15.628J | Spring 2013 | Undergraduate

Patents, Copyrights, and the Law of Intellectual Property


The majority of the readings for this course are freely available in the public domain.

PART 1: Introduction
1 Historical and philosophical background of patents and other intellectual property

Optional Reading:

Rines, Robert H. 1964. Create or Perish: The Case for Inventions and Patents (PDF - 1.0MB). Acropolis.


The U.S. patent system: the Constitution, Congress, Patent Office (PTO), and courts

Analyzing and understanding judicial opinions

U.S. Constitution, Article, 1 Sec. 8 (PDF)

Excerpts from U.S. Government Manual (PDF), 2011, and from “Court Systems of the United States.” Federal Courts and What They Do (PDF). Federal Judicial Center (FJC), n.d.

“Sample Patent” (PDF) for use with the following video:

“Introduction to the Patent System,” FJC #4342-V/02, Oct. 2002.  
Stream video on YouTube

PART 2: Comparative overview of patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and trademarks

Legal fundamentals of patent protection for useful inventions

Design and plant patents

35 U.S.C. (Patents), excerpts (PDF)

Diamond v. Diehr (PDF), 450 U.S. 175 (1981)


Legal fundamentals of copyright protection

Similarity and access

Expression vs. ideas and information, merger

17 U.S.C. (Copyrights), excerpts (PDF)

Bagley, and Dauchy. Chapter 14 in The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law. Cengage Learning, 2011, pp. 529–42. ISBN: 9780538466462. [Preview with Google Books]

Selle v. Gibb (PDF), 741 F.2d 896 (7th Cir. 1984)

Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service (PDF), 499 U.S. 340 (1991)


Fair use of copyrighted works (e.g., for classroom use)

Contributory copyright infringement

17 U.S.C. § 107 (Fair use) (PDF)

Cambridge University Press v. Becker (PDF), ___ F.Supp. ___ (N.D. Ga. May 11, 2012) No. 1:08-CV1425-ODE

MGM v. Grokster (PDF), 125 S.Ct. 2764 (2005)


Critical differences between patent and copyright protection

Copyright infringement distinguished from plagiarism

Baker v. Selden (PDF), 101 U.S. 99 (1897)

Lotus v. Borland (PDF), 49 F.3d 807 (1st Cir. 1995), affirmed, per curiam, 516 U.S. 233 (1996)

7 Legal fundamentals of trade-secret protection

Uniform Trade Secrets Act, abridged, NCCUSL (1985) (PDF)

Bagley, and Dauchy. Chapter 14 in The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law. Cengage Learning, 2011, pp. 518–29. ISBN: 9780538466462. [Preview with Google Books]

Wexler v. Greenberg (PDF), 399 Pa. 569 (1960)

8 Legal fundamentals of trademark protection

15 U.S.C., Ch. 22 (Trademarks), excerpts (PDF)

Bagley, and Dauchy. Chapter 14 in The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law. Cengage Learning, 2011, pp. 558–69. ISBN: 9780538466462. [Preview with Google Books]

Lois Sportswear v. Levi Strauss (PDF), 799 F.2d 867 (2d Cir. 1986)

PART 3: Requirements and limitations of patentability

New and useful:

(A) The legal requirement of novelty

(B) First to invent vs. first inventor to file

35 U.S.C. § 102 (Old and new) (PDF)

Structural Rubber Products v. Park Rubber (PDF - 1.6MB), 749 F.2d 707 (Fed. Cir. 1984)

Pfaff v. Wells (PDF), 525 U.S. 55 (1998)

10 The legal requirement of non-obviousness

35 U.S.C. § 103 (Non-obvious subject matter) (PDF)

Graham v. John Deere Co. (PDF), 383 U.S. 1 (1966)

KSR International v. Teleflex (PDF), 550 U.S. 398 (2007)


Statutory subject matter and judicial exceptions:

(A) Patentability of algorithms, software, and business methods

State Street Bank & Trust v. Signature Financial Group (PDF), 149 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998)

Bilski v. Kappos (PDF), 561 U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 3218 (2010)


Statutory subject matter and judicial exceptions:

(B) Patentability of medical treatments and human genes

Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Labs (PDF) 566 U.S. ___ (No. 10–1150. March 20, 2012).

Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics (PDF), 569 U.S. ___ (No. 12–398; June 13, 2013)

PART 4: The process of applying for a patent (“patent prosecution”)

Anatomy of a patent application

Adequate disclosure

35 U.S.C. § 112 (Specification) (PDF)

37 C.F.R. §§ 1.71-1.77 (Patents, trademarks, copyrights) (PDF)

U.S. Patent No. 4,408,919 (PDF)

14 The art of drafting patent claims

File history and cited prior patents for U.S. Patent No. 4,408,919 (PDF - 2.2MB)

Morse’s “Claim 8.” O’Reilly v. Morse. Case: 56 U.S. (15 How.) 62, 1853.


Patent searching:

(A) Purposes and techniques

No readings

Patent searching:

(B) On-line tools available to MIT students

No readings
PART 5: Actions for patent infringement

Interpretation of claims

Doctrine of equivalents

Product testing as a possibly infringing use

Doctrine of exhaustion

Markman v. Westview Instruments (PDF), 517 U.S. 370 (1996)

Warner-Jenkinson v. Hilton Davis (PDF), 520 U.S. 17 (1997)

Roche v. Bolar (PDF), 733 F.2d 858, (1984)

Bowman v. Monsanto Co. et. al. (PDF) ___ U.S. ___ (No. 11–769; May 13, 2013)

18 Legal and equitable remedies for infringement

Georgia-Pacific v. U.S. Plywood (PDF), 318 F.Supp. 1116 (S.D.N.Y. 1970)

e_Bay v. MercExchange_ (PDF), 547 U.S. 388 (2006)

19 Anatomy of patent litigation U.S. Patent No. 7, 314, 044 “Marine Emissions Control” (PDF)
20 Courtroom visit to current patent trial: Federal Courthouse, Boston No readings
PART 6: Other important issues 
21 Student presentations of patent-search results No readings

(A) Patent licensing

(B) Non-competition agreements

An Inventor’s Guide to Technology Transfer at MIT (PDF - 2.1MB)

Marx, Matt. “The Firm Strikes Back: Non-compete Agreements and the Mobility of Technical Professionals.” American Sociological Review 76, no. 5 (2011): 695–712.

23 Rights and obligations among co-inventors, co-authors, employers, and licensees Sample agreement documents (PDF)