Back in May, we wrote about how, despite pretty much everyone agreeing on a (decent, if not amazing) patent reform bill in the Senate, the whole thing got shot down at the last minute. That was when the trial lawyers called Senator Harry Reid, asking him to kill the whole thing
, which he did by telling Senator Patrick Leahy that he wouldn't allow the bill to go to the floor for a vote. This came after months
of detailed negotiations, getting nearly everyone into agreement on the bill, which would have made life at least somewhat more difficult for patent trolls. About a week after that, we pointed out that it seemed likely that the patent trolls had miscalculated badly
, because it was widely expected that the Republicans would take control of the Senate in the fall (as they did), and they were more gungho on real patent reform and (obviously) not concerned with what trial lawyers think (mocking trial lawyers being a hobby of Republican politicians).
And, indeed, that prediction appears to have been quite accurate. Senator Orrin Hatch -- who is seen as something of a copyright maximalist though apparently doesn't feel that way about patents -- went on the attack
against patent trolls in a floor speech.
Hatch doesn't mince words and flat out calls out the trial lawyers for killing the recent patent reform attempt. Furthermore, as Vox reports, other Republicans in the Senate appear eager to take on patent trolls
, going even further than the legislation that was almost agreed to earlier this year. In fact, Hatch made it clear that he wants stronger fee-shifting in patent reform than what was in the last bill -- and that was the issue that most worried the trial lawyers. It was pretty obvious this was going to happen back in May. It's fairly incredible the trial lawyers (and Harry Reid) didn't recognize this at the time.
Hatch's speech touched on a few other issues -- some good, some bad. He's pushing new federalized trade secret laws. This is a really
bad idea, which we'll be discussing in more detail later. However, he also supports ECPA reform -- something that we've supported for years and has never gone anywhere in Congress. He brought up some other important issues, including immigration for high skilled workers. So the speech was definitely a mixed bag, but it had a lot of good points (unless you're a patent troll or a trial lawyer).