Document Type

Closed Project

Publication Date

Winter 1995


Dundar Kocaoglu

Course Title

Management of Engineering & Technology

Course Number

EMGT 520


The environment of engineering managers today includes a wide variety of challenges brought on by the increasing number of technological companies competing for each percentage of market share. These managers are faced with daily pressures, such as the decrease in time-to –market schedules, the increase in the complexity of technology, the implementation of new organizational structures, and personal and professional conflicts among highly intelligent engineers. These and other related issues have been addressed in engineering management literature. However, the area involving intellectual property has been noticeably neglected, yet is becoming an increasingly important factor in an organization's struggle to survive in its industry. Reasons for this shortfall may include a general lack of knowledge or the belief that patents and copyrights are handled solely by intellectual property lawyers. Lawyers aid in the process of obtaining and drafting patents and copyrights and in defending them in a court of law; however, it is up to the engineers and their managers to determine which products and processes need protection and to take the steps required to protect them.

This research study investigates intellectual property from the engineering management perspective. Current practice for patenting and copyrighting hardware and software is examined. Issues addressed include instructing engineers to document patentable processes and products during the design phase, instituting procedures which aid in defending the intellectual property against future infringements, the patenting of computer hardware, the patenting and copyrighting of computer software, and the option of protection by maintaining trade secrets in lieu of patents. This research is based on acquiring information from industry literature, actual case law, interviews with a cross section of industry personnel, and personal experience. Through this research, guidelines for engineering managers are presented for consideration in the execution of their jobs. These general guidelines provide recommendations as to the steps an engineering manager can take to protect the intellectual property rights of the organization.


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