For over two hundred years the United States patent system has stimulated innovation by conveying time-limited exclusionary rights to inventors who adequately disclose their novel and nonobvious inventions to the public. Throughout this time, technological advancements in various industries have repeatedly confronted the patent system with fascinating policy and doctrinal challenges. In a constant effort to keep up with the pace of innovation and ensure that the patent system fulfills its Constitutional purpose to “promote the progress of . . . useful arts,” patent case law has become one of the most rapidly evolving and adapting areas of American law.
Through study of judicial decisions and statutory provisions, this course will examine the substantive legal doctrine and policy underlying two primary aspects of United States patent law: (1) the requirements for obtaining a patent; and (2) the means by which an issued patent is enforced (and its validity challenged). Specific topics include patentable subject matter (including computer-implemented inventions and biotechnology), novelty, nonobviousness, utility, loss of right, disclosure requirements, patent claim interpretation, literal infringement, the doctrine of equivalents, prosecution history estoppel, defenses to patent infringement resulting in invalidity and/or unenforceability, injunctive relief, damages, and the unique role of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in shaping patent law.