Law School Casebook Review: Patent Law Fundamentals (Brean & Snow) 2d Ed

By David Hricik, Mercer Law School

I realize most readers aren’t law professors, so you can stop now…

I have taught IP courses for years and often the books seek to teach the subject through cases, which is a very difficult way to learn it.  This book — Patent Law: Fundamentals of Doctrine and Policy (Carolina Academic Press) — does a great job of using cases to illustrate key points, but often provides descriptive text and problems, and does so in a practical and concise way, and a way geared toward current learning trends.

I’ll be brief, but with respect to its organization, the authors use the funnel approach for many subjects, starting broad (a patent gives a negative right to exclude) and then narrowing (the right to exclude is measured by the claims). It also uses spaced repetition (those two subjects are chapters apart but mentioned in both places), and includes self-assessment questions after each chapter.

More importantly to me, it is efficient.  Again, most of it is text, not case excerpts, and it teaches using simple technology (baking pants — I use pizza to explain patents because it’s easy to draft claims to describe pizza and to understand that the fewer words/limitations the “broader” the patent but this works too).  Further, it describes prosecution and litigation primarily with text, with key points emphasized by cases.

Finally, unlike some other books I’ve considered, it addresses the pragmatics of litigation, including the importance of experts, of local rules (and standing orders), and the typical remedy problems are addressed in an easy-to-grasp manner.

And if you’ve read this far, yes, I hope to get back to blogging regularly and if you know me, you know it has been a difficult couple of years.


About David

Professor of Law, Mercer University School of Law. Formerly Of Counsel, Taylor English Duma, LLP and in 2012-13, judicial clerk to Chief Judge Rader.

3 thoughts on “Law School Casebook Review: Patent Law Fundamentals (Brean & Snow) 2d Ed

  1. 2

    As someone who has tried to teach trade secret law from a case book, I can agree wholeheartedly the analysis of case books, and applaud this effort. Since they are reading already decided cases, students tend to focus on the published outcome and not the underlying issues. I have even tried writing exam type examples for class discussion, but the discussion always turns to “will this be on the exam.”

    We need to find a way to teach more critical thinking because the answer to the problems a client presents will not always be in a previously decided case.

  2. 1

    Sorry to hear that it has been difficult (especially as I have been one that has panned the lack of use of this space). I see ethics being more rather than less important, and ethics across more actors than merely patent practitioners (registered patent practitioners).


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