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Press Release

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries Partners with Sen. Leahy and Rep. Chabot to Pass Bipartisan Law School Clinic Certification Bill

WASHINGTON– U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) has partnered with Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) to pass his first piece of legislation, the Law School Clinic Certification Program of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The bipartisan bill, which has passed both houses of Congress and is expected to be signed by President Obama, will expand the current program by removing its “pilot” status, making it available to all accredited law schools in the country that meet the program’s eligibility requirements.

Rep. Jeffries said: “This bill will boost innovation and help ensure that the legal expertise exists for the next generation of inventors, tech entrepreneurs and small businesses in the technology and innovation sectors in Brooklyn and throughout the country. Senator Leahy and Rep. Chabot should be commended for their commitment and leadership in helping shepherd this bill through Congress.”

Sen. Leahy said: “This legislation is a clear win-win:  students will gain tangible, hands-on experience in a vital area of the law, and inventors and small businesses will receive valuable legal assistance with their patent and trademark applications. Congressman Jeffries should be congratulated for his work on this bill in the House.  I thank all members for joining me in support of this sensible program and continuing our work to support innovators in our home states and across the Nation.”

Rep. Chabot said: “I’m pleased to see that the Senate also recognizes this program’s importance to our economy, and has acted on our efforts to strengthen it.  This program provides inventors and entrepreneurs with quality legal services and protections they might not otherwise be able to afford.  And it provides law students with hands-on, real world experience that will prepare them for their future careers. It is a win for all parties involved and I look forward to its enactment.” 

Michelle K. Lee, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO said: “We are excited to have this newly passed legislation formally establish an already successful pilot program at the USPTO.  It makes a lot of sense in many ways.  It provides important practical experiences to law students, as well as valuable legal services to under-resourced inventors, which in turn helps them to protect the fruits of their creation so they will have the incentives needed to innovate and bring new inventions to the marketplace, where all may benefit from them.”

The USPTO’s Law School Clinic Certification Program has been operating in a pilot capacity since 2008.  Under the advisement of a school faculty clinic supervisor, the program allows students at participating law schools to gain experience in patent and trademark law by practicing before the USPTO.  At the date of the introduction, only 28 law schools were participating in the program. Today, 41 schools including Brooklyn Law School in New York, participate. This bill will continue to expand the program to the benefit of law students and innovators across America.

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is a member of the House Judiciary and House Budget committees, as well as the subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet who represents the 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.