Category: Intellectual Property
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.
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
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.”
December 31, 2014
The New Year is upon us and it’s time for millions of Americans to make their resolutions for the New Year. Many folks vow to lose weight by eating a healthier diet and going to the gym. In a twist on that time-honored tradition, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is urging Congress to get it’s fiscal health back in shape. We put together a list of our own resolutions for Washington and those politicians who will soon be returning for a new Congressional session.
Click 'read more' below to see the full list of 2015 New Years resolutions!» Read More
November 18, 2014
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The free market is most effective when consumers are allowed to make choices for themselves and businesses are not burdened by onerous regulatory measures designed to harm sales of legal merchandise. When government steps in and increases taxes and/or adds needless regulations, the market suffers and in turn, consumers and businesses do too. The plain packaging initiatives for tobacco like the one in Australia are a case study in what not to do. It is has been more than a year since plain packaging rules were instituted and the results have been bad for taxpayers and businesses. The new rules also represent a serious infringement of Intellectual Property (IP) rights. Unfortunately the impact of plain packaging is being misconstrued by those who are pushing the counterproductive initiative; and now even media in the United States is picking up the narrative. Last week the Washington Post praised the effects of plain packaging down under. But, a closer look reveals just how bad plain packaging is for consumers, businesses, and taxpayers.
November 14, 2014
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Intellectual Property (IP) continues to be a major factor in helping to drive today’s global economy. Innovation and economic expansion are buoyed as IP is strengthened, as shown by a recent report from the US Chamber of Commerce. Though Congress has been quiet since early summer on this issue, there is hope the new Congress will pick up where this Congress (now a Lame Duck) left off. There’s no question that as technologies change it becomes increasingly important to keep up with those changes and make sure that consumers and businesses have the tools they need in order to enjoy the content in the digital marketplace that they most enjoy. Just this week a new tool for helping to find and locate legal content online was launched. Todd Spangler of the Variety reported.
October 3, 2014
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This article originally appeared in Inside Sources on September 19, 2014
The United States and Canada have long benefitted from a good economic relationship, including unfettered trade. That’s why it comes as a surprise that when Canada hosted trade negotiators from 12 countries in July to focus on opening trade through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, there was tension. Canadian barriers to trade and investment remain discouragingly entrenched. Even though Canada is a key ally and close partner of the United States on a wide range of strategic issues, our neighbors to the North have emerged as a key detractor to updated rules for intellectual property (IP) rights needed to bring TPP into the 21st Century. Unfortunately, Canada’s resistance to innovation-friendly rights and protections isn’t limited to the TPP. The country’s judiciary, enforcement, and law-making bodies are further solidifying Canada as an outlier on IP rights globally. As a key driving force behind innovation and commerce, intellectual property is playing a key role in today’s global economy. Consequently, there must be a greater focus on preserving the best standards for IP, not just here in the United States, but all around the world, as technologies evolve and countries advance economically.
September 23, 2014
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Intellectual Property (IP) is an important debate in today’s global economy, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues highlight the value of IP in an evolving economic landscape. There are new pieces of data and information that can be obtained on a regular basis in terms of the kind of value IP has to economic growth and expanding innovation, and a new report released last week shows yet again just how the abuse of IP is still rampant and profitable, and in dire need of improvement. A report from the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) entitled “Behind the Cyberlocker Door: A Report on How Shadowy Cyberlocker Businesses Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions” showcases the seedy nature of some businesses that are blatantly ignoring IP, and making a great deal of money through content that they neither created or have a right to profit off of.
September 12, 2014
At a recent debate on Capitol Hill sponsored by America's Future Foundation, an interesting question was put to two right-of-center thinkers: Is Copyright a Property Right? The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) had a front row seat for the event and there were some interesting observations that definitely merit highlighting to our readers. TPA supports strong IP protections so we were keenly interested in the debate. There are several things that stood out during this back and forth discussion and debate on how to properly define copyright when looking at the issue of intellectual property and what the true meaning is for both concepts. The two sides immediately agreed that copyright and intellectual property are property rights. IP has a role to play in today’s global economy. Intellectual Property is a key driving force behind innovation and global commerce. As technologies continue to evolve and countries continue to advance economically, there should be greater focus on preserving the best standards for IP not just here in the United States, but all around the world. A 2012 report from U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) entitled IP Creates Jobs for America highlighted specific metrics showing the importance of IP to economic growth.» Read More
August 1, 2014
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US Patent and Trademark Office HQ in Alexandria, VA
August is here and that means another vacation for Washington politicians. This month-long break comes at a time where there is quite a bit of work for them to do. One issue that has languished in Congress for quite some time is reforming the patent system and ensuring protection of intellectual property (IP). Protecting intellectual property should be a priority for the Federal Government, and while the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is no fan of big government, on this issue even the Founding Fathers knew that protecting intellectual property was important enough to include it in the Constitution. All one needs to do is look at how large a role IP plays in commerce, and not just in the United States, but also around the world. One of the biggest misconceptions is that protecting IP is a form of corporate welfare. TPA is acutely aware of the real definition of corporate welfare considering TPA’s tireless work to get rid of the Export-Import Bank and other blatant corporate welfare programs. But, protecting intellectual property ensures that creators of works are safeguarded against those who wish to steal their creative pieces.
July 21, 2014
This article originally appeared in Breitbart London on July 15, 2014» Read More
Ireland's government recently took steps toward becoming the first EU country to require plain packaging for tobacco products, and the UK would like to follow its lead. In light of recent reports coming out of Australia, the only country to enact the measure, showing the law is not achieving its intended effects, it is paramount these governments reconsider. Free market and taxpayer groups are concerned about the consequences of such extreme laws, not just in terms of health and safety of consumers, but their impact on national treasuries. As reported in the Sun newspaper the UK Government faces a potential compensation bill of between £9-11 billion if it proceeds with the removal of internationally protected trademarks and intellectual property. Already Indonesia is threatening to introduce plain packaging for beers, wines and spirits. And if other countries followed their lead this could have a significant effect on the Britain’s £38 billion alcohol industry which directly employs around 650,000 people. But the Ireland and the UK still have a chance to stop this bad policy.
May 16, 2014
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Intellectual Property (IP) issues have been getting more and more attention in recent years and there are plenty of aspects to consider when looking at IP in the totality of today’s overall economy. The foundations of some of the guiding principles of our nation recognize the importance of intellectual property and that shouldn’t be lost in any debate or discussion related to IP. The free market thrives best when IP is recognized and not infringed upon by those eager to regulate. IP has become one of the most crucial factors to driving innovation in a time when our commerce is operating on a global scale in a 24/7 environment. A recent National Review article highlighted why IP rights are so important in this age of innovation. One battle that has implications for IP is the alarming trend of the public sector dictating how products can be marketed to the public. Recent news abroad in Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom that relate to plain packaging of tobacco should cause alarm for those concerned with IP rights, as overreach becomes more and more common. Tobacco has been a popular target for excessive taxation and now plain packaging. In the United States, elected officials are constantly trying to find ways to go after tobacco a means to generate increased revenue and aim at deterring smoking. However, these types of misguided policy initiatives are not strictly limited to just a domestic problem, there are international governments who are using their power to go after tobacco as a means of revenue generation while also looking to cut down on use. The problem is that neither happens, the revenue tends to be Fool’s Gold and tobacco use is not impacted.
April 22, 2014
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United States Trademark and Patent Office (USPTO)
Saturday April 26 marks World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. Protecting intellectual property is an important mission of the federal government. In fact, the Founding Fathers thought protecting intellectual property was important enough to include it in the Constitution. IP plays an important role in daily commerce, not just in the United States, but also around the entire globe. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) supports IP, and has focused recently on two particular aspects, one dealing on the domestic side and another that lies overseas. The common factor that makes these issues of IP so important is how they impact taxpayers and economic activity and why IP is something that should be on the radar for everyone not just this week, but all year round. First, let’s take a look here in the US and in particular in Washington D.C. at what is happening regarding intellectual property. Right now, there is a debate that has been lingering in Congress regarding patent reform and more specifically how to combat ‘patent trolls’. Just a few weeks ago, TPA welcomed Tim Lee from the Center for Individual Freedom to discuss in detail why the issue of ‘patent trolls’ was something that was worthy of attention on the ‘Taxpayer Watch’ podcast. Lee emphasized that the real focus is on the litigation and how to reform the current rules that have been established within patent litigation. The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently crafting a bill that may indeed attack the problems that the current patent litigation system contains. On the TPA podcast, Mr. Lee laid out that the rules seem to leave little responsibility on those bringing litigation forward, and that the reforms that are needed should ensure that both plaintiffs and defendants are operating on a level playing field in the judicial system with respect to patent litigation. This is a major sticking point in the negotiations within the Senate Judiciary Committee right now, and it is part of the reason that the bill has yet to move into markup phase.
March 14, 2014
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President Obama & Taoiseach Enda Kenny
The annual celebration of one of the most famous Saints is nearing, and along with the festivities that many will enjoy, there is much to celebrate about the land that gives us the greenest of yearly holidays, St. Patrick’s Day! Ireland is to be commended for their foresight to encourage commerce and business through free-market principles, and it shows with each company that makes a move to do business in the land of Saints and Scholars. Unfortunately, for all the pro-business, pro-consumer, pro-taxpayer aspects of Ireland and their system of commerce, there is something brewing that may be cause for holding off on the weekend festivities. There appears to be a movement toward adopting an anti-business, anti-consumer, and anti-free market tactic known as ‘plain packaging’; and TPA is gravely concerned and deeply disappointed with this development. The impact felt by the United States business community at large by plain packaging is particularly important considering the timely visit to the US by the leader of the Irish government that began Thursday. Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Ireland’s Prime Minister) arrived yesterday and plans to meet with the President, Vice-President, and Congress thru the weekend. The trip is focused on several issues, including Ireland’s reinvigorating economic outlook.
January 31, 2014
To read the full letter, click ‘read more’ below » Read More
US Patent and Trademark Office (courtesy USPTO.gov)
Patent reform is an issue that is rarely given as much attention in the media in comparison to health care, taxes, etc. However, it is extremely important and the current state of the US patent system is in need of reform, specifically when it comes to its litigation practices. President Obama discussed patent reform in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night stressing the importance of a viable structure for the patent system and TPA believes that the patent system must welcome reforms that encourage further creativity and strengthen the overall patent process. That is why TPA, along with American Commitment, American Consumer Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Center for Individual Freedom, Frontiers of Freedom, Property Rights Alliance, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council signed a letter from Digital Liberty to the Senate Judiciary Committee calling attention to the work that needs to be done regarding patent reform.
January 21, 2014
Roodstown Castle, Co. Louth, Ireland (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
In addition to the work that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) does in the United States, TPA has been involved in issues that reach across the world including Australia, Europe, and Uganda to make sure that elected officials are spending taxpayer dollars wisely and creating a business friendly climate that is beneficial to taxpayers, consumers, and businesses. One issue in particular that TPA has been following is ‘plain packaging’ of tobacco products (read previous work by TPA here). Specifically, in Australia in 2012, the nation passed a law that “prevents tobacco advertising and promotion of tobacco products and tobacco product packaging by making it an offence to sell, supply, purchase, package or manufacture tobacco products or packaging for retail sale that are not compliant with plain packaging requirements.” The results have been disastrous. Now, Ireland appears to be headed in a similar direction. Today, TPA sent a letter to Taoiseach (Ireland’s equivalent of Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, and the Irish government, to urge them to not adopt plain packaging regulations. Australia has shown us that plain packaging is the wrong policy and that this policy harms businesses and taxpayers. If Ireland adopts plain packaging rules it will hurt taxpayers, consumers, and businesses in both in Ireland and the United States.
To read the full letter, click 'read more' below. » Read More
November 26, 2012
The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing this week on proposed legislation that could lock in the way people currently listen to Internet radio, preventing the development of new business models. The hearing will address royalties that are paid by Internet, cable, and satellite radio stations for the music they play. Owners of copyrighted material are subject to compulsory licensing, which means that an individual or company that wants to use valuable commercial copyrighted music can do so without seeking consent from the owner, as long as they are willing to pay a fee fixed by the government. Nothing prevents a digital radio company and a music owner to negotiate a free market deal outside the compulsory license, but most use it. This is how an artist or record label gets paid and is a critical concept when it comes to listening to digital radio on-line or via cable or satellite. Currently, Pandora, and all other digital radio services, pay this government-set fee for the music they use to support their businesses. The rate standard used by the government to set this fee was established under a 1998 law, and it requires that an “expert panel” use the free market as a benchmark to determine what should be paid to owners for the use of their music. Three companies (satellite and cable radio companies) were “grandfathered” in under a lower rate standard, because they existed before the new law was passed. This lower standard assures that the fee set by the government for the use of music by these three companies will not “disrupt” their business models or technology. Unhappy with their current financial arrangement, which they actually worked out in the marketplace with music creators, Pandora now wants to lower the market-based rate standard that applies to all companies launched after 1998 to the lower standard that prevents disruption of their current model so they can pay below-market rates.» Read More
September 26, 2011
From having the power to initiate food recalls to approving new drugs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is quickly becoming one of the most powerful government bureaucracies. In fact, according to FDA budget documents, “The fiscal year (FY) 2012 President’s Budget request for FDA is $4,360,281,000. This represents a total program level increase of $1,076,215,000 above the amount enacted into law for FY 2010.” The FDA has also played an increasing role in squeezing the tobacco industry. The FDA has required that cigarettes contain health warnings on cigarettes since the 1960’s. It now appears that the FDA may have over played that hand with their crusade to “up their game” and put graphic images on cigarette packages to enhance the warning labels. According to a September 21, 2011 Associated Press article, “ A federal judge peppered a government lawyer with questions Wednesday expressing doubts about whether the Food and Drug Administration can force tobacco companies to post graphic images on their cigarette packages showing the health effects of smoking. In a two-hour hearing, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon closely questioned Justice Department lawyer Mark Stern on whether the nine graphic images proposed by the FDA convey just the facts about the health risks of smoking or go beyond that into advocacy - a critical distinction in a case over free speech.”» Read More