Senate Dem: We should’ve passed House anti-patent ‘troll’ bill

The Senate should have followed the House’s lead with an initiative to combat patent “trolls” that are the scourge of many businesses, Sen. Mark WarnerMark WarnerNo time to relax: A digital security commission for the next generation Army posthumously awards female veteran who served as WWII spy The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Va.) said on Monday.

“I actually think the House bill was pretty good,” Warner said at a campaign forum in Reston, Va. “I wish the Senate would’ve taken it up.”

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Warner, who was a major investor in the burgeoning cellphone industry before entering politics, said that many of the companies he used to fund were “harassed and harangued by patent trolls.”

“It was a great disappointment to me this year where the Senate hasn’t moved,” he said. “This is one where the House has got the higher hand. We’ve got to keep pushing.”

Earlier this year, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) effectively killed the momentum for patent reform, after weeks of negotiations between lawmakers on his committee. Blame for the move was widely pinned on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). 

The Senate effort came after the House overwhelmingly passed the Innovation Act, which would have made it harder for the so-called trolls to file vague charges that companies were violating their patent licenses, in order to extract costly settlements. The issue was a key one for tech companies, who lobbied vigorously in favor of action.

Warner said that failing to act on the bill was a blow for the American economy.

“This is just adding marginal cost on American industry that we can’t afford,” he said. 

Ed Gillespie (R), who is challenging Warner for his seat in the Senate, told reporters after the forum on Monday that he would support some type of patent reform but did not go into specifics about the type of legislation he would like to see.

"It’s something that I would be supportive of if we had the right bill and it were crafted the right way," he said.