Case Western Reserve University law student Joel Simon has been working closely with some of Northeast Ohio’s most determined entrepreneurs. At Shaker LaunchHouse, a regional incubator, the people he meets have big ideas—and important legal questions.
Simon, who expects to graduate with a law degree in May, now as a 25-year-old student offers background information to startups of all kinds on patent, copyright and trademark issues. He’s learning first-hand the role intellectual property plays in the development and growth of startup companies. His recent work is part of an experiential learning opportunity that has served as a precursor to a intellectual property law clinic that began in January.
“There’s a barrier to entry for any startup,” Simon said. “Not every good idea is going to work. If there is some way to make them have a better chance, I think that’s a wonderful thing.”
Simon is one of the two students participating this semester in the Intellectual Property Entrepreneurship Clinic at the school’s Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center. They’ll work under the supervision of new adjunct faculty member Todd Behrens, a partner with the law firm Medley, Behrens & Lewis LLC. With Behrens’ guidance, students will draft patent applications and render patentability opinions, among other services.
“We want to start with small successes,” Behrens said. “So the idea is to start with two students and develop the program, and in coming academic years, we can expand and have more students involved.”
The clinic will provide free legal work to LaunchHouse clients, and students, in turn, will gain valuable experience that may help them as they enter an increasingly competitive job market.
“That experience can become a key point of differentiation,” said Craig Nard, Tom J.E. and Bette Lou Walker Professor of Law and director of the Center for Law, Technology & the Arts at the law school. “In addition to the student experience, the clinic is engaging the community and offering an important service to local companies, which are at a stage in their development when they need capable legal counsel, particularly with respect to intellectual property.”
Among the benefits to LaunchHouse clients is substantial cost savings. Legal fees associated with drafting and filing a patent application, for example, often run between $10,000 and $20,000.
“Case Western Reserve University law school involvement has been a great asset to LaunchHouse,” said Todd Goldstein, a founder and managing partner of LaunchHouse, which opened in June. “We’re very excited about this opportunity. The students and the young companies working together can learn a lot about entrepreneurship, education and innovation.”