Tech CEOs Call On The House To Move Its Ass On Patent Reform

Today the CEOs of Yelp, Yahoo, Twitter, TripAdvisor, Rackspace, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google, Gilt, and Etsy wrote a letter to leaders of the House of Representatives, pressing the politicians to pass a patent-reform bill called the Innovation Act of 2015 “this summer.”

The collection of companies are part of the Internet Association, an industry trade group. The list of signed names, however, lacks other association members, like Sidecar and Microsoft.

This is not the first time that the Internet Association has called for the patent reform. Perhaps you recall this particularly egregious tweet:

In the missive directed at top members of both political parties, the tech money said that it has “direct experience of the negative consequences of the patent troll business model on our economy.” The group went on to call the Innovation Act a “reasonable compromise between protecting patent holders’ rights and removing the threat of frivolous patent troll litigation.”

What’s holding back the bill? Drugs, according to The Hill:

Lobbyists for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry have expressed opposition to the bill. They are fighting to include a provision that would exempt some FDA-approved drug patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trail-like reviews, which were set up as a fast and low-cost way to challenge the validity of patents.

This is hardly the first time that patent reform has been attempted. As TechCrunch reported in April, “[in its] last session, we saw Congress grapple with patent reform for about a year before it was killed last spring by Democrats and trial lawyers.”

That time around, Senator Patrick Leahy did yeoman’s work to try to pass patent reform. And there was even what was called “broad bipartisan agreement in principle.” Great! No. In the end, the Senator said that “[r]egrettably, competing companies on both sides of this issue refused to come to agreement on how to achieve that goal.” Dead.

I’ll leave you with another short quote from that Hill piece: “The letter comes a day after House leadership announced it was delaying a vote until at least after next week amid concerns from some lawmakers.”