WSU Law School selected for patent clinic

Wayne State University Law School is the first in the state — and among fewer than 20 law schools nationwide — selected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to participate in a
pilot Patent Procurement Clinic program that will provide free legal services and an expedited application process to qualifying clients.

Local entrepreneurs and innovators celebrated the July 13 opening of the first satellite office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) located in the Stroh River Place Complex.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director David Kappos in Washington, D.C., called it “a wonderful program” that is expanding.

The new Detroit office will mean “jobs, jobs, jobs,” Kappos said. “For the first time in history, we are bringing the patent office to the innovation community and not the other way
around… We also will be using this new office as a hub of interacting with the university community.”

Teresa Stanek Rea, Wayne Law alumna and deputy director of the USPTO, praised the opportunity.

“I think it’s great for Michigan and Detroit and Wayne State to have the patent office in Detroit, and the small inventor community here in Detroit should be pleased,” she said. Wayne Law Assistant Professor Eric Williams is excited about the “incredible resource” the new Detroit satellite patent office will be for his students and for the community.

Williams directs the Business and Community Law Clinic comprising the new Patent Procurement Clinic as well as a small business module and a nonprofit module. He and other faculty members and alumni worked hard on the application process.

“I believe what set our application apart was that our clinic’s design encourages students to interact with the law firms, investors, incubators, inventors, property owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, small business owners, community stakeholders and government agencies that make up the area’s business and entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Williams said.

He said WSU’s location in Detroit “and our role as a public institution and resource gives the clinic the potential to support urban entrepreneurship and community development in a meaningful way. These kinds of interactions are invaluable to students who want to learn how to really practice. I don’t think many other clinics can say that.”

Having the patent clinic at Wayne Law in conjunction with the new satellite USPTO will offer other advantages for students. Williams said Wayne Law students will use the new Detroit patent office’s public search room to conduct novelty searches to help identify patentable inventions.

“Having a patent office here in Detroit is going to make Detroit a nerve center for the patent law community,” he said, “just like Detroit is the nerve center for the automobile industry.”

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