On February 29, 2020 at Johns Hopkins University during the NSBE Terror Zone Summit I delivered one Endless IP's signature lectures entitled "Intellectual Property Law for Scientists and Engineers." This is a topic that has been written about and taught by IP practitioners to Engineers and Scientists (E&S) through the years, but the course never goes out of style.
As a group, E&S are the most able to profit from the Patent Law system, yet they are often the least informed. This is no fault of their own, nor of the education system in general. E&S classes are often taught at the college level by Ph.D professors. This is a necessity because E&S concepts are rooted in the deepest Physics, Chemistry, and Materials Science. To be able to explain how different particles of matter behave and interact with each other to form technologies such as electronic circuits, microchips, mechanical devices, computers, LCD screens, radio transmission, internet transmission, and chemical processes, teachers of these subjects require a high level of understanding. Professors must know the latest technical literature and test their knowledge by publishing journal articles of their own.
What is missing in this scenario is business. College professors, for the most part, are not business people. Patents are about business. Patents are about developing and protecting novel and non-obvious ideas and excluding others from making, using, importing, or selling the same. Patents protect E&S ideas. The majority of patented ideas are devised by E&S professionals at large and small companies. Some patents are obtained at the university level by graduate students and professors. However, the majority of undergraduate students are generally uninformed about the world of IP.
This is a shame because E&S, if properly informed, should be able to take advantage of the Patent careers that exist for E&S such as Inventor, Entrepreneur, Fabricator/Manufacturer, Illustrator, Patent Searcher, Patent Examiner, Technical Specialist, Patent Agent, and Patent Attorney.
During the Terror Zone lecture students were showed examples of Electrical, Mechanical, Chemical, Biology, and Software patents to understand how their E&S knowledge is used to protect ideas. Aspects of Property Law and Patent Law were explained. Case studies of leading companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google were discussed to illustrate how obtaining patents has affected the growth of these companies.