Howard University School of Law operates two practices at its Clinical Law Center
geared towards Intellectual Property: the Trademark Clinic and the Patent Clinic.
Both are dedicated to providing legal services to individuals unable to afford representation to protect their intellectual property.
This is what we do.
Many IPSA@HUSL members get to work hands-on in helping protect minority business owner's intangible creative efforts, so that one day they become profitable assets. Our law school works diligently to provide free legal services to low-income individuals across the nation. As we come to the realization that more work has to be done to see true equality in this country, we had to consider what was within our power to do.
This is why we do it.
Last summer was particularly difficult for the black community. As protests continued to
surge around the country, IPSA@HUSL considered its own form of activism. This started with the
question of how to help a community of people in our country who are struggling right
now, but ended in identifying all issues that exist in erasing racial disparities, and not just the
ones that frequent the news.
As it stands, a large amount of our clinics’ clients are black. In 2016, the
net worth of a typical white family was $171,000--nearly ten times greater than that of a black
family ($17,150). More specifically to our school's location, the median income for
white households in DC has increased significantly over the last decade, while the median
income for Black households hasn’t budged. “The Black median household income in DC– now
around $42,000—is less than a third of the white median household income of $134,000.”
There has been a shift from a labor economy to a knowledge economy. As a result, intangible assets (with IPR being chief among them) have emerged as the most powerful asset class, overtaking more traditional capital assets such as real estate, plant and equipment.We believe a large part of the reason the economic wealth gap continues to exist is because many people of color do not have access to the resources they need to adequately protect and profit from their intellectual works. This is evidenced by the copious amounts of applications that fail registration for no other reason than the client's inability to pay. This problem will worsen as the USPTO increases its fees.
On February 8, 2021, we will begin selling t-shirts and collecting donations. Over the course of Spring 2021, we will begin to disperse these funds to current clinic clients. The only criteria for receipt of the IP Legal Assistance Grant will be (i) having an eligible invention and/or mark ; (ii) falling under the median income in your locality; and (iii) proof of expenses requested. Our IP Legal Assistance Fund would allow us to cover all registration fees associated with registering people’s IP, creating a seamless protection process for the people who need it most. From start to finish, we want to do all we can to strive for equality on all fronts. With the IP Legal Assistance Fund, no low-income creator or business has to face the intimidation of rejection based on a lack of capital. And while a non-refundable $375 fee on the chance of IP registration seems like nothing to some, it can make the difference of whether someone is living comfortably for a month for others.
We continue to brainstorm everyday about how we can better serve our underserved
communities. But to be frank, it’s time for us to put our money where our mouth is. This is step
one, and we encourage everyone to step in where they can.
*Please be mindful of shipping delays due to COVID-19.