Curriculum Guide · Courses
Intellectual Property and Computer Software Seminar
Professors Dulik, Krause and McGeehan
J.D. Seminar 404 | 2 credit hours
This course considers how centuries-old intellectual property regimes have adapted, both judicially and legislatively, to accommodate the unique attributes of computer software. In patent law, does a general purpose machine become a special purpose machine – and thus a patentable machine – by virtue of running software? What are the limits on patent-eligibility of business methods? What are the limits on enforcement of computer software patents? To attempt to answer these questions, we will look at Supreme Court and Federal Circuit cases dealing with, among other things, patent-eligible subject matter, disclosure requirements, and infringement considerations. In copyright law, why does “functional text” warrant copyright protection, when copyright is designed to protect expression, not function? In the age of easy copying of digital materials, how has the law adapted to ensure that creators can still obtain a decent return on their creative effort? On the other hand, is the law now operating to suppress, rather than encourage, innovation? What role does intellectual property play in open source software? To answer these questions, we will study decisions dealing with, among other things, copyrightability of computer software, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and open source licensing. The course will focus both on understanding the law of intellectual property (patent and copyright, and to a lesser extent, trademark and trade secret) as it applies to computer software, as well as the public policy and practical considerations that inevitably arise when traditional intellectual property principles are applied to this unique subject matter. The course is designed for students with some knowledge of intellectual property law, but no specific background in computer science is needed.
Prerequisite: Copyright Law or Patent Law or permission of the instructors.