This past winter, Julesgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic students developed “Hacking the Patent System: A Guide to Alternative Patent Licensing for Innovators.” Marta Belcher ’15 and John Casey ’15, in collaboration with our clients Electronic Frontier Foundation, Engine Advocacy, and the Open Invention Network, researched, drafted and coordinated the guide, which is designed to help startups and innovators understand and consider using non-traditional approaches to patent licensing.
The goal of the U.S. patent system is to incentivize innovation, but there is growing public concern that the way the current system operates sometimes does more to hinder innovation than to promote it. “Hacking the Patent System” lays out three approaches to patent licenses that innovators can use to reduce the negative impact of the patent system on innovation: defensive patent aggregators, patent pledges, and Google’s License on Transfer Agreement. The guide identifies specific entities and licenses making use of each approach and explains the pros and cons associated with each. This May, our clients officially launched the guide, which will serve as a valuable tool for startups and tech companies as they learn about and consider using these alternative patent licensing structures.
In addition to all their great advice and contract work, all Organization and Transactions Clinic students executed comprehensive corporate governance reviews this past spring quarter. These engagements involve reviewing the client’s existing governance documents and practices, preparing a detailed advice deliverable, drafting an extensive suite of bylaws, board committee charters, and other documents, and making a formal presentation to the the board of directors and CEO.
Lincoln Lo and Cecilia Oyediran rehearse a governance presentation that they later delivered to a client’s board of directors.
Mari Guttman ’15 and Mansi Kothari ’15 worked with the board of a well-known farmers’ market and sustainable agriculture organization in San Francisco. Lincoln Lo ’15 and Cecilia Oyediran ’15 represented a San Francisco nonprofit that enables individuals with physical or developmental disabilities to participate in outdoor adventures. Denise Ballesteros ’15 and Alex Pacheco ’15 advised an agricultural education organization based near Davis, while Cameron Ormsby ’15 and Kaleisha Stuart ’15 worked with a North Bay organization that provides consulting and other services to nonprofits. ◊
Students in the Julesgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic co-authored with the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) an amicus brief weighing in as amici on one of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases in recent history addressing patents, Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International (CLS Bank). CCIA and its member companies in the computer, Internet, information technology, and telecommunications industries are significantly affected by the patent system: while they rely on patents to protect their inventions, their ability to innovate is often hindered by overly broad patents—particularly software patents.
The primary question raised in CLS Bank was whether a scheme for mitigating risk in financial transactions through the use of a third party intermediary was patentable when (and because) a computer was used as the third party. In winter 2014, clinic students Michael Chen ’14 and Rachel Yu ’14 co-authored an amicus brief with CCIA urging the Court to protect innovators from harmful, overbroad patents. The brief argued that software not tied to particular hardware was unpatentable because it represents an “abstract idea” that is ineligible for patent protection and because it constitutes impermissible “functional claiming.” The brief expressed particular concern that providing protection for the types of patents at issue would enable patent-owners to preempt all ways of implementing an idea, regardless of whether the patent-owner had actually invented them. To help determine which software patents were eligible for protection, the brief proposed a “specific hardware test.”
Several weeks ago, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in CLS Bank, finding the patents at issue invalid because the patents were directed to abstract ideas. The Court held that adding a requirement in the patent that the abstract idea should be implemented on a computer or adding other conventional, well-known steps to the patent did not transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. ◊
Jeff Fisher arguing for petitioner in Fourth Amendment cell phone case (Art Lien)
In a landmark ruling today, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision requiring police to obtain warrants in order to search cell phones of those arrested. Earlier this year, the Court granted the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic’s petition for certiorari in Riley v. California, the lead case subject to today’s ruling. Students Julia Reese ’13, Ben Chagnon ’14, and Seth Lloyd ’14 drafted the petition. Seth and Ben continued working on the merits briefing, along with Tess Reed ’15, Alec Schierenbeck ’15, and Kristin Saetveit ’15. The Clinic also collaborated and strategized on the case with the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic. Professor Jeff Fisher, director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, argued the case in April. Congratulations to all!
More coverage: New York Times, SCOTUS blog. See previous post. ◊
Ryan Nelson presents at City Council hearing in May 2014.
For more than a year, the Religious Liberty Clinic has represented a small church in Southern California facing a zoning challenge to its homeless ministry. This work took on an exhilarating dimension this quarter. In early May, clinic students Janice Mau ’14, Ryan Nelson ’15, Tom Wakefield ’15, and Paul Harold ’14 (advanced) presented at a City Council hearing. Days later, the clinic filed a federal civil rights lawsuit with motion for preliminary injunction, and then sought a temporary restraining order (which the court granted). The students will not see the case resolved before the quarter ends. But after many long nights and weekends, and under the steady supervision of staff attorney Jared Haynie, they can be proud of their service to the church and its efforts to serve the poor. ◊
Jeff Middleton, Stacy Villalobos and Matthew Verdin outside USCIS
Immigrants’ Rights Clinic students Stacy Villalobos ’15, Jeffrey Middleton ‘15, and Matthew Verdin ’15 drafted sections of the soon to be filed Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals brief in Rodriguez v. Holder. The Clinic represents a class of hundreds of immigrant detainees who have been imprisoned for more than six months. Litigation leading up to this appeal has established the right of detainees to a bond hearing before a neutral decision maker. The appeal hopes to ensure additional due process protections at these bond hearings, including a consideration of alternatives to detention—such as conditions of supervision or electronic monitoring—and the length the immigrant has already been detained as well as the length of anticipated detention. The appeal also hopes to establish a redetermination of bond every six months an immigrant is detained. ◊
JIPIC and O&T Clinic student collaborators. From left: Rachel Kimball Wilcox (JIPIC); Denise Ballesteros (O&T); Yale Fu (JIPIC); Jaryn Fields (JIPIC); Kaleisha Stuart (O&T)
In a unique joint engagement with the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic (“JIPIC”), Organizations and Transactions Clinic students Kaleisha Stuart ’15 and Denise Ballesteros ’15 worked with JIPIC students Jaryn Fields ‘15, Rachel Kimball Wilcox ‘15, and Yale Fu ‘15 to provide contract and IP advice to a national nonprofit focused on teacher development. ◊
Stacy Villalobos and Matt Verdin debrief at a cafe after the hearing.
Immigrants’ Rights Clinic students Stacy Villalobos ’15 and Matthew Verdin ’15 represented their client at a hearing at the immigration court in San Francisco this spring.
Their client is a legal permanent resident facing the prospect of deportation. Deportation would separate the client, who is a Bay Area resident, from her husband and two daughters.Stacy and Matthew researched potential avenues to prevent the deportation in preparation for their client’s court appearance. At the hearing, they successfully submitted two applications they prepared that represented two independent defenses to their client’s deportation.
The clinic will continue to fight against the client’s deportation in immigration court in the months to come. ◊
Organizations and Transactions Clinic students had terrific experiences this past quarter working on several advice and contract matters. Read on for highlights.
Cameron Ormsby and Mansi Kothari visit a North Bay ranch subject to a conservation easement held by one of their clients.
Mansi Kothari ’15 and Cameron Ormsby ’15 provided technical advice regarding agricultural conservation easement documents and developed compliance and educational materials for one of California’s most prominent land trusts. Mansi and Cameron also drafted loan documents for a large insurance cooperative and revamped fiscal sponsorship contract and operating documents for a San Francisco organization that provides support and services to the Bay Area dance community.
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Kaleisha Stuart and Denise Ballesteros discuss contract language on a conference call with a client.
Denise Ballesteros ’15 and Kaleisha Stuart ’15 provided advice about legal structures for geographic expansion to a large international nonprofit whose mission centers on developing children’s literacy skills. Denise and Kaleisha also created multiple employee, client, and collaborator agreements for a rapidly-growing national organization focused on teacher development, and a set of contracts for a San Francisco resource center for visual and performing artists.
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Cecilia Oyediran and Alex Pacheco visit a Marin County client engaged in agricultural and environmental education.
Cecilia Oyediran ’15 and Alex Pacheco ’15 worked with one of the country’s leading charter school organizations to revise its core trademark license agreement and related external communications. Cecilia and Alex also prepared multiple contracts for a statewide organization that supports legal service providers, and developed compliance materials for a Marin County agricultural and environmental nonprofit relating to a complex site use agreement with the federal government.
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Maria Guttman and Lincoln Lo after completing a project for Bay Area bicycling organizations.
Mari Guttman ’15 and Lincoln Lo ’15 advised a group of Bay Area bicycling organizations on a range of governance and operating matters including the principal contracts relating to Bike to Work Day. Mari and Lincoln also provided copyright law advice, developed educational and contract materials, and led a training session for a San Francisco children’s health nonprofit, and provided extensive advice to a large Silicon Valley health services and advocacy organization regarding its corporate compliance program. ◊
Community Law Clinic students Blair Green ’15 and Jack Kider ’15, recently represented a client in a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, in a claim for disability benefits. Their client had been waiting for benefits for over five years, having previously been denied by the Social Security Administration multiple times including at a prior hearing.
Jack Kider ’15 and Blair Green ’15 outside the federal courthouse in San Jose following the hearing.
After developing new evidence of their client’s impairments, the students presented a new theory of the case, arguing that their client was entitled to disability benefits because of a combination of mental and physical impairments, several of which had been previously undiagnosed. At hearing, the Administrative Law Judge found their arguments persuasive and issued a bench decision granting their client ongoing and retroactive benefits!