FTC to Co-Sponsor Conference on Patent System Reform

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On April 15 and 16, 2004, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology will co-sponsor a conference to address patent reform and how it might be implemented. The event will bring together government officials, business representatives, scholars, lawyers, and leading members of the patent community to discuss the most significant recommendations of two recent reports on patent reform – one from the FTC and one from the NAS that will be issued the week of April 12. In October 2003, the FTC issued a report on how to promote innovation by finding the proper balance of competition and patent law and policy. The FTC report contained ten recommendations to reform the patent system, including legislative and regulatory changes to improve patent quality.


FTC Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson and Deputy General Counsel for Policy Studies Susan S. DeSanti will participate in the conference, along with government representatives from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office. Industry participants include representatives from CISCO, Chiron, eBay, Eli Lilly, Genentech, Google, Inflexion Point Strategy, Intel, and Microsoft. Representatives from the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law, and the Intellectual Property Owners Association also will participate.


“Patents can protect innovators and incentivize innovation. However, inappropriately granted patents can have the opposite effect by stifling competition and innovation. The end result may harm consumers by depriving them of new or higher-quality products,” said Commissioner Thompson. “This remarkable conference brings together academics, industry leaders, and government officials to discuss recent studies and patent reform proposals released by the FTC and the National Academy of Sciences. It also spotlights the importance of innovation as a hallmark of the American economy.”
The conference will include substantive discussion on several key reform proposals: changes to the obviousness standard, proposals for opposition and post-grant review, and changes to litigation rules.


On April 15, 2004, the conference will begin at 12:00 p.m. PST with a press conference and press tutorial at the Bancroft Hotel in Berkeley, CA. The complete agenda, including schedules, a complete list of speakers, registration information, and directions, is available on the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/patentsystem/index.htm and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology Web site at www.law.berkeley.edu/institutes/bclt/patentreform/. The conference is accredited by the State Bar of California for eight hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit. The NAS Statement of Task for its upcoming report on patent reform and a list of members of the committee for that report can be found at www.law.berkeley.edu/institutes/bclt/patentreform/NAS_Task_Statement.pdf.


Contact Information

Media Contact:
Jen Schwartzman
Office of Public Affairs
Staff Contact:
Matthew Bye
Office of the General Counsel