The IP Innovation Program was established in 2019, to support the work of the IP Innovation Clinic, founded in 2010 by Prof Pina D’Agostino. The IP Innovation Clinic is a year-round, needs-based innovation-to-society intellectual property (IP) legal clinic operated in collaboration with Innovation York and supervising law firms Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, Bereskin & Parr LLP and Own Innovation. Under the guidance and mentorship of the Clinic Director and supervising lawyers, law students provide one-to-one legal information services (not legal advice) to inventors, entrepreneurs, and start-up companies to assist with the commercialization processes. Through this hands-on practical experience, law students learn about common early-stage IP and business issues facing actors in the innovation ecosystem.
Under the rubric of the IP Innovation Program, approximately 15 upper year law students called “senior clinic fellows” (2L and 3L students) will work in the clinic for the academic year, under the supervision of the Clinic Director, lawyers, and the Clinic Supervisor. Senior clinic fellows spend approximately 6 hours/week throughout the year on client file-related work and clinical projects. The clinical work includes managing at least two client files, conducting intake meetings, performing prior art searches, reviewing patent specifications, performing freedom-to-operate and clearance searches, reviewing IP licensing transactions, assisting with the preparation and filing of provisional patent applications, drafting memos and conducting legal research. In addition to client file-related work, senior clinic fellows will also work on clinical projects, such as providing IP awareness and education to the clinic clients and the community. IP awareness and education activities include presentations and/or workshops about the basics of IP law, commercialization, licensing, IP strategy, etc.
In addition to the approximately 78 hours per semester on client file-related work and clinic projects, Senior clinic fellows will attend pre-scheduled, mandatory 2-hour monthly seminars with the Clinic Director (and Clinic Supervisor and sometimes guests and/or participating supervising lawyers) and attend other informal meetings as necessary. The purpose of the seminars will be to deepen the students’ understanding of IP in a practical context, the role of IP in commercialization and IP skills and strategies. Students will also have an opportunity to rotate on presenting and discussing assigned reading materials on select topics to enhance their collective learning and reflection of their clinical work, and wider community legal IP context. Presentations and seminars may take place online via Zoom or other similar platform with mandatory audio and video participation for Senior clinic fellows.
Senior clinic fellows will keep a weekly reflective journal and submit it for review by the Program Director at the end of the term.