»  Updates

Note: This is the webpage for a class from the past that has ended. Information about current classes is available here.

Last year’s exams: I have posted last year’s midterm exam here and final exam here.

Obviousness claim-chart exercise: I have posted the instructions for the obviousness claim-chart exercise here, and the Word template for the claim chart here. The exercise is due on Monday, April 11, 2016, at 6:00 pm.

Midterm exam: The midterm exam has been posted here. Responses are due on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 Thursday, March 24, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. in the Registrar’s Office.

Makeup class: We will hold a makeup class on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. in Room 201.

»  Overview

Patent law is the primary means by which the government promotes investment in, and the development of, new technologies and inventions. Patent law is increasingly critical to a variety of industries and scientific fields, from healthcare to finance to semiconductors and information technology. At the same time, patent law is increasingly under attack from critics who assert that it acts as a tax on innovation. This course will survey the basic doctrines of patent law, including both the requirements to obtain a patent and the subsequent enforcement of patent rights. The course will also consider the normative cases for and against patent rights and the challenges to the patent system posed by technological change. No scientific or technical background is needed.

»  Class meetings and office hours

We will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in room 103. On a few occasions, I will need to cancel class because of a conflict; we will make up those sessions at times announced in class and posted on this site.

Outside of class, I don’t have set office hours, but you are always free to stop by my office (room 281) and chat. I will be in the office most days (afternoons are more likely than mornings). To set up a specific time to talk, please email me at roger.ford@nulllaw.unh.edu.

»  Materials

The casebook is Merges & Duffy, Patent Law and Policy: Cases and Materials (6th ed. 2013). I apologize for the cost; I use a name-your-own-price downloadable PDF casebook in Fundamentals of Intellectual Property, but there is not yet a similar book available for patent law. List price for the book is $198; there are also loose-leaf ($159) and electronic ($120) versions if those are more your speed. On Amazon, the book costs about $168 (new) or $143 (used); it's also available for rent for an unconscionable $137. Note that in 2011, Congress passed the America Invents Act (AIA), which made substantial changes to patent law, so an earlier version of the casebook will not work.

There is also a (free) downloadable supplement to the casebook, which we will use for a few recent cases.

Besides the casebook, you will also need a copy of the statute. Any up-to-date copy that includes both the pre- and post-AIA Patent Act is fine. One good (and free!) source is this supplement put together by the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University. If you’d like a paper copy, Amazon sells one for about $12.

In addition to the casebook and the statutes, I will post occasional readings and assignments on this site. I will not be using TWEN or Blackboard.

Finally, if you’re interested in a supplement (though one is by no means required for the class), I’ve heard good things about Amy Landers, Understanding Patent Law (2d ed. 2012); it’s also the only one I know of that has been updated for the AIA. It’s about $49 on Amazon, or $32 for the Kindle edition.

»  Attendance, participation, and evaluation

Regular attendance is required, and under the standard ABA rules, you may be barred from taking the examination and receiving credit for the course if you miss more than 20% of class sessions. Attendance will be taken by sign-in sheet, and signing in for someone else is, as always, academic misconduct. An occasional absence is fine, but please let me know the night before class so I can avoid calling on you.

I expect you to come to class prepared, having read and considered the assigned materials. I may call on students to ensure broad participation; you are also welcome—nay, encouraged—to volunteer responses, questions, and comments. It is acceptable to be occasionally unprepared for class, but as with absences, you must email me the night before class to let me know.

Your course grade will be based on three components: a short take-home midterm exam (20%); a take-home final exam (60%); and class participation, discussion, and occasional short exercises (20%). The midterm exam will occur in early March and will cover everything through nonobviousness. The final exam will be comprehensive. For the participation component, everyone will start with full credit; I will subtract points if you are unprepared or absent, and add them for especially helpful or insightful participation.

»  Competencies

In 2013, the faculty approved a list of competencies that are important to the practice of law. For a list of those competencies, indicating which will be covered in this class, click here.

»  Schedule and reading assignments

The following list of reading assignments is tentative and subject to change over the course of the semester. We will cover approximately one assignment per day. “M&D” refers to the Merges & Duffy casebook; “M&D supp.” refers to the online supplement to the casebook. When a section of the statute is assigned, please read both the pre- and post-AIA versions unless otherwise indicated.

  1. Introduction. This syllabus; M&D 49–55, 13–26. [slides]
  2. Claim drafting. M&D 26–36; claim-drafting exercise. [slides]
  3. Disclosure: enablement. M&D 259–284; 35 U.S.C. § 112. [slides]
  4. Disclosure: written description. M&D 289–316. [slides]
  5. Disclosure: definiteness. M&D 316–335; M&D supp. 38–47. [slides]
  6. Novelty: introduction; anticipation. M&D 337–367; 35 U.S.C. § 102. [slides]
  7. Novelty: public knowledge, use, and publication. M&D 377–404. [slides]
  8. Novelty: disclosure in patent documents; derivation. M&D 405–424. [slides]
  9. Novelty: priority of invention and prior invention. M&D 424–449, 454–461. [slides]
  10. Statutory bars: introduction; public use. M&D 493–496, 505–506, 513–522. [slides]
  11. Statutory bars: public sale; third-party activity. M&D 522–536, 558–572. [slides]
  12. Statutory bars: party-specific bars; the AIA grace period. M&D 581–604. [slides]
  13. Nonobviousness: introduction; Graham and KSR. M&D 605–610; Graham v. John Deere handout; M&D 653–670; 35 U.S.C. § 103 (pre-AIA § 103(a) and post-AIA § 103 only). [slides]
  14. Nonobviousness: Life after KSR; objective indicia. M&D 670–697; claim-chart exercise TBA. [slides]
  15. Utility. M&D 209–214, 216–220, 223–241; 35 U.S.C. § 101. [slides]
  16. Patentable subject matter: introduction; products of nature. M&D 69–81, 147–152; M&D supp. 23–37; 35 U.S.C. § 101 again. [slides]
  17. Patentable subject matter: laws of nature and abstract ideas. Mayo v. Prometheus handout; M&D supp. 1–22. [slides]
  18. Infringement: claim construction and literal infringement. M&D 756–779, 795–806; 35 U.S.C. § 271 (skip § 271(e)). [slides]
  19. Infringement: the doctrine of equivalents; experimental use; prior commercial use. M&D 813–830, 842–858. [slides]
  20. Infringement: indirect and divided infringement. M&D 858–859, 873–880; M&D supp. 62–71, 48–54; Akamai v. Limelight en banc handout. [slides]
  21. Remedies: injunctions. M&D 889–914; 35 U.S.C. §§ 283–285. [slides]
  22. Remedies: damages. M&D 915–933, 948–963. [slides]
  23. Remedies: increased damages and attorney fees. M&D 973–982; M&D supp. 72–81. [slides]
  24. Inventorship; inequitable conduct. M&D 1081–1088, 1056–1079. [slides]
  25. Antitrust and patent misuse. M&D 1175–1192, 1198–1211. [slides]