Postgraduate Module Descriptor

LAWM044: Trademarks

This module descriptor refers to the 2018/9 academic year.


NQF Level7
Credits30 ECTS Value15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Karen Walsh (Lecturer)





Available via distance learning


In most modern economies the ‘brand’ has assumed major economic and social importance and pervades all aspects of our lives. This is a matter of major economic significance in modern economies because well-known marks such as Coca-Cola, as well as encouraging brand loyalty by consumers, are a valuable intangible asset to the companies often exceeding the value of their fixed assets such as factories and plant and machinery. You will examine the historical development of the key component of the brand image, the trade mark, and the legal and economic rationales advanced for trade mark protection. You will look at the key trade mark systems operating in the European Union - protection of domestic UK marks, Community Trade Marks and the international trade mark system under the Madrid Agreement and their inter-relationship.  Registration of marks, infringement of marks, defences and remedies will be examined.  You will consider arguments that the current trade mark system is now too strong and whether large corporations are able to use the system to impose barriers to effective competition. As well as an examination of the trade mark registration system, the common law protection of unregistered marks via the common law tort of passing off will also be considered.  In addition you will look at the protection of geographical indications such as Champagne & Parmesan cheese etc and the use of trade marks by competitors in comparative advertisements regulated by the EU Comparative Advertising Directive.  Comparisons will be made with other systems such as the US where relevant.

No prior knowledge of trade mark law or intellectual property law generally is required to participate in this module.

The module will be of particular interest to those interested in a career in intellectual property, advertising or brand management.  As well as theoretical issues wherever possible the practical issues in working within the trade mark registration system will be explored e.g. use and construction of market surveys to demonstrate infringement which will be accepted by the courts).

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