07.20.15

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Even Watered-Down (by Large Corporations) Patent ‘Reform’ Bills Cannot Pass in Congress

Posted in America, Patents at 4:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: US Congress is unable to pass even a bill that makes minor (insufficient) changes to patent law, demonstrating that patent policy is still steered by conglomerate interests, just like in the copyrights domain

FOR a number of months we have been writing about the so-called Innovation Act or PATENT Act [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. We last wrote about that four days ago. Not much has changed since then, except more lobbying and derailment. Eventually, people in power almost always get their way, maybe accepting some compromise and a rebrand that can appease (or fool) the vast majority of people. The overwhelming number of cases serve to cement this trend, showing that democracy is still rather elusive in the West.

Kevin O’Sullivan says that “Innovation Act Threatens Massachusetts Innovators” and patent maximalists at IAM say that “The Innovation Act is pulled, but uncertainty lingers and that’s bad for business”. There is a lot of press coverage about this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and it serves to suggest that politicians in the US usually fight against patent reform, especially so-called ‘Conservatives’. As one article put it: “This week, the American Conservative Union blasted out an email warning against the Innovation Act” (because corporations do not like it enough).

“Eventually, people in power almost always get their way, maybe accepting some compromise and a rebrand that can appease (or fool) the vast majority of people.”As Watchdog.org put it the other day: “As the patent battle reheats on Capitol Hill before the August recess, several members of Congress are looking to stop a bill they believe will do more harm than good for the nation’s economy.”

IPWatchdog, a booster of patents (including software patents), claims “bipartisan bicameral disapproval” and the EFF blames this on “misinformation”. See its post titled “Busting Myths and Countering Misinformation From the Campaign Against Patent Reform” and another post titled “Patent Reform Under Attack, But Needed More Than Ever”. Reform is needed in another form, as this bill got subverted already (just like the PATENT Act). The EFF is meanwhile mixing patent trolls with software patents, focusing on one instead of the other even though there is a strong correlation. Here is what the EFF wrote earlier this month as part of its recruitment effort: “You’ll be obsessed with software patents before you know it. The specific position we’re hiring will work closely with the patent reform team, pushing for strong legislation in Washington and showcasing horrible trolls. Patents are a hot topic with huge implications on speech, innovation, education, and businesses big and small. We realize that many people applying to the job won’t have a background in patent reform. So don’t stress about that. If you care about civil liberties online and you’re excited about technology policy, then we can teach you about software patents.”

A bill we can really stand behind would have to deal with patent scope, but no such bill exists yet, so the above bills (“PATENT” or “Innovation”) are of more interest to corporate media (corporations) than to citizens who are directly harmed by patents.

In the next couple of posts we shall try to address the real issues that affect most people (the ‘reforms’ spoken about in the media these days are largely a diversion).

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