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Unit information: Introduction to Intellectual Property in 2015/16

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Unit name Introduction to Intellectual Property
Unit code LAWD20043
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Charlesworth
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The unit will provide a primarily 'black-letter' overview of the core elements of the UK/EU intellectual property regime, focusing on trade marks and passing off; patents and copyright law. As such, it will provide a basic overview for students who want a broad-brush understanding of the discipline, whilst serving as a pre-requisite to the Advanced Intellectual Property unit which will cover additional specialist areas of intellectual property, such as breach of confidence and privacy; registered and unregistered designs; geographical indications etc, as well as consideration of theories underpinning intellectual property rights.

Topics covered are:

  • A brief introduction to justifications for intellectual property rights; sources of intellectual property law; and remedies for the infringement of intellectual property rights.
  • The nature, function and use of trade marks; common law protection; absolute and relative grounds for refusal and invalidity of registered marks; infringement and defences to infringement including exhaustion of rights.
  • The purpose of the patent system; application procedure; the role of specification and claims; the role of the skilled addressee; rights of ownership and exploitation. Patentability; patent infringement.
  • The nature, function and use of copyright protection; categories of work; subsistence of copyright, moral rights and rights in performances; primary and secondary infringement.

Intended Learning Outcomes

As an introductory unit to a highly complex, diverse and fast-moving area of law, while the intended learning outcomes will include that a student will acquire a rudimentary understanding of the rationales for intellectual property rights, the primary focus of the unit will be to inculcate a broad practical knowledge of the 3 core intellectual property rights, trademark, patent and copyright, so that a student can apply their knowledge in a concisely reasoned and rigorous fashion to problem-based scenarios.

Students will be familiar with:

  • The primary legislation in these 3 core areas, as well as the common law principles underlying the doctrine of passing off.
  • The key caselaw applicable, including an understanding of key areas where the law lacks clarity or agreement.

Students will be able to:

  • Parse complex problem scenarios in order to identify particular intellectual property right issues;
  • Apply their knowledge so as to assess the relevance of specific elements to the problem scenarios
  • Write structured and reasoned analysis addressing the issues raised.

By the end of the unit, students should have sufficient knowledge of the 3 core intellectual property rights, trademark, patent and copyright, to be able to engage in meaningful discussion of the wider implications of those intellectual property rights in later undergraduate units, notably Advanced Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law, or postgraduate study, where an understanding of the 'black letter' law is key to addressing the political, social and economic implications of intellectual property rights.

Teaching Information

There will be 20 x 1hr lectures, 7 x 2-hr seminars. Lectures will provide the basic structure around which the assigned reading for the unit will be based. The seminars will take a Socratic approach with students expected to undertake the assigned reading and be prepared to discuss the material.

Assessment Information

Summative assessment: one three-hour closed book examination in May/June. Students will also have the opportunity to write up to two formative essays in the course of the year.

The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

H. Norman (2014) Intellectual Property Law Directions, Oxford University Press (2nd Ed.) ISBN: 9780199688104