Skip to main content

Patent and Engineering Law Classes

With Professor Joe Barich

Home  Engineering Law  Startups  Patent Prosecution  IP Clinic  Barich Award  About Me  Published Articles  Presentations   
About Engineering Law (SE 400 - previously GE 400)

            Engineering Law provides soon-to-be engineers with an introductory understanding of the legal framework under which they will work.  That is, all engineering is performed under the constraints imposed by our society’s laws and must take those laws into account.

            The course has been designed with the following goals in mind:

            1) Give students a greater understanding of their and their company’s position relative to the law so that they can act and talk more intelligently on the subject and be a better asset for their company.

            2) Highlight a few areas that often trip up people in industry so that students can avoid the pitfalls or raise a concern if their company seems like it might have some exposure.

            3) Help students know when their company has a potential or actual legal problem and should call a lawyer.

            Please note that this is merely an introductory class.  This class will not make you a lawyer.  You are advised to seek legal representation if and when you or your company encounters a legal issue.

            Substantively, the class is divided into three sections:
            1) Basics of the legal system including sources of law and enforcing laws and agreements in court,
            2) Contracts and Torts, and
            3) Intellectual Property.

Fall 2017 Syllabus

Class #

Read Before Class

Note: You do not need to read the class 1 materials before class 1, but read the other materials before their respective classes.  Materials may be posted as late as the night before class.

(RRR) = Really Recommended Reading, all other readings are Recommended

Due to the dynamic nature of the internet, some of the links below may have ceased to function.  Please let me know of any such links so that I may reset them or find alternate resources.  Thanks!

Class Topic


Gayton, Chapter 3
Articles of Confederation

U.S. Constitution(RRR)

Constitutional Amendment Process

10 Common Constitution Misconceptions

Bill Of Rights(RRR)

Marbury v. Madison (RRR)

Calder v. Bull

Martin v. Hunter's Lessee

Cooper v. Aaron

Commerce Clause(RRR)

Court Packing

NLRB v. Jones

US v. Darby

Daniel v. Paul

US v. Lopez

US v. Morrison

NSA Warrantless Wiretapping

National Security Letters

NSA and Snowden

George Washington's Farewell Address


House - Legislative Process

Library of Congress - Lawmaking

Government 101


Center For Responsive Politics

Pocket Veto(RRR)

NLRBoard v. Noel Canning

Executive Orders(RRR)

Executive Order List

Executive Order 9066

Signing Statements

US Treaties(RRR)

Missouri v. Holland

United States Code (USC)

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)


State Constitutions

Illinois Constitution(RRR)

Illinois Constitution 2

Illinois Constitutional Convention

Toyota Plant Article

Motorola Article 1

Motorola Article 2

Chicago Incentives

Foxconn Article

Engineering Law Overview

I.          Basics of the Legal System

A.        Sources of Law

            1.         Constitutional Law

            2.         Federal Statutes

            3.         Treaties

            4          State Constitution

            5.         State Laws



Gayton, Chapters 3, 23

Agencies In General(RRR)

Federal Agencies List(RRR)

Independent Agencies(RRR)

Executive Departments (RRR)

Administrative Procedure Act(RRR)

Agency Rulemaking(RRR)

Federal Register(RRR)


Tafas v. Dudas

In re Bilski

Professional Engineer (RRR)

Illinois Dept. of Prof. Reg.

Prof. Engineering Practice Act(RRR)

IL Administrative Code

Standards Organization(RRR)


IEEE Standards

All About IEEE Standards

IEEE Standards Development(RRR)

Justice Dept - Standards Guidelines(RRR)

Rambus JEDEC

Employee Handbook(RRR)

I.          Basics of the Legal System

A.        Sources of Law

            6.         Agencies – Federal and State

            7.         Professional Licensing

            8.         Standards Setting Bodies

            9.         Company Policy



Gayton, Chapter 4

Federal District Court(RRR)

Northern District of Illinois 1

Northern District of Illinois 2

Central District of Illinois 1

Central District of Illinois 2

Federal Appeals Court(RRR)

U.S. Supreme Court(RRR)


Evans Act

State Courts(RRR)

State vs. Federal Court Comparison(RRR)

Circuit Court of Cook County (RRR)

Bankruptcy Court

US Federal Courts

Anatomy of a Lawsuit(RRR)



Rule 11(RRR)

Pre-Filing Investigation



Federal Question Jurisdiction (RRR)

Diversity Jurisdiction(RRR)

USC - Diversity

Supplemental Jurisdiction

Minimum Contacts

Illinois Constitution - Judiciary
Illinois Supreme Court
Illinois Judicial Elections
Judicial Election Spending

I.          Basics of the Legal System

B.         The Court System – Enforcing Laws and Agreements

            1.         Structure of the Court System

                        a.         Federal

                        b.         State

            2.         Anatomy of a Lawsuit

            3.         Complaint

            4.         Jurisdiction and Venue



Gayton, Chapter 4


Answer (RRR)


FRCP 12 Motions(RRR)

Affirmative Defenses(RRR)



14 Years For Contempt



Settlement Article

NY Times Artcle on Settlement(RRR)

Settling Better Than Trial(RRR)

Summary Judgment(RRR)

Motions in Limine(RRR)

Bench Trial(RRR)

Jury Trial (RRR)


Voir Dire(RRR)

Direct Examination (RRR)

Cross Examination(RRR)

Re-Direct Examination (RRR)

Burden of Proof (RRR)

Hearsay (RRR)





Attorney's Fees(RRR)

Declaratory Judgment (RRR)

Jury Nullification(RRR)


I.          Basics of the Legal System

B.         The Court System – Enforcing Laws and Agreements

            5.         Answer

            6.         Discovery

            7.         Settlement

            8.         Trial

            9.         Appeal

            10.       Injunctions



Gayton, Chapters 5, 6, 7, 8, 9


Restatement of Contracts 1(RRR)

Restatement of Contracts 2




Offer and Acceptance (RRR)

EXAM #1 -
Second Half of Class
On Class 1-4 Materials

II.         Contracts

A.        Introduction to Contracts

B.         Parties

C.        Offer and Acceptance


EXAM #1 -
Second Half of Class
On Class 1-4 Materials


Review Exam #1

Gayton, Chapters 10, 11, 13, 14

Ultra Vires(RRR)

Corporate Veil (RRR)






Undue Influence (RRR)


Promissory Estoppel(RRR)

Unclean Hands(RRR)


Jimmy John's Settlement

Illinois Freedom To Work Act

II.         Contracts

D.        Mistake, Misrepresentation, and Fraud

E.         Duress and Undue Influence

F.         Consideration



Gayton, Chapters 15, 21

Statute of Frauds(RRR)

Blue-pencil (RRR)



Implied Warranty(RRR)

II.         Contracts

G.        Enforceability

            1.         Statute of Frauds

            2.         Lawful Subject Matter

H.        Performance, Breach, and Remedies

I.          Warranties




Gayton, Chapter 21


Intentional Torts(RRR)



False Imprisonment(RRR)

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress(RRR)


Duty of Care(RRR)

Standard of Care(RRR)

Proximate Cause(RRR)

Res Ipsa Loquitur(RRR)

Assumption of Risk(RRR)

Contributory Negligence(RRR) 

Comparative Negligence(RRR)

Contributory/Comparative Negligence by State


Trespass to Land (RRR)

Trespass to Chattels(RRR)




III.       Torts

A.        Intentional Torts

B.        Negligence





Gayton, Chapter 22


Negligent Misrepresentation(RRR)

Tortious Interference(RRR)

False Advertising(RRR)
Let The Weiner Wars Begin
CFR Food Labeling
Hershey Chocolate Article
Types of Chocolate
Reebok "Toning" Shoes

5 Hour Energy Ad  2nd link
TWC vs. DirectTV

Products Liability(RRR)



III.       Torts

C.        Fraud

D.        False Advertising

E.         Products Liability





Gayton, Chapter 20

Intellectual Property(RRR)

Ancient Brain Surgery

Letters Patent




EXAM #2 -
Second Half of Class
On Class 5-9 Materials

IV.       Intellectual Property

A.        Overview and Theory of Intellectual Property

            1.         US Rights

            2.         Foreign Rights

            3.         Function vs. Expression







EXAM #2 -
Second Half of Class
On Class 5-9 Materials



Review Exam #2


Gayton, Chapter 20

Patent and Trademark Office (PTO)

Patent Application(RRR)

Patenting Process(RRR)

US Pat. No. 7,753,421

US Pat. No. 7,017,598

US Pat. App. Pub No. US 2004/0221883

US Pat. No. 5,871,783

Statutory Subject Matter(RRR)

Bilski (RRR)

Alice v. CLS (RRR)

Barich Bilski Paper



Patent Do's and D'oh!(RRR)

Sufficiency Of Disclosure(RRR)

Patent Claim (RRR)

Novelty vs. Non-Infringement

US Pat. No. 6,210,728

America Invents Act (AIA)

Text of AIA

IPO AIA Comparison Chart

Design Patent(RRR)

Apple v. Samsung







IV.       Intellectual Property

B.         Patents

            1.         The Patenting Process

            2.         Review of Sample Patents

            3.         Patentable Subject Matter

            4.         Novelty

            5.         Non-Obviousness

            6.         35 U.S.C. Sec. 112

            7.         Claim Types

            8.         Novelty vs. Infringement Analysis

            9.         Design Patents




Gayton, Chapter 20


17 USC

Copyright Office

How To E-File Copyright

Copyright Infringement(RRR)

Sony Case


Napster Case


Dept. of Justice - IP Crimes Manual

Torrent Copyright Arrest

Criminal Copyright Arrests in Japan

Georgia State Copyright Case

Importation of Textbooks case


IV.       Intellectual Property

C.        Copyrights






Gayton, Chapter 20


Unregistered Trademark (RRR)

Service Mark

Lanham Act

USC TM laws

Trademark Fair Use(RRR)

Genericized Trademark(RRR)


Trademarking Pizza Taste

IV.       Intellectual Property

D.        Trademarks






Gayton, Chapters 1, 2

Research on the Role of Luck/Karma

Student Patent Application





EXAM #3 -
Second Half of Class
On Class 10-14 Materials


V.        Engineering Work In A Legal Context


EXAM #3 -
Second Half of Class
On Class 10-14 Materials

Student Comment Excerpts

Overall Comments
It has been a pleasure to teach the course and your comments have been very kind and welcome.  Again, I take all comments seriously because I want to deliver the highest quality and most enjoyable course that I can.  Thank you for giving me feedback.  If you have any further suggestions, I would be happy to hear them - I can also be e-mailed at

Summary Of Main Positives Cited By Students

  • Real world applicability
Students liked the real world applicability of the course and the potential usefulness of the course for their future careers. 
  • Fair grading
The grading procedure was thought to be very fair, especially reviewing the quizzes and exams in class - which was also cited as an effective and welcome learning tool.
  • The Instructor's Knowledge, Enthusiasm, and Vocal Delivery
Many students commented that I was passionate and knowledgeable and that I kept the class engaging.  Additionally, a good attitude toward students and student questions was repeatedly cited.  "No weaknesses" was a repeated comment. 

Items To Review Cited By Students

The main thing that some students cited as less preferred was the longer class time - they would prefer to break it into two days, but understand the scheduling constraints with my travel from Chicago.  I was also impressed by the student suggestions for additional class activities.  How many classes have students requesting more homework?  Some other suggestions for class participation activities were really great and I wish that we had more time to do them!

Course Materials

Students enjoyed the Lectures and supplemental materials on the website. With regard to the Gayton book, there are two schools of thought.  On one side, some students coming into the class have a great deal of background on the U.S. legal system and may have a lessened need for the book.  For example, some students took classes on the U.S. legal system in both high school and college and thus may find a significant portion of the book to be cumulative.  However, other students, such as those coming straight to the University from a foreign country, typically have very little background on the U.S. legal system and can use all the help that they can get.  These students also may be more comfortable with written English rather than spoken English.  A number of these students have commented that they found the book to be of great use.  Overall, I believe that almost all students can benefit at least somewhat from the book - and the less the student already knows, the greater the benefit.  However, the book is but one tool to help student learning and students should make their own decisions with regard to whether to acquire it.

Tech Elective Credit Outside GE/IE

SE 400 counts as a technical elective in GE/IE, but does not count as a technical elective for at least some other engineering majors.  Several non-GE/IE students expressed their desire to have that changed.  I looked into this and communicated with a non-GE/IE department to initiate a dialog.  However, although the department recognized the usefulness of the course for an engineering career, they were reluctant to count it as "technical" and thus were reluctant to add it as one of their technical electives.  In a larger sense, the college of engineering may wish to consider adding a few practical career-building courses like SE400 to some sort of required course list for engineers.

Update: As of September 2017, I have been informed that SE400 counts as a tech elective for Materials Science - but please confirm with your department before enrolling.

Honors and Recognition

SE400 routinely appears on the University's List Of Teachers Ranked As Excellent By Their Students with a ranking of "Outstanding", which is given to the top 10% of instructors.  Additionally, I was especially flattered and humbled to be awarded the 2012 Alpha Pi Mu & Gamma Epsilon Excellence in Teaching Award  (Industrial Engineering and General Engineering student honor societies) and the 2016 Industrial and Systems Engineering Department Head Teaching Award.

My deepest thanks to the student societies, their executive boards, and members.  Thank you for the Award and I will strive to continue to be worthy of it!

Thanks again for all of your comments!  Here are some actual student comments:

  • I wanted to personally thank you for the time you spent in this class ... I think you should be made aware that of the nearly 130 credit hours I have taken, this class stands far and above any other.  I really enjoyed learning from you.
  • Vocal presentation was great!  He also kept our attention which is hard to do with all these damn smartphones.
  • It all lawyers were like Prof. Barich, they wouldn't have such a bad reputation.
  • Extremely engaging to listen to.  You're able to turn potentially very dry information into material I want to learn.
  • Arguably the best class I've ever taken.  No prior experience w/law now greatly appreciate it.  Awesome lectures.
  • By far the greatest professor I have every had. Period.
  • This class rocks socks.  I looked forward to it the most.
  • No complaints.  Amazing professor.
  • Honestly, taking this class was one of the best decisions I've made.  Very helpful and extremely interesting.  Thank you!
  • The course is great.  One of my favorite  courses taken at UIUC
  • I think this was the first time I was confident in filling each bubble pertaining to excellence.  You are an excellent teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed this class.  Making yourself accessible to students and allowing us to open up in class and attempt to argue a question was fun and different.  I appreciate all your hard work.  Thank you.
  • I am a huge fan.  One of the best classes I have taken on campus. [Note:This was accompanied by a drawings of an electric fan.  LOL!]
  • Phenomenal professor.  Very engaging, good delivery, useful information.  Would highly recommend course to future engineers.  Very impressed.
  • Good presenter, funny, good attitude toward questions and students.
  • Well organized.  Super informative.  Grooms you into a more responsible engineer.
  • Great speaker, explains everything clearly, keeps students engaged, very funny!  By FAR, best class I've taken in college.  No weaknesses.
  • Lectures were extremely beneficial, great examples that helped with understanding.
  • He knew what was the common mental blocks for engineers trying to understand law.
  • No weaknesses.  You made the course engaging and kept my attention.  I still hate the law, but I loved this course.
  • Very good speaker that has the ability and enthusiasm to make a stereotypicaly "dry" subject very interesting.  One of the best professors I have had.
  • Enthusiastic, wants students to learn, prepared for class every time.  Easy to understand, conveys information in a clear manner.
  • More students should take this class!
  • I think more students should know about this class.  Whole college.
  • Clear and effective lecturer.  Most interesting and engaging course at the university.  learned more in this class than any other.  Thanks.
  • [How to improve?] Make it so every engineering major has to take it.
  • Very clear, had extensive knowledge of subject matter.  I've never been in a class with so many nontrivial questions.  This means students are engaged.
  • Great class, very engaging and explanations were thorough.  Would highly recommend to friends.
  • Very good guy.  Very specific. One of the best professors I've had in opening me up to the world around me.
  • I really liked this course and have recommended it to a lot of others.  I felt it was useful and I have a harder time staying awake in some of my 50 min classes than this one.
  • One of the best instructors at the university.  Incredibly knowledgeable on the topics and actually answered all questions.  Took the time to go over exams, explain problems, and answered questions even if not fully relevant to the topic being taught.  Excellent presentation and enthusiasm.
  • Very enthusiastic, thorough, and comprehensive material presentation.  Quite a lot of material learned without having to take coursework in actual law classes.  Great thing to talk about on resume and during job interviews.
  • [What was most beneficial to you?] Definitely the material that was specific to engineering career work was very helpful, such as the material regarding contracts and intellectual property.
  • [T]hanks for a great semester. This was the most fair class I've ever been in and it really helps to create an environment for true learning as opposed to simply passing tests. Your teaching style and the overall structure of the class was a breath of fresh air in this engineering department. Thanks again.
  • By far the best engineering professor I’ve had.  Great content, awesome attitude and enthusiasm, and incredibly fair.  Out of my entire GE curriculum, I think this has been the single most useful course I’ve taken.  Keep up the good work! Your fairness and enthusiasm don’t go unnoticed.
  • This was one of my favorite classes by far and a class that I thoroughly enjoyed and that is not something I say often about classes.  I particularly enjoyed the stories you would share and your personal insights into the laws and structure of the US system.  Thanks for a great class, it is surprisingly rare how few classes actually excite me as a student and the law certainly was able to do that.
  • Can you teach all my classes?
  • Thanks for teaching!  You were Awesome!
  • Best teacher yet, made me want to come to class. Really interesting!  Loved the movie references.  Great stories
  • Strength: Keeps students interested with good presentation of the material
  • Keeps interest up, great vocal delivery.  Helpful in conflicts.
  • Strengths – Makes it fun!
  • Very clear presentation.  I liked the jokes and humor.
  • The FIRST class I’ve had where the professor truly inspires me to learn the material.  Keeps my attention very well.
  • Very good course organization, vocal delivery great.  No weaknesses as a teacher, great job this semester.
  • Very knowledgeable on the subject matter, well organized, willing to explain and stay after to help.  Obviously enjoys teaching the material.
  • Always engaging when speaking to the class.
  • Great guy.  Makes class enjoyable to attend.
  • Animated, intelligent, relevant.
  • Excellent teacher!  Enthusiastic, brilliant, funny, and experienced.  Made this the best class of the semester. 
  • Very knowledgeable, engaging, and enthusiastic.
  • Very good lecturer.  Handouts very helpful.  Great course!
  • Barich is one of the best lecturers on campus. 
  • Man, you are just awesome.
  • Strengths: Excellent job, presented material well, enthusiastic, very knowledgeable.
  • He cares a lot about teaching well.  He wants feedback and is willing to change for the better.
  • Best Professor I have ever had.  No weakness.
  • Barich was a pleasure to have as a teacher.  Very interesting and fun, and was always happy to stimulate extra learning and knowledge.
  • I learned a lot and I really feel I will use this knowledge later in life.
  • I think every Engineering student should take this course, it is real-world knowledge that I’m so happy to know.
  • Excellent survey into variety of law and business topics.  I will use this knowledge.
  • Taught us not to do stupid things when it comes to contracts.
  • Legal Basics that could help you out big time in the Future
  • Instructor was very enthusiastic/passionate towards material which was very beneficial in learning.
  • Very useful class for engineers.
  • Great lectures.  Really learned a lot.
  • Best course I’ve taken at U of I.  First course I’ve taken where I will actually use what I learned
  • Course is pretty much perfect.
  • Lectures were very interesting and engaging.  More importantly I learned a lot about law
  • Barich used current examples of law issues/cases when explaining the material.  Also, going over all the quiz answers helped drive the concepts home.
  • Class was very interesting and the professor did a great job relating the material to the experience/understanding of engineering students.
  • The professor focused more on teaching us than grading us.  Thank you!
  • I like that you learn a lot in this course in a little time, without it being overly rigorous.  You adopt a new perspective.  I like that we are very encouraged to participate and ask questions.
  • Real-world legal knowledge essential at workplace.
  • Very good at explaining topics and answering questions.  Very fair quiz questions that probe your knowledge on topics and make you think.  One of the best professors I've had here.
  • It was terrific to take a class that applies to things I'll encounter daily that weren't purely from a technical standpoint.  We don't get taught about contracts but we do get taught a lot about things we don't encounter often.
  • Extremely engaging.  I want Barich to teach all of my courses.
  • [Most Beneficial to you?] IP law, relation to how engineers will actually use law.
  • Real life help for my future.  It was applicable, not just a class.
  • Allowing us to challenge the questions was extremely helpful in learning the material.
  • Prof. Barich was terrific.  Highly enjoyed this class.  Would recommend to everyone.  First time I've had a professor even mention the non-technical aspects that would make someone a good engineer/employee, and Prof. Barich consistently brought his lectures back to those points.  I would take his other classes if I weren't graduating.