Intellectual property rights for new ventures


About this course

This course is an introduction to intellectual property rights, e.g. patent law and, to a lesser extent, to copyright law and design rights law as legal areas of prime importance to technological development. Trade secret protection is of course part of the course.
The legal regimes involved in intellectual property law will be set out, followed by an introduction to the formal procedures to be followed when protection of intellectual property is sought. Particular attention will be paid to trade secrets as an essential asset in the knowledge economy and in the context of the individual firm: what is a trade secret, and can it be protected from falling into the hands of competitors? Is it desirable, from a societal and economic point of view, that technological knowledge is monopolized through IPRs?

This course starts off with a set of lectures on patents, trade secrets, trademarks, copyright, and design rights. Here we strive for a high level of awareness and understanding of the role and importance of IPRs. Here, students are continuously challenged, provoked and interactively involved. They are shown how some companies can only survive if they position themselves properly in different legal environments, how innovation is positively and negatively affected by patents, how huge numbers over overlapping patents (‘patent thickets’) impact markets and how extremely aggressive patent strategies (e.g. patents trolls) threaten and sometimes kill their prey. It is shown how patents have developed far beyond their original role (providing a manufacturing monopoly) towards business assets necessary to obtain freedom to operate, to defend a company against competitors, and to strategically block other companies or extract money from them.

The second part of the course will then specifically focus on the perspective of the entrepreneur, focusing on protection of ideas, freedom to use, and the development of an appropriate IPR strategy paying particular attention to the case of startups.

The knowledge gained will be applied throughout the course in a group assignment. In this assignment, a group of students takes the perspective of a new, entrepreneurial firm that has an original technological idea, and the group will then perform three tasks:

  • Perform a patent search analysis related to the technological idea,

  • Investigate whether the idea has the potential to be patented

  • Design an IPR strategy for the firm that covers both the necessary freedom-to-operate (where necessary) and protection of its own ideas.

The course will be taught in English (including all course material)

Learning outcomes

Students that successfully finished this course should be able to:

  • Identify the economic rationale for the existence of intellectual property rights and their enforcement by public authorities
  • Recognize the main characteristics of the different types of intellectual property rights such as patents, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, and industrial design rights
  • Differentiate the roles and meaning of the patent system for various types of stakeholders, including various types of firms/universities, and society as a whole;
  • Classify and evaluate the possible uses of different IPRs as tools for protecting innovative activities in different contexts and especially in the case of new ventures
  • Apply the knowledge gained through the course to develop a viable IPR strategy in the context of an innovative entrepreneurial venture, in terms of:
  • Using various patent search approaches to identify relevant patents and relevant developments in the venture’s technological field, and to determine possible prior art
  • Determining the patent landscape in the relevant technical field and identify the venture’s competitors Developing a strategy how to deal with intellectual property owned by others (for freedom-of-use)
  • ​Developing an optimal strategy to protect and capitalize on the know-how of the (prospective) venture

Required prior knowledge

You must meet the following requirements

  • Registered for a degree programme other than
  • HBO-TOP Applied Physics, Pre-Master
  • Completed none of the course modules listed below
  • Patents design rights & standards projec (0SAUC0)
  • Patents design rights & standards (0SEUB0)
  • Patents design rights & standards (0SSUC0)

Link to more information

  • Credits
    ECTS 5
  • Level
  • Contact coordinator
If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of TU Eindhoven.


  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      27 October 2024
    • Term *
      Block 1
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      15 Jun, 00:00 - 25 Aug 2024
These offerings are valid for students of Utrecht University