Summer 2011: The PLI Approach to the New Patent Bar Exam
|Written by Gene Quinn
Patent Attorney & Founder of IPWatchdog
Zies, Widerman & Malek
Follow Gene on Twitter @IPWatchdog
Posted: May 13, 2011 @ 11:29 am
And now a message from the shameless commerce division, brought to you by the #1 Patent Bar Review Course in the Nation — the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. PLI is the major sponsor of IPWatchdog.com and this patent bar review course is the one I have taught for the past 11 years.
Our busy Summer Tour 2011 kicked off in New York City on May 11, 2011. Our next stop will be San Francisco, California from June 22-26, 2011. But for the moment John White and I are presently in New York City teaching aspiring patent attorneys and patent agents how to pass the newly revamped patent bar examination. The test has been revised by the United States Patent and Trademark Office effective April 12, 2011, and now tests Edition 8, Revision 8 of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedures, better known as the MPEP. In addition to testing the most current revision of the MPEP, the test also integrates the Bilski Guidelines, the KSR Guidelines and the very new 112 Guidelines, all of which are yet to officially make it into a version of the MPEP. John and I have created all new materials and have completely revised the course, making it better than ever.
It has always been my belief that the PLI course is the best, and now I think there is absolutely no doubt. Yes, there are some competitors out there but how many other courses have two faculty members that are practicing patent attorneys and law professors? John and I both have a private practice and we have made legal education an important part of our careers. We are even patent attorneys, which might sound like an odd thing to tout but there are actually courses out there that don’t have patent attorneys developing the course and creating materials. The patent bar exam is hard enough as it is, the rules of patent practice are almost ridiculously archaic and you think you can take a patent bar course taught by someone who hasn’t ever even passed the exam let alone represented anyone in real life? Yeah, right. Think again.
There is actually a course that touts the fact that their course was not created by a patent attorney or patent agent. Their advertising says, in part, ”our team of course developers, who sit for the exam on a regular basis…” Really? In order for that to be true that would mean that the course developers are not patent attorney or patent agents because once you are a patent attorney or patent agent you can’t sit for the registration examination. You see, the patent bar exam is a REGISTRATION exam. Once you are registered you can’t sit for the patent bar exam. So good luck using a course that was developed by those who are completely unfamiliar with the rules and how they manifest in real life. That hardly seems like a successful strategy to pass the exam if you ask me.
This same course also proclaims that they guarantee that 90% of the questions they provide students will be exactly identical to the questions written by the Patent Office. I guess that is why they allow developers who are not patent attorneys or patent agents to create the course; namely so they can take the exam time after time and fail the exam and time after time, yet trying to memorize the questions and answers. But is someone who is not a patent attorney or patent agent likely to be able to correctly memorize the text of questions with all the nuances and subtleties presented? This is an exam where one word in the question or one word in the answer choice can make all the difference in the world. Without a greater understanding of the context of patent practice how can you understand those subtleties, capture them and convey them to students so they have actionable, useful and correct information? It would seem virtually impossible for someone who has never practiced and only has an academic understanding of the rules to create materials that adequately explore practice nuances and even more unlikely that questions could be memorized word for word.
Wouldn’t it be better to actually learn the laws, rules AND how to pass the exam from experienced patent attorneys? Wouldn’t it be better to have a course that presents all of the information you need, explains how it fits together and prepares you for any eventuality rather than relying on the pipe-dream of getting the exam questions in advance? What if the Patent Office decides to write new questions, which they do from time to time? If you were not taught the intricacies of the law and rules and prepared for any eventuality then good luck to you!
This same course also says as part of its marketing that PLI doesn’t offer expert tutoring, which is just bizarre. Are they saying that John and I are not experts? This claim seems to go well beyond puffery and is factually incorrect.
One of the great things about taking our live course is that students get to interact with John and I throughout the course. John and I are at every location nationwide, and we field questions before the session starts in the morning, during breaks between sessions, over lunch, and after the scheduled activities are over for the day. After our live course, or at any time during a home study course, students are able to either pick up the phone and call or send in questions via e-mail. There is no limit to the number of questions students can ask, and John White personally handles all questions. John has been teaching patent bar review courses for 25 years and has taught over 50% of the practicing patent bar. So I guess if John and I taking whatever time is necessary in live courses to explain concepts and unlimited question asking via phone or e-mail is “no expert tutoring” then we are guilty. Of course, the take-away message here is that you can’t believe what competitors say about PLI because it is hogwash. We teach more people who take the exam than any other course for a reason, and we have the reputation as the number 1 course in the nation for a reason.
Not satisfied with just being the best we have updated and modified our course over and above just bringing it up to date with the newly tested materials. We have put our homestudy course online so that it can be accessed anywhere from any computer, and anyone who purchases a live course receives access to our homestudy course online.
With respect to the new material, I personally wrote new questions that are exam level difficulty, which are included in PatWare, our software the mimics the patent bar exam. Truthfully, the vast majority of the questions written for the KSR Guidelines, Bilski Guidelines and 112 Guidelines are more difficult than what you will experience on the patent bar exam. We have heard from students who have successfully passed the new exam that our textual materials and those new questions were over-kill compared to what is tested. That was, of course, the objective. While our course is approachable by even those with no patent experience, we ramp you up to a level greater than exam difficulty, which helps prepare students for any eventuality on exam day. Students who have passed to a person have praised our approach to the newly testable material.
John and I will be teaching live courses at the following locations this summer, and will be joined by Professor Margo Bagley (University of Virginia Law) at our San Francisco location.
- New York – May 11-15, 2011
- San Francisco – June 22-26, 2011
- Boston – July 13-17, 2011
- Chicago – August 2-6, 2011
- New York – September 14-18, 2011
Hopefully we will see you at one of our Summer Tour stops for the PLI Patent Bar Review.
About the Author
Gene Quinn is a US Patent Attorney, law professor and the founder of IPWatchdog.com. He is also a principal lecturer in the top patent bar review course in the nation, which helps aspiring patent attorneys and patent agents prepare themselves to pass the patent bar exam. Gene started the widely popular intellectual property website IPWatchdog.com in 1999, and since that time the site has had many millions of unique visitors. Gene has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the LA Times, USA Today, CNN Money, NPR and various other newspapers and magazines worldwide. He represents individuals, small businesses and start-up corporations. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.