LL435E      Half Unit
Innovation, Technology and Patent Law

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Siva Thambisetty NAB 7.29


This course is available on the Executive LLM. This course is not available as an outside option.

This course will be offered on the Executive LLM during the four year degree period. The Department of Law will not offer all Executive LLM courses every year, although some of the more popular courses may be offered in each year, or more than once each year. Please note that whilst it is the Department of Law's intention to offer all Executive LLM courses, its ability to do so will depend on the availability of the staff member in question. For more information please refer to the Department of Law website.

Course content

Patent rights are the link between your index finger that slides or twirls to open your smartphone, a synthetically generated living cell, the diagnostic test for breast cancer, the velcro on your gym bag and the connectivity we often take for granted on social media. Over the last two decades patents have moved from an obscure, arcane subject to being the main stay of domestic and international debates spanning issues as wide ranging as innovation policies, access to medicines, international trade and development, ethical implication of biological research and commercialisation and the sustainable use of genetic resources.

This course will critically examine core concepts of the protection of inventions in UK/European, US and International patent law often taking a comparative perspective. We examine specific industrial or technology sectors such as software, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. The course takes a broad approach to questions of patentability, and through readings and discussion you will investigate the economic and political dimensions of the use, control and exploitation of technology and innovation and the impact of structural inequalities. This year 2021 in particular, the devastating effects of the pandemic invites us to contemporaneously  study the effort to provide vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 and analyse what it teaches us about the intersection between market incentives like patents and structural inequality.

You do not need prior exposure to intellectual property law or a science background to take the course. You will be supported throughout the course to understand technologies via their legally significant attributes.


24-26 hours of contact time.

Formative coursework

Students will have the option of producing a formative exam question of 2000 words to be delivered one month from the end of the module’s teaching session by email.

Indicative reading

Bently, Sherman, Gangjee and Johnson Intellectual Property Law, OUP 2018, Pila The Requirement for an Invention in Patent Law Oxford University Press 2010, Spence Intellectual Property, Clarendon Law Series 2007, Landes and Posner The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law Harvard University Press 2003, Robert Merges Justifying Intellectual Property Law HUP 2011, Jaffe & Lerner, Innovation and its Discontents Princeton University Press 2004.


Assessment path 1
Essay (100%, 8000 words).

Assessment path 2
Take-home assessment (100%).

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills