Buyer Beware! Counterfeit Patent Bar Review Courses on eBay

It is the time of the year where John White and I gear up for our summer Patent Bar Review Tour, criss-crossing the country teaching the PLI Patent Bar Review Course all over the United States. Next week we will be at PLI headquarters on Seventh Avenue in New York City, followed by courses in Houston (June 6-10), San Francisco (June 19-23), Boston (July 11-15) and Chicago (August 7-11).  If you cannot make it out to a live course you can always do the home-study version of the course which is delivered via the World Wide Web.

Of course, as we are gearing up for a busy summer so are those who are peddling what really can only be characterized as fake, counterfeit versions of the PLI Patent Bar Review Course.  PLI has been the top patent bar review course for years, so it is not surprising on some levels that there are those fraudulently using the PLI name to sell knock off courses that are simply not what they purport to be.  So buyer beware!  If the price seems extraordinarily low it is because it is not a legitimate course.  Also, the only way to acquire the latest version of the PLI patent bar review course is to purchase the course directly from PLI.

Some will no doubt wonder how I am so sure that there are fake, counterfeit courses on eBay.  Good question.  Take a look at this eBay posting.  Whoever bought this course for $499.95 just wasted $499.95.  Although the ad says that it is the latest version of the PLI course that is fully updated that is simply not true.  It is a lie!


The posting says that the purchaser will acquire a version of the course that was first purchased in March 2012 and includes 36 audio CDs, 8 video DVDs and Patware 9.0.  That is simply not possible because by March 2012 the courses being sold did not include any of this.  John White and I updated the course at the beginning of 2011 to take into account the then newly tested material, which included KSR rationales and guidelines, Bilski guidelines and the 112 guidelines.  At this time in the beginning of 2011 audio CDs and DVDs ceased to be provided, and Patware was no longer available in disk form. The last version of Patware on disk was indeed Patware 9.0, but that did not include any questions on KSR, Bilski or the 112 guidelines.  Simply stated, a course that included audio CDs, DVDs and Patware on disk had to have been purchased at the very beginning of 2011 or earlier.  The claims in this ad are simply false.

As we were updating the course at the beginning of 2011 to take into account KSR, Bilski and 112 we had long discussions among our team.  The decision was made with everyone in agreement.  No CDs or DVDs would ever ship in a PLI course again.  This is because over the years we started to see a pattern.  Those who take our course and fail the first time do so for one of several reasons.  Either they do not follow the post-course program as we lay it out.  The main culprit time and time again was people simply listening to the CDs over and over again in their car on the way to and from work or school.  Others would watch the DVDs over and over again.  Not enough time was spent doing practice questions and other important post-course activities.  The CDs and DVDs were a crutch for some that were leading to failure, so we eliminated that crutch.

PLI patent bar review lectures can still be watched, but they are viewed online.  The lectures have been viewable online since the the end of the first quarter of 2011.  So if you have lectures on CD or DVD by John White they do not contain any newly testable material that has made its way onto the exam since April 2011.  That means no KSR, no Bilski, no 112 guidelines and nothing on the new appeal rules that became testable in January 2012.

This eBay ad also says that the course “[i]ncludes brand new supplemental disc including rule changes for this fall/winter exams for 2012 and 2013.”  Again, that is simply impossible, at least if the claim is that this is a PLI disc. If it is not a PLI disc than it is just misleading, which legally is a version of false advertising.

John White and I are tasked with updating the course to make it compliant with the newly testable information from the America Invents Act.  So far very little of the America Invents Act is testable on the Patent Bar Exam.  This will all change sometime during the Fall of 2012.  The PTO seems poised to update the exam with the September 16, 2012 AIA implementations possibly by the end of September 2012.  Similarly, we expect the March 16, 2013 AIA implementations to begin to be tested as early as the end of March 2013.

Let me be perfectly clear.  It is impossible to purchase a PLI course that includes materials and questions updated to take into account the September 2012 and/or March 2013 changes to the law.  Those materials have not been written yet, and there are no questions that have been written either.  I know that with 100% certainty because we are in a holding pattern pending the release of the final rules from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

There were numerous comments and the final rules for the September 2012 implementations will be different in at least some ways from the proposed rules released earlier this year.  For that reason we have decided to largely put off preparing materials pending the release of the final rules packages, which is anticipated to occur in July 2012.  So it is impossible to purchase a PLI course today that includes materials geared for a test you may take in October 2012 or April 2013.  The rules are not even finalized so no one outside those writing them internally at the USPTO even know what the rules will be for certain.

The morale of the story is this: There are those out there who sell counterfeit copies of the PLI course on eBay and elsewhere.  These counterfeit copies will not help you pass the exam.  If anything these counterfeit courses will give you a false sense of security.  The exam has dramatically changed since April 2011 with even larger, more dramatic changes in store for the Fall of 2012 and the Spring of 2013.  Studying materials aimed at an exam given at the beginning of 2011 or earlier is a recipe for disaster.  When the USPTO starts testing new material they test it heavy, so no amount of studying off old, out-dated materials will suffice.  There simply won’t be enough questions on that older material to get you to the 70% level you need to pass the exam.

Buyer beware!  Legitimate copies of the PLI course can only be purchased through PLI.


Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of

Join the Discussion

4 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Stan E. Delo]
    Stan E. Delo
    May 9, 2012 08:11 pm


    Your post reminds me of the Legal Zoom gambit, wherein they promise to let folks do-it-themselves and save tons of money. What a tragic outcome when an inventor discovers that their Provisional Patent Application is worse than useless using their *services* about 2 years later, or that their other services are likewise legally irresponsible.

    I have been seeing apparently National advertising from Legal Zoom lately, urging inventors to use their PPA *form*, which seems to suggest to me that they are having a bit of difficulty in trying to keep their boat afloat. I sincerely hope that their boat sinks.

    Best regards,

  • [Avatar for Stan E. Delo]
    Stan E. Delo
    May 9, 2012 07:46 pm

    Hi Gene and Glenda-

    Just by attending to the IP Watchdog blog, I have learned immensely from folks like Blind Dogma, Anon, and Step Back, as well as from Gene and some of his guest hosts lately, like Paul Cole hailing from England. (International perspectives and views)

    If you can afford to do so, I would recommend attending personally, so that you will have the opportunity to ask about what is not clear to your understanding, which I am very sure that either Gene or John White will be able to address.

    It is one thing to *learn* things out of books, but quite another to be able to ask questions of the instructors as regards their very real world experiences out there in the IP world.

    My favored profession when I was still in High School was to become a patent attorney, but unfortunately neither I or my parents were able to finance the requisite education. What really appealed to me that is that Patent Attorneys are by their very nature a Positive sort of thing, as opposed to ambulance chasing tort sort of attorneys, or other less pleasant types of areas.

    All the best,

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    May 9, 2012 06:02 pm


    The live courses are truly an emersion into the nuances of the exam. Each day starts at 8am. We go roughly until 11:45am and then break for lunch. There are multiple choice and true false questions to do during lunch. We come back between 1pm and 1:30pm and go over the lunch assignment and then proceed through 5pm. We also have extra tutorial sessions on the first 3 days. Day 5 is a little different because there is a mock final. There are also homework assignments each of the first 4 nights. So you will spend a minimum of 10 to 12 hours days 1-4 and then likely 7 or 8 hours on day 5.

    I think many students get a lot out of the live course because they are able to put their life on hold. Employers and family seem to understand when you go away for the course you are gone and you can not be disturbed. A lot of people use the live course as a “throw me into the deep end to jump start the study process.” Increasingly over the years we also see at least a handful of students at each live location that have already completed the home study course and are taking the live course right before their exam day so that everything is fresh in their memory. That strategy seems to work well for those who have employed it.

    At the end it is largely dictated based on personal preference and whether you have funds to be able to travel and get a hotel for 5 nights. If it were me I think I would elect to do a live course so I could be gone and not need to worry about life distractions.

    I hope this helps.


  • [Avatar for Glenda]
    May 9, 2012 11:39 am


    Thanks so much for your great posts! I am an aspiring Patent Agent/Attorney and I purchased the PLI home study course yesterday. I initially decided to purchase the home study course to save money on travel costs. I have been thinking about whether attending the live course in Texas would be more valuable then doing the home study course. I am a Chemical Engineer in the Pharmaceutical industry looking to make a career change into the Patent Law industry and I thought attending the live course would be good for networking purposes. Do you have an opinion on the value of the live course versus the home study course?