Legislative Agenda: 2015, The Year of Reform?
Analysis: President Obama has respect for Ryan, which counts for something. And perhaps the president will be looking for another legacy item to add to his presidential trophy case to sit beside the Affordable Care Act. But once the fall arrives, thoughts will be turning to the 2016 presidential election. Comprehensive tax reform will require time to piece together, so 2017 may be more realistic.
Issue: Patent Litigation, Patent Troll Abuses
Where it Stands: The 113th Congress came oh-so-close to passing bipartisan legislation that would have crushed patent trolls and patent litigation abuses. The Senate Judiciary Committee was on target to pass a bill out of committee and bring it to the floor. But a coalition led by trial lawyers and pharmaceutical companies—strange bedfellows with differing road maps, but a common destination—managed to stop the bill in its tracks.
Print Lobby Viewpoint: As is the case in many industries, a comprehensive patent reform bill would be welcomed with open arms by the printing industry. The printing industry has been stung in recent years by a pair of entities that hold patents related to prepress, computer-to-plate workflows, Web-to-print and fulfillment (among other disciplines) and are demanding that certain printers pay a one-time licensing fee ranging from $75,000 to $90,000.
Possible Outcomes: There is a very real possibility that reform legislation could be enacted during the first quarter of 2015. How could that be, you ask? The answer is somewhat funny. Of all the things on the legislative agenda, patent reform sits atop the list of passable legislation. Congress may not be able to come to agreement on many issues, but this one appears to be a no-brainer. And just when you think that politics is a hopeless highway of partisan gridlock.
Ramifications of Inaction: The so-called patent trolls "have the room legally to send threatening letters, threaten small businesses and basically extort settlements from companies by accusing them of infringing on patents," Lyons says. "There needs to be a law to block that from happening. Right now the patent trolls have carte blanche to run amok."