Faculty of Law

Monash University

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2015 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.

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedNot offered in 2015

Quota applies

The unit can be taken by a maximum of 45 students (due to limited facilities and method of teaching).


This course examines patentable subject matter across Canada, the US, the UK and Australia. It examines the most fundamental question in patent law: namely, what is an 'invention'? In other words, is this the type of "stuff" that patent law should protect with a twenty (20) year monopoly?
Indeed, the meaning of "invention" is far from a doctrinal topic "bedevilled by verbal formulae" and "sterile argument about the meaning of words". For, "whoever controls the meaning of 'invention' controls what can be patented and hence an important aspect of industrial policy." This course will therefore cover novel aspects of patentability: from software and business methods to higher life forms (including even half-monkey half-human chimeras).
No technical background required or expected, nor is any previous work in patent law needed.


On completion of this subject, students will be able to:

  1. apply knowledge and understanding to the existing body of jurisprudence and major academic writings in the area of patentable subject matter with creativity and initiative to new situations for further learning;
  2. investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to the evolving principles and themes embodied in that jurisprudence and literature;
  3. conduct research into the application and meaning of issues in patent law, based on knowledge of appropriate research principles and methods;
  4. use cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate at an abstract level complex ideas and concepts to novel aspects of patentability.


Research assignment (6,000 words) 80%
Critical case comment (1,500 words) 20%

Workload requirements

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

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study