One of America's leading authorities on technology and telecom policy, Motley is a writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, activist, and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
Latest posts by Seton Motley (see all)
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There is a warped Inside-the-Beltway fetish with “getting things done.” Warped – because of what many of those “things” consist. Most members of both political Parties (and the bulk of the Chattering Classes) want things – that most of We the People do not. So DC tries to distract from their terrible products – by obsessively fixating on the process.
Behold but one heinous example. Chattering Class-member The Washington Post on December 17, 2015 extruded Paul Ryan Notches a Big Victory, but the True Test May Come Next Year: “The House is expected to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill Friday that will remove any threat of a government shutdown, keep the government funded into the fall of 2016, and notch a signature win for new House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.)”
This “big victory” blew up the “Sequester” spending caps – the only (tiny) such constraint placed on DC in decades. And it funded President Barack Obama for basically the rest of his administration – which means the illegal unilateral actions in which he has endlessly engaged will be from now on unimpeded by Congress’ power of the purse.
That’s a DC “signature win.” Remember this – and an endless cavalcade of similar “signature wins” – when you next hear how important it is for DC to “get things done.” (Remember it all – when you wonder how Donald Trump is doing what he’s doing.)
It is this Bizarro World fetishist definition of “getting things done” that is set to undermine our patent system – a fundamental, foundational component of our free market economy. How fundamental and foundational? President Abraham Lincoln“called the introduction of patent laws one of the three most important developments ‘in the world’s history,’ along with the discovery of America and the perfection of printing.”
What things patent does DC claim need getting done? Slaying the “patent troll.” But what exactly does that mean? Again, there’s the DC definition – and then the one we hold out here in Reality.
Here’s the Bizarro World definition – courtesy of (accidentally?) anti-patent Lee Cheng: “2015 was a huge year for trolls….(A)t one level are the ‘big game hunters’ that go after large corporations like Microsoft, Apple and Google using patents that are often technically valid….Then there are the ‘ankle biters’ or ‘nuisance’ trolls that file …lawsuits…with patents that are often pathetically weak. ”
Get that? Whatever Cheng may think of them, he begrudgingly admits the patents these people hold – are valid. But they’re “trolls” anyway. Bizarro. And incredibly dangerous.
If you want to undermine valid patents – you want to undermine the entire patent system. That, to me, is fairly patent “troll”-ish. In other words: When You Hear ‘Patent Trolls’ – Think ‘People Protecting Their Private Property’.
But DC, unfortunately, is looking to “get something done.” Behold the Innovation Act – Virginia House Republican Bob Goodlatte’s awful bipartisan effort. About which he anxiously says: “(T)he Congress must act to curb abusive patent litigation.” And the Senate has a just about equally terrible bill: “A bipartisan group of senators introduced the PATENT Act…an important step toward stopping abusive patent litigation.”
As usual, DC is in bipartisan fashion doing the wrong thing – and making matters worse, not better.
Again, the patents involved in these allegedly “troll” lawsuits – are valid. So if Congress undermines patent litigation – they undermine the ability of these valid patent holders to defend their valid patents.
Which undermines the entire patent system.
Which Abe Lincoln would loathe. As should anyone who ever wants any new idea ever to be transmogrified from thought – into something we can purchase.
Because before anyone with an idea can put together a plan, test market interest, garner investor interest, hire people, manufacture and then deliver their idea – they have to be able to protect it.
DC has to continue to allow them to do that. And, in this instance, nothing else.
So, DC: When it comes to terrible legislation like the Innovation and PATENT Acts – don’t just do something, stand there.