LL4BM      Half Unit
The Legal Protection of Inventions

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Siva Thambisetty NAB 7.29


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. 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 interested in this subject are encouraged to consider enrolling onto Innovation, Technology and Patent Law (LL4BN) in the Lent Term.

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 and infringement.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours in Lent Term. Students will usually have two additional hours in the Summer Term. This year teaching will be delivered through recorded online lectures and a mix of both in-person and online classes to accommodate students who are unable to physically be on campus. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

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, Sherman, Gangiee and Johnson Intellectual Property Law Oxford University Press 2018

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.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2019/20: 29

Average class size 2019/20: 29

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information