Jennifer McDowell & Jay Erstling


Jennifer McDowell is the USPTO’s Pro Bono Coordinator, a position located within the Office of the Under Secretary and Director. Prior to leading the Pro Bono program, Ms. McDowell was an associate counsel for the office of the General Counsel and was responsible for the legal clearance of patent and trademark rules for the agency. Her work includes dozens of rules promulgated under the AIA, the Patent Law Treaty and the Hague Agreement. In addition, Ms. McDowell has litigated and provided legal advice to USPTO managers on a wide variety of employment law matters for over a decade. Ms. McDowell previously served as Special Project Manager in the Office of the Under Secretary and Director during the transition to the Obama administration.

Jay Erstling is currently a professor at William Mitchell College of Law's Intellectual Property Institute and Of Counsel to Patterson Thuente IP. Professor Erstling teaches courses on comparative and international patent law and serving as director of its IP legal clinic--one of just 16 clinics invited to participate in the USPTO's Law School Clinical Certification Pilot.

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Upper Midwest Jazzed Up About Expansion of Patent Pro Bono Program

When Section 32 of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act became law in fall 2011, the USPTO began working with intellectual property law associations across the country to establish pro bono programs designed to assist financially under-resourced independent inventors and small businesses secure patent protection for their inventions. Minnesota was the first state to establish a program, and now joins the growing list of programs expanding to cover nearby states. The efforts of those programs, in conjunction with the USPTO, has been astounding: within the past ten months, the number of states now having access to a patent pro bono program has more than doubled.