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For at least 400 years, patent law has been the primary regulatory mechanism for optimising innovation. With more than two million patent applications filed annually around the world, the patent system is both highly complex and of great economic importance. This subject provides the foundational knowledge necessary for a professional understanding of patent law and the patent system. It does so through a combination of instructional sessions and hands-on workshop sessions. The instructional sessions provide students with an understanding of the fundamental principles of patent law, with a particular focus on the requirements for the grant of a valid patent and infringement of a patent. In the workshop sessions, students apply these principles to actual patent claims, prior art and infringing embodiments. Consideration is also given to the protection of trade secrets through the action in equity to restrain a breach of confidence. While the focus of the teaching will be on Australian law, the differences between this and New Zealand law will be identified and explored throughout the subject. Comparative reference will also be made to the law of the United States and countries that are members of the European Patent Convention. Successful completion of this subject satisfies the knowledge requirements specified by the Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board (TTIPAB) for ‘Topic Group E’.
Principal topics include:
- Rationales for patent law
- Patentable subject matter
- Requirements for patentability – novelty, inventive step and utility
- Specification requirements – clarity, support, disclosure and best method
- Acts constituting infringement of a patent
- Interpreting the scope of the claim for infringement
- Ownership of patent rights
- Assignment and licensing of patent rights
- Trade secrets protection (breach of confidence)
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the principles of patent law, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, relating to the validity, infringement and commercial exploitation of patents, and of the principles for the protection of trade secrets
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal principles
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as the definition of patentable subject, standards of patentability, the scope of exclusive rights, defences to protection, and the interaction between patents and other areas of legal protection, such as the action in equity for breach of confidence
- Have a sound appreciation of the factors and processes driving governmental and parliamentary revision of the legal framework
- Have an advanced understanding of the situations in which issues relating to the protection, whether by patent or otherwise, of technical innovations made by clients may arise
- Have a an awareness of the legal regimes relating to these areas in an international context
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to patent law and the law relating to undisclosed information, and to critically evaluate the existing legal principles and policy rationales involved in these forms of protection
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to the protection of patents for invention, including standards of patentability and issues of construction
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding patent law and the protection of trade secrets to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences, including clients
- Be able to demonstrate autonomy, judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of patent law.
Last updated: 12 November 2022