LAWS3046/JURD7446 Intellectual Property 1

Lecturer: Alexandra George 

What is the course about?

Foundations of Intellectual Property Law is an introductory course in intellectual property law. It’s a one-stop-shop that gives students a foundational working knowledge of the core elements of all of intellectual property’s main doctrines in a single course. It covers the fundamental statutory provisions and common law principles of intellectual property so that students learn:

  • how to identify when copyright subsists (i.e. comes into existence), what rights accompany it, what exceptions limit those rights (e.g. fair dealing), and what constitutes infringement/defences;
  • the elements of an action for breach of confidence;
  • a brief overview of how s 18 of the Australian Consumer Law 2010 works;
  • the elements of an action for passing off (i.e. how to identify and protect an unregistered ‘trade mark’, such as celebrity reputation); and
  • how to register trade marks, designs, and patents (including: the procedure, registrability criteria; oppositions to registration); what constitutes infringement; defences.

I teach this course from a practical perspective: the aim is to equip students to deal with intellectual property issues when they enter practice. With this in mind: students learn how to approach intellectual property problems in a practical, systematic manner, and they gain insight into the interrelationships between intellectual property’s various doctrines. There’s plenty of choice of maximisable assessment tasks (i.e. class tests, take home problem question assignments, an essay, and opt-in assessment of CP).

Why does the subject interest you?

Intellectual property is a fabulous, fascinating area of law!! Just about anything that interests you is likely to be affected by intellectual property law. If you want to go into business or advise business people, you’ll want to know about intellectual property law. And if you want to practice in just about any area of law, you’re likely to find that intellectual property issues pop up from time to time. Better still, it’s super interesting. If you like art, music, literature, dance, theatre, sport, computer games, photography, web design, social media, blogging, making films, downloading from the internet, or even collecting data sets, creating catalogues, writing phone directories or talking to ghosts, you’re likely to enjoy copyright law. If you’re interested in fashion, cars, consumer products or other designer items, you’ll probably like designs law. Patent law is all about inventions, and it affects cutting edge topics such as the development of pharmaceuticals, genomic research, green technologies, and which mobile phone company will dominate the market this year. If you’re into brands, celebrities or marketing, trade mark and passing off law will probably be your thing.

If you’re ever lost for conversation at a party, or for something to sound passionate about at a job interview, solve the problem by talking about what you’ve learned in intellectual property classes. It’s such a fun area of law that there really is something here to interest everyone!

Do you have any advice to give students who are interested in taking this course?

Just turn up and open your mind to seeing the world differently. Once you’ve studied this subject, you’re likely to see things around you that you hadn’t noticed before, you’re likely to understand much better how business and marketing work, and there’s a good chance you’ll see the world in a whole new light.

From a practical perspective, students who complete the course should emerge with solid foundations that give them a working understanding of intellectual property and will enable them to deal with day-to-day intellectual property questions in practice.

The course will also give students a good basis on which to build if they would like to specialise in intellectual property law (e.g. if they want to work in the intellectual property section of a commercial firm, undertake postgrad study in intellectual property law, go on to do the Trade Mark and/or Patent Attorney exams, or even just do a further LLB/JD elective in IP or a research thesis on the subject). Many students who’ve taken this course have been so enchanted by the subject that they’ve gone on to work in intellectual property law.

If you’re trying to choose between LAWS3021/JURD7321 Foundations of Intellectual Property Law and LAWS8017/ JURD7717 Intellectual Property Law, I recommend the former. Here’s why: LAWS3021/JURD7321 Foundations of Intellectual Property Law LAWS8017/JURD7717 Intellectual Property Law The courses cover the same material but do so slightly differently. Course designed for LLB/JD students Course designed for LLM students but open to a handful of LLB and JD students 36 hours of class time 24 hours of class time 6 hour/week for first 6 weeks of semester 4 days (2x Fri/Sat) of 6-7hr/day Everything is covered in class and there are more class exercises to embed understanding. We move through the material more quickly and you’ll be expected to do more independent study. Assessment choices include class tests, problem questions, research essay, and opt-in maximisable class participation. There may be fewer assessment choices.

For students who want to follow on with an additional IP subject, both courses count as a pre- or corequisite for LAWS3057/JURD7357 Advanced Intellectual Property Policy and Practice (ie. you may do Advanced IP the same semester as either Foundations or IP Law). Because there’s too much overlap in subject matter, neither course is open to those students who take or have taken LAWS3046 Intellectual Property 1 and/or LAWS3248 Intellectual Property 2 (this alternative stream covers intellectual property law’s various doctrines in 72 hours, split into two 36 hour courses).

Student: Crystal Ji

What is the course about?

The course covers the basics of intellectual property. The areas covered include copyright, trademarks, patents, breach of confidence, passing off, and designs law. There is discussion of real life examples, and current IP issues in the news as they relate to the course content.

Why does the subject interest you?

I wanted to take an intellectual property subject, as it appeared to be a practical, commercial subject which involved more ‘colour’ and creativity than other drier commercial subjects. I didn’t know which IP subject to take – but heard from others that the lecturer for Foundations of IP is superb, and the course gives a good overview of most areas of IP. I didn’t know enough about IP to focus on just copyright or just trademarks, and therefore chose Foundations of IP over IP 1 or IP 2.

Any advice to give students who are interested in taking this course?

The lecturer, Alexandra, is very passionate about IP. She makes the course very engaging – with a wealth of experience practising IP, she provides interesting examples and anecdotes, and uses multimedia content well.

The course is intensive – so every class day is 7-8 hours of class, which can be challenging. However, Alexandra gives enough breaks in the day so that it’s not too overwhelming. There are also a number of assessments to choose from to do, and the flexibility makes it easier to plan your semester.

The course content itself is interesting – just as I imagined, it’s very far from dry. You get to watch videos and listen to songs, so it’s not just slide after slide of content.

How will this course be relevant in the future?

Intellectual property is relevant to everyday life – after doing the course, you’ll understand how coke bottles look particularly distinctive, or why In-n-Out Burger is suing Down-n-Out Burger for trademark infringement.

If you would like to work in commercial law, many commercial law firms have IP practice groups, and the subject will be relevant to your future work. If you would like to work in the community sector, organisations and CLCs such as the Arts Law Centre provide IP advice.