Compliance » FTC Commissioner Entertains, Warns Trolls, In Press Club Speech

FTC Commissioner Entertains, Warns Trolls, In Press Club Speech


January 7, 2015

In a speech last month before the National Press Club, FTC commissioner Julie Brill announced the agency was currently in the midst of an extensive review of patent assertion agencies. While acknowledging there are circumstances in which PAEs, aka patent trolls, may have a positive effect by protecting small inventors and promoting competition, she made clear that the FTC will go after them in particular circumstances, and indeed already has. In a wide-ranging speech, she also paid  homage to the neglected history of women as technical innovators, citing seminal figures like Ada Lovelace, who laid the groundwork for Alan Turing’s work, and the film star Hedy Lamarr, whose scientific work on radio “frequency-hopping” forms the basis for modern wi-fi, and U.S. Navy computer scientist Rear Admiral Grace Hopper,“the grand lady of software,” after whom the destroyer “Amazing Grace” was named. Grace Hopper was “all Navy,” but she was a pirate at heart, according to one writer cited by Brill. “She coined what has become the battle cry of every high tech pioneer, sometimes to the chagrin of regulators and law enforcers like me,” Brill told the audience. “She said: ‘If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.’” Brill’s speech was the keynote address at a conference on innovation sponsored by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the American Antitrust Institute (AAI).

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