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School of Law

Intellectual Property Law

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 3 of 3 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the evolution of the intellectual property system in the UK;
  • demonstrate sound knowledge of the general principles governing copyright, sui generis database right, registered and unregistered designs, confidentiality, patents and trade marks law;
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the impact of new technologies on intellectual property; and
  • identify and evaluate the impact of EU law on the IP system of the UK.

Scope and syllabus

Intellectual property is a collective noun for an aggregate of individual disciplines of law: copyright, sui generis databases right, designs, patents, breach of confidence and trade marks.  The only common theme among them is that all are concerned with intangible creation.  Although the term intellectual property also includes plant and seed varieties, malicious falsehood and protection of performers, these will not be dealt with in this course

Topics covered:
  1. Introduction/History/Justifications
  2. Copyright- Subject Matter/Originality/Fixation
  3. Authorship/Ownership
  4. Moral Rights
  5. Economic Rights-Reproduction
  6. Reading Week
  7. Economic Rights- communication in public and communication to the public
  8. Exceptions and Limitations-Fair Dealing
  9. Direct Broadcasting by Satellite/Internet/Conflict of Laws
  10. Sui generis database right- UK/EU
  11. Sui generis database right- Harmonisation/Court of Justice of the European Union
  12. Designs- Unregistered designs
  13. Designs- Registered Designs
  14. Patents- Subject Matter
  15. Patents- Novelty- Inventive Step-Industrial Application
  16. Patents-- Biotechnology/Methods of Medical and Veterinary Treatment
  17. Reading Week
  18. Breach of Confidence
  19. Breach of Confidence
  20. Trade Marks and passing off
  21. Trade Marks-Grounds for Refusal of Registration
  22. Revision

The course aims to:

  • provide a comprehensive study of the nature and development of the UK intellectual property system;
  • examine the impact of international treaties and EU law on the intellectual property system of the UK; and
  • assess whether the existing intellectual property system encourages creativity and innovation.  

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 20% coursework (two essays of 2,000 words each, worth 10% each); 80% unseen examination.