Patents on Life conference attracts leading figures from law, religion and ethics


The VHI conference ‘Patents on Life: Through the Lenses of Law, Religious Faith and Social Justice‘, co-hosted with the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy took place in Cambridge on 4-5 September 2015, and was a great success. The event attracted a wide range of high-profile speakers from the worlds of law, religion and ethics, including Judge of the High Court, Mr Justice Arnold; The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva, H. E. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi; Christopher Rennie-Smith, formerly of the European Patent Office; Dr Michael Kock, Head of IP at leading agri-business Syngenta; and Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Rt Rev John Sherrington, alongside numerous academics including, from the US, Paul Heald, Ruth Okediji and Joshua Sarnoff, and from Europe, Graham Dutfield, David Albert Jones and Ingrid Schneider, among many others (the full list can be seen here).

The event was opened on the Friday morning by the Master of St Edmund’s College, The Hon Matthew Bullock, and closed on the Saturday evening by the Director of the Von Hügel Institute, Professor John Loughlin.

The conference was well attended and characterised by energetic discussion. The uniqueness of the event, particularly in orchestrating a conversation between patent law and theology, was noted by a number of speakers and delegates. At the close, there was a great deal of enthusiasm among participants to continue the discussion in a constructive way. The VHI will be sharing more about that, as well as material from and online and print responses to the event itself, on their website and on the VHI Twitter feed over the coming weeks and months.

For now, initial responses can be found on the Solo IP blog, by conference delegate and patent attorney Barbara Cookson, the IP Factor blog (a number of posts), run by one of our speakers, Dr Michael Factor, and on the Mirror of Justice blog (again a number of posts), by Robert K. Vischer, Dean of the School of Law at the University of St Thomas.