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An Introduction to Patents at Duke

About This Course

This short course is divided into two main types of instructional units - lectures that explains how and why the patent system works and demos that show you how to conduct patent searches using the tools available here at Duke and online.

Each lesson can be viewed as a standalone instructional unit if you are looking for a specific aspect of the patent system, but you will find the course has been designed as a cohesive learning experience.

Each lecture has three components:

  • Learning Objectives
  • Tutorial
  • Knowledge Check

Please note that this class is intended for educational purposes only and in no means constitutes legal advice.


No specific skills needed - just an interest in patents, intellectual property, innovation and/or entrepreneurship.

Course Staff

Melanie A. Sturgeon

Melanie A. Sturgeon, MSE, MSLS

Librarian for Engineering, Physics and CS

Melanie has a background in mechanical engineering with a Master of Science in Engineering and 14 years experience as a design engineer in the furniture, automotive and computer hardware industries. After completing a Masters in Library and Information Science, she became one of the science librarians in the Research and Instructional Services department here at Duke University Libraries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.

How long will this course take?

This course is a series of short sections that can be viewed independantly or all together. If you choose to do the whole class it should take between 1-1/2 and 2 hours.

Where are quick links to the URL's mentioned in the lecture?

Each lesson includes a handout of resources and clickable url's.

Will I get a certificate after completing this course?

No, this course does not offer any certificates. However we are sure you will be very proud of the skills and knowledge you will have gained if you complete the course!