LAW5611 - Comparative issues in patent law - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

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



Quota applies

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

Not offered in 2017


This unit will examine from an international and comparative perspective the most fundamental questions in patent law: why do we provide a twenty year monopoly protection for inventions in the form of a patent what subject matter should patent law protect? It will consider the obligations that relevant international treaties and conventions impose on member states in the design of their patent laws. Within the context of this international structure, it will immerse students in understanding and critically analyzing the rationales for patent protection; the relationship between patents and protection of trade secrets; the approaches taken to patentable subject matter by Canada, the US, the UK and Australia. In particular, it will focus on the challenges posed to patent law by new and emerging technologies in such areas as higher life forms, methods of medical and surgical treatment and genetic materials. The unit may also consider other topical issues such as employee inventions and standards of novelty and inventiveness. No technical background is 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.


Attendance requirement: Students who fail to attend at least 80% of the classes in this unit (ie who miss 3 or more classes) will receive a result of 0 N for the unit. Students who are unable to meet this requirement due to severe illness or other exceptional circumstances must make an application for in-semester special consideration with supporting documentation.

Class participation: 10%

One assignment (750 words): 10%

Research assignment (6,000 words) 80%

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

Intellectual property law

International and comparative law