Patent Reform Coalition Tries to Please Both Parties, Chambers

Posted March 16, 2015 at 2:15pm

The United for Patent Reform coalition has to win over congressional Democrats, who hold the key to getting a patent bill out of Congress, as well as Senate Republicans, who must feel confident the issue is important enough to risk bringing up in the face of potential Democratic roadblocks.

Dozens of firms and trade groups have registered to lobby on the bill sponsored by Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte and they’re hiring high-wattage Washington lobbying firms to make their cases.

Microsoft and Comcast have hired West Front Strategies, a firm that boasts former aides to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and ex-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. Cisco and the American Hotel and Lodging Association have hired Fierce Government Relations, another Republican-focused firm.

The United for Patent Reform coalition itself has brought on Elmendorf Ryan, a lobbying firm with ties to the left. Founder Steve Elmendorf and Shanti Stanton used to work for House Democratic Leader Richard A. Gephardt. Barry Lasala of Elmendorf Ryan was a counsel to Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry when he headed the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and Lasala previously lobbied Senate Democrats as in-house counsel at Microsoft.

Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont figures to be an ally. He was trying to draft a Senate version of Goodlatte’s bill last year, before then-Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said it was a no-go.

The other side has its own advocates. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America can call on the Republican-heavy firm Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, while the Innovation Alliance can respond with Brian Pomper, a partner at lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and former counsel to Democrat Max Baucus of Montana when Baucus chaired the Senate Finance Committee.