Monthly Archives: July 2013

July 24, 2013 | ICYMI, News

ICYMI- Really, Congress? 6 Different Patent Reform Bills?

Inc Magazine
Really, Congress? 6 Different Patent Reform Bills? 
Last Update:  July 24, 2013

It’s no big secret that the United States’ patent system is broken. First, there’s the excessive amount of time it takes to actually receive a patent. Then, of course, there are the trolls, who create massive litigation costs–especially for entrepreneurs.

Joel Spolsky, a software engineer who’s writes a popular tech blog, explains this dysfunction well. He wrote recently:

Many patent owners, especially the troll types, don’t really want you to avoid their patent. Often they actually want you to infringe their patent, and then build a big business that relies on that infringement, and only then do they want you to find out about the patent, so you are in the worst possible legal position and can be extorted successfully. The harder the patent is to read, the more likely it will be inadvertently infringed.

In June, the White House threw itself into the debate, proposing seven legislative recommendations, and five executive actions as part of a new “task force on high-tech patent issues.” There are also six–yes, six–congressional bills on the floor right now that aim to curb needless patent trolling and make the system more efficient.

Which isn’t actually a good thing. Several of the bills overlap in scope and none of them are predicted to get very far–not exactly surprising coming from a Congress that so rarely works together. So far, the patent reform battle is shaping up to be messy. On the bright side, six bills does indicate that the issue is gaining momentum.

Here’s a look at the bills and what needs to happen to consolidate the best ideas into sensible and substantive patent reform:

Step 1: Make it more expensive for patent trolls. 

Two different bills propose to make patent litigation more expensive, and thus, less attractive to trolls. A smart bill would borrow from them both. One is the Shield Act, which stands for Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes. Initially introduced in 2012, it was expanded in February 2013 by its sponsors, Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). The Shield Act aims to thwart frivolous lawsuits by requiring trolls to pay for defendants’ legal expenses should they lose in court–a pretty big demotivator, if you ask me. “The bipartisan SHIELD Act is a targeted reform that will force patent trolls to take financial responsibility for their frivolous lawsuits,” DeFazio said in a statement.

The other bill is the Patent Abuse Reduction Act. This one is a bit more technical than the others, since it deals with the procedural requirements for patent litigation trials. But the crux of it is important: it essentially puts added burdens on the litigator–usually a patent troll–to go into more detail as to why they believe the defending company infringed on a particular patent.

Step 2: Reform the U.S. Patent Office from the inside.

One of the major deficiencies of the U.S. patent system is actually something that doesn’t come up very often: poor recordkeeping. This creates another problem, which is that it isn’t always easy to know how to find who owns particular patents. The End Anonymous Patents Act, introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) back in May, proposes to solve this problem.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains, “The law already requires parties to file notice when a patent’s ownership is transferred at the Patent Office, but this bill would put real teeth in these provisions (which are often ignored) by making sure a patentee cannot collect damages if they had failed to meet this requirement.”

If a business does come under attack by a troll threatening a lawsuit over potential patent infringement, the business owner needs a less costly way to fight back. A key provision of the Senate’s Patent Quality Improvement Act could help in that regard.

This bill, introduced by Senator Charles Schumer in May 2013, expands something called the Covered Business Method (CBM) review. Under the Act, owners that are being sued can request the U.S. Patent Office to review a patent and investigate if it’s too broad and the troll’s claims are valid. Mind you, a CBM review would still cost you–about $30,000–but as the advocacy group Patent Progress points out, it’s still cheaper than litigation. “Also, businesses threatened over the same patent can pool resources to jointly file a CBM petition,” writes Matt Levy, patent counsel at the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

Step 3: Create a review process so that companies don’t have to litigate over every patent claim.

Congress can go even further to give business owners a way to fight back against trolls. The more general STOP Act (Stopping the Offensive Use of Patents) introduced earlier this week by Rep. Darrell Issa, (D-CA) and Rep. Judy Chu, (D-CA) improves the existing CBM review process by broadening beyond just financial product patents to include “an enterprise” or “a product.” 

Essentially what this means is that the bill will allow the patent office to review the validity and scope of more patents in the first place, which, in turn, may make a patent troll’s claim baseless.

“Right now, patent trolls are manipulating the overly broad and poorly determined patent definition to win settlements and damages from tens of thousands of real American innovators,” Rep. Issa said in a statement.

Lastly, the courts can do their part, too. The Patent Litigation and Innovation Act would require the judge to hold the initial plea to a higher standard.

“By requiring more precision in initial pleadings, the bill would allow courts and defendants to better assess the legitimacy of infringement claims,” notes the Internet Association, a group that supports the bill.

If Congress really wants to help the inventors, business owners, and entrepreneurs in this country, it will make comprehensive patent reform the goal. It will come together to craft a bill that goes deeper than any one of the six proposed. Focusing on these three issues–and some of the smart solutions already on the table–is a start.

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July 23, 2013 | News, Press Releases

The Internet Association Welcomes reddit

 

USER-EMPOWERED SOCIAL NEWS COMMUNITY JOINS THE  UNIFIED VOICE OF THE INTERNET ECONOMY

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.The Internet Association, the unified voice of the Internet economy, is pleased to announce that reddit has joined in the fight to protect Internet freedom alongside global industry leaders such as Airbnb, Amazon.com, AOL, eBay, Expedia, Facebook, Gilt, Google, IAC, LinkedIn, Monster Worldwide, Path, Practice Fusion, Rackspace, salesforce.com, SurveyMonkey, TripAdvisor, Yahoo!, and Zynga.

reddit is a community of communities where users can not only share and vote on their favorite content from around the web, but also create new discussions. The interactive platform mobilizes what is new and popular on the web. Launched in 2005, reddit surpassed over 70 million unique visitors and almost 5 billion pageviews as of May 2013. A driving force behind reddit’s communities is the user functionality to interact around and submit content and, as a community, through voting determine what receives the most discussion and awareness on the site.

“We’re really excited to be joining the Internet Association,” said General Manager of reddit, Erik Martin. “In spite of reddit being an incredibly effective way to lower workplace productivity, we’ve also seen how online communities can have a transformative economic impact. It’s critically important to help leaders and policy makers at all levels understand the powerful and sometimes chaotic Internet economy, and to ensure that it remains protected to be able to operate freely.”

“The Internet Association is ecstatic to have reddit on board,” said Michael Beckerman, The Internet Association President and CEO. “User empowerment is an integral component of what we do and what we stand for. The reddit community is unique and powerful with an important policy voice. Shortsighted government regulations harm the innovative progress that the user community propels. We welcome innovators like reddit to join our cause as we educate policymakers about the critical value of a free and innovative Internet on our future.”

About The Internet Association
The Internet Association is the unified voice of the Internet economy representing the interests of the leading Internet companies including Airbnb, Amazon.com, AOL, eBay, Expedia, Facebook, Gilt, Google, IAC, LinkedIn, Monster Worldwide, Path, Practice Fusion, Rackspace, reddit, salesforce.com, SurveyMonkey, TripAdvisor, Yahoo!, and Zynga. The Internet Association is dedicated to advancing public policy solutions to strengthen and protect Internet freedom, foster innovation and economic development, and empower users. The Internet Association is headquartered in Washington, D.C. www.InternetAssociation.org.

About reddit
Founded in 2005 by Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, reddit (www.reddit.com) is a community includes more than 71.1 million users around the world. Users can create subreddits around topics they’re passionate about; there are more than 5,400 active subreddits that users can peruse, submit to, and subscribe to on the site. reddit also helps host the world’s largest gift exchange as listed in the Guinness Book of World Records through reddit gifts; it also features video and original programming through reddit.tv (http://reddit.tv).

 

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July 22, 2013 | News, Statements

Statement On The STOP Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Internet Association released the following statement applauding the introduction of The STOP Act:

The Internet Association applauds Reps. Darrell Issa (CA-49) and Judy Chu (CA-27) today for introducing The STOP Act (H.R. 2766). Their bill will expand and make permanent the PTO’s review program for business method patents. Internet business method patents are litigated nine times more often than other patents and most of these lawsuits are thrown out of court. Many of these patents are vague and overly broad, claiming ownership of basic everyday actions performed online. Unfortunately, these patents cannot be challenged in existing PTO proceedings. Thus, Internet companies are often forced to settle cases rather than pay the extraordinary cost necessary to invalidate deeply flawed patents in a court proceeding.

By broadening the PTO’s review program to cover Internet business method patents, The STOP Act will provide an effective alternative to litigation in many cases. Although more needs to be done to curb abusive patent litigation, this bill will improve overall patent quality and encourage a patent system that focuses on innovation rather than litigation.

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July 15, 2013 | News, Press Releases

The Internet Association Launches Unprecedented Interactive Web Resource

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Internet Association, the unified voice of the Internet economy, representing leading global Internet companies including AirBnb, Amazon.com, AOL, ebay, Expedia, Facebook, Gilt, Google, IAC, LinkedIn, Monster Worldwide, Path, Practice Fusion, Rackspace, salesforce.com, SurveyMonkey, TripAdvisor, Yahoo! and Zynga, unveiled a new, unprecedented resource to protect Internet freedom for the global user community.

The Internet Association’s interactive website offers the global user community a useful tool to engage with policymakers and ensure that the Internet’s voice will be heard.

“Our new web resource is another leap forward in our mission to protect the freedom and innovation of the Internet,” the Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman said. “The design is meant to be forward thinking, not only in aesthetics, but also in grassroots engagement. It helps empower the global community of Internet users to directly engage decision-makers on Internet policy issues.”

The Internet Association’s web portal incorporates cutting edge web design, functionality and features, including:

  • A first-of-its-kind interactive Take Action center: Using the OpenGov Foundation’s Madison Project interface, Internet users can “Mark Up” important legislation impacting the Internet, leaving edits, comments and suggestions for improvement.
  • Policy Agenda: Hot topics and issues critical to the freedom and future of the Internet are delineated in an easy to navigate format, allowing Internet users to learn about Internet policy issues and engage policymakers directly through social media and other channels.
  • Scroll down functionality: leading edge scroll down interface, tailored for individualized user experience.

The new web resource advances the Internet Association’s mission to advocate for public policy solutions that strengthen and protect Internet freedom, foster innovation and economic development, and empower users.

 

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July 12, 2013 | News, Statements

Internet Association Statement on H.R. 2639, the “Patent Litigation and Innovation Act of 2013”

The Internet Association thanks Congressmen Jeffries and Farenthold for their introduction of H.R. 2639, the “Patent Litigation and Innovation Act of 2013.”  This legislation addresses systemic flaws in patent litigation that patent trolls exploit to bring speculative patent cases in the hope of a quick nuisance settlement. By requiring more precision in initial pleadings, the bill would allow courts and defendants to better assess the legitimacy of infringement claims.  By refining the sequence of discovery, the bill will alleviate some of the litigation burdens faced by legitimate innovators, making it easier to take on patent trolls asserting flawed patents or meritless claims.

Because patent trolls have many tools at their disposal, more will need to be done to both improve patent quality and reduce abusive patent litigation. However, this piece of legislation is an important contribution to that overall effort.

July 12, 2013 | News

The Future of the Global Economy Depends on the U.S.-EU Trade Deal

The Hill
The Future of the Global Economy Depends on the U.S.-EU Trade Deal
Posted: 07/12/2013 11:29 am

The future of the global economy is at stake. With both the United States (U.S.) and the European Union (EU) economies generating over $15.6 trillion in GDP and accounting for about half of the entire world GDP, we must pay close attention to negotiations for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Slated to be the largest trade deal ever negotiated once completed, TTIP would not only spur economic growth and job creation in the U.S. and the EU but also serve as a blueprint for future negotiations between third country trading partners. Given the magnitude of this trade deal, the Internet Association urges the U.S. and EU to incorporate policies that sustain the Internet industry’s future — a proven catalyst for economic growth.

Reaching 2 billion users across the globe and facilitating about 8 trillion dollars in e-commerce annually, the Internet affords market access to new competitors and revolutionizes daily transactions. Once dominated by traditional industries, small and mid-sized businesses now have the ability, because of the Internet, to participate in the global market. A McKinsey Global Institute study found that small and mid-sized enterprises reap significant benefits from Internet use. More specifically, the total revenue shares earned from small and mid-sized exports that utilized the Internet was more than twice that of others.

The flourishing Internet economy, which the global economy relies upon, is made possible by laws that preserve the vitality of an open, consumer-oriented platform. U.S. and EU negotiators must ensure that TTIP reflects this modernized landscape by enacting policies that encourage growth in the Internet industry and ultimately across global markets.

First, being able to access information or transfer data no matter the country where the information originated allows businesses in every sector to flourish. From instant communication to prompting real-time responses in business operations, providing businesses with the capacity to share data across borders increases efficiency and productivity.  Free flowing data also plays an important role in a company’s ability to innovate by creating an open, collaborative environment. Despite these benefits, many governments have adopted restrictive policies preventing the free flow of information. Historically, the European Union falls under this category of taking a prescriptive approach to data flows. The EU policy is to restrict international data flows unless there is a legitimate reason to free its data — which is the opposite approach taken by the U.S.

Recent developments regarding the National Security Agency’s programs may complicate the TTIP negotiations; however, The Internet Association and our member companies believe that enabling cross border data flows does not eliminate privacy or compromise data protection. Already, efforts such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are addressing the issue of balancing privacy without unduly burdening cross border data flows. TTIP presents an opportunity for the world’s leading economies to commit to a workable, flexible framework that will be sustainable for the vitality of our global economic future.

Second, we encourage the U.S. government to revise its IP agenda and promote the appropriate balance of copyright and trademark protection with strong, fair-use like principles. We appreciate the U.S. proposal to add balancing language in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, but we ask that the government also support similar flexible elements and balances in TTIP if an IP chapter is included. Further, the Internet Association encourages the U.S. to protect online intermediaries from third-party liability, which has allowed for the successful growth of Internet companies in the U.S.

Lastly, we call on both governments to ensure that TTIP negotiations are as open and as transparent as possible, particularly if the agreement includes a copyright component. Given the potential economic benefits and this changing landscape where an Internet user can engage in commerce in the same way as a multi-national corporation, consumers have a strong interest in these negotiations and deserve to know the details as this process develops.

The Internet industry increasingly harnesses a large percentage of advanced economies’ GDP. As trading partners enter into deals, these economies must ensure that Internet-friendly policies are incorporated not just for the benefit of the Internet industry but also for the benefit of their market, citizens, and their economic future. Negotiators must take this opportunity to craft a trade deal worthy of our modern economy.

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To read the original article, click here.

July 2, 2013 | News, Press Releases, Statements

Internet Association Expresses Concern on FTC COPPA “Actual Knowledge” Standard

 ENCOURAGES THE COMMISSION TO EXERCISE ITS  PROSECUTORIAL DISCRETION

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today The Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman issued the following statement regarding the letter the association sent to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlining concerns on the actual knowledge standard of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (“COPPA Rule”):

“As a trade association representing leading Internet companies, the Internet Association shares the FTC’s commitment to protecting children’s online privacy. Our members have worked diligently to come into compliance with the revised COPPA Rule by the July 1 effective date. However, we continue to have several concerns, particularly about a potentially broad reading of the “actual knowledge” standard, that could impede the ability of companies to design robust operational and technical means to comply with COPPA. During this period of transition, we encourage the Commission to exercise its prosecutorial discretion with all companies that are attempting to comply with the revised Rule in good faith.”

Click here  to view The Internet Association letter filed today.

 

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July 1, 2013 | Letters, News, Other

The Internet Association Letter to FTC on COPPA

Excerpt:  The Internet Association and our members share the Commission’s strong commitment to protecting children’s online privacy.  We are writing to express concern, however, that a recently added COPPA Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) has created uncertainty that could make full compliance by the July 1, 2013, effective date unrealistic.  In particular, COPPA FAQ D.5, which attempts to provide industry guidance in applying the “actual knowledge” standard for purposes of the COPPA Rule, is inconsistent with the text of the statute and the COPPA Rule and is causing more confusion than clarity.

To read the Internet Association’s letter, click here.

 

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