IP: Trademarks and Patents (LAWS5179)


This unit will focus on legal rights concerning the marketing of products, specifically, trade mark law, and legal rights concerning invention, specifically, patent law. Most aspects of the law of registered trade marks, (including some references to passing-off and unfair competition) will be covered in the unit, as will the effect of these areas of law on new marketing practices on the Internet. Some specific topics which will be covered in depth are: the differences between registered trade marks, passing-off and unfair competition; character merchandising and the protection of the celebrity persona; the nature of signs and the special problem of shape trade marks; counterfeiting and parallel imports; the badge of origin, private property and cultural resource functions of registered trade marks. In patent law, there will be a particular focus on medical method patents, in light of their recent development and controversial nature. Although the unit of study will emphasise legal doctrine and be taught from the perspective of a relatively depoliticised formalism, it is also recognised that the deployment and the regulation of intellectual property inevitably have substantial cultural and economic consequences, which in turn inform and shape the development of legal doctrine. So, for example, pharmaceutical patents are both valuable assets to their owners, who accordingly demand extensive legal protection for those assets, and also the target of vigorous criticism in the developing world for the patents' potentially detrimental effect on public health in relation to, inter alia, HIV. There will, accordingly, be some attention paid in this unit to the cultural and economic consequences of intellectual property laws, to the significance of access to the public domain and to the effects of international trade pressure in the area.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


2x2hr seminars/week for 10 weeks


Two options: (1) 5,000wd research essay (50%) and 1.5hr exam (50%); or (2) 2.5 hr examination (100%). Subject to change.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


LAWS3472 or LAWS3033 or LAWS3479

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.