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Jan. 8, 2014

Free legal clinics for entrepreneurs

The Michigan State University College of Law is leading an initiative to help west Michigan and mid-Michigan entrepreneurs and small businesses with their intellectual property questions. The initiative will offer assistance with patents, copyrights and trademarks through individual consultations.

“Often a new company’s or an entrepreneur’s most valuable asset is simply the idea for a new technology,” said Adam Candeub, a professor at the MSU College of Law who is overseeing the initiative. "There are laws to protect the economic value that those ideas represent, and we want to help Michigan's emerging high-tech company leaders understand their options.”

There will be three consultations:

  • By appointment at the MSU College of Law Legal Clinic
  • Jan. 28 at the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce
  • Jan. 30 at the MSU Bioeconomy Institute in Holland

“This is an innovative partnership between the MSU Bioeconomy Institute and the MSU College of Law to support business and job creation from Holland to Port Huron,” said Steve Webster, CEO of Prima Civitas, which is helping coordinate the initiative. “Prima Civitas is proud to support inventors and MSU as they reinvent Michigan's economy.”

Small companies or individuals interested in discussing the protection of their patent idea, copyright issue, potential trademark or related questions may request an appointment by completing the online application.

Appointment slots are limited and prior appointments are required so interested entrepreneurs and small firms are encouraged to register immediately.

Following an initial contact, Candeub and his colleagues will match interested Michigan companies and entrepreneurs with practicing attorneys, who will mentor the MSU law students participating in the IP law clinical experience. Working together, the companies and law students, with guidance from the practicing lawyer-mentors, will explore the companies’ opportunities for patenting or otherwise protecting their technologies.

Law students will conduct any legal research that may be needed, under the supervision of the veteran attorneys, who will guide them in producing an advisory letter.

The Intellectual Property Start-Up Project is a practice area offered through MSU Law’s Legal Clinic. The Legal Clinic provides a law firm environment in which student clinicians work under close faculty supervision to advocate for real clients with real legal challenges. Additional practice areas include civil rights, criminal, family, First Amendment, housing, immigration, small business and nonprofit and tax law.

“MSU is committed to promoting economic diversification and providing significant assistance to Michigan entrepreneurs statewide, through a variety of programs,” said Paul Hunt, MSU senior associate vice president for research and graduate studies. “In this particular instance, MSU is also providing hands-on experience to students who will become the state’s next generation of patent lawyers. Everyone benefits from these collaborations.”


By: Erika Marzorati