WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 5108, a bill coauthored by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to strengthen the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Law School Clinic Certification Program. The bipartisan bill, which is expected to be signed by President Obama, will expand the current program by removing its "pilot” status, making it available to all accredited law schools in the country that meet the program’s eligibility requirements.
“I’m pleased to see that the Senate recognizes this program’s importance to our economy, and has acted on our efforts to strengthen it," said Chabot. "This program provides inventors and entrepreneurs with quality legal services and protections they might not otherwise be able to afford. And it provides law students with hands-on, real world experience that will prepare them for their future careers. It is a win for all parties involved and I look forward to its enactment.”
“This bill will boost innovation and help ensure that the legal expertise exists for the next generation of inventors, tech entrepreneurs and small businesses in the technology and innovation sectors in Brooklyn and throughout the country," said Rep. Jeffries. "Senator Leahy and Rep. Chabot should be commended for their commitment and leadership in helping shepherd this bill through Congress.”
The USPTO’s Law School Clinic Certification Program has been operating in a pilot capacity since 2008. Under the advisement of a school faculty clinic supervisor, the program allows students at participating law schools to gain experience in patent and trademark law by practicing before the USPTO. At the date of the introduction, only 28 law schools were participating in the program. Today, 41 schools including Brooklyn Law School in New York, participate. This bill will continue to expand the program to the benefit of law students and innovators across America.
“We are excited to have this newly passed legislation formally establish an already successful pilot program at the USPTO," said Michelle K. Lee, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director. "It makes a lot of sense in many ways. It provides important practical experiences to law students, as well as valuable legal services to under-resourced inventors, which in turn helps them to protect the fruits of their creation so they will have the incentives needed to innovate and bring new inventions to the marketplace, where all may benefit from them.”