Sivaramjani Thambisetty

Sivaramjani Thambisetty Ramakrishna

Administrative support: Jade Vickery
Room: New Academic Building 7.29
Tel. 020-7955-7249 
Twitter: @sivathambisetty

Dr Sivaramjani Thambisetty is an Associate Professor in intellectual property law. She holds a B.ALLB Hons from the National Law School of India University, and a BCL and DPhil from the University of Oxford. At the LSE she teaches intellectual property law at both undergraduate and post graduate level. She was Departmental tutor in 2010-11, and LSE's first Regional Champion for India during 2011-13. She is a regular blogger for India@LSE and is a member of its advisory board. She is currently a member of the School's Research Ethics Committee.

Siva is a contributor to India at LSE.

Research Interests

Siva Thambisetty's research interests lie in the intellectual property protection of emerging technologies, bioethics and comparative patent law. She has been consulted by the Nuffield Bioethics Council, Justice Jackson’s Review of Civil Litigation Costs, The UK Intellectual Property Office Strategic Advisory Board, the World Health Organisation and the UK Commission on Intellectual Property Rights.


She embraces an inter-disciplinary approach to her research, wining in 2011-12 a grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to spend a year at the Institute of Systems and Synthetic Biology, Imperial College.

More recently she has won a EU Horizon 2020 grant to work on synthetic biology and marine biodiversity.

The five year Eur 6 million collaborative 'INMARE' project led by Bangor University includes 20 academic and industrial partners from 12 countries. The scientific project is designed to scour microbial 'dark matter' for new biotechnology resources. The exploitation of such resources in silica through synthetic biology and the creation of new genetic libraries raises legal and ethical questions in the intersection of patent protection and sovereignty over biodiversity. In particular Siva's project will be studying implications under the Nagoya Protocol (2014) which provides an international framework for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the utilisation of genetic resources.

External Activities
  1. Expert Report submitted to the Working Group on Emerging Biotechnologies, Nuffield Bioethics Council ‘Analytical Significance of Emergence in the Patent System’. February 2012

  2. ‘Patent Enforcement in the UK: A Response to Lord Justice Jackson’s Review of Civil Litigation Costs’ Expert Opinion, Strategic Advisory Board on Intellectual Property Rights, UK July 30th 2009.

  3. United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office commissioned impact study on the proposed European Patents Court conducted by the Centre for Evaluation Services. Academic expert. (July – October 2008)

  4. Expert submission on the setting up of the Indian National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority: ‘The National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority’s Mandate Must Include Powers under S 3(b) of the Indian Patents Act’. See Guest Post ‘Grave Diggers, Immoral Patents and the NBRA’ Spicy IP June 16th 2008.

  5. Advisory role on the Ethical Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) at the launch of the Eastern Mediterranean Genome Consortium. Paper titled ‘Genomics and Innovation: The Potential for Socio-Economic Change in Developing Countries’ February 2004
    6. Study report for the UK Government’s Commission for Intellectual Property Rights on ‘Human Genome Patents and Developing Countries’ January 2002 ( (Report listed as one of five most important documents on Human Genome Studies by

Selected articles
and chapters in books

'Alice and ‘something more’: the drift towards European patent jurisprudence' Journal of Law and the Biosciences (2016)  3 (3) pp.691-696

Jenny, Frédéric and Lianos, Ioannis and Hovenkamp, Herbert and Marshall, Frances and Thambisetty, Sivaramjani (2013) 'Competition law, intellectual property rights and dynamic analysis: towards a new institutional “equilibrium?"' Concurrences, 2013 (4). 13.

The emphasis put on innovation as the common objective of intellectual property law and competition law, and consequently the shift of focus towards the dynamics of economic change, may well be a leitmotiv in recent policy documents and scholarly comment. By focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of the different enforcement institutions of IP and competition law (courts, patent and trademark offices and competition authorities) in performing the necessary balancing of dynamic and allocative efficiency this special issue takes an original perspective on the interaction between these two areas of law.

'Textualisation as Mode of Persuasion for Patent Law and What it Means for Legitimacy' LSE Law Working Paper Series, 07-2015

Patent law is rife with apparently inexplicable outcomes that only make sense within hyper-contextualised domains. The scale and degree of such outcomes warrants a closer look at the text of patent law – in this paper, the text of patent Examination Guidelines. These guidelines – an intermediary product of legal, judicial and quasi-judicial decision-making – convert contested legal standards into acceptable claim language that is arguably the very nub of patent law. Using the examples of diagnostic methods, Swiss-type patent claims and industrial application of gene patents, I demonstrate how language is compacted and abstracted in a process that ‘textualises’ substantive meaning. Textualisation in patent law is a system of persuasion that does not use semantic meaning to communicate and influence, relying instead on rhetorical modalities to frame contested legal positions and prevail. The ensuing difficulty in comprehending the law is a potential threat to legitimacy, while conversely facilitating agency and power in patent systems.

'Novartis v Union of India and the Person Skilled in the Art: A Missed Opportunity' Q.M.J.I.P. 2014, 4 (1), 79-94

The Indian Supreme Court’s (SC) decision in Novartis v Union of India (UOI), decided earlier this year, formalizes a concerted and focused attempt by Indian law-makers to reject trivial secondary pharmaceutical inventions. The SC concluded that S 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act made new forms of known substances ineligible for patents in the absence of ‘enhanced efficacy’, which in this case was defined as ‘therapeutic efficacy’. This paper argues that the SC wrongly ignored the context of S 3 and Chapter II of the Act, which is a medley of exclusions, exceptions and ineligible subject matter, each of which can be differentiated by the need to involve the person skilled in the art standard. In this case a greater appreciation of the flexibility afforded by this notional standard as part of a broader non-obviousness enquiry would have led the SC to a more conventional and legitimate legal option. Instead the SC’s adoption of the patent eligibility route has paradoxically left it much less room to manoeuver the law around secondary pharmaceutical inventions.

'The learning needs of the patent system and emerging technologies: a focus on synthetic biology' Intellectual Property Quarterly  2014 (1) pp.13-39.

Considers, with reference to synthetic biology, the learning needs of the multi-institutional patent system in respect of emerging technologies. Discusses how the system's opacity and institutional complexity impede decision-making, how its learning needs are likely to develop in respect of synthetic biology, and how the mechanics of patent law might be improved without adopting rigid normative positions. Examines key features of synthetic biology likely to determine how legal complexity is managed in future, including its integral multi-disciplinarity and its sharing of innovation platforms.

'The Evolution of Sufficiency in Common Law' LSE Law, Society and Economy Working Paper Series (WPS 6/2013)

The requirement of disclosure in the patent specification is commonly presented as an essential arm of the patent bargain. This paper tests the assumption that disclosure requirements in a number of common law jurisdictions continue to reflect this and other shared origins of this doctrine. Instead we see forces such as Europeanisation and sector-specificity produce divergence and confusion over the purpose of sufficiency, particularly in the context of adjacent patentability criteria such as utility and nonobviousness. The result is a complex expression of this requirement that has eroded the normative strength of this doctrine as originally expressed in Liardet v Johnson.

'Patent litigation in the United Kingdom: solutions in search of a problem?' European Intellectual Property Review 2010, 32(5), 238-246

'SMEs and patent litigation: policy-based evidence making?' European Intellectual Property Review  2010, 32(4), 143-145

‘Legal Transplants in Patent Law: Why Utility is the New Industrial Applicability’ (LSE Law and Society Working Paper, 06/March 2008); 49 Jurimetrics J 155-201 (2009)

This paper focuses on the transplantation of the ‘utility standard’ from the US legal system into the industrial applicability criterion of patentability as seen in EPO and UKIPO case law. The Specific, Substantial and Credible standard (SSCS) of utility is growing in prominence as a new gatekeeping criterion in European patent law. This legal transplant lacks explicit statutory basis, is largely driven by a process of mimesis following collaboration between patent offices, and carries the potential to generate collateral damage to a number of neighbouring legal standards in European patent law. The SSCS potentially undermines the ‘technical’ requirement in Europe and highlights a growing conflation between industrial applicability and disclosure requirements. Additionally the SSCS may increase research tool patentability in Europe, a development that exposes potential inadequacies in the institutional arrangements of the receiving legal system. The legal transplant is aided by institutional dynamics that incrementally entrench a policy choice or legal standard, accompanied by little or no discussion on its viability and legitimacy. The significant normative impact of the process of transplantation of the SSCS places the patent office at the centre of legal and policy change – an entity that is arguably not fit for this purpose.

‘Timing, Change and Continuity in the Patent System’ in Sebastian Haunss and Kenneth C Shadlen Eds. The Politics of Intellectual Property: Contestation over the Ownership, Use, and Control of Knowledge and Information. (Edward Elgar, 2009) 211-237.

'Sufficiency of Disclosure in the Common Law: Complexity, Divergence and Confusion' in Bentley, Ng and D’Agosino Ed The Common Law of Intellectual Property: Essays in Honour of Professor David Vaver (OUP 2010)

S Thambisetty and K Kumaramangalam 'Peer-review and Patents: Why the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg may be a Red Herring'  171 30 European Intellectual Property Review (2008) 171-173

Peer-reviewed publications contribute to the value of a biotechnology firm's patents by providing capital markets with a credible signal of the quality of proprietary information. However, intervention in the patent system through peer review of patents will not replicate these benefits and may in fact distort patent users' incentives to gather information about the quality of patents.

'Institutional Nature of the Patent system: Implications for Bioethical Decision-Making' in Christian Lenk Ed. Ethics and Law of Intellectual Property: Current Problems in Politics, Science and Technology, Chapter 13 (Ashgate 2007)

Ethics and Law of Intellectual Property - cover

This book gives an overview of current topics in law and ethics in relation to intellectual property. It addresses practical issues encountered in everyday situations in politics, research and innovation, as well as some of the underlying theoretical concepts. In addition, it provides an insight into the process of international policy-making, showing the current problems in the area of intellectual property in science and research, highlighting changes in the fundamental understanding of common and private property and the possible implications and challenges for society and politics.

'Patents as Credence Goods' Oxford Journal of Legal Studies Vol 27, no 4, pp 707-740, 2007  [first appeared in LSE Law, Society and Economy Working Paper Series, WPS 04-2007 July 2007]

The view of patents as well defined property rights is as simplistic as it is ubiquitous. This paper argues that in newly arising or immature technologies, patents are subject to intrinsic and extrinsic uncertainty that make them very opaque representations of the underlying inventions. The opacity is a result of unsettled legal doctrine and scientific terminology, uncertain commercial and technological prognosis, and leads to considerable ambiguity in property parameters. Patents in immature technologies do not solve Arrow’s information paradox of non-rivalrous goods because they do not represent the sharp exclusive right that is central to his thesis. In such cases patents ought to be reclassified in terms of their perceived and actual function as credence goods. The difficulty in discovering the value of these patents necessitates credence verifiers, further increasing the transaction costs of encouraging innovation. The theoretical and empirical implications of credence explored in this paper are based primarily on the Anglo-American legal protection of biotechnological inventions, but may equally be relevant to patents in other newly arising technologies.

‘Understanding Morality as a Ground for Exclusion from Patentability under European Law’, Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 12 March 2002 pp 48-53.

'Database Access Crucial for Developing Countries' Nature Biotechnology, August 2002, p 775

'Human Genome Research in Developing Countries: Problems and Proposals' Journal of World Intellectual Property Vol: 5 No: 5 September 2002, pp 685-723.


Reports / discussion papers

‘Increasing Returns in the Patent System: Institutional Sources and Consequences for Law’ LSE Law and Society Working Paper, 2009 [FORTHCOMING]

Human Genome Patents and Developing Countries’ Study Report 10, UK Government Commission for Intellectual Property Rights, January 2002, pp 1- 70.

The UK Government department for International Development set up an international Commission on Intellectual Property Rights chaired by Professor John Barton (John E Osborne Professor of Law, Stanford University) to investigate the effect of IPRs on developing countries, which presented an internationally acclaimed report in Geneva in 2002. Study Report 10 was commissioned as an expert report on human genome research and developing countries. This report is a detailed and comprehensive analysis of the issues including the nature of biotechnological patents, patentability in developing countries, research tool patents, bioethics, benefit sharing,, informed consent, pharmacogenomics and the potential global health divide created by biomedical research.