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Course Details

Patent Law (Wagner)

Spring 2024   LAW 677-001  

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R. Polk Wagner

Michael A. Fitts Professor of Law

Additional Information

Skills Training
Oral Presentations
Team Projects
Expository Writing

5% Participation,
65% Exam,
30% Other (Group exercises (20%) and quizzes (10%))

Multiple Choice,
Short Answer,
Take Home,

Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement



Class meets in person.

Course Continuity
Students are encouraged to stay home if you are ill or experience flu-like symptoms. If you miss a class for any reason, it is still your responsibility to make up the work missed.

I offer the following to students who miss class due to illness:

- Class sessions are regularly recorded. I will make these recordings routinely available on the course site to everyone in the class.

Meeting Times/Location
MTW 10:30AM - 11:45AM
Tanenbaum Hall 345



In our modern technologically-based economy, the creation and enforcement of patent rights can make or break a business. With record numbers of patents being issued every year, the stakes for inventors (and, indeed, their lawyers) continue to increase, even as the patent law and its administration faces growing criticism.

This course seeks to equip students with a detailed overview of the law and policy of the United States patent system. We'll organize our inquiry into five modules. The first considers the context of the patent system: the fundamental justifications for (e.g., economic, moral, political) and creation of patent rights as well as the relationship between patent law and other "intellectual property" concepts. The second module will delve into the details of the statutory requirements for patentability, with a focus on both the "black letter" law and the underlying policies. Third, we'll consider the scope of patent rights, again considering how the policies expressed in the legal doctrine relate to the justifications for patent rights we discussed in Module One. And finally, we'll conclude with a module on patent policy -- including what subject matter should be eligible for patentability -- considering specifically the cases of biotechnology, computer software, and internet business models -- as well as drawing together the ideas introduced throughout the course.

Course Concentrations

Intellectual Property and Technology Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of intellectual property law; Perform legal analysis in the context of intellectual property law; Communicate effectively on topics related to intellectual property; Demonstrate an understanding of the interconnection between technology and intellectual property, and how they affect other areas of law and society.

Health Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of health law and policy; Perform legal analysis in the context of health law and policy; Communicate effectively on topics related to health law and policy; Demonstrate an understanding of the interconnection among health law and policy and issues of access to services, public and private financing of health industries, and the political and economic issues surrounding issues of health law and health services.

Perspectives on the Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects, and is affected by, the individual course topic; Perform legal analysis in the context of the individual course topic; Communicate effectively on the legal and other aspects of the individual course topic; Demonstrate the ability to use other disciplines to analyze legal issues relevant to the individual course topic, including economics, philosophy, and sociology, as appropriate.


"The Law of Patents" by Craig Allen Nard
Edition: 6th
Publisher: Wolters Kluwer
ISBN: 9781543854176