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Giovanetti: Civil Asset Forfeiture Happening Around the U.S.

Comments | February 8, 2016

Giovanetti Discusses Candidates' Tax Plans on WBAP's Chris Salcedo Show

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | February 8, 2016

The Promise of Smart Cities

Posted by Bartlett D. Cleland | Comments | February 6, 2016

One day soon the streetlight will do far more than simply hold back the darkness. AT&T envisions an entire smart city where such poles might alert citizens to danger, respond to gun shots by enabling all lights in the area to automatically turn on, or determine how to conserve energy and still be effective in providing all the light needed. During the AT&T Developers Summit, held immediately before the Consumer Electronics Show in January, a vision for smarter cities was revealed by AT&T and their partner companies. Their combined vision is the Smart Cities initiative.  Read More >>

How's PTAB Doing?

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | February 1, 2016

Curious how PTAB's going?

PTAB is the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which was created in the America Invents Act (AIA) patent reform bill in 2012. The idea was to find a quicker way to find and invalidate patents that should not have been issued.

Of course, PTAB has turned into many things, including a means for hedge fund short sellers to make a quick profit by shorting a stock and then challenging patents held by that company. I'm guessing creating a new way to manipulate the stock market for profit isn't quite what the patent reformers had in mind.

But apparently it's worse than that. Here's Gene Quinn's view from his IP Watchdog blog:

The Redline case, like so many others, shows just how much of a wild west inter partes review is at the Patent Office. PTAB judges do not implement the rules and laws uniformly, and joke is being made out of due process. Why? Because these proceedings need to be completed within 12 months, so the PTAB cuts corners and simply doesn’t believe they can offer the process that patent owners, and increasingly petitioners, deserve. This is making post grant proceedings seem more like a kangaroo court or some hang ’em high court right out of a Clint Eastwood western.

Lovely. Read More >>

Grading the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | January 29, 2016

Derek Scissors of AEI published a paper back in December containing his analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which at some point one assumes will be submitted to Congress by President Obama.

Scissors is a free-trader who recognizes the need for such agreements in the absence of an effective WTO trade liberalization process. Based on several of his written pieces, Scissors 1) thinks the TPP as negotiated is distinctly better than no TPP, 2) is disappointed that the U.S. didn’t work harder to get a better deal, 3) thinks we should still try to fix the TPP within the framework of the existing parties to the agreement and, if that doesn’t succeed 4) we should fix the TPP at the cost of dropping countries that refuse to go along with the proposed fixes.

Earlier in November of 2015 Scissors wrote:

If this cannot work, free traders should not abandon the TPP. The next step would be to shrink the number of participants in the first round. 

Scissors recognizes that the business community is pretty solidly behind the TPP as an improvement the status quo.

Here at IPI, we’ll be writing a lot more on the TPP as the debate begins in earnest. But for now I wanted to highlight the fact that Scissors’ disappointment with the TPP do not stem from the most popularly criticized and controversial sections of the agreement, the intellectual property and agriculture sections. His chief criticisms are with the sections having to do with state-owned enterprises (SOE) and with the excessive number of exceptions that were granted to countries to simply not conform to the agreement in particular areas. It would have been far better to allow those countries longer phase-out times for those domestic considerations rather than simply granting them a carve-out from trade liberalization.

The strength of Scissors’ paper is how handily he rebuts the most commonly voiced arguments against the TPP. In particularly, as you might guess, I’m interested in his comments on the intellectual property section, which he grades at a B+. Read More >>

Internet of Things Will Arrive Faster if Government Stays Its Hand

Posted by Bartlett D. Cleland | Comments | January 8, 2016

Could it be that the connected life that we have seen and heard about since the Jetsons might actually be becoming a reality?  The AT&T Developers Summit (https://devsummit.att.com/) painted a picture of just how close we are to that future, and in some cases how we are already there.

The opening session featured Robert Scoble (http://scobleizer.com/), a recognized technology evangelist, interviewed by Andrew Keen (http://www.ajkeen.com/).  Scoble delivered an optimistic message about connected technologies now becoming increasingly commonplace and discussed several technologies coming soon.  He noted that, despite years of discussion and promise, the “Internet of Things” wave is just now entering homes via Nest thermostats and security systems.  He remarked that those technologies essentially establish a beachhead for connected machines, making them more commonplace and understandable for consumers.  He also pointed out that the cars in many garages already are or soon will be connected and that an increasing number of appliances will be also.

So, perhaps a bit under the radar, we have moved decisively into a connected world, a world where machines work more for us than ever before.  And the advances will continue.  Whether in everyday applications of virtual reality, putting the volumes of data we produce to use for own benefit, or through whole cities enabled by connectivity, technological advances that will make our lives even easier and more productive are beginning now.  The benefits to society will continue to grow as the trend continues.

But all of this is but a dream if the chaos of invention and the disorder of innovation falls victim to legislation or regulation.  As we saw repeatedly in 2015 both in the states and from the feds (with the FCC being the most prominent offender), government cannot seem to keep itself from meddling in innovation. 

Almost by definition, the less regulation or legislation, the more experimentation will result.  Government has its role but it is not to play nanny attempting to guide the development of technologies and markets as a group of lawyers and bureaucrats would like, with prophylactic measures that as often as not miss the mark and cause unintended consequences.  Instead, regulators should sit back and enjoy the wonder of innovation, acting to clear the way rather than obstruct and delay. Read More >>

How Did Sen. Marco Rubio Strike A Blow to Obamacare?

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | December 23, 2015

EPA Dials Back Ethanol Mandate in Gasoline

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | December 1, 2015

18 Months After the VA Scandal, Not Much Has Changed for Veterans

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments | November 12, 2015

In this video from reporter Jason Whitely at WFAA-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth, IPI’s Dr. Merrill Matthews says not much has changed in the Veterans Administration 18 months after news of its VA hospital wait-time scandal first broke. Read More >>

Rubio's Reasonableness on Sugar

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | November 9, 2015

It’s a little surprising to see the Wall Street Journal savage Marco Rubio in an editorial (Nov. 5).

Or maybe not. Rubio originally championed something like the Journal’s preferred loose immigration policy, until he got the political stuffings beaten out of him by the consensus of Republican voters.  Apparently the Journal editors would have preferred that Rubio’s candidacy had already been doomed by sticking with an immigration policy strongly disfavored by the voters. Being out-of-step with voters on one of the most intense policy issues is not a path to political success, as Jeb Bush is discovering. But the Journal’s editorial board is apparently still chapped over Rubio’s reality check on immigration, as they can’t help but reveal in the last paragraph of “Rubio and Big Sugar.”

By painting Marco Rubio as a thoughtless panderer to Florida’s sugar interests, the Journal editors do more than a disservice to one of our brightest and most principled presidential candidates—they create a straw man and then blow it over. Rubio has a considered position on the U.S. sugar program, and it’s worth an investment of time to understand it: Rubio wants U.S. sugar subsidies phased out as part of a global trade agreement, rather than unilateral disarmament on the part of the U.S. He believes that a negotiated treaty approach is the better and more sustainable long-term solution. Read More >>

On Obama's Rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | November 6, 2015

The United States is the cleanest place on earth to refine oil. We have the highest environmental standards, the best technology, and the strongest rule-of-law institutions.

That Canadian oil is going to be refined somewhere. If not in the U.S., it’s going to be refined elsewhere. Contrary to Obama’s implication, that oil is NOT going to remain in the ground.

That means the Keystone XL pipeline was the best option for the environment.  Now that oil will be shipped by rail and by ship, where a spill is more likely and more damaging, where the refining will be more harmful to the environment, and where the jobs and other economic benefits will happen.

Just the latest example of how for liberal-progressivism, symbol is more important than substance. It’s about how it makes liberals feel, now—not about reality or the long-term impact of the policy. Read More >>

Carrots, Sticks, and Straw Men

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | November 3, 2015

“An abundance of ideas” is the stated organizing principle of the Copia Institute, a new think tank “from Mike Masnick and the team behind Techdirt.” But their latest paper, “The Carrot or the Stick?: Innovation vs. Anti-Piracy Enforcement,” offers no new ideas. The paper purports to demonstrate that anti-piracy policies are ineffective and, alternatively, that introduction of legal online content distribution platforms correlates with a reduction in theft. As such, enforcement regimes should be abandoned in lieu of “innovation.”

Per Masnick:

What if the answer to Hollywood’s concerns about piracy actually come from Silicon Valley?  What if the best way to reduce piracy is to let innovation flow, and to provide better services that reasonably respond to consumers and their entertainment needs?

But as Masnick surely knows content creators already make their works available on an abundance of legal online distribution services. Indeed, there are over 400 licensed video services and 98 licensed music services worldwide, and digital books, magazines, newspapers, photos and other works are ubiquitous.

Instead, Masnick offers a straw man argument, as no one is arguing that enforcement is the only solution to online theft. Indeed, in the real world, rights holders are pursuing voluntary, market based solutions amongst good faith stakeholders to combat piracy. For instance, the five largest ISPs and the content community created the Copyright Alert System to educate users about infringing activity and help guide them to legal alternatives. And the advertising industry recently announced the formation of the Trustworthy Accountability Group, which will help advertisers ensure their valuable brands don’t appear on websites dedicated to theft, thereby helping to take the profit out of piracy while at the same time protecting their good names. Further, recognizing that rights holders should ask of themselves what they ask of others, the MPAA launched wheretowatch.com, a search tool that helps connect consumers with particular movies or shows of interest to them among so many options.

Ag Committee Hearing Properly Draws Attention to Problem of Foreign Subsidies

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | October 27, 2015

Trade policy is starting to get interesting.

Trade is back in the policy discussion with the Trans-Pacific Partnership having been concluded and many waiting to see the final text of the agreement. It’s a major agreement, and if it’s ratified by signatory countries, will have a dramatic impact on U.S. trade going forward.

But there are other trade issues as well, including enforcement of existing trade agreements as well as those countries and goods that are not covered under trade agreements.

That was the topic of a hearing held last Wednesday by the House Committee on Agriculture, led by Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX). The Committee is concerned about foreign agriculture subsidies that distort markets and target American producers.

Now, we’ve written before about this issue with a focus on the sugar markets. On the one ideological side you have people who overtly believe in protectionism in a mistaken pursuit of somehow benefitting American producers by protecting them from foreign competition and thus gifting them with artificially high prices.

On the other ideological side you have those who think that believing in free trade should mean immediately eliminating any policy that affects the flow of goods across our border. If other countries want to subsidize production of some good in order to gain market share in the world’s most lucrative market (the United States), we should let them. Unilateral disarmament, in other words. It matters not that they would put U.S. producers out of business—all that matters is that U.S. consumers would get lower prices, which is a net benefit to the nation. Read More >>

Shkreli's Stupid Pricing Move Vindicates Rather Than Indicts Pharmaceutical Markets

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments | October 26, 2015

House Votes to End the Crude Oil Export Ban

Posted by Merrill Matthews | Comments | October 9, 2015

The House of Representatives has just taken a major step toward reducing the U.S. trade deficit: ending the crude oil export ban. 

In 1975, when gas lines were long and voters’ tempers were high, Congress passed legislation prohibiting U.S. crude oil exports. The country had seemed to peak its oil production a few years earlier and was on a gradual crude oil production decline, and Congress wanted the country to keep every drop it produced.  Read More >>

 

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