UMKC School of Law Wins National Patent Application Drafting Competition

By Chris Holman

Last week the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the winner of this year’s National Patent Application Drafting Competition (NPADC), the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. I teach patent law at UMKC, and was privileged to travel to Alexandria with the team of UMKC students (pictured below, from left to right, Will Knutson, Mark Trompeter, Joe Hooper, and Lukas Fields) to watch them compete and ultimately triumph in the final round of the competition. I am sure a great deal of the credit for their success can be attributed to our adjunct faculty members teaching patent prosecution at UMKC, James Devaney (Shook Hardy & Bacon) and Jon Hines (Senior Patent Counsel at 3Shape).

I would encourage any law student interested in pursuing a career in patent prosecution to consider participating in the competition next year. In a nutshell, teams are provided with an invention disclosure, and based on that disclosure conduct a prior art search and draft a patent application based on the disclosure and the search results. The competition is scored on the basis of the patent application and an oral presentation before a panel of three judges. The oral presentation allocates a certain amount of time for the team members to explain the strategy employed in the prior art search and the drafting of the claims and written description, followed by questions from the three judges that primarily focus on explaining their search strategy and the rationale behind decisions made in the drafting of the specification, particularly the claims.

The first round of the competition is virtual, and results in the naming of finalists from five geographic regions of the United States. This year, the regional finalists were George Washington University Law School (Eastern), Emory University School of Law (Texas), University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (Midwest), University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law (Rocky Mountain), and UC Berkeley School of Law (Silicon Valley). From what I have seen, the judges all seem to be experienced patent practitioners and/or PTO personnel.  This virtual round was a great experience for all of the students that participated, since the judges gave a lot of insightful and practical feedback, both during and after the formal presentations.

The final round of the competition was in-person and took place at PTO headquarters. The panel of judges included experienced patent practitioners and a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judge. A number of PTO officials were on hand for the competition and the ensuing award ceremony, including directors of the regional offices and Commissioner for Patents Vaishali Udupa.  UC Berkeley School of Law and University of Detroit Mercy School of Law took second and third place, respectively. Congratulations to all the teams that participated.  During the awards ceremony a PTO official remarked that the performances of the 2024 finalist teams were the most impressive that he has seen in the history of the competition.

7 thoughts on “UMKC School of Law Wins National Patent Application Drafting Competition

  1. 6

    Congrats to all, EXCELLENCE !!

  2. 5

    Congrats on the UMKC team. The great work of Prof. Crouch shows. One caveat: a lot of patent applications are drafted in a difficult to read prose because of the need to prepare for litigation in commercially valuable fields of technology. Often, a patent practitioner will have to draft an term or application deliberately vague in order to navigate the tangled thicket of patent in the field of prior art. What is ideal for a patent application for the USPTO is very different than what is ideal for the client. As always, balance of the competing values clarity and litigation defense is key depending on the art and technology. This is just my opinion…I could be wrong.

  3. 4

    MM bro, do you think that ol joe’s uncle was eaten? And how ra cist is his thinking this happened anyway bro?

    link to

  4. 3

    Apparently they wrote a patent application for a device that controls gravity so they can stand horizontally and not fall over.

    How does the device work?

    Does it involve the Higgs Field?

  5. 2

    Yes congratulations to you and your team!

  6. 1


    1. 1.1

      Congratulations to the UMKC students (Will Knutson, Mark Trompeter, Joe Hooper, and Lukas Fields) who may have drafted their first patent application under the teaching and mentoring of adjunct faculty members teaching patent prosecution at UMKC, James Devaney (Shook Hardy & Bacon) and Jon Hines (Senior Patent Counsel at 3Shape), patent professor (Dennis Crouch) and team coach. The USPTO does an excellent job putting together this competition, assisting students with substantive skill building and networking, and engaging an army of volunteer practitioners as judges and coaches.

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