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Category: Intellectual Property



  • TPA Statement on the TPP Agreement

    David Williams on October 7, 2015

    tpp

    Earlier this week, the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations reached an historic trade agreement with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). This trade agreement has been a work in progress that has taken years to reach this critical point. Free trade is good for the economy and taxpayers and agreeing to TPP is a step in the right direction for all countries involved.  This agreement was made possible by the passage of Trade Promotion Authority.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is proud to have helped secure passage of Trade Promotion Authority, which advances free trade while also providing oversight of all trade deals. As the U.S. trade deficit in the Pacific region continues to be a problem for our economy, TPP can be a positive step forward in helping to eliminate the deficit. There is still a great deal of work that needs to be done in order to thoroughly analyze the full impact that the agreement will have on the United States and partner nations.

    click 'read more' below to read the full statement

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  • Private Sector Takes the Lead in Fighting Piracy and Protecting IP

    Michi Iljazi on October 6, 2015

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    As the technology sector continues to expand and innovation continues to be a key driver for growing the economy, it is important to recognize and strengthen intellectual property (IP) whenever possible. Abusers of the system are rampant, and in many cases they are aided and abetted by other bad actors who want to profit off of the IP violations that occur frequently. As Congress examines copyright in the digital age, there are examples of how the private sector is taking the lead in protecting IP. One recent example comes from WPP’s GroupM (the leading global media investment management company) with new guidelines and initiative aimed at fighting online ad-supported piracy.  GroupM will require all of their media partners to receive anti-piracy certification from the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a “cross-industry accountability program to create transparency in the business relationships and transactions that undergird the digital ad industry, while continuing to enable innovation.”

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  • Summer Reading: Intellectual Property; The Innovation Act and Music Licensing

    David Williams and Michi Iljazi on August 28, 2015

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    This week’s edition of Summer Reading highlights intellectual property (IP) and legislation that Congress can move to reform the patent system and music licensing.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been calling on Washington lawmakers to make the necessary reforms in both of these areas so that innovators and creators can continue to fuel the economy, while holding bad actors responsible for abuses in the system.

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  • First GOP Presidential Debate: Ten Issues the Candidates Must Address

    David Williams on August 5, 2015

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    Here we go again.  Another election season is quickly approaching and the first sign of the 2016 election is the first debate.  On Thursday August 6, ten republicans will square off in the first of many debates in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of republican voters.  Thursday’s debate in Ohio will be the first (and certainly not the last time) for the presidential hopefuls to tell the voters why they should be the party’s nominee for President.  Even though the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) will not endorse anybody for President, we do have a Top Ten list of issues should be addressed by the candidates.

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  • TPA Signs International Coalition Letter on Protecting Intellectual Property Rights

    Michi Iljazi on July 27, 2015

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    World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Dr. Francis Gurry, 2011

    Intellectual Property (IP) continues to play an important role in boosting economic growth, and with more than 40 million jobs in the United States directly and indirectly attributable to IP intensive industries, it is important to make sure that policymakers know how serious all stakeholders are about protecting IP rights. Protecting those rights is not only important here at home but also it is important all over the globe, and right now world leaders are preparing to finalize a major international trade deal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). So what better time to remind them of the importance of protecting IP rights? With that in mind, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance 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.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • TPA Signs Coalition Letter Reaffirming Support for Patent Litigation Reform

    Michi Iljazi on July 24, 2015

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    Patent
    litigation reform continues to be an issue that requires the attention of our elected leaders in Washington. Protecting intellectual property is a core government function that helps grow the economy and benefits both taxpayers and consumers. One of the pressing problems with patents right now and more so patent litigation are so-called “patent trolls” and how abuses of these patent trolls continues to corrupt the legal system with junk lawsuits that harm innovation and prevent real competition and expansion of the free-market that help generate a boost for the economy. Just last week, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) signed a coalition letter urging Congress to act on patent litigation reform, specifically the Innovation Act, H.R. 9, introduced earlier this year by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va). Protecting Intellectual Property (IP) is important to helping the economy, taxpayers, consumers, and businesses; and reforming the patent litigation system should be a part of those efforts.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • Congress Should Oppose the Local Radio Freedom Act

    Michi Iljazi on July 21, 2015

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    Intellectual Property (IP) is critical to driving our economy forward in a positive way, and one industry where this couldn’t be more applicable is in music. In today’s current landscape, the rules do not afford any rights for a performer to his or her product in terrestrial radio (any radio station received by a signal rather than the Internet). There are some in Congress who want to keep it that way, and the harmful H. Con. Res. 17, Supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act (LRFA), keeps the current system in place, undermining the intellectual property of musical performers. Taxpayers Protection Alliance opposes LRFA and believe it is important to make sure intellectual property is protected, which is why TPA came out in support of H.R. 1733, the “Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015” (see the bill here) was introduced in Congress by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Marcia Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). This bill would ensure that terrestrial radio stations pay performers when their content is broadcast on air (like satellite and internet radio). TPA signed onto a coalition letter earlier this year opposing LRFA, and we continue to urge lawmakers in Congress to stand against H. Con. Res. 17.

    Click 'read more' below to see the full letter

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  • We Told You So: Ireland to Extend Plain Packaging to Alcohol

    David Williams on July 17, 2015

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    Roodstown Castle, Co. Louth, Ireland (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

    Sometimes being able to say “I told you so” isn’t a victory, especially when the prediction would have a negative impact on taxpayers and consumers. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been sounding the alarm on various attempts by governments around the globe to institute plain packaging policies for tobacco. Many times those warnings have also come with the expressed concern that these types of policies would be just the beginning of far more aggressive attempts to regulate the packaging of other products like alcohol and sugary foods. Unfortunately, that prediction appears to have been correct, at least in the case of Ireland with their desire to plain package alcohol. In March of this year, Ireland became the first country in Europe, and the second country in the world, to adopt plan packaging for tobacco products. The official adoption of plain packaging in Ireland was a major loss for intellectual property, taxpayers, and preventing further illicit trade and black market activity of tobacco products (read previous blog postings here and here). Now, only a few months later, it appears that Ireland may try and expand the policy to include alcohol. A report from the Joint Committee on Health & Children details their plan.

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  • Taking on Patent Trolls Must be Part of any Congressional Patent Reform

    Michi Iljazi on July 13, 2015

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    This article originally appeared in The Washington Times on June 23, 2015

    While America has always stood as a shining symbol of innovation, today’s inventors and job creators face a growing, unbridled threat from predatory entities known as “patent trolls.” Originally enshrined in the United States Constitution to safeguard ingenuity and original creations, the patent system has instead been turned on its head and manipulated into a tool used to harm those it was created to protect. The Founding Fathers knew that strong intellectual property protections were crucial to human progress, and like many of our other liberties, they had the foresight to ensure that they were safeguarded. They wrote Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution to empower Congress to specifically “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” What the Founders did not envision, however, was non-authors and non-inventors gaining rights to these same patents and subverting their intent. Patent trolls are often comprised of 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.

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  • Local Radio Freedom Act Harms Creators and Undermines Intellectual Property

    Michi Iljazi on July 7, 2015

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    Protecting property rights, including intellectual property, is the hallmark of any strong democracy.   Protecting intellectual property includes music artists including the writer and performer, regardless of the medium under which that work is transmitted. Unfortunately, under today’s existing rules, a performer holds no rights to his or her product in terrestrial radio (any radio station received by a signal rather than the Internet).  The Future of Music Coalition summed up the problem artists have been facing regarding performance rights in a recent blog post when they noted that, “Currently, because of an embarrassing quirk in US copyright law, the US is one of only a few countries in the world (the others include Iran and North Korea) that don’t compensate performers when their music is played on the radio.” Recently introduced H. Con. Res. 17, Supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act (LRFA), codifies the current system that does not adequately protect intellectual property. Keeping the current system is nothing more than cronyism benefitting broadcasters who want nothing more than to keep musicians and artists from getting compensated for their hard work. Last January, TPA signed a coalition letter urging House Republicans to withhold any support and/or co-sponsorship of LRFA.

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  • Free Trade Agreements Will Encourage Stronger Intellectual Property Rights

    Alexander Hendrie on June 12, 2015

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    This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on June 5, 2015

    Alexander Hendrie is a Federal Affairs Associate at Americans for Tax Reform and its affiliate, Property Rights Alliance (PRA). The U.S. House of Representatives will soon vote on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), legislation that outlines congressional objectives and prerogatives the president must follow when negotiating trade agreements. While TPA encompasses a diverse and comprehensive range of guidelines and objectives, perhaps most importantly it is an opportunity to strengthen global protections of intellectual property (IP). TPA includes almost 150 objectives related to agriculture, investment, labor, state-owned enterprises, currency manipulation, and more. In addition, TPA contains strong oversight provisions that give Congress the final say so that any agreement is in the best interest of the American people. In regards to intellectual property, TPA will ensure that American companies receive fair and equitable market opportunities when operating overseas. The legislation requires any trade agreement to “promote adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights” and encourages trade partners to adopt many of the strong IP protections that are found in U.S. law.

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  • Drive to Modernize the Copyright Office Gets Boost with New Draft Plan

    Michi Iljazi on June 9, 2015

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    The Library of Congress, which houses the U.S. Copyright Office

    It has been more than two years since the House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), has been analyzing copyright laws. One of the conclusions from that work is that the United States Copyright Office is long overdue for an update to bring its technology into the 21st Century. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been a vocal advocate for modernizing the Copyright Office and now the possibility of achieving that goal is closer. Last week, Reps. Tom Marino (R-Penn.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) introduced a discussion draft of legislation that would finally modernize the U.S. Copyright Office.

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  • Recap: European Resource Bank 2015

    David Williams on May 21, 2015

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    From May 14 to May 17, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) had the honor and pleasure to attend the European Resource Bank meeting.  This year’s meeting was the 12th annual gathering of taxpayer and free market groups from around the world with the focus on Europe and the challenges Europe faces. Before the meeting officially started, taxpayer groups from around the world convened at the Taxpayers Leaders Forum and Coalition Leaders Forum (hosted by Americans for Tax Reform) to talk about progress that the groups are making in their respective countries. There were many presentations from representatives from Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Serbia, and Spain.  The most striking presentation was from a woman who works for a Venezuelan taxpayer/free market group.  She talked about her efforts to address government spending, property rights and transparency in a country that is hostile to freedom.  The Venezuelans hold a monthly meeting of like-minded folks to talk about issues and what they can do to open up their government.  They have to change the meeting location every month because of fear of government harassment.  They also don’t have a physical office because of fear they will get raided by the government.  All of their files are on hard drives that they carry with them. Despite these seemingly long odds they have 60,000 twitter followers and are growing their membership.

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  • A Win for Innovation and Intellectual Property

    Michi Iljazi on April 27, 2015

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    This article appeared in Real Clear Policy on April 24, 2015

    As the world celebrates World IP Day on Sunday, intellectual property is becoming one of the most important issues facing Congress. Protecting IP is a core government function that can help grow the economy, which in turn helps taxpayers and consumers. The growing threat of “patent trolls” has become a major area of concern among those who want to ensure that patents are still a vibrant part of the creative process. Patent trolls in most cases do nothing to innovate; instead, they obtain patents for the purpose of filing lawsuits and clogging up the courts. For example, the company Lodsys exists solely to target small application developers. They do not make or sell anything; they just go after creators and claim patent infringement. In 2011, patent trolls cost the economy $80 billion and discouraged future innovation by raising creators' risk of frivolous lawsuits. A bipartisan House bill called the Innovation Act is designed to address this problem. Among other reforms, the legislation would require courts to decide on the validity of a patent on a faster timetable. This will make it harder for patent trolls to drag out a lawsuit in order force a settlement.

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  • World IP Day 2015: Good and Bad News on Key Battles

    David Williams and Michi Iljazi on April 24, 2015

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    This Sunday, April 26, is World Intellectual Property Day ( World IP Day) and the theme for this year’s observance is the protection of the intellectual property of music.  World IP Day brings attention to the importance of intellectual property and why it is such a major part of the innovative foundations that have helped to generate a tremendous amount of economic impact not just in the United States but around the world. Even though this year’s focus is on music, there are many battles being fought around the world including countries forcing companies to give up their brands through plain packaging.

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  • Time is Now to Modernize the Copyright Office

    Michi Iljazi on March 30, 2015

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    The Library of Congress, which houses the the U.S. Copyright Office

    This article originally appeared in The Hill on March 26, 2015

    The House Judiciary Committee has spent more than two years reviewing copyright laws in an effort to determine if copyright is “working” in the digital age. The marketplace would suggest that it is. Consumers have more high quality content to choose from than ever before.  But, taxpayers need to be assured that the money they send to Washington is using the most up-to-date technology to ensure that copyrights laws are enforced and used properly.  Protecting copyrights has a ripple effect through the economy and when the economy grows, taxpayers win. While the marketplace for copyrighted works is innovating, investing and creating at a blistering pace, the government agency tasked with serving the market, the United States Copyright Office, is struggling to keep up. Indeed, the agency still employs a paper-based record-keeping system. But the industry it serves is increasingly digital. The question isn’t whether the Copyright Office should be fixed, it is how the US Copyright Office can make needed changes to be fully capable of dealing with the creative forces that are driving today’s knowledge based economy. The problem is that the Copyright Office hasn’t been revamped or reformatted since the 1970’s, which is not only unacceptable but also threatens to harm innovation and commerce.

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  • UK Moving Toward Same Mistake As Australia With Likely Spring Proposal of Plain Packaging

    on February 11, 2015

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    A version of this piece appeared in the Washington Times

    The right of companies to sell their products in packaging that features their legally protected trademarks and branding seems like a no-brainer in a free market economy. In fact it is one of the key components of preserving Intellectual Property (IP) in today’s global economy. But that right is under attack from an unlikely place: The Conservative Government of United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister David Cameron. Britain’s health minister, Jane Ellison, announced recently that, this spring, the government will propose a “plain packaging” scheme for cigarettes that will remove all logos, colors, unique lettering and other brand identification from packs and replace them with a drab brown packaging. The only graphic, beside the brand’s name in small block font would be a graphic picture of a tobacco-related ailment and several large health warnings. Mr. Cameron’s plain packaging idea is based on a similar law in Australia, which stripped cigarette packages bare except for large color photos of rotting teeth, dead fetuses and diseased eyeballs. The anti-smoking scare tactic was lauded as revolutionary when it was mandated by the Australian government in December 2012, but the policy has been an abject failure.

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  • House Reintroduces Legislation to Reform Patent Litigation

    Michi Iljazi on February 10, 2015

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    US Patent & Trademark Office

    We are only in the second month of the year and 2015 is already shaping up to be a potentially major year on a wide range of issues related to technology. Even though net neutrality, Internet access taxes, and updating the Communications Act have all garnered attention, another issue has remerged, patent litigation reform. Protecting intellectual property is a core government function that will help grow the economy and help taxpayers and consumers.One of the major problems with patents right now and more so patent litigation are the so-called “patent trolls” and how the abuse of these patent trolls has corrupted the legal system with junk lawsuits that harm innovation and prevent real competition and expansion of the free-market that help generate a boost for the economy.

    » Read More
  • TPA Signs Coalition Letter to Congress Outlining Principles for Intellectual Property

    Michi Iljazi on February 6, 2015

    As technology and telecom continue to play a major role this year in Washington, Congress will have their work cut out for them on a wide range of issues that fall under this heading. Intellectual Property (IP) is one such issue as it continues to be a major factor in helping to drive today’s global economy. Innovation and economic expansion are strengthened as IP is preserved, and the US must continue to work to remain atop IP as shown by a new index produced by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global IP Center. Keeping that in mind, and understanding that the new Congress will work on IP, Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) signed onto a coalition letter with more than 60 other organizations/individuals outlining for Congress a set of principles on IP as they consider what steps to take legislatively when looking at how to move forward on common sense reforms.

    Click 'read more' to see the full letter » Read More
  • Wrong Message Sent in the Sony Hack Debate

    David Williams on January 13, 2015

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    This article originally appeared in The Hill on January 12, 2014

    As Americans take to the Internet as never before, the increasing rate of lawlessness online is of great concern. In addition to all too common identity theft, fraud and worse, 2014 saw devastating cyber breaches of large American companies including Target, Home Depot, JP Morgan and Sony Pictures. All of these attacks contribute to an environment of uncertainty and trepidation amongst consumers, as they consider adopting new technologies and online services. The recent attack on Sony Pictures has dramatically illustrated and escalated the extent of the danger.  The attacks have also heightened the awareness of the importance of the need to protect intellectual property. As has been widely reported, Sony suffered a massive attack on its computer systems which led to the release of stolen material including emails, business plans and intellectual property (for some perspective, the amount of data stolen is more than every printed page in the Library of Congress). After an investigation, the FBI accused North Korea of orchestrating the attack, perhaps in part due to terrorist threats levied against Sony, movie theaters and consumers if “The Interview” (a boorish comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un) was exhibited. On January 7, FBI Director James Comey reiterated North Korea’s complicity stating “We know who hacked Sony. It was the North Koreans… I have very high confidence about this attribution.”

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