Fundamentals of Patenting and Licensing

A book about patents by an engineer, for engineers


Fundamentals of Patenting and Licensing for Scientists and Engineers

By Matthew Y. Ma; World Scientific, 2009; 292 pp.; US $68; ISBN 978-981-283-420-1

Reviewed by Kirk Teska

No doubt about it, engineers and laypersons view the world differently. And patent attorneys view it differently from both those groups. Matthew Y. Ma, author of Fundamentals of Patenting and Licensing for Scientists and Engineers, is a senior member of IEEE with years of experience as an engineer and scientist. The result is a book about patents for scientists and engineers by one of their peers.

I am in favor of anything that educates engineers about the world of patents. Engineers who are knowledgeable about patenting make my job as a patent attorney easier, and bringing them up to speed was the goal of my own book (Patent Savvy for Managers, Nolo Press, 2007). Ma even uses several of the same patent examples in his book that I used in mine, including the famous—or infamous, depending on your point of view—Amazon "one-click" patent.

As its name suggests, Fundamentals covers nearly everything under the patent sun, including a chapter on innovation harvesting, which discusses various scenarios in which you should and should not undertake patent protection.

The book could stand more rigorous copyediting, and readers may occasionally find themselves lost in a thicket of quoted statutes and government regulations. But such minuses are far outweighed by the clear, concise fashion in which Ma explains concepts that engineers—and even my law school students—may find difficult, such as dominant patents.

Add this book to your library. In today's complex and commercial landscape, engineers and scientists who refuse to become patent savvy will likely be eclipsed by those who are.

This article originally appeared in print as "A New Patent Perspective."