Patents on Life: Through the Lenses of Law, Religious Faith, and Social Justice

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The conference will facilitate the debate on the ethics of patent ownership of living matter.

Date & Time:

Friday, September 4, 2015
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM



Standard Registration fee £250.00 Student/PhD registration fee £160.00


Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, CB3 0DF


Approved for 11.0 Standard Credits (event code: 207133)

This groundbreaking two-day conference sponsored by the Von Hügel Institute at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University, and the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy at the University of St. Thomas, will bring together prominent judges, scholars, government officials and leaders of Christian and non-Christian faith traditions to grapple with difficult questions raised by the explosion of genetic technology and efforts to patent human, animal and plant material. Speakers from the United States, Europe and Israel will include judges, lawyers and scholars in the fields of patent law and intellectual property, theologians and ethics scholars, biotech industry members, and church leaders.

Registration, Fees, and Accommodation information here.

Conference Co-Chairs:

Tom Berg, James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minnesota 
Roman Cholij, Von Hügel Institute Research Associate, St Edmund's College and IP Practitioner

Speakers to date include:

Leading Scholars of Patent Law from Europe and the U.S.

Margo A. Bagley, Hardy Cross Dillard Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law 
Graham Dutfield, Professor of International Governance, University of Leeds School of Law and Member of the International Scholars Networks of Intellectual Property in the Biosciences 
Paul Heald, Corman Professor of Law, Illinois Law faculty  
Kathy Liddell, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge and Vice Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Media Law   
Ruth Okediji, William L. Prosser Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School
Aurora Plomer, Professor of Law and Bioethics, University of Sheffield
Christopher Rennie-Smith, European Patent Consultant and former chair of the Biotech Board and former member of the Enlarged Board of Appeal at the European Patent Office
Joshua Sarnoff, DePaul University School of Law, and 2014-15 Thomas A. Edison Distinguished Scholar at the United States Patent and Trademark Office 
Brian Scarnecchia, Ave Maria School of Law, Franciscan University of Steubenville, USA 
Ingrid Schneider, Department of Political Sciences, University of Hamburg, Research Centre for Biotechnology, Society and the Environment 
Dr. Katerina Sideri, IP advisor for Agricultural University of Athens and author and member of the International Scholars Network of Intellectual Property in the Biosciences

European and UK Judges Experienced in Patent and other Intellectual Property Litigation

Justice Marianne Grabrucker, Former Presiding Judge at the Federal Patent Court of Germany 
Justice Richard Arnold, Judge of the High Court of England and Wales

Church Leaders on Social Justice, Development, and Intellectual Property Issues

Stephen ColecchiDirector of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 
Dr. Carlo Marenghi, Intellectual Property and Trade Attaché - Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations Office in Geneva and the World Trade Organization 
Msgr. Osvaldo Neves de Almeida, Holy See Secretariat of State 
Rt. Rev. John Sherrington, Vice-Chairman, Department of Christian Responsibility The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales 
H.E. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio - Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva and the World Trade Organization 

Leading Scholars of Theology and Bioethics

Claire Foster-Gilbert, Director of the Westminster Abbey Institute 
Dr. Martin Gouldstone, Director, Lifesciences advisory, BDO   
Sir Brian Heap, Former Master of St Edmund’s College, President of the European Academies Science Advisory Council and associate of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion   
David Albert Jones, Director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, Oxford 
Simon Lee, Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, Queen's University Belfast, and Fellow of St Edmund’s College and Executive Director of the Cambridge Theological Federation 
Calum MacKellar, Director of Research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics

Practicing Intellectual Property and Patent Lawyers from the UK, Europe, and Israel

Julian Cockbain, European Patent Lawyer, author, consultant and bioethics expert
Dr. Michael Factor, Israeli Patent attorney and IP factor blog meister 
Dr. Michael Kock, Head of Global IP, Syngenta

Conference Themes include:

Social justice theology in Christian tradition and its relevance to intellectual property; interventions of the Holy See (Vatican) on matters of intellectual property and social responsibility (patents and copyright); the place of religious ethics in decisions on patentable subject matter; public policy, religious organizations and patent law; Jewish law and intellectual property; the impact on developing countries of TRIPS; patenting of living forms and social justice in the third world; morality in trade mark and patent law and issues of exclusions; morality of patenting of human body parts and embryonic stem cell research; ethical alternatives to patents in protecting gene sequence research; and the politics of biotechnology patents.

Click here for a full list of speakers and paper titles. 

Sponsored by:

The Von Hügel Institute at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University
The Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota (USA).

All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.