Laura N.

Judicial Law Clerk, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

 

“Working with PTAB judges has reaffirmed my interest in working
in patent litigation.”


 

At “The Center of All Things Patents”
 

Laura astutely describes the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as “the center of all things patents,” which is exactly where she always wanted to be, given her passion for intellectual property.

After receiving both a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Laura started at the USPTO in 2012 as a patent examiner. While working at the USPTO, she attended the evening program at the Fordham University School of Law. In 2019, she became a judicial law clerk for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

As a judicial law clerk, she supports PTAB judges in all aspects of their work, including reviewing and drafting opinions and orders for AIA trials and appeals from adverse examiner decisions. She also assisted in the development and implementation of patent policy throughout the USPTO during a rotation in the Office of the Undersecretary.


People Make All the Difference


The people she works with at her judicial clerkship have made all the difference. “The environment is very collaborative and welcoming. At all levels, people are willing to answer your questions. More importantly, they want to hear your perspective,” Laura describes.

“Working with PTAB judges is a phenomenal experience,” Laura shares. She describes the judges as “genuinely interested in your thoughts and opinions. [And] the coolest part of the job is hearing the judges’ opinions on issues before them.”

While supporting the PTAB judges, her legal writing has significantly improved, as has her analysis of complex patent issues and issues of first impression.


Focused Research and Legal Writing


One case Laura worked on was a decision on whether to institute inter partes review of a patent that spanned issues such as discretionary denial, claim construction, anticipation, and obviousness. She considers it a career highlight.

In order to resolve some of the issues in that particular case, she used research methods such as searching comprehensive online legal resources, considering the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure, and reviewing the PTAB’s precedential decisions.


Attending a High-Stakes Hearing


Laura has also had the opportunity to attend interesting hearings, including a Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) hearing that had a high amount of interest from the intellectual property community. “The stakes felt higher than at other hearings,” Laura notes. “The Precedential Opinion Panel was very engaged, asked a lot of questions, and challenged the parties.”

Laura says the hearing experiences in particular, and her judicial clerkship in general, have “reaffirmed my interest in working in patent litigation.” She will be clerking at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 2022.

Laura’s favorite part of working at the USPTO has been the opportunity to engage with “interesting technologies that can leave a meaningful impact on our society.” Laura seems to be on the path to leave the same meaningful impact with her own legal career.