LL4BM      Half Unit
The Legal Protection of Inventions

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Siva Thambisetty NAB 7.29


This course is available on the 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.

Course content

This course provides an advanced and comprehensive introduction to the legal protection of invention through patents. Legally defined inventions are everywhere - in the velcro used to fasten a gym bag, in the tap or touch of a smartphone, in the food we eat, the medicines we take, the clothes we wear and in the buildings we live in. There are yet more inventions in the innovation pipeline and some that live only in our fertile technical imagination. Patent rights over such inventions increasingly intersect with diverse values such as competitive innovation, income equality, universal healthcare, regulation of risky technologies and the autonomy to pursue scientific prospects.  In this course we will study the basics of patent prosecution as well as the theoretical and actual relationship between patents and innovation, both in law and in economics. Students will address central patentability criteria as well as patent eligibility for inventions that incorporate software, biotechnology or morally controversial technologies. These topics often call for a comparative approach based on UK, EU and US patent law. The aims of this course are to gain in-depth knowledge of patent law doctrine, familiarity with widely different contexts of innovation and a sound critical approach to the general principles of the legal protection of inventions. Students do not need a scientific background and will be supported in learning the relevant technical aspects.

Topics covered include: Novelty, inventive step, person skilled in the art,  industrial applicability, sufficiency of disclosure, computer implemented inventions and business methods, biotechnology, exclusions (such as animal varieties, diagnostic methods, on grounds of morality) and the fundamentals of claim construction.

This course is a pre-requisite for LL4BN and students are encouraged to consider taking both courses. 


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 and student-led seminars. There will be a Reading Week in week 6 of LT.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

Weekly reading will include core chapters from books, cases and articles from law reviews.

Bentley and Sherman Intellectual Property Law Oxford University Press 2014

Fysh et al The Modern Law of Patents Lexis Nexis Butterworths

Michael Spence Intellectual Property Clarendon Law Series 2007

Tanya Aplin Intellectual Property Law: Text, Cases and Materials (Oxford University Press 2013)

Justine Pila The Requirement for an Invention in Patent Law (OUP 2010)


Essay (100%, 8000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2015/16: Unavailable

Average class size 2015/16: Unavailable

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information