The National Retail Federation doubled down Tuesday on one if its long-standing initiatives: getting patent troll legislation pushed through Congress.
NRF SVP David French submitted a statement to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, which is currently investigating the trolls' use of vague demand letters to sue businesses for using what are often ubiquitous technologies.
“Trolls’ claims not only affect e-commerce applications and the everyday use of technology, but also…the storefront operations of traditional brick and mortar retailers,” wrote French. “Some real world examples…cover point of sale and inventory control equipment, including; scanning barcodes, printing receipts, the sale of gift cards, and the connection of…a computer or printer to an Ethernet network.”
“Trolls target retailers because…they are more numerous than manufacturers and suppliers, and therefore are more profitable to the trolls,” he continued. “Trolls also know that retailers have less technological expertise to defend the allegedly infringing products [and] operate on thin profit margins and do not have the resources to fight back.”
Charged with developing and implementing advocacy strategy for the organization, French is the NRF's chief lobbyist. He is credited with influencing several key legislative battles for businesses, including the passage of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and repeal of OSHA ergonomics regulations. He has also co-chaired the lobbying committee of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace .
Previously, he served as SVP government relations and public policy at the International Franchise Association, and he led the government relations programs at the International Foodservice Distributors Association and Food Distributors International before that. He has also spent nearly 10 years on Capitol Hill as a staffmember of former Senator Rick Santorum, of Representative Matthew Rinaldo and the House Select Committee on Aging.
The NRF has been advocating for a version of the Innovation Act that requires greater transparency from demand letters and helps nip such infringement claims in the bud before they ever reach court.