A post from our student blogger Megan
Last week as the summer wound down, a dozen or so of my fellow Master of Science in Patent Law cohorts and I peeled ourselves away from our jobs back at home and our sun-soaked weekends to begin a fresh start at the University of Notre Dame. On Monday August 18, we were greeted by Dr. Karen Deak who catapulted us into the fascinating and fast-paced world that is patent law. From a few quick introductions, we discovered that we were amongst incredibly accomplished scientific and legally inclined professionals, all eager to learn the depths of patent preparation. Dr. Deak wasted no time immersing us in patent terminology by splitting us into groups and assigned us the task of writing a single claim for the chair that we were each sitting on. Claims are the legally enforceable part of a patent that define the patentee’s exclusive right. A patent is a negative right—it prevents others from making, using, selling or importing what the claims define. But we quickly learned that what seemed an easy job of describing a basic chair became quite an undertaking. Every nuance of the chair’s design and function was mulled over and over by the four members of my group. We wrote and re-wrote claims like mad scientists searching for the correct formula to build a simple formula. I am safe in saying that claims drafting is an art and a science that takes time and finesse.
The following day, Dr. Deak continued the inauguration into patent law by administering to her students a practice United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) exam, also known as the “patent bar.” The patent bar is a six-hour examination that upon passage allows one to practice as a patent agent or patent attorney if you are a member of a state bar. The test is rigorous but once you have passed you are authorized to practice in front of the USPTO—a worthwhile endeavor according to Thursday’s guest speaker, Dr. Art Moss. The MSPL students got valuable patent practice advice as well as an inclusive summation of patent law from Dr. Moss, a retired DuPont patent agent. During his full day presentation, Dr. Moss explained that patent prosecution is the preparation of a patent application and its review by the patent office. Dr. Moss provided us with a mountain of incredible practical knowledge that we can safeguard and use while practicing as agents and attorneys.
By Friday we were beginning to understand why the MSPL week-long program was called “bootcamp.” Our minds were packed full of new facts and knowledge, primed for what the master’s program had in store for us in the year to come. Bootcamp wasn’t without its share of fun, though, as we went to dinner as a group one night and on another got to attend a South Bend Silverhawks baseball game. During the game we were able to eat, drink, and meet all of our MSPL professors. Bootcamp proved to be a success: we got a jump start on learning patent law and quickly got plugged into Notre Dame campus life. This is going be a challenging and exciting year in the MSPL program!