As it awaits word from the United States Patent and Trademark Office on the status of its first trademark application, SLU LAW’s newly formed Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic had a special visitor Wednesday.
USPTO Deputy Director William Griffin came to SLU LAW to meet with clinic students and faculty and hear an update on the trademark clinic since its launch in the fall.
“Last semester there was a soft launch of students who were participating in the project. This semester we have another nine students who are continuing on and participating this year,” said SLU LAW Legal Clinics Director Patricia Lee. “We look forward to continued talks with the USPTO and working with the examiners.”
SLU LAW is one of 42 law schools nationwide that were selected to participate in the USPTO’s Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program. Griffin’s visit to SLU LAW was one of many he is paying to schools that were admitted to the program in 2014.
In addition to meeting informally with students and faculty and sitting in on a class, Griffin also gave an overview of the USPTO’s pilot program during a luncheon. Griffin said the clinics in the program provide a mutually beneficial arrangement, offering students the opportunity to get hands-on experience while giving a pro-bono service to entrepreneurs, non-profits and inventors that might not be able to afford an attorney.
“The fact you have experience actually speaking to a client is huge. You guys have a leg up on that, and that’s a good thing,” Griffin told the SLU LAW clinic students. “When I was in practice, I can tell you no independent inventor could have ever afforded to come to me. It’s really a good public service.”
Dean Michael Wolff said SLU LAW’s inclusion in the USPTO program comes at an opportune time in St. Louis. Popular Mechanics recently ranked St. Louis the No. 1 startup city in the United States.
“In case you haven’t noticed, St. Louis has become a center of startup and entrepreneurship,” Wolff said. “I’m very excited about this program with the clinic, and this set of experiences we can offer.”
Toward the end of the luncheon, 3L Jeff Allen shared his experience from last semester of filing the first trademark through the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic.
“I had the privilege to represent an organization in St. Louis, a women’s veteran group, that wanted a trademark on an image they created,” Allen said. “We worked with them and determined what they wanted to accomplish. Just going through the whole trademark application process really was a neat experience for us.”
The trademark application was filed in late November and Griffin said it is possible Allen could see notice of publication before he graduates.