PLI Patent Bar Homestudy Course: Was I scammed?
February 22, 2011 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever used a PLI Patent Bar homestudy course? I was a bit uneasy about my purchase of the course on eBay, and now that I've received the materials, I can't figure out if I have a legit copy. Considering the high price of copies of the course, I find it possible that someone would indeed go to great lengths to fake a copy.

I can't tell whether the imperfections in my copy are red flags for a scam, or if the PLI just produces a shoddy product. I'm leaning toward the former.

- The printing of the high-quality covers seems legit, but for the misalignment. (Note the space between "PLI's" and the edge of the cover.)
- There are a few inserts in pocket of the binder with horrible photocopy quality. Not to mention, they're messily stapled.
- Some of the photocopying is misaligned.
- The pages have a copyright date of 2006, even though the eBay seller claimed, "Set is complete and most current for 2011." I don't know if they just haven't updated the copyright date, however.
- The labels on the CDs are a little better in quality than cheap stickers, but they're inconsistent -- some have a darker shade of white than others.
- The data side of the CDs are not professionally burned (you can see the dark ring indicating that the CD's been used).

Additionally, when I inspect other eBay listings for the same product, I've found:

- The included booklets should utilize a closed binding. Mine have a plastic spiral binding.
- The READ ME FIRST insert should be folded, with a big, bold "READ ME FIRST" printed on the outside. Mine doesn't have the big bold "READ ME FIRST" on the reverse.
- The Patware 9.0 disc was tucked into the pocket of the binder, rather than provided in a paper sleeve.

Finally, if anyone bought theirs new:

- My binder came wrapped in a particularly crinkly plastic.
- My booklets came wrapped in a less crinkly (different type) of plastic (not as soft and pliable as Saran Wrap).

So was I scammed? Or does PLI just produce a low-quality product?
posted by SpringAquifer to Shopping (4 answers total)
Can't say whether you were scammed, but IIRC PLI likes to say that it only licenses its materials to customers, so if you didn't buy it from them, somebody may be in trouble.

At any rate, I'm not sure it matters, as long as you are able to use the materials to pass the test. And that's probably fairly likely, even if they're somewhat out of date. I studied based solely on flash cards I printed from the old (2000~2003?) tests available from the PTO, and I passed.

Good luck.
posted by spacewrench at 4:44 PM on February 22, 2011

I used a hand-me-down set of PLI books (purchased new by my friend). I actually think they're way better as a system than the barbri patent ones.

From your description it's hard to tell if these are copies. Mine did have the closed as opposed to spiral binding, and I think that the CD's were professionally burned. (Actually, I think the lectures were all DVDs).

The Patware CD was in a separate envelope just tucked in the front, and some of the non-bound info was just copies.

In reality, though, if everything appears to be there and the CD and DVDs work, it's probably not that big of a loss (to you.)

The most important part of the patent bar is getting the conceptual framework and then getting really, really good at looking stuff up in the MPEP.
posted by mercredi at 4:48 PM on February 22, 2011

Yeah, I figure I can still use the materials. But if they're not legit, and I ended up keeping them, I wouldn't be able to flip them on eBay when I was finished (a used copy still nets a few hundred bucks there). That, I suppose, was my main concern.

As far as the licensing thing goes ... hrm, I guess I never bothered to look that closely. Good point.

posted by SpringAquifer at 4:51 PM on February 22, 2011

Here is a thread elsewhere with contributions from a somewhat excitable PLI employee; you could ask him? (His e-mail is in his profile.) He claims "there are entirely too many counterfeit (copied) courses for sale out on the Internet these days."
posted by kmennie at 6:46 PM on February 22, 2011

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