Sean B. Seymore

Professor of Law
Professor of Chemistry
Chancellor Faculty Fellow

Sean Seymore’s research focuses on how patent law should evolve in response to scientific advances and how the intersection of law and science should influence the formulation of public policy. Professor Seymore joined Vanderbilt’s law faculty in 2010, having previously taught at Washington & Lee University School of Law, where he was an assistant professor of law and earned the designations of Alumni Faculty Fellow and Huss Faculty Fellow for his scholarship and teaching. He was a visiting assistant professor at Northwestern University School of Law in 2007-08. Before law school, Professor Seymore held academic appointments in chemistry at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Rowan University and was a visiting scientist at Indiana University-Bloomington. After earning his law degree, he practiced patent law with Foley Hoag in Boston. As an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS), he served on the executive committee for the Division of Chemistry and the Law from 2009 to 2012, on the Committee on Patents and Related Matters from 2006-07 and on the Younger Chemists Committee from 2002 to 2006. In spring 2012, Professor Seymore was appointed to the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Associate Professor.

Professor Seymore earned his B.S. in chemistry at the University of Tennessee as a Tennessee Scholar, an M.S.Chem. (with thesis) from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame with an Arthur J. Schmitt Presidential Fellowship, and a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame with an Allen Endowment Fellowship. His dissertation, Polar Effects in Metal-Mediated Nitrogen and Oxygen Atom Transfer (see several novel compounds he synthesized), led to four peer-reviewed publications in Inorganic Chemistry, including a cover article. Professor Seymore serves as the faculty adviser to the Vanderbilt Law Review. He was appointed the law school's first Enterprise Scholar in fall 2013 and is in the inaugural cohort of Chancellor Faculty Fellows.

Research Interests

Patent law, law and science

Representative Publications

  • "When Patents Claim Preexisting Knowledge," 50 UC Davis Law Review (forthcoming 2017)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • “Reinvention,” 92 Notre Dame Law Review (forthcoming 2017)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • “Patent Asymmetries,” 49 UC Davis Law Review 963 (2016)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Foresight Bias in Patent Law," 90 Notre Dame Law Review 1105 (2015)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Making Patents Useful," 98 Minnesota Law Review 1046 (2014)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "The Presumption of Patentability," 97 Minnesota Law Review 990 (2013)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "The Null Patent," 53 William and Mary Law Review 2041 (2012)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Patently Impossible," 64 Vanderbilt Law Review 1491 (2011)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • “Rethinking Novelty in Patent Law,” 60 Duke Law Journal 919 (2011) (selected for inclusion in the 2012 edition of the Intellectual Property Law Review as one of the best law review articles related to intellectual property law published in 2011)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • “The Teaching Function of Patents,” 85 Notre Dame Law Review 621 (2010)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN

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Contact Information

(615) 875-7604 (voice)
295 (office)

Curriculum Vitae



J.D. University of Notre Dame
Ph.D. (Chemistry) University of Notre Dame
M.S.Chem. Georgia Institute of Technology
B.S. (Chemistry) University of Tennessee