LAW5629 - 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.



Not offered in 2017


This unit will examine from an international and comparative perspective the most fundamental question in patent law: what subject matter should patent law protect with a twenty year monopoly? 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 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 business methods and systems, software, higher life forms, methods of medical and surgical treatment and genetic materials. No technical background is required, expected, nor is any previous work in patent law needed.


At the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Apply knowledge and understanding of the law relating to patentable subject matter across the jurisdictions of Australia, Canada, the US and the UK, demonstrating sophisticated awareness of the theoretical and policy concerns underpinning the most fundamental question in patent law: what subject matter should have the protection of a patent?
  2. Investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information concerning the evolving principles and themes embodied in the comparative jurisprudence and literature in the area of patentable subject matter;
  3. Conduct research into issues relating to the comparative policies that are applied in each jurisdiction to determine what is patentable subject matter; and
  4. Use cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate at an abstract level complex ideas and concepts relevant to patentable subject matter, law and policy.


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.

  1. Seminar presentation: 10%
  2. Class paper (1,500 words): 10%
  3. One research assignment (6,000 words): 80%

Workload requirements

Students enrolled in this unit will be required to attend 36 hours of seminars, and will be expected to do reading set for class, and to undertake additional research and reading applicable to a 6 credit point unit.

Chief examiner(s)


LAW5340 Intellectual property

LAW5321 Protecting commercial innovation: Patents and trade secrets