Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Start-ups get trademark filings through U Akron’s student-staffed free clinic

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 7th, 2019

A program at the University of Akron (UA) enables entrepreneurs to file trademark applications for their start-ups with the assistance of students from the university’s law school.

Under the supervision of adjunct UA professor Daniel Thompson, students at the trademark clinic have filed 100 trademark applications since the program’s inception in 2016. Those students have secured 48 registrations so far.

According to Thompson, there are very few clinics like UA’s across the U.S. specifically designated by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to allow law students to execute trademark applications.

“Basically, what we do is we help real-life [startups] with their trademark applications and provide students with real-world legal experience,” says Thompson.

To qualify for the assistance, which is completely free of charge, a company must be less than 6 years old and have revenue or personal income of no more than $100,000. In addition to filing applications, the law students conduct trademark searches and respond to inquiries from the USPTO.

“To be able to do that a dozen times or so in the course of a semester really gets you familiar with the whole process, in addition to diving deep in the trademark practices of the office,” says former clinic student Nathan Gugliotta, who now practices intellectual property law with his father at Gugliotta & Gugliotta in Akron.

Renee Volchko, an Akron-based graphic designer, approached the trademark clinic to help advance her invention, a dehydrated, kale-based nutrition bar.

“I couldn’t afford a lawyer,” says Volchko. “In the beginning, this was just a hobby, a project that was becoming very expensive. Once I found out about the free trademark clinic at the University of Akron, it suddenly seemed more like a business possibility, like something I could protect.”

Source: Crain’s Cleveland Business

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