On January 3, 2017, the 115th Congress officially convened. For our purposes, it is the House Judiciary Committee that will be the body of primary importance insofar as the House of Representatives is concerned. The House Judiciary Committee will set the agenda for any intellectual property legislative reforms that will arise over the next two years during the 115th Congress, and the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet will take the lead for the full House Judiciary Committee.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is once again Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and in that role will continue to have tremendous influence on any intellectual property related matters. Goodlatte hails from Virginia’s 6th District, which is in the rural western part of the State and encompasses large portions of the Shenandoah Valley, was originally elected to the House in November 1992. Goodlatte won that 1992 election receiving 60% of the vote, which has been his closest election. So secure is Virginia’s 6th District for Goodlatte, in many election cycles Democrats do not field a candidate against him. See Ballotpedia.
On intellectual property matters, Goodlatte not only supported, but introduced the Innovation Act during the 114th Congress, which would have made modifications to U.S. patent laws that were seen as unfavorable by many innovators and independent inventors. My personal view on the Innovation Act is that it would have been a disaster. Of course, the Innovation Act was fought back in both the House and Senate during the 114th Congress, and at the moment there does not appear to be widespread support, or interest, in major patent reform. That could change, however, depending upon how the Supreme Court decided TC Heartland (see here and here). Notwithstanding, the House Judiciary Committee, and in particular the Subcommittee on Courts, IP and the Internet should remain active with interest in removing the Copyright Office from the Library of Congress and at least initial discussions about modernizing the Copyright Act.
Without further ado, here are the Republicans on the House IP subcommittee. Stay tuned for the Democrats. For more information on the Senate please see: Meet the Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee.
Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman
Representative Issa was born November 1, 1953. As a senior in high school, Issa enlisted in the United States Army. Through his Army service, he received an ROTC scholarship and graduated with a degree in business from Sienna Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. Upon graduation, Issa was commissioned as an Army officer, and ultimately obtained the rank of captain. He completed his active-duty military service in 1980. At the height of his private sector career, Issa served as CEO of California-based Directed Electronics, a company Issa founded in the mid-1990s, which became the nation’s largest manufacturer of vehicle anti-theft devices. In 1994, Issa was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine, Ernst & Young and The San Diego Union Tribune. Issa is a prolific inventor; holding 37 patents in his name. He was elected to Congress in November 2000.
As head of the House Oversight Committee, Issa has become a polarizing figure in Washington, DC, during much of President Obama’s term. Republican rules prohibit committee leaders from maintaining leadership of committees for more than 6 years without a waiver from the Republican leader. Issa did not receive such a waiver and lost the gavel for the House Oversight Committee. At the start of the 114th Congress he was made Chair of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.
Despite being an inventor himself, the bombastic Issa has aligned himself with Google and other Silicon Valley elites. Issa is not viewed as a friend of independent inventors, and instead lambasts patents trolls as often as he can. While no one likes a patent troll, Issa has taken the unusual step to equate patent trolls with all patent owners who enforce their patents. This is odd given that under Issa’s definition of a patent troll he would be a patent troll himself. Issa himself aggressively enforced his patent rights, and many believe that had Issa’s patents faced the standards in place today that his patent claims may well have been found to be invalid, or his inventions deemed patent ineligible. This makes Issa a strange champion for technology using companies engaging in efficient infringement. In terms of voting, Issa voted for the America Invents Act (AIA) and also voted for the Innovation Act in December 2013. He seems quite interested in pushing the Google patent reform agenda every chance possible. Indeed, Issa remains in favor of Michelle Lee staying or returning to the Patent Office as Director and remains the only source to suggest that President Trump has already decided to retain Lee at the Patent Office.
Doug Collins (R-GA), Vice-Chairman
Representative Collins was born August 16, 1966. Collins grew up in Hall County Georgia, where he graduated from North Hall High School. Collins went on to obtain a degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice from North Georgia College & State University, and then later earned a master’s degree in divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Collins also later obtained a law degree from John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, Georgia. Collins biography is quite interesting, having served in both the United States Navy and the United States Air Force. In the late 1980s Collins served two years as a Navy Chaplin. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Collins joined the United States Air Force Reserves as a Chaplin. In 2008, Collins served a combat tour stationed at Balad Air Force Base in Iraq. Prior to being elected to Congress Collins served as Member of the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013. Collins was elected to Congress in November 2012 after receiving 76% of the vote. Collins was sworn in on January 3, 2013. In his 2014 re-election campaign he received nearly 81% of the vote. Then in November 2016, in a 5 person race, Collins received 61% of the vote. Collins was on the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet during the 113th Congress, but as one of the most junior members. For the 114th Congress he rose to the position of Vice-Chair for the 114th Congress. Collins maintains the position of Vice-Chair for the 115th Congress. Collins also serves on the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law. Collins did vote for the Innovation Act during the 113th Congress.
Lamar Smith (R-TX)
Representative Smith was born on November 19, 1947. He is a graduate of Yale University (1969) and SMU Law School (1975). He was first elected to Congress in November 1986. He currently serves as Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over programs at NASA, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Representative Smith is also a former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Ethics Committee and a former member of the Budget Committee. He was instrumental in passing the America Invents Act (AIA), which in long form carries his name — The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. The AIA is universally considered to have been detrimental to inventors, thanks in no small part to the creation of post grant proceedings to challenge issued patents, which take the form of administrative trials carried out by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). While many critics (including myself) thought these proceedings were a terrible mistake, no one could have foreseen just how fundamentally unfair they would become. In addition to ushering the AIA across the finish line in the House, Smith continues to be a strong supporter of additional patent reform. In fact, he was one of the original co-sponsors of the Innovation Act, submitted by Goodlatte at the beginning of the 114th Congress.
Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)
Representative Steve Chabot was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on born January 22, 1953. He is a 1973 graduate of LaSalle High School. He went on to earn his undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary, and then returned to Cincinnati to teach at St. Joseph’s School in the West End while studying at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law in the evening. Chabot has served in Congress for 18 years, being first elected to Congress in 1994. Chabot was defeated in November 2010 by Representative Steve Driehaus. In a rematch with Driehaus in November 2012, Chabot reclaimed a seat in the House of Representatives. Chabot was comfortably reelected in 2012, receiving nearly 58% of the vote, in 2014, receiving over 63% of the vote, and in 2016 receiving 59% of the vote. Since coming to Congress, Chabot has served on the Committee of the Judiciary, the Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was named Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific in 2013, after previously serving as the Chairman of the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee from 2011-2012. Steve also served as Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution from 2001-2006 and as Ranking Member on the House Committee on Small Business from 2007-2008. Chabot also served on Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet during the 113th and 114th Congresses. Chabot voted in favor of the America Invents Act (AIA). He similarly voted in favor of the Innovation Act in December 2013. Chabot was a co-sponsor of the Innovation Act during the 114th Congress.
Trent Franks (R-AZ)
Representative Trent Franks is an inventor of a personal defense device and method, which is covered by U.S. Patent No. 5,429,301. Franks was also been a small business owner prior to being elected to Congress. Franks first ran for Congress in 1994, losing to Representative John Shadegg. As a result of the 2000 Census, Arizona gained two additional seats in the House of Representatives. Franks decided to run for the newly created Arizona 2nd district. Franks narrowly won a crowded Republican primary, but then cruised to victory over his Democratic challenger, receiving 59% of the vote. Franks would continue to receive between 59% and 65% off the vote until 2014 when he was elected by more than a 3 to 1 margin, receiving nearly 76% of the vote. Franks received 68.5% of the vote in 2016. While in Congress Franks has been a support of independent inventors. In 2011, Franks voted against the America Invents Act (AIA), arguing that any changes to the system should focus on making the system more efficient instead of “locking out the upstart inventors who’s new ideas are often at the core of America’s greatest innovations…” At that time Franks said that there was no question that the patent system should be streamlined, but that “any changes should be made with the goal of simply making our current system more efficient…” While Franks voted against the AIA, he did vote in favor of the Innovation Act in December 2013.
Jim Jordan (R-OH)
Representative Jim Jordan was raised in Champaign County, Ohio. Jordan graduated from Graham High School in 1982, where he was a four-time state champion in wrestling with a career record of 150-1. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, where he was a two-time NCAA wrestling champion. He later earned a Master’s degree in Education from the Ohio State University and a Law Degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to being elected to Congress Jordan served in the Ohio General Assembly from 1995 to 2000, and in the Ohio Senate from 2001 to 2006. Jordan was elected to Congress in 2006, and sworn in on January 3, 2007. During the 112th Congress, Jordan served as Chairman of the House Republican Study Committee. During the 113th Congress Jordan served on the Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee, specifically as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs. Jordan had tried to position himself to succeed Issa as Chair of the House Oversight Committee, but Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) prevailed. In 2012, Jordan received his lowest percentage of the vote, still cruising to victory with over 58% of the vote. In both 2014 and 2016, Jordan received nearly 68% of the vote. Jordan is one of the founders of the House Freedom Caucus, which is a group of Constitutional Conservatives that advocate for an accountable and limited government. Although the creation of unprecedented administrative challenges to property rights issued in the form of patents is not something that would seem consistent with the viewpoint of the House Freedom Caucus, Jordan did vote in favor of the America Invents Act (AIA). He similarly voted in favor of the Innovation Act in December 2013. Having a change of heart, however, Jordan did not support the Innovation Act during in 2015.
Ted Poe (R-TX)
Representative Poe was born September 10, 1948, in Temple, Texas. He was elected to Congress in November 2004. Prior to be elected to Congress, Representative Poe served in the United States Air Force Reserves, taught high school and college classes and earned a law degree from the University of Houston. Soon after graduation, he accepted a position as a prosecutor in Houston, Texas. He later became one of the youngest judges ever appointed in Texas. Subsequently, then Judge Poe was elected six times, spending more than 20 years on the bench. Each of his last three elections have been won by wide margins, receiving nearly 65% of the vote in 2012, nearly 68% of the vote in 2014, and nearly 61% of the vote in 2016. Poe voted in favor of the America Invents Act (AIA), and also voted in favor of the Innovation Act when it was voted on in December 2013.
Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
Representative Chaffetz was born March 26, 1967, in Los Gatos, California. He grew up in California, Arizona, and Colorado. He was invited to Utah in the mid-1980s by Brigham Young University football coach LaVell Edwards to be a placekicker. After a successful football career that included two years as the starting placekicker he earned a degree in communications. Prior to running for Congress he was Campaign Manager for Jon Huntsman, Jr., who was running for Governor at the time; he later served as Huntsman’s Chief of Staff. On November 4, 2008, Representative Chaffetz was elected by a 37-point margin to represent Utah’s Third Congressional District. Chaffetz has continued to win by landslide proportions, receiving nearly 77% of the vote in 2012, over 72% of the vote in 2014, and over 73% of the vote in 2016, which makes Chaffetz about as safe as any Member of Congress could ever be. Chaffetz served on Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet in both the 113th and 114th Congresses, but is much more widely known for his extremely high profile position on the House Oversight Committee. During the 114th Congress, Chaffetz became Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which is the Committee primarily responsible for investigating alleged government malfeasance.
On February 8, 2011, I interviewed Representative Chaffetz regarding the Patent Office and his role on the House Subcommittee for Intellectual Property. See IP Exclusive: An Interview with Congressman Jason Chaffetz. With respect to his voting record, Chaffetz voted against the America Invents Act (AIA), but voted in favor of the Innovation Act when the House took that up in December 2013. Chaffetz was a co-sponsor of the Innovation Act during the 114th Congress.
Tom Marino (R-PA)
Representative Marino was born born August 13, 1952, in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. After graduating law school he practiced law for several years before being elected to two terms as District Attorney of Lycoming County, where he served from 1992-2002. He later was selected to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by President George W. Bush. He was elected to Congress in November 2010. Marino was reelected in 2012 with nearly 66% of the vote, then in 2014 with nearly 63% of the vote, and most recently in 2016 with over 70% of the vote. He is a two-time cancer survivor. Marino has supported federal funding for diabetes research, a tax free Internet and he sponsored legislation that would place term limits on Members of Congress. During the 113th Congress Marino was Vice-Chairman of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet. Marino not being named Chair of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet for the 114th Congress was not a demotion or slight. Instead, during the 114th Congress he served as Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, as well as Vice-Chairman on the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. Marino once again returns to the IP Subcommittee, and will Chair the Regulatory Reform Subcommittee during the 115th Congress. In terms of his voting record, Marino did vote in favor of the America Invents Act (AIA). He similarly voted in favor of the Innovation Act in December 2013. Marino was a co-sponsor of the Innovation Act during the 114th Congress.
Raul Labrador (R-ID)
Representative Raul Labrador represents Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, which stretches from Nevada to Canada on the western side of the State. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University, and the University of Washington Law School. He worked as a law clerk for the United States District Court in Boise, Idaho, before opening a law practice the focused on immigration and criminal defense. He served two terms in the Idaho House of Representatives before he was elected to Congress in November 2010. Labrador was reelected in 2012 after receiving 63% of the vote, again in 2014 with 65% of the vote, and again in 2016 with over 68% of the vote. Labrador serves on the Natural Resources and Judiciary Committees, and is a member and co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of Constitutional Conservatives. Labrador is a new addition to the Subcommittee on Courts, IP and the Internet for the 115th Congress. In terms of his voting record, Labrador did vote in favor of the America Invents Act (AIA). He similarly voted in favor of the Innovation Act in December 2013. However, like Congressman Jordan, Labrador also had a change of heart relative to the Innovation Act, which he did not support during the 114th Congress.
Blake Farenthold (R-TX)
Representative Blake Farenthold is a lifelong resident of South Texas. Born December 12, 1961, he was raised in Corpus Christi. Prior to being elected to Congress his career included working as a conservative radio contributor, seven years of law practice, and founding Farenthold Consulting LLC, a computer consulting and web design firm. Representative Farenthold was elected in November 2010 by beating incumbent Democratic Rep. Solomon Ortiz by 799 votes, a margin that held up even after the recount requested by Ortiz. Farenthold’s victory was considered an upset because Ortiz had never faced serious opposition and had represented the district since its creation in 1982. Farenthold comfortably cruised to a reelection victory in 2014 against Democrat Wesley Reed, receiving nearly 64% of the vote. He was similarly reelected in 2016 after receiving almost 62% of the vote. In terms of his voting record, Farenthold did vote in favor of the America Invents Act (AIA). He similarly voted in favor of the Innovation Act in December 2013. Farenthold was a co-sponsor of the Innovation Act during the 114th Congress.
Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
Representative DeSantis was born September 14, 1978, in Jacksonville, Florida. He attended Yale University, where he earned a bachelor of arts, magna cum laude, and was the captain of the varsity baseball team. He also graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, he earned a commission in the United States Navy as a JAG officer. During his active duty service, he served as a military prosecutor, supported operations at the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and deployed to Iraq during the 2007 troop surge as an advisor to a U.S. Navy SEAL commander in support of the SEAL mission in Iraq. His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal (meritorious service) and the Iraq Campaign Medal. Representative DeSantis was elected to Congress in November 2012 and sworn in January 3, 2013. DeSantis was re-elected in 2014 after receiving over 62% of the vote, and again in 2016 with nearly 59% of the vote. DeSantis was not in Congress when the AIA was passed, but he did vote in favor of the Innovation Act in December 2013.
Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
Representative Gaetz, born on May 7, 1982, was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2016 and represents the 1st Congressional District of Florida. Gaetz takes over representing Florida’s 1st District from retired Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL). Gaetz was elected with over 69% of the vote. Prior to becoming a Member of Congress, Gaetz served from 2010 to 2016 in the Florida House of Representatives. Although there is very little information on his official House.gov webpage, his campaign website says that he is a Constitutional Conservative and a lawyer. He graduated from Florida State University in 2003 and earned his law degree from the College of William and Mary in 2007. NOTE: No photo is available at this time.
Andy Biggs (R-AZ)
Representative Andy Biggs is an Arizona native and currently serving his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Arizona’s 5th Congressional District. Biggs won an extremely close Republican Primary in 2016, prevailing only 16 votes over Christine Jones. In the general election Biggs would receive over 64% of the vote en route to a comfortable victory over Democrat Talia Fuentes. He replaces retired Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ). He lives in Gilbert with his wife of 35 years, Cindy. They have six children and four grandchildren. Congressman Biggs received his bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies from Brigham Young University; his M.A. in Political Science from Arizona State University; and his J.D. degree from the University of Arizona. He is a retired attorney, who has been licensed to practice law in Arizona, Washington, and New Mexico. Most recently, Congressman Biggs served in the Arizona Legislature for 14 years – the last four as the Arizona Senate President. He was awarded “Champion of the Taxpayer” from Americans for Prosperity for his cumulative service in the Arizona legislature, and has been honored numerous times by the Goldwater Institute as a “Friend of Liberty.”