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Patent attorney joins Penn State Law faculty to direct new Intellectual Property Clinic


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Catherine Kurtz Gowen, a patent attorney with 25 years of practice experience, has joined the Penn State Law faculty to direct the law school’s new Intellectual Property Clinic, tentatively scheduled to open in fall 2016.

Gowen’s vast experience in IP law includes service for more than 22 years as patent counsel at Johnson & Johnson, providing IP counseling to Johnson & Johnson affiliate companies in the pharmaceutical, diagnostic, and biotechnology businesses. She started her career at Johnson & Johnson as patent counsel in 1992, and was promoted to senior patent counsel in 2000. From 2006 to 2014, Gowen served as assistant general counsel for patents.

“I’m delighted to welcome Ms. Gowen to the Penn State Law faculty in University Park,” said James W. Houck, interim dean and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Penn State Law. “Her experience as a leader in patent law at one of the world’s top medical device and pharmaceutical companies will be extremely valuable as she develops our new IP Clinic and then leads our students as they gain practice experience in the growing field of IP law. And we are particularly happy that Ms. Gowen will be adding her expertise to Penn State Law's robust mix of clinics.”

As director of Penn State Law’s new Intellectual Property Clinic, Gowen will guide law students as they provide legal counsel to clients on a number of IP issues. The clinic, which is still in development, will provide counseling with respect to whether certain inventions are eligible for patent protection, the protection of trade secrets, and the registration of trademarks and copyrights.

Students in the IP clinic will work closely with those in the Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic, which launched this fall under the direction of Professor from Practice Tom Sharbaugh. Under Sharbaugh’s supervision, students in the clinic represent entrepreneurs, startups, and nonprofit organizations in a setting similar to a small law firm. Designed to help Penn State entrepreneurs first and foremost, the Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic provides general corporate services, such as formation, funding by third parties, equity compensation, and internal and external contracts to complement the IP services that will be offered in the Intellectual Property Clinic.

Both clinics are expected to play a large role in Penn State’s University-wide initiative, Invent Penn State.  Announced last year by Penn State President Eric Barron, Invent Penn State is a $30-million economic development initiative aimed at turning ideas and innovations originating at Penn State into viable business ventures. Providing legal advice for entrepreneurs and innovators is a key component of the campaign and any effort to transform inventions, discoveries, and new technology into commercially successful businesses.

At Johnson & Johnson, Gowen was responsible for domestic and global patent application preparation and prosecution, including the Patent Cooperation Treaty practice in biotechnology, biochemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, mechanical, and diagnostics technologies for a range of Johnson & Johnson Affiliate Companies. She worked closely with the company’s scientists and business development leaders on domestic and international IP protection. She provided legal counsel to senior corporate officials regarding negotiation and licensing strategies, patent enforcement strategies, and assessments of business risk.   In addition, she provided patent counsel to the company’s Global Access and Partnerships Program, developing patent enforcement policy in developing countries both within the company and in shaping the external environment. 

Gowen also played a large role in the professional development of new attorneys in IP law and has mentored law students both at the company and her alma mater to help them understand the IP law practice, the legal professional landscape, and best practices.

Gowen most recently served as assistant general counsel at Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc., a former Johnson & Johnson affiliate business that was sold to The Carlyle Group in 2014. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Gowen served as patent counsel from 1991 to 1992 at the Liposome Co., Inc., where she also served as a research associate from 1983 to 1986 and as a registered patent agent from 1986 to 1991.

Gowen holds a J.D. from New York Law School and an M.S. in biochemistry and cell biology and a B.A. in biology from East Carolina University.

With the addition of the IP Clinic, Penn State Law will offer students nine clinics and a practicum, covering a broad spectrum of legal areas, including arts and entertainment law, entrepreneurship, civil rights, criminal justice, family law, immigration law, international development, rural economic development, and veterans’ affairs.

More information on the Intellectual Property Clinic will be available in the coming months as the full scope of the clinic is defined.

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