Tag: Patent

Harry Reid, Patent Troll

OK, Harry Reid is not technically a troll. I don’t think he was literally crafted by the Dark Lord in some underground cavern (although I have heard that he does not like direct sunlight). But he was certainly crafted by someone:

On Wednesday morning, tech sector lobbyists thought they were in the final stages of pushing through a hard-fought compromise on patent reform. “Tuesday night it was moving forward, Wednesday morning it was moving forward,” said Julie Samuels, director of Engine, a group that lobbies for startups. “Then I looked at Twitter and there was a tweet saying it was dead. What the hell?”

Samuels’ story was a typical one for Wednesday, as those lobbying both for the bill, and most of those against it, were taken completely by surprise when Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) made an out-of-nowhere statement to the press saying that the bill was being dropped from his agenda, making it essentially dead for the year. While the announcement came from Leahy, sources close to the negotiations all pointed to Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) as the one who really killed the bill.

The basic problem here is patent abuse litigation. Tech companies and other innovators are frequently beset with patent trolls — people who do nothing but patent ideas with no practical means of implementation, then deluge tech developers with lawsuits extorting demanding money in exchange for releasing those patents. Almost every innovation that comes out these days has to involve money set aside to deal with patent abuse.

The House passed the Innovation Act overwhelmingly. It had bipartisan support in the Senate. Among other things, it would have created a “loser pays” system in which the loser has to pay the legal fees unless the Court decides that the suit was reasonably justified. But Reid, tweaked by trial lawyers who make millions off these suits, killed the bill.

But, of course, this has nothing to do with special interests. We all know that the only special interests are ones that donate to Republicans. The NRA is a special interest, despite having 5 million members and representing the legal rights of 310 million Americans. Big Oil is a special interest. Anyone who donates to Democrats or persuades them to kill good legislation is, by definition, not a special interest. If they were special interests, they’d be donating to Republicans. Don’t you get that?