Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 3 (Dissertation)

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment One assignment of 5,000 words  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Explain the nature of the legal challenges posed by the application of existing legal regimes for the protection of intellectual property right to computer software and related products.

Explain the development of legal regims protecting intellectual property rights in software and related products such as databases.

Demonstrate an understanding of the differences between literal and non-literal copying and the way in which these concepts have affected the interpretation and application of the law in the UK and US.

Assess the differences between literal works and computer software and their impact on the application of the relevant rules in different jurisdictions.

Explain in which situations patent protection for computer software might be granted.

Explain the nature of the intellectual property rights in databases.

Critically evaluate and compare the use of copyright, patents and sui generis schemes for the protection of intellectual property rights in computer software and related products.


1. Introduction to the necessary legal and technical concepts including a consideration of the nature of computer software and computer programming. A comparison of computer software, literary works and utilitarian products. The advantages and disadvantages of the use of copyright and patent law for the protection of intellectual property rights in computer software and a comparison with the sui generis schemes.

2. Approaches to literal and non-literal copying as demonstrated by comparing the copyrgith protection for computer software in the US and the UK.

3. Issues of decompilation and interoperability and how they haev been approached in the Software Directive, the courts and the US Digitial Millennium Copyright Act.

4. Patent protection for computer software under the European Patent Convention and the law of the UK and US.

5. A consideration of a sui generis method of protection of intellectual property rights - the Database directice and its implementation in a number of EU states and a comparison with the database protection in the US.

Brief description

This modules will consider the way in whcih traitional legal regimes for the protection of intellectual property rights, ntoably copyright and patents, have been applied to computer software and related products such as computer databases. It will assess the novelproblems which advances in this technology have posed for the courts and legislatures in a number of jurisdictiosn but with a particular focus on the UK, EU and US. The efficacy of these existing methods will be evaluated and compared with the perceived benefits of sui generis protection.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication is developed by the presentation of information and argument in written answers and in a more informal way by the use of Blackboard to encourage communication among students and between students and staff. Oral communication skills are developed at the residential study schools.
Improving own Learning and Performance
Information Technology The module is delivered almost entirely by distance learning which relies heavily on the use of electronic information resources and on-line learning and teaching.
Personal Development and Career planning Independent learning enhances time management skills. Studying the module will also develop an enhanced capacity for critical thought and the ability to work independently.
Problem solving By the examination and discussion of actual and hypothetical case studies.
Research skills Students will be encouraged to read and study beyond the set module texts and to locate further materials and research findings on the subject.
Subject Specific Skills This module provides students with the opportunity to identify, analyse, evaluate and practice a series of skills with respect to Intellectual Property Rights.
Team work Team working skills will be encouraged and developed in group activities and discussions at the residential study schools.


This module is at CQFW Level 7