On January 6, 2014, the 114th Congress officially convened. Already there has been an ill-conceived and unsuccessful rebellion of conservative Republicans, the House has approved the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Obama promises to veto, and House committee chairs have become a whole lot more powerful after receiving unilateral subpoena powers. the 114th Congress promises to be must see political theater for all political junkies.
With respect to intellectual property it is the House Judiciary Committee that will set the agenda for any potential legislative reform over the next two years, with the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet leading the way. The often controversial Darrell Issa has lost his leadership position on the House Oversight Committee, but he has gained the gavel of this IP subcommittee. Few anticipate that he will easily be relegated to the back bench, so look for an active and bumpy ride over the next two years.
Without further ado, here are the Republicans on the House IP subcommittee. Stay tuned for the Democrats in the days to come.
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. He is also 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 over the last 6 years. Republican rules prohibit committee leaders from maintaining leadership of committees for more than 6 years without a waiver from the Republican leader, who is currently Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). Issa did not receive a waiver and is no longer Chair of the House Oversight Committee. Issa is not afraid of controversy, and he shows no fear of microphones or TV cameras. This has lead many to predict that he will quickly seek to make a name for himself with respect to IP matters, particularly patent matters, given that Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has decided to keep any copyright reforms the purview of the entire Judiciary Committee.
Few issues in the patent space grab public and media attention the way the topic of patent trolls does, so be on the look out for much more rhetoric relating to the evils of patent trolls.
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. Collins was on the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet during the 113th Congress, but as one of the most junior members. He now rises to the position of Vice-Chair for the 114th Congress.
Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., was born in Chicago and later moved to Wisconsin with his family. He graduated from the Milwaukee Country Day School and did his undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where he majored in political science. He then earned his law degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968. After serving ten years in the Wisconsin State Legislature, he ran for a U.S. House seat and was elected in November, 1978. Representative Sensenbrenner is a former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and has been a long established, strong record on intellectual property issues. Over the years he has been a strong advocate for the patent system and a champion for the rights of innovators, including but not limited to the rights of universities and independent inventors.
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.
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, and in 2014, receiving over 63% 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 served on Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet during the 113th Congress.
Randy Forbes (R-VA)
Representative Randy Forbes is a life-long resident of Virginia. Forbes graduated from Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake in 1970. He was valedictorian of his 1974 class at Randolph-Macon College. In 1977, Randy graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law. Upon graduation from law school Forbes began his career in private law practice helping small and medium-sized businesses and ultimately became a partner in the largest law firm in southeastern Virginia. From 1989-2001, Forbes served the Commonwealth of Virginia in the General Assembly. As a member of the House of Delegates Forbes served as the Floor Leader until his election to the State Senate in 1997. One year later, he became the Senate Floor Leader. He served in the State Senate for 3 1/2 years, until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Other than voting for various patent and intellectual property bills, Forbes’ resume patent and intellectual property seems thin.
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. While in Congress Franks has been a support of independent inventors. In 2011, Franks voted against patent reform, 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…”
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, 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 Chaffetz prevailed. In 2012, Jordan received his lowest percentage of the vote, still cruising to victory with over 58% of the vote. In 2014, Jordan received nearly 68% of the vote.
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 two elections have been won by landslide margins, receiving nearly 65% of the vote in 2012 and nearly 68% of the vote in 2014.
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 and over 72% of the vote in 2014. Although Chaffetz did serve on Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet in the 113th Congress, it remains to be seen how involved Chaffetz will be with this Subcommittee during the 114th Congress. Chaffetz will enjoy an extremely high profile during the 114th Congress thanks to the fact that he will also serve as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which is 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.
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 served as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by President George W. Bush. He was elected to Congress in November 2010. 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 does not appear to be a demotion or slight. He will be 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, which given recent developments in France promises to keep him rather busy.
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 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 victory in 2014 against Democrate Wesley Reed, receiving nearly 64% of the vote. In December 2014, Farenthold was sued by a former spokeswoman who alleged sexual discrimination. Through his current spokesman Farenthold explained that he looks forward to addressing the allegations in due course during the litigation process.
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.
Mimi Walters (R-CA)
Representative Mimi Walters represented the 37th District in the California State Senate prior to being elected to serve in the House of Representatives in 2014. Walters served in the California Senate from 2008 to 2014, and before that in the California Assembly from 2004 to 2008. Walters began her career in public service as a member of the Laguna Niguel City Council in 1996. She served as the City’s mayor in 2000.