»  Updates

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

Final exam: The final exam has been posted here. Exams were graded out of 80 possible points, with an average score of 48 points and a high score of 71 points. Graded exams will be available for pickup in the Registrar’s office soon.

Review session: We will hold a review session on Thursday, December 7, from noon to 1:30 pm in room 200.

Final exam: This year’s final exam will be similar in structure and content to past final exams. Past final exams are available here: Fall 2016; Spring 2016; Spring 2015.

Midterm results: Graded midterm exams are available for pickup in the Registrar’s office. Midterms were graded on a scale of 0 to 40 points. The average score was 24.3, with a median of 24.5 and a top score of 34 points. The exam is available here. The top-scoring exam is available here.

Class cancellation: We will not hold class on Wednesday, November 1. Class will resume as normal on Monday, November 6.

Obviousness 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, October 23 Friday, October 27, at 11:59 pm.

Midterm exam: The midterm exam will be distributed on Thursday, October 12, and will be due to the Registrar’s Office on Monday, October 16 by noon. It will cover the material from classes 1 through 11, through novelty and stautory bars. Previous midterm exams are available here: Fall 2016; Spring 2016; Spring 2015.

»  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 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. in room 200. 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 welcome to stop by my office (room 281 210) and chat or just grab some candy. This semester, I should be in the office most Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday afternoons, and some Thursdays; if you’d like to set up a specific time to talk, please email me at roger.ford@nulllaw.unh.edu.

»  Materials

The casebook is Craig Allen Nard, The Law of Patents (4th ed. 2016). I apologize for the cost; inexpensive self-published casebooks are becoming common in several courses, but not yet in patent law. List price for the book is $229; as of this writing, Amazon will sell you a new copy for $200, or rent you one for about $80. Note that because patent law is a quickly moving field, and because Congress enacted the America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011, which made substantial changes to patent law, an earlier version of the casebook will not work.

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 (pdf) 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 Canvas or any similar system.

Finally, if you’re interested in a supplement (though one is by no means required for the class), my students have had good things to say about Amy Landers, Understanding Patent Law (2d ed. 2012). It’s about $37 (used) on Amazon; the Kindle edition is about $40. Beware, it is a little dated; since it was published, the law has changed in several areas we will cover. A new edition should be out soon, but likely not in time for our course. So if you use it, pay special attention to any cases we read from the last five years.

»  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 two components: a short take-home midterm exam (25%) and a take-home final exam (75%). The midterm exam will be distributed on Thursday, October 12, and will be due to the Registrar’s Office on Monday, October 16 by noon. It will cover the material from classes 1 through 11, through novelty and stautory bars. The final exam will be conducted during the exam period and will be comprehensive. I may adjust grades upward or downward by one step on the grading scale (for instance, from a B-plus to an A-minus or a B) for participation that is especially helpful or insightful, or for any students who are repeatedy unprepared or absent.

»  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

Last updated December 4, 2017.

Below is a tentative list of subjects we will cover during the semester; I will fill in the corresponding assignments as we go. Each assignment will take approximately one class session. “Nard” refers to page numbers from the Nard casebook. When a section of the statute is assigned, please read both the pre- and post-AIA versions unless otherwise indicated.

  1. Introduction: patent theory. This syllabus; Nard 1–6, 30–40, 111–114; INS v. AP; Nard 879–888. [slides]
    • Note: For the introductory readings at the beginning of the book, feel free to skip the footnotes. Also, if you’re interested in history, you might find the material on pages 6–30 interesting (some of which we will briefly touch on in class 2).
  2. Introduction: patent mechanics. Nard 16–30, 40–53; U.S. patent no. 5,205,473. [slides]
  3. Introduction: claim drafting. Claim-drafting exercise [slides].
    • Note: The claim-drafting exercise is due on Tuesday, September 5, at noon.
  4. Disclosure: enablement. Nard 61–62, 91–108, 114–126; 35 U.S.C. § 112. [slides]
  5. Disclosure: written description. Nard 126–144. [slides]
  6. Disclosure: definiteness and best mode. Nard 144–159. [slides]
  7. Novelty and statutory bars: introduction; pre-AIA § 102(a) prior art. Nard 245–263, 292–300; 35 U.S.C. § 102. [slides]
  8. Novelty and statutory bars: pre-AIA § 102(b) prior art. Nard 425–455. [slides]
  9. Novelty and statutory bars: pre-AIA § 102(e) and § 102(g) prior art; the AIA grace period. Nard 264–292. [slides]
  10. Novelty and statutory bars: priority of invention. Nard 305–327. [slides]
  11. Novelty and statutory bars: third-party activity; experimental use. Nard 457–489. [slides]
  12. Nonobviousness: introduction; Graham and KSR. Nard 329–367; 35 U.S.C. § 103. [slides]
  13. Nonobviousness: life after KSR. Nard 368–392. [slides]
  14. Nonobviousness: persons having ordinary skill in the art; available prior art; secondary considerations. Nard 392–424. [slides]
  15. Patentable subject matter: introduction; laws of nature. Nard 161–186, 201–212; 35 U.S.C. § 101. [slides]
  16. Patentable subject matter: products of nature and abstract ideas. Nard 186–201, 212–233. [slides]
  17. Utility. Nard 233–243; Scott & Williams; Juicy Whip. [slides]
  18. IP research and information literacy. No reading assignment.
  19. Infringement: claim construction and literal infringement. Nard 62–78, 85–91, 491–498, 517–523; 35 U.S.C. § 271 (skip § 271(e)). [slides]
  20. Infringement: the doctrine of equivalents and prosecution history estoppel. Nard 523–561. [slides]
  21. Infringement: indirect and divided infringement; infringement of means-plus-function claims. Nard 604–638. [slides]
  22. Infringement: the geographic scope of patent infringement. Nard 638–669. [slides]
  23. Remedies: injunctions. Nard 943–980; 35 U.S.C. § 283–285. [slides]
  24. Remedies: damages. Nard 889–931, 941–943. [slides]
  25. Remedies: damages economics; increased damages and attorney fees. Octane Fitness; Highmark; Halo. [slides]
  26. Defenses to patent infringement. Nard 671–688, 823–834, 848–862. [slides]
  27. Design patents. High Point I; High Point II; Samsung; 35 U.S.C. § 171. [slides]
  28. Review. No reading assignment. [slides]