Inventions and Patents

Thomas Edison's patent application from 1879.

Thomas Edison's patent application for an "Improvement in Electric Lamps," November 1, 1879. (Image courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.)


MIT Course Number

6.901 / 3.172 / 16.652

As Taught In

Fall 2005



Cite This Course

Course Description

Course Features

Course Highlights

This course features a downloadable textbook on inventions and patents, Create or Perish, in the readings section. The textbook was written by the course instructor, Dr. Robert Rines, who has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Course Description

This course explores the history of private and public rights in scientific discoveries and applied engineering, leading to the development of worldwide patent systems. 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 will be examined. A review of past cases involving inventions and patents in:

  1. the chemical process industry and medical pharmaceutical, biological, and genetic-engineering fields;
  2. devices in the mechanical, ocean exploration, civil, and/or aeronautical fields;
  3. the electrical, computer, software, and electronic areas, including key radio, solid-state, computer and software inventions; and also
  4. software protection afforded under copyright laws.

Periodic joint real-time class sessions and discussions by video-audio Internet conferencing, with other universities will also be conducted.

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Related Content

Robert Rines. 6.901 Inventions and Patents. Fall 2005. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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