An introduction to patent law in plain English.
On 01/18/11, the spring semester started at my alma mater, The University of Maine School of Law (aka Maine Law) in Portland, Maine. Maine Law invited me to be an adjunct professor for its introductory patent law class, and I gladly accepted. I greatly enjoyed law school and look forward to this challenge. Eventually (where “eventually” is defined as in 10-15 years), I would like to teach law as my day job. For now, I am teaching Friday mornings in Maine and am keeping my full-time job at Clock Tower Law Group in the Boston area.
Maine Law is an innovator in patent education. Professor Rita Heimes serves as the director of the Center for Law and Innovation, which oversees the Maine Patent Program, a program that is funded by the Maine state legislature “to support the commercialization and manufacturing of innovations in the State by providing education and assistance with the patent process of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to companies, inventors and entrepreneurs in the State.” As a result, Maine Law students have a unique opportunity to intern at the Maine Patent Program and get real-world experience in patent law before actually heading out into the real world.
While a student at Maine Law, I was an advocate for law and technology and founded a law student organization to focus on these issues. As an alumnus, I participated in the law school’s 2003 Law and Technology Conference and spoke about, among other things, whether software patents are good or evil. I am glad to serve as an adjunct faculty member and continue participating in Maine’s growing law and technology community.
I have lots to say about patent law. To help organize my thoughts, I have created the new Patent Law 101 category on this blog. Students associate “101″ with “introductory,” and “101″ has special meaning to patent practitioners. So while the official course name is Patent Law 698, I shall refer to it as Patent Law 101 for the above reasons.
Many of my existing articles fit nicely into the Patent Law 101 category. Topics in this category include patent law itself, other areas of the law (e.g. contracts), my life philosophy, good books, and role models and mentors (including my parents, Yaz, and others).
The topic of mentors deserves separate treatment. Stay tuned.
Patent Law Itself
- A Mere Mortal’s Guide To Patents Post-Bilski (Or Why §101 Is A Red Herring)
It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing
- Drawing That Explains Patent Costs
How to control the cost of filing a patent.
- Drawing That Explains Provisional Patent Applications
Provisional patent applications are rarely the best solution for startups.
- Drawing That Explains Patent Disputes
And what’s wrong with law school education.
- Drawing That Explains Patent Laws
From Chief Justice to the patent examiner.
- To Search Or Not To Search
That is the (pretty simple) question.
- Easy To Infringe
Draft to the rule, don’t draft to the exception.
- How To Get And Defend A Patent Without Going Broke
It is possible for independent inventors and small businesses to acquire patents and protect their ideas without going broke in the process.
- Software Patents Epilogue
The 2003 Law and Technology Conference at the Technology Law Center of the University of Maine School of Law was the most fun I’ve had at a conference in years.
- Software Patents: Final HERTS (Hypotheticals, Examples, Rants, Thoughts, And Stats) (Part 8)
Using open source software is a bit like reading Entertainment Weekly. Lots of people do it but few admit it. Plus other observations that didn’t fit anywhere else.
- Software Patents: W3C Standards (Part 7)
The open source community has generally viewed the W3C’s decision on patents in standards as a victory.
- Software Patents: IETF Standards (Part 6)
For now, the IETF has not changed its policy about using patented technologies in the standards process. The tension between the IETF and the open source community will likely increase as open source software continues to grow in popularity.
- Software Patents: Copyright Law Expansion And Lessig’s Software Patent Non Sequitur (Part 5)
Lessig argues convincingly for limiting the extension of copyright terms but argues unconvincingly against software patents.
- Software Patents: Examples Of Principled Arguments (Part 4)
The two most fascinating principles on which software patent proponents base their arguments are that 1) open source software is better than proprietary software and 2) free software is better than open source software.
- Software Patents: Examples Of Unprincipled Arguments (Part 3)
Many educated people are opposed to software patents, but few make principled arguments to support their positions.
- Software Patents: Principled Dialog (Part 2)
Whatever your position on software patents, or on patents in general, one thing is clear. Principled arguments are more interesting than unprincipled arguments.
- Software Patents: Good Or Evil? (Part 1)
This week, I am speaking at the fourth annual Law and Technology Conference at the Technology Law Center of the University of Maine School of Law. I am taking a non-standard approach to this presentation. Rather than preparing PowerPoint slides (or the like), I will be posting a series of notes on my website.
Other Areas Of The Law
- Top 10 Things Smart Companies Should Know About Intellectual Property
Smart businesses should use all laws – including IP laws – to their advantage.
- The ‘Three Full Moons’ Clause
Simplify contracts by omitting needless words.
- Patents vs. Trade Secrets
The advantages and disadvantages of protecting business ideas with patents and trade secrets.
My Life Philosophy
- There Is No Right To The Status Quo
The only constant is change.
- Nine Principles of Baseball and Life
Philosophy of Baseball: How to Play the Game of Life.
- A Smattering Of Things That I’ve Learned In Life
This article explains, in a way that a resume cannot, what life experiences I have had and how these experiences have contributed to the unique perspective that I bring to everything that I do.
- Book Review: Economics In One Lesson
By Henry Hazlitt.
- Book Review: A Guidebook To Learning: For The Lifelong Pursuit Of Wisdom, By Mortimer J. Adler
For people who are serious about taxonomy (the science of classification), ‘A Guidebook to Learning’ is must reading.
Role Models And Mentors
- Thomas R. Heels And Helena E. Heels
An article for Mother’s Day.
- Carl Yastrzemski: Red Sox Legend, All-Star, Hero, Yaz
Thoughts on Yaz by guest blogger Jim Houhoulis.