Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 29, 2014

Hope, Blame and the Senate Patent ‘Troll’ Bill

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy pulled the “patent troll” legislation yesterday off the committee’s agenda and that’s either “extremely disappointing” or cause for applause, depending on who you ask.

CQ Roll Call’s John Gramlich writes:

 The surprise decision left lawmakers in both parties disappointed and eager to cast blame, with Leahy pointing the finger at private-sector interests that have been working to shape the bill. Others directed the blame at Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., whom they accused of effectively shooting down the proposal at the last minute.

The “sudden turn of events” was a “potentially serious blow” to efforts by lawmakers and President Barack Obama to get legislation passed this year “to crack down on so-called ‘patent trolls,’ or entities that file questionable lawsuits against companies in order to force them into costly legal settlements or licensing fees,” Gramlich writes.

Leahy’s announcement drew the usual flurry of responses from K Street and beyond. Some of the ideas that emerged:

Further Senate action might not come until next year:

“If the Senate waits until next year to take up patent reform legislation, which seems very likely, patent trolls will have at least another eight months of unfettered extortion of legitimate businesses.”  — Consumer Electronics Association’s president and CEO Gary Shapiro.

Looking for legislation this year:

“SIIA is committed to continuing to work with our member companies, with both sides of the aisle, and with the White House to get reform legislation done this year.” — Keith Kupferschmid, general counsel and senior vice president of intellectual property at the Software & Information Industry Association.

Calling for Reid to bring up the House-passed bill:

“If it is not possible for the Senate Judiciary Committee to proceed with its own legislation, the Internet Association calls on Senate Majority Leader Reid to stand with innovators and bring the House-passed Innovation Act to the floor of the Senate for an up or down vote.” — Michael Beckerman, Internet Association president and CEO.

Blaming the patent “trolls”:

“Over the course of several months, senators reached a balanced and careful compromise that would have discouraged patent abusers, while protecting the rights of legitimate patent holders – only to be undone by pressure from the patent abuse industry.” — CEA’s Shapiro.

Effects on others:

“We appreciate the efforts of Chairman Leahy and the entire Judiciary Committee to ensure that in addressing abusive behavior, we don’t undermine the system that all patent holders, including America’s inventors, entrepreneurs and universities rely upon to maintain and strengthen our country’s legacy as the global innovation leader.” — John Vaughn, executive vice president of the Association of American Universities.

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