Not available in 2022/23
LL4BM      Half Unit
The Legal Protection of Inventions

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Siva Thambisetty


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 has a limited number of places and we cannot guarantee all students will get a place.


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.. Patent rights increasingly intersect with diverse issues such as competitive innovation, inequitable access to technologies, global public health, regulation of risky technologies and the pursuit of science.  This course  addresses the basics of patent prosecution as well as the theoretical and actual relationship between patents and innovation, both in law and in economics. We will study patentability criteria as well as patent eligibility for inventions that incorporate software, medical innovations, biotechnology or morally controversial technologies. A comparative approach based on UK, EU and US patent law will be adopted where relevant.

An aim of this course is to gain familiarity with widely different contexts of innovation and a sound critical approach to the general principles of the legal protection of inventions. Recent developments such as Covid-19 treatments and vaccine innovation will be addressed and students will be equipped to engage in current legal and policy issues in some depth. Students do not need a scientific background and will be supported in understanding 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 will have two hours of teaching content each week in Lent Term, either in the form of a two hour seminar or an online lecture and one hour class. There will be 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.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2021/22: 29

Average class size 2021/22: 29

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.