Copyright and Patents

Subject LAWS50057 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 5 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 23-Nov-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

This subject has a quota of 60 students. Please refer to the Melbourne Law JD website for further information about subject quotas

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 hours
Total Time Commitment:

168 hours


Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
November, Semester 2
Semester 1
Semester 1
Semester 2
Semester 2
Semester 1
Semester 2
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects:
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law School welcomes applications from students with disabilities. It is University and Law School policy to take all reasonable steps to enable the participation of students with disabilities, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the School's programs.

The inherent academic requirements for the study in the Melbourne Law School are:

  • The ability to attend classes and actively engage in the analysis of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students must possess behavioural and social attributes that enable them to participate in a complex learning environment. Students are required to take responsibility for their own participation and learning. They also contribute to the learning of other students in collaborative learning environments, demonstrating interpersonal skills and an understanding of the needs of other students. Assessment may include the outcomes of tasks completed in collaboration with other students.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact Student Equity and Disability Support.


Prof Andrew F. Christie


Phone: +61 3 8344 4475

Subject Overview:

This subject is concerned with the grant of proprietary rights over the products of the intellect - i.e. with intellectual property. The particular intellectual property subject matters considered are creative works and industrial inventions. Copyright and patents are the legal means for granting exclusivity to these subject matters that are explored in detail. It is a field of great private and public significance. The economy is increasingly driven by intellectual property, meaning that this is a major area of private commercial interest. But it is also an area of growing public controversy, in which the need to provide incentives and protection for private endeavour must be weighted against societal interests in accessing valuable information-based goods.

The principal topics covered in the subject are:

  • Copyright - the protection of works and other subject matter under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth);
  • Design registration - the protection for distinctive-looking mass-produced items under the Designs Act 2003 (Cth), and its relationship with copyright protection;
  • Patents - the protection of inventions under the Patents Act 1990 (Cth); and
  • Breach of confidence - the protection of trade secrets under the equitable action to restrain a misuse of confidential information, and its relationship to patent protection.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who successfully completes this subject will be able to:

  • Appreciate the nature and policy roles of copyright and patents as legal regimes within private law;
  • Recognise the correct categorisation of subject matter within those legal regimes;
  • Determine the nature of exclusion associated with ownership or control of subject matter within those legal regimes;
  • Understand the relationship of protection for registered designs with copyright, and of protection for confidential information with patents;
  • Apply the legal regimes in particular scenarios to resolve ambiguity and arrive at reasoned conclusions as to what outcomes may pertain in a court; and
  • Critically analyse and evaluate those outcomes against the public policy roles of the legal regimes.
  • 3,000-word take-home examination focussing predominantly on copyright issues (50%);
  • 3,000 word take-home examination focussing predominantly on patent issues (50%).

The due date of the above assessment will be available to students via the LMS.

Prescribed Texts:

Specialist printed materials will also be made available from the Melbourne Law School.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

A student who successfully completes this subject will have developed a capacity to:

  • Assess the nature and role of copyright and patent law within broader economic and moral context;
  • Evaluate those intellectual property laws against defined policy objectives;
  • Analyse judgments, statutes and secondary materials which relate to copyright and patent law; and
  • Write legal opinions on particular scenarios in which copyright and patent law issues are implicated, including being able to comment on the desirability of the application of the law.
Related Course(s): Juris Doctor

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