About Innovations and Inventions through Patents & Trade Secrets

Note: this site is being developed. You can, however, access the link for required books now. More to be added shortly. Please email me at inathenson at stu dot edu with any questions.

About Innovations and Inventions

Innovation policy is so important to this country that the Founders addressed patents in the Constitution and made patent protection one of the first laws passed by the new Republic. Since then, patent law—along with its cousin, trade secret law—has become even more important to the development of the economy, with many business being built on a foundation of patents and trade secrets. Ironically, patents and trade secrets are mirror opposites of one another: patents hinge on disclosure, whereas trade secrets require secrecy. Yet any substantial business plan involving technology may require both. Regardless of their benefits, both patents and trade secrets are being increasingly criticized by those who lament these laws, criticizing “patent trolls,” pharmaceutical price-gouging, and a lack of transparency in proprietary computer code. With both the practical and policy issues in mind, this course addresses innovation law with a heavy emphasis on placing legal doctrine in a real-world context. The course will emphasize practical aspects of these doctrines as well, spending class time learning the basics of reading patents, construing claims, and considering NDA and employment issues. Relevant state and federal laws to be studied include the Patent Act of 1952, the America Invents Act of 2012, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and the Defend Trade Secrets Act. (2016 ed.). It is free and can be found here.


This course qualifies for skills credits. There is no curve. Grading will be based on class participation and a number of experiential projects. These projects are designed to integrate your understanding of patent and trade secret law, theory, practice, and professional values.

Created Dec. 1, 2017