On April 27, 2016, first and second year law students were welcomed by Hope Shimabuku, Director of the Texas Regional Office, to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in downtown Dallas. The office opened in November of 2015. It serves Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Students toured the office and met with Ms. Shimabuku and Regional Manager, Ram Shukla.
The students were engaged as Ms. Shimabuku spoke about her nearly two decades of experience as an engineer and intellectual property attorney. Ms. Shimabuku’s distinguished career includes service as the Vice President and Corporate Counsel for Xerox Business Services, LLC. She also worked for Blackberry Corporation advising on United States and Chinese standards setting, cyber security, technology transfer, and intellectual property laws and legislation. Ram Shukla shared his esteemed career path with students which includes ten years of work as a Supervisory Patent Examiner before being named Regional Manager. Mr. Shukla provided vast insight into the typical day of a patent examiner.
Ms. Shimabuku and Mr. Shukla shared information about entry-level patent examining positions, the four month training schedule of patent examiners, and externship opportunities at the USPTO. Ms. Shimabuku advised students that while a Juris Doctor degree is not required to become a patent examiner, it is a great advantage. She said that once the USPTO reaches full capacity, there will be 100 patent examiners and 20 administrative patent judges in the office. The tour included an opportunity to go into the on-site courtroom where patent hearings are held. Students also saw the trademark and patent search room where members of the public can use the search software to look up trademarks and patents free of charge.
Students with a degree in engineering, computer science, chemistry, physics, biology, or any similar degrees should consider studying for the Patent Bar Exam this summer. The majority of students take the Exam in the summer, most often between their first and second years of law school. However, incoming students may get a jump start on this opportunity by taking the exam prior to enrolling in law school. The Patent Office is not concerned about coursework prior to law school, they only care about prior engineering or science coursework. In order to apply for approval to sit for the patent bar exam, please see http://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/ip-policy/becoming-practitioner/registration-examination for more information.
Taryn Ourso, one of two students enrolled at UNT Dallas College of Law who has already passed the patent bar, attended the session. She exclaimed, “Great things are happening at the USPTO Dallas office! I was excited to see that the office provides free public on-site access to detailed patent searches that would otherwise cost significant money to obtain. I am looking forward to seeing those resources advance the dreams of many in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”
Externship opportunities at the USPTO are posted here: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/437125700/. Students with science backgrounds are encouraged to apply.