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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.
Intended 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.
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.
Last updated: 24 January 2023