The USPTO, working in conjunction with the Patent Office Professional Association announced June 20 that the Patent Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program will add a Petition to Make Special component. Schools participating in the program will be allowed a set number of applications to be advanced out of turn each semester beginning with the upcoming fall 2012 academic year.
The new Petition to Make Special component to the program provides more immediate response for participating students because the applications they file are more likely to receive substantive examination within the school year. The Law School Clinic program allows law students to practice patent law before the agency under the guidance of a law school faculty clinic supervisor. Each law school clinical program must meet and maintain the requirements for USPTO certification in order for student practitioners to practice before the USPTO.
“We look forward to expanding this successful program and adding the ability of the law schools to advance a limited number of patent applications for examination,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, David J. Kappos. “Providing real-world experience for law students while delivering pro bono services to the community will better prepare the students with the tools necessary to tackle the complexities of intellectual property law that are so important in today’s innovation economy.”
The participating law school clinical programs provide patent legal services to independent inventors and small businesses on a pro bono basis. Clinic clients can expect to receive patentability searches and opinions, advice from clinic law students regarding their IP needs under the supervision of a faculty practitioner, drafting and filing of patent applications, and representation before the USPTO.