A post from our student blogger Megan Usovsky
I can remember the exact moment when I discovered what I wanted to do when I grew up…It was a stifling afternoon in late May during a high school anatomy class. Without air conditioning the atmosphere was thick as syrup in the mid-afternoon Missouri humidity. The anatomy lab was no exception: it began to reek of preservation fluid in early spring just as students began to dissect fetal pigs. Most students, and even some faculty, regarded the second floor science wing as an abysmal pit that needed to be avoided altogether starting in March. The strong scent of this occurrence never bothered me, though, and in fact, I felt at home in this section of the building because it was where half of my favorite classes were located. The other half of my favorite classes were held in the English department wing. It may have been the heat, but during this stuffy 6th period anatomy class I was struck with revelation: someday I would combine my love for science with my love for writing.
I pursued both science and writing after high school and I went on to receive my B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri. Following undergrad, I received my Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. During law school I was privileged to be selected to serve on two scholarly writing publications: the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review and the Thomas M. Cooley Journal of Practical and Clinical Law. Following law school, I co-authored two legal articles on workers’ compensation and negotiation. Currently, I have been a practicing attorney for over three years and have had the great fortune of learning some incredibly valuable legal skills. The ability to persuade judges and opposing counsel with words, especially in writing, can mean the difference between a client’s favorable or detrimental outcome.
I have reached a point in my professional career that I am truly ready to merge my scientific interests with my love of writing and my legal abilities—this is what attracted me to Notre Dame’s MSPL program. The 10 month curriculum trains matriculated candidates with science and engineering backgrounds to become patent agents or patent attorneys. A patent agent is a person who has met specific technical and educational criteria, has passed the USPTO Exam, and is licensed to draft and prosecute patent applications. A patent attorney must have the same qualifications as an agent, and additionally, is a licensed attorney who may conduct patent trials and practice in trademark cases. Both patent agents and attorneys work closely with persons and entities seeking protection of innovative ideas.
Patent law clients are very special: they are inventors. The ability to communicate with technological innovators cannot be learned from mere passage of the patent bar, though. Practical experience is crucial to translating the details of an invention into a well-crafted patent application. The Master of Science in Patent Law program at Notre Dame will prepare me to effectively and efficiently converse with inventors to understand and then draft their ideas onto paper. The MSPL program at Notre Dame possesses incredible opportunities for prospective patent attorneys and agents, especially through hands on education. Matriculates will draft a faculty inventor’s application and then submit it for patent, get the opportunity to work with leaders in technology and science, and sharpen technical skills through class work and patent research.
It is an honor to join Notre Dame’s esteemed Master of Science in Patent Law Program in an exciting field where science and innovation collide. In essence, patent law is a Big Bang of technological thought process and physical construction of an idea—the point where science discovery and law crash together to create a formidable result: a patent protecting an invention. Each member of Notre Dame’s MSPL program approaches the curriculum with unique education and work backgrounds, I am thrilled to share my practical legal perspective with the program and look forward to gaining a greater depth of knowledge from the other MSPL candidates, professors, and innovation professionals we will be privileged to work with.