A Story About How Lobbying worked on Patent Reform to the Detriment of Innovation
I bought breakfast at a local diner in downtown Harlan, Iowa a couple of weeks ago. A home cooked sausage and cheese omelet plus an endless cup of coffee is less than $9. Breakfast in Washington, it seems, is much more expensive, not to mention much more gratifying.
The life’s blood of politics is money. For an incumbent politician the more money they have the easier a path to reelection, which seems to be the primary focus of most Members of Congress. Raising money is an absolute job requirement, at least if you want to stay as an incumbent politician.
While many a commentator has lamented the chase for money by politicians, one less often told story is how senior Members of Congress are able to influence more junior Members, those who are in truly swing districts, and those Members who are perennial targets from the opposing party.
Here is a story of how $1,000 a plate Washington breakfast influenced the votes of several Conservative Members of Congress who serve on the House Judiciary, including Representative Steve King (IA-04), allowing Committee passage of H.R.9, the innovation killing Innovation Act.
Over the past several years there have been a number of large corporations, many that have patents themselves, who have funded and managed a powerful Washington lobbying effort. The focus has ostensibly been on reforming the problem of patent litigation abuse, but the changes advocated would be to their favor at the expense of innovators, like universities, independent inventors and startups. These large companies commercialize thousands of technologies invented by others, without permission, and thus benefit directly from weaker patent rights.