On March 20, 2013, Maria A. Pallante, who is the Register of Copyrights at the United States Copyright Office, testified before the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Committee on the Judiciary. In her testimony she called for a comprehensive review and updating of the Copyright Act. She started her prepared remarks by explaining: “The law is showing the strain of its age and requires your attention. As many have noted, authors do not have effective protections, good faith businesses do not have clear roadmaps, courts do not have sufficient direction, and consumers and other private citizens are increasingly frustrated.”
During her testimony on Capitol Hill, Pallante explained that it is time to begin work on “the next great copyright act,” which is required because individuals “increasingly are accessing content on mobile devices and fewer and fewer of them will need or desire the physical copies that were so central to the 19th and 20th century copyright laws.” Pallante also lamented the fact that the current Copyright Act is cumbersome and difficult to understand, saying: “if one needs an army of lawyers to understand the basic precepts of the law, then it is time for a new law.”
With the prospect of comprehensive copyright reform on the horizon the familiar battle lines are being drawn between those who absolutely need copyright protection to survive and create versus those who are a part of the infringement culture. Will the comprehensive reforms necessary to protect creators or original works be possible? Will any reform be achievable? The goal of comprehensive reform seems laudable, but creators of original works must engage, both individually and by and through their various Guilds and Associations.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet on March 14, 2013, heard from six witnesses that the business of “patent assertion entities” (PAEs) is inflicting severe harm on a broad range of technology users.
That business involves the enforcement of weak or invalid patent claims against initial and downstream users of devices that are remotely related to the patent claims for the sole purpose of extracting settlements in amounts much lower than the cost of litigating the rights. The witnesses at the hearing agreed that, when confronted PAE demand letters on frivolous claims, settlements by and large are economically unavoidable.
Committee Members Are Cautious
The Subcommittee had before it a particular bill (H.R. 845; the Shield Act) to create a limited loser-pays system. It would award full costs to the prevailing party unless the plaintiff is (1) the inventor, (2) the original assignee, (3) one who produced or sold items covered by the patent, or (4) a university or technology transfer organization.
Almost two weeks ago the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued two Federal Register Notices in anticipation of the U.S. converting from first-to-invent to a first-to-file regime. The first were the Changes to Implement First to File and the second was First to File Examination Guidelines. Both are important. The new regulations that make up 37 CFR are found in the former, but much of the meat and potatoes are found in the later. The Guidelines, which the USPTO says they are not obligated to follow, is where the Office spends most of the time comparing and contrasting old pre-AIA 102 with AIA 102. The Guidelines is also where the USPTO explains which cases they believe have been overruled (i.e., Hilmer and Metallizing Engineering) and which cases continue to have relevance. They also selectively cherry pick portions of the legislative history to back up their interpretations.
Frankly, we know that when the Supreme Court ultimately gets involved interpreting the AIA, which is a virtual certainty, the legislative history will play absolutely no role in interpreting the statute. This Supreme Court holds legislative history in near contempt. It is hard to argue with them on that point knowing how easy it is for something to be included into the legislative history. More interesting, however, will be whether the Federal Circuit will consider legislative history, or at least to what extent. But, as for now, the Patent Office is deferring to legislative history with respect to a number of items. On first glance nothing caught me as out of place particularly, and the Office has to rely on something given that Congress re-wrote the law and used different terminology for things that have had long-standing, well-known meanings.
Therefore, the question really has to be this: Did Congress mean what they said? Of course, that has multiple components: (1) Did Congress mean what they said in the actual text of the bill, which leaves a great many things open to interpretation; and (2) Did Congress mean what they said in the legislative history, which at times is some of the most clear writing you will ever read. The trouble, of course, is that they voted on the text, not the legislative history. Moreover, in one particular instance (relating to Metallizing Engineering) the USPTO relied on comments from Senator Leahy that only occurred after the Senate acted, which hardly seems reasonable to do give that the comment was after the fact and the exact type of remark that Justice Scalia and others seem to detest. How do we know that anyone other than one Senator believed that? How do we even know that was what that Senator believed when he voted? What a mess!
Earlier this week House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) announced the House Judiciary Committee’s Republican subcommittee assignments for the 113th Congress. The subcommittee from the House of Representatives that has jurisdiction over matters relating to intellectual property is the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over copyright, patent, trademark law, information technology, antitrust matters, as well as other appropriate matters as referred by the Chairman. It is this House Subcommittee on IP that will be one of the primary focal points for any new legislation that deals with intellectual property over the next two years.
Representative Coble was born in Greensboro, NC, March 18, 1931. He served in the United States Coast Guard for over 5 years and later in the Coast Guard Reserves for 22 years. He served in the North Carolina House of Representatives prior to being elected to Congress in November 1984. In addition to being named the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, Representative Coble has received his other subcommittee assignments on both of his full committees. Congressman Coble will serve on a total of five subcommittees on the Judiciary and Transportation and Infrastructure panels.
On December 18, 2012, the House of Representatives passed the AIA technical amendments bill by a vote of 308 to 89. Here is the link to the bill as passed.
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During the last six days of a session the Speaker of the House of Representatives is allowed to suspend Rules in order to expeditiously dispose of non-controversial matters quickly before the end of a session. See Suspension of the Rules.
This year there will be several intellectual property bills that will move under suspension of House Rules on Tuesday afternoon, December 18, 2012. One is a substitute version of HR 6621, the America Invents Act (AIA) technical corrections bill.
Section 1(m) has been amended to include a PTO study in lieu of the original pre-GATT provision.
For a better part of the past year, there has been talk about the possibility of Congress moving a technical corrections bill to fix some “errors” within the America Invents Act (AIA). The AIA was signed into law on September 16, 2011 and contains, as most major pieces of legislation do, some minor drafting errors. On Friday, November, 30, 2012, a bill making technical changes to the AIA was introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill number is HR 6621. The proposed AIA package does NOT include a so-called “fix” to post-grant review that some considered to be substantive and not technical.
To rewind: Earlier this year, there had been some behind the scenes discussions on Capitol Hill about possibly modifying the AIA’s PGR estoppel provisions in a way that would have been problematic to patent owners. The discussed change would have removed from the AIA the “could have raised” estoppel standard. Concerns about weakening the PGR estoppels provisions as part of a ‘technical” package were communicated by members of the Innovation Alliance, university, inventor, and venture capital communities.
Fast forward to today: The bill does not contain the troubling PGR “fix.” Key staff on the Hill believe the measure to be non-controversial. House passage of the measure could take place before year’s end. What follows is the text of a draft section-by-section analysis of what was expected to be in the introduced AIA package of fixes.
The first line of the press release says: “Although the America Invents Act (AIA) that took effect September 15, 2011…”
Now I am not one who normally quibbles about what could be a harmless typographical error — from time to time I make my fair share (and then some) of mistakes. But the AIA took effect on September 16, 2011, not September 15. A minor point no doubt, but once I read the rest of the story I wondered whether that was really a mistake, typographical error or more indicative of ALM writing about something that they just don’t understand.
KISS playing at Sauna Open Air 2010, during their Sonic Boom Over Europe Tour. Location Tampere, Finland.
A who’s-who of musicians and singers, including stars from Motown, Rock and Roll, Country, Rap and Jazz, today released an open letter to be published in this weekend’s Billboard Magazine opposing Pandora’s plan to cut artists’ pay when music is played over Internet radio.
The stars, who included Alabama, Sheryl Crow, CeeLo Green, Billy Joel, Maroon 5, KISS, Ne-Yo, Katy Perry, Pink Floyd, Megadeath and many others, praised Pandora, saying: “We are big fans.” But with massive growth in revenues and a successful IPO under its belt, the artists are wondering why Pandora is pushing Congress to slash musicians’ pay. “That’s not fair and that’s not how partners work together,” the open letter explains.
The artists’ letter also goes on to say: “Congress has many pressing issues to consider, but this is not one of them. Let’s work this out as partners and continue to bring fans the great musical experience they rightly expect.”
Betsy de Parry embraces Senator Bayh at 30th Anniversary Bayh-Dole celebration, December 2010.
Let me state the obvious: Cancer and every other illness affect people of all political persuasions. I suspect that most would agree, at least theoretically, that no illness should be politicized, but the fact is that decisions or lack of decisions made by Congress trickle down to the way we live every day. They include decisions that impact people who are impacted by cancer — which is why we need thoughtful leaders who are willing to work together.
History is replete with examples of bipartisanship that have had long-lasting, positive effects. A look at just one can teach us the critical need for bipartisanship in matters that relate to cancer and other health conditions.
Have you or a loved one taken Tamoxifen or Herceptin for breast cancer? How about Revlimid for multiple myeloma? Bexxarfor non-Hodgkin lymphoma?Gleevecfor chronic myelogenous leukemia? Did Neulasta ever keep you safe from infection while undergoing chemotherapy?
Then you have benefited from bipartisanship, because these and nearly 200 other drugs are available today as a result of the 96th Congress passing a little-known bill that laid the foundation for the development of therapies that have saved — literally — millions of lives, including mine and perhaps yours or that of someone you know or love. That bill became known as the Bayh-Dole Act.
Manus Cooney, former Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and a prominent DC lobbyist.
Last week I published part 1 of my conversation with Manus Cooney, who is one of the preeminent intellectual property lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Cooney, a former Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, is currently a partner with American Continental Group and was intimately involved in lobbying Congress relative to the America Invents Act (AIA), primarily on behalf of his client Tessera Technologies, who aligned themselves with the Innovation Alliance.
In part 1 we discussed lobbying in general, shining some light on the process as a whole and explaining why it is unrealistic to expect you can enter the debate near the end and have any hope of affecting change. In part 2, which is reproduced below, we discuss the specifics of lobbying the AIA, as well as the fight against further erosion of patent rights. And you thought that patent reform was over. Sadly, the fight continues.
COONEY: Going back to the AIA, when it comes to passing legislation, it’s important to know how each of the Congressional bodies work. It may be an oversimplification but it is usually the case that whatever the House Majority Leadership wants to pass, it usually gets done. In the Senate, however, it’s different because of its rules. There, whatever the Majority wants to pass has a shot at getting done. In other words, if the House Leadership, the Republicans in this case today, and the Chairman of the Committee want to see a particular measure passed, more often than not, particularly on an issue as esoteric and complex as patent law, the party members of the majority party are going to adhere or defer to the wishes of Leadership, And as a result, you’re trying to either create a situation in advance of the House measure coming to the floor where you have the support of the Leadership or you have created an environment where it’s less certain to the House Leadership and the Chairman that they will in fact be able to prevail, and thereby create an environment where they have to negotiate. Oftentimes in the House, your laying the foundation for a fight in the Senate where there is less deference to the Leadership. The rules are such that, in theory, any Senator can offer an amendment to any bill at any time, and you have a better shot at winning on the merits, so to speak. That has a way of forcing consensus. So realizing that those tend to be the ground rules, the landscape you’re dealing with, you develop a strategy for your clients.
Manus Cooney, former Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and a prominent DC lobbyist.
Manus Cooney is a formidable figure. He stands 6’3”, is the consummate professional, highly intelligent and very personable. He is the type of person you notice when he walks into a room.
Who is Manus Cooney? Those in Washington, DC, know the name well, but many practitioners in the intellectual property space are probably not well acquainted with Cooney, but Manus Cooney is a name you should know if you are at all involved in the world of intellectual property.
Cooney is a prominent behind the scenes player in Washington, DC. He is a partner in the American Continental Group, a D.C. based consulting and lobbying firm that boasts one of the most prominent IP practice groups in town. His partners include Marla Grossman, who was an IP counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy(D-VT), and Chris Israel, who was the nation’s first U.S. Coordinator for International IP Enforcement — the first IP Czar. Philosophically, ACG tends toward the pro-IP side, so it is not surprising that many of the clients they represent are interested in securing and promoting a strong IP regime both in the U.S. and abroad. In short, Cooney and others at ACG fight the good fight, helping content creators and innovators convey their message in the halls of Congress.
Back from its extended August recess, Congress has some unfinished business to settle before the end of the calendar year, such as funding the Federal Government for FY 2013 and addressing expiring Bush tax cuts.
Though they are unlikely to take center stage during the truncated session before elections or the post-election lame duck session, lawmakers will have to contend with several key copyright issues during the 113th Congress. Thus, no matter who wins on November 6, IP leaders in the House and Senate are likely to use the remainder of this calendar year to set the stage for next year’s copyright agenda.
The priority copyright issues for the remainder of 2012 and 2013 are: (1) Anti Piracy Initiatives; (2) Internet Issues; (3) International Agreements; (4) Music Licensing; (5) Book Licensing; and (6) TV Broadcast Issues. Each is discussed more fully below.