By: Robert R. Sachs

As mentioned in my September 13 post, Fenwick sponsored UC Davis’ fifth annual Lecture Series in Technology, Entrepreneurship, Science and Law (TESLaw) on September 27, 2013. A video recording of the event is available at the following link: On the Frontier of the Future: Innovation and the Evolution of Patentable Subject Matter.   

This year’s program featured spirited discussion among scholars and practitioners in the patentable subject matter debate, with a particular focus on the software and life sciences spaces. The panelists addressed problems in the Supreme Court’s approach to laws of nature and abstract ideas, and discussed different ways that the courts could address the issue. At the end of the life sciences panel, I questioned panelists Kevin Emerson Collins and Rebecca Eisenberg as to why they felt it necessary to reinterpret Prometheus as talking about per se categories, rather than taking it at face value for being about laws of nature, in which event the Court should be cognizant of what scientists and philosophers of science think about laws of nature. See the discussion starting at 01:20:40. I moderated the afternoon panel on abstract ideas, which panelist Pam Samuelson called a “feisty debate.” 

It has truly been an honor for my Fenwick partners and I to co-host this symposium with UC Davis over the past five years, and we look forward to collaborating with the university in the future.