6.901 | Fall 2005 | Undergraduate

Inventions and Patents


Course Introduction by Dr. Robert Rhines

6.901 explores current research concerning patent law and its role in the rapidly changing world of high technology. It is the undergraduate version of a jointly taught course with 6.931 and is taught in the fall semester. 6.931 is the graduate version of the course, taught in the spring semester. The focus of each version is slightly different.

Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Description

This course examines the history of private and public rights in scientific discoveries and applied engineering, leading to the development of worldwide patent systems. It studies the classes of invention protectable under the patent laws of the U.S., including the procedures in protecting inventions in the Patent Office and the courts. The course includes reviews of past cases involving inventions and patents in:

  1. the chemical process industry and medical pharmaceutical, biological, and genetic-engineering fields;
  2. devices in the mechanical, ocean exploration, civil, and/or aeronautical fields;
  3. the electrical, computer, software, and electronic areas, including key radio, solid-state, computer and software inventions; and also
  4. software protection afforded under copyright laws.

About the Instructor

Robert H. Rines is a patent lawyer and inventor who has been lecturing at MIT since the 1950s. Most of Rines’ more than eighty patents are for electronic apparatus that improve the resolution of radar and sonar scanning.

In 1963, Rines founded the Academy of Applied Science, a private, non-profit organization devoted to the promotion of science and technology education at all levels. In 1973, he founded the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire, which is now the country’s foremost institute for the study of intellectual property law. In 1994, Rines was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Learning Resource Types
Online Textbook
Course Introduction