Public Patent Foundation

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PUBPAT NEWS > PUBPAT questions openness and objectiveness of "Town Hall" Meetings on Patent Reform



February 18, 2005


PUBPAT questions objectiveness and openness of "Town Hall" Meetings on Patent Reform: Speakers Do Not Adequately Represent Public's Interests Against Harms of Patent System and Public Charged Admission Fee in Order to Participate


NEW YORK -- The Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") has questioned the objectiveness and openness of today's "Town Hall" meeting on patent reform held in San Jose, CA and the future "Town Hall" meetings on patent reform to be held March 4 in Chicago and March 18 in Boston.  Today's "Town Hall" meeting is being keynoted by a representative of Microsoft Corporation, a company that recently began an aggressive campaign of patent acquisition and assertion.


"Although a couple of the planned speakers are aware of the substantial harm being caused to the public by the patent system, the vast majority of the participants either represent large corporations that benefit from the current patent system or are entrenched members of the current patent system bureaucracy," said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's Executive Director.  "Because of this lopsided representation of interests, I fear that these meetings will end up being like three wolves and a sheep sitting around and discussing what to have for dinner."


The "Town Hall" meetings are being administered by the American Intellectual Property Law Association ("AIPLA"), an association of patent attorneys.  AIPLA is limiting participation in the "Town Hall" meetings and charging an entry fee of between $60 and $265 to any one who wishes to attend the meetings to voice their concerns regarding the patent system. 


Although the meetings are co-sponsored by the National Academies' Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy and the Federal Trade Commission, each of whom recently issued modest reports detailing systemic flaws with the patent system, financial support for the "Town Hall" meetings is coming from none other than large patent holding companies, like Eli Lilly, 3M, and Johnson & Johnson, that directly benefit from the current system.  Eli Lilly, for example, used a patent to prevent competition to its popular medication Prozac, which made the pharmaceutical giant $3.5B annually.  Despite having been granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a court later found the patent to be invalid, meaning that Eli Lilly benefited to the tune of billions of dollars off of a patent it never deserved in the first place.


"I've never heard of a 'Town Hall' meeting that charges a fee to members of the town in order for them to be allowed entry to the hall," said Ravicher.  "However, PUBPAT is not condemning the meetings or calling for a boycott; we're just encouraging people to question whether the meetings have been structured in a way that truly allows for the interests of all parties affected by the patent system, and particularly the interests of the public to be free from wrongly issued patents and perverse patent policy, to be equally represented."


More information about PUBPAT can be found at




Jill Ratkevic, Bite Communications: (415) 365-0482;




The Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") is a not-for-profit legal services organization working to protect the public from the harms caused by the patent system.  PUBPAT provides the general public, particularly those persons or businesses otherwise deprived of access to the system governing patents, with representation, advocacy, and education.  To be kept informed of PUBPAT News, subscribe to the PUBPAT News List by sending an email with "subscribe" in the subject line to



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