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 Patents, Copyrights, and the Law of Intellectual P  posted by  duggu   on 1/2/2008  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Meldman, Jeffrey A., 15.628 Patents, Copyrights, and the Law of Intellectual Property, Spring 2003. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 10 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Thomas A. Edison's patent application for incandescent lighbulb.

Thomas A. Edison's patent application for incandescent lighbulb. (Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration,

Course Highlights

The required readings for this course are available for downloading.

Course Description

This weekly seminar examines key concepts of U.S. intellectual property law, with emphasis on patents and copyrights and a briefer look at trade secrets and trademarks. Current issues relating to information technologies and business methods will be highlighted. The seminar has no prerequisites, and is designed for both graduate students and undergraduates. Half of the seats in the seminar are reserved for students from MIT departments other than Sloan.

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.


Table of Topics
  1. Introduction to American law and to intellectual property
  2. Patents
    • Patentable subject matter
    • Statutory bars
    • Rights of the patent holder
    • Infringement
    • Novelty and non-obviousness
    • Patent protection for software, algorithms, and business methods
    • The patent application
    • Scope of claims
  3. Copyrights
    • Copyrightable subject matter
    • Comparison with patents
    • Merger and scènes-à-faire
    • Substantial similarity
    • Copyrights in the context of information technologies
    • Fair use
  4. Trademarks, service marks, and conflicts with domain names
  5. Trade secrets
  6. License agreements
Assignments and Grading

Readings will be taken mostly from the statutes and the case law of intellectual property. Students will be expected to read the materials carefully prior to class and to be prepared to discuss them in class. (Short preparation exercises will be assigned.) There will also be student presentations of cases that are not assigned to the class as a whole. There will be no term papers or exams. However, to receive passing grades, students will be expected to attend regularly, and to prepare for and participate actively in class discussions. If it should become necessary for a student to miss a particular class, he or she should make appropriate make-up arrangements with the instructor ahead of time.



  SES #       TOPICS
  1       Subject Overview
Introduction to American Law and Intellectual Property
  2       Introduction to American Law and Intellectual Property (continued)
  3       Patents: The Statutory Framework
Patentable Subject Matter
Statutory Bars
Rights of the Patent Holder
  4       Non-Obviousness
  5       Novelty
  6       Patent Protection for Software, Algorithms, and Business Methods
  7       The Patent Application
Scope of Claims
Sample Issued Patent
  8       Copyrights: The Statutory Framework
Copyrightable Subject Matter
Comparison with Patents
Fair Use
  9       Merger and Scènes-à-faire
Substantial Similarity
  10       Copyright in the Context of New Information Technologies
  11       Trademarks and Service Marks
Conflicts with Domain Names
  12       Trade Secrets
License Agreements
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