What we do

A post from our student blogger Roberto

As I read through my older posts I realized just how much my time at Notre Dame and in the MSPL has shaped me as a person and as a professional.  This starts with the courses in the MSPL which have been extremely informative and practical.  The homework we are assigned mirrors assignments we will be given once we graduate in May.  For example, the final project in our Patent Searching class is a search report and competitive analysis document that is similar to documents we will be constructing routinely in our careers.  In our patent law and prosecution class we are studying for our second exam which is strongly representative of the Patent Bar exam many of us will take in the coming months.  Our electives are all winding down as well with many of us working feverishly on projects in those classes as well.  Looking back, last August seems a long time ago.

While we are far from finished with our training we already show signs of immense progress.  This progress has been obvious on a few occasions.  For example, in our technical presentations we are now able to talk our inventors through sections of the United States patent code and help them understand what all goes into a patent application.  As I talked to my inventors it really hit me how far we’ve come.  Not so long ago I would have been in their shoes and I would be just as perplexed by the long winded sentences found all too often in legal writing.  The technical presentation was great practice for our future careers as our inventors will often not have any understanding of the law and will want an in-depth analysis and explanation before they commit to pursuing a patent.

As you may be able to tell, there are many unspoken roles and jobs of the patent practitioner aside from what is listed under the typical job description.  As a practitioner it is important to remember that your job is to decode and simplify the laws, codes, and regulations to the client.  Typically, clients will not have the knowledge necessary to understand these things but they will need to understand them in order to make crucial decisions.  Another job that a practitioner must always fulfil is that of an engineer or scientist.  The reason why the USPTO requires that all patent practitioners have a background in these fields is because that knowledge and skillset is needed on a daily basis.  For instance, my capstone project is focused on highly advanced electrical engineering technology and my background is in mechanical engineering.  Even though I am not an EE my previous education has helped get me to the point where I can understand enough of what is going on to write a patent application on the technology.  The thing about patent practitioners is that we must never stop learning.  There will always be new technology to be understood and therefore new content that must be learned.  In a lot of ways this job exposes one to more technological advancement than what may be seen in a typical research capacity.

Regardless of the job, the patent practitioner derives meaning and personal enjoyment from helping the inventor protect his work while promoting and fostering the advancement of technology.  However, patent practitioners only exist because of the patent system.  Without patents there would be less of an incentive to invent and innovation would likely be left to large corporations.  Without patents small inventors like my father would be discouraged from investing everything they have into a dream only to have it taken away by someone with more resources.  The necessarily complex patent system requires the patent practitioner for the reasons above.  As a result, patent practitioners play a vital role in the intellectual property ecosystem by fighting for their inventor’s protection at home and abroad.

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