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State Senator Daniel Biss

9th Legislative District

biss75x75WHO: The Computer & Communications Industry Association, Alderman Michele Smith (43rd) and panelists representing tech companies, Congressional offices and Loyola University Chicago

WHAT: Patent Trolls and Chicago's Tech Community: What's at Stake, a roundtable discussion of "patent trolling," which refers to the practice of fraudulently threatening to sue businesses for alleged patent violations. The "patent troll" may not own the patent at all, the patent may have expired and/or the victim company may not be engaged in any illegal use of the patented technology.

State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) has introduced Senate Bill 3405, which passed the state Senate last week, to make this type of patent fraud illegal in Illinois.

WHEN: Friday, April 18, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Orbitz Headquarters, 200 S. Wacker Dr., Suite 1900

040914 js 0106SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) secured Senate passage today of legislation that would crack down on "patent trolling" – the practice of extorting money from businesses by threatening to sue them for fictitious violations of patents that may have expired or may not be owned by the "trolls" at all.

"As we consider ways to make it easier for businesses to operate in Illinois, it makes sense to ensure that our laws prohibit scams that cost them money and valuable time," Biss said. "Small businesses, unable to afford protracted legal battles with would-be scammers, are particularly vulnerable."

The legislation, Senate Bill 3405, prohibits a variety of activities engaged in by patent trolls, such as misrepresenting one's self as the owner of a patent, seeking to enforce an expired patent, falsely claiming to have filed a patent lawsuit or falsely accusing a person or company of a patent violation with the intent of forcing a settlement. A violation would be a business offense punishable by fine or civil penalty.

Next, the House will consider the measure.

Innovative approach would provide retirement security at no cost to state or businesses

040914cm1346SPRINGFIELD —State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) secured Senate passage today of the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act, an innovative solution to the private sector retirement security crisis. More than 2.5 million Illinois workers — more than half the state's private sector workforce — do not have access to retirement savings plans through their employers.

"We're facing a looming retirement security crisis: 2.5 million Illinois workers lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans," Biss said. "Unless we act now to help give Illinois residents the tools to save, the number of retirees living in poverty will continue to grow. The Secure Choice program will have a minimal impact on the state and participating businesses, but the effect for workers will be the difference between a retirement in dignity and a retirement in poverty."

Secure Choice would give portable savings accounts (similar to traditional IRAs) to all employees of businesses with 25 or more workers that have been in existence for at least two years and don't already offer retirement plans. Other businesses could participate voluntarily. Automatic withdrawals would invest three percent of workers' paychecks in their accounts each pay period, but any employee could change their contribution rate or opt out at any time. Participants would also be able to select from higher-risk and lower-risk investment options.

Neither the state nor employers would contribute to Secure Choice retirement accounts; pooling the individual accounts would simply allow for lower fees and diversified, professionally managed investments. All administrative costs would be covered by participant contributions. Businesses would not be responsible for running or funding the program, nor would they be liable for the performance of their employees' investments.

"We know that automatic enrollment is the only way to ensure that workers, particularly those in low-wage occupations, don't retire into abject poverty," Biss said. "Establishing these portable, low-risk accounts is the most efficient and least intrusive way to help hard-working Illinois residents safeguard the dignity of their later years. It's also a solution that puts little to no burden on the state or employers."

040814 js 1751SPRINGFIELD — The Senate has approved a measure, sponsored by State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), aimed at balancing basic privacy rights with legitimate public safety needs by requiring law enforcement officers to obtain warrants before using GPS data and other location tracking devices in a criminal investigation.

"Location tracking is just one of many technologies that have advanced rapidly beyond the capacity of existing state law to regulate their use by law enforcement," Biss said. "This legislation doesn't hamstring law enforcement as they appropriately utilize these tools to carry out their mission of protecting the public, but it does affirm the constitutional protections that have always limited police activity and government surveillance."

Senate Bill 2808 would allow law enforcement to obtain a tracking order — similar to a search warrant — if they have probable cause to believe obtaining current or future location information from an individual's electronic device is needed to solve a crime or prevent a crime from taking place. In the absence of a tracking order, information collected through electronic surveillance would be inadmissible in court.

The legislation contains exceptions for emergencies such as responding to a 911 call, locating a missing person believed to be in danger or keeping track of a parolee or other person ordered by a court to wear an electronic monitoring device. It also clarifies that police and prosecutors may still make use of information already available to the public, such as locations posted publicly on social media.

SB 2808 will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Contact me

District office:
3706 Dempster St.
Skokie, IL 60076
(847) 568-1250
(847) 568-1256 FAX

Springfield office:
M121 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2119


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