I have been asked to create a patent curriculum that will have at a minimum 24 credit hours of patent related legal education, perhaps more. As you might expect, I have some ideas about how to fill the curriculum, but thought I might open this up for discussion here to gain the collective thoughts, wisdom and insights of IPWatchdog.com readers.
While I know it is unrealistic to expect that even the best, most robust patent law school education will make it possible for new attorneys or patent agents to hit the ground running and able to accomplish all things, I do think that with the right mix of reading, lecture and practical exercises the learning curve can be substantially bent. Students should even be able to meaningfully provide assistance day one at a law firm assisting more senior attorneys, assuming of course they take their studies and exercises seriously. This being the case, I am interested in hearing from patent attorneys and patent agents with any level of experience.
Senior Partners & Hiring Partners
What skills at a minimum would you like new hires to have? What knowledge base would you like to be able to assume? What topics should new hires have been previously exposed to prior to their first day? What practical exercises would you suggest?
Junior Partners & Senior Associates
What would have been particularly helpful for you and made your transition to practice easier? What do you wish you had learned in law school? What quasi-real-world exercises would have been beneficial in hindsight? What reference materials do you wish you had and could have brought with you day one?
New Associates & Patent Agents
What do you find most difficult and time consuming? Where do you feel your knowledge is lacking? What have you been asked to do that makes you scratch your head and wonder where to start? What skills do you rely upon to get through? What do you wish you have more training in?
About the Curriculum
The basic curriculum will at a minimum have:
- Basic patent law covering 101, 102, 103 and 112.
- Basic patent litigation law, relating to injunctions, damages, infringement theories and defenses.
- Basic patent claim drafting, focusing on simple mechanical and method inventions.
- Basic patent application drafting, focusing on learning the basics about design, provisional and nonprovisional patent applications and learning how to draft a nonprovisional patent application for a simple mechanical invention.
The rest of the curriculum can be pretty much anything, but the focus should be on real world practical training. It has always been my philosophy that reading cases only gets you so far. Yes reading the case law is necessary and will be included in all courses, as will applicable reading from Title 35 of the US Code and Title 37 of the CFR. But what else?
I envision at least one, perhaps more, claim drafting courses. Perhaps one at an intermediate level and then one that focuses on specific technologies. I similarly envision at least an intermediate patent application drafting course. I would like to include a Pre-trial Patent Litigation course that focuses on the Federal Civil Rules of Procedure, discovery and drafting motions, and perhaps another course on advanced drafting that focuses on drafting a Memorandum of Law and maybe even a brief to the Board of Patent Appeals or the Federal Circuit.
So tell me, what are your thoughts? After all, the goal is to prepare students to become patent attorneys and patent agents, and to make them more marketable.