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Penn Law brings IP law expertise to the world with free online course

January 28, 2016

Intellectual property law is a critical part of modern commerce, touching on everything from innovations by startup businesses to musicians’ protection of their works. To help people develop a practical understanding of IP issues, the University of Pennsylvania has teamed up with edX to offer a free, 13-week online course starting this February, “Intellectual Property Law and Policy.” The course will be taught by IP and patent law expert R. Polk Wagner, a Professor at Penn’s Law School.

“Through this course, anyone in the world can learn about the underpinnings of patent law and IP,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of Penn Law. “Professor Wagner’s expertise provides students with a primer in this critical area where law, business, and society intersect.”

The free course — known by education innovators as a Massive Online Open Course, or MOOC — consists of two parts: a six-week session on IP and patent laws, and a seven-week session on copyright and trademark laws. No previous law experience is required. The first session begins on February 2.

The course begins with a survey of the field, then moves on to an exploration of patents — from what they are, to how to get a patent, to what makes them valid. The second session of the course examines copyright and trademarks, including the standards, scope, and limits of each.

Prospective students can enroll at the edX course page for “Intellectual Property and Policy.”

“We explore the legal doctrines at the core of the innovation economy,” said Wagner. “Participants in the course will develop an understanding of how IP and patent law impacts our lives virtually every day.”

Students who complete the course in the specified time-period can receive a verified certificate for $49, which they can share with a school, employer, or other institution.

Wagner focuses his research and teaching in intellectual property law and policy, with a special interest in patent law. He has written over 20 articles on topics ranging from an empirical analysis of judicial decision-making in the patent law to the First Amendment status of software programs. His work has appeared regularly in the Stanford Law Review, Columbia Law Review, and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, among several others. He is the author (with Professor Craig Nard) of Patent Law: Concepts and Insights (Foundation Press, 2008).

Intellectual Property Law and Policy is only the most recent course offered online by Penn Law faculty members. Recently, Coursera featured “An Introduction to American Law,” in which Law School professors offered a glimpse into six key areas of the American legal system. In addition, Professor Kermit Roosevelt taught “Introduction to Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases,” which explored the Constitution’s origins, its amendments over the years, and methods of constitutional interpretation.