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The capacity to create and innovate is both a fundamental characteristic of human beings and the source of humankind's cultural and economic advancement. Being products of the human intellect (i.e. “intellectual property”), creations and innovations, and signifiers of reputation, are intangibles – which makes the transmission of them easy, and the prevention of their use by others hard. This subject is concerned with the law's response to the issues of whether, when, how and by whom creations, innovations and signifiers of reputation can be protected against unauthorised use. In particular, it explores the rationales for, and the operation of, the main intellectual property protection regimes – copyright, patent and trade mark laws – as they apply to the creative arts, the sciences and the business world.
The principal topics covered are:
- Why protect creation, innovation and signifiers of reputation?
- What rights are provided to the creators of literature, art, music and film?
- How may innovators protect their inventions?
- When can a brand owner prevent a competitor from making a similar-named or similar- looking product?
- In what situations can a third party make use of another’s intellectual property?
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students should:
- appreciate the cultural and economic objectives and challenges in protecting the products of human creativity and innovation;
- recognise the types of creations, innovations and signifiers of reputation protected by the law; and
- understand the basic features of the protection provided by the law to that intellectual property.
On completion of the subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:
- The capacity for close reading and analysis of a range of textual materials;
- The capacity to engage in critical thinking and to bring to bear a range of conceptual analyses upon a given subject matter;
- The capacity for independent thought and reflection;
- The capacity to articulate knowledge and understanding of complex ideas in oral and written form; and
- The ability to confront unfamiliar and challenging issues and to consider appropriate legal and policy responses to them.
Last updated: 6 December 2023