Burdensome regulations affect businesses and institutions of all sizes across the state. These rules often create significant headaches for employers, even though the last thing our struggling economy needs is more obstacles to getting people back to work.
Through the Red Tape Rollback program, U.S. Rep. Rokita has worked to reduce red tape and undue burdens felt by Hoosier employers and workers. Small business and a strong workforce are the lifeblood of the Hoosier economy and are the reason that Rep. Rokita created the Red Tape Rollback in 2011.
The foundation of the American economy has always been the entrepreneurial spirit of its people. Hoosier small businesses form the backbone of our State's economy, and at the heart of U.S. innovation and advancement lies our patent system. The integrity of our patents – which protect the hard work of thousands of Americans – cannot be compromised. When laws and regulations create an atmosphere that threatens the health of small businesses, Congress must act.
The laws and regulations surrounding the United States Patent and Trademark Office currently allow sophisticated bad actors to abuse our patent process by filing frivolous and expensive lawsuits to exploit average consumers and small businesses, known as "patent trolling." Patent trolls utilize loopholes in patent laws to bully consumers and small businesses into paying them "settlements" for simply using products the trolls did not invent.
These complex schemes affect people all over the country. One family-owned and operated Hoosier business knows firsthand how burdensome patent trolls can be. Carrie Davenport, the owner and president of Century Personnel in Carmel, Indiana, approached U.S. Rep. Rokita with her patent troll experience that jeopardized the company her father founded.
Century Personnel first experienced patent trolling when it received a letter claiming that the company was infringing on a patent by using an average printer/scanner purchased from a big box electronics retailer. The letter demanded that Century Personnel pay $18,900 in infringement penalties or risk a lawsuit. Shockingly, the demand for settlement did not come from the manufacturer of the printer nor did it come from any business that had possession of the printer during the course of sale; the demand came from an attorney for a shell company who was trying to enforce patents on products it did not invent.
Because Carrie Davenport had no idea that there was any wrongdoing on the part of her business and was skeptical of the infringement claims, she had no choice but to hire an attorney to defend her business. If litigation was necessary, and the patent troll prevailed, Century Personnel estimated the costs could reach as high as $500,000. "Obviously, that was not an option," said Davenport, "I would be out of business."
Seeing the integrity of U.S. patents being threatened, U.S. Rep. Rokita worked to strengthen the law governing the enforcement and litigation of patents by leading H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act, to passage. This legislation, authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, raised pleading standards for any patent lawsuit and required the losing party to pay for the court costs incurred during litigation. As a result, the Innovation Act will ensure that only legitimate patent lawsuits move forward, minimizing the use of fraudulent demand letters by patent trolls.
By sharing the experience of Century Personnel with other Members of Congress, U.S. Rep. Rokita was an outspoken voice in favor of the Innovation Act in the days leading up to final passage. For Rokita, this is another Red Tape Rollback victory to protect Hoosier consumers and small businesses.
How do you like your pizza? Is it cheese only? What about pepperoni? Or maybe anchovies, olives, and peppers? Chances are, when you order from your favorite pizza parlor, there are thousands of combinations of toppings that you can put together to create your favorite pie. Under a proposed regulation arising from ObamaCare, there will have to be a nutrition label for each combination rather than for individual ingredients. Chain restaurants, and pizza chains in particular, will face astronomical costs as a result.
The proposed regulation is part of the Food and Drug Administration's rulemaking authority and seeks to create a climate in which any restaurant with more than 20 locations would have to provide caloric and other nutritional information to customers on standard menu items to the tune of an estimated $537,000,000 cost in first-year compliance costs. Hoosiers would see a large share of that cost, with approximately 1,600 pizza franchises across the state. Moreover, under the rule, grocery stores that serve meals (such as the hot bar at your local Kroger) could fall under this rule as well. That umbrella could add an additional $1,000,000,000 first-year costs.
This is yet another example of Washington bureaucrats trying to regulate the minutia of our everyday lives. To combat this micromanagement of Americans' lives, Representative Todd Rokita is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1249, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, which allows restaurants to label only preset menu items or the "version of a menu item most commonly ordered by consumers."
Rokita will continue to promote this legislation throughout the 113th Congress and continue to roll back the red tape surrounding pizza night for Hoosier families.
Working families often struggle to find time to be together as a family. U.S. Rep. Rokita fought for H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act, which modernizes existing laws to permit employers to provide comp-time instead of over-time pay. This bill gives employers and employees more options for compensating extra work without creating new regulations. The House passed H.R. 1406 in a demonstration of how government can uphold free market options. - Another Red Tape Rollback Victory!
Part of the burdens created by ObamaCare is the new medical device tax. This is driving up the cost of business for medical device manufacturers and the cost of healthcare for companies. U.S. Rep Rokita is leading efforts to repeal this bill, including co-sponsoring H.R. 523, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2013.
President Obama made recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a major regulating agency. However, courts have ruled these appointments to be unconstitutional. In response, U.S. Rep. Rokita supported the House passed H.R. 1120, the Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor Relations Act, which prohibits the NLRB from meeting without a quorum and enforcing decisions made while any unconstitutionally appointed members sat on its board – Another Red Tape Rollback Victory!
Recently, rather than creating new regulations many regulatory agencies have begun to just sue businesses in what is known as sue-and-settle. To ensure that the public is informed of these new pseudo- regulations, U.S. Rep. Rokita is fighting for H.R. 1493, the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act. This legislation increases transparency, scrutiny and accountability to sue and settle.