Penn State
Lewis Katz Building, University Park, PA
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Intellectual Property Clinic FAQ

For Students

What is the Intellectual Property Clinic?

The clinic was created to give law students the opportunity to perform client counseling and U.S. Patent Office-related filing activities that will provide them with IP practice-ready skills. 

What kind of work do students perform?

Students will meet with individual clients and small inventor entities and entrepreneurs, scholars, and others who would not otherwise have access to IP services. Students of the clinic will perform intake interviews, provide counseling in IP matters, evaluate invention disclosures, determine patentability under rules including the America Invents Act and recent and developing case law in patent law, counsel on intellectual property strategy, conduct prior art and patentability searches, draft patent applications, review Examiner Office Actions, and provide related counsel to clients on U.S. patent applications and patent prosecution. Students may also take on special projects in current PTO rulemaking and public policy.

What kind of student commitment is expected in the Intellectual Property Clinic?

The IP Clinic is limited in enrollment and is a graded commitment, with students earning three credits per semester. Students are expected to work approximately 12 to 16 hours each week in the clinic, which includes a two-hour weekly seminar class and two-hour live client session.

Are there any prerequisites?

Patent Law is a required prerequisite course for enrollment. Other IP courses such as Trademarks, Copyrights, and Introduction to Intellectual Property as well as general business law courses are helpful, as is Evidence. Students must complete at least one full year of law school before beginning their IP Clinic experience. Enrollment is facilitated by online application, and is limited.

For Potential Clients

What is a student law clinic?

All 50 states have laws that allow qualified, upper-level law students to actively represent clients—free of charge—under the direct supervision of law school faculty attorneys. These laws give law students an invaluable hands-on educational experience, providing necessary services and linking law schools to their communities. Clinics provide law students with an opportunity to develop practical skills including interviewing, counseling, negotiation, advocacy, researching and legal writing, and developing legal strategies. Both general skills developed and knowledge of specific legal issues garnered from clinical experience makes clinic graduates valuable to employers—and to the community. Clients of clinics receive the benefit of free, competent, and committed legal representation while helping to provide an outstanding legal education to the region’s future lawyers.

How does the clinic choose cases?

The clinic’s faculty and student attorneys will select cases based on criteria including complexity, novelty, case load, resources, and anticipated duration, all in the subject matter areas of intellectual property. Demand for the clinic’s services will be significant. Unfortunately, because of the clinic’s small number of student attorneys, the clinic may not be able to accept all worthy cases. Currently, there is no income qualification for representation by the clinic, however the clinic will choose clients in part based on financial need and those who would not otherwise have access to high quality intellectual property counsel.