A post from our student blogger Roberto
This year students in the MSPL will have the amazing opportunity to travel to California. On the trip students will visit many different companies with in-house counsel, such as E-Bay and Qualcomm, as well as distinguished law firms. A large focus will be on exposing students to different working environments, different working team styles and various career paths. As a patent agent it is crucial to be a team player and to understand the dynamic of the team you are working for as well. Visiting companies and firms in California will give MSPL students their first experiences in some of these different team styles. This will help them understand what to look for and the types of questions to ask as they are deciding where they would like to start their careers after graduation.
In anticipation of the trip MSPL students attended an emotional intelligence workshop. Don’t worry, when I first heard that I had no idea what it was either. Essentially, students participated in various team building activities aimed at helping them develop their interpersonal and team oriented skills. Though often overlooked, these skills will be utilized just as often as any technical skills in the real world. In fact, one of the major components of typical interviews is an evaluation of how a candidate would fit in with the current team structure and environment.
The past weeks assignments have continued the focus on preparation for life after graduation. In our prosecution class we recently worked through an assignment where several changes to the claims of a patent application and abstract needed to be formally submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO). What you may not realize is that there is an entire standard for how to submit these changes that includes underlining, strikethroughs and status identifiers that must be used by patent practitioners. While at first glance these standards, which are outlined in the lengthy manual of patent examining procedure (MPEP), may seem unnecessarily complicated they actually are quite practical. Just like any standard, these rules ensure that patent examiners only have to learn one editing convention. This increases the efficiency of the examiner and speeds up the entire patent process. Which is important considering the patent system is currently backlogged by about 590,000 applications.
One of the many benefits of becoming a patent agent is just how closely knit the relatively small community is. The patent law community is also pretty active, producing many blogs and forums for sharing news on relevant court decisions as well as educational pieces and other interesting stories. By far the biggest news of this past week was the Super Bowl between the Seahawks and Patriots. To my surprise, one of the intellectual property news sources I follow, IPWatchdog, published an article entitled “Seattle Football and the Twelfth Man Trademark”. The title of the article interested me not only because of the sports nature of the content, but also because we have recently spent some time learning about trademarks in our classes. While I won’t give away the entire article I will say it is an awesome read. For those who do not know, the Seattle Seahawks stadium is shaped in a way that funnels the noise from its 67,000 fans as efficiently as possible to the players on the field. This design creates the illusion that opposing teams are facing a “12th man” in the fans noise. As such, Seattle has launched new marketing strategies exploiting the“12th man” moniker. Unfortunately for Seattle, the “12th man” was trademarked by Texas A&M University back in the 1980s. As one may guess, litigation and subsequent settlement has occurred and now Seattle pays regular licensing fees to Texas A&M to use their trademark. For a complete and much better written story please read the article via the link above.