My IP Intensive Internship at ventureLAB

Madelaine Lynch is an IP Intensive student and a 3L JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School. As part of the course requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

I am extremely grateful for the 10 short weeks I got to spend (virtually) at ventureLAB. ventureLAB is not-for-profit technology hub in York Region which is not only an amazing resource for tech companies, but also an amazing place to work.

ventureLAB works with start-ups from the early to late stages of a company. As a result, I got a front-row seat to the world of high-tech start-ups. This was an amazing opportunity since the IP realities of start-ups are quite different than the IP we learn from a textbook, or even the IP experienced from a law firm perspective.

Having been a scientist prior to law school, I will admit I was a bit nervous stepping into the world of high-tech. I quickly learned there was nothing to fear, and my experience as a scientist actually turned out to be useful! From day one I was part of team RIVIR (Relentless, Inclusive, Visionary, Innovative, Results oriented), and fortunately not the only one who wasn’t a tech-expert.

One of the highlights was the opportunity to talk with clients. This allowed me to gain a better understanding of the IP needs and concerns facing start-ups. I quickly realized that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for start-ups. Each start-up is unique, and what works for one company may not work for another. As ventureLAB works with hardware and software companies, the IP concerns were quite intricate and varied with the company stage. Each client call was different, meaning we got to cover a wide range of IP concerns, from both the business and legal perspective.

Most of my work was focused on creating information for both clients and the ventureLAB team. One of my biggest projects was creating two IP blog series. The first series, which extended on the work of last year’s student, was an IP 101 series that provided clients with an overview of IP, including determining what IP they have and how they can protect it. I then created a second “Deep Dive” series. This provided more in-depth information on each type of IP, so that clients can become better versed in the area(s) they are looking to obtain protection. Not only did this prove to be a great resource for clients and staff, but it also helped me brush up on my IP knowledge.

Working at ventureLAB highlighted that IP for start-ups is not as simple as just filing for a patent or trademark. There are a lot of considerations, not only the cost of obtaining IP but the cost of maintaining and enforcing your IP rights. A patent is expensive to obtain, but if you can’t afford to enforce your patent rights against infringers what is the point of having the patent? It is these types of considerations that are easy to overlook in the purely academic IP bubble. Learning about patents, it’s easy to think you come up with an innovative product, don’t disclose, apply for a patent and then you
prevent others from using it. In practice, that is much easier said than done.

Although IP is important, ventureLAB is much more than an IP factory. There are so many wonderful, hardworking people on team RIVIR. In fact, I often had a hard time keeping track of who does what since everyone is so collaborative and happy to jump on a call just to learn something new. This is a testament to the RIVIR culture at ventureLAB, where everyone is willing to help and support one another. It’s no surprise they were named one of the Best Workplaces in Technology. Outside my IP bubble I had the opportunity to learn a lot, from the internal hardware series where we could just learn about cool technologies, like drones or lasers, to being a fly on the wall in client programs. Even my weekly meetings with my supervisor were an enjoyable event. I had the opportunity to ask questions, pitch ideas or some days we just chatted about interesting topics in IP.

Overall, I highly recommend ventureLAB to anyone looking for a great place to work and learn. I certainly hope I have the opportunity to work with team RIVIR again in the future.

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