Big Patent Holders & Big Patent Law Firms Bring Judges To Belgium For Boondoggle…
from the conflict-of-interest? dept
Capitalist Lion Tamer points us to the troubling news that an organization of patent holders has organized a conference and is flying in a bunch of judges who deal with patent issues from around the globe to hang out with them at a conference for a few days. As Kevin Outterson notes, this seems like a major conflict of interest:
Does anyone see a conflict of interest when the world?s richest patent owners fly judges from all over the world to a 3-day conference in Brussels? Here’s the lede:
Bringing nearly 100 judges from more than 30 countries to Europe. Sharing experiences among patent-experienced judges from many countries and between the patent bench and bar.
This gathering won’t hear from patent skeptics. The Platinum sponsors are Akin Gump, Du Pont, ExxonMobil, Finnegan, P&G and Johnson & Johnson. The program committee is unabashedly pro-IP. No voice for the public domain; MSF, Oxfam, Jamie Love, Sean Flynn and other public interest voices aren’t on the program
I’m fine with IP maximalists holding conferences; I’m worried when judges from around the planet are wined and dined while hearing only a pro-IP point of view.
I agree that this is quite troubling. The conference is being organized in part by perhaps the most powerful US patent judge, the chief judge of CAFC, Randall Rader. Rader’s a very interesting guy, a fantastic speaker and extremely entertaining — but he has a huge blind spot when it comes to understanding how patents are regularly used to stifle innovation. Perhaps that explains why the conference that he supposedly helped put together appears to feature none of the many top voices who are worried about where the patent system is today.
Perhaps even more troubling, as Outterson points out, is that this conference — again, supposedly with Rader’s support — is being sold to patent lawyers (who have to pay $1475 plus travel and lodging to attend) as a way to get access to the very judges who will be handling their cases:
Conference attendees will have an opportunity to share experiences with nearly one hundred judges from around the world. Beginning with a welcome reception on Monday, judges will attend sessions and social events with intellectual property law attorneys and other interested parties.
As Outterson notes, this “sounds like buying social access to IP judges to me.” It seems shameful that Rader would allow his name and reputation to be used for such things. It’s equally shameful that USPTO boss David Kappos is appearing at the event. Again, it’s fine to have events discussing IP issues, and even fine for patent system supporters to put together their own conferences. But it’s troubling when the event is presented as a way to access judges, and all of the sponsors and organizers seem to have a particular view on the state of patent law today, which is seriously contrasted by actual evidence and research in the market.