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The commercialization of innovation: an education on intellectual property

November 21, 2012

The Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinic at Penn Law is designed to set a new standard for legal education providing hands-on, practical experience along the technological, legal, and business pathways that comprise the commercialization of innovation.

Cynthia Dahl, Practice Associate Professor of Law and the inaugural director of the Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinic, talks to Penn Law’s Office of Communications about the interdisciplinary opportunities the Clinic offers, and what makes it unique.




My name is Cindy Dahl and I am a Practice Associate Professor of law here at Penn and the inaugural director of the Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Clinic.

The Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Clinic is the newest clinic offering in the Gittis Center. It is a unique experience that combines both a seminar and real client experiences to let students begin to practice law. 

Clients will cross different industries and also be different sizes to give different experiences to the students. The cases will run the gamut: some students will have very technology-focused cases where they may be helping to prosecute a patent, or they may be helping to draft a patent licensing deal; or they may be looking at an inventor’s new technology to give advice on whether it could be patented at all and then if it can be patented what to do with it as a business idea.

Other students will be involved with copyright-focused cases where they might look at an artist’s work and give them advice about how to copyright it; or they might help them to license it to someone else who might want to perform their work. Still other students will be involved with trademark work where they may advise a company on how to protect their trademark rights.

This is a really unique program. Unlike other clinics that are focused on IP around the country, we have two unique opportunities here at Penn. First, we can work with the very powerful Center for Technology Transfer and second, we have wonderful professional schools that are literally down the block that will provide for the students to have a truly interdisciplinary experience. When lawyers practice in the real world, in a business setting, especially in a technology or artistic business setting, they meet different voices around the table. And they have to learn how they can add value to business situation, to an artistic situation, to a technology situation and work well with those other voices.

Having these other schools that are right down the block from us gives us an opportunity to bring those voices into the classroom and have the lawyers interact, before they are professionals out in the world, with people with different viewpoints, and different perspectives, and learn how to add value in those situations. 

Transcript has been edited for length.