This is not your traditional Masters program, our cohort is comprised of several students having educational backgrounds in civil engineering, biology, astrophysics and even a few students with doctorates. I state that not to brag about how educated we are but to say that even with so many educated people in a room, we are ALL new to the field of patent law and are looking to this program to train us to be competent patent practitioners.
Walking into a room with several lanyards laid out and my first thought was “Yes more free stuff” (grad school made me appreciate the freer things in life). To my surprise, we had to write claims for our specific lanyard. Our group spent DAYS describing that darn lanyard to ensure that another group could correctly chose it based on our description. Being able to agree on terms of art or something as simple as deciding between the metric or imperial system to define measurements can be rather difficult. We’ve had a few widgets we’ve had to write claims for and geez is it difficult, but these interactive assignments are providing us the foundation by which to write more elaborate claims for rather complicated inventions.
Patent law building blocks, including claim writing, have been the focus in almost every class. For example, in our Patent Searching class we are learning to use several databases to find issued patents and patent applications relevant to our capstone projects. Deciding on what keywords to use for a search strategy and when to adjust the initial search strategy are important building blocks for determining the patentability of an invention. A thorough search has to be completed before any claims can be written because that will set the stage for the rest of the patent drafting process. Unbeknownst to me, people can have a lucrative career solely as a patent searcher, so that should let you know just how imperative it is.
Obtaining such building blocks will set us apart from people that jump into the patent law field merely because they have an extensive background in science or engineering and don’t want to take a “traditional” route. Being able to properly complete a prior art search and draft an application with a strong claimset will prove to be a great selling point to any potential employer.