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Patenting in Biotechnology

Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Copenhagen Business School via Coursera


Far too often, researchers are misinformed about the role and the possibilities arising around patents and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). In this course we will teach you what IPR are - with a special focus on patents. Also this course will look at the importance of patents in the world of biotechnology - and what you actually can patent.

Should your research be protected? Can your research even be protected?
There are a lot of misunderstandings about patents, so first step is to know what patents really are and how they work. Then we will introduce how and when to apply for them. Also how to find existing patents is a crucial and necessary element to being able to assess whether your research should be protected or not.

The course will be divided in 7 sessions, and at the end of the course, you should be able to:
- describe the different types of IPR
- explain the conditions of patentability for an invention
- describe the various stages involved in a patent application
- search and retrieve patent information from databases
- read and understand a patent
- write claims related to biotechnology
- understand and explain the concept of Freedom To Operate

Course Materials:
You will need the following book as a reading material for the course:
“Patenting in Biotechnology, a laboratory manual” by Peter Ulvskov, which will be available from

Also, you will need to get access from your home institution to these databases:
- Derwent Innovation Index (via Web of Science)
- SciFinder

This course is related to a 5 ECTS point course that is a mandatory requirement for access to the BioBusiness and Innovation Platform (BBIP) program at the Copenhagen Business School. NOTE: this Coursera course will NOT be sufficient for attending the BBIP program but successful completion of this course (with a Course Certificate) will be a plus for applying to the BBIP.
To obtain the 5 ECTS points, you will have to enrol as a DTU Student, participate on a hands-on workshop on patent databases and pass an exam in presence of an external Censor. For more information, please email me at:

[email protected]

Link for BBIP: (


  • Introduction to Intellectual Property Rights
    • An introduction to the important subjects within the field of patenting, such as novelty and “person skilled in the art”.
      By Federico De Masi
  • The Patent System I
    • Get to know the important timeline for getting a patent. We look at the filing, international filing, examination, publication, and potential approval of a patent. Note that we will go deeper into the search machinery later in lecture 5. By Peter Ulvskov.
  • The Patent System II
    • The first video introduces search reports and looks into destruction of novelty/inventive steps. The second video covers international filling - the PCT system. The issues with medical use claims will also be discussed. By Peter Ulvskov.
  • Creating a Patent Landscape
    • To map the patent landscape for an invention you need to be able to perform “literature search” for patents. This is important if you want to avoid infringing existing patents. In this lecture, different databases are reviewed: Derwent, USPTO, and NCBI. By Peter Ulvskov.
  • How to Patent Biotechnology Inventions?
    • Here we go through the interesting issues, rules and possibilities of patenting specific biotechnology related items as microorganisms or enzymes. By Claus Jørgensen.
  • Business and Patents
    • How can we avoid infringing other patents and what are solutions in case we do? Freedom to operate (FTO) is in its essence to the constraints surrounding your invention that prevents your ability to produce/sell your invention. By Karin Beukel.
  • Patenting Small Chemicals and Compounds
    • In this lecture the novelty of chemical molecules and natural products are discussed. An interesting real life example tried to but things in perspective. By Federico De Masi.
  • Searching Patents for Small Chemicals
    • Introduction to using SciFinder, an enormous database for chemical reactions and compounds. See how one utilizes Markus formulas to search for patents. By Peter Ulvskov.
  • Conclusion - Should You Patent Your Invention?
    • Philosophical lecture about the benefit of patenting and how to actually use your approved patent. Also importantly, we cover ALL the reasons to NOT patent! Definitely important even though we really love patents in this course.

Taught by

Finn Valentin, Peter Ulvskov, Claus Bøttcher Jørgensen, Karin Beukel and Federico De Masi


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.6 rating at Coursera based on 192 ratings

Start your review of Patenting in Biotechnology

  • Lahar Niraj Khandelwal completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    I myself am a student of biotechnology. So, because we are all aware of patents and patenting, I wanted to pursue that path because it is one of the large, current and significant issues in biotechnology and in general. This course has added a lot to patent awareness. Every other student from any area (in particular biotechnology) or anyone who wants to learn about patents would be recommended.

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