This Week on Capitol Hill: Patent Eligibility Hearings, Protecting Taxpayer-Funded Research, and Licensing Nuclear Technologies

By IPWatchdog
June 3, 2019

Those who oppose reforms to Section 101 are briefing staffers on the Hill today in an attempt to conflate the patent eligibility and drug pricing/ gene patenting debates.

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week will be exciting days for patents, technology and innovation in America. The Senate IP Subcommittee will hold a pair of hearings exploring patent eligibility issues facing U.S. inventors and innovators and will hear from a total of 30 witnesses over the course of both days. In the latest development, those who oppose reforms to Section 101 are briefing staffers on the Hill today in an attempt to conflate the 101 and drug pricing/ gene patenting debates. More on that later.

Other Senate hearings will explore controls on sales of tech to China, promoting American leadership in nuclear energy, changes in the TV and digital video marketplace and legislative efforts to protect taxpayer-funded research from foreign espionage. In the House of Representatives, committees will focus on the use of facial recognition technologies by law enforcement and reauthorizing consent frameworks for retransmissions of copyrighted TV broadcasts. The American Enterprise Institute will also hold an event on Wednesday to look into new technologies that support child welfare activities.

Tuesday, June 4 

House Committee on Oversight and Reform 

Facial Recognition Technology (Part II): Ensuring Transparency in Government Use

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

The use of facial recognition technology by government agencies has been an increasingly controversial topic in recent weeks. Amazon shareholders decided in late May to continue the company’s practice of selling facial recognition tech to law enforcement agencies. A week prior to that, however, San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to ban city agencies and law enforcement from using surveillance technology involving facial recognition systems. Advance coverage of this House Oversight Committee hearing indicates that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are likely to take a negative view of government use of such technologies. The hearing panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 

Full Committee Hearing to Examine Expanded Deployment of Grid-Scale Energy Storage

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

In May, a pair of bills were introduced into the U.S. Senate which are designed to support research and development into grid-scale energy storage systems, including high power and long duration systems, and clean energy projects through more than $1 billion of funding directed through the U.S. Department of Energy. On May 30, the state of Utah and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems announced plans to build what would be the world’s largest clean energy storage project capable of storing 1,000 megawatts of 100 percent renewable energy. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. George Crabtree, Director, Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, Argonne National Laboratory; Mitch Davidson, CEO, U.S., Brookfield Renewable; Ben Fowke, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, Xcel Energy Inc.; Kiran Kumaraswarmy, VP, Market Applications, Fluence; and Andrew Ott, President and CEO, PJM Interconnection LLC.

Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs 

Confronting Threats From China: Assessing Controls on Technology and Investment, and Measures to Combat Opioid Trafficking

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 538 Dirksen.In recent weeks, the Trump Administration has established new controls on the sale of certain technologies to Chinese firms, especially the telecom giant Huawei, and these actions have met with disapproval from Chinese diplomats trying to secure a truce on trade with the U.S. The witness panel for this hearing will include the Honorable Kevin Wolf, Former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration in the Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. Department of Commerce; Scott Kennedy, Senior Adviser, Freeman Chair in China Studies and Director, Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy, Center for Strategic & International Studies; and Richard Nephew, Former Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy, U.S. Department of State.

House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

STELAR Review: Protecting Consumers in an Evolving Media Marketplace 

At 10:30 AM on Tuesday in 2322 Rayburn.

Most of the 119.9 million American households that watch television receive their TV programming either through over-the-air antenna broadcasts or through multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) such as cable or satellite companies. In 2019, certain consent frameworks for broadcast retransmissions, especially retransmissions of local broadcasts by satellite companies, that were enacted by the Satellite Television and Localism Act (STELA) of 2010 and renewed by the STELA Reauthorization (STELAR) Act of 2014 are set to expire, which could leave many Americans unserved by local programming. The witness panel for this hearing includes Gordon Smith, President and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters; Robert Thun, Senior Vice President of Content and Programming, AT&T Mobility and Entertainment; Patricia Jo Boyers, President and Vice Chairman of the Board, BOYCOM Vision; and John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel, Public Knowledge.

Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety 

Advanced Nuclear Technology: Protecting U.S. Leadership and Expanding Opportunities for Licensing New Nuclear Energy Technologies

At 11:30 AM on Tuesday in 406 Dirksen.

In late May, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, and Mike Crapo (R-ID) co-authored an op-ed published by CNBC arguing for bipartisan support of a pair of bills that would accelerate development of advanced nuclear reactors and support the licensing and commercialization of those technologies. Currently, the U.S. lacks a streamlined, predictable pathway for licensing these technologies which has put the nation’s international dominance in nuclear power at risk. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.

Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property 

The State of Patent Eligibility in America: Part I

At 2:30 PM on Tuesday in 226 Dirksen.

This hearing is the first of two this week that will look at issues regarding patent eligibility which have arisen in recent years in response to actions by Congress and the Executive Branch as well as Supreme Court jurisprudence. There will be three witness panels during this hearing. The first panel will include the Honorable Paul Michel, Former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; the Honorable Todd Dickinson, Former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; the Honorable David Kappos, Former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director, USPTO; Charles Duan, Director, Technology & Innovation and Senior Fellow, R Street Institute; and Professor Jeffrey Lefstin, Associate Academic Dean, University of California Hastings College of the Law. The second panel will include Robert Armitage, Consultant, IP Strategy and Policy; Professor David Taylor, Co-Director of the Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation and Associate Professor of Law, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law; Sherry Knowles, Principal, Knowles Intellectual Property Strategies; Alex Moss, Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation; and Professor Mark Lemley, William H. Neukom Professor of Law and Director, Program in Law, Science & Technology, Stanford University School of Law. The third panel will include Michael Rosen, Adjunct Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Professor Paul Gugliuzza, Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law; Professor Joshua Sarnoff, Professor of Law, DePaul University; Patrick Kilbride, Senior Vice President, Global Innovation Policy Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Professor Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University. More coverage on the panel rosters for this hearing can be found here.

Wednesday, June 5

House Subcommittee on Environment

Ocean Exploration: Diving to New Depths and Discoveries

At 9:00 AM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn.

In early May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the creation of a consortium of five ocean science institutions to lead a $94 million effort that will support ocean exploration and improve scientific understanding of deep sea environments. The Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute is expect to help survey about 3 billion acres worth of U.S. ocean territory over the next five years to help advance the nation’s “blue economy.” The witness panel at this hearing will include Dr. Katy Croft Bell, Open Ocean Initiative, MIT Media Lab; Dr. Carlie Wiener, Director of Marine Communications, Schmidt Ocean Institute; Steve Barrett, Senior Vice President Business Development, Oceaneering International; and David Lang, Co-Founder, Sofar Ocean Technologies.

Senate Committee on Finance

Foreign Threats to Taxpayer-Funded Research: Oversight Opportunities and Policy Solutions

At 9:45 on Wednesday in 215 Dirksen.

In late May, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) penned an op-ed published by the Iowa City Press-Citizen which discussed efforts by foreign nations, especially China, to steal American intellectual property supported by taxpayer-funded research. Over in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Securing American Science and Technology Act of 2019 has recently been introduced to address foreign espionage of research conducted at American higher education institutions. There will be two witness panels at this Senate Finance Committee hearing. The first panel will include Captain Michael Schmoyer, Assistant Deputy Secretary for National Security, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); Dr. Lawrence Tabak, Principal Deputy Director, National Institutes of Health; Les Hollie, Chief of Investigative Operations, Office of Investigations, HHS Office of Inspector General; and Louis Rodi, Deputy Assistant Director, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The sole witness in the second panel will be Dr. Joe Gray, Gordon Moore Endowed Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering Director, OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine, Associate Director for Biophysical Oncology, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health and Science University.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

The State of Television and Video Marketplace

At 10:00 on Wednesday in G50 Dirksen.

Both television programming and video content delivery have evolved tremendously over the past decade thanks in large part to new Internet technologies. This hearing will explore impacts to consumer viewing habits caused by new entrants in the video marketplace, including streaming services, as well as laws governing the video marketplace and how those laws promote access to content, competition, localism and viewpoint diversity. The witness panel for this hearing will include the Honorable Michael Powell, President, NCTA – The Internet and Television Association; the Honorable Gordon Smith, President and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters; Craig Aaron, President and CEO, Free Press; David Gandler, Co-Founder and CEO, Fubo TV; and David Kenny, CEO, Nielsen.

American Enterprise Institute

Big Data, Little Kids: How Technology is Changing Child Welfare

At 12:00 PM on Wednesday at AEI Auditorium, 1789 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

Organizations and individuals who are involved with child welfare efforts often lack crucial data to make informed decisions on child safety or properly navigate state and local regulations. However, some digital technologies have been making some headway into this sector in recent years. This event will feature a presentation from Gian Gonzaga of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Thea Ramirez of Adoption-Share. That will be followed by another presentation from Emily Putnam-Hornstein of the University of Southern California and Rhema Vaithianathan of the Auckland University of Technology. These presentations are followed by a panel discussion involving all four of the presenters and moderated by Naomi Schaefer Riley, American Enterprise Institute.

Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property 

The State of Patent Eligibility in America: Part II

At 2:30 on Wednesday in 226 Dirksen.

This is the second of three hearings to be held by the Senate IP Committee on patent eligibility issues in the U.S. This hearing also has three witness panel. The first panel will include Barbara Fiacco, Partner, Foley Hoag, President-Elect, American Intellectual Property Law Association; Scott Patridge, Immediate Past Chair, Intellectual Property Law Section, American Bar Association; Henry Hadad, President, Intellectual Property Owners Association; David Jones, Executive Director, High Tech Inventors Alliance; and Stephanie Martz, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, National Retail Foundation, on behalf of United for Patent Reform. The second panel will include Paul Morinville, President, U.S. Inventor; Phil Johnson, Chair, Steering Committee, Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform; Dr. William Jenks, Principal, Jenks IP Law, on behalf of Internet Association; Christopher Mohr, Vice President for Intellectual Property and General Counsel, Software and Information Industry Association; and Jeffrey Birchak, General Counsel, Vice President of Intellectual Property, and Secretary, Fallbrook Technologies, on behalf of Innovation Alliance. The third panel will include Jeff Francer, General Counsel, Association for Accessible Medicines; Hans Sauer, Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property, Biotechnology Innovation Organization; Natalie Derzko, Of Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP, on behalf of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; Rick Brandon, Associate General Counsel, The University of Michigan, on behalf of Association of American Universities and Council on Government Relations; and Kate Ruane, Senior Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union. More coverage on the panel rosters for this hearing can be found here.

The Author



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There are currently 2 Comments comments. Join the discussion.

  1. mike June 3, 2019 12:07 pm

    Thus far, Paul Morinville is the only inventor in the list of witnesses. We shall see if Congress truly wants feedback from the true stakeholders in the patent system: the inventors.

  2. anonymous June 3, 2019 3:39 pm

    Paul Morinville’s first statement should be to ask where the individual inventors are. Congress should have a day of hearings involving nothing but testimony from individual inventors.

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