U.S. Patent & Trademark Office's Pilot Certification Program

The Center for Law & Innovation hosts one of the nation's top intellectual property clinics, offering law students hands–on training in patents, trademarks, privacy, and technology licensing while serving Maine's small business and inventor communities. Our Intellectual Property Clinic is one of only three in the country to participate in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office's Pilot Certification Program, allowing our students to assist with preparing and filing patent applications on behalf of inventors. We are one of only 16 schools certified by the PTO for trademark application filing as well.

Intellectual Property Experience

Under the supervision of intellectual property lawyers at the Center for Law & Innovation and Maine Patent Program, students work directly with independent inventors, entrepreneurs, and research scientists. A wide variety of projects exist for acquiring practical skills as an IP lawyer. Students typically review innovation disclosures for patentability and write opinion letters based on their results. They will frequently determine whether trademarks qualify for protection and are available for registration, and counsel clients on how to proceed. In the case of university clients, students may assist with drafting a patent application, registering a copyright, applying for a trademark, or working on a licensing agreement.

Example cases:

  • Fiscal year 2011, which is a typical one for the IP Clinic, included clients who come from all over the state of Maine and technology transfer cases from the University of Maine System:
    • 100 prior art patent cases
    • 50 trademark cases
    • 5 copyright cases
    • 44 "other" (UMS and other contracts & agreements)
    • 6 provisional patent cases
  • Maine Law students filed 17 trademark applications in 2011, responded to several office actions, and successfully resolved opposition threats from large companies in three cases. They helped a local non-profit art college with a licensing arrangement for an iphone app developed by students and adjunct faculty, assisted an artist in settling a copyright dispute, and drafted software development agreements for entrepreneurs, among other projects.
  • One student filed a provisional patent application on behalf of an inventor who specializes in tools to aid in construction. Two other students began initial drafting of provisional patent applications that they will complete in Advanced IP Clinic in spring 2012.

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