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Patents are the law’s primary mechanism for providing incentive for the generation of inventions, and for regulating the use of inventions by others. Trade secrets are confidential details about commercial products and services, protection for which is available through either an action for breach of contract or an action in equity to restrain a breach of confidence. This subject explores in detail the law, policy and practice of the patent regime, of the trade secrets protection mechanisms, and of the relationship between the two. The principle topics considered include:
- The international framework for protection of patentable inventions and trade secrets;
- The subject matters capable of protection by a patent;
- The requirements for the grant of a valid patent;
- The exclusive rights granted by a patent;
- The exceptions and limitations to the exclusive rights provided by a patent;
- The subject matter of, and requirements for, trade secrets protection;
- The scope of protection provided to trade secrets; and
- The relationship between patent protection and trade secrets protection.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who successfully completes this subject will be able to:
- Demonstrate an advanced and integrated understanding of the nature and policy roles within private law of the legal regimes providing for the grant of patents and for trade secrets protection;
- Manifest detailed and advanced knowledge of the principles that inform the requirements for protection of subject matters within those legal regimes;
- Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the legal principles that determine the scope of rights in those subject matters;
- Apply that understanding to complex problems that require resolution of legal and policy ambiguities and critical analysis and synthesis of information, so as to develop reasoned conclusions as to likely outcomes in judicial proceedings informed by a sophisticated and detailed understanding of the public policy issues that are implicated by the legal regimes; and
- Interpret and transmit that analysis to others.
A student who successfully completes Patents and Trade Secrets will have developed a capacity to:
- Assess the nature and role of the legal regimes providing for the grant of patents and for trade secrets protection within broader economic and moral context;
- Evaluate those regimes against defined policy objectives;
- Analyse judgments, statutes and secondary materials which relate to those regimes; and
- Write legal assessments of particular scenarios in which patent law and trade secrets law issues are implicated, including being able to comment on the desirability of the application of the law.
Last updated: 11 February 2021