May 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

What Obama means for e-commerce

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Obama’s campaign platform favored patent reform that would reduce unnecessary litigation, and online retailers would be glad to get relief from the frequent suits by patent holders over the use of the many technologies that go into an e-commerce site. However, a bill introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was heavily amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee to eliminate some controversial sections, including one that would have limited damages and benefited e-retailers.

The security of consumer data was the subject of a hearing in the House in March, and Democratic congressmen warned of the risk of legislation mandating data-protection policies if industry rules such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard prove inadequate. Meanwhile, Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisc., has reintroduced a bill he pushed last year that would roll back a U.S. Supreme Court decision giving manufacturers more power to prevent discounting of their products by retailers, a controversial question on which Internet retailers are divided.

However, these issues are not likely to be among Obama’s top priorities until the economy recovers. “The administration is too busy focusing on automakers and banks,” says Dayman of Eloqua.

But while Obama tries to fix the economy, he has made clear he will be using Internet-based technology to communicate, such as the BlackBerry he successfully fought to keep and the online town hall meeting he conducted in March in which he responded live to questions sent by e-mail.

Obama’s personal penchant for web technology sends a message that the Internet is a positive force, Dayman says.

“Watching Obama and his administration embrace these technologies will make it easier for the average citizen to say, ‘If he’s doing it, it can’t be that bad,’” Dayman says. “It will help the market.”

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