FTC Announces First in Series of Hearings on Evolving Intellectual Property Marketplace

Public Hearing to be Held in Washington, DC, on December 5, 2008

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The Federal Trade Commission today announced the first of a possible series of public hearings to explore the evolving market for intellectual property (IP). The hearings will be held beginning on December 5, 2008, in Washington, DC. The FTC will examine changes in IP law, patent-related business models, and new learning about the operation of the IP marketplace since the issuance in October 2003 of the Commission report To Promote Innovation: The Proper Balance of Competition and Patent Law and Policy.

An agenda for the hearing is available as a link to this press release. Additional information about the December 5 and subsequent hearings will be available on the website for the hearings, which can be accessed from http://www.ftc.gov/bc/workshops/ipmarketplace/.

The patent system has experienced significant change since the FTC released its first IP Report in October 2003, and more changes are under consideration. The courts and patentees are exploring the full implications of Supreme Court and Federal Circuit decisions on injunctive relief, patentability, and licensing issues. Congress has considered sweeping legislative patent reform, and new debates on the appropriate methods for calculating infringement damages have engaged the patent community. New business models for buying, selling and licensing patents have emerged and evolved since 2003. In addition, there is new learning regarding the operation of the patent system and its contribution to innovation and competition.

The cumulative impact of these changes and proposed changes are poorly understood. They contain the potential to significantly influence a patent’s economic value and the operation of the IP marketplace. The Commission’s hearings will consider the effect of these changes on innovation, competition, and consumer welfare.

The hearing on December 5, 2008, will consist of three panels, each designed to examine different aspects of the evolving IP marketplace. The first panel will address developing business models. Panelists will discuss the operation of emerging business models, aspects of the patent system that support those models, and industry responses. The discussion also will explore the implications these developing business models have for patent valuation and licensing. The second panel will examine recent and proposed changes in remedies law, including their impact on innovation and consumers, and their use of economic analysis in determining remedies. In the third panel, participants will examine legal doctrines that affect the value and licensing of patents, such as the recent Supreme Court cases on obviousness, declaratory judgment and exhaustion, and doctrines that make the scope and enforcement of patents unpredictable. The panel will consider whether the notice function of patents operates to support an efficient marketplace. FTC Chairman William Kovacic will offer opening remarks, and the Honorable Paul R. Michel, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, will give the keynote address.

The FTC’s hearings on the Evolving Intellectual Property Marketplace are free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required, but all attendees must present a valid photo ID for admission to the agency’s satellite building, which is located at 601 New Jersey Ave., NW.

The Commission is seeking public comments in response to any of the topics discussed in the Federal Register notice announcing the hearing series or any other announcements related to the agency’s hearings on the Evolving IP Marketplace. Comments must be received by February 5, 2009, and should refer to “Evolving IP Marketplace - P093900.” Information on how to submit written and electronic comments to the Commission is available at the web site for the hearings, which can be accessed from http://www.ftc.gov/bc/workshops/ipmarketplace/.

The hearings will be accessible to people with disabilities. Anyone needing a related accommodation should contact Carrie McGlothlin at the FTC at 202-326-3388 or cmcglothlin@ftc.gov. Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodations needed and contact information if more information is needed. Please provide advance notice of accommodation needs.

The Commission vote to issue a Federal Register notice announcing the IP hearings series was 4-0. The notice will be published soon and is available now on the FTC’s web site and as a link to this press release. The notice provides additional background and discussion of topics that the hearings will explore.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

(FTC File No. P093900)

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Mitchell J. Katz,
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161
STAFF CONTACT:
Erika Meyers,
Bureau of Competition
202-326-2076