University of Technology Sydney

78238 History and Theory of Intellectual Property

Requisite(s): ((22 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C07122 Graduate Diploma Legal Studies OR 22 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04264 Master of Legal Studies)) OR 77905c Preparing for Intellectual Property Practice OR ((94 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04236 Juris Doctor OR 142 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04250 Juris Doctor Master of Business Administration OR 94 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04363 Juris Doctor Master of Intellectual Property OR 94 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04364 Juris Doctor Graduate Certificate Trade Mark Law and Practice) AND 70106c Principles of Public International Law AND 70107c Principles of Company Law) OR (70106 Principles of Public International Law AND 94 credit points of completed study in spk(s): C04320 Juris Doctor Graduate Certificate Professional Legal Practice)
The lower case 'c' after the subject code indicates that the subject is a corequisite. See definitions for details.
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses.
There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject covers selected topics in the history and theory of intellectual property. It gives students a background in the historical development of the areas of copyright, patents, and trade marks law, as well as approaching important questions from jurisprudence, philosophy and other theoretical perspectives in light of their application to intellectual property law.

The historical aspect of the subject informs the theoretical approach by providing students with a deeper appreciation of how these areas of law came to take their current forms, as well as highlighting how legal theory has been invoked in past controversies and contemporary ones.

Students engage in reading and discussion of key texts in the fields of property theory, law and economics, and natural rights theory. Through selected case studies, students consider how the law has developed and the effects of social, cultural and political factors, as well as the application of legal theory to aspects of legal doctrine. Students develop important skills in critical thinking and writing as part of these investigations, and in formulating their own responses to questions such as: Is intellectual property really ‘property’? How long should intellectual property rights last? What is the relationship between intellectual property law and creativity or innovation? Is intellectual property infringement the same as 'theft' or 'piracy'?

Students completing this subject develop their theoretical and historical understanding of the dynamic and contested field of intellectual property.

Detailed subject description.

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Note: The requisite information presented in this subject description covers only academic requisites. Full details of all enforced rules, covering both academic and admission requisites, are available at access conditions and My Student Admin.