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ICBA Urges Congressional Action on Patent Abuse in Hearing Statement
ICBA urged Congress to advance measures to protect community banks from patent-assertion entities, which assert infringement of business-method patents of dubious quality by legitimate businesses, including community banks. In a statement for the record for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on protecting small businesses from patent abuse, ICBA called for initiatives to address demand letters and indemnify end users.

In its statement, ICBA noted that community bankers have increasingly received demand letters stating that they are violating patents and should settle with PAEs. To address this issue, ICBA urged Congress to pursue legislation that would strengthen demand letter transparency by requiring PAEs to provide minimum disclosures to better identify themselves, the patent in question and the specific nature of the infringement they allege.

ICBA also wrote that community banks that white-label products from vendors are end users, not creators of these products and services, and should not be on the hook for PAE infringement claims. Congress should amend current law to ensure that vendors that sell products or services to community banks provide the appropriate warranties and indemnification to protect the end users from patent-infringement claims, ICBA said. Read ICBA’s Statement.

ICBA, Coalition Back Patent-Reform Legislation
In related news, ICBA and a coalition of other trade groups advocated patent-reform legislation to address problems with patent-assertion entities.

In a joint letter to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the coalition expressed support for his legislation to improve the post-grant review process for covered business methods established under the America Invents Act. The Patent Quality Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 866) would make the program permanent to ensure that that full spectrum of low-quality business-method patents will be subject to review if asserted under the threat of litigation.

The coalition also expressed its support for legislation introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to enable fee shifting in unsuccessful patent-infringement lawsuits, or allowing the court to award the prevailing party reasonable fees and other expenses. By allowing fee shifting, the Patent Litigation Integrity Act of 2013 (S. 1612) would help discourage PAEs from filing frivolous lawsuits, the coalition wrote.

Read Letter on S. 866.

Read Letter on S. 1612.

Member Spotlight
ICBA Custom Op-Ed Already Earning Coverage
ICBA’s customizable op-ed that community bankers can use to spread the industry’s story is already making headlines in local news media. Independent Community Bankers of South Dakota President and CEO Greg McCurry used the custom op-ed for a piece in the Sioux Falls, S.D., Argus Leader supporting policies that would encourage the formation of more community banks.

ICBA is encouraging community bankers nationwide to use the customizable op-ed to advocate reducing the regulatory red tape that is inhibiting the formation of new community banks. The op-ed expresses support for more flexible regulatory policies that are tailored to the risk profiles and business plans of both new bank applicants and existing community banks. Access the Custom Op-Ed.

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CFPB Calls for Public Disclosure of Campus Financial Agreements
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau called on financial institutions to publicly disclose agreements with colleges and universities to market debit, prepaid and other products to students. Institutions currently are required to make these disclosures about college credit cards.

The CFPB also released its annual report on college credit card agreements. The report showed a 23 percent decline in college agreements from 2011 to 2012 and a 41 percent decline since 2009. The report also found that institutions of higher education are being paid less by credit card issuers and that fewer new college accounts are being opened.

Go Local
Vote for Your Favorite Holiday-Decorated Main Street
ICBA’s first Main Street Holidays photo contest has officially announced its top 5 contenders for the title of Best Decorated Main Street in America. This week, go to ICBA’s Facebook page and vote for your favorite Main Street by liking the photo. The winner with the most likes will be the winner of a $300 donation to a local charity. Voting closes at 9 a.m. (Eastern time) this Friday. Submit Your Vote Today.

USDA Proposes Reforms to Single-Family Housing Program
The USDA is seeking comments on an interim final rule that is designed to streamline Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program regulations. The rule would make changes to Rural Development internal administrative procedures and make adjustments to reduce SFHGLP risk of loss. Comments are due Jan. 8. Read the Interim Final Rule.

Consumer Prices Flat in November
The Consumer Price Index was flat in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Labor Department. The energy index declined in November on prices for gasoline and natural gas, offsetting increases in prices for food, shelter and airline fares. The CPI was up 1.2 percent over the past year.

Builder Confidence Improves in December
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved in December, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The association’s index rose four points to 58 on improvement in all three index components—current sales conditions, sales expectations and traffic of prospective buyers. NAHB said the recent spike in mortgage interest rates has not deterred consumers because rates are still near historically low levels.

Take This Week’s Quick Poll
Take this week’s Quick Poll on arbitration clauses, and view results from the previous poll on new bank charters. View the Archive.

ICBA Offers Bank Director Training Program
ICBA's Bank Director Training CD Program offers short primers that provide pertinent information for both experienced and new directors. These programs incorporate elements of today's economic picture to show the relevance of the regulatory guidance for all banks. Each program is approximately 15 minutes in length. Learn More Online.

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