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The University of Southampton

LAWS3064 Intellectual Property Law

Module Overview

This full-year module explores the content of the main intellectual property (IP) rights, as well as the most topical issues facing IP law. It allows and encourages participants to undertake a critical analysis of the state of IP, as well as international influences and the impact of harmonisation at the European Union (EU) level. Whilst lecture and tutorial materials are provided, significant emphasis is placed on self-learning, enabling lectures and tutorials to concentrate on specific topics and issues. The course will discuss the following: - Copyright as the law that protects original works of authorship. Some of the questions addressed in this part include: Who can be considered an author? What does 'originality' mean in a copyright context? Do you need permission from the copyright holder to provide links to his/her content over the internet? Can you resell your videogames, ebooks and iTunes music tracks? Do you need permission from the copyright holder to make a parody of his/her work? - The regime applicable to the use in trade of certain signs or symbols in connection with particular goods or services, i.e. the common law action of passing off and trade mark law. Some of the questions addressed in this part include: What form of IP protection is available to those businesses that use signs and symbols? What is a trade mark, and what are its functions? What is character and personality merchandising, and how can you have a superstar endorse your products? - The law of confidentiality and privacy. It shall answer questions such as: Why does not the UK have a tort of privacy, and what kind of protection is available to personal information? - Protection available to inventions. Among other things, it addresses both the requirements to patentability and what subject-matter is excluded from the scope of patent protection, as well as recent reforms in this area of the law such as the EU unitary patent system.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the main principles of UK and EU law in relation to the subsistence/registration and infringement of copyright, trade marks, and patents;
  • the main principles of UK law in relation to breach of confidence and passing off;
  • the key policy issues relating to 1. and 2. above, and;
  • current recommendations for reform.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • apply and critically analyse the law in relation to the subsistence/registration and infringement of copyright, trade marks, and patents, as well as breach of confidence and passing off.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake critical analysis of legal material, and;
  • have developed your ability to clearly communicate and discuss complex ideas and arguments in writing.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • develop research skills and knowledge of IP resources in preparation for classes;
  • develop the ability to solve problems and undertake critical analysis of IP issues, and;
  • develop competence in the use of key online and offline IP legal resources.


The LLB Intellectual Property law syllabus is composed thematically: 1. Introduction to IP law 2. Copyright - Basics of copyright protection: notions of 'work', 'author', 'originality' - Sources and harmonisation of copyright - The main rights granted by copyright: moral and economic rights - Copyright infringement - Exceptions and limitations to copyright - Online copyright enforcement 3. Passing off and trade mark law - Elements of an action for passing off - Trade secrets - Character and personality merchandising - Requirements to registrability of a sign as a trade mark - Trade mark infringement and defences - Online trade mark enforcement 4. Breach of confidence - Elements of an action for breach of confidence - Protection of private information 5. Patent law - Basics of patent protection: notions of 'novelty', 'industrial application', 'non-obviousness' - Exclusions to patentability - The unitary patent system

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching follows a weekly two-hour lecture format and two-hour tutorial held every fortnight. In lectures, an overview of each topic is first provided, then the key principles, rules, and cases relating to subsistence/registrability and infringement are critically discussed. Fundamental and strategic areas, as well as areas of controversy, are highlighted. Finally, proposals for reform are critically considered together with inter-relationships between different IPRs. Learning activities are partially directed by selective suggestions as to further reading but - as is felt appropriate for a third year commercial law subject - you are also encouraged to engage in self-directed learning. Preparation for and participation in lectures will develop your: - Understanding of and ability to apply and critically analyse substantive IP law; - Skills in managing and researching diverse legal sources, and; - Time management skills. Tutorials will require students to prepare their answers to the questions assigned ahead of the relevant sessions. Tutorials will provide a forum to discuss the questions assigned, as well as tackling any issues students might be facing in their understanding and study of the relevant issues.

Follow-up work40
Wider reading or practice29
Completion of assessment task25
Preparation for scheduled sessions66
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Bently - Sherman (2018). Intellectual Property Law. 

Additional Resource Information. However to ensure that the most up-to-date and appropriate unit textbook is selected, students are not to purchase an IP Law text before the introductory lecture. It is also essential to have a statute book, and the course text and statute book is announced at the beginning of the academic year, so students are advised not to purchase a statute book before the introductory lecture. The majority of the recommended reading is drawn from specialist intellectual property law journals, most of which are available via WESTLAW and this unit makes significant use of online materials.





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 25%
Examination  (140 minutes) 75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (140 minutes) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (140 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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