We hear the charge leveled all the time: “Flip-flopper.” When someone fundamentally changes their position on an issue.
We are naturally left to wonder if the move is genuine. Are they are saying what they think – or what they think we want to hear?
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has rocketed to to the top of the sixteen-candidate heap – in large part because of his anti-illegal immigration stance. Which is from all appearances a relatively new position for him. Here’s November 2012 Trump:
“(Mitt Romney) had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal,” Trump says. “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote,” Trump notes. “He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country.”
Trump’s current illegal immigration stance is…slightly more staunch. And it appears to be working for him.
(Of course, Trump is by no means the only 2016 candidate to radically reconfigure his immigration position – Hello, Senator Marco “Gang of Eight” Rubio.)
If a pol flip-flops to the right side of an issue – we shouldn’t mindlessly attack. Because we can not with any certitude know why they did it. What we can do is hail their correction – and hold them to it.
So it is with the awful Innovation Act.
The Innovation Act is fundamental transformation of the Constitutionally-protected patent process – without benefit of the Constitutional amendment process. All under the (intentional or accidental) false flags of “litigation reform” – to deal with “patent trolls.”
But “patent trolls” are almost always nothing more than people with patents – defending them against patent thieves. The patent holders usually have to sue to do that – this “litigation reform” makes it exponentially more difficult for them to do so.
An Innovation Act House vote is expected after the August recess. Except:
The House Judiciary Committee’s lopsided approval of patent reform legislation last month would not have looked as overwhelming if every member showed up.
Six of the seven members of the committee who were absent told The Hill they are leaning toward opposing the measure in its current form. Five of those opponents supported a similar bill last Congress….
Flip-floppers all, potentially. Hopefully.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had put it on the July schedule and it appeared to be heading toward quick approval after a similar bill passed the full House last Congress 325-91.
But after a series of meetings, which opponents say did not go well, the bill was taken off the July calendar. McCarthy said last week that “there is more work to be done on it.”
But why waste any more lipstick on this pig? When there are actual attractive bills to be had?
This is not fundamental transformation. It specifically reforms demand letter abuse – without total system disruption.
It gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to deal with bad demand letter writers – on an a la carte basis. The FTC examines each case as it comes – rather then preemptive, all-encompassing legislation where every single patent holder trying to protect their intellectual property is assumed to be acting in bad faith.
And that’s about it. With DC – less is almost always more….
This isn’t fundamental transformation either. It reforms demand letter abuse – and cleans up some previous DC mistakes.
The last patent reform bill – the America Invents Act – established overly broad standards for when and how patents can be challenged at the patent office. This bill tightens them.
And it uses the TROL Act language that ends abusive demand letters.
As Ronald Reagan said of his treaty dealings with the Soviet Union – “Trust, but verify.”
We should (almost always) give flip-floppers to correct positions the benefit of the doubt – and thereafter the totality of our scrutiny.
If actually elected, Trump should absolutely be held to his new anti-illegal immigration stance – which will have helped deliver him to the White House.
And to these new tentatively anti-Innovation Act Republicans and Democrats – we say “Welcome (almost) home. Do the right thing – and vote No.”
Better still, House Leadership should take further note – and not waste any more makeup on this swine.
Let’s permanently leave it in the legislative pen. And move on to much better looking bills.
This is a guest post by Seton Motley, Founder and President of Less Government