UCL Faculty of Laws


Law of Patents (LAWS0272)

This module seeks to cover the major aspects of patent law

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 examines 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) may also feature, although may not necessarily take a starring role 

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 

  • Biotechnological patents

Recommended Materials

  • Bently, Sherman, Gangjee & Johnson, Intellectual Property (6th Edition, OUP, 2022) 

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

Preliminery Reading

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

  • Jacob, Fisher & Chave, Guidebook to Intellectual Property, (7th Edition, Hart, 2022). 

Key Information

Module details
Credit value:45 Credits (450 learning hours)
Convenor:Matt Fisher
Other Teachers:

Christopher Stothers

Teaching Delivery:20 x 2 Hour Weekly Seminar, Term One and Two
Who may enrol:LLM Students
Must not be taken with:None
Qualifying module for:LLM in Intellectual Property
Practice Assessment:Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay in term 1.  Feedback on a formal presentation on the subject of the group project will be given in term 2. 
Final Assessment:Individual Critical Reflection (20%), Group Coursework Project (30%), 3,000 Word Essay (50%)