An interdisciplinary course was designed to educate students about the important role of patents in the economy and society through the lens of chemical innovations. The course consisted of six units that covered a wide variety of topics including an overview of the patent system and the importance of patents in a knowledge economy, career options for chemistry students in the patent field, the process for getting a patent, how to read and understand chemical patents, developing a patentable idea, ethics and biotechnology patents, drug patents, and public policy issues. A diverse range of chemical innovations were analyzed, including fragrances, pharmaceuticals, nicotine chewing gum, hair dyes, toner compositions, vaping formulations, and pesticides. Suggestions and examples are provided for incorporating patents into existing chemistry courses to teach fundamental chemistry concepts, emphasize the real-world applications of chemistry, examine the role of chemistry in society, encourage entrepreneurial identification, and explore how chemistry is linked with many other contexts including law, business, ethics, and public policy.
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