LAWS3057/JURD7357 Advanced Intellectual Property Policy and Practice

Foundations is running Weeks 1-6 in Semester 1, 2017, and Advanced IP is running Weeks 1-6 in Semester 2, 2017.

Lecturer: Alexandra George

What is the course about?
Advanced Intellectual Property Policy and Practice is the second course in intellectual property law for those who’ve already done (or are doing in the same semester). Advanced IP is aimed at students who want (or might want) to work in intellectual property or who just want to know more about interesting intellectual property policy issues. It mixes both practical knowledge and skills for working with intellectual property law with more thoughtful discussions about some of the hot and contentious topics in IP. It’s also a good foundation for students who may want to do IP at the post-grad level, either by coursework or thesis, who want to go on to do the professional exams for Patent/TM Attorneys, or who want to pick up useful background knowledge and transferrable skills for general commercial practice and/or business.

The first half of Advanced IP covers interesting policy questions, such as the global politics of intellectual property; the law and justice of biopiracy/bioprospecting; what to do about the lack of legal recognition for indigenous “IP” in Australia and worldwide; how patents affect access to essential medicines; should companies be able to own the genes of plants, animals and humans?

The second half covers practical issues such as how to advise on a copyright license agreement (e.g. a book contract or Facebook Terms & Conditions), the relationship between trademarks and branding (e.g. celebrity endorsements of trademarked brands) and how to advise brand owners;what are copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting, and what can IP holders do about them; and parallel imported goods (the infamous ‘Tim Tam/Oreos’ class…). The goal is not just to learn about IP, but to also undertake practical exercises so you can more easily bridge the gap between uni and practice if you go to work in intellectual property. I want to prevent my students feeling as out-of-their-depth as some graduates do when they start working as lawyers.

Do you have any advice to give students who are interested in taking this course?
Advanced IP is the course I wish I’d done before I became an intellectual property practitioner in one of the big commercial firms. I designed the course hoping that students who’ve taken it will go out into the working world having a solid practical working knowledge of the subject – so they won’t feel so lost when they start practice! They will also have a good understanding of the social issues that affect and are affected by the operation of intellectual property law, thus deepening their knowledge and providing more insight into how intellectual property policy and law-making work in practice (and hopefully making them more effective practitioners).

Many of the course topics are fascinating, and students are given the freedom to choose a topic that interests them on which to write a synopsis and mini thesis. There may also be the opportunity to complete more practical ‘practice brief’ assessment tasks (ie. answer problem questions with a practical orientation). The course includes a class on research, writing practice briefs, and essay writing skills, and some former students have gone on to win essay competitions an/or publish the papers they wrote for the course!

Two practical considerations:
If you’re not sure whether you will like IP and don’t want to commit up front, it’s fine to enrol in Advanced IP but then ‘try-before-you-buy’ (ie. enrol in Foundations or IP Law first and decide whether you like IP before committing to a 2nd course in the area. As Advanced IP is a T1b course, you’ll have time to evaluate Advanced IP and decide whether it’s for you before its census date). Students who think they might like to do this should leave sufficient UOC available in Semester 1, or make sure they put in a timely overload application if necessary.

Please note that, due to subject matter overlap, this course isn’t open to those students who take (or who’ve taken), LAWS3046 Intellectual Property 1 and/or LAWS3248 Intellectual Property 2.

Student: Michael Tran

What did you enjoy most about the elective?
It is really hard to say what I enjoyed most about this course because there were so many things that I enjoyed. What stood out for me was that this course gave me great insight into how intellectual property lawyers think. Putting aside the law temporarily, I learnt how to strategise and achieve the best possible outcome for clients. After listening to guest speakers including Kevin Lindgren (retired judge of the Federal Court of Australia), Michael Williams (Gilbert + Tobin Partner) and Andrew Fox (Barrister, acted in Samsung v Apple), I realised there are many techniques lawyers can use to meet clients’ needs. The challenge is to find the most appropriate technique and achieve the best outcome for clients. The course made me feel as though I was learning from a lawyer’s perspective as opposed to a law student’s perspective.

What did you find most challenging?
I found writing a 5,000 word essay for the first time was really challenging. To make it more difficult, I had to design my own question. All of the topics we covered in class were interesting and this meant making a decision became even more difficult. However, this difficulty was eased by the time Alexandra spent with each student discussing essay topics. There is also a research essay workshop to help students who had never written a 5,000 word research essay before. The essay outline that we were required to complete was also very helpful.

How will this course be relevant in the future?
After completing this course, I feel that I have the basic skills to begin a career in intellectual property law. I also gained insight into current trending topics and possible future topics. Alexandra George does her best to ensure the topics covered reflect current trending topics. Even if I don’t end up practicing in intellectual property law, the skills I learnt will be applicable to all areas of legal practice.