JD Courses

The University of Toronto Faculty of Law offers a number of courses and seminars on intellectual property and technology law for JD students. These courses include the following.


This course is an intensive study of copyright law. It is divided into two main parts. In the first, students will study the fundamentals of copyright doctrine through analysis of classic and recent case law. Topics covered include the protection of musical and artistic works as well as software; the relationship between authorship and ownership; the defence of fair dealing; the operations of copyright law in digit environments, and more. In the second part, students will read select commentary addressing current and related issues, including varying justifications of copyright, the definition of central concepts (e.g. copy, author, user), the relation between copyright law and freedom of expression, and more.

Intellectual Property

Information is as basic to the knowledge economy as natural resources were to the industrial economy and human resources to the service economy. The greater the dependence of the economy on new information, the more critical are the institutions that manage its creation, use and exchange. Yet the law creates rights over information much differently than it does over goods or services. The rationale and means for IP rights constitute the subjects of this course. The focus will be the three principal areas of IP law: copyright, patents and trademarks. It will discuss the theoretical foundations and key concepts and doctrines of each.

Digital Content and the Creative Economy

This course examines the legal and policy issues that challenge the producers and distributors of digital works in the entertainment, new media and software industries. This course will allow students to critically examine the socio-economic policy debates involving IP rights in the digital economy. Course topics will include: the effects of digital rights management technologies on the dissemination of creative content and user rights; open source software; Canada’s implementation of the WPO Internet treaties, and others. The course will focus on the Canadian context, but will also draw heavily on international developments.

Privacy Law

The protection of privacy is increasingly seen to be of central importance to the emerging global information society. At the same time, it faces many threats from new technologies and the contexts in which these are used. The course will survey many of the most influential theories of privacy and ask whether they are sufficiently sensitive to both emerging technological challenges to privacy as well as different cultural understandings of privacy. This course will then use these critical resources to examine different legal models for protecting privacy. Examples will be drawn from a variety of common law jurisdictions and will focus on a number of emerging practices that have serious privacy implications including the use of subscriber information from telecommunication service providers, DNA databanks, biometrics, profiling techniques, and public video cameras.

Telecommunications and Internet Law

This seminar will explore the key constitutional, administrative, regulatory, policy, business and technological aspects of the legal environment of telecommunications and the internet. The course will provide both broad context and focus on issues of current interest in the industry. Topics may include: Is a specific regulator, such as the CRTC, required to regulate the telecommunications industry, and if so, to what extent? How should new technologies be regulated? What role should the government play in setting policy directions and/or overturning specific CRTC decisions? Can a hyperlink be defamatory? What legal rules apply to cloud computing and social media?

Fox Moot

The Harold G. Fox Moot is intended to promote the furtherance of education in the intellectual property field and to provide participants with the opportunity to interact with jurists of the Supreme, Ontario, and Federal courts and experienced practitioners. The Moot is conditional enroll and will be added to the student’s course selection once confirmation of participation is confirmed following the moot tryouts.

Patent & Trade Secrets

Patents and trade secrets protect commercially valuable inventions and information respectively. As the information age and biotechnology progress, these legal monopolies and “know-how” have become increasingly important to commerce. This course will investigate: protectable subject-matter (novelty, non-obviousness, secrecy, problems with specific types of technologies); the mechanisms used to obtain protection (nationally and internationally); maintenance; how to read and enforce a patent; licensing, and other topics.

Patent Law for Life Sciences

This course is intended for law students (ideally possessing some background in life sciences) and life science graduate students. The course introduces patent law and examines the application of the framework to specific examples. Patent agents and lawyers working in specific areas of patent protection will participate in the latter part of the course. Guest speakers will either be patent agents or patent lawyers who work in the area in question.

Intensive Course: Legal Innovation

In this course we will step back from our taken-for-granted legal institutions—law produced exclusively by public actors and legal work done exclusively by JD-trained lawyers—to think about how law and legal work might be done very differently. Could private firms produce contract law to compete with the law of New York, for example? What would happen if we allowed legal services to be provided not just by law partnerships but also corporations and non-profit organizations? Can the transition to market democracy in a poor country happen faster and be more stable if the legal system is provided by another, advanced, democracy, or even by a private organization? Are global joint-ventures or global regulatory goals well-served by a system in which law and the license to practice law shifts every time people or products or information crosses a national boundary? How might we re-invent law to better respond to a world of rapid innovation and global integration?

Workshop: Innovation Law and Policy

The Centre for Innovation Law and Policy at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law runs a regular Workshop Series on topics involving the relation between law and technology, such as intellectual property, privacy, defamation, competition law, law and literature, globalization and social justice. The Workshop meets 8 to 10 times throughout the academic year. While the Workshop is open to the public, students wishing to register in the Workshop may do so for academic credit. Previous workshop guests include Margaret Radin, Wendy Gordon, Jessica Litman, Mark McKenna, Maurizio Borghi, Mark Rose, Yoav Mazeh, Christopher Millard, Barton Beebe, Christopher Sprigman, Ann Bartow, Brett Frischmann, Avi Goldfarb, Margaret Chon, Michael Birnhack, Ignacio DeLeon, Frank Pasquale, David Wall, David Winickoff.

Clinical Legal Education Structural Genomics Consortium Externship

The Structural Genomics Consortium is a not-for-profit public-private partnership based at the University of Toronto and Oxford University that engages in pre-competitive basic science research to facilitate and enable the discovery of new medicines. It catalyzes research in new areas of human biology and drug discovery by focusing explicitly on less well-studied areas of the human genome, for example epigenetic signaling pathways.

The SGC accelerates research and drug discovery in these areas by making all of its research output available in the public domain with no restrictions on use and no patent protection, and by creating an open collaborative network of scientists in hundreds of universities around the world and in its nine global pharmaceutical company partners.

To facilitate its various ongoing research projects and to secure its ability to place the results of this research into the public domain to be used freely by others, the SCG is negotiating novel open innovation contracts with various parties within its collaborative ecosystem, including funding agreements with private and public sources of financing; and memorandums of understanding, collaboration agreements, and material transfer agreements with partner research organizations, disease foundations, and scientists.

Students will attend contract negotiations led by experienced intellectual property lawyers; at the direction of the field supervisors and under their supervision, prepare initial and revised drafts of memoranda of understanding, research collaboration agreements, material transfer agreements, and funding agreements that promote the SGS’s open innovation policy; and carry out legal research.

Students will also meet, in a seminar format, with Professors
Stern and Niblett, to discuss readings on patent law and the developing alternatives to conventional patent protection, and with Professor Aled Edwards, who will provide instruction about the background to the SGC initiative and to the open-access movement in medical innovation more generally.