Roll Call’s Dueling Op-Eds on Patent ‘Troll’ Legislation
Posted at 4:53 p.m. on May 27, 2014
Two opposing guest opinion pieces in Roll Call today highlight the division on patent “troll” legislation. In a surprise move, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick J. Leahy took a bill off the panel’s agenda last week, saying interests on both sides of the issue were to blame. CQ Roll Call’s John Gramlich reported that others accused Majority Leader Harry Reid of effectively shooting down the measure. The divide on Roll Call’s opinion pages today is more along the lines of whether Congress itself functioned properly on this bill.
The Consumer Electronics Association‘s president and CEO Gary Shapiro aligns inaction on the patent bill with the Keystone XL pipeline in his piece and writes that “patent trolls and trial lawyers continue to stifle patent litigation reform efforts, even though this legislation has already passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.”
“We are faced with two national problems that have relatively easy solutions,” he writes. “Yet our government’s paralysis continues to hurt our nation and our economy.”
In contrast, David Kappos, former head of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, writes that “lawmakers may have been unclear about the effects of legislation passed in the House.” Kappos, now a partner at Cravath, Swain and Moore LLP, writes:
While proponents of quick-fix legislation express frustration over Senate Judiciary Committee’s decision to halt work on a bill, I see a legislative process alert to the risks involved in enacting wholesale change to the greatest innovation engine the world has ever known — the U.S. patent system — without taking the time to get it right.
Lawmakers haven’t publicly examined the risk to inventors who choose to license their ideas instead of manufacturing them, he writes.