LTU students get an inside view of U.S. patent system

Release Date: November 20, 2015
sheppard reimer

Before giving a guest lecture at LTU in October, Christal Sheppard of the U.S. Patent Office (second from left) chats with Donald Reimer, and engineering students Janie Roberts, Ben Ervin, John Hatsios, and Cody Hoeffel.

Christal Sheppard, director of the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Detroit, delivered a guest lecture on the patent system in the course, Entrepreneurial Mindset for Engineering.

Sheppard discussed the role of the USPTO in the intellectual property process. She explained that the goal of the American patent system is to foster innovation and protect the rights of innovators. She compared the American system to what is done in other countries.

Entrepreneurial Mindset for Engineering is taught by Senior Lecturer Donald Remer, who is associate director of the entrepreneurship program in the A. Leon Linton Department of Mechanical Engineering.

“It’s important for engineering students to have a good understanding of how the patent system works. Our students are exposed to the importance of discovery and creating value as a key ingredient in developing the entrepreneurially minded engineer,” Reimer said. “We were very fortunate to have an expert come here to LTU to engage them in this topic.”

The Elijah McCoy patent office officially opened in 2012 in the Stroh Building at 300 River Place, Detroit. Specifically named in the America Invents Act, it is the first location the USPTO established to increase outreach, improve retention and recruitment of patent examiners, decrease the patent application backlog and improve the quality of examination.

Each year the U.S. patent office issues more than 150,000 new patents. It has issued more than 8.7 million patents since the office was established in 1790.

Sheppard has more than two decades of science and intellectual property law and policy experience. She was a practicing attorney at Foley & Lardner and the U.S. International Trade Commission and worked for the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.
She served as chief counsel on patents and trademarks for the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives where she worked on the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, the most comprehensive change to this nation’s intellectual property laws in more than 60 years.
Sheppard has master’s and doctoral degrees in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Michigan and a juris doctor degree from Cornell University Law School.


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