Innovation and Law

The Minor in Innovation and Law, offered by the Interdisciplinary Engineering Program, provides students the opportunity to learn the basics of legal frameworks and laws that impact the practices of the technology industry and venture development. The program also familiarizes students with the entrepreneurial process and teaches students how to analyze the legal, philosophical, and economic rationales behind defining and protecting intellectual property rights.  This minor expands students’ educational and career pathways in the legal profession in the areas of technology-related laws.  This program is for all SJSU students. Background knowledge in science and engineering is not required. 


Innovation and Law Minor program course requirements

Required courses:

  • Any SJSU 100W Upper division writing course (Area Z) 
  • ENGR130       Introduction to Intellectual Property for Engineers 
  • ENGR131       Introduction to Patents for Engineers 
  • PHIL 137       Puzzles in Innovation and Law 
  • BUS5 181     Introduction to entrepreneurship

Select one elective course from the following this list: 

ENGL 107, PHIL 134, ECON 141, DSID 135, BUS5 163B, BUS5 165B, BUS5 182, BUS5 184A , BUS3 186, BUS5 186V.   (Some might have pre-requisites.)

For testimonial videos, see the following page:


What you can expect from this minor 

With the rise in innovation and emerging technologies, the need for legal support (patent attorneys, patent agents or patent engineers) requiring special skills and knowledge similar to the education and training of an engineer is also on the rise.  The complexity of many of these patents require specialized knowledge in a scientific or technical field to help evaluate the patent application.  In addition, intellectual property (IP) law is critical to the technology industry for protecting their assets and is necessary for innovation to continue.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) the number of utility patent applications (inventions) have been increasing over the past decade while the number of patent specialists have remained flat or decreased.  669,434 patent applications were filed in 2019 which was up from 643,303 in 2018.  The USPTO announced (May, 2021) it is looking to hire hundreds of graduates and professionals with backgrounds in biomedical, computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering.    

This Innovation and Law minor prepares you to for many exciting careers in high demand.  Here’s a sampling of some of the careers you’ll be prepared to pursue: 


Intellectual Property Attorney

IP attorneys are practicing lawyers who specialize in intellectual property law. Often times, they help clients establish and protect their intellectual property rights. 

Educational Requirements: In order to be an IP attorney, you'll have to go to law school. A degree in engineering, especially with a minor in Innovation and Law, can prepare you for law school by training your critical thinking skills and giving you the background necessary to understand some of the intellectual property you may end up protecting.    Discover more at:


Patent/TM Agent

Patent and TM agents work with inventors on filing for patent and trademark protection. They are professionally licensed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

Educational Requirements: You don't need a law degree to become a patent agent, though you do need an undergraduate degree in an approved major--such as interdisciplinary engineering! In addition, you'll have to pass the USPTO's patent bar exam.   Discover more at:


Legal Engineering

Legal engineers work in the intersection of law and technology. For instance, they might help determine whether a legal service can be standardized into a product, or help create those products.

Educational Requirements: You don't need a law degree to be a legal engineer, though some legal engineers have them and it helps to be familiar with legal processes. The ability to think creatively, communicate with both lawyers and technologists, and understand the intersection of law and technology are essential skills. You can build these skills with the IDE track!  Discover more:


Other Careers

The beauty of the intersection between law, technology, and entrepreneurship is that you can create your own career path. You'll have a unique mix of skills that are in high demand in many industries.


Innovation and Law Program advisors:


Advisory Board Industry Members

  • Andy Han JD,  (SJSU MSEE, 07), Founding Partner, Han Santos PLLC
  • Peter Handy JD, (SJSU BSAE 10), Director of Nevada Department of Indigent Defense Services
  • Michael Muthig,  SJSU, Director of Innovation
  • Vignesh Ramachandran JD, (SJSU BSEE 14), Corporate Counsel, Lam Research
  • Christopher A. Reed JD (SJSU BSEE 97), Corporate Counsel, Nonprofit Insurance Alliance
  • Parag Shekher JD, Corporate Counsel, ThermoFisher
  • Steve Zokiol, Acting Director of Silicon Valley US Patent Office