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Category: Intellectual Property

  • Time for Congress to Defund the United Nations

    David Williams on January 9, 2017


    This op-ed appeared in Inside Sources on January 4, 2017

    Since its inception the United Nations has spent billions of dollars in global taxpayer money pushing questionable resolutions and misguided initiatives. A recent resolution condemning Israeli settlements has prompted considerable backlash and calls to defund the organization. In light of these recent developments, the incoming Trump administration and Congress have a rare opportunity to reduce the annual $8 billion subsidy to the United Nations and push for more oversight. Attaching more strings to U.N. funding can effectively reign in an organization hostile to individual rights and sound public policy. The latest controversy at the United Nations isn’t the only problem at this international organization. The U.N. has an abysmal record on preserving press freedom, regularly blocking access to their meetings and instigating vendettas against journalists. In the first two days of the U.N.-funded World Health Organization’s 2014 Conference of the Parties Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a tobacco control treaty, the public was ejected and the press had their event credentials revoked.

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  • Taxpayer New Years Resolutions for 2017

    David Williams and Michi Iljazi on January 2, 2017


    The New Year has begun, and after saying goodbye to 2016, taxpayers are ready to welcome 2017.  While many people resolve to shed a few pounds and break some bad habits, this year’s list of resolutions highlights all of the major issues that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will focus on throughout the year.


    The resolution for Congress in 2017 is clear: No More Excuses. Washington (including the incoming Trump administration) have no more excuses for not getting things done for taxpayers. On a wide range of issues, including tax reform and regulatory reform, members of the House and Senate can longer make excuses for not doing the necessary work to fix some of the major problems impacting taxpayers. It is time for Congress to get to work. For more on Congress, click here

    Click "Read Blog" below to see all of TPA's 2017 Resolutions!

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  • New Report Highlights Economic Impacts of IP and Copyright

    Michi Iljazi on December 22, 2016


    The importance of protecting Intellectual Property (IP) is undeniable.  Now, a December 6 report from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) titled, Copyright Industries in the U.S. Economy: The 2016 Report, confirms the economic impact.  According to the report, copyright industries are responsible for adding $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy as well as employing 5.5 million workers in America.  These numbers (and others from the report) show indisputable proof that Congress must act to modernize the Copyright Office to foster even more growth in the copyright industry. It should come as no surprise that copyright has such a strong economic impact.  The Department of Commerce released a report in October that detailed the importance of all IP to the economy. That report, titled “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: 2016 Update,” showed that 45 million jobs are directly or indirectly tied to IP, and that IP-intensive industries accounted for $6.6 trillion in GDP value. 

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  • New Report Highlights Economic Importance of Intellectual Property

    Michi Iljazi on October 12, 2016


    The economy is one of the most important issues for taxpayers and working families, and yet there has been little discussion about it during the recent election cycle. Intellectual Property (IP) is a major component that helps drive the US economy, and a new report from the Department of Commerce (DOC) emphasizes the importance of IP to the economy. DOC’s new report, “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: 2016 Update,” shows that 45 million jobs are directly or indirectly tied to IP, and that IP-intensive industries accounted for $6.6 trillion in GDP value. Those numbers show that the role of IP in the economy is a critical aspect of the economy. The value added by IP-intensive industries increased substantially in both total amount and GDP share between 2010 and 2014. IP-intensive industries accounted for $6.6 trillion in value added in 2014, up more than $1.5 trillion (30 percent) from $5.06 trillion in 2010. Accordingly, the share of total U.S. GDP attributable to IP-intensive industries increased from 34.8 percent in 2010 to 38.2 percent in 2014.

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  • TPA Releases Report on Taxpayer Funding of the World Health Organization

    Michi Iljazi on October 6, 2016


    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) released a new report detailing the public funding of the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the United Nation’s (UN) tobacco-control agency. The report (linked here), titled The World Health Organization in Intensive Care, lays out the massive amount of taxpayer money that is going to further some of the anti-freedom, anti-intellectual property activities of the United Nations. The United States funds the UN and the WHO and those organizations continue to express ideas and engage in policies that are contrary to the values and principles that America stands for when it comes to press-freedom, transparency, and intellectual property.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full press release

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  • FCC Should Vote Down Wheeler's Revised "Set-Top Box" Plan

    Michi Iljazi on September 28, 2016


    Earlier this month, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler released an updated version of his “set-top box” proposal, which continues to rely on misguided policy and questionable authority. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) slammed the new proposal noting the widespread opposition and unprecedented amount of power the plan would give to the FCC.  Now, as the FCC prepares to meet and vote to approve the new plan this week, taxpayers and consumers should continue to voice their opposition to the unnecessary new mandate. Chairman Wheeler reworked his plan because the original proposal, which would have required traditional pay-for-TV providers to make video programming available to third-party devices, failed miserably on the merits. Support was scarce from the creative community and even members of the commission who normally agree with Wheeler had reservations. The proposal was so troublesome that the Copyright Office expressed deep concerns about the deleterious effects it would have on intellectual property.

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  • New Report from Taxpayer-Funded UN Misses the Mark on Medicinal Advances and IP

    Michi Iljazi on September 21, 2016


    Intellectual Property (IP) continues to come under fire from bad actors all over the world. Unfortunately, sometimes those attacking IP rights are governments and institutional bodies that should be promoting innovation and creation. Now, the taxpayer-funded United Nations (UN) has started an assault on IP. A new UN report titled, The United Nations Secretary-general's High-level Panel on Access to Medicines Report, shows the lack of understanding of the importance of IP in providing for greater innovation and creativity in the marketplace.
    The report comes from the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines (UNHLP), which was created in November of 2015 and is made up of 16 members plus an expert advisory group of individuals and UN institutions. The panel was formed in order to “review and assess proposals and recommend the solutions for remedying the policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules, and public health in the context of health technologies.”

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  • TPA Opposes FCC Chairman Wheeler's 'Revised' Set-Top Box Proposal

    Michi Iljazi on September 9, 2016


    – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) slammed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler’s latest iteration of his “set-top box” proposal, which continues to rely on misguided policy and questionable authority.  On Thursday, Chairman Wheeler laid out a new approach to phase out traditional set-top boxes after his original attempt to mandate the unbundling of content failed to garner support due to the threat it posed to content creators and other stakeholders in the video marketplace. The new plan the Chairman is hoping to implement would use “compulsory licensing” as a way to phase out the set-top box. This new approach presents all sorts of problems, as the compulsory licensing that Chairman Wheeler appears to have planned for would put the FCC in charge of licensing and distributing creative works, a power they have never had nor were ever intended to have. This new plan from the FCC once again threatens creators and puts copyright at great risk and threatens consumers and taxpayers.

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  • IP Concerns Continue to Grow for FCC AllVid Proposal

    Michi Iljazi on July 19, 2016

    FCC Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    It should come as no surprise that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is having a hard time selling their AllVid (set-top box) proposal. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to oppose the proposal, which would require traditional pay-for-TV providers to make video programming available to third-party devices. The cost and negative impact the proposal would have on consumer choice have been well documented.  Now, voices of concern continue to grow about the problems with the weakening of intellectual property in the new regulation. Last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and other FCC Commissioners appeared on Capitol Hill as the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on oversight of the agency. The set-top box rule was one of many topics that came up during the nearly five-hour hearing (which can be seen here). Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle expressed their reservations about the new FCC regulation. One critical piece of information revealed at last week’s oversight hearing was that there are concerns coming from another government agency, the Copyright Office.

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  • Battle Over Compulsory Licenses in Colombia Highlights Global Importance of IP

    Michi Iljazi on June 2, 2016


    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been a vocal supporter for strengthening intellectual property (IP) both in the United States and around the world.  In the United States alone, more than 40 million jobs rely directly and indirectly on IP.  There are constant threats to IP in the United States and around the world. Currently, discussions are being held in Colombia over the Novartis anti-cancer drug Glivec. The end result of these discussions could have implications for trade, IP, and business all over the world.

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  • TPA Signs International Coalition Letter to World Health Organization Opposing Plain Packaging

    Michi Iljazi on May 30, 2016


    Governments around the world are continuing the assault on taxpayers, business, consumers, and intellectual property (IP) by moving towards passage/implementation of plain packaging schemes. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to urge nations not to follow Australia’s lead here, as their plain packaging initiative has been an absolute failure. The results have been a mix of lost revenue, rise in illicit activity, and increases in consumption. With that in mind, TPA was honored to sign onto an international coalition letter led by the Property Rights Alliance addressed to Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO). The letter puts forth a reasoned and substantive response to plain packaging tobacco control measures, and similar initiatives that have been announced or may be in the early planning stages.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • Court Ruling Puts Spotlight on Plain Packaging in United Kingdom

    Michi Iljazi on May 24, 2016


    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been exposing the truth about why governments mandating the plain packaging of tobacco products is a bad idea for consumers, taxpayers, and the myth that plain packaging will reduce smoking.  TPA has even submitted comments to both the Australian and Singapore governments warning them of the dangers of plain packaging policies and the implications for the economy, crime, taxpayers, and consumers. Even though plain packaging happens on a country-by-country basis, the United Nations (U.N.) has been pushing these policies globally.  This is especially troublesome considering the U.N. receives $600 million (or 22 percent of their budget) from U.S. taxpayers.  This means that U.S. taxpayers are paying to promulgate plain packaging regulations.

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  • New Report Highlights the Threat IP Continues to Face Worldwide

    Michi Iljazi on April 27, 2016

    OECD Member and Candidate Countries (courtesy wikimedia)

    Yesterday was World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, which marked the importance of IP and its positive impact on the global economy.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to be a staunch advocate of strengthening IP protections at home and abroad. TPA marked World IP Day by highlighting the widespread support for IP from countries all over in a 2015 coalition letter addressed to the World Intellectual Property Organization. However, as another World IP Day was marked by great examples of the strides being made to encourage innovation in the global market, it is important to recognize that threats to IP still exist and they must be dealt with in order to move toward a better climate for creativity. Recently, TPA wrote about how taxes and IP violations intersect, whether it’s through digital piracy or government mandated initiatives like plain packaging. Taxes are evaded when content is pirated, and that impacts businesses, consumers, and taxpayers. A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD), titled Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods, Mapping the Economic Impact, detailed some of the real problems creators and innovators face around the world in protecting their content. The report also shows the annual worldwide cost of IP.

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  • World IP Day 2016: Strengthening IP at Home and Abroad

    Michi Iljazi on April 26, 2016

    European Resource Bank 2015 showed a world without IP

    Today is World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, a day when advocates from around the globe celebrate the importance of IP and the role it plays in driving innovation and shaping economies for the better. With more than 40 million jobs in the United States directly and indirectly attributable to IP intensive industries, it is critical that policymakers know how serious all stakeholders take this issue. In addition to advocating for strengthening IP in the United States, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to push for strengthening IP around the world. There is broad agreement across the globe that IP should be preserved and protected. In fact, last year, TPA signed a coalition letter to Dr. Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), outlining the reasons why protecting IP is critical for the entire world. The letter was spearheaded by the Property Rights Alliance and signed by more than 80 other organizations representing more than 50 countries. The photo above is from the 2015 European Resource Bank Meeting in Istanbul, Turkey to demonstrate the problems with one specific area weakening IP, plain packaging (read TPA’s extensive writings on plain packaging here).  Plain packaging started with tobacco, but governments across the world are moving to spread those regulations to alcohol, fatty foods, and even toys in Australia.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • IP Abuses Harm Taxpayers

    Michi Iljazi on April 20, 2016


    Now that tax day is over, another very important day is on the horizon: World Intellectual Property (IP) Day on April 26. World IP Day is observed each year and marks the importance of IP and the benefits it has on the free market as well as to taxpayers, consumers, and businesses. As IP continues to be a critical issue on a number of fronts, including trade and the economy, it cannot be ignored that the abuses of IP protections are harmful to economies and taxpayers not just in the United States but also all over the world. Free market groups from around the world are taking notice of the importance of IP.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) joined with the Property Rights Alliance and more than 80 other organizations representing more than 50 countries signing this coalition letter sent to the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Francis Gurry. The letter lays out the case for protecting intellectual property rights and not just here in the United States, but around the entire world. Two areas where the economic impact can be seen directly are digital piracy and plain packaging.

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  • Venue Reform Critical to Improving Patent Guidelines in the United States

    Michi Iljazi on February 26, 2016

    The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) recently placed Congress on notice reminding them of the opportunity for and importance of getting something done on patent litigation reform. Reforms would help to strengthen intellectual property (IP), which would boost the competitive economy all while benefitting consumers, businesses and taxpayers. As part of any legislation there are many parts and “venue reform” remains an important component to any legislation that would move through Congress. Venue reform refers to moving the current patent litigation system away from courts that generally favor patent trolls. Patent trolls are generally one or two individuals hiding behind a fictitious shell corporation. They scour the Internet trying to find vague, near-end patents, buying them up with the goal of filing lawsuits to extort settlements from businesses or individuals who can’t afford the high cost of litigation. They issue threatening letters, demanding payment through licensing fees for the use of ambiguous or commonly-utilized technologies, or threaten to sue. Most small businesses can’t afford the steep costs of litigation and instead are bullied into paying excessive licensing fees. Right now most patent disputes are dealt with in just one court in Texas, that’s right a single court hears most patent disputes in the country. In 2015 the Eastern District of Texas handled 2,540 cases of the total 5,830 (43.6%). That is a higher percentage than of all districts outside the top 3 (41.9%).

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  • TPA Applauds New Voluntary Initiative to Fight Piracy

    Michi Iljazi on February 16, 2016


    It’s just one month into 2016 and many of the same fights that have been happening in Washington for years remain unresolved.  But while indecision and delay have become a hallmark of Congress, some private sector actors aren’t letting Congressional paralysis impede progress. One issue that exemplifies this leadership is the protection of intellectual property (IP), in particular online piracy. Last week Donuts Inc., the largest operator of new domain name extensions (such as .MOVIE and .THEATER), announced a new partnership with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to help fight online piracy by ensuring that websites using Donuts Inc. registered domains are not engaged in large-scale piracy.

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  • Release of GIPC’s 2016 Index Shows Positive Trend for IP Rights Worldwide

    Michi Iljazi on February 15, 2016

    2016 U.S. Chamber International IP Index

    Even though the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) focuses most of its efforts on issues on the  national level, there are some issues that expand to a broader, international scale.  One issue that transcends borders is the protection of intellectual property (IP). TPA continues to work on a wide range of IP issues (including plain packaging and copyright protection) understanding the positive impact that protecting IP has on the economy and jobs. A key component to strengthening IP at home and abroad is to recognize the progress made by countries when it comes to the quality of IP protections. The United States Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 International IP Index (found here), which is put out by the Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), shows the progress that’s being made by countries in protecting IP.  The GIPC’s 2016 International IP Index is their fourth annual release and it examines 38 economies and bases the index off of 30 different indicators to measure the strength of their IP system. According to the index, the United States leads the way 28.8 out of 30.  The biggest caveat is that even though the US leads the way, more work needs to be done to strengthen IP in the US.  Recent figures from a joint report by the Economics and Statistics Administration and the United States Patent and Trademark Office show that 40 million jobs are supported by IP intensive industries. That is a number too big to ignore and it will continue to grow. Upon the release of the report last week, there was an upbeat tone about the current state of IP and the positive trend that the index showed in terms of how countries were getting better at fostering a culture where IP was protected globally.

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  • Still Time for Congress to Take Action on Patent Litigation Reform

    Michi Iljazi on January 22, 2016


    In an election year there is rarely optimism about the ability of Congress to get big things accomplished.  This year has just begun, and while the campaign for the White House is in full swing there is still an appetite in Congress to get moving on important items including tax reform and trade. However, another area that Congress should focus their attention on and keep momentum going is patent litigation and venue reform. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) believes in the foundations of intellectual property (IP), the importance it has to the overall economic health of the economy.  Protecting IP will benefit taxpayers and ensure the success of small and large businesses. Laws that encourage innovation and creation are key to ensuring that IP can be abundant, and worth the time and investment from those in the private sector; which impacts jobs and economic output. That logic applies even when it comes to the rules that govern patents in the United States today.  Unfortunately, there are still some glaring problems with regards to how the law treats this area of IP.

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  • Time to modernize the Copyright Office for the digital age

    David Williams on November 6, 2015


    This article originally appeared in The Hill on October 29, 2015

    There is not much disagreement that the Copyright Office, which administers the U.S. copyright system and serves the over $1.1 trillion market for copyrighted works, needs to modernize. Even the federal government agrees.  In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released two reports concluding that the Library of Congress has been woefully mismanaged, and the Copyright Office, which resides in the Library, needs better IT systems.  Taxpayers, and all citizens, should expect that government utilize technology and common sense when modernizing all operations. But like all debates in Washington, the devil is in the details. For instance, as a capstone to Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) two-year copyright review process, Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) circulated a discussion draft of the CODE Act suggesting that the Copyright Office become an independent agency. They reason that the office will have the best chance to modernize if granted increased independence, which would allow the office to focus on self-improvement as opposed to competing with other functions of the Library. Many free market organizations welcomed the draft as a good starting point for discussion. The Internet Association and anti-copyright coalition Re:Create did not.

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