LAWSG189 Law of Patents

Credit value: 30 credits (15 ECTS, 300 learning hours)
Convenor: Matt Fisher
Other Teachers: Christopher Stothers
Teaching Delivery: 20 x 2-hour weekly seminars, 10 seminars per term, Term One and Two
Who may enrol: Any UCL Master’s student
Prerequisites: None
Must not be taken with: None
Qualifying module for: LLM in Intellectual Property
Introductory video Currently there is no introductory video for this module
Practice Assessment: Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay per term (two in total)
Final Assessment: One 3,000-word essay (50%) and one 2-hour unseen written examination (50%)
Module Overview
Module summary:

This is a module which, as the title suggests, seeks to cover the major aspects of patent law (with a little bit of trade secrecy thrown in for good measure). It is focused primarily on the law as applied in the UK and other members of the European Patent Organisation. However comparative examples will be utilised where appropriate in order to flesh out some of the concepts studied. The module aims to explore the fundamentals of patent law: the underlying justifications (theoretical, historical and economic) of the modern patent system in both the domestic (UK) and international context. It further aims to explore the component elements that make up patent law from the point of an invention’s conception through the application for, and enforcement of, patent rights. As such, it aims to examine the issues and difficulties relating to the acquisition of patent rights, as well as their infringement and enforcement. In addition, the module will engage with topical issues relating to patent law – these may vary on an annual basis. The module will aim to enable students to critically assess and interpret relevant case law, legislation and academic literature in the field. It will also aim to provide students will knowledge and understanding of how to apply their knowledge to legal problems and engage with normative debates in this field.

Module syllabus:

Principal topics include:

  • History of patent protection
  • Rationales for, and alternatives to, patents
  • Patent application procedure, UK, European (under the European Patent Convention), and under the Patent Cooperation Treaty
  • Patentable subject matter and exclusions from patentability
  • Requirements for patentability, including novelty, inventive step and industrial application
  • Objections internal to the patent application, including sufficiency and support
  • Infringement, defences and remedies
  • Inventorship, entitlement and ownership
  • Transfer and exploitation of patent rights
  • Trade secrets protection (breach of confidence) will also feature

Other topics which may be covered include (this is a non-exhaustive list)

  • The impact of competition law – FRAND, RAND, Collective Agreements & Patent Pools
  • Patents and pharmaceuticals
  • Future of the patent system
Recommended materials:

  • Bentley & Sherman, Intellectual Property (OUP, 4th ed, 2014)
  • Blackstone’s Statutes on Intellectual Property (latest edition)

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment.

Preliminary reading:

For a broad overview of the patent system in the UK see:

  • Jacob, Alexander & Fisher, Guidebook to Intellectual Property, (6th Edition, Hart, 2013).