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Centre for Business Law

UNISA-WIPO Intellectual Property Law Specialization Programme

About the programme

The WIPO Worldwide Academy is a division of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It is entirely devoted to providing teaching, training, and research services in intellectual property. Its services, designed to meet the individual needs of diverse groups of users, are organized under three main programs:

  • Distance learning;
  • Professional training; and
  • Policy development.

The Academy was founded in March 1998 to help Member States of WIPO attain specialized knowledge and skills that will enable them to derive benefits from the intellectual property system. Through its various programs, the Academy constantly strives to expand its tailor-made teaching and training services to an ever-growing audience of users and beneficiaries, including those at grass-roots level.

This short learning programme is designed for academics and professionals who already have some knowledge about intellectual property, or who have some practical experience in the field of intellectual property, and who wish to strengthen and expand their future role in this field.

The focus of the curriculum is on the special circumstances prevailing in developing countries. The modules approach the subject-matter against the background of international conventions and the obligations they impose on developing countries. It is then demonstrated, using South African law as an example, how these obligations can be discharged. Students will be expected to examine the law of their own countries to determine how these obligations have been discharged, or how they should be discharged.

Although the programme is not a formal qualification, it is subject to the quality assurance requirements of Unisa.

On the successful completion of the programme, the student will receive a certificate issued jointly by the University of South Africa and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The curriculum

The modules of the programme are taught using traditional distance teaching methods.

To complete the programme, a student should pass eight of the nine modules listed below:

  • Essential Copyright Law (IPSP01X): the topics covered in this module include the nature of copyright, the works protected by copyright, the requirements for the subsistence of copyright, and copyright infringement.
  • Essential Competition Law (IPSP02Y): this module deals with aspects of private law relating to unfair competition. Topics include the liability for unfair competition as well as specific forms of unfair competition such as passing off, damaging another’s goodwill, misleading the public, discrediting another’s enterprise, and the misappropriation of confidential information.
  • Essential Patent Law (IPSP033): this module covers the following topics are covered: the nature of patentable inventions, the requirements for patent protection, the exploitation of patented inventions, and patent infringement.
  • Essential Trademark Law (IPSP044): the topics dealt with in this module include the nature of a trademark, the registration of trademarks, the assignment and licensing of trademarks, and trademark infringement.
  • Essential Industrial Design Law (IPSP055): this module deals with the nature of and requirements for design protection, the infringement of design rights, and the protection of layout designs of integrated circuits.
  • Internet Aspects of Copyright and Trademarks (IPSP066): the topics discussed in this module include copyright and related rights in the digital environment, copyright infringement on the Internet, the protection of electronic databases, digital licensing of intellectual property, domain names, conflict of laws, and jurisdiction.
  • Legal Aspects of Electronic Commerce (IPSP078): this module provides an overview of the Internet and the major role players. The following topics are dealt with: contracting through the Internet, copyright implications of the Internet, electronic databases, domain names, special forms of trademark infringement, and online dispute resolution.
  • Traditional Knowledge and Biodiversity (IPSP089): the topics dealt with in this module include the protection of folklore including traditional crafts, ethnobotanical knowledge, and the protection of biodiversity and genetic resources.
  • Collective Rights Management; Performers’ Rights (IPSP09A): this module deals with the evolution of performer’s rights, the exploitation and licensing of intellectual property, and the collective management of copyright and related rights.


Study level skill 5 on University standards qualification; 12 credits per module (completed 8 modules will have 96 credits).


Although it may be possible to complete the programme in one year, most students register for the two modules per semester and so complete the programme in two years. 

Admission requirements

Admission to the programme is subject to Unisa’s requirements for admission to degree studies.  Applicants should qualify for admission to a university or a degree programme in the country of which they are a citizen, or where they reside permanently.  These qualifications include, for example, full matriculation exemption, high school diploma, A-levels, HIGCSE or IGCSE plus a minimum age requirement.

Once admitted, students will receive a complete study package, consisting of tutorial matter in the form of work books, and tutorial letters, and extracts from cases and any other relevant materials.

Examination Procedures

For each module, students have to submit two midterm written assignments for evaluation.
Final Examination papers will be posted on MYUNISA for students to download. Students must then answer in writing and submit their paper within 24 hours. The duration of each module is 14 weeks.  We recommend that students register for no more than two modules per semester.

Registration dates

Deadline for submission of applications and payment of fees
First semester: Registration date from January until February (last day for registration) for the first semester
Second semester: Registration date from June until July (last day for registration) for the second semester

Tuition fees: ZAR1200.00 per module
Fees are payable in full on registration, unless an application for WIPO financial assistance has been submitted.

For more information, please contact the Centre administrator:

Mrs Puseletso Mofokeng
Tel: 012 429 8774
Fax: 012 429 8206

Download your brochure and registration form here:

Financial assistance

Each academic year WIPO, through the Academy, makes a limited number of scholarships available to students who otherwise would not be able to afford the fees.

For information about such financial assistance, please contact:

Ms Altaye Tedla

Tel: +41 22 338-9395
Fax: +41 22 740-1417

WIPO Worldwide Academy
34, chemin des Colombettes
1211 Geneva 20

Deadline for submission of applications for financial assistance: Applications for financial assistance must be received by 30 November, for enrolment in the next academic year.

In addition to satisfying the above admission requirements, applicants for financial assistance must complete the Registration and Financial Assistance Form (MS WORD)  and submit it to the Academy with the following documentation:

  • copies of diplomas or degrees and additional academic qualifications;
  • a curriculum vitae;
  • an essay stating the applicant’s motivation and reasons for wanting to enrol in this programme, as well as the need for financial assistance;
  • a letter of recommendation from someone fully acquainted with the applicant’s academic and professional career (please note that, in special circumstances, a letter of endorsement of the applicant’s request of enrolment in the programme may be requested from the applicant’s employer); and
  • a photograph of the applicant (optional).

Please note that the information provided in this form is requested by WIPO only for the purpose of considering the grant of your scholarship. It will be treated as strictly confidential and will not be communicated outside WIPO.