LL435E      Half Unit
Innovation, Technology and Patent Law

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Siva Thambisetty CKK 7.29


This course is available on the Executive Master of Laws (ELLM). 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. From obscure, arcane beginnings, patent law and policy is now central to domestic and international issues as wide ranging as innovation prriorities, access to medicines, international trade and development, food security, artificial intelligence and the ethical and 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 approach. The course adopts a broad approach to questions of patentability, and through readings and discussion you will investigate the economic, social and political dimensions of the use, control and exploitation of technology and innovation. We examine specific industrial or technology sectors such as software, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals in order to understand how the empirical and normative drive to protect technlogy varies in different sectors. Current issues are often discussed. For instance the global effort to bring vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 has much to teach 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 to produce 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, S Parthasarathy Patent Politics: Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe (University of Chicago Press 2017), Katharina Pistor The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality (Princeton University Press 2019)


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

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

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

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.

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills