News > Press Releases

Sen. Warner (D-Va.) Holds Town Hall at CEA, Touts Patent Litigation and Immigration Reform as Key Elements of the U.S. Innovation Economy

Arlington, VA – February 27, 2014 – 
Identifying access to capital and talent as the drivers of the U.S. economy, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) yesterday called for legislative action on both patent litigation and immigration reform to improve access to these core resources for the private sector. The senator delivered remarks and answered voters’ questions during a town hall hosted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®.
“Could you imagine a worse business policy and growth policy for the United States than the current immigration rules we have?” asked Sen. Warner. “We train our world’s best and brightest, and somebody gets that PhD in engineering at Virginia Tech, and then we send them home, or else they go across the border to Canada, because Canada, the UK and Australia are aggressively pursuing high-skilled immigration.”
Sen. Warner also discussed the pressing need for the Senate to take up patent litigation reform legislation, protecting U.S. small businesses from so-called patent trolls. The House successfully addressed patent reform legislation in December, overwhelmingly passing the Innovation Act with bipartisan support.
“As somebody who has invested in companies that were absolutely devastated by patent trolls, I have felt the pain,” said Sen. Warner. “It used to be kind of ‘small guys versus big guys.’ That’s totally transformed. Now, patent trolls build up intellectual property as a weapon for litigation rather than a tool of innovation. That makes no sense.”
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA, said Sen. Warner is ideally suited to spur the Senate toward passing a patent reform bill, given the senator’s decades of experience as an entrepreneur in the technology sector.
“Senator Warner saw firsthand what it’s like to deal with the legalized extortion rackets of patent trolls,” said Shapiro. “He knows all too well that patent trolls choke our economy, stifle innovation and kill job growth, and something must be done to protect small businesses. That ball is now in the Senate’s court.”
In his remarks, Senator Warner addressed other key tech-related issues, including the upcoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) TV broadcast spectrum incentive auction. He emphasized the importance of avoiding unnecessary delays in the auction process.
“The fact is, America’s behind. You go to Korea, you go to Europe, and they’ve done a much better job at managing their spectrum,” said the senator. “I think there’s a win-win here. Incentive auctions will give proceeds to broadcasters for migrating, while also freeing up additional spectrum for other commercial uses.”
The senator also emphasized the importance of other government initiatives to ensure greater access to spectrum.
 “We’ve got some other incentive auctions out there, but we’ve got to do some spectrum clearing to move existing operators into other spectrum,” said Sen. Warner. “Most of the spectrum that we have right now is in the government’s hands.”
“Spectrum is the oxygen of innovation, but it’s in short supply,” said Shapiro. “Wireless carriers and innovators are desperately looking for ways to increase the amount of spectrum they can use for content transfer. But unfortunately broadcasters, the biggest users of spectrum, continue to place roadblocks that maintain their lock on the spectrum they occupy.”
About the Consumer Technology Assocation

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the technology trade association representing the $208 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,000 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also owns and produces the International CES – The Global Stage for Innovation. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services. Find CEA online at, and through social media.