Core Subject Studies
Priority Area No. 3: Protection of Intellectual Property and Copyright Law
This priority area deals with the protection of intellectual property. Part of this are commercial products and achievements like technical inventions (patents and registered designs) aesthetic product designs (design patent or registered design) and symbols of performance, such as trademarks, company and business names. All of this is summed up under the term protection of industrial property. Artistic and cultural achievements are also part of intellectual property and are protected by copyright law and related instruments of protection. Both fields of law - industrial property protection law and copyright law – define property rights of immaterial goods and as regards the substance they formulate the protection of those rights.
Property rights to intellectual property present an exception from the principle of a free development of competition including the freedom of imitation. Two further subjects belonging to this field of law deal with the balance between the protection of individual freedom and the protection of property, these are competition law and antitrust law. Both terms are accepted but not quite precise enough. They comprise the Act against Unfair Competition (“competition law” or “law on fair trading practices”, regulated in the UWG – Recht gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb) and the Act against Restraints on Competition (GWB – Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen) regulating unfair trading practices.
Students of this priority area will find job opportunities in the advocacy and in industrial enterprises. The judiciary is interesting as well because German Regional Courts and Higher Regional Courts are found to have formed pools for verdicts on questions of industrial property protection and copyright at a progressive rate. The Chambers for Commercial Matters at German Regional Courts are frequently consulted with questions of trademark rights and unfair trading practices.
A detailed description of courses for this priority area can be found here (only available in German).
Priority Area No. 12: Media Law and Communications Law
This priority area covers legal questions concerning production, transfer and technical transmission of contents of communication through private radio and TV broadcasters and media operators, especially the press, radio, internet services and providers of technical access (internet providers, telecommunications and mail delivery services).
Technical transfer of the content of communication is the subject matter of communications law; since the deregulation of the telecommunications market in 1988, these services are no longer provided by the state (German Federal Mail) but within a private economic competition regulated by the state. As a result these new regulation rights have become a reference area for a new public and administrative law serving as a role model for other sectors (mail services, rail transport, energy).
Media not only transmit contents, they also “form opinions”. This makes them instruments of potential and not necessarily desirable influence.
Media inform the public, but they also spread disinformation. Media can interfere deeply with the private life of a person classified as interesting by the media. A misrepresentation of facts broadcast on TV can have substantial consequences for the social life of the person concerned. A long lasting surveillance of celebrities by the tabloid press can potentially block private spheres of the individual development massively. Providers of technical access (i.e. German Telekom or AOL) are capable of acting as gatekeepers, thus spreading contents widely but also channeling it.
Whoever operates a telecommunications business and is in charge of connecting a user to a telephone or a communications system (internet) is in a position of controlling whether and which service is provided to the client at his home. These examples show that media interrelations merit special legal attention. Media law is a matter of cross-sectional character, affecting various parts of private law (tort law, contract law, intellectual property law) and public law (constitutional law, administrative law, data protection law).
Professionals in media and communications law have multiple occupational outlooks. Small, medium-sized and, of course, large lawyers’ offices frequently handle problems relating to media and communications law. Just think of the numerous controversies about liabilities for copyright violations on the web.
Meanwhile, after a special training and some practical experience it has become possible to bear the title of a “Specialized Lawyer for Copyright and Media Law” („Fachanwalt für Urheber- und Medienrecht“). The title “Specialized Lawyer for Information Technology Law” („Fachanwalt für Informationstechnologierecht“) can also be acquired accordingly after a subject-specific practical intensification of the knowledge required.
Broadcasting stations, film, TV and radio production and distribution companies as well as the telecommunications industry provide a large market for employment. And among the judiciary we find relevant specializations. Traditionally, the administrative courts deal with questions of regulation. In civil law there are special functional responsibilities at German Regional Courts and at Higher Regional Courts for matters concerning the press and the right of reply.
Internships are offered by the City of Cologne and most prominently by local broadcasting stations. Apart from that there are numerous production companies offering insights into the media world. In Bonn, the Federal Network Agency also provides internships.
A non-committal recommendation how to plan your studies for this particular priority area is available here (only available in German).
Procedure of the seminars
Für das Seminar im WS fällt die Schreibzeit in die Semesterferien vor dem WS, d.h. ca. Juli – Anfang Oktober. Für das Seminar im SoSe fällt die Schreibzeit in die Semesterferien vor dem SoSe, d.h. ca. Mitte Februar – Mitte April.
In der Regel in der letzten Woche des VORHERIGEN Semesters findet eine Seminarvorbesprechung statt, in welcher den Kandidaten ein Thema zugelost wird. Das nur einmal zu vergebene Thema wird den Teilnehmern an diesem Termin allerdings nicht mitgeteilt. Da den Teilnehmern eine individuelle Bearbeitungszeit ermöglicht wird, erhalten sie im Rahmen der Verlosung lediglich eine Nummer. Wird diese Nummer von den Seminarteilnehmern am Lehrstuhl vorgelegt, wird ihnen das jeweilige Seminarthema ausgehändigt und die sechswöchige Bearbeitungszeit beginnt. So können die Studierenden innerhalb der Semesterferien den Bearbeitungszeitraum für die Seminararbeit selbst und frei festlegen.
Die Seminarvorträge werden im Rahmen eines Blockseminars im SoSe in der Regel im Juli, im WS in der Regel im Dezember/Januar gehalten.
Other priority areas
An introduction to all priority areas is available here.
Please find full particulars for writing seminar papers and for verbal discourses in our seminar guidelines (only available in German).