Current Student News

Mar 15

Law Journal Symposium to tackle intersection of religious thought and intellectual property law in the 21st century

Published on: Friday, March 15, 2013

This spring a diverse group of legal, bioethics and religious scholars and entrepreneurs in the intellectual property industry will converge on the University of St. Thomas School of Law campus to present and discuss their views on a topic event organizers believe is cutting edge in an increasingly globalized and technological world – how might religious thought contribute to the substance and practice of Intellectual Property law?

The 2013 UST Law Journal Symposium will take place Friday, April 5 and is co-sponsored by the Terrance Murphy Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy. The event will feature eleven scholars from around the country and the world will share their research and opinions on a subject that event organizers hope will serve as a catalyst for a new approach to the study and practice of Intellectual Property law.

“As intellectual property right law tries to keep up with technology in order to continue to drive technological innovation and economic development, and as the economy globalizes, we are forced to question the fundamental assumptions about intellectual property,” said Phil Steger, Law Journal Symposium editor. “IP and technology present fundamental questions concerning the ownership of life and the origins of creativity. IP and economic development confronts us with questions concerning how the balance the rights of IP owners with the needs of the poor. Globalization means that traditional IP regimes, which developed in Christian societies, are entering societies shaped by equally ancient and sophisticated religious traditions that have different ways of understanding and ordering the world. Finally, the ubiquity of the internet and its domination by social media and open source sharing suggest that traditional IP, with its emphasis on individual ownership rights, are being challenged by new emphases on social relationships and duties. We are bringing in some of the brightest minds in IP law, bioethics, and religious scholarship to help answer the question of ‘How can religious thought  constructively inform the meaning and direction of intellectual property law?’”

The Symposium will feature paper presenters and panel participants from several different religious backgrounds including Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, as well as Protestant and Catholic Christianity. The goal of bringing in this religiously diverse group of scholars and advocates, Steger said, is to shed some light on how various religious traditions can contribute perspectives and answers to the latest intellectual property law questions and ethical dilemmas.

The lineup of speakers includes University of Virginia law professor and Intellectual Property Law scholar Margo Bagley who will present “"The Wheat and the (GMO) Tares: Lessons from Plant Patent Litigation and the Parables of Christ," which will feature discussion on the ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case Bowman v. Monsanto.

The Symposium will also include DePaul University Law Prof. Roberta Kwall, whose presentation, entitled “Remember the Sabbath Day and Enhance Your Creativity,” will draw from themes found in her recent research that explores the intersection between intellectual property, cultural property and Jewish law.

Prominent theologian Paul Griffiths, of Duke University, will also present on some of the fundamental tensions between Christian scripture and theology and IP law concerning the ownership of creativity and ideas.  

Steger said the Law Journal staff credits the idea for and development of the theme for the upcoming Symposium to UST Law Prof. Tom Berg, who, in addition to his work as a religious liberties scholar, has a professional background in intellectual property law.

“Professor Berg is a first-rate IP scholar and a nationally recognized scholar on the First Amendment and religious liberty,” Steger said. “The idea for the symposium, and the excellent responses by scholars to our invitations, are the direct result of his expertise and reputation.”

Papers from the symposium will be published in a forthcoming issue of the University of St. Thomas Law Journal.  

Registration information can be found here.

« Back to News Index