The Intellectual Property Law Clinic at the University of Maryland School of Law has been selected to participate in the United States Patent and Trademark Office's expanded Trademark Law School Clinic Pilot Program. The initial Law School Clinical Certification Program was launched by the USPTO in 2008 with participation limited to only five schools nationwide. Recently, the USPTO announced that 20 law schools would be admitted to the expanded program this fall, and Maryland is honored to take part.
Beginning in the Fall Semester 2010, students enrolled in the Intellectual Property Law Clinic will have the opportunity to obtain limited recognition to practice before the agency in trademark application matters. Under the supervision of the faculty clinic supervisor, students will draft and file trademark applications, respond to office actions from the trademark examiners, and draft and file briefs in appeals to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Participation in the program will significantly enhance the services that the clinic can offer to emerging high technology companies.
The Maryland Intellectual Property Legal Resource Center (MIPLRC) was established in 2002 as a joint initiative of the University of Maryland School of Law and the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development. The MIPLRC provides free legal assistance on intellectual property matters to emerging technology companies and also trains law students to serve the needs of early-stage high technology companies. The Center was initially created in response to growing demand for increased access to legal services by Marylandís emerging high tech and biotech companies. Many startup companies, otherwise unable to afford legal services, face challenges in protecting their intellectual property rights. The Center was the first law school program of its kind in the United States to be situated in technology incubators.
In September 2009, the MIPLRC opened an office on the campus of the University of Maryland at College Park, where it is housed in the Technology Advancement Program (TAP) Incubator operated by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (MTECH), a division of the A. James Clark School of Engineering. From its locations in College Park and the School of Law in Baltimore, the Center provides legal services to early-stage technology companies throughout Maryland. The Center performs an important role in the state's effort to promote technology entrepreneurship and to nurture emerging companies, resulting in economic growth and the creation of valuable jobs.
MIPLRC delivers legal services primarily through law students, who practice under the supervision of experienced faculty members. Second- and third-year law students interested in participating in the Center's mission may enroll in the Intellectual Property Law Clinic, a five- or seven-credit clinical course offered in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The legal services provided by student attorneys have included preparation of draft patent applications, assistance with filing trademark applications and copyright registrations, drafting of licenses and confidentiality agreements, performance of preliminary prior art searches, and provision of counseling on the development of an IP portfolio. By interacting continually with technology entrepreneurs and working in their midst, law students develop sensitivity to, and expertise in, dealing with the unique challenges faced by their clients. Since July 2002, approximately 300 clients have received legal services provided by nearly 100 student attorneys.
In addition to its clinical component, the Center also fulfills an academic function. All students enrolled in the Intellectual Property Law Clinic are required to attend a weekly class meeting, where they receive instruction on practical topics, such as how to prepare and prosecute a patent application and how to draft a nondisclosure agreement tailored to a clientís specific needs. The MIPLRC is currently considering a plan to provide academic offerings for local attorneys, entrepreneurs, scientists, and researchers. In the future, the Center may also offer IP short courses for business and engineering students.