Faculty of Law

Monash University

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedCity (Melbourne) Trimester 2 2014 (On-campus block of classes)


Quota applies

Postgraduate programs are based on a model of small group teaching and therefore class sizes need to be restricted.


This is an important unit for any student who practises or seeks to practise in the area of intellectual property law or who works in an innovative commercial environment where research results in new products and processes. A patent provides the patentee with a critical and powerful tool for commercial exploitation of new inventions in all fields of technology. Invention is necessarily exciting and dynamic and leads to cutting edge innovation in such areas as biotechnology, nanotechnology, genetic materials, medical and therapeutic devices and treatments, business methods and systems and internet related inventions. The grant of a patent monopoly has a direct impact on competition and can have significant implications for users and the public in general who seek access to new technology on reasonable terms. An essential feature of the patent system is the public disclosure of the invention in return for the patent monopoly but the use of that information is restrained by the scope of the patentee's exclusive rights. The equitable doctrine of breach of confidence provides an alternative form of protection for inventions where secrecy is maintained.

It teaches the fundamental principles of patent law and the laws that protect trade secrets in an interactive manner and with recourse to both legal and practical materials that aid understanding of the concepts. The unit focuses on the concept of invention, the requirements for validity, enforcement of patent monopoly rights against infringers and the relationship between patents and trade secrecy. The

opportunity to write a research paper enables students to explore contentious issues in which they have a particular interest.

Main topics:

  • History and rationales for patent protection
  • Protection of trade secrets (breach of confidence)
  • Subject matter of a patent and exclusions from patentability
  • Requirements of novelty, inventive step, innovative step, utility and secret use
  • Section 40 requirements for a specification: description, claims, and support (fair basis)
  • Exclusive rights, infringement and exemptions from infringement
  • lnventorship and ownership
  • Dealings with patent rights
  • Relationship with competition law.


Students who successfully complete this unit should:

  1. have an enhanced appreciation of the policies and objectives underlying the laws of patents and confidential information
  2. be in a position to comment critically on those policies and objectives and to relate them to current proposals for law reform
  3. have developed a detailed knowledge of the subject matter that is eligible for protection under these laws, the requirements for obtaining such protection and its scope, once obtained
  4. be in a position to provide detailed and comprehensive advice to inventors, enterprises and other persons engaged in the process of innovation on their rights and liabilities under these laws
  5. have a sound understanding of the operation and application of the rules governing the international protection of patents for inventions and allied rights
  6. meet the requirements of the Professional Standards Board for Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys in relation to Patent Law (topic group E).


Research assignment (3,750 words): 50%
Take-home exam (3,750 words): 50%
Take-home exam (7,500 words): 100%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)