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Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Environment


Course Description

This course provides an intensive examination of the conflict between intellectual property rights (IPR)and digital technologies.IPRs were established long before the invention of the Internet; however, as many new technologies are often disruptive and devastating to old business models, all IP rights (copyright, trademarks, design, and patents), at one point or another, clash with the digital environment.

The digitization and the ease of online distribution of music, film, tv, pictures, text, and 3D design have created fundamental questions about IP rights. For example, should copyright be fundamentally changed, severely curtailed, or even abolished? Does the restriction of access to file-sharing websites (i.e. The Pirate Bay) and the closure of platforms (i.e. Napster, Limewire, and Kazaa) mean that the fight against illegal copying has been won? Should platforms do more to prevent the uploading of infringing material? Despite the invention of the phonograph, the personal camera, the movie-camera, the tape recorder, and the photocopying machine, copyright has always evolved in response to technological innovation. The latest and possibly most daunting challenge to date for copyright owners are digital technologies, which enable the mass reproduction and distribution of digitized information.

Trademarks are routinely abused online – from domain name hijacking and cybersquatting to keyword marketing on eBay and Google. Each facilitate piggybacking on consumer confusion about the authenticity of products and services offered in a variety of digital environments.

Software and process patents are the subject of lawsuits worth billions of dollars between big tech. With companies like Amazon patenting concepts like “one-click purchasing” and Apple seeking to protect its “slide-to-unlock” technology, this is an exciting, yet underappreciated area of intellectual property law.

Integrated into the learning materials for the course is an overview of the remedies and procedures that have developed to resolve conflicts. As many consider these to be true examples of pure cyber law, there is also a practical element of this course.

Students are expected to have a basic working understanding of copyright, trademarks and patents. For those who do not and for those who wish to revisit and refresh their knowledge before undertaking the module, there will be refresher materials on IPR in the EU made available to you.

The course will concentrate on the key challenges to intellectual property rights by digital technologies, the legal responses to those challenges, and foreseeable developments. After an overview of the issues, the lectures will concentrate on specific topics and the resolution methods relevant to each type of IPR.

There will be five weeks of lectures and/or workshops focused on legal issues/aspects of IPR affected by digital technologies. Throughout those five weeks we will hear from a variety of lecturers and/or industry leaders, each with their own expertise and experiences.

Course Requirement

Master Degree


The timetable of this course will be available for students in Brightspace


More information on this course is offered in Brightspace


Attendance of 80% of the scheduled course lectures is mandatory

Assessment Method

  • Legal Analysis Paper (A question set by the course coordinator worth 50% of your overall mark)

  • Problem-Solving Paper (Problem-based Assessment worth 50%of your overall mark)

Contact information

Programme Coordinator
Ms Patricia Garcia Fernandez
Telephone number: 0031- 71 527 4228

Disclaimer: This course has been updated to the best of our knowledge at the current time of publishing. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the fluctuating changes in lock down regulations all information contained within this course description are subject to change up to 1 September 2020.
Due to the uncertainty of the Covid 19 virus after 1 September 2020, changes to the course description can only be made in the event of strict necessity and only in the circumstances where the interests of the students are not impinged. Should there be a need for any change during the duration of the course, this will be informed to all students on a timely basis and will not be to the prejudice of students. Modifications after 1 September 2020 may only be done with the approval and consent of the Faculty Board