The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will be holding a publichearing on Jan. 25 to obtain public comments on issuesassociated with the balance of rights between patent ownersand the general public regarding research-oriented use ofpatent-protected technology.

In announcing the hearing, the PTO said this balance of rightshas become complicated by the increasingly close relationshipsthat are developing among industry, government anduniversities. These relationships have "heightened sensitivityto the commercial implications of basic, as opposed to applied,research," the PTO stated.

"This has special implications in research-intensive industrieslike the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, whichtend to be high-risk, capital-intensive and intenselycompetitive," said the PTO.

It said experimentation on patented products and processes inthese industries often is essential to understanding the natureand significance of these advances. The PTO said these factors"have led to some degree of uncertainty in the researchcommunities regarding use of information and technologydisclosed in and protected by patents. This, in turn, has led tocalls for a better understanding and possible clarification of thebasic balance of rights with respect to research-oriented use ofpatented technology."

The hearing will address the justifications and rationale for oragainst an experimental use defense to patent infringement,the desirable characteristics of an experimental-use defense topatent infringement, and justifications for or against astatutory experimental-use defense to patent infringement.

The meeting will be held at the San Jose (Calif.) ConventionCenter. People wishing to testify at the hearing must submittheir requests no later than Jan. 20. Requests and writtencomments should be addressed to the attention of Jeff Kushan,Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, Box 4, Washington,DC 20231; phone (703) 305-9300. -- Brenda Sandburg

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.