News

Maine Law builds coalition for pro bono IP services

May 15, 2012

PORTLAND, Maine – Maine Law’s Intellectual Property Clinic has developed into a regional and national model for providing pro bono patent services. The clinic serves inventors and researchers, both inside and outside the University of Maine System.

Now, the Law School’s legal clinic is reaching out to the private bar in Maine, seeking a private-public coalition to address the need for patent services.

On May 4, leaders of Maine Law’s Center for Law & Innovation – which houses the Maine Patent Program and the Law School’s Intellectual Property Clinic – met with attorneys from Verrill Dana, Pierce Atwood, Drummond & Drummond, Fairchild Semiconductor, Murray Plumb and Murray, Tredecim, and the Maine Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. Don Gooding of the Maine Center for Enterprise Development also participated.

Also attending at the invitation of Maine Law was David Kappos, Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and Undersecretary of Commerce.

Maine Law alum Matt Stein (’06) and Will Worden from Pierce Atwood agreed to take the initial lead on catalyzing the local bar around pro bono IP, working closely with Maine Law’s Center for Law & Innovation, said the center’s director, Prof. Rita Heimes.

The team hopes to launch the pro bono initiative on a regional basis, including lawyers and clients elsewhere in Maine and in New Hampshire and Vermont. Heimes said the project will be modeled at least in part on successful pro bono initiatives underway in the Denver and Minneapolis regions. The USPTO has provided educational resources, along with organizational and outreach support, to those initiatives.

Over the past four years, Maine Law has developed a strong relationship with Kappos and the USPTO. Maine Law is one of only five schools in the country to have priority status when applying for summer positions with the agency. In addition. the school’s Intellectual Property Clinic is one of only three law school clinics in the country that is certified to practice both patent and trademark law by the USPTO. Under faculty supervision, students represent clients as they navigate the complex process of applying for a patent or trademark. About 12 to 15 students each year participate in the clinic.

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Media contact: Trevor Maxwell, communications director at Maine Law
Office: 207-228-8037/ Cell: 207-286-4431/ email: tmaxwell@usm.maine.edu