The RSC Patent Debate – Does chemistry benefit from the patent system?
Wednesday, 28th October 2015

Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House

Piccadilly, London, UK


Registration is closed


Downloads and Links

Publicity flyer and speaker biographies


Venue directions

RSC website


Many joined us for what was one of the most fascinating chemistry events of the year. We were delighted to host a panel debate with four excellent speakers who were able to provide us with a whole spectrum of views on this subject.


Patents are often justified on the basis they provides inventors with an incentive to invest in research and development of new products, and to disclose valuable technical information to the public which would otherwise have remained secret. Innovative products might be costly to create, but once made available to the public can often be readily copied. Many believe that without intellectual property protection there would be an under protection of intellectual products. Patents are published and freely available to the public also constituting a substantive and valuable database of technical and scientific information.

However, arguments have been put forward that not only are many restricted in benefitting from a patent’s contribution to science but also that due to the sheer number of patents innovation has been stifled. Criticism also arises from the ability to set monopoly prices for products which are needed by many. A recent high profile case saw the 2010 Physics Nobel Prize winners refrain from patent protection for graphene, now the subject of thousands of patents and patent applications by other parties not directly involved in their research.

The question remains therefore, does Chemistry benefit from the patent system?

Speakers and Programme  

We were delighted to host a panel debate with numerous excellent speakers who were able to provide us with a whole spectrum of views on this subject.


Christopher Rennie-Smith (European patent consultant and former Chairman of the Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Office)


Professor Sir Nicholas Wald (Founding Director of the Wolfson Institute)
Sir Simon Campbell CBE (President of the Royal Society of Chemistry 2004 – 2006, and former Senior Vice-president, Pfizer)
Professor Chas Bountra (Oxford University, Structural Genomics Consortium Chief Scientist, and former Vice-president, GlaxoSmithKline)
Dr Mohga Kamal-Yanni MBE (Senior Health and HIV Policy Adviser of Oxfam)


The debate took place from 4 to 6 pm on Wednesday 28th October 2015 at the Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House, London. A drinks reception followed from 6 to 7 pm.



Drinks reception

- Each speaker introduced himself and delivered a brief statement of his view on whether the patent system is good for chemistry.
- A number of questions were put to each speaker in turn by the chairman (same questions to each speaker).
- Speakers then took questions from the floor.
- The programme concluded with a summary of the proceedings and each speaker in turn delivered his final opinions.

To allow the RSC Law Group to hold this event, we had to charge for tickets to attend the debate. Tickets cost £15, all of which went directly to cover the room hire and refreshments. Our speakers kindly donated their time for free. We had a limited number of tickets for this event, so early booking was advised.


Venue and Travel

The Library, The Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BA.  For directions, please follow this link.


Secretariat Contact

Maggi Churchouse, 3 East Barn, Market Weston Road, Thelnetham, Diss IP22 1JJ, UK

Telephone: +44 (0)1359 221004