I hope he’s recovering well!
On a happier note, we’ll be holding an Open House at our Chicago center this Thursday, and hosting Mark Dighton from PLI on Friday. Mark is visiting campus because, every year, we provide our MSPL students with a patent bar exam review course. PLI is the vendor we’ve been using for these courses; last year we had at least four students pass the exam on their first try!
The ND-ASU game was tons of fun — especially because we won!!
My favorite part of football games is usually the Notre Dame band (because they’re always good!), and once again they didn’t disappoint. They had prepared a variety of Texas-themed songs and moves.