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Patent Practice

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Patent law is integral to the protection and commercialization of inventions, ideas, and processes. At the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, we offer JD, LLM, and MLS student the opportunity to focus on patent practice. Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does not require a law degree to sit for the patent bar exam. Undergraduates with an engineering or hard science degree can draft and submit patent applications by passing the patent bar exam and becoming a registered patent agent with the USPTO. Many law firms, corporations, and entrepreneurial ventures have a need for both lawyers and non-lawyers to manage the patent process.

Degrees offered

Clinical experience

The Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic provides students with hands-on experience in real-world patent prosecution. They will learn the skills needed to recognize, obtain, and assert valuable and enforceable patents. Whether students plan to practice transactional patent law or patent litigation, the clinic gives students insight into both areas of practice. Students will understand the impact of the patent procurement process can have on subsequent patent litigation.

Throughout their clinical experience, students work with independent inventors and start-up companies to draft and prosecute patent applications before the USPTO under the supervision of licensed patent attorneys. Additionally, students learn to conduct validity and infringement analyses, while gaining valuable skills in patent due diligence, valuation, and licensing strategies.

The clinic is a member of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO)’s Law School Clinic Certification Program in which students receive limited recognition practice numbers. This permits them to represent clients directly before the USPTO including conducting examiner interviews, as well as signing on and filing patent applications, office actions, and other official correspondence on behalf of clients.

This clinical program is open to JD and LLM students.

Sample coursework

Patent Practice provides a much broader level of expertise and practical experience than commercially available prep courses. Students will gain a detailed understanding of patent law and a general understanding of intellectual property and the U.S. legal system. Skills gained enable students to successfully assist clients in securing rights in their patentable inventions. Students gain the following skills and expertise

  • Client counseling
  • Examiner interviews
  • Patent drafting
  • Office action responses
  • Foreign patenting strategies
  • Infringement analysis
  • Invalidity analysis
  • International filings
  • Patentability opinions
  • Post-allowance practice
  • Post-issuance procedures
  • Post-grant proceedings


Patent agent

Trends show that many law firms, large corporations, and other companies that rely on patent prosecution expertise are increasing their hiring and use of patent agents. Patent agents are non-lawyers, but are approved by the USPTO to represent individuals and companies in the patent prosecution process.

FAQs and Patent Bar Exam

The Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases ("patent bar exam") is overseen by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

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Andy Schwaab
Director, Lisa Foundation Patent Law Clinic, Teaching Associate Professor