Penn Law Receives Major Gift to Launch IP and Technology Legal Clinic

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Media Contact:Steve Barnes | sbarnes@law.upenn.edu | (215) 573-5181March 8, 2011

Building on its faculty, curricular, and research strengths in law and technology, the University of Pennsylvania Law School has received a major gift to establish a leading-edge intellectual property (IP) and technology legal clinic.

The new clinic will be called the Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinic at Penn Law in recognition of the gift by Peter Detkin, the noted IP entrepreneur and Founder and Vice Chairman of Intellectual Ventures, an invention investment firm. The clinic will be designed to set a new standard for higher legal education in IP and technology by providing hands-on, practical experience along the technological, legal, and business pathways that comprise the commercialization of innovation. Detkin earned a B.S.E.E. from Penn in 1982, a J.D. from Penn Law in 1985, and currently serves on the Board of Overseers for Penn’s Engineering school. 

“The Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinic, made possible through Peter’s wonderful generosity, will enable Penn Law students to gain tremendous insights and professional experience in the real world of IP and technology law and commercialization,” said Michael A. Fitts, Dean of Penn Law. “The clinic is a testament to Peter’s entrepreneurial spirit and to his impressive career and achievements in the legal profession and in technological innovation. And as an enterprise at the crossroads of law and technology, the clinic also epitomizes Penn Law’s leadership in cross-disciplinary legal studies.”

“My career has been at the intersection of law and technology, and I believe that all business and technology professionals need a solid understanding of intellectual property,” said Detkin. “Inventors need to understand how to secure their rights, and business people, who may or may not be the inventors, need to know what to do with those rights.”

Detkin added: “This clinic will be designed to provide Penn students throughout the University a unique opportunity to learn about how IP is handled in the real world; I'm not aware of any other clinic at another institution that can provide this kind of practical, hands-on experience for when students enter the workplace or start their own companies.”

The Detkin Clinic will be administered by and housed at Penn Law’s Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies and will be operated in collaboration with Penn’s Center for Technology Transfer (CTT), which is dedicated to moving the world-class research and technologies developed at Penn to the marketplace where they may be developed for the public good. The clinic will involve extensive cross-disciplinary collaboration between Penn Law and Penn’s Schools of Engineering, Medicine, Business (Wharton), Arts and Sciences, and other Penn departments and programs involved in the patenting and licensing processes, as well as related research. It will be directed by a clinical faculty member to be named in the coming months.

In addition, the clinic will be closely integrated with Penn Law’s curriculum in law and technology and build upon the strengths of its research programs, such as Penn Law’s Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition. Projects from the Detkin Clinic will be used as case studies in non-clinical courses, and students will be expected to have completed certain prerequisite Law School courses, such as Introduction to Intellectual Property and  Patent Law, prior to enrolling in the clinic.

Real-world cases on which students will likely work include invention and market evaluation, patent prosecution and patent application development, strategic decision-making related to patents and licensing, and negotiation of licensing or other commercialization deals.

The Detkin Clinic will complement nine other clinics at Penn Law’s Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies, which engage Penn Law students in direct legal representation of individual and organizational clients in a range of domestic and international venues.

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