Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Tech’
November 7th, 2014 at 12:24 pm
WSJ’s Gordon Crovitz Veers Off Course on Intellectual Property Rights
Posted by Print

Each Monday, The Wall Street Journal’s “Information Age” column by L. Gordon Crovitz is a must-read.  His analyses are invariably intelligent and his policy positions are usually wise.

On intellectual property (IP), however, Crovitz occasionally hits discordant notes.  Unfortunately, this week provided another example.

In “Even Silicon Valley Tilts Republican,” he highlights the surprising news that this year, technology companies reversed tradition and gave 52% of their political contributions to Republicans.  He also touches upon the topic of patent law reform, which CFIF has broadly supported.  But then he veers off logical course by maligning patent rights, specifically with regard to software patents:

Patents make little sense for software, which almost always builds on an earlier work.  There are some 250,000 potential patent violations in smartphones alone.  Companies known as ‘patent trolls’ stockpile patents to extract huge settlements from technology companies, not to build products.  Plaintiff lawyers joke that their focus has gone from ‘PI to IP.’  Now that personal-injury litigation has been reformed in many states, they’re turning to intellectual property lawsuits such as patent infringement.”

It’s difficult to fathom how Crovitz continues to make such a claim.

The United States maintains by many measures the world’s strongest patent and IP protections.  It also leads the world in technological innovation, including software and smartphones.  That’s not coincidence.  It’s cause-and-effect.  In an excellent recent piece for IPWatchdog.com, patent attorney Gene Quinn offers a superior analysis on IP rights and innovation in such areas:

Why will anyone invest the extraordinary sums of money to create the innovations we want without an expectation of exclusivity that will allow for a recoupment of the investment plus a reasonable return on investment?  ‘The Truly Staggering Cost of Inventing New Drugs unveils a Forbes study finding:  ‘The average drug developed by a major pharmaceutical company costs at least $4 billion, and it can be as much as $11 billion.’  And it is pure fiction to believe that software development doesn’t follow the same economic realities.  When IBM produces one of their large-scale projects, there will have been many hundreds of people working on the software solution for at least several years.  The same is true for a new Apple operating system, or the next version of Microsoft Windows.  It is pure fantasy to believe that software programs are written over a long weekend by a single person who is merely a second-year engineering student.  Software that is compatible, secure and actually works is rare these days, and takes real development effort, which costs real sums of money.  The quickest way to get less innovation is to destroy the patent system.”

Quinn is correct, and the real-world facts speak for themselves.  Strong patent protections spur the innovation for which America and its tech sector are known.  Moreover, there isn’t anything inherently wrong if a patent holder with no ability or intention of manufacturing or marketing an invention sues for violation.  A patent right is simply a property right enforceable by law, just as a songwriter can rightfully sue for infringement even if he or she didn’t have the ability to sing the song, assemble a band, reserve a recording studio or find an agent.

That obviously doesn’t mean that we should in any way condone the filing of frivolous lawsuits based upon false claims of patent infringement.  But it does mean that much of the “patent troll” problem can be resolved via litigation reform, such as requiring greater specificity in court pleadings and shifting of attorneys’ fees and costs to more of a “loser pays” system.

What we don’t want to do is demonize patent rights, which have been the foundation for American innovation through the decades and centuries.

April 7th, 2014 at 7:12 pm
Tech Industry May Cut a Deal on Immigration, Killing Gang of Eight Bill

With the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill dead-on-arrival in the House of Representatives, the tech industry may be ready to break ranks and cut a deal.

So far, Silicon Valley – one of the wealthiest segments backing comprehensive immigration reform – has held out hope that their goal of expanding H-1B visas for foreign-born workers will come to fruition when House Republicans finally get around to passing the Senate’s bill.

But with the Gang’s bill looking less and less likely to get even a vote in the House, immigration’s tech supporters are exploring other options. The announcement came in the form of an op-ed published by the leader of Compete America, the industry’s immigration-focused political action committee. In it he called on both houses of Congress to pass the SKILLS Act, which would give Compete everything it wants, but would also leave its members with no real reason to stay in Washington pushing for the rest of the Senate’s bill.

That possibility drew a swift rebuke from Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), who wrote in a letter to Compete America, “I am troubled by recent statements suggesting that some in the technology industry may shift their focus to passage of stand-alone legislation that would only resolve the industry’s concerns.”

The daylight emerging between the tech industry and its comprehensive immigration reform allies presents an opportunity to House Republicans, says Byron York. “If the House were to pass H-1B expansion, the GOP would win support from at least some in the tech world. And Democrats would be standing in the way of admitting more high-skilled workers into this country.”

Liberals like Durbin know that the only way to legalize a controversial pathway to citizenship is to hold hostage popular reforms like expanding the H-1B visa pool. This turn of events may be just what House Republicans need to make that ploy crystal clear.

July 12th, 2010 at 4:48 pm
Tech Sector Can Propel America’s Recovery – If Government Doesn’t Subdue It
Posted by Print

America’s technology sector can provide a wellspring of economic dynamism and new employment.  As long as government doesn’t poison that potentially abundant font, that is.

At a seminar today entitled “Technology and Economic Recovery” hosted by Americans for Technology Leadership, panelists Shahin Kohan, Dr. Joseph Fuhr and Karen Kerrigan explained that our information technology (IT) sector offers a much-needed vehicle by which we can overcome economic stagnation.  Dr. Fuhr explained that IT spending is expected to grow 2.3% per year between today and 2013, compared to expected gross domestic product (GDP) growth of just 0.5% during that span, and that employment in the IT industry will grow by over 1 million jobs compared to expected employment shrinkage in other fields.

For her part, Ms. Kerrigan, who serves as President and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and founded Women Entrepreneurs, explained the destructive consequences of federal overregulation and taxation for small enterprises that create most new jobs in America.  Ms. Kerrigan pointed out that the prospect of even more suffocating regulations and taxation on small business and technology entrepreneurs only discourages innovation, expansion and hiring.  Mr. Kohan, an apparel entrepreneur from Los Angeles who is CEO of Focal Technology Solutions, Inc., illustrated ways in which new technology can assist creative entrepreneurs in a highly competitive worldwide market, along with terrifying examples of how state, local and federal bureaucracy can destroy American jobs and businesses.

The message was simple:  give technology enterprises freedom, and innovation, and critical job growth will soon follow.

June 11th, 2010 at 5:28 pm
Poll: Technology Companies Highly Favored, Despite Most Institutions’ Unpopularity
Posted by Print

“Americans are not very satisfied with most prominent institutions.”  That’s the opening comment of a scientific poll released today by the Pew Research Center.

A striking exception?  Technology companies.

By an enormous 68% to 18% margin, Americans state that technology companies have a positive “effect on the way things are going in the country.”  This stands among the highest of thirteen institutions rated, including such entities as Congress, the federal government, religious institutions and the entertainment industry.  Small businesses also scored high in public esteem, by a 71% to 19% margin.

Yet Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and pro-regulation activists push “Net Neutrality” Internet regulation under the myth that we’re facing some alleged broadband or technological crisis?  This vivid poll result should open their eyes, especially following our observation yesterday that 91% are happy with their home broadband speed.

In contrast, the public rates the very federal government that would impose “Net Neutrality” negatively by a 65% to 25% margin.  Congress is also rated negatively by a 65% to 24% margin, and labor unions disfavored by a 49% to 32% margin.

The crisis isn’t in broadband or the state of our technology sector, Chairman Genachowski.  The crisis lies in public confidence in over-regulatory federal bureaucracies like yours.