By Steve Smith on Aug 21 2013 - 4:41pm

CEA Focused On Immigration, Patent Troll Reform In D.C. This Fall

Michael Petricone, government and regulatory affairs senior VP with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), visited TWICE’s offices this afternoon and outlined the group’s legislative focus for the fall when Congress reconvenes: immigration reform and patent trolls.

Both are issues that CEA has championed on Capitol Hill for several years, long before others jumped on board, and Petricone is hopeful that progress — dare we say legislation that passes both houses of Congress — may occur before legislators leave for Christmas vacation.

“Both are tough issues,” Petricone said, “but if you had told me at CES [in January] that by late August we’d be close to passing legislation about one or both problems, I would have been ecstatic.”

CEA is backing immigration reform because it allows “the best and the brightest from around the world who get their education here to stay, and create businesses.” He said that the proposed Senate legislation is good and that the House is still working on a version.

During the summer recess, Petricone heard from congressional aides that when senators and members of Congress, even in conservative areas, have gone back to discuss the issue, “constituents are saying that ‘immigration is broken’ and that it needs to be fixed.”

He related the story of an advertising sign in the San Francisco Airport from the Canadian government saying, “Having visa problems? Come to Canada!” and start a business.

As for patent trolls, the whole issue has been “debilitating” and a financial “irritant” for years, and that things have gotten so bad “the majority of patent suits in the U.S. are now filed by companies who don’t make anything. They have become the system!”

These patent trolls started by going after major corporations, then midsized companies and have eventually gone to the level of innovative startups.

“And it doesn’t just affect technology companies,” Petricone added. “They go after retailers, content providers, fast food restaurants … really any kind of business.”

There are a number of bills in the Senate and House under consideration that he said “do not have a ‘magic bullet’ to solve the problem, but they can help curb the practice.”

Legislation is getting traction from both political parties in this divided government, a rarity, because “both create economic growth,” Petricone said.

We will check back with him later this year to see if Congress can work together and pass some meaningful legislation to help solve these two problems.

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