JJUS00011U Plant Innovation Law - Note: the course is cancelled in summer 2017

Volume 2016/2017

Innovation in plant bioscience promises solutions for the most urgent and important contemporaneous challenges: Food security, renewable energy sources, and medicines. It is closely connected to relevant matters of humanity survival such as environmental protection, global warming, biodiversity, sustainable development and economic growth.
Intellectual property rights serve the major purpose of providing incentive to innovation. Simultaneously, these also interface with other areas of law designed to protect competing public interests, such as the protection of the environment and access to health.
In Europe the subject of patentability of plants is controversial in nature. Emerging technologies bring fourth further legal interpretation interrogations and ethical debates. Simultaneously, plant varieties rights, constitute an alternative and specific form of IP protection. There are different types of overlaps in the interface between these two normative frameworks.
This course offers a comprehensive study of this area of European IP law from a variety of viewpoints from potential rights holders, stakeholders and society at large. It complements the IP law curricular offering in a subject for which there is a demand for knowledge in the market place.

The course is taught from an inter-disciplinary perspective and is open to both law students and students or professionals of any other subjects wishing to learn about the legal framework for plant innovation. The course is anchored mainly on subjects of Intellectual Property Law. However Human Rights Law and regulatory frameworks concerning plant innovation will also be addressed. Basic knowledge on IP law is desirable but not a requirement.

Course plan:
1 – Introduction to legal thinking from an interdisciplinary perspective
2 – Plant Varieties Rights
3 – Patents on Plants and plant materials
4 – Plant science innovation and global governance
5 – Regulatory issues and marketing strategies
6 – Exam preparation
7 – Final evaluation

Learning Outcome


- Students should be aware of the existing body of legislation (international and national) governing the sector of plant innovation;
- Know the basic justifications and functioning of the patent system, and the systems for protection of plant varieties systems;
- Identify intersections and limits of each IPR’s (between each other and vis a vis other rights);
- Describe the procedures and scope of protection of these IPR’s;
- Explain how exceptions, exclusions and limitations to these IPR’s are interpreted in jurisprudence;


- Identify which innovations can be protected and by witch IPR;
- Differentiate between routes of protection and their respective advantages and shortcomings from a multi actor perspective;
- Identify and select relevant legal sources; select facts with legal relevance;
- Interpret and apply positive law to factual circumstances;
- Formulate legal arguments and legal reasoning;
- Discuss and identify policy issues;


- Identify legal challenges and opportunities in a work setting;
- Develop IP strategies for protection and enforcement of innovation;
- Management of IP portfolios (for non-jurists);
- Providing professional advice and aid the decision making process concerning which subject-matter can be protected by IP Law , most suited IPR’s and preferable route(s) of protection;
- Advise on due diligence and defences against infringement claims;
- Design strategies on enforcement of IPR’s.

There are no formal academic requirements, but the subjects are taught at a master level. Applicants for enrolment should have completed a bachelor program in Law or a Plant related field, or alternatively a bachelor in other subjects and professional experience in such areas.
This course is planned and developed to integrate short presentations by the lecturer (traditional lecture) with active learning activities. The objective of the active learning activities developed for this course is to guide each student individual learning process and practice skills relevant to a career (whether in one of the various legal professions or as a non-jurist with need of basic legal knowledge and skills). There is also a preoccupation with alignment between subject, learning activities, learning objectives and exam. The teaching methods chosen are also intended to make learning a dynamic, reflective and enjoyable activity.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 178,25
  • Seminar
  • 28
  • Total
  • 206,25
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Oral exam based on synopsis, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

Summer 2017: August 28 - September 1, 2017 (preliminary dates)


Please see the 'Academic calendar' on KUnet