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An Online Course on Intellectual Property for Undergraduate and Graduate Engineers and Scientists

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

ENT Division Technical Session: Entrepreneurship and IP

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Howard B. Rockman University of Illinois at Chicago

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Practicing U.S. Patent Attorney, 1963 to date, with a BSME from Drexel University and a Juris Doctor Degree from the Law School of George Washington University (Wash., DC). Adjunct Professor of Law, John Marshall Law School, Chicago, IL. Adjunct Professor of Engineering Law, University of Illinois at Chicago. Adjunct Professor of Engineering Law, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Former Captain, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Author of "Intellectual Property Law for Engineers and Scientists," IEEE and John Wiley & Sons, Publishers (2004)

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An Online Course on Intellectual Property for Undergraduates and Graduate Engineers and Scientists

Today's engineering and science college graduates will be confronted with the intellectual property laws that apply to innovations that these new graduates will be hired to create on day one of their new employment. These laws particularly relate to the patenting of inventions, and protection of computer-related inventions by both copyright and patent. For example, on the first day of a new employment, the employee will most likely be asked to sign documents that assign to the employer all innovations he or she develops during their employment. The documents may also require that any innovative product or process they develop while away from work will also be the property of the employer. Other subjects, such as confidentiality of information and covenants not to compete may also arise on that first day.

In my many years (56) as a practicing U.S. Patent Attorney, I have found a high percentage of the technology-educated inventors and developers with whom I dealt had no knowledge of, or education in, the laws and procedures governing the protection of Intellectual Property for their innovations. I, therefore, propose to present a paper describing how an online course of instruction in the intellectual property laws and processes would be tailored and offered to engineering and science students.

The proposed course would include the following subjects, among others:

• An Overview of Intellectual Property Laws and Procedures. • Introduction to Patents. • Patentable Subject Matter and Utility. • The Novelty Requirement to Obtain a Patent. • The Non-Obviousness Requirement to Obtain a Patent. • Patentability and Freedom-to-Use Searches. • The Contents and Examination of a Patent Application. • Patent and Copyright Protection for Computer-Related Inventions. • Patentability of Biotechnology Inventions. • Enforcement of the Patent Right. • International Patent Protection. • Creating a New Technology-Based Business. • Engineering Ethics • Copyrights as a Vehicle for Technology Protection, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). • Trade Secret Protection for Technology Innovations.

A textbook is available for the proposed course. Instructors for the proposed course would come from local intellectual property attorneys in the vicinity of the educational institution.

The importance of intellectual property laws and procedures, including obtaining and enforcing patents and copyrights, has increased along with the rapid advances in technology over the past 50 or so years. In my opinion, the education of technology (STEM) students at our universities must provide the knowledge these students will need to protect the intellectual assets of their own company, or that of their employer as their careers advance.

Rockman, H. B. (2020, June), An Online Course on Intellectual Property for Undergraduate and Graduate Engineers and Scientists Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34141

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