LL4BP      Half Unit
Current Issues in Intellectual and Cultural Property Law

This information is for the 2023/24 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 has a limited number of places and demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.

Course content

This course takes a historical, theoretical and contextual approach to intellectual and cultural property and aims to provide an overview of the concepts, institutional models, and socio-economic formations that cut across the diversity of both regimes. Expansive questions are asked but not in abstraction. Contemporary cases studies will be used to interrogate the normative bases and doctrinal architecture of rights to inventions, art, trade marks, biodiversity and more. A wide range of topics and interests will be covered and no previous background in intellectual property will be assumed.

Indicative seminar topics include the encroachment of the public domain by the pressure to protect unprecedented kinds of subject matter, the relevance of monopolies in 'negative spaces' (the fashion industry, fan fiction, magicians, and stand-up comedy); the evolution of non-conventional trade marks such as scents, shapes and over-arching brands, the link between incentives and innovation; the controversy over Covid-19 vaccine production and technology transfer, artificial intelligence as inventor and author, and the intersection of human rights and intellectual property.


Two hours of seminar teaching per week in Winter Term. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Winter Term.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

• Biagioli, Jaszi & Woodmansee, Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property (2011).

• Boyle, The Public Domain. Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (2009).

• Miles, Art as Plunder. The Ancient Origins of Debate About Cultural Property (2008).

• McDonagh, Performing Copyright: Law, Theatre and Authorship (2021).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 29

Average class size 2022/23: 29

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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