National Restaurant Association president and CEO Dawn Sweeney addressed members of Congress and representatives from restaurants, retail stores, hotels, tech businesses, and universities on the importance of patent reform for main street businesses on Wednesday, March 5.
Sweeney provided opening remarks for the Politico Pro–sponsored Great Patent Debate, highlighting the damaging impact that patent assertion entities (PAEs) continue to have on restaurants when they threaten litigation over the use of common technologies like WiFi, web-based nutrition calculators, and GPS store locators.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), and industry representatives participated in a discussion on the detrimental effect of patent trolls on main street businesses and the proposed legislative efforts to curtail the practice.
"Few issues are more important today than growing our economy and creating jobs on main streets all across America. The restaurant industry is doing its part. We are the second largest private sector employer with more than 13 million people working in our industry. Unfortunately, patent trolls are making it harder to maintain the industry's growth trajectory,” Sweeney said during the debate.
"These frivolous lawsuits have cost the U.S. economy half a trillion dollars in the last 20 years. We hear from our restaurant and foodservice company members that the PAE demands they receive have negatively impacted their businesses—stifling innovation by limiting their ability to employ emerging technologies in everyday aspects of their operations.
"As a result of these ever-increasing patent lawsuits, commonplace business risks have turned into expensive liabilities and border on the ridiculous. This slows down or stops the growth of entrepreneurs that are trying to gain a foothold in the industry. These setbacks stifle profitability and ingenuity, which we desperately need to grow our economy. We stand behind several proposals that seek to end the practice of patent trolling so that our members can be free of harassment and focus on serving their customers."
The National Restaurant Association is a member of the Main Street Patent Coalition, a growing coalition of trade associations to support Congress in passing comprehensive, common sense patent reform legislation.