U.S. Patent Law Essentials: What Scientists, Engineers, Physicians & Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Instructors: Stephen M. Hou & Julian G. Pymento

Undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, faculty, and industry professionals are welcome.

Patent protection for inventions is a valuable component of business strategy for startups and established companies alike. This workshop covers the basics of U.S. patent law, including the patent application process, prosecution, litigation, and licensing. We will identify key issues that inventors should be aware of as they navigate the patenting process, discuss what recent developments in patent law mean for inventors, and draw examples ranging from the computer software to the pharmaceutical industries.


Some questions we will explore:

  • What is the difference between a patent and a trade secret?
  • Which inventions are patentable?
  • What are the “novelty” & “non-obviousness” standards for patentability?
  • How much do I have to disclose to obtain a patent?
  • At what point in the R&D process should I file for a patent?
  • Why am I an author on the paper, but not listed as an inventor on the patent?
  • How are my patent rights affected if I am a researcher at a university or an employee of a company?
  • What if I want a patent, but my co-inventor doesn’t (or is deceased)?
  • What is the scope of my patent? What does and doesn’t it protect?
  • Why are the sentences in patents so long and difficult to read?
  • What should I do if my patent application is rejected?
  • What are my duties and ethical obligations as an inventor during the application process and prosecution?
  • Who can invalidate my patent after it is granted, and on what grounds?
  • If someone is practicing my patent without my permission, how can I stop them?
  • If I am accused of patent infringement, what recourse do I have?
  • What changes were made to U.S. patent law by the America Invents Act of 2011 and recent court decisions?
  • What issues do I face if I seek patent protection in multiple countries?
  • What questions should I ask my patent attorney?

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