Sometimes, it’s the Things That Don’t Happen

By Mike Waring
AUTM Advocacy Consultant

When people think of lobbying or advocacy, they often think about Congress passing huge or specialized legislation that will help a certain group of people that hired a lobbyist to accomplish that feat.
But as is often the case, it is NOT the things that pass that are lobbying “victories,” but more likely bad ideas that did not advance due to effective advocacy and laying out the facts.
A case in point is the work AUTM did along with AAU, APLU and other organizations some years ago when efforts were underway to place even MORE handcuffs on the ability of patent holders to assert their patents. In two consecutive Congresses, bills that would have made the losing party pay the other sides’ legal expenses were considered and passed one body in Congress.
But thanks to the work of AUTM Members and allied interests, lawmakers learned that such rules would have a serious negative impact on patentees. And those bills would have further chilled the ability of patent holders to defend their patents, making those patents less useful and diminishing their ability to attract venture capital.
The role tech transfer directors should play on their campus is to be an early bellwether of bad legislation. When they hear of potential impacts of bills introduced in Congress that could have a negative impact, they can touch base with their government relations team to alert them to these initiatives. They should provide specific negative examples of how the bills might impact the tech transfer office and innovation in general.
Every Congress, literally thousands of bills are introduced. Most never see the light of day once sponsored, and only a few hundred are enacted and signed into law. But being vigilant about all bills is the key to building opposition to bad legislation, and hopefully heading off any momentum. In these cases, it’s the things that don’t happen that often are the biggest victories.
AUTM will update Members when such legislation comes to our attention. But feel free to let us or your Government Relations team know if you hear of others. By keeping bad bills from advancing, we can provide a solid future for tech transfer policy.