Shabbat Morning

September 10, 2015

Thompson Lane
It was a close call whether to pray quickly and attend the morning lectures or to go to Synagogue. With Rosh Hashana around the corner, and knowing that my hosts would be understanding, religion won.

The Cambridge synagogue was familiar to me from my student days, where, although I studied at Imperial, I did have friends in Cambridge and spent a few Shabbatot (Sabbaths) there. The synagogue in Thompson Lane is non-affiliated Orthodox. There is gender separation, but the symbolic divide runs front to back, so women and men sit in a segregated but egalitarian arrangement. The dividing screens are also solid to waste height and above that, are merely a framework. In a pleasant break with tradition, the 1-12 year old girls opened the holy Ark. Apparently, in the college holidays, it’s usually the kids that open the ark, and the boys were outside playing something. Anyone can open the Ark and the honour is frequently given to non-Jewish visiting dignitaries. Nevertheless, it seemed to me to be sensible and refreshing to give the ladies something to do.

An Israeli mathematician, Dr Yoav Gitt, read the weekly Torah portion. When I’d last visited, as a student in the early nineties, Yoav, then a student, was the regular reader, and it seems that he’s been in demand ever since.

Israel Patent Attorney, Standford T Colb donated a Sefer Torah to the Cambridge Synagogue in Honour of his father. Apparently both he and his son had spent happy semesters there.

Due to the Synagogue visit, I missed the session on Patents and life forms that was chaired by Professor Simon Lee, Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge and executive director of the Cambridge Theological Federation and which included the following lectures:

  • Patenting on life forms/judgments of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office – Christopher Rennie-Smith, Former Chair of the Biotech Board of Appeal and former Member of the Enlarged Board of Appeal at the European Patent Office
  • Legal and ethical aspects of the patenting of human body materials – Dr Julian Cockbain, European Patent Lawyer, author, consultant and bioethics expert
  • Patents and the moral limits of markets: The case of germ line interventions – Dr Katerina Sideri, Intellectual Property advisor, Agricultural University of Athens; and Member of the International Scholars Network of Intellectual Property in the Biosciences

I also missed most of the second session, titled Patents, human rights and politics

Chair: Professor Elizabeth Schiltz, Professor of Law, Thomas J. Abood Research Scholar and Co-Director of the Terrence J. Murphy Institute at the University of St Thomas in Minnesota

  • Patent governance, ethics, and democracy – Professor Ingrid Schneider, Department of Political Sciences, University of Hamburg, Research Centre for Biotechnology, Society and the Environment
  • Human Rights and Life Patents: Lessons from the Church’s Social Teaching and Engagement – Dr Stephen Colecchi, Director of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Patents on Embryonic Stem Cells: On Moral Intrigue at the European Patent Office – Dr Justin Turner QC, Barrister at Three New Square chambers, Lincoln’s Inn; Director of UKAD

For lunch I had fried fish, mashed potato and spinach again.  After my parents retired, they immigrated to Netanya, which is a Mediterranean Bournemouth on Sea. They’ve found a Synagogue called Young Israel, with an average age of congregant being about 70, and where most members are British retirees. Nothing Young and nothing Israel about it. They’ve got used to the local diet and one can find things like Marmite, English teabags, etc. if one is willing to pay a premium. What one cannot get in Israel is fresh North sea fish suitable for frying. I had fish & chips at a Hendon restaurant on the Wednesday, and two Hermolis meals in Cambridge on Shabbat. That’s three lots of haddock. It’s true, there is nothing like British fried fish. Funnily enough, Mrs Beaton describes it as fish in the Jewish tradition, and apparently it arrived with Portuguese Jewish immigrants in Cromwell’s time.

IP, Genetic Resources, Social Justice, and Development

September 10, 2015

The final Friday Session titled “IP, Genetic Resources, Social Justice, and Development” was chaired by Claire Foster-Gilbert, Director of the Westminster Abbey Institute.
Professor Ruth Okediji, William L. Prosser Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School gave a talk titled “Am I my brother’s keeper? Stewardship and the emerging international framework for the protection of genetic resources and Traditional Knowledge” where she cited Leviticus 19:9 and Deuteronomy 26:19 (and Christian Bible equivalents) which relate to the commandments of, when harvesting, leaving dropped wheat stalks for the poor to glean, leaving forgotten sheaves and not harvesting the last corner.

ruth 2
This struck me as quite appropriate for someone named Ruth as the Book of Ruth describes these commandments in action. Professor Okedji’s noted that we are custodians rather than out and out owners, that bounty comes from God and when bringing a drug to market, there is a social obligation to remember the poor.

Professor Ruth Okediji is a member of the Living World Christian Center, a non-denominational, full gospel church, which is probably the kind of service that would result from crossing Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach with Tina Turner.
What was significant about her talk was that it was the first attempt by any of the lecturers to cite Scripture and to relate religious obligations, which none of the Bishops felt comfortable doing.

Professor Graham Dutfield, Professor of International Governance, University of Leeds School of Law, Member of the International Scholars Networks of Intellectual Property in the Biosciences spoke on “Intellectual Property, Indigenous Customary Law, and the Benefit-Sharing Debate: Can it ever be resolved?” The talk was very much one of debunking standard paradigms given with enthusiasm and humour.  Memoriably, he noted that fabulously long incomprehensible sentences with a smattering of commas and the occasional random semicolons in IP treaties were invariably the result of careful negotiation, leaving each of the parties free to interpret as they like.
Professor Dutfield was followed by Dr Carlo Marenghi, IP & Trade Attaché: Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva & WTO who spoke on Intellectual Property Rights and Global Policy Challenges: energizing the multilateral system. The conference broke up, to reconvene with a formal banquet sponsored by Syngenta, which indicated seemed like enlightened self interest by the global seed giant.

Patents on Life: The Roles of Ethics, Commerce, and Religion

September 10, 2015


The first afternoon session was entitled “Patents on Life: The Roles of Ethics, Commerce, and Religion” and was Chaired by Professor Tom Berg of the University of St Thomas, Minnesota.

syngenta  Dr Michael Kock, Global Head of IP, Syngenta spoke on “Patents for life: Towards an ethical use of patents on plant innovations”. Unfortunately, Dr Kock has a German accent that is reminiscent of 1960s style war movies, but his presentation as excellent. It purported to look for a balance between corporate greed and the public good and to critically examine genetic engineering, however, essentially was a very informative and persuasive corporate presentation on why none of our crops can be considered natural, noting that carrots were white, until they were crossed with the Persian purple carrot in nineteenth century Holland as a tribute to the Royal House of Orange, to create the orange root we are familiar with. He argued convincingly, that all food was genetically modified.

Dr Kock focused on why introducing a rot resistant gene from Chinese cabbage into cauliflower, white cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc. by genetic engineering was more efficient than selective breeding. However he didn’t really discuss the more controversial topic of transplanting a gene from one genus to another, with the implicit Spiderman worries.  True, the presentation was a carefully crafted presentation from industry. Nevertheless, it does put things into some sort of perspective. He suggested a radical arbitration mechanism based on game theory and the prisoner’s dilemma to determine the correct licensing royalty in IP disputes.

painting the roses red

Professor Margo A. Bagley, of theUniversity of Virginia School of Law ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’: Morality and Misappropriation in Life Sciences Patenting” and Professor Paul Heald, Professor of Law, University of Illinois spoke about “One Nation Under Pfizer (or maybe Monsanto)”.

I wondered what Father Gregor Mendel  would have thought of it all.

During yet another coffee break, to clarify the point that popular opinion on genetic engineering and science is based on ignorance, someone told me that when presented with a ripe tomato and told that it contained 350,000 genes, 80% of respondents were horrified and wouldn’t eat it.

“Intellectual Property exclusions – who decides and how?”

September 10, 2015

After the coffee break, the conference took on a more traditional IP feel, with a session chaired by Dr Roman Cholij on “Intellectual Property exclusions – who decides and how?”

 Judge Arnold and Dr Factor

Judge Arnold and Dr Factor

The Hon. Mr Justice Richard Arnold, Judge of the High Court of England and Wales spoke on “Trade marks which are contrary to public policy or accepted principles of morality”.

After apologizing for referring to branding that some might find offensive, Judge Arnold referred to various marks that were considered offensive and others, such as Dick and Fanny for contraceptives, though crude, were considered acceptable. Of course, in a Catholic country, contraceptives might be considered as against ordre public. Old favorites, such as FCUK standing for French Connection United Kingdom were discussed. The final case mentioned was Fucking Hell, a brand of beer which was allowed since hell is German for pale and signified that this was a pale ale, and Fucking is a village in Austria where it is made.
(Interestingly, in the conference I organized back in 2011, my brother Aharon (ne Jeremy) spoke about similar Israel trademarks. One such Israel trademark to be refused was Jesus Boat. I trademark for a company offering cruises in the sea of Galilee. Is it offensive? I think not. Then again, I am not a Christian.

I have seen many of Judge Arnold’s IP rulings over the years, and recent Israeli decisions such as Waters of Eden and finding ISPs responsible for not patrolling the Internet for copyright infringement cite his rulings. His ruling re Mylan infringing Copaxone’s patent was favorably received in Israel, whereas his ruling re patent term extensions for Neurim was appealed, and Lord Robin Jacobs referred it to the European Court of Justice ECJ.  It was a pleasure meeting such an erudite member of the judiciary.

Dr Kathleen Liddell, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge and Director, Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences spoke on “Immorality and patents: the exclusion of inventions contrary to ordre public and morality”. I wondered if she was related to Alice Liddell, the daughter of Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church  and inspiration of the Wonderland stories, in what is referred to in Cambridge as ‘the other place’.

Professor Joshua D. Sarnoff, who was clearly a member of the Tribe, spoke on “Religious, Moral, and Philosophical Origins of the Exclusions from Patents for Science, Nature, and Abstract Ideas, How They Should Be Applied, and Why It Matters”. He covered a tremendous amount of history in a short time and gave the most convincing explanation of why the isolation of materials such as insulin or genes could be considered as inventing rather than discovery, and thus be patentable.

For lunch, I was given a tray with a Halla and a range of sealed packages of delicatessen style Kosher food. Oddly, there was both cream cheese and sliced turkey, with poultry being considered meat and thus not servable with milk products for about two millenia when the dissenting Rabbi Yossi the Galilean, buckled under.
I ate the sliced turkey with hummus and a packet of ginger biscuits. I later put the chopped herring and smoked salmon in the fridge and flew them back to Israel. I put the Halla to one side, expecting a second one for supper, two loaves, representing the double portion of manna, being required for Friday night’s meal. What struck me most about the conference, with its wide eclectic audience, was how very friendly everyone was.

Religious Perspectives on Intellectual Property

September 10, 2015

The bishop's gambit

My talk was part of the opening plenum titled Religious Perspectives on Intellectual Property. The chairperson and other speakers were a Bishop, an Archbishop and a Cardinal. We all wore similar charcoal suits, but whereas I wore a white shirt and regular tie, rather like the sort of thing I’d have worn to Synagogue in the UK, the others wore black shirts and dog collars. I felt a little like a bagel at Mass, although everyone was very friendly.

The plenum was chaired by the Rt Rev John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Department of Christian Responsibility, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales’. Right Reverend Sherrington is a delightful chap that I could imagine spending a happy evening with in a pub. He wore the largest Crucifix I’ve seen around someone’s neck outside a vampire movie. Apparently, the cross is worn opposite the heart and a ring, symbolizing marriage to the church, is worn on the finger. I reflected that Judaism has bondage style black strapped phylacteries (Tefillin) that hold the paragraphs of the first and second paragraphs of the Shema (dealing with Unity of God and reward and punishment in the Promised Land) and other texts in a box worn on the triceps opposite the hand, and the strap is wrapped seven times round the forearm and then thrice around the finger, symbolizing past, present and future as a sort of eternity ring, whilst reciting Hosea 2: 21 “And I will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion.” Although the symbol is different, the symbolism is the same.

His Eminence Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio: Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva & WTO spoke on “The contribution of the Holy See to the Intellectual Property debate at the multilateral level”. This was followed by a talk titled “IP Rights and the Fundamental Right to the Commons in the Light of Catholic Social Teaching” by Monsigneur Osvaldo Neves de Almeida, Holy See Secretariat of State, with responsibility for TRIPs (WTO), UNCTAD and formerly for WIPO.

Archbishop Tomasi spoke very well, but didn’t say anything substantive. There was nothing notably Catholic about it. No scriptural references. There was a lot of pontification about respecting patents and copyright as private property whilst finding a balance with the common good and the importance of feeding the poor. The overall effect was somewhat similar to what might happen if an eminent Rabbi were to be asked to address a mixed faith academic conference. As I pointed out in the subsequent discussion, IP Law attempts to do just that but providing geographical and time limited monopolies and fair use clauses. It seemed to me that either the Catholic Church’s representation at WIPO has no effect, or, the various international treaties governing IP resulted from Catholic teaching.

Monsigneur Osvaldo Neves de Almeida’s talk was more interesting. He gave the impression of having more specific knowledge regarding both ethical issues relating to IP, and the church’ position. However, his English, though far superior to my Latin, was nevertheless not great. I think there is a problem that Catholic Bishops are conformists. One cannot expect two bishops to assume different positions, or a third bishop chairing the event, to ask a challenging question. Also, like most Rabbis, it seems that bishops don’t feel the need to use slides. Unlike many Rabbis, they also don’t seem to use parables or jokes to try to engage the audience.

I was afraid that the audience were quietly phasing out, and when I took the podium I decided to wake them. I asked for a quick show of hands to determine which members of the audience were theologians, which were academics and which were patent practitioners.

Vicars and Tarts  see also BBC REV! Series 1 Episode 6.

I then stated that if, instead of a serious, erudite and formal conference, this was a ‘Vicars and Tarts party’ and, after, about two minutes, when the laughter had died down enough to finish the sentence, I noted that I’d have come along as a tart, since I, like other patent attorneys, was an Intellectual Prostitute in that I used my skills to provide services to anyone willing to pay and that I don’t have any professional morals, or at least very few.
I spoke on “Patents, Life and Social Justice: Musings of a Mosaic Maven”. I started with noting that the classic sources such as the Bible, the Talmud and Responsa literature have a lot to say about life and about social justice. However, since patents have only been around since towards the end of the 18th century, there was nothing about patents, and thus nothing about life, patents and social justice. However, I discussed a fascinating anecdote brought in the Babylonian Talmud (Avoda Zara 28a) that relates to life, trade secrets and social justice:
We have a Tradition:
Rabbi Yohanan* suffered from scurvy#. He went to a Roman matron on Thursday and
again on Friday, and received some medicine for his gums. He asked her what he should do the
following day [Shabbat], and she told him that he was cured. He asked for details of the treatment and swore to the God of Israel that he would keep her secret. She told him the treatment. The following day at the beginning of his Sermon, Rabbi Yohanan announced the treatment.

Question – but he’d promised her. Answer, he’d already told her that it wasn’t a real
Question, but he’d swore on the God of Israel. Answer, not exactly. He’d swore to
the God of Israel, i.e. not to reveal to God [who knows all things anyway, but hadn’t
sworn not to tell people.
Question, but it is a Hillul Hashem – a desecration of the Divine Name. [this is the typical term applied to Jews behaving badly in front of non-Jews]. Answer, he told her that he’d break his promise.
Said R. Nahman b. Isaac: Scurvy is different, because although starting in the mouth it extends to the intestines.

Babylonian Talmud Avoda Zara 28a
*180 – 280 C.E. Tzipori (Galilee, Israel – the cure evidently worked as Rabbi Yoachanan lived 100 years!
# Tsadfina – Greek Sӗpedόn (putrid abscess), related to sӗptikόs (Latin, Septicus → septic

Rabbi Nahman b. Isaac’s explanation is that since scurvy is a fatal disease, the common good reflecting the right to know, outweighed confidentiality and the personal property rights of the Roman matron.

I then discussed the political, historical and theological ramifications of the Weizmann patent, a fairly insignificant 135 line document that described using bacteria to make acetone and butanol. Acetone helped the British synthesize explosives and was very significant in the British War Effort in World War I and butanol enabled the US to make butadiene for artificial rubber in the World War II. Amongst other ramifications, Weizmann’s influence, resulting from the patent, was instrumental in securing the Balfour Declaration and US recognition of the State of Israel, an event that I suggested had theological ramifications for Christians. Having run out of time, I skipped to recent cases and concluded that most controversial issues concerning life science patents, such as BRAC gene patenting, patent term extensions for medicines and the like, were really issues concerning whether or not one believed in capitalism. The main exception is stem cell research which is not patentable subject matter in Europe following Catholic pressure, since Catholics see life as starting with conception. Judaism sees life as starting at 40 days, when membranes form, which, a bio-ethicist explained to me actually comes from Aristotle. That as may be, in Israel, there is no opposition to stem cell research from Rabbis or from religious parties. One hopes that if any treatments result, that Catholics and other Christian groups with similar beliefs will be prepared to use the treatments and won’t see them as being the fruit from the poisoned tree. The full 11,000 word paper will be published shortly.

Over coffee (accompanied by Walkers biscuits with have a (U)D Kosher Certification) a Catholic professor quoted Milton Friedman to the effect that companies’ only purpose is to make money, and disagreed with bishops seeing companies as having a responsibility towards the third world. I am aware that there are dissenters to Friedman’s position, but don’t think that companies have moral or religious duties, only people do.

It occurred to me that none of the senior Catholic clergymen could have made the Vicars and Tarts joke. Furthermore, due to Papal infallibility, the Auxiliary Bishop chairing the plenum could not challenge the Archbishop or the Cardinal.
Afterwards, I had some other realizations that were more disturbing. It seems that due to a combination of factors such as recent pedophilia scandals, the secular mainstream and the fact that Catholicism is a minority faith in the UK, even bishops are unable to preach. All three steered clear of concepts such as God, faith or religious duty.

To put it another way, the previous evening I’d seen the ABBA juke-box musical Mama Mia in the West End. The story line is about 20-year-old Sophie who is preparing to marry her fiancé. She wants her father to walk her down the aisle but does not know who he is since her Mother Donna had had intimate relations with three men. As a pregnant single woman, she’d been thrown out of the house. Sophie wanted to get married so that her children would know who their father was. One of the candidates was homosexual. One had stayed faithfully married to a women he didn’t love. Donna’s girlfriend was twice divorced. In other words, the musical had more to say about personal life choices than either of the bishops’ lectures.

Disturbingly, Monsigneur Osvaldo Neves de Almeida mentioned the three transcendental religions, Catholicism, Islam and Judaism. I realized that as a Jew, I was acceptable to be on a panel with them, however, the Presbyterians, Anglicans, Evangelicals and others in the audience were not. I had had similar issues at the event I arranged in 2011. I was blocked from having non-Orthodox professors presenting.

Patents on Life: Through the Lenses of Law, Religious Faith and Social Justice – ‘defining the boundaries’

September 10, 2015

VHI WEBSITE NEW jpg 375 px

I was flattered and delighted to be invited to lecture at a conference titled ‘Patents on Life: Through the Lenses of Law, Religious Faith and Social Justice’ on 4-5 September 2015. The conference was co-sponsored by the Von Hügel Institute (VHI), an interdisciplinary research institution dedicated to the study of the relationship between Christianity and society based at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge, and the Terrence J. Murphy Institute, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota (USA), which is a US institute with a similar agenda.

The program was organized by Dr Roman Cholij, a Cambridge based trademark attorney  who spoke at an event I organized on ‘Intellectual Property in Jewish Law‘ back in 2011 together with the Yad l’Rav Herzog Talmudic Research Institute which publishes the Talmudic Encyclopedia.

I invited Dr Cholij to talk about IP in the Christian tradition and also invited Professor Amir Khoury of Tel Aviv University to talk about IP in Arab Countries, to provide some colour and contrast in that conference which was top heavy with Rabbis and Orthodox Jewish IP Professors such as Jeremy Phillips (trademarks) and David Nimmer (copyright). It seems that that conference was the inspiration for the present one, so I seem to have god-fathered a Catholic conference! As Koheleth (Ecclesiastes 11:1) put it: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days”.

Taken from their website, the Von Hügel Institute (VHI) is an interdisciplinary research institution dedicated to the study of the relationship between Christianity and society based at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge. Founded in 1987 the institute preserves and develops the Roman Catholic heritage of St Edmund’s and carries out research on contemporary political, social, legal and economic issues from the perspective of Catholic social teaching. The VHI is committed to an ecumenical approach working with Christians and other faith groups and responding to challenges to the common good and threats to human dignity and life.

The participants of the conference were housed in the cloisters dormitories of Murray Edwards College, which I remember as New Hall. I had several friends, mostly seminary semi girls that were registered and studied there. However, I’d never seen the dorms. They weren’t that kind of girl women.

Each room had a bed, a wardrobe and a desk and bookcase, with on suite bathroom. In Yeshiva, we were three to a room of a similar size (1 bunk + 1 single). However, study took place in pairs in the Bet Midrash or study hall, resulting to an ambient noise level that may occur in the canteen in Cambridge, but I doubt would be tolerated in the library.

The conference addressed the following types of questions:

  • Should control of living matter be in the hands of private corporations?
  • Are patents on seeds defensible in developing countries?
  • Should information on the human genome be privatised?
  • Who should decide when a patent should be forbidden on grounds of immorality

In addition to Israel’s top IP blogger, the star cast of speakers included top Vatican officials, academics, lawyers, industry professionals, theologians and representatives of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and attracted lawyers and patent attorneys, theologians, bioethicists, social and political scientists, environmentalists, life scientists and students of law, religion and social justice.

The full programme is available here.

From the Church – leaders on social justice, development, and IP:

  • Stephen ColecchiDirector of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Dr. Carlo MarenghiIP & Trade Attaché: Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva & WTO
  • Mons. Osvaldo Neves de Almeida, Secretariat of State, with responsibility for TRIPs (WTO), UNCTAD and formerly for WIPO
  • The Rt Rev John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Department of Christian Responsibility, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales
  • H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. TomasiApostolic Nuncio: Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva & WTO
Legal academics – experts in patent and IP law from Europe and the US:
  • Prof. Margo A. Bagley, Hardy Cross Dillard Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Prof. Graham DutfieldProfessor of International Governance, University of Leeds School of Law, Member of the International Scholars Networks of Intellectual Property in the Biosciences
  • Prof. Paul HealdRichard W. and Marie L. Corman Professor of Law, University of Illinois
  • Dr Kathleen LiddellFaculty of Law, University of Cambridge and Director, Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences
  • Prof. Ruth OkedijiWilliam L. Prosser Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School
  • Prof. Joshua D. SarnoffProfessor of Law, DePaul University, USA
  • Prof. Brian Scarnecchia, Ave Maria School of Law, Franciscan University of Steubenville, USA
  • Prof. Ingrid SchneiderDepartment of Political Sciences, University of Hamburg, Research Centre for Biotechnology, Society and the Environment
  • Dr Katerina SideriIntellectual Property Advisor, Agricultural University of Athens; Member of the International Scholars Network of Intellectual Property in the Biosciences
From legal practice and industry:
  • The Hon. Mr Justice Richard ArnoldJudge of the High Court of England and Wales
  • Dr Julian CockbainEuropean Patent Lawyer, author, consultant and bioethics expert
  • Mark EngelmanBarrister and Head of IP at Hardwicke Chambers, Lincoln’s Inn; Master of the Bench, Gray’s Inn; Von Hügel Institute Research Associate, St Edmund’s College
  • Dr Michael Factor, leading Israeli Patent attorney and IP blogger
  • Martin Gouldstone, Head of Lifesciences Advisory, BDO
  • Dr Michael KockGlobal Head of IP, Syngenta
  • Christopher Rennie-SmithFormer Chair of the Biotech Board of Appeal and former Member of the Enlarged Board of Appeal at the European Patent Office
  • Dr Justin Turner QC, Barrister at Three New Square chambers, Lincoln’s Inn; Director of UKAD (the United Kingdom anti-doping agency); former member of the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC)
Theologians and ethicists:
Conference co-hosts:
  • Prof. Tom Berg, James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of St Thomas, Minnesota
  • Dr Roman Cholij, Von Hügel Institute Research Associate, St Edmund’s College; IP Practitioner

It would be very time consuming to reproduce all the excellent presentations, and I understand that a book of the papers presented is forthcoming.

The following blog postings detail each session and some of what were for me, the highlights of the event, and some thoughts about the similarities and differences of Judaism and Catholicism.

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner

September 8, 2015

I am just back from a short break in the UK, where I presented a paper at a conference on Life, Patents and Social Justice at the Van Hugel Institute, Cambridge.

To keep things bite-size, I am blogging my adventures in a number of posts. This one is about the three days I spent in London.

I love the drizzle of London. I love the Underground where everyone studiously avoids eye contact with everyone else; minding the gap and also their own business. I love the chill in the air and the dampness. I love the greyness and greenness of it all. At least after the hot dry Israeli summer with the long summer vacation, It was wonderful to catch a few days in London and, after the long vacation, to enjoy a holiday from the family.


I managed to catch a couple of plays, to see some old friends and to stock up on underwear in Marks & Clerk Sparks, Spenser It’s not that one can’t buy underpants in Israel. Israelis do. Indeed, we do for the rest of the family. It’s just that apparently one take the Englishman out of London, but somethings remain. I stocked up on mustard powder, tea bags, smoked salmon and piccalilli.

My fellow ex-Pats such as Israel patent attorneys Dr Susan Lifshitz, Michael Morris, Jeremy Ben-David and Warren Kaye will know exactly what I mean. Noone else will.


“The time has come the Walrus said, to talk of many things”. Who’d have thought that instead of one day travel cards, one pays the carpenter for London traveling with oysters? Other than that, very little had changed. I saw posters in the tube station that must have been around when I was in the third form (Eighth Grade) announcing the last few weeks of 1984. The more things change, I reflected, the more things stay the same. In other, words, the pigs become men.


London Suburbia. Tudorbethan semidetached houses with a garage from which one can take the car out. But why would one? There is no parking in London, any where, or at least not within 1 mile of a tube or train station, at any time. Doorsteps, often covered with triangular porch supported on Doric columns for meeting the postman or milkman. The hall with the stairs running up one side. Wallpaper! Wall-to-wall carpeting over creaky floorboards. Linoleum. Formica covered counter tops. The dining room for special occasions and sancti-sancticorum, the morning room for only the most intimate of friends.


I managed to catch two musicals. I saw a show called “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway if You Haven’t Any Jews. The show tracks the development of the Broadway musical from Gershwin, through Rogers & Hammerstein and Sondheim, with performances of many hit songs. The storyline basically argued that it wasn’t just the composers and lyricists who were Jewish, but also the 25% of New Yorkers who were Jewish that made up the audience. I was sitting near the front, and turned around to have a look at the audience. Although I was the only one in a Kipa, I’d hazard a guess that 80% of the audience were members of the tribe. On stage, with the notable exception of the highly-talented but way to blonde and blue eyed Lloyd, and the Gentile but not obviously so, fabulous singer, Sara Brightman, the vast majority of the caste were clearly Jewish as well. The bar was serving special New Year, Kosher Cocktails with ingredients such as pomegranate juice (grenadine), apple & honey liquers. The show was a foot tapping success, with hits from West Side Story, Guys 7 Dolls, Chicago, Annie Get Your Gun and Fiddler on the Roof. The second half had the theme music of Fame, songs from Hairspray and Gypsy.

Fiddler and, of course, Mel Brooks hilarious musical The Producers were obviously written by Jews, but the Sound of Music? Little Shop of Horrors? Sweeney Todd?

The cast came out into the foyer at the end, and were very friendly.


Leicester Square now has a Ben & Jerry’s a couple of doors along from Haagen Dazs , so one can choose from a wide range of gourmet classical or funky ice-creams, and they are all Kosher!


The second show I saw was the fabulous but definitely goyish Mama Mia. I spent much of the Seventies travelling to and from school by school bus, and Abba was the soundtrack of my childhood. I recognized virtually all the songs. Oddly, for a dukebox musical created around previously written songs, it works! The story is about a girl who invites all three of her mother’s paramours to her wedding, as she wanted her father to be there and was sure she’d recognize him. It struck me that the I was about the age of the three men. Spooky.

badger beer

Professor Jeremy Phillips invited me to join him and his gang of IP professionals at the Old Nick, a delightful olde pub in Holborn. Their local brew is known as badger’s. To me, it tasted like Brockian piss, and after a few sips, I asked the blogmeister if it would offend him if I added some lemonade. He was somewhat horrified by the idea, but not offended. On shandification, it was quite palatable. One eminent practitioner ordered a pint of tumbleweed Tangle-wood. There was something strange about it all.


IP Solo bloggers Barbara Cookson and Jeremy Phillips, together with Jo Collens, Michael Jaegar and I reconvened at Reubens. I forgo their signature salt beef and their fish & chips for beef wellington. It was very good. You’d never have known that it was made from old boots.


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