Trademark Navigator and other Practical Legal Research Tools

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"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is,” or so the Yogi Berra-quote goes.

Legal educators have spent a lot of time recently thinking about that wisdom, and specifically, the best way to produce practice ready lawyers by connecting classroom theory to real world experiences. Among the tools that law schools (including UNC) have employed are clinics and other classroom experiences that simulate practice environments, both of which I think are critical to better preparing students to start work after graduation.

I’ve seen firsthand how effective practical experiences can be for in connecting what students learn in the classroom to the real world. For several years I had the privilege of working with UC Berkeley’s Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic, where I got to see students produce engage in some amazing, complicated representation. Law libraries have much that they could do to support practical legal education efforts, especially clinics. Former UNC Law Library Graduate Assistant and current University of Michigan Law Faculty Services Librarian Virginia Neisler explains how in her excellent (award-wining, in fact) masters paper on how law libraries can better serve clinics.

So I’m excited when we, as a library, support these efforts. One way we provide support is by acquiring resources that are tailored to our school’s practical experiences. Just this past week, for example, we purchased access to a new looseleaf-like tool by CCH called Trademark Navigator, in support of our new Intellectual Property Clinic, taught by trademark attorney Devon White. Trademark Navigator, similar to other CCH looseleaf-like products available through CCH Intelliconnect, combines in one place all relevant primary law, expert analysis and explanation, and practical tools such as checklists, client forms and letters, and other tools that help streamline trademark representation.

Tools like Trademark Navigator are helpful because they are tailored to specific areas of practice and provide thorough explanation of commonly encountered issues. Trademark Navigator, for example, includes visual segments on its front page for all the categories of information it has available, which includes a section for high-level Trademark Process Overview (including guidance on classification of goods and services), a section devoted to interactions with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), another for common activities related to opposition and cancellation actions, and another for other Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) actions. It also includes centralized search of precedential TTAB cases and Federal Circuit cases, a segment for commonly-used checklists and forms (including official USPTO forms), and a segment with links just to commonly used primary law, such as the relevant sections of the Code of Federal Regulations and the Lanham Act.

For students who are tasked for the first time with preparing an application, having a one-stop source for the relevant law, forms, and guidance on how to interact with the USPTO is an incredible time saver. Though not true of all practitioner-oriented tools, the Trademark Navigator interface is intuitive too--all content is linked from the front page, and once accessed can be read and browsed through the main CCH Intelliconnect system.

It’s easy to gravitate toward Google, Westlaw, and Lexis as the go-to starting points for any given legal research project. But specialized, subject-specific “combo” research tools like Trademark Navigator can be a much more efficient place to start research. That is especially true for students who don’t have the practical experience to know where to start (or stop) in their research and writing. Though the interface is different than what students may be used to, especially on CCH Intelliconnect, which forces users to rely heavily on its electronic, cascading table of contents, tools like these are worth teaching to help students become better, more efficient researchers. Check it out, along with the many others available through Intelliconnect. For North Carolina-specific sources (including in print and digital), the law library maintains a guide to our practitioner-oriented sources.

Posted by David R. Hansen (Dave) on Fri. July 10, 2015 12:50 PM
Categories: Uncategorized

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