UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Intellectual Property Clinic at the Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank is accepting new clients statewide. With students from Penn State Law in University Park on staff, the IP Clinic provides counsel to entrepreneurs, innovators, and small businesses including patentability and trademark clearance searches and drafting applications to help the client get the legal services they need.
“The Intellectual Property Clinic offers a unique opportunity to entrepreneurs and Penn State Law students alike,” said Vice Admiral (Ret.) James W. Houck, interim dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs. “Students gain invaluable experience of taking in a client, identifying their needs, and taking the necessary legal steps to help the client.”
Law students working at the IP Clinic help real people with the legal side of their business, product, or idea. Jonathan D’Silva, assistant clinical professor of law and director of the Intellectual Property Clinic, said, “The Clinic is an experiential learning opportunity for the students to have a first-hand experience of what intellectual property practice is in a small-firm setting. It gives them exposure to dealing with clients from initial interviews to dealing with most of the intellectual property issues that they may see in practice.”
Mohamed Ahmed, a third-year Penn State Law student, spoke about playing an important role in guiding new clients through the IP process—a process that may deter new entrepreneurs or small business owners from taking the next step with their new idea or product if they don’t have the help they need. “I look forward to listening to clients talk about their ideas. Often, inventors and artists think that IP law is a mine field and walking them through what to do and what not to do regarding their intellectual property is rewarding,” he said.
Prospective clients are invited to fill out an intake form to begin the process. D’Silva said, “The client of the IP Clinic will get a basic introduction to intellectual property as it relates to their project and, if appropriate, the students will prepare and file patent, trademark, and copyright registrations for them and prosecute those before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Copyright Office. The students also prepare simple IP licenses and contracts and will perform prior art patent searches and trademark clearance searches.”
D'Silva said that the IP Clinic offers these services at no cost for the students’ or attorneys’ time. The clients are responsible for expenses such as government filing fees and preparation fees for drawings or any supporting documents that are needed. The IP Clinic will also make introductions to economic development agencies and LaunchBox resources.
Penn State Law students working at the IP Clinic are ready to help myriad new clients get the specialized support they need. “Meeting new clients is an exciting prospect,” said Adam Cook, a second-year Penn State Law student. “At a clinic that helps clients with intellectual property needs, anyone can walk in the door. The solo inventor in need of help filing a patent for their newest innovation, the small business in need of trademark registration, and the independent artist looking for copyright advice are just a few examples of what we deal with on a weekly basis. Furthermore, the students at the clinic hail from an array of STEM backgrounds that allow us to understand our highly technical patent clients while also providing cogent advice on the law,” he said.
The Intellectual Property Clinic at the Happy Valley LaunchBox provides law students with practical experience as IP lawyers working at a small firm. Students aid clients in protecting their ideas, inventions, and businesses and are responsible for intellectual property research, filing applications in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and providing advice for their clients.
Sarah Rivaud, a third-year Penn State Law student, is ready for the challenge of helping new clients and to learn all she can from the experience. “I enjoy hearing about all the different ideas people can have and I enjoy helping them either save money or doing what I can to help them accomplish their goals. I also appreciate the experience of meeting with new clients and providing advice. Every experience helps me be more prepared for a career, so I am grateful for new clients,” she said.