Postgraduate Module Descriptor

LAWM044: Trademarks

This module descriptor refers to the 2017/8 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year to reflect current developments in the area it is envisaged that it will cover the following topics:

(1)    The general history and development of the trade mark system and the rationales put forward to justify the granting of legal protection.   The development of international protection through the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the World Trade Organisation and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) (as amended).

(2)    The structure and conditions for obtaining trade mark protection at UK, European Union and international level via the UK Intellectual Property Office, the European Union Trade Mark Office and the WIPO international search bureau in Geneva for international marks.

(3)    The core requirements for trade mark protection – and absolute or public interest grounds of objection (e.g. that the mark is not distinctive, is generic or deceptive etc) and relative grounds of objection (e.g. prior third party rights).

(4)    Legal rights and remedies granted to a trade mark owner to enforce trade mark rights against third parties including criminal law offences for misuse of trade marks.

(5)    Licensing of trade marks to third parties or use of trade marks as security interest.

(6)    Protection of well-known marks under Article 6bis Paris Convention of Industrial Property (1883)

(7)    Use of protected trade marks by competitors in comparative advertising – EU Comparative Advertising Directive.

(8)    Protection of geographical appellation such as Champagne, Parma Ham or Parmesan cheese etc.

(9)    Use of trade marks in artistic works – trade marks and freedom of expression and use of trade marks in parodies.

(10) Prohibitions on use of trade marks in certain contexts e.g. cigarette plain packaging controversy.

(11) Common law protection of unregistered marks via the common law tort of passing off and unfair competition law.

(12) Inter-relationship of trade mark law and design law – limits on registering product designs as trade marks.

(13)Defences to trade mark infringement actions e.g. use of own name and concept of use according to honest commercial or industrial practices. 

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities6Two 3 hour lectures which introduce students to the history and context of the topics and will provide the foundation for independent guided study
Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities27Nine 3 hour lecturer led seminars – which will involve at least one student/team lead presentation in each seminar relating to the topic under discussion.
Guided independent study157Preparation for seminars – which will involve reading the recommended text and a cross-section of case law and critical academic article literature on the relevant topic. You would be expected to make appropriate notes on these materials to assist the making of seminar presentations and discussions of questions and issues in seminars.
Guided independent study60Preparation for formative and summative assessment
Guided independent study50Further independent research and reading and wider contextual study

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).

Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Lawtel, as well as knowledge-based materials at relevant organisations such as: the World Intellectual Property Organisation; the European Union Intellectual Property Office; the UK Intellectual Property Office; and the numerous expert blogs on the topic of trade mark law.


Key Organisations and weblinks:

UK Intellectual Property Office:

UK Government Website: EU Intellectual Property Office:

EU  Intellectual Property Gateway:


Other Learning Resources

Library holds stock of relevant intellectual property books that cover these topics, as well as relevant journals.  Students will have access to relevant knowledge databases, the Law School subscribes to databases such as Westlaw, LexisNexis, Lawtel etc and students will be able to access the wealth of material via the internet at the UK Intellectual Property Office, the EU Trade Mark Office and the WIPO and WTO data collections. Also blogs such as the IPKAT Blog and the Marques Blog will also be of use and easily accessible.