Not available in 2013/14
LL4BR      Half Unit
Brands and Trade Marks: Contemporary Issues

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible



This course is available on the MSc in Law and Accounting, MSc in Law, Anthropology and Society, Master of Laws and Master of Laws (extended part-time study). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course will be relevant to the following LLM specialisms: Intellectual Property Law; Information Technology, Media and Communications Law


Students must have completed Trade Mark Law (LL4BQ).

Course content

The legal concept of the trade mark as an indication of commercial origin is giving way to the commercial/marketing concept of the brand as a valuable asset and repository of cultural meaning. Brands are valuable, but are they solely the creation of the trade mark owner? To what extent is consumer participation recognised? Against this backdrop, we focus on current issues and unresolved controversies in the comparative law of trade marks. We explore tensions between trade mark law’s internal doctrinal logic and other competing values or interests, by situating brand protection within social, economic and cultural contexts. Topics include: Trade marks on the internet (domain names; search engine keywords such as Google adwords; intermediary liability for parties like eBay); comparative advertising; parallel importation and competition law concerns; parody, critique and free speech interests; publicity rights and the celebrity image; prohibitions on tobacco advertising; protection of the London Olympics 2012 symbols; branding from the perspectives of marketing, psychology and consumer culture theory.


20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word essay.

Indicative reading

Core Textbook - L Bently and B Sherman Intellectual Property 4th ed (OUP, Oxford 2013) [Forthcoming] Students will be expected to read widely in designated journals and books. Extensive use of trade mark registry materials is made such as references to live registrations as test cases, examiners' decisions, registry works manuals and practice notices. All of the recommended cases and journal articles are available in electronic form and additional materials will be made available on the Moodle website which supports this course. A detailed reading list will be provided for the course, but the following are indicative: Available in the Library: L Bently, J Davis, J Ginsburg (eds) Trade Marks & Brands: An Interdisciplinary Critique (CUP, Cambridge 2008); G Dinwoodie & M Janis (eds) Trade Mark Law and Theory: A Handbook of Contemporary Research (Edward Elgar, Cheltenham 2008); S Maniatis & D Botis Trade Marks in Europe: A Practical Jurisprudence 2nd ed (Sweet & Maxwell, London 2010); Kerly's Law of Trademarks and Trade Names 15th edn. (Sweet and Maxwell, London 2011) [Also available online on Westlaw]; N Klein No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (Picador, NY 1999).


Essay (100%, 8000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills