Penn State Legal and Intellectual Property Clinics Provide Invaluable Expert Advice and Services to Entrepreneurs at No Cost
Penn State Law offers two very important cost-free legal clinics to Penn State and community entrepreneurs—the Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic and Intellectual Property Clinic. Services are provided by Penn State Law students who are recruited and overseen by law professors Tom Sharbaugh and Rachel Herder, who are licensed Pennsylvania attorneys and the Directors of the EAC and IP Clinic, respectively. The EAC also has a second licensed attorney, Tyler Etter, who oversees students.
Opened in 2016, the Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic (EAC) meets with entrepreneurs referred to them through Invent Penn State innovation hubs , like Happy Valley LaunchBox, Ben Franklin Technology Partners CNP and the 18 Small Business Development Centers across Pennsylvania. The clinic provides advice and assistance with startup activities, counselling and document preparation, including with respect to, for example:
- Business entity formation
- Founder agreements
- Employee agreements
- Investor term sheets
The clinic has assisted over 300 clients since its opening. Increasing demand for services has already prompted expansion of the clinic from one full-time attorney and five law students serving just Penn State and the Centre County community to two full-time lawyers and approximately ten students serving all of Pennsylvania.
“The Invent Penn State program has enabled our entrepreneurship clinic at Penn State Law to expand its initial service area beyond Centre County to include startup and early-stage companies over much of Pennsylvania, most of which are connected to the Commonwealth Campuses, Ben Franklin Technology Partners CNP and the SBDCs,” says Tom. “Our clinic is providing a modern-day outreach service as part of Penn State’s land grant mission.”
The clinic located at Happy Valley LaunchBox in State College, but travels throughout the Commonwealth giving workshops and doing 1-1 consulting, as well as using videoconferencing to meet with remote clients.
Penn State Startup Phospholutions has been a power user of the program. “The entrepreneurship assistance clinic has helped us with everything from setting up the LLC to issuing unit agreements between stakeholders, as well as all of our distribution agreements. The IP Clinic helped us file a provisional patent application, setup our license agreement, trademarked our name— I mean literally everything,” says Phospholutions CEO and Penn State Alum, Hunter Swisher. “These Invent Penn State programs give us the unfair advantage we need.”
The EAC has office hours Monday through Thursday from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and from 10:00 am to noon on Fridays. Additionally, the clinic can be booked to do workshops on important topics, as well as to do 1-1 consulting. Anyone interested can simply complete an intake form here.
Launched in fall 2017, the Penn State Law Intellectual Property Clinic (IP Clinic) counsels Pennsylvania innovators, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and early-stage start-ups in Intellectual Property strategy. The clinic is operated by Assistant Professor of Clinical Law, Rachel Herder and six Penn State Law students. Despite opening much later than the EAC, the IP Clinic already has counseled over 200 clients, filed more than 10 patent applications and over 20 trademark applications.
The IP Clinic advises clients and assists in various matters, including:
- General intellectual property counseling
- Performing patentability and trademark clearance searches
- Drafting patent and trademark applications
- Interacting with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
These services are provided pro bono (free) to those clients would not otherwise have access to high quality intellectual property legal services. The IP Clinic does not provide services relating to litigation.
The IP Clinic also is in residence at Happy Valley LaunchBox in State College, but travels throughout the Commonwealth giving workshops and doing 1-1 consulting.
“Working with Invent Penn State has been an awesome experience for Penn State Law’s Intellectual Property (IP) Clinic,” says Rachel. “We were able to greatly expand our services in just one year because of connections and expertise that the Invent Penn State initiative has provided. For example, the IP Clinic has worked with small businesses throughout the Commonwealth thanks to the Invent Penn State network. The IP Clinic loves being in an Invent Penn State Innovation Hub, the Happy Valley LaunchBox, with access to great resources, students, and staff.”
Meetings for the IP Clinic are by appointment only and anyone interested in receiving services can complete the Client Application and register for a consultation time here. The clinic will typically be in touch within three business days, but response times vary based on Penn State breaks and finals periods. Follow the IP Law Clinic on Facebook for the most up-to-date information and announcements.