Work conducted by Indiana University students Thomas Amick and Ziyu Ma to create and hone patent applications will impact lives around the world.
Amick, from Greenfield, Indiana, is a third-year student in the IU McKinney School of Law. Ma, from Jiangsu, China, is a second-year student in the IU Maurer School of Law. They are both interning this summer at the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office in Indianapolis.
In these internship positions, the students enable technology transfer professionals to protect intellectual property developed at all IU campuses and academic centers. The IP — which covers cybersecurity, education, energy, engineering, IT, life sciences, manufacturing, medical devices and other areas — could be licensed by industry, brought to market and improve people’s quality of life.
Crimson Catalyst: What are your duties at the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office? How do they fit into the technology transfer process?
Thomas Amick: My duties typically include drafting patents, conducting prior art searches and preparing patent portfolios for inventors. Essentially, I am assisting the attorneys here to help the inventors protect their patents and patentable ideas.
Ziyu Ma: I’m working on several projects, some of which are at the very beginning of tech transfer, like preparing pre-disclosures and evaluating patentability. Other projects include patent drafting, preparing arguments rebutting written opinions on lack of novelty and obviousness, correcting defects in patent applications, and checking the accuracy of published patents.
CC: What has been a memorable success during your tenure at IU ICO?
ZM: The patentability assessment project is definitely the most memorable. With the help of friendly colleagues, I compared the invention with prior arts and conducted detailed evaluation for novelty and non-obviousness. It is the first patentability report I have done and, with the struggle in the beginning and the success in the end, it is one of my most unforgettable projects.
TA: My work has helped prepare an inventor and his company to secure funding and future patents.
CC: Why does technology transfer matter to the general public?
TA: Without technology transfer, the intellectual property the inventors create would likely never see the light of day. Therefore, the public would not benefit from the inventions that they helped to fund.
ZM: Many scientific inventions are not yet ready to be used by the general public. In my opinion, technology transfer is the bridge that links scientific invention to industrial application, and finally brings technology to the general public.
CC: Do you think students are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship?
ZM: Yes, and I think IU has done an excellent job in encouraging student innovation. Many of the inventions we see are the work of graduate students, and we have also seen many inventors build up companies based on their own inventions and technologies.
TA: I can’t say if students are or not, but they should be.
CC: What are your career goals? How has your internship benefited you?
TA: Ideally, I will practice patent law. Through this internship, I’ve gained valuable experience, contacts and perspective on a career as a patent attorney.
ZM: My career plan is to be an IP attorney with a focus on patent law. It is the reason I decided to go to law school, and it’s also the reason I applied for this internship. This internship exposed me to real-world patents, and it allows me to learn from experienced attorneys and explore my field of interest. My supervisor at ICO takes my interest into consideration and has assigned me some projects that I asked for. Most importantly, I get to see how an invention is transferred into a patent, and how patents can really provide protection to inventions. It makes me even more interested in intellectual property law.
Thank you, Thomas and Ziyu, not only for your time in answering these questions, but also for your hard work as part of the technology transfer process at IU Innovation and Commercialization Office.