Patent reform has arrived in Congress. Last Tuesday, Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) convened a hearing on the “Innovation Act,” a bipartisan bill to eliminate alleged abuses of America’s patent system by making it far more difficult for people to “troll” for patents by filing frivolous lawsuits against the original inventor or patent owner.
And on the other side of the Capitol, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) today held a Senate Commerce Committee hearing to gather facts on deceptive patent troll practices. This is all great news for the countless Americans working hard to become the next Steve Jobs or Thomas Edison, instead of becoming the next victim of litigation that robs them of their innovative new products, business methods and intellectual property.
But something far more radical took place that day. As the hearing room doors were closing on Capitol Hill, they were opened to everyone on the Internet for a fully-interactive online hearing powered by a game-changing piece of open source software called “Madison.” While only four witnesses and a few dozen audience-members were physically before the Judiciary Committee, 10 times as many were digitally present thanks to Madison, with the unprecedented ability to watch the hearing anywhere in the world, ask questions, make comments and even suggest changes directly on the Innovation Act itself, with the best suggestions rising to the top.