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CES: Consumer advocate calls for action on patent trolls

08 Jan 2013
CES 2013 crowds

LAS VEGAS: The head of the Consumer Electronics Association has called on small firms and startups to help drive innovation in the technology industry.

Speaking at the 2013 CES conference, CEA boss Gary Shapiro said firms should rely on their own ingenuity and push for the government to take a less active role in the sector. He said that firms should evolve a "ninja" mentality, aiming to be self sufficient and relying on maximising resources.

Rather than look to overpower the market, the CEA president believes that firms can get an advantage by relying on their own talents and innovating better products.

Shapiro advocated expanding free trade agreements and extending immigration protections to students and skilled business professionals.

"[Students] are certainly coming here for their education," Shapiro said. "We should be keeping them here once they get their degrees."

Other items on the CEA's agenda include efforts to stop "patent troll" litigation and further co-operation with studios and media companies to develop platform-neutral cloud services such as the UltraViolet movie streaming network.

"Sometimes we disagree on things, sometimes we agree," Shapiro said of his company's dealings with studios.

"But when we keep the government out of it, usually we agree."

Shapiro noted a number of successful campaigns CEA assisted in throughout 2012, including the campaign to press the US government on opening additional sections of spectrum space to made available for wireless broadband networks.

Among the group's biggest accomplishments in 2012, said Shapiro, was its campaign against the controversial Stop Piracy Online Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

"Within two weeks [of the campaign] over five million Americans had contacted congress, and overnight some 40 members of congress withdrew their names from that legislation," he boasted.

"There will never again be SOPA/PIPA legislation with that name on it, it is kind of like naming your kid 'Adolph'."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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