1. Understand the Basics
Intellectual property cases can involve a wide range of legal rights, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. You do not need to be an expert, but learn the differences between these categories of IP (e.g., what each right covers and how rights are obtained). It is also helpful to know how IP law develops. For example, all patent laws are federal laws enacted by Congress. Patent-infringement cases take place in federal district courts, and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction of all appeals from patent cases.
2. Consider Your Audience
If possible, try to learn a bit about your interviewer. If you are interviewing with an attorney, try to learn from their profile what areas of law their practice covers. Many IP attorneys tend to focus their practice in particular industries (e.g., telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, automotive), which may help you understand their experience and interests. If you are interviewing with a judge, see what you can find online about their background. You may learn about when the judge joined the bench and what he or she did professionally prior to becoming a judge. Don’t feel the need to tell your interviewer everything you’ve learned about them—just use the information before and during your interview to present yourself as effectively as possible.
3. Identify Your Selling Points
What helps set you apart from the other applicants interested in IP internships? Think critically about what impression you want to leave with your interviewer, and then consider what evidence you have to support that impression. If one of your selling points is that you have a very strong technical background, be sure to convey that during your interview. As other examples, if you have prior legal work experience, excel in legal writing, or have taken numerous IP courses in law school, plan to work those selling points into your interview answers.
4. Demonstrate Knowledge
Be sure to emphasize whatever knowledge or training you have that would make you a great IP intern. IP cases often involve complex, technical subject matter, so judges seeking IP interns want someone who is comfortable learning about new technologies or scientific subjects. Talk about any relevant courses you’ve taken or work experience that demonstrates knowledge of IP law or technical subjects. If you are interviewing with a judge, consider researching what types of cases he or she typically hears using resources like LexisNexis CourtLink.