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6.901 and 6.931 explore current research concerning patent law and its role in the rapidly changing world of high technology. 6.901 is the undergraduate version of the course, taught in the fall semester. 6.931 is the graduate version of the course, taught in the spring semester. The focus of each version is slightly different, as shown by the descriptions below.

6.901 (Undergraduate, Fall)

This course examines the history of private and public rights in scientific discoveries and applied engineering, leading to the development of worldwide patent systems. It studies the classes of invention protectable under the patent laws of the U.S., including the procedures in protecting inventions in the Patent Office and the courts. The course includes reviews of past cases involving inventions and patents in a) the chemical process industry and medical pharmaceutical, biological, and genetic-engineering fields; b) devices in the mechanical, ocean exploration, civil, and/or aeronautical fields; c) the electrical, computer, software, and electronic areas, including key radio, solid-state, computer and software inventions; and also d) software protection afforded under copyright laws.

6.931 (Graduate, Spring)

This course focuses on the role of the engineer as patent expert and as technical witness in court and patent interference and related proceedings. Rights and obligations of engineers in connection with educational institutions, government, and large and small businesses are studied. The course examines various manners of transplanting inventions into business operations, including development of New England and other U.S. electronics and biotech industries and their different types of institutions. It explores American systems of incentive to creativity apart from the patent laws in the atomic energy and space fields.

About the Instructor

Robert H. Rines is a patent lawyer and inventor who has been lecturing at MIT since the 1950s. Most of Rines' more than eighty patents are for electronic apparatus that improve the resolution of radar and sonar scanning.

In 1963, Rines founded the Academy of Applied Science, a private, non-profit organization devoted to the promotion of science and technology education at all levels. In 1973, he founded the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire, which is now the country's foremost institute for the study of intellectual property law. In 1994, Rines was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.