Postgraduate Module Descriptor

LAWM101: Patent and Design Law

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 it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover:

(1)    The general history and development of the patent system and the rationales put forward to justify the patent monopoly.   The work of the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the Paris Convention of the Protection of Industrial Property (1883 as amended).

(2)    The structure for obtaining patent protection – a domestic UK patent, a European Patent via the European Patent Office and an EU Unitary Patent and the possible extension of patent protection to countries outside the EU by use of the Patent Co-operation Treaty.

(3)    The necessary requirements for obtaining a valid patent – novelty, inventive step and industrial application, as well as the exclusions and exceptions from patent protection.

(4)    The rights and remedies of the right holder or licensee of the patent.

(5)    The defences available to the alleged infringer.

(6)    The protection of Biotech patents and the EU Directive on the Protection of Biotechnological Inventions.

(7)    The boundaries of the patent system e.g. patenting of computer programs, pharmaceutical patents and patents in relation to plants and seeds.  Whether the UK should adopt the utility patent for patents which are useful but lack the necessary inventive qualities as some other EU countries.

(8)    The protection of novel designs – an examination at EU and UK level for the obtaining registered design protection and the protection of unregistered designs and the role of artistic copyright in this area.

(9)    The role and functions of the Office of Harmonisation of the Internal Market (OHIM) in relation to the protection of designs at EU level. 

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 and Teaching Activities6Two 3 hour lectures which introduce you to the history and context of the topics and will provide the foundation for independent guided study
Scheduled Learning and 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 assessments
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 patent organisations such as: the European Patent Office; World Intellectual Property Organisation; the UK Intellectual Property Office; and the numerous expert blogs on the topic of patent and design law.  In relation to design law also access to the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).


Key Orgnaisations in patent and design field and weblinks:

UK Intellectual Property Office:

European Patent Officde:

European Union Intellectual Property Office:

EU  Intellectual Property Gateway:

World Intellectual Property Organisation:


Other Learning Resources

The Library holds stock of the relevant intellectual property books that cover these topics, as well are relevant journals.   Students will have access to relevant knowledge databases, the Law School subscribes such as Westlaw and LexisNexis as well as web accessible material at the UK Intellectual Property Office, the European Commission, the European Patent Office, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the World Trade Organisation.