Apple signs new K Street firm

Apple is getting some new lobbying help.

Late last month, the Cupterino, Calif., brought on the Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr law firm to help with competition and intellectual property issues in Washington, according to new federal filings.

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Among the lobbyists who will be working for the company are a former aide to the House Judiciary Committee and a top staffer at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The move comes as lobbyists eye the lame duck window and the possibility of a Republican-controlled Senate next year.

Patent reform is one of the top issues for the industry that is likely to return to Capitol Hill next year, no matter what happens on Tuesday. Tech companies complain that the proliferation of patent “trolls” who file scores of meaningless lawsuits detracts from their ability to run their business.

At the same time, the Obama administration is entering the home stretch in negotiations on a major trade deal with Asia and continuing talks for a similar deal with Europe. The negotiation could have a major impact on the tech sector, which would be affected by intellectual property portions of the deal.

While Congress seems unlikely to give “fast track” authority to the White House this year, a Republican-controlled Congress could be more favorable to the idea early in 2015.

Later this week, President Obama heads to China for a regional summit. The trade deal is likely to be a top issue on his agenda.