Postgraduate Module Descriptor

LAWM101: Patent and Design Law

This module descriptor refers to the 2020/1 academic year.


NQF Level7
Credits30 ECTS Value15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Karen Walshe (Convenor)

Dr Naomi Hawkins (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


In most modern economies emphasis is placed on the development of innovation and design to promote economic growth. This module intends to introduce you to the legal framework in which such innovation and novel design can be protected and rewards given to inventors and creators of novel designs. Why do we grant patent and design protection – what are the economic rationales for the system – are there alternatives? Do we give too little or too many rights to inventors and designers? Is the system open to abuse? We will discuss the operation of the system in relation to the granting of pharmaceutical patents and the costs these impose on lesser developing countries particularly where they face public health epidemics such as HIV/AIDS. There will be an examination of the requirements for obtaining patent and design protection in the UK, the European Union and on a wider international level. We will discuss and comment on the concept of a novel invention, who will be regarded as an inventor and what are the boundaries of patent and design protection.  Particular areas will be focused on – computer-related inventions and biotechnological inventions (e.g. patenting of novel stem cell discoveries) and legal issues that arise with these areas. The patent and design registration systems will be looked at and how conflicts are resolved between competing applications for patents and designs. As well as examining the obtaining of patent and protected design we will also look at the rights these give against third parties who copy the invention or design without consent and what legal remedies are available to the right holders. Is the current system fit for purpose particularly in regard to small and medium sized enterprises or is it simply a mechanism that is suitable for use by large multi-national corporations? Where ever possible current issues and developments in the fields of patent and design law will be looked at to give the course a strong practical field. It should be stated that you need not necessarily have a scientific or engineering background to succeed on the module.

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