Washington emerged from the frenzy of the 2012 political season with a variety of policy issues in play from fundamental business concerns such as tax policy to quickly evolving, technology-driven issues like data privacy and patent trolling. Throughout 2013, 4A's Washington successfully advanced the agenda of the agency community by working effectively with our members and other associations and by advocating directly at the state and federal levels of government. Advertising Sales Taxes
Early in 2013, several states introduced proposals to tax the sale of advertising time/space and agency services as part of broader state budget reform packages. 4A's Washington quickly mobilized our local boards and councils in response and coordinated with peer associations in each state. 4A's members testified at key public hearings and wrote their local legislators. The result was successful defeats of all three ad sales tax efforts in Minnesota, Ohio and Louisiana. No further proposals emerged on the state level once legislatures adjourned for the year. Advertising Deductibility
The tax treatment of advertising as a fully deductible expense is a critical issue for the entire ad community, one which the 4A's has long fought to preserve. As a founding member of The Advertising Coalition, a cross-industry coalition, we organized multiple grassroots meetings in 2013 with our members and key lawmakers in their local district offices.
When new corporate tax proposals emerged late in the year from both the House and Senate, we facilitated a written response from the 4A's board of directors to Congress, the first such leadership letter in the 4A's history on a policy matter. We will continue to work vigorously in 2014 to ensure that the advertising deduction is not lost or changed. Consumer Data Privacy
The 4A's and other founding members of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) kept industry pressure on efforts by browser companies, standards bodies and consumer advocates to remove or restrict the use of third party cookies and other targeted online advertising methods.
Mozilla backed away from their proposed ad blocking changes in the Firefox browser and the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standards group still could not deliver a Do-Not-Track specification. DAA released its new mobile principles framework, fielded strong consumer response surveys and prepared to launch a massive public policy outreach campaign to promote the advertising-supported Internet. Patent Trolling
4A's Washington formed the Stop Patent Abuse Now (SPAN) coalition in 2013, the first such group of advertising, marketing and commerce trades focused on reforming the abusive practices of patent trolls. We advocated for HR 3309, The Innovation Act
, which passed the US House in December. We began to urge the Senate to pass similar draft legislation and to get the FTC involved in combating the vague and deceptive patent demand letters that trolls use to extort usage fees from agencies and other businesses. It is our goal to end the destructive patent troll business model.
Concurrent with 4A's/SPAN coalition efforts to facilitate systemic patent reform, the association has been evolving operational practices to help agencies manage patent assertion indemnity risk and monitor patent assertion entity activities.
The 4A's issued supplemental Patent Guidance
for agencies that recommends that agency responsibility for patent liability, if any, should be limited to proportional and equitable sharing of costs, as well as time and use limitations. The guidance directive also suggests that agencies document clients' pre-existing digital features and functions.
The 4A's and ANA launched the Patent Assertion Information Aggregation and Dissemination Program (PAID
), a collaboration platform to help agencies and marketers monitor and assess patent risk through information sharing associated with marketing-related patent assertion activities.
Additionally, the curated content on the 4A's Patent Web site
has become a go-to source for marketing related patent information.