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Patent trolls drain US economy

In his Feb. 10 Congress Blog post “Congress should protect American innovators, not Chinese infringement,” Erik Telford starts off by getting our association’s name wrong — we changed our name to the Consumer Technology Association three months ago. The errors cascade from there.  

He also contradicts himself by suggesting the CTA doesn’t respect patents, but then describes how we worked closely with federal law enforcement to enforce patents at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show — the world’s largest annual innovation event.

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And as Telford surely knows, Chinese patent infringement has nothing to do with U.S. patent reform legislation. Issues relating to the former are handled by the U.S. Court of International Trade, which has the authority to ban importation of patent-infringing goods.

The China issue is a red herring intended only to distract from the real issue that the Innovation Act (H.R. 9) and the Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act (PATENT) Act (S. 1137) address; namely, the explosion of meritless, extortionate lawsuits that so-called patent trolls file targeting mostly entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.

Roughly 80 percent of patent troll victims are small and medium-sized businesses. That’s by design. Smaller businesses lack financial resources to hire high-priced attorneys to fight the trolls’ bogus infringement claims and are forced instead to settle out of court to make them go away.

Patent trolls drain $1.5 billion a week from the economy — money that entrepreneurs and startups could invest in R&D, hiring talented innovators and marketing. The trolls and their trial lawyer allies are the big winners here, as the overall innovation economy suffers.

To preserve our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit and grow our innovation economy, patent trolls must be driven back under the bridge where they belong. Letting them run amok is, well, patent nonsense.

From Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Technology Association, Arlington, Va.


Establishment caused Trump's rise

I write in response to David Will’s Congress Blog post “Avoiding a GOP crack-up” (Feb. 5). Will at the same time fiercely condemns Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHouse GOP made call on miners benefits Week ahead in defense: Anticipation builds for State pick; Pentagon chief's last trip abroad Will justice in America be Trumped? MORE and yet wants Trump supporters to continue to support GOP candidates of the establishment’s choosing. This essentially misses the whole point about why Trump supporters, as well as the conservative base as a whole, are angry. 

Irrespective of the individual qualities of anti-establishment candidates like Trump, Ted CruzTed CruzFiorina to meet with Trump on Monday Trump picks Goldman Sachs chief for top economic adviser: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE, Ben Carson or others, what’s been happening over the years is precisely what Will’s opinion piece hopes for. For years, the GOP base has voted loyally for establishment candidates who, once in office, pursue policies that please the donor class yet do not address the concerns of ordinary Americans who have to contend on a daily basis with problems like crime, illegal immigration, the economy and so much more.  

For these ordinary Americans, these problems are not abstract, as they may be for the donor class — they’re real issues that affect their daily lives. The fact that the GOP establishment only wants the support of these people while giving nothing in return is what has led to the rise of anti-establishment candidates in this election. 

It’s a problem that won’t be solved by vague optimistic hopes but by real substantive change in the structure of the Republican Party. As evidenced by elections up and down the ticket across the country, voters are now taking things into their own hands. In order to bring the GOP anti-establishment grassroots base back into the fold, we need to have a Republican Party that remembers who its real bosses are — the ordinary people of this country. 

From Erich Reimer, Charlottesville, Va.