This course provides a comprehensive introduction to patent law and policy. No technical background is required. The course begins by addressing the history of patents as well as the policy arguments for and against using patents as a mechanism for inducing innovation. Following this introduction, students learn the basics of patent drafting and prosecution, patent claims, and claim construction. The class then addresses in depth the central patentability criteria of subject matter, utility, nonobviousness, and disclosure. Other topics of importance that are covered in the class include: the relationship between patents and other forms of intellectual property protection, particularly trade secrecy and copyright; the intersection of patent and antitrust law; the role of the two major institutions responsible for administering the patent system, the Patent and Trademark Office and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; and the role of patents in the two major industries of the knowledge-based economy, information technology and biotechnology.
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