The following is a guest post from Emil Sayegh, president and CEO at Codero, and was published in the Austin American-Statesman.
The Internet is the fuel that powers our current economy — ever growing, and allowing new industries and ideas to emerge day by day — and a lot of it is happening here in Texas. According to the TechAmerica Foundation’s Cyberstates 2013 report, the Internet and high-tech jobs provided a whopping 486,600 careers for Texans in 2012.
This week, the biggest names in the Internet industry will gather in Austin for HostingCon. Many of these companies, including Codero Hosting, are also members of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, or i2Coalition, an organization founded to support the growth of the $46 billion Internet infrastructure industry. A leading dedicated, managed and cloud hosting provider, Codero has worked with i2Coalition to protect and continue the Internet’s free flow of information and commerce. As the CEO of Codero, I look forward to joining with other Texas-based tech companies to welcome the industry to Austin.
Our capital is a great place for a national event like HostingCon. I have been part of this wonderful city since 1986. I have seen it grow, evolve and change into a true center of gravity for information technology. Internet infrastructure leaders and proud members of the i2Coalition such as SoftLayer, cPanel, Data Foundry Inc., Rackspace and Codero have established their headquarters and main offices in Texas, helping the Lone Star State obtain Cyberstates’ second ranking nationally for industry jobs in Internet, telecommunication and engineering services as well as semiconductor manufacturing.
Companies such as Cisco Systems Honeywell, and Amazon have recognized Texas’ growing technological industry and have set up divisional and corporate headquarters here. At the same time, Texas’ universities are producing tech-savvy graduates and advancements in the technological sector.
As Texas grows and matures in the high-tech industry, it’s imperative that it protects the ideas, innovation and new technology that are being developed by businesses.
At HostingCon, the i2Coalition is sponsoring a number of panels that examine some of the greatest threats to our industry, including a panel called “Money Stealing Trolls.” Of particular concern when it comes to threats to innovation are attacks by Patent Assertion Entities, or “patent trolls,” who seek to undermine technological progress for quick financial gain. These trolls have taken advantage of a broken patent system, allowing them to bring up patent infringement cases on small and large businesses. These lawsuits can cost a company millions of dollars in litigation alone.
For this reason, many of the larger companies settle out of court. However, smaller companies like Codero attempting to grow in our economy also face these frivolous lawsuits. Patent trolls can cause small to medium-size companies to lose revenue, forcing them to cut salaries and jobs, and even in extreme cases file for bankruptcy. The tactics of the trolls are stifling innovation. Because of their actions, many companies hesitate to produce new products for fear of violating an unknown frivolous patent.
One of the i2Coalition’s top priorities is to bring about patent reform, and both the i2Coalition and Codero applaud Texas Sen. John Cornyn for introducing a bill known as the “Patent Abuse Reduction Act of 2013.” The act will “bring fairness to the discovery process,” Senator Cornyn says. The bill will also shift responsibility for the cost of litigation to the losing party. This will relieve small business from hefty litigation cost and punish patent trolls. The act also calls for “Transparency in Enforcement,” meaning all parties and persons that have direct financial interest in the outcome of the lawsuit must be revealed.
Cornyn is attempting to put an end to the chaos and economic stagnation these money stealing trolls create. We must stand up and support his efforts and the efforts of Texans as a whole to grow and develop in the technological world.
When industry giants and Texas-based high-tech businesses gather this week for HostingCon, we need to make sure it spells trouble for the trolls. We need to make sure that trolls don’t “Mess with Texas jobs.” The companies that power the Internet that we all cherish, essentially the nuts and bolts that hold this industry together, shouldn’t be messed with by patent trolls.