US senators protect patent trolls

US senators seem to be doing their best to protect patent trolls and allow them to continue stifling the IT industry with their revenue grabbing anti-innovation antics.

A law which is so good for the country and industry should have been easy to get through the senate, but it has been postponed four times in the past two weeks as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Senator Patrick Leahy seeks to nail down votes in support of the bill.

Now Congress will stop work for two weeks for a much-needed break and the bill has failed to get out of the committee stage. The danger is that there are just 39 days left before the Senate’s August break. Congress will return to work in September, but with an election campaign in full swing at that point, it’s unlikely that any significant legislation will pass.

Leahy’s office has revealed that a chairman’s preferred draft of the bil will be circulated to the committee members the day they return from their two-week break. The committee will consider a bill the first week that Senators are back, which is the week of April 28 – he hopes.

Leahy said that he has made enormous progress in getting the bill through and there was a broad bipartisan agreement in principle,” said Leahy.

However apparently this is a “complex issue “and needs additional time to draft the important provisions that have been the subject of discussion.

Part of the problem for senators is that they are not sure how their corporate sponsors will respond to the bill. While everyone agrees that the time of the patent troll needs to end, the bigger IT companies have invested a fortune in patents which might not be so valuable if the need for trolling is eliminated.

Those opposed to the bill include the Innovation Alliance, which represents 100 companies, and it has been leaning on senators saying that they do not support the bill as currently composed.

Opponents of the bill include a variety of companies and groups that find themselves more often on the plaintiff side in patent litigation and deal less frequently with trolls. Pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies, as well as heavy patent-licensors like Dolby and Qualcomm are worried that their sources of income might dry up.