SCIENT 704 : Law and Intellectual Property


2023 Semester One (1233) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An explanation of the legal system including basic concepts of contract and corporate law in a biotechnology context. Emphasis will be upon intellectual property laws in particular patent law and practice and other means of protecting new ideas, discoveries and inventions. Also covered will be technology licensing and basic competition and marketing law.

Course Overview

Students who complete the course will gain a valuable insight into how the law operates in the biotechnology context and in more general commercial contexts. For example: What are the considerations when choosing the most suitable business structure? How does contract law operate and how to read a contract? Can information be protected and if so how and when? How to commercialise intellectual property, both as a person/organisation who has created/invented something, as well as a person/organisation who is acquiring intellectual property from another person or entity?
Not only of relevance to a career in the biotech industry the course can also be useful for other vocations and add to your life skills.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the NZ legal system. (Capability 1)
  2. Identify, evaluate and apply important legal principles and concepts that relate to the creation, exploitation and enforcement of key intellectual property law rights (IP) to factual scenarios in the biotechnology/science industry. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Identify and evaluate related IP issues and strategies that impact upon the commercialisation of biotechnolgy. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills. (Capability 2, 3 and 4)
  5. Analyse and apply the rules of contractual interpretation (Capability 1 and 2)
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of factors beyond the law that constrain the actions of organisations in biotechnology. (Capability 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Quizzes 10% Individual Coursework
Assignment 25% Individual Coursework
Presentation 25% Group & Individual Coursework
Report 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6


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Key Topics

Week 1 – Introduction to the legal system
Week 2 – Business organisations and fiduciary duties
Week 3 – Statutory interpretation and contractual issues
Week 4 – Introduction to intellectual property (IP) and IP ownership
Week 5 – Copyright and designs
Week 6 – Confidential information
Week 7 – Patents (general theory)
Week 8 – Patents (specific theory and practice)
Week 9 – Patents (specific theory and practice)
Week 10 – Regulatory issues
Week 11 – Strategy/commercialisation
Week 12 – Revision

Special Requirements


Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in. Consequently, the students in this course are expected to spend 10 hours per week on readings, attendance at lectures, project work or assignment preparations. 

Each lecture is 3 hours. 

Delivery Mode

Lectures will be taught on campus and be available as recordings.

A detailed description of the course by way of lecture schedule, including advance reading will be put on Canvas.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

For non-IP portions of the course the following book is recommended: J. Hubbard, C. Thomas and S. Varnham, "Principles of Law for New Zealand Business Students" (Pearson, 5th ed, 2013). Available in the General Library and the Davis Law Library.

For the IP portions of the course the following books are recommended: P. Sumpter "Intellectual Property - Principles in Practice" (CCH NZ, 3rd ed, 2017) and S. Frankel and J.C. Lai "Patent Law and Policy" (LexisNexis, 2016). Available in the General Library and the Davis Law Library.

The Davis Law Library has more in-depth books - the librarians will be very willing to assist.

Health & Safety


Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

For 2023, this course has been redesigned with additional emphasis on practical application.

Other Information

Course director: Assoc. Prof. Alex Sims -
Course coordinator: Dr. Bram Van Wiele -
Other teaching staff: Mr. Nae Win Aung -

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.


Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 15/02/2023 08:04 a.m.