First-in-state IP Institute to provide specialized training for growing law practice area


North Carolina Central University School of Law is establishing a new Intellectual Property Law Institute that will provide legal expertise, curriculum and training for students while serving the public interest. Analytics leader SAS has provided funding to help NCCU launch the Institute.

“NCCU’s law school is committed to provide education and training in emerging areas of legal practice,” said Phyliss Craig-Taylor, dean of the NCCU School of Law. “IPLI will allow us to matriculate practice-ready graduates prepared to address the difficult IP questions in the 21st century.”

Institute enrollees will gain practical legal experience by helping review suspect patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They will be serving the public interest by invalidating patents that could be used to disrupt businesses – a practice that imposes significant costs on the U.S. economy.

NCCU’s School of Law is one of only 11 law schools certified by the USPTO to offer both a patent clinic and a trademark clinic. The new institute will work initially with industries in North Carolina, later expanding across the country to help improve patent quality and protect organizations’ intellectual property.

The IP Law Institute will fill a critical need of one of the fastest-growing practices of law, while attracting students with undergraduate degrees in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. The institute has the additional objectives of: recruiting STEM students with diverse backgrounds and experiences to intellectual property careers; providing practical experience for students in the protection of creative works and innovations; advanced training for law graduates in the form of continuing legal education seminars, symposiums and publication; and promoting a quality patent system through filing Inter Partes Reviews in the public interest.

NCCU Law Professor Charles Smith will serve as the director of the institute. Prior to joining NCCU in 1979, Smith was a patent examiner, a patent attorney for Xerox Corp., and counsel for Bechtel Corp. in San Francisco. He has also been an attorney advisor for the U.S.  Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Information Systems Command, and of counsel for Olive and Olive.

“This support of the institute by SAS is enormously valuable to the principle objective of training students to be key players in addressing the quality of United States Patents,” Smith said. “We are truly grateful to SAS for demonstrating leadership and support for students and this community.”

Said John Boswell, SAS’s executive vice president and chief legal officer: “The IP institute is a perfect nexus of two important advocacy areas for SAS. We’re helping a local university produce talent that’s in high demand in the Triangle and beyond. The graduates of this program will provide needed resources to the legal market, which will help businesses and organizations innovate and thrive.”