Manchester   |     |   Public conference

The great IP debate

It is in the great tradition of UK debating societies that we offer a structured, pro and con debate on one of the most contentious issues in innovation: Are patents good or bad? The case for patents has been made since the 17th century. In exchange for disclosing one’s invention, the state grants a limited, legal monopoly over exploitation. So far, so simple – and it’s on that basis that most of the major technologies of the past few hundred years have evolved. However recently, the voices of dissent have been rising, legal costs are high, specialists game the system to their advantage and life-saving innovations can be priced beyond the means of the poor. A series of academic ‘Occupy’ movements have emerged, for open innovation, Creative Commons and other models.

In this debate, done in the classic Oxford Union style, we pit two teams of debaters against each other. The debate will be fair and unbiased. This is a field already overrun with demagoguery. Now we hear the facts, pro and con.