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Practicing Intellectual Property Law: It’s Not All About Patents - Law Students News

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Law Student News

Posted on: Jan 31, 2020

By Alyssa J. Devine, IU McKinney 4L

On January 23, 2020, Victoria Sedinger and I had the opportunity to host the Breakfast with the Bar: Intellectual Property event as members of the Indianapolis Bar Association Law Student Division. We invited six practicing intellectual property attorneys with varying levels of experience to discuss this area of law with students. Guest attorneys provided insightful information and advice to students.

During this event, students learned that patents represent only one third of the main areas within intellectual property. Copyrights and trademarks collectively represent the remaining areas. Students were also informed of intellectual property related rights such as right of publicity and trade secrets. 

Guest attorneys discussed the role of the U.S. Copyright Office, which also allows parties to search application records to discover who owns a book, song, or other fixed creative work. They also talked about the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If interested in prosecuting patent applications, passing the patent bar is required. Generally, patent bar eligibility means successful completion of a science-related undergraduate degree. Students interested in patent law should be aware that the Indianapolis Bar Association Intellectual Property Section offers scholarships to students taking the patent bar. 

If interested in practicing intellectual property, students need to take proactive steps. First, students should seek out intellectual property courses and professors to better understand the general principles of intellectual property law. Second, students need to follow major developments in intellectual property law. This can be done by subscribing to various professional resources such as the U.S. Copyright Office blog, TTABlog, INTA newsletters, and Jonathan Faber’s Right of Publicity blog. Students should also subscribe to various intellectual property companies and organizations on LinkedIn to gain awareness of current issues in this area. 

Through mastery of basic principals in intellectual property law and having an awareness of developing issues, students can create more meaningful relationships at networking events. Networking is important both as law students and as practicing attorneys. Young lawyers are expected to gradually increase their commitment to networking events and other business development activities while consistently doing good work for their current clients. As one guest attorney stated, “You never know where referrals will come from.”

There are many ways for students to get involved in this area. The Indianapolis Bar Association Law Student Division is the perfect place to begin. Students should also seek informational interviews with the leaders of the Indianapolis Bar Association Intellectual Property Section or Sports & Entertainment Law Section. Simply ask to meet for coffee or lunch. Indianapolis attorneys are busy, but they will make time to meet students interested in their practice areas. 

Opportunities are also available for students in the newly formed The S. Jay Plager Intellectual Property Indianapolis American Inn of Court. This Inn invites officers of law schools’ intellectual property student associations (IPSAs) to join as pupils so students should make an effort to join the Indiana University (IU) Robert H. McKinney School of Law’s IPSA or IU Maurer School of Law’s IPSA. The S. Jay Plager Intellectual Property Indianapolis American Inn of Court allows students to create and present CLEs to practicing attorneys addressing various intellectual property issues. 

For the students reading this article, I challenge you to take actionable steps for your professional development:

  1. Add Victoria Sedinger and me as connections on LinkedIn
  2. Subscribe to at least two intellectual property resources
  3. Attend one Indianapolis Bar Association Intellectual Property Section or Sports and Entertainment Law Section event; and
  4. Meet with at least two attorneys every semester. It may be difficult at first, but I guarantee this effort will be worth your time. 

Students should also make it a priority to attend the Indianapolis Bar Association Sports and Entertainment Law Section’s Pacers Law Night event on February 27, 2020. You can register for that event online here. Other upcoming events for students include the February 18, 2020 Breakfast with the Bar event, which will focus on health law. You can register for that event online here.

If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Law Student Division, please email Kara Sikorski at


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