“This is quite possibly the most advanced intellectual property clinical program, not just in Canada, in North America, [and] indeed there is nobody doing this stuff right now,” says Wissam Aoun, LTEC clinical director at the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Law.
It started out initially as a clinic providing information on a variety of legal topics, then began providing legal services catering to entrepreneurs and startups, along with intellectual property advice and corporate-commercial services says, Aoun, “but the focus is on intellectual property.”
Following some experimentation and a few new initiatives, the clinic really re-focused itself about two years ago, “student enrolment was really growing because the clinic was growing in popularity,” says Aoun.
“I’ve been afforded countless opportunities to work directly with small businesses on entrepreneurial projects. This has included incorporations, share capital structuring, corporate governance work for a non-profit, patent novelty searches, and trademark searches,” said Windsor law student Shaya Motamed, also an LTEC member.
Last year, the clinic opened a brand new location in downtown Windsor and instead of just helping student entrepreneurs the clinic began working with regular businesses as well.
“The wide range of clients this [past] summer offered work in both corporate and IP matters. This is important for development as it enables students to sink their teeth into a bit of everything before deciding which fields most interest them,” said Whitney Miller, LTEC member and Windsor law student.
“For technology start-up companies we do everything from incorporate with share-holder agreement, to provisional pan applications, to trademark applications —everything,” says Aoun.
Beyond adding a new location, the clinic is going to incorporate experiential learning programs in co-operation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Detroit. This gives law students the ability to do trademark and patent work with working patent office employees across the border.
Windsor law students can also do research tests with simulation inventions.
“They go and they do training sessions at the United States Patent and Trademark Office involving simulated inventions. They actually go through the whole process of doing a patent search, filing a patent application, and what happens at the patent office in association with the patent office,” says Aoun.
Actual patent examiners will go through the process with the law students to allow the students to see exactly what is involved.
There are approximately three law school trips per semester to the USPTO in Detroit, says Aoun. Every year, more and more students are interested in practising IP law, as they see exponential growth in the field.
“There are so many uncertainties in business law, as in any other field, and it is incredibly important to develop the competency to help clients navigate them while planning their businesses,” said Motamed.
“With LTEC, students are also given access to patent and trademark databases, giving them an opportunity to gain some advanced research experience. I have really improved my search strategies which will be applicable to all kinds of research, not just research on IP matter,” said Miller.
“We have a number of our clients who have gone on to have successful businesses with the [help of the] clinic,” says Aoun, “they wanted to give it a shot and we helped them out and we got them going with their business and now they are at the point where they are actually running a business here in the Windsor community, they’ve hired employees, they’ve expanded, so they have actually become very successful.”