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Intellectual Property: IT/Electronics

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Regulatory & Policy
Intellectual Property
IT/Electronics

The information technology (IT) and electronics sectors include a wide range of companies in the business of developing and marketing electronic components and computer-based information systems. Computer-based information systems store, process, transmit and retrieve information. “Electronics” is the design and construction of electronic circuits used in computer and communications technologies. The electronics industry also includes companies in the business of producing consumer products with electronic components.

Some IP lawyers working with clients in the IT industry specialize in prosecuting or litigating patents involving electronics and related technologies. Others focus on commercial transactions. “Technology transactions” may involve any use or transfer of a company’s intellectual property. Although IT companies sometimes license their patents and trademarks to value-added resellers in the distribution chain, customers who will not be making or selling the product typically do not [...]

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The information technology (IT) and electronics sectors include a wide range of companies in the business of developing and marketing electronic components and computer-based information systems. Computer-based information systems store, process, transmit and retrieve information. “Electronics” is the design and construction of electronic circuits used in computer and communications technologies. The electronics industry also includes companies in the business of producing consumer products with electronic components.

Some IP lawyers working with clients in the IT industry specialize in prosecuting or litigating patents involving electronics and related technologies. Others focus on commercial transactions. “Technology transactions” may involve any use or transfer of a company’s intellectual property. Although IT companies sometimes license their patents and trademarks to value-added resellers in the distribution chain, customers who will not be making or selling the product typically do not have a need for a patent or trademark license for the mere use of the end product. However, IT companies typically offer end users a license to use the software components of a product, so software programs are frequently protected under both copyright law and contractual provisions.

Knowing something about both the business and the technology of the IT and electronics industries is important for IP lawyers working with high tech clients. A student who just wants some exposure to the vocabulary and context of the IT field may select one of the engineering courses with the broadest overview and the fewest prerequisites. Students with a technical background may decide to select an intermediate course, or they may select a science or engineering course that expands their exposure within the discipline-- for example, by taking an electronics or chip fabrication course if their prior focus was more on computer science than electrical engineering.

On the other hand, tech savvy students may decide they will benefit more by selecting business law or business courses that will expand and complement their technical knowledge. Courses in the Graduate School of Business (GSB) and the School of Management Science & Engineering (MS&E) focus on certain business challenges in the industry. Some of these challenges occur in connection with supply and distribution issues, which affect the licensing terms of software and other technologies.

 
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