LL4BN      Half Unit
Innovation, Technology and Patent Law

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sivaramjani Thambisetty Ramakrishna NAB 7.29


This course is available on the MSc in Law and Accounting, Master of Laws and Master of Laws (extended part-time study). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course will be relevant to the following LLM specialisms: Information Technology, Media and Communications Law, Intellectual Property Law, Corporate and Commercial Law, International Business Law and Competition, Innovation and Trade Law.

This course is capped at 30 students. Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSEforYou.


Students must have completed The Legal Protection of Inventions (LL4BM).

Course content

Over the last two decades patent law has moved from an obscure, arcane subject to being the main stay of national and international debates spanning issues as wide ranging trade-related coercion, the capacity to innovate through imitation and the impact of curtailing access to new technologies. Contemporary patent law is now at the heart of the so-called smartphone wars, synthetically generated life, genetic diagnostics and the affordability of life-saving drugs. Building on an understanding of patentability and infringement, this course will the challenge of inducing innovation while promoting competition through patent law within specific technologies and industries. This course will critically examine UK, European, US and International patent law and policy from different perspectives. The history of patent law, justificatory theory, innovation policy, the public domain, international economic and political frameworks, institutional features and technology cycles are indicative of the themes that will be used to frame the discussion in seminars. Topics covered will include: Contemporary and historical justifications for patents; The role of patents in the biotechnology industry; Software, open innovation and patents; The public domain and open biology; The global pharmaceutical industry and patents; The research use exception; Patent law and Institutional economics; Patent litigation and enforcement.


20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

This is a Lent term course, and consists of 10 weekly two-hour seminars in variable format including lecture-discussions, student-led seminars and guest lecturers where appropriate. Students are expected to participate in class discussions and critically explore further implications of the reading covered each week.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to produce one 2,000 word formative essay during the course.

Indicative reading

Weekly readings will include book chapters, law review articles, reports and studies as well as cases.
Robert Merges Justifying Intellectual Property Law HUP 2011
James Boyle The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind Yale University Press 2008 (free access online)
Boldrin and Levin Against Intellectual Monopoly CUP 2010.
Alexander Stack International Patent Law: Cooperation, Harmonisation and an Institutional Analysis of WTO and WIPO Edward Elgar 2012.
Justine Pila The Requirement for an Invention in Patent Law OUP 2010
A Pottage and B Sherman Figures of Invention: A History of Modern Patent Law OUP 2011


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information