Public Patent Foundation


     The Public Patent Foundation is a not-for-profit legal services organization whose mission is to protect freedom in the patent system.  In the video below, PUBPAT's Executive Director speaks more in depthly about PUBPAT's Mission and Activities.  It is the recording of a presentation made at Google Inc. in August 2008.

     Specifically, PUBPAT works to strengthen the patent system by introducing a healthy amount of non-patentee input to help the system achieve high quality and balanced policies.  At its core, our work is based on the fundamental concept of protecting freedom from illegitimate restraint.  Since patents are, by nature, government-granted restraints on freedom, every Tuesday (the day of the week the Patent Office issues new patents) there are roughly 4,500 new things that no American is allowed to do, and there is no fair use defense to patent infringement like with copyright and trademark.  Thus, although we do believe that a properly functioning patent system can help a vibrant innovative economy, great care must nonetheless be taken to avoid the negative effects that over-patenting, unmerited patenting and excessive patent rights can have on society.

     The best way to do that is to ensure that all of the interests affected by the patent system, including the public interest in freedom from unjustified restraints, are adequately represented.  For example, if there are substantial questions about the validity of a patent having a significant negative impact on society, such as by limiting access, perverting markets or thwarting technological development, then we must have those questions raised and addressed.  Many have debated the most efficient way to accomplish this goal, but few have made a rational case against the goal itself.

     On a practical level, we use existing mechanisms within the patent system to achieve our mission of representing the public interest in freedom from unjustified patent restraints. For example, our principal activity is challenging patents that we believe are invalid. The patents that we challenge are those that we believe are having a significant chilling effect on some conduct that would otherwise be permissible, if not desirable, including, for example, competition, research and the exercise of civil liberties. Several of the patents we have challenged have been found invalid by courts and the Patent Office. Thus the public benefited from the freedom thereby restored. Even in those cases where the patents we challenged were upheld, we believe the public nonetheless benefited from having the substantial questions of validity we raised about those patents addressed.

     We also take advantage of opportunities to advocate for a more effective patent system, including through amicus briefs, legislative and administrative policy statements and public presentations. Our team of lawyers and law students have what is really no more than a typical advanced patent practice. Support for our work has come from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Rudolph Steiner Foundation, and numerous individuals.

     In closing, we at PUBPAT do not seek to have our view predominate, but to assure there is a vigorous debate about the patent system and that there is careful public scrutiny of particular important patents of questionable validity. We seek to express our perspective as part of the marketplace of ideas, believing that society benefits from such free and open criticism. In that spirit, we welcome thoughts and comment on our work from all members of the patent community, as we really enjoy meeting and speaking with people affected by patents. Our doors are always open, and so are our minds.

PUBPAT's Board of Directors

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