TJSL’s New Trademark Clinic Files First USPTO Application
- (From left) Melissa Adao, Jeff Berneking and Tim Dennison
Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s Trademark Clinic has filed its first trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on behalf of a client, marking a major milestone for the recently established clinical program.
The USPTO announced in early August that TJSL is one of nine additional law schools in the nation selected for the Trademark Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program, which allows TJSL students to practice trademark law before the USPTO under the guidance of a faculty supervisor.
The filing of the first application this week proved to be an exciting moment for everyone involved with the new TJSL Trademark Clinic, which is designed to provide assistance to small businesses, such as applicant Outreach Through Dance, and independent inventors who can’t afford market rates for filing trademark and patent applications with the USPTO. Outreach Through Dance is a San Diego organization that produces dance events to benefit charitable organizations nationally and internationally.
“The program was able to help Outreach Through Dance with their trademark filings - something they probably couldn't have afforded without the resources of a student-driven clinic like the Trademark Clinic,” according to Tim Dennison, the clinic’s director.
“We needed both legal advice and services but, as a small charitable business, we couldn't fit them into the budget,” says Melissa Adao, founder and CEO of Outreach Through Dance. “We learned about the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Small Business Law Center and the Trademark Clinic, in particular, at the Little Italy Art Fair.
“This was a perfect solution for us,” Adao adds. “We got great legal advice and had our trademark filed and we were able to keep to our budget. We are now going back to the SBLC for help with forming a non-profit. We would strongly recommend to other small businesses in the community to look into the services offered at these free clinics.”
The TJSL Trademark and Patent Clinics were established earlier this year, after the school applied to the USPTO to be part of its law school pilot programs. In mid-July, the USPTO announced that Thomas Jefferson School of Law would be the only California law school to participate in its Patent Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program. Two weeks later, TJSL learned that its Trademark Clinic also was selected.
The USPTO Selection Committee chose schools with the greatest potential for success, including those with strong Intellectual Property curriculums, like TJSL’s, that support students’ hands-on learning, a commitment to networking in the community, comprehensive pro bono services and excellent case management systems. Students working in the clinics received mandatory training from the USPTO.
According to the USPTO, “the program allows law students enrolled in a participating law school’s clinic program to practice Intellectual Property Law before the USPTO under the strict guidance of a Law School Faculty Clinic Supervisor. The program currently consists of students practicing in both patent and trademark law before the USPTO. The program is administered by the Office of Enrollment and Discipline. The Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline grants the law students limited recognition to practice before the Office.
“Students gain experience drafting and filing either patent applications or trademark applications for clients of the law school clinic. Further, as they are authorized to practice before the USPTO, they gain experience answering Office Actions and communicating with either patent examiners or trademark examining attorneys for the applications they have filed.”
A special feature of the pilot programs is that the USPTO will expedite the application review process for those filed by the law students. This will greatly benefit the clients of TJSL’s Trademark and Patent Clinics as the normal application review process can take years.
The Trademark Clinic is just one of the free clinics TJSL operates to help people in need of legal assistance, from struggling veterans, to small business people, to artists and art organizations, to individual taxpayers, to those involved in small claims and probate court cases that need the services of trained mediators.
“I feel very proud to be a part of the Trademark Clinic at Thomas Jefferson. I think all of the practical clinic programs: the Veteran's Clinic, the Small Business Law Center, VITA Tax Clinic, the Patent Clinic and the Trademark Clinic are fantastic resources, both for the students and the community,” said Dennison. “This is a great program and Dean Hasl and the rest of the TJSL staff and faculty are to be congratulated for having the foresight, not only to focus on practical training for the students, but also for doing it such a way that the community benefits.”