The FTC is holding public hearings on the 11th and 12th of Feb., 2009, in Washington, D.C. The discussion topic will be whether patents and other strong IP protection and licensing stimulates or stifles innovation. Whether or not I attend the hearings, I'm going to submit a comment that will go on the public record.
The FTC's solicitation for opinions is as follows: "In an announcement, the FTC said: 'Changes and proposed changes in the law, together with evolving business models for buying, selling and licensing IP, could significantly influence a patent's economic value and the operation of the IP marketplace. The hearings will consider the impact of these changes on innovation, competition and consumer welfare.' It added: 'The commission seeks the views of the legal, academic and business communities on the issues to be explored at the hearings.'"
Other significant IP news is that EFF is getting some great work done by having some patents re-examined and possibly overturned. It's extremely difficult to have a patent reexamined after it has been issued, so I applaud EFF's efforts.