Copyright, Patent and Allied Rights Law Notes

These notes describe and analyse the copyright, patent and design regimes with reference to Australia and the United Kingdom. In addition, they consider the equitable doctrine of breach of confidence and several related rights (collectively, ‘intellectual property’).

They were developed in conjunction with my study of the subject 730-441 Copyright, Patent and Allied Rights at The University of Melbourne during Semester 2, 2006. They have been written from scratch on the basis of primary materials — cases, legislation — and supplemented by relevant secondary sources — primarily textbooks, journal articles and lectures. At the time of writing, the author was a penultimate year law student.

The notes are structured into several topics. Part I introduces the notion of copyright and develops its history, themes and values. Part II considers the requirements that must be satisfied for copyright to subsist in a work or other subject matter by reference to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (‘Copyright Act’). Part III describes the ways in which copyrights may be exploited by their owners, including issues of assignments, and voluntary and involuntary licensing. Part IV explains the requirements for an action under s 115 of the Copyright Act, and briefly outlines some related causes of action and remedial issues. Finally, Part V summarises the available exceptions and defences to copyright infringement, with particular reference to recent legislative reforms.

Part VI then turns to consider the designs regime existing by virtue of the Designs Act 2003 (Cth). Part VII analyses the equitable doctrine of confidence, and the action for breach of confidence. Part VIII introduces the patent system, explaining its history, basic concepts and common procedures. Part IX develops the requirements for registration and validity of a patent. Part X considers the issues associated with a claim of patent infringement. Finally, Appendix I sets out in summary information some sample responses to hypothetical problems and possible revision strategies.

How You May Make Use of These Notes

Topic summaries are intended to provide an overview of certain areas of intellectual property law. They are fairly detailed in some respects but may be lacking in others. (If you have materials capable of supplementing these weaknesses, please contact me with details; appropriate attribution will be given.) However, in their current state they should not be relied upon for examination purposes, and certainly not for any serious purpose, such as legal advice.

I also ask that you do not redistribute, print or make copies of these notes in any form. If you want to tell a friend about them, that’s fine, but direct them to this page so they can download them directly. The notes have been locked to prevent printing and copying of text. I do so to ensure proper standards of academic and professional conduct are maintained. Please do not contact me regarding or attempt to reverse engineer the printing and copying restrictions: I will not disable them in any circumstances.

Important Note

The jurisdiction to which these writings are most applicable is the Commonwealth of Australia. United Kingdom and United States case law and legislation is also considered where it forms a relevant point of contrast, is of historical interest or explains the current or likely approach to be adopted by an Australian court. Many parallels exist between the principles of copyright in Australia and the United Kingdom, in particular, but there are some strong points of divergence. The notes may serve as a summary for comparative purposes in that regard.

Of all students, who may make use of these materials in their preparation for examinations or moots, I ask only one thing: please report any errors — suspected or blatant, legal or typographical — to the author by one of the following means: the comments section at the bottom of the page, e-mail, or MSN Messenger using the aforementioned address. It is only by an iterative process of improvement and feedback that these notes can improve and maintain their status as a useful resource.


These notes are not legal advice. By making these notes available to you, I do not intend to create a lawyer-client relationship. You should not rely upon these notes, or direct others to so rely, for any serious purpose. Any such reliance would be plainly unreasonable. I am not a qualified lawyer, and the notes should not be treated as though they were written by one.

Last Update

The notes are current as of November 2006. That is to say that they describe the law as I understand it at the present moment in the aforementioned jurisdiction. Uncertainties are noted where applicable; however, it should be noted that many of the recently-announced legislative changes to fair dealing, technological protection measures and private copying under the Copyright Act have yet to be considered by a court, so the law is undoubtedly going to change in various respects. As such, they are not to be relied upon as a sole source of information about these principles, whether for assessment, private study, legal advice, or any other purpose whatsoever.

Topic Summaries

Part I - Introduction to Copyright
Part II - Subsistence of Copyright
Part III - Exploitation of Copyright
Part IV - Infringement of Copyright
Part V - Exceptions to Copyright Infringement
Part VI - Designs (coming soon)
Part VII - Confidential Information (coming soon)
Part VIII - Introduction to Patents
Part IX - Patent Validity (coming soon)
Part X - Patent Infringement
Appendix I - Revision Materials (coming soon)

A Note about Sources

To the extent that the notes derive from lectures and course materials, acknowledgent is here offered for the contributions of lecturers — in particular, Associate Professor David Brennan — and other students. All other sources are acknowledged where applicable; however citations for authorities are ommitted for brevity.

Posted by Jaani at November 8, 2006 10:34 AM


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