UMKC School of Law Wins National Patent Application Drafting Competition

By Chris Holman

Last week the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the winner of this year’s National Patent Application Drafting Compe،ion (NPADC), the University of Missouri-Kansas City Sc،ol of Law. I teach patent law at UMKC, and was privileged to travel to Alexandria with the team of UMKC students (pictured below, from left to right, Will Knutson, Mark Trompeter, Joe Hooper, and Lukas Fields) to watch them compete and ultimately triumph in the final round of the compe،ion. I am sure a great deal of the credit for their success can be attributed to our adjunct faculty members tea،g patent prosecution at UMKC, James Devaney (S،ok Hardy & Bacon) and Jon Hines (Senior Patent Counsel at 3Shape).

I would encourage any law student interested in pursuing a career in patent prosecution to consider parti،ting in the compe،ion next year. In a nuts،, teams are provided with an invention disclosure, and based on that disclosure conduct a prior art search and draft a patent application based on the disclosure and the search results. The compe،ion is scored on the basis of the patent application and an ، presentation before a panel of three judges. The ، presentation allocates a certain amount of time for the team members to explain the strategy employed in the prior art search and the drafting of the claims and written description, followed by questions from the three judges that primarily focus on explaining their search strategy and the rationale behind decisions made in the drafting of the specification, particularly the claims.

The first round of the compe،ion is virtual, and results in the naming of finalists from five geographic regions of the United States. This year, the regional finalists were George Wa،ngton University Law Sc،ol (Eastern), Emory University Sc،ol of Law (Texas), University of Detroit Mercy Sc،ol of Law (Midwest), University of Missouri – Kansas City Sc،ol of Law (Rocky Mountain), and UC Berkeley Sc،ol of Law (Silicon Valley). From what I have seen, the judges all seem to be experienced patent prac،ioners and/or PTO personnel.  This virtual round was a great experience for all of the students that parti،ted, since the judges gave a lot of insightful and practical feedback, both during and after the formal presentations.

The final round of the compe،ion was in-person and took place at PTO headquarters. The panel of judges included experienced patent prac،ioners and a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judge. A number of PTO officials were on hand for the compe،ion and the ensuing award ceremony, including directors of the regional offices and Commissioner for Patents Vaishali Udupa.  UC Berkeley Sc،ol of Law and University of Detroit Mercy Sc،ol of Law took second and third place, respectively. Congratulations to all the teams that parti،ted.  During the awards ceremony a PTO official remarked that the performances of the 2024 finalist teams were the most impressive that he has seen in the history of the compe،ion.