Writing claims

In our Capstone class this week, we wrote claims. Again. šŸ˜‰

This week, the students wrote claims for coasters. You know, those things you put your drinks on when it’s humid outside. There are three coasters, each slightly different from the others; so the students broke into small groups and each group wrote a claim for a coaster.

Do you have a coaster handy? Pick it up, and notice how “simple” it is. Each of our coasters has a top layer (keeps the water off the table); and a bottom layer (keeps the coaster from slipping around on the table). Even as simple as our coasters are, it took over 30 minutes to write claims about them… and I think that was pretty efficient!

That’s what patent agents do. They have to thoroughly describe the invention. And that kind of thorough description doesn’t come easily. It has to be carefully thought out. And after that, the description has to be translated into the appropriate legal language to make the description into a claim that can be enforced against an infringer.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish 4-Pack Boasters Stainless Steel Mascot Coasters

The Chicago patent bar

I’ve had a busy week this week! On Monday, we had the Open House, which kicked off our recruiting season for our next class. On Wednesday, Travis, one of this year’s MSPL students; Gaylene, from our Office of Technology Transfer; and I met with a faculty inventor to learn about his technology (which Travis will be working on as his Capstone project).

Thursday was quite full. I was on the South Shore Line train into Chicago at 6AM, and arrived at 8AM. I love riding the train in because I get so much done without the distractions of email! I met Ron Kaminecki there, along with Janet Laybold from our Law School. We spent the day talking to Chicago patent prosecutors and litigators about the MSPL. They had some really good ideas about ways that we can promote the program in the Chicago area; both to find students and to help our graduates get great jobs.

Thursday ended with an invitation to attend the Linn Inn of Court. Inns of Court (I learned on Thursday) are a way for the legal bar within a particular field of law to share knowledge and mentor the next generation of lawyers in that field. I’m not sure if I, as a patent agent, would be eligible to participate. Hopefully I’ll continue to be invited and can learn more about what happens!

Friday we hosted the professionals from our Office of Technology Transfer, so that the MSPL students could get to know them. Because our students’ Capstone projects are delivered to OTT at the end of the year, it is important to me that everyone can put a name with a face well before the final work is handed in. We kept it pretty informal, simply doing introductions all around (students and OTT folks) and then doing a Q&A. I think our students asked some great questions!

And, of course, Saturday was the MSU game. I spent my pre-game time working hard, making sure that I met a couple of patent professionals who were tailgating!

Chicago skyline at night

Chicago skyline at night



Week Three – Capstone Projects

Week three is here, and on Friday our students have their first real assignment due for theĀ Capstone classes. The Capstone is a year-long project, in which the students end up having written a real, complete, hopefully fileable patent application. Being able to write a patent application is one of the bread-and-butter activities of a patent agent; and a real asset to prospective employers.

The students’ deliverable this week is to write a synopsis of the technology that they’ll be working on for the rest of the year, including a list of features that are potentially patentable. They will use the synopsis in their Capstone class, as they start to write claims for the invention; and for theĀ Searching classĀ that Ron is teaching, to determine what is actually patentable in the disclosure they’ve chosen. I’m looking forward to learning more about all of these exciting technologies, which have been kindly donated by ND professors!

Also this week, we hosted an Open House so next years’ prospective students can learn more about the MSPL. Tom Mauch and Mike Wack (our faculty teaching both semesters of Patent Law; patent attorney and patent agent at BioMet) were kind enough to join us. If you missed this one, we’ll be hosting a couple more Open Houses this semester: in Chicago on Nov. 7; and on campus on Nov. 11. RSVP to Cathi Kennedy (ckenned7@nd.edu) if you want to come to either one — dinner is provided!

I didn’t remember to take a photo during the Open House, but I took this photo afterward. I’m still learning how to use all of the fun features on a relatively recently new phone!

Goofing off after the Open House!
Goofing off after the Open House!

More recruiting!

Last night was the Fall Career Expo and Engineering Industry events here at Notre Dame. The MSPL had a booth at both events, and I got to meet quite a few students interested in careers as patent agents. Hopefully they will all join the MSPL in the next few years!

Today I have had a series of exciting meetings. Two of my big goals are getting the MSPL to Chicago and online for next academic year. Nothing is definite yet, but these meetings make me hope that I might be able to accomplish both of those things! Stay tuned for more details….

Settling into the semester

MSPL students have made it through the second week of classes. Our students are getting started on their Capstone projects: most have talked to their inventors already, and are starting to get a feel for what they’ve really signed up for.

Inventor interviews are one of the best parts of patent prosecution, and something that patent agents get to do all the time. By definition, inventors have something new and cool to tell you about. They Ā are therefore usually really enthusiastic about their subject matter, and, especially at a University like Notre Dame, they’re really smart people!

Next week in my class and also in Hal’s class, we’re going to start writing claims. Claims are the part of the patent that defines the property right of the patent owner. They are therefore the most important part of the patent; and not surprisingly, the most difficult to write. I think our students are really going to enjoy claims drafting — it’s like a big jigsaw puzzle to try to find how the pieces should all go together!

The first week of school!

The first week of real MSPL classes was a whirlwind. Mike Wack, Ron Kaminecki and Hal Milton all had plenty of interesting things to talk about in their classes. In the Capstone sections, I discussed techniques our students could use as they head into their interviews with the inventors they’ll be working with for the rest of the year.

On Thursday, I went to Loyola University – Chicago to do some recruiting for next year’s MPSL class. Loyola has a brand-new student union, which was a great place to host a grad school and career fair! Hopefully I met some prospective patent agents there!

Loyola University Recruiting Fair

Loyola University Recruiting Fair


On Friday, we hosted the first of our Friday Lunch-and-Learn speakers: Paul Tully from McDonnell, Boehnen, Hulbert and Berghoff in Chicago. Paul is a patent litigator, and gave the group a great overview of patent law in general.

On Saturday, Paul and his daughter came back to ND for our home opening football game – against the Temple Owls. That’s me, second from the left, and Paul, next to me.


Karen's husband, Karen, Paul Tully, and his daughter - Go Irish!

Karen’s husband, Karen, Paul Tully, and his daughter – Go Irish!