USPTO Visit: July 8th, 2016
Each year, students in the Fundamentals of Intellectual Property course take a group trip to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to better understand the U.S. patent system and to meet key regulators.
Fundamentals of Intellectual Property, taught by Professor DJ Nag, Esq., is a course that encourages experiential learning and is one of the most exciting offerings of the Masters in Business (MBS) Program at Rutgers University. This is evident in the way the course is structured, but more so in the opportunities offered throughout the duration of the course. The highlight: a visit to the prestigious US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), located in Alexandria, VA. This was also a moment of pride for the 47 students attending this trip since Rutgers is one of the only schools that is given the opportunity to let its students interact with the experienced and extremely interactive officials at the USPTO.
Our visit began with a welcome address by Pete C. Mehravari, a Patent Attorney at the Office of Policy and International Affairs. He was an extremely gracious host who welcomed us into the day filled with informative and interactive talks for us to make the most out of this experience. He took us through the organizational framework of the USPTO, explaining the role and responsibilities that his office and the USPTO encompass. This was followed by a session entailing a PSM Graduate’s USPTO perspective- one of my personal favorites. Featuring two Supervisory Patent Examiners- Gary Benzion and Christopher Babic- the latter being a PSM Graduate- this session was very insightful in terms of how Christopher transitioned his career, from being a PSM student all the way to working at the USPTO; and his ascent to the position of Supervisory Patent Examiner. This session was quite informal with a lot of questions from students, and gave us a very good idea of career progress at the USPTO. We also had the chance to discuss our opinions on some of the current patent examination cases that the USPTO had received, and the perspectives of these officials really broadened our way of thinking.
Highly refreshed as we were by this session, we then moved on to a session to understand IP Enforcement as a Global Pursuit. The session, conducted by Jennifer Blank, shed light on how IP infringements were affecting the country today and focused in particular on one of the most pressing and urgent issues today: counterfeit medication and the various rules and policies that were being adopted to combat this.
Pete, being the amazing host that he is, chose to host an informal ‘bring your lunch’ session to talk about 3D Printing, Virtual Reality and Intellectual Property. This was followed by a session by Courtney Stopp on the recent developments in patent examination procedure. The focus here was on the law governing specifications made in patent claims and how these play a very important role in deciding the fate of a patent- while in consideration for approval and even after that. Courtney made the session very interesting by discussing a very famous case hearing: Alice Corps vs CLS Bank International. The session ended with a debate on whether patents should be granted to companies with a value proposition based solely on softwares with no defined boundaries and how the IP protection system would come into play in such cases.
We then moved on to a session that is very important for us as students-Federal Regulations regarding Academic Research- conducted by Libby O’Hare, The session was highly informative and talked about how the government and universities are partners in the research ecosystem that is so imperative to national development. It then talked about the types of regulations that govern research that is federally funded. Libby drew our attention to how complex this is, considering how most of current research is inter-disciplinary. The last session was the perfect end to this day filled with insight and new experiences: a pane discussion on Patent Reform in 2016. Our very own Dr. Nag moderated the debate, and expressing their views over Clinton and Trump’s IP agendas were Andrew S. Baluch and Richard Lloyd. The discussion was very stimulating and drew out a lot of questions from students. Andrew and Richard are well known for their contributions IP in the community.
In all, this was a bright and inspiring day that fueled our drive to go all out and become exemplary professionals in our fields of work.