LL4BR      Half Unit
Trade Marks, Brands and Branding: Contemporary Issues

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Anne Barron


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: Competition, Innovation and Trade Law, Corporate and/or Commercial Law; Information Technology, Media and Communications Law; Intellectual Property Law.



Course content

This course situates the key concepts of trademark law in relation to analyses of brands and branding offered by leading contemporary social scientists. Topics to be covered include: histories of brands, branding and trademarks; connections and disconnections between trademarks and brands; the new salience of non-traditional trademarks; sensory marks and sensory marketing; public policies as limits on marketing practice; offensive marks and banned brands; the idea of the consumer in trademark law; the role of trademark law in propertising brands; limits to propertisation; legal implications of ‘alter-branding’ and related phenomena. Throughout, emphasis is placed on the law’s role in underpinning marketing processes that now structure everyday life in ever more intense and intimate ways, and consideration is given to the links between these processes and wider changes in economy and society such as globalisation, financialisation and informationalisation.


20 hours of seminars and 2 hours of help sessions in the LT.

The help session will be designed to support students' summative essay-writing work. All students will be invited to attend this session. Expectations for the essays will be explained, and sample essays discussed. 

Formative coursework

One 1500-word essay.

Indicative reading

There is no set text: readings will be assigned on a weekly basis. The core reading will include legislative texts and leading cases, but also journal articles and book chapters, and these will range across a number of disciplines including media and communication studies, cultural studies, economic sociology, business studies and anthropology. The following list is indicative: Melissa Aronczyk and Devon Powers, Blowing Up the Brand: Critical Perspectives on Promotional Culture (Peter Lang, 2010); Adam Arvidsson, Brands: Meaning and Value in Media Culture (Routledge, 2006); Lionel Bently and Brad Sherman Intellectual Property Law 4th ed. (OUP, Oxford 2014); Ruth Clifton, Brands and Branding (2nd ed.) (Economist Books, 2009); Rosemary Coombe, The Cultural Life of Intellectual Properties (Duke UP, 1998); Graeme Dinwoodie and Mark Janis (eds.), Trade Mark Law and Theory: A Handbook of Contemporary Research​ (Edward Elgar, 2008)Paul du Gay and Michael Pryke, Cultural Economy: Cultural Analysis and Commercial Life (Sage, 2002); Jonathan Gabay, Brand Psychology: Consumer Perceptions, Corporate Reputations (Kogan Page, 2015); Martin Kornberger, Brand Society: How Brands Transform Management and Lifestyle (Cambridge University Press 2010); MPI, Study on the Overall Functioning of the European Trademark System (2011); Naomi Klein, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (Flamingo, 2000); Celia Lury, Brands: The Logos of the Global Economy (Routledge, 2004); Liz Moor, The Rise of Brands (Berg, 2007); Alexander von Muhlendahl at al., Trade Mark Law in Europe (3rd ed.) (OUP, 2016); Ilanah Simon Fhima, Trade Mark Dilution in Europe and the United States (OUP, 2011).



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

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2015/16: 20

Average class size 2015/16: 20

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills