Wednesday 20 May 2015

Patents on Life - A Legal or a Moral Issue? Lets Discuss

In Cambridge on 4-5 September 2015 one of my solo friends, Dr Roman Cholij of St Edmund's College  has been instrumental in organising a conference on PATENTS ON LIFE.  Download the flyer here .  The conference is hosted by the Von Hugel Institute but it takes place at New Hall (of which both Sally Cooper and I are alumni and some popel call Murray Edwards College) and is jointly sponsored by the US The Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy. 
Its not expensive and you even get CPD points. Booking information here

Many intellectual property lawyers prefer to set aside any moral and ethical concerns about the subject matter of the inventions or even the trade marks that pass across their desks. For each of us, though, there may be a point where we draw a line. Though it might sometimes be difficult to do without being accused of intolerance so even declining an instruction can be fraught with problems.

We all know about patent eligibility rules. The UK IPO  and EPO have the task of implementing them. The EPO opposition procedure means they have to address the concerns of the public in this area and they do try to explain the inexplicable policy foundation. The UK IPO current policy on inventions involving human embryonic stem cells updated on 25 March 2015 can be found here.

We all know that patents are supposed to encourage innovation. Does it follow that by refusing to patent certain living things, innovation will stop? Can those who administer justice take a neutral stance.

As patent professionals we need to share our knowledge. We need to know if we are contributing or assisting activity that will lead to the decline of society or help it to grow and flourish. With new technology it is often unclear whether it will assist the angels or not. How should we conduct ourselves and what is the guidance we should be looking to provide our policy makers. This event is an excellent forum to debate these matters.

It does have a strong Catholic element but that is because the Catholic Chuch is concerned to discern the right moral path. I hope I will meet people of all faiths and none. There are few hard lines in this area which is why we need to discuss in the manner that Universities were created for. I hope some of you will come along and participate with me.

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