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A Sad Day For Patent Reform. A Bad Day For Innovation.

Score one for the patent trolls.

It is beyond disappointing to write this, but the Senate Democratic Leadership today shelved the patent litigation reform legislation that could have dealt a major blow to patent trolls.

At Rackspace we have pushed hard for Congress to enact patent litigation reform. We have made it one of our core missions to battle patent trolls. To say we’re stunned by the Senate’s failure to act would be a gross understatement. As recently as last night, we had high hopes that a meaningful reform effort would move forward this week. Instead, we got the news today that the patent reform bill won’t be moving forward. We view this as a massive failure of leadership.

This is so disappointing because curbing patent trolls is not a partisan issue. The House bill that passed last December received broad, bipartisan support. It passed the House with an overwhelming 325-vote majority, including 130 Democrats, and earned public support from President Obama and the Republican committee chair. We were relying heavily on the Senate to be an ally against these parasites that make America less competitive every day.

Instead, this is the result of listening to a few select groups that live off of a broken system instead of listening to the thousands of individuals and companies across the entire American economy that actually produce value, jobs, and true innovation.

We don’t forget that there were many Senators who fought on the right side of this battle. Senators Cornyn and Schumer in particular both took leadership roles in championing patent reform.

The Innovation Act represented the first truly comprehensive piece of patent litigation reform legislation, and today’s move by the Senate can only be seen as a victory for the patent trolls that plague the industry with their vexatious lawsuits that amount to nothing more than extortion.

Patent trolls and their lawsuits are a scourge on nearly every type of business. In our industry, companies large and small are in the crosshairs of patent trolls and have turned to the Senate for relief.

While we’re saddened, we won’t stop. We’ll continue to work within all of our communities to push for sorely needed patent litigation reform and to take the power away from patent trolls. We encourage all of our customers, partners and friends to join us in hopes that next year we can get Congress to act.

Edit: May 22, 2014: We are not alone in seeing this as a major failure by the Senate Democratic leadership. Below are statements from groups throughout the economy that have been targeted by patent trolls:

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Van Lindberg.

Van Lindberg is Vice President of Intellectual Property at Rackspace. He is trained as a computer engineer and lawyer, but what he does best is “translate” to help businesses, techies and attorneys understand each other.

Van likes working with both computer code and legal code. For the past several years, he has been using natural language processing and graph theory to help him digest and map the U.S. Patent Database.

Before becoming a lawyer, Van was a research and development engineer at NTT/Verio, where he built automation tools and distributed systems using mostly Python. He was also an IT administrator for the Harold B. Lee College of Education at his alma mater, Brigham Young University. Van has been involved with open source since 1994, when a friend introduced him to Linux.

In April 2012, the American Bar Association Journal named Van one of “America’s Top 12 Techiest Attorneys.” He is currently chairman of the board of the Python Software Foundation, as well as the author of “Intellectual Property and Open Source.”

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