MS in Patent Law Still Accepting Applications

Notre Dame’s one-year MS in Patent Law is accepting applications for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Our students learn hands-on skills that prepare them for a career as a patent agent – helping people prepare and obtain patents. Patent agents work at the cutting edge of their technical area, and also at the cutting edge of the law.

Applicants must have a background in science or engineering. Strong applicants have good oral and written communication skills. Applicants with EE and advanced degrees are especially encouraged to apply.

We expect our class to fill soon. Apply early for best consideration!

MSPL Student on 1st Place ND Team in 2014 Cardinal Challenge

By Nina Welding

NanDio, a team of students from the University of Notre Dame, took first place in the 2014 Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge held February 14-15 by the University of Louisville College of Business. The team was honored for its business plan to commercialize an oral cancer detection device for dentists. All teams were judged on their written plan, the poise and professionalism of their presentation, and the viability of their venture. The NanDio device’s simplicity of use, speed of test results and accuracy of the test as an early detector gave the team the winning edge.

Mimicking the real-world process of developing and growing new commercial ventures, including raising venture capital, students in the Cardinal Challenge developed business plans based on their own ideas and technologies or on those developed by others. The NanDio team — graduate students Ben Miller, an MBA student in the Mendoza College of Business; Patrick Rice, a student in the Engineering, Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Masters program; Marcy Kreimier, who is pursuing her master’s in patent law at Notre Dame; and Daniel Miller, an M.D./Ph.D.  pre-doctoral fellow at the University of Missouri School of Medicine — along with faculty adviser Gaylene Anderson, senior commercialization officer at the Cleveland Clinic focused their efforts on biomarkers and a novel membrane sensor technology recently. The biomarkers were developed at the Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Institute by Miller and M. Sharon Stack, the Ann F. Dunne and Elizabeth Riley Director of the Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Institute and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Notre Dame, while the membrane sensor was developed by Zdenek Slouka, a postdoctoral associate in the Center for Microfluidics and Medical Diagnostics (CMMD); Satyajyoti Senapati, a research professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Hsueh-Chia Chang, the Bayer Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and director of the CMMD. Chang and Senapati are members of the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics Initiative at Notre Dame. The research was supported by a Walther Cancer Foundation grant to Professors Chang and Stack.

Each challenge team was also required to field a minimum of two but no more than five members, prepare an executive summary and present a 15-minute pitch describing the nature of the technology and potential of their proposal. This was followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session during which the judges — more than 25 successful venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and business leaders — quizzed team members about their presentation. Twelve of the 13 invited teams braved the wintery weather to compete.

As the winner, NanDio received $15,000; an invitation to the 2014 Global Venture Lab Investment Competition, which will be held May 1-3 in Austin, Texas; and a more than $125,000 “Launch in Louisville” package, which requires the winning team to locate and operate its business in Louisville within one year of receiving the award as well as an advertising package, $25,000 design and technical architecture services, logo development, a $10,000 cash economic incentive, website development, office space for a year, and more.

Other participants included Local Libations from the University of Texas at Austin (second place), A-76 Corrosion Inhibitors from Rice University (third place), Movellus Circuits from the University of Michigan (fourth place), Appro Therapeutics from the University of Louisville, CYANO Pharmaceutical from the University of Oregon, the University of Arkansas’ Datavis, Don’t Be Skiddish from the University of Manitoba, the University of Cincinnati’s Effuelent, FluidScreen from Yale University, Huntin’ Buddy from Kennesaw State University and NuFortis from the  University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Markman hearings

This year, for the first time, MSPL students are going to participate in a mock Markman hearing. What is a Markman hearing, you ask?

When a patent is litigated (think Apple v. Samsung [smart phones], Association of Molecular Pathologists v. Myriad [breast cancer genes and diagnostics]), one of the important steps of the pre-trial process is the Markman Hearing. This hearing is named for a case from 1996 in which the Supreme Court decided that a patent’s claim language is a matter of law (to be decided by a judge) instead of a matter of fact (to be decided by a jury). The outcome of that case is that now, before a patent infringement case goes to a jury, a judge will “construe” the claims via a Markman hearing.

In the Markman, the two sides decide jointly which claim terms need to be clarified, and then each side briefs and then argues their positions before a judge. Cases can be won or lost at the Markman stage, since an unfavorable claim construction (ie, interpretation) can completely undermine one party’s legal position. In fact, many cases settle immediately after the Markman hearing.

It’s important for a patent agent to understand how litigation works, since the patents which they write may eventually be litigated. The Markman is the most direct part of that process — why did the patent agent or patent attorney choose a particular word for a claim, and what did that word mean when it was chosen?

Our students will be taking claims and terms that were litigated in the recent Apple v. Samsung case, and briefing/arguing a couple of the more interesting claim terms. Our judges will be two practicing patent litigators — Rick McCaulley from Ropes & Gray in Chicago, and Tony Dowell from Taft, Stettnius in Indianapolis. Next Friday we’ll meet to learn about Markman hearings and identify the claim terms to brief, and then the following Friday the students will present oral arguments. Check back to learn how it goes!