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Should Patent Law Be a First Amendment Issue?

On Monday April 17th, Mozilla and Stanford Law are presenting a panel about intellectual property law and the First Amendment.

We’ll talk about how IP law and the First Amendment intersect in IP disputes, eligibility tests, and the balance of interests between patent holders and users.

Judge Mayer’s concurring opinion last year in Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Symantec Corp, has put the debate over the First Amendment and boundaries of patent protection back in the spotlight.

Our all star panel will discuss both sides of the debate.


Dan Burk, professor of law at UC Irvine School of Law.

Sandra Park, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project.

Robert Sachs, a partner at Fenwick & West LLP, a leading Intellectual Property law firm.

Wendy Seltzer, Strategy Lead and Policy Counsel for the World Wide Web Consortium.

Elvin Lee, Product and Commercial Counsel at Mozilla, will moderate the event.

We’ll also hear opening remarks from professor Mark A. Lemley, who serves as the Director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology.

Topics and questions we’ll cover

  • Does patent law create conflicts with the First Amendment?
  • Do the subject-matter eligibility tests created by the Supreme Court (e.g., Alice) mitigate or impact any potential First Amendment issues?
  • How does the First Amendment’s intersection with patent law compare to other IP and regulatory contexts?
  • What are the different competing interests for IP owners and creators?
  • Registration of ‘offensive’ marks is currently being reviewed in light of the First Amendment. Are there any parallels to the grant of patent protection by the USPTO, or subsequent enforcement?


AirMozilla and Mozilla’s Facebook page will carry the livestream for this event. We hope you’ll tune in.