This Week on Capitol Hill: Senate Examines Effect of IP on Drug Prices Again, House IP Subcommittee Talks USPTO Oversight

By IPWatchdog
May 6, 2019

This week on Capitol Hill, the heated drug pricing debate is back in the spotlight, with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on intellectual property and the price of prescription drugs on Tuesday. In the House of Representatives, oversight hearings will examine both the activities of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and data security efforts made by the Federal Trade Commission. Off the Hill, The Cato Institute looks at U.S. cyber defense capabilities, and the week closes with a Brookings Institution event on China’s actions towards global tech dominance.

Tuesday, May 7 

Senate Committee on the Judiciary 

Intellectual Property and the Price of Prescription Drugs: Balancing Innovation and Competition

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Multiple hearings across Capitol Hill at this early stage of the 116th Congress have focused on the relationship between the rising price of prescription drugs and the patent protections that drug companies earn to maintain the exclusivity of their pharmaceutical formulations on the market. In late April, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, discussed her support for ending pay-for-delay settlements over generic competition to patented pharmaceuticals at a CNN Democratic town hall debate. The witness panel for tomorrow’s hearing will include Joshua Barker, Director, South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services; David Mitchell, President and Founder, Patients for Affordable Drugs; James Stansel, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; Professor Michael Carrier, Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School; Professor David Olson, Associate Professor, Boston College Law School.

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions 

Implementing the 21st Century Cures Act: Making Electronic Health Information Available to Patients and Providers, Part II

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 430 Dirksen.

The 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law in December 2016, included provisions calling for interoperability between health information providers and to increase the use of electronic health records (EHRs), which promised improved patient care through more transparency in patient information. However, critics have pointed out issues with EHR systems having technical problems, and federal agencies like Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have faced major problems in implementing interoperable EHR systems. The witness panel for this hearing will include Don Rucker, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Kate Goodrich, Director and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Chief Medical Officer, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Privacy Rights and Data Collection in a Digital Economy

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 538 Dirksen. 

The explosive growth of the digital economy has relied in large part upon business access to consumer information, although calls for government regulation of business data collection practices have grown in recent years. Industry perspectives on the emerging third wave of digital technologies, which leverage massive data volumes with the use of complex algorithms, expect that sociopolitical pressures will provide stiffer opposition to tech adoption than before. Despite new laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act, the effectiveness of data privacy legislation has been questioned due to the incredible amount of data which is generated and collected every day. The witness panel for this hearing will include Peter Chase, Senior Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States; Jay Cline, Privacy and Consumer Protection Leader, PwC US; and Maciej Ceglowski, Founder, Pinboard.

Wednesday, May 8

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

New Entrants in the National Airspace: Policy, Technology, and Security Issues for Congress

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in G50 Dirksen.

The United States’ national airspace system (NAS) has been facing a need to evolve in the face of developments in both unmanned drones and the commercial launch industry. More than 1,800 public comments on drones were recently submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with many of those favoring remote identification of drones as well as unmanned traffic management systems. The FAA has also been looking at a reorganization of the agency’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation to make its commercial launch licensing activities more efficient. This hearing will look at the current status of the NAS and the status of the FAA’s efforts to integrate new entrants into the NAS. The witness panel for this hearing will include Jay Merkle, Executive Director, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, FAA; Wayne Monteith, Associate Administrator, Office of Commercial Space Transportation, FAA; Dallas Brooks, Director, Raspet Flight Research Laboratory, Mississippi State University; Zach Lovering, Vice President, Urban Air Mobility Systems, Airbus; and Eric Stallmer, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation. 

House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce 

Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission: Strengthening Protections for Americans’ Privacy and Data Security

At 10:30 AM on Wednesday in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

This March, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report on its privacy and data security work during 2018 which included settlements with tech firms Venmo, Uber and BLU Products over allegations that they violated consumer privacy protections. Recent privacy and data security settlements from the FTC have included heightened requirements such as annual certifications of compliance made to the FTC by senior officials and prohibitions against misrepresentations to third-parties conducting required assessments. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

House Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development 

The Digital Ecosystem: New Paths to Entrepreneurship

Main Street America has found many profitable ways to take advantage of the growing digital ecosystem available over the Internet. This hearing will explore ways that digital platforms allow American small businesses to earn greater sales both locally and globally as well as challenges that have prevented the adoption of digital tools. The witness panel for this hearing includes Kellyn Blossom, Head of Public Policy, Thumbtack; Erika Mozes, Co-Founder and COO, Hyr, Inc.; Olivia Omega Wallace, Co-Founder, Wallace Marketing Group; and Julie Carnevale, Chief Marketing Office and Co-Founder, Eloquii.

Thursday, May 9

House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet 

Oversight of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

At 2:00 PM on Thursday in 2141 Rayburn.

Recent activities at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have focused on tech acquisition. In early May, the agency released a request for information looking at upgrading technology across the USPTO, especially in high-risk areas such as patent search, electronic filing and patent enterprise text search systems. The USPTO also recently extended its full-time telework program to agency employees living in Hawaii and Alaska. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

Cato Institute

Cyber Warfare, Coercion, and Restraint

At 1:00 PM on Thursday at Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.

Cyber operations have become a much more integral aspect of international security in the 21st century and many have called for a more aggressive stance by the United States on both cybersecurity and cyber warfare. This event will explore how the major world powers employ cyber capabilities, threats faced by the United States, and effective defense methods in the sector. This event features a discussion panel including Brandon Valeriano, Donald Bren Chair of Armed Politics, Marine Corps University; Benjamin Jensen, Associate Professor, Marine Corps University, and Scholar in Residence, American University School of International Service; Jacquelyn Schneider, Assistant Professor in the Strategic and Operational Research Department, U.S. Naval War College; and Richard Harknett, Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science, Cincinnati University. The panel discussion will be moderated by John Glaser, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute.

Brookings Institution 

Global China: Assessing China’s Growing Role in the World

At 4:30 PM on Thursday at Falk Auditorium, Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

Intellectual property rights violations, as well as the global race for technological dominance, have both been major aspects of the growing tensions between the United States and China. This event marks the launch of a new foreign policy initiative at Brookings that develops research to provide both the public and policymakers with evaluations of China’s actions on the world stage. This event features a keynote speech on issues defining the future of U.S. policy towards China from Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). The keynote will be followed by a discussion between Sen. Warner and Victoria Nuland, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center on the United States and Europe, and Senior Advisor to the Director of Foreign Policy.

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