PIA Asks Industry to Urge U.S. Senators to Support Bold, Comprehensive Patent Reform Legislation
The following is a note from Lisbeth Lyons, vice president, Government Affairs, Printing Industries of America, asking the printing industry to take action to urge U.S. Senators to support bold, comprehensive patent reform legislation:
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote this Thursday on legislation to combat abusive litigation practices. Now is a critical time for printing and graphic communications executives to voice their support of a legislative solution to address the extortive behavior of patent trolls that have been attacking printing companies at an alarming rate. Please take action today to urge your U.S. Senators to support bold, comprehensive patent reform legislation.
“When my parents ran a printing press in Vermont, they did not keep a patent expert on staff. I do not know many main street businesses that do. The strategy for patent trolls is to extort settlements from parties that lack the resources to defend a lawsuit.”—Senator Patrick Leahy (VT), Judiciary Committee Chairman (3/27/14)
Take Action Now!
Printing Industries urges companies whose Senators sit on the Judiciary Committee and all printers regardless of location to voice support of patent reform legislation NOW as the action heats up on Capitol Hill. Through our partnership with the Main Street Patent Coalition, member companies can advocate in the following ways:
- Call your U.S. Senators. (A call script and feedback form is provided.)
- Write your U.S. Senators. (A customizable, pre-written letter is provided and will be sent electronically.)
- NEW! Tweet your U.S. Senators. (Leverage social media to contact your U.S. Senator and to engage others to take action, too.)
The Industry Challenge
“Patent Assertion Entities” (PAEs), commonly referred to as patent trolls, assert patents against companies that have inadvertently incorporated patented technology into their products. Since trolls generally do not produce or sell anything, they are not at risk of infringing other patents, allowing them to assert patents aggressively without fear of retaliation. Often defendants, especially smaller companies, will choose to settle to avoid expending time and resources on costly litigation. Currently, patent trolls are targeting printers by asserting rights to least eight patents, including those related to CTP workflow, QR codes, Intelligent Mail Barcodes, and more. Patent trolls are also targeting other non-technology businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, and retail shops. The economic harm is evident. In 2011, patent troll activity cost the U.S. economy $80 billion in direct payouts, legal costs, and/or lost productivity. Hundreds of printers across the country have reported receiving a threatening demand letter from a PAE. Common demand letters seek up to $95,000 to avoid litigation. Printers estimate spending $10K–$15K for initial legal fees plus up to 150 hours of lost productivity to address the patent troll demands.
The Industry Solution
In December, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3309 (Innovation Act) by a bipartisan vote of 325–91. Now it’s the up to the U.S. Senate to act. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) have introduced bipartisan legislation; other Senators have introduced legislation aimed at specific patent reforms and an effort is under way to produce a comprehensive reform package that will pass the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate with bipartisan support. Such reforms include: addressing bad-faith demand letters; litigation reforms to discovery, pleading standards and fee-shifting to deter frivolous patent cases from being filed; enacting a customer stay provision to allow manufacturers to help defend customers and improve patent quality and transparency to prevent trolls from abusing vaguely constructed patents; providing education and assistance to small businesses that are victims of patent trolls; and more. The Senate Judiciary Committee will unveil its reform package this week at the earliest. Printing Industries of America supports a bold, comprehensive approach that includes the above reforms in order to combat abusive litigation practices while at the same time protecting the rights of legitimate innovators and patent holders.
Printing Industries of America Advocacy
Printing Industries of America and its affiliates have been at the forefront of lobbying Congress and the Obama Administration to pass legislation to combat abusive patent troll practices against printing companies. In addition to direct lobbying of the House and Senate, our efforts include:
- Print’s Voice Capitol Hill Fly-In lobby visits with key lawmakers (Register Now! May 6–7 in Washington, DC)
- End-User Roundtables with House Judiciary & Leadership (July 2013)
- Printing Industries CEO Michael Makin testified before Senate Judiciary Committee (December 2013)
- Participated in White House Roundtable by exclusive invitation of Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, National Economic Chairman Gene Sperling, and Patent Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee. (February 2014)
- Participated in “Great Patent Debate” at Newseum w/ Sen. Lee & Rep. Policy (March 2014)
Ongoing efforts include earned media placements of letters to editors, op-eds, interviews with key Capitol Hill and business journalists, as well as paid media print and TV ads and special event forums.
It is critical that industry executives weigh in to provide grassroots advocacy in support of combatting patent trolls and reforming the patent litigation system. Please take action today!
Vice President, Government Affairs
Printing Industries of America