Patent Pros at Work in Universities

We take pride in noting that patent agents have a wealth of career opportunities—with law firms, the USPTO, and within corporations’ intellectual property divisions, but we haven’t yet mentioned those in our own backyard—universities eager to commercialize the technologies they’ve developed.

Take this quote from a recent article on “One source of new technologies is our national labs and universities that get federal funding. Their mission is to find commercial partners to bring inventions out of the lab and turn them into real products.”

Most universities now have distinct departments devoted to facilitating this process. At Notre Dame, it’s the Office of Technology Transfer. Among their functions:

  • To secure legal protection (patents) for ND technologies,
  • To market those technologies to companies that are well positioned to bring them to the marketplace,
  • To negotiate and execute licenses transferring rights in ND technologies to such companies


Just a brief look at the current technologies put forth by the university and you can see the win-win opportunity that patent licensing makes possible, for startup companies and universities alike.

Not to mention the opportunity for the facilitator! Consider it: a job in which you are on the forefront of every advancement that comes out of a university, where you’re the bridge between the academy and the business world, making new technologies available for public benefit. Interested? Contact the Masters Program in Patent Law to learn how our degree is your first step forward.

Coastal Opportunities for Patent Agents

Job prospects for patent professionals are about to get a lot more… coastal.

Plans for the Silicon Valley office of the USPTO have begun to firm up. Last week, acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank told city officials that the office will open within “12 to 18 months,” employ 125 people, and be “the biggest modernization of the patent office we’ve ever seen.”

The news comes just in time, considering that Silicon Valley is ground zero for high-profile patent lawsuits. Apparently in the world of computer software and hardware, with engineers playing musical chairs between companies, it’s all too easy to step on each others’ toes and infringe on intellectual property.

But the new satellite offices should help curb that. Says Rebecca Blank, “these new offices give us the ability to do higher-quality patents, and could mean fewer legal challenges.”

And not to mention less plane tickets for patent agents headed to to Virginia, home to the original USPTO. It’s fair to say the Patent Office has been all a-flutter about the new offices, which in addition to Silicon Valley, are slated to open in Denver, Dallas, and Detroit, which will be the first to open and was actually dedicated just last week!

Highlighting Notre Dame alumnus Matt Connors

Not only have Notre Dame alums helped to establish a relationship between the Master of Science in Patent Law and IP-powerhouse General Electric, Domers at prestigious legal firms are excited to help patent law flourish on the Notre Dame campus.

Matthew Connors, who graduated from Notre Dame in 1985 with a degree in Electrical Engineering, is just one such benefactor of the program. A former patent examiner with the USPTO, Matt joined a small patent law firm in Boston in 1991 and made partner in 1996. Gauthier & Connors recently merged with Boston legal practice Gesmer Updegrove, LLP. (Matt’s in the ND sweater, holding the patent.)

Matt has generously financed two scholarships for our first class of Patent Law students, and has also created a summer internship at his firm for a student from the first class—an essential foot-in-the-door for any legal graduate on the job market. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s even offered to mentor a student’s Capstone project—a real-life patent application.

It’s easy to see why Matt has such a continued interest in the University. He has one child, a daughter, who is currently studying at Notre Dame, and his son will be joining the Freshman class this coming Fall — further proof that the ND spirit and legacy runs deep.

Our great thanks to Matt!

Karen in Karen

During my trip, I stayed at the Holy Cross formation house, which is quite near CUEA, in a neighborhood called Karen (oh, the irony!). The formation house was mostly empty while I was there, which was technically at the start of the southern hemisphere’s winter (although since Kenya is equatorial, their “cool season” is completely unrelated to what I’d think of as winter in Northern Indiana). Pictured below are the residents of the house for the time that I was there.


We’re at a restaurant called Carnivore, which is known for serving exotic meats. We had ostrich and crocodile, and of course some local Tusker beer!

On one Saturday during my visit, my CUEA hosts took me to the Nairobi National Wildlife Park. There’s a wildlife park completely surrounded by the city of Nairobi! It was an amazing experience to visit the park with the Chair of the Biology department – he was able to identify all kinds of birds and animals, and tell me all about their life cycles, and what pressures they’re facing due to encroaching human populations. While we didn’t see any lions or cheetahs in the wild, here are a few exciting photos of wild game that we did see.

I also was privileged to visit the Holy Cross mission in Dandora. Dandora is in the eastern part of Nairobi, and, if it is known in the West, it’s for being the site of a huge trash dump in the middle of a large urban population. I attended a Mass that was said in Swahili, which was beautiful; and the choir was absolutely phenomenal! Fr. Tom didn’t warn me about the incense that was very prominent in the service, and I spent a good portion of the Mass trying not to sneeze!
This trip was my first experience in a developing country. I see now, in a way that I could not conceptualize before, what kinds of challenges the people and stakeholders there face. I am looking forward to continuing to work with and get to know the Holy Cross and CUEA friends I’ve made, and hope that I can enable them to create positive change for the people of Kenya.