My Ride to IP at Loyola

Author:Emily Moll
Assistant Blogger
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2026

My first exposure to intellectual property (IP) unexpectedly started with t-shirts. If you asked me five years ago if it is easy to get approval for a phrase on a t-shirt, I probably would’ve said yes. However, now I know it can sometimes be anything but easy. In college, I was the President of Notre Dame’s (ND) Equestrian Team. To raise funds for the club, my fellow officers and I wanted to stamp “Ride Like a Champion Today” on t-shirts and sell them. We based this slogan off the “Play Like a Champion Today” phrase commonly used for ND Football. Expecting it to be a simple and quick process like our other t-shirt fund-raising campaigns, we sent in our mock-up for approval, but the athletics department answered with a resounding NO. What!?

Trademarks in the Wild: My First Encounter
I learned that the athletics department stalled our mock-up approval due to a trademark issue over the phrase we wanted to use.
Fun fact: The University of Notre Dame does not own the famous “Play Like a Champion Today” phrase. Instead, a private company called “PLACT” owns it and allows ND to use the slogan for specific approved purposes (i.e. football).
My fellow equestrian team members were committed to the slogan on these shirts, and I definitely wasn’t clever enough to come up with anything better (science major here, NOT artsy at all!). So, our leadership group reached out to the company who owned the trademark, begging for mercy. We jumped through many hoops, including agreeing to limit the production and use of the shirts. But, eventually, “Ride Like a Champion Today” was approved for limited use!

Pre-Law School: Bit of a Bumpy Ride
Honestly, I forgot all about the t-shirt trademark debacle right after it happened. I do, however, remember being very intrigued by the entire process of getting use of the trademark approved. Fast forward to my time after undergrad. I first started working at a law firm. An attorney friend and mentor of mine at the firm, Ritu Singh, told everyone I was going to be a “patent prosecutor,” like she was. This was before I even knew what the phrase meant. I didn’t know about intellectual property for that matter. I followed along because I have a science degree and people in the firm seemed impressed whenever I said “patent prosecutor.” At the time, I genuinely thought this meant criminally charging people for patent infringement or something from a trial scene in Law & Order. Little did I know that my guess was not correct at all!

Luckily for me, Ritu connected me with patent prosecutors in the office who let me assist with some projects. During my first project, I recall organizing patent numbers (assigned to individual issued patents) in an Excel sheet, and I quickly realized there are no trials at for patent, as opposed to criminal, prosecutors. Instead, there is a lot of correspondence with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). After finally asking Ritu what her job entailed, she explained that patent prosecution is the process of helping clients obtain patents through the USPTO instead of engaging in litigation.

If I’m being honest, so far patent prosecution hasn’t struck my fancy. There wasn’t as much “action” in filing patent applications with the USPTO as I expected. But getting my feet wet in the IP department was a gift that kept on giving. From those initial patent prosecution projects, I started meeting more IP attorneys. Some pulled me into organizing documents involving IP Litigation, including litigation of both patents and trademarks. I more so enjoyed the process of arguing back and forth with another side via litigation documents, like pleadings and discovery motions, than with the USPTO. Working for or against an argument in this manner felt like solving a big puzzle. My time at this law firm helped me to officially decide to practice law. That experience, combined with my neuroscience background, and overall love for the sciences, really solidified my passion for IP and got me excited to learn more about that field of the law!

1L at Loyola: Enjoying the Ride
I applied to Loyola on a whim of wanting to move to Chicago. But, what really clinched it for me was the fact that Loyola hosts a national Patent Job Fair every year. I figured I could get a great legal education and have access to IP employers from across the country at the Patent Fair.

While unpacking after officially moving to Chicago, I found my “Ride Like a Champion Today” t-shirt and that memory came flooding back. I had an “AHA!” moment. I realized that I actually had encountered IP (trademarks) before working at the law firm. Finding my t-shirt reminded how much I enjoyed solving those puzzles in the legal context. That moment seemed like a sign that I was where I’m supposed to be.

Now that I’m here as a 1L, I haven’t had the chance to take an IP survey class yet, but I took Professor Cynthia Ho’s, Director of the IP Program at Loyola, Civil Procedure class. Her class and teaching style inspired me to enroll in her Global Access to Medicine: A Patent Perspective class, which I am now currently taking and loving. Professor Ho, through her mentorship, helped me discover all Loyola has to offer for IP-driven students like me, including connecting with older students and alumni. For example, last fall, Professor Ho invited me to an event by the Richard Linn (IP) American Inn of Court and the Intellectual Property Lawyers Association of Chicago that focused on the topic: “Laws of the Machines: Unraveling AI’s Legal Enigma (as generated by ChatGPT).” This was a special and insightful event because I met many recently graduated Loyola alumni, including my now informal mentor Ashton Duke. It was inspiring to hear them talk about careers after law school, and it gave me something to look forward to. Also, the sense of comradery amongst those Loyola alumni really solidified that I had made the right decision by choosing Loyola.

All in all, I am still figuring out what type of IP litigation I want to pursue for my career. However, I am not too worried about that part just yet–I’m enjoying the ride.

Emily Moll
Assistant Blogger
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2026