Conception and Objectives
The independent LL.B. course in IT and IP law addresses all prospective students who are interested in current developments in IP and IT law and want to gain experience abroad.
Above all, the studies deal with an analysis and evaluation of complex issues from a legal perspective in order to be able to consult clients adequately. Those clients may for example originate from the following sectors: media (copyright), pharmaceutical industry (patent law), the telecommunications industry (e-commerce, telecommunications, competition law) or the politics in general (Internet regulation, e-government). The applicability on internet related issues of existing legal bases is assessed and solutions are proposed where they are found to be necessary.
In order to be able to such legal considerations, students will receive a basic legal training and a particular qualification with regards to the specific content in the IT / IP law.
Specific technical skills are not required – nonetheless, interest in information and communication technologies is advantageous.
IT- and IP- Law
The Bachelor’s study programme combines the disciplines of information technology law and intellectual property law. Although being separate legal areas, the IT and the IP Law are defined by various dependencies and common interfaces. Therefore, both areas can only be understood fully by a parallel recognition.
The IT Law (IT = Information Technology) includes, among others, the areas of electronic legal transactions, data protection, IT security and the distance selling law. This very new and rapidly developing field constantly brings up future-oriented questions, which have to be answered and solved from a legal perspective. Moreover, questions repeatedly occur in the daily business of the legal practice of which the citizen hardly is aware of, as:
• What rights do consumers have in transactions on eBay or Amazon?
• Which law applies in international e-commerce?
• Who is responsible for links or postings?
• To what extend should the state monitor its citizens by the usage of male software as the so called “Bundestrojaner”?
• How are personal data in the World Wide Web protected adequately?
The IP Law (IP = Intellectual Property), covers copyright, patent and trademark law and other fields in regards of intellectual property rights. This field is also highly contemporary and is facing fundamental issues such as whether copyright is still appropriate for the society in its working form. On the other hand questions of the legal practice arise, such as:
• What actions on the Internet constitute for copyright infringements?
• Is there a right to private copying under copyright law?
• How are domain name disputes resolved internationally?
• Are there any patents on human DNA sequences?
Many of these questions, which specialists have to deal with daily, cannot be answered by a simple glance in the law or in the jurisprudence. Therefore, the lectures in the LL.B. are constituted by assessments of recent cases to a large extent, which often leads to interesting discussions between students and lectures. Therefore, creativity and ingenuity are required as well as the will to enter new legal territory. This does explicitly not mean the mere memorizing of legal definitions and controversies, but developing solutions through ingenuity for issues that are not clearly answered yet and seeing the bigger picture, especially of Europe.
The programme combines a comprehensive legal basic education in the subjects Civil Law, Public Law and Criminal Law with a specialization in IT and IP law. The specific focus is on the Civil Law and in European Law, which strongly influences the national regulations on the IT and IP law. In addition, introductory lectures in the IP and IT law are held in the first semesters. During their fifth and sixth semesters students study one year at a partner university abroad. In this period of studies students get familiar with international aspects of IT and IP law and acquire extended legal competencies as well as vital soft skills especially in the field of language skills. In their fourth year students participate together with other students in the specialization study courses in IT and IP law at the faculty of Hannover and focus on their Bachelor thesis.
The constitution and supervision of the program is funded by the DAAD and the (German) Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The study programme itself is coordinated by the Institute for Legal Informatics (IRI) in Hannover, which is with more than 40 employees one of the nationwide largest teaching and research facilities in IT and IP law.
Double degree studies
The Bachelor in IT and IP Law can be studied in combination with other courses. Such double degree studies are recommended since the bachelor programme in IT and IP law has various overlaps to other sciences and disciplines.
Particularly, it is compatible with the traditional law studies. However, combinations with other programs are not excluded.
In comparison to the traditional law studies the LL.B. student invests only few additional effort. Hence, the LL.B. students may also successfully participate in the German “Erste Juristische Prüfung (früher Staatsexamen)” by modest additional effort. It is possible to arrange that the assessments also count towards the traditional legal studies since subjects such as Civil Law, Public Law and Criminal Law correlate in both programmes. In addition, double degree students visit one additional course per semester, which introduce into the IT and IP law as well as economic foundations of law. The oral examinations at the end of the year also address conventional legal issues to a high extend. Consequentially, double degree students have the opportunity to repeat relevant content and to begin to consolidate the material early. The two semesters, which LL.B. students spent abroad, are credited as administrative suspension for the study of law. LL.B. students participate in the specialization studies in IT and IP law after their year abroad. As these studies are also visited by conventional law students, who are also writing their thesis in this area, the respective thesis (Bachelor Thesis) can be interpreted simultaneously as a thesis of the LL.B and the German “Erste Juristische Prüfung” and amount to the conventional legal studies too. Thus, double degree students with the combination of the common law studies and the LL.B succeed the comfortable situation of already holding the degree of the LL.B. studies before they participate in the “Erste Juristische Prüfung”.
However, since the course has only a limited number of places, it is recommended to enroll first for the LL.B. and later on for the traditional law studies or other degree courses.
The wide range of topics make the Information Technology Law and the Intellectual Property Rights to a very interesting and ever-evolving matter, which increasingly becomes important to the labor markets. Many major firms have established their own departments for IT / IP Law and require qualified lawyers. The demand for appropriate specialized lawyers constantly rises in the industry as well as by the authorities.