This Week on Capitol Hill: SCOTUS Grants Cert in Two IP Cases and Strikes Down Bar on Immoral/ Scandalous Marks; Plus, AI in Counterterrorism and Fintech, Copyright Office Oversight week on Capitol Hill and vicinity, the Supreme Court issues its decision in Iancu v. Brunetti and issues orders in several other IP cases. Meanwhile, various House committees will explore the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband Internet coverage maps, state and local government cybersecurity issues, voting technologies, fintech, federal agency IT acquisition and artificial intelligence. Senate committee hearings this week will look at emerging technologies in surface transportation, the persuasive effects of machine learning in Internet platforms as well as a pair of drug patent bills. Elsewhere, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation hosts an event looking at the effect of global trade tensions on technology supply chains and the Brookings Institution considers the potential of privacy legislation to address concerns with digital information-sharing systems.

Monday, June 24 

The Supreme Court issued a number of orders in IP cases this morning and issued its decision in Iancu v. Brunetti, striking down the Lanham Act’s bar on immoral or scandalous marks. In a win for Erik Brunetti and his “FUCT” line of clothing, the Court held that the bar on immoral or scandalous trademarks violates the First Amendment.

The Court also granted cert on Question 1 in Dex Media v. Click-to-Call Technologies. That question asks “Whether 35 U.S.C. § 314(d) permits appeal of the PTAB’s decision to institute an inter partes review upon finding that § 315(b)’s time bar did not apply.” The Court will not consider the second question presented, which asked “whether 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) bars institution of an inter partes review when the previously served patent infringement complaint, filed more than one year before the IPR petition, had been dismissed without prejudice.”

The Court will also hear State of Georgia et. al. v., Inc., which asks “whether the government edicts doctrine extends to—and thus renders uncopyrightable—works that lack the force of law, such as the annotations in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated.”

InvestPic v. SAP, which asked the Court to consider whether the “Federal Circuit’s ‘physical realm’ test contravenes the Patent Act and this Court’s precedent by categorically excluding otherwise patentable processes from patent eligibility,” was denied cert.

Tuesday, June 25 

House Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure 

Broadband Mapping: Small Carrier Perspectives on a Path Forward

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2360 Rayburn House Office Building.

For the past few years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has received criticisms over the quality of the agency’s broadband maps which are used to determine areas of the country that could benefit from additional government investment in broadband infrastructure. On June 12, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told the Senate Commerce Committee that he proposed a measure to obtain more accurate data on broadband coverage from providers. This hearing will explore issues with broadband mapping from the perspective of rural providers. The witness panel for this hearing will include Tim Donovan, Senior Vice President, Legislative Affairs, Competitive Carriers Association; Dan Stelpflug, Director, Operations, Engineering and Technology, Allamakee Clayton Electric Cooperative, testifying on behalf of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; Beth Osler, Director, Customer and Industry Relations, UniTel, Inc., testifying on behalf of the NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association; and Jason Hendricks, Chief Regulatory Officer, Range Companies, testifying on behalf of the WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband.

House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism 

Artificial Intelligence and Counterterrorism: Possibilities and Limitations

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 310 Cannon House Office Building.

Military applications for artificial intelligence (AI) continue to increase despite civil liberties concerns and recent market research shows that the global market for AI in modern warfare is expected to reach $7.7 billion USD by the year 2024. The witness panel for this hearing will include Ben Buchanan, Assistant Teaching Professor, Georgetown University, and Senior Faculty Fellow, Center for Security and Emerging Technology; Alex Stamos, Adjunct Professor, Freeman Spogli Institute, and Program Director, Stanford Internet Observatory; and Julian Sanchez, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute.

Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet 

Optimizing for Engagement: Understanding the Use of Persuasive Technology on Internet Platforms

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 216 Hart Senate Office Building.

This hearing will explore ways that machine learning and algorithms used on Internet platforms may be influencing the public as well as potential policy responses such as algorithm transparency or algorithm explanation. The witness panel for this hearing will include Tristan Harris, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Center for Humane Technology; Rashida Richardson, Director of Policy Research, AI Now Institute; Maggie Stanphill, Director, Google User Experience, Google Inc.; Dr. Stephen Wolfram, Founder and CEO, Wolfram Research.

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Vital Partners: How Trade Linkages With Korea, Mexico, and Taiwan Help Power America’s Innovation Economy

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in SVC 210-10 Capitol Visitor Center.

The U.S. has taken action to increase trade tensions with global partners such as China and Mexico but these actions may be harming the ability of the U.S. to maintain beneficial trade with its partners in the information and communications technology sector. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Charles Boustany, Counsel, The National Bureau of Asian Research; Tami Overby, Senior Director, McLarty Associates; and Jimmy Goodrich, Vice President, Global Policy, Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). The panel discussion will be moderated by Stephen Ezell, Vice President, Global Innovation Policy, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

The Cato Institute 

Eyes in the Sky: The Secret Rise of Gorgon Stare and How It Will Watch Us All

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

The Gorgon Stare surveillance technology used by the Pentagon has shown itself to be effective against insurgent targets in foreign nations but the aerial spying system has raised concerns about the potential of its use in American communities. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Arthur Holland Michel, Author, Eyes in the Sky: The Secret Rise of Gorgon Stare and How It Will Watch Us All; Jenna McLaughlin, National Security and Investigations Reporter, Yahoo News; and Sean Vitka, Policy Counsel, Demand Progress. The panel discussion will be moderated by Patrick Reddington, Research Fellow, Cato Institute.

House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation 

Cybersecurity Challenges for State and Local Governments: Assessing How the Federal Government Can Help

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday in 310 Cannon.

On June 18, Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act to increase cyber coordination between the Department of Homeland Security and state and local governments. The witness panel for this House hearing will include the Honorable Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor, City of Atlanta; Thomas Duffy, Senior Vice President of Operations and Chair of Multi-State ISAC, Center for Internet Security; Ahmad Sultan, Affiliated Researcher, Center for Long Term Cybersecurity, University of California, Berkeley; and Frank Cilluffo, Director, McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security, Auburn University.

House Subcommittees on Investigations and Oversight, Research and Technology 

Election Security: Voting Technology Vulnerabilities

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday in 2318 Rayburn.

The use of voting technologies continues to increase and during the 2016 presidential election, nearly half of all voters signed into their polling place with the use of e-poll books, but these technologies raise both reliability and security concerns. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Charles Romine, Director, Information Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Neal Kelley, Registrar of Voters, Orange County, California; Dr. Latanya Sweeney, Professor of Government and Technology in Residence, Department of Government, Harvard University, Institute for Quantitative Social Science; Paul Ziriax, Secretary, Oklahoma State Election Board; and Dr. Josh Benaloh, Senior Cryptographer, Microsoft Research.

House Task Force on Fintech 

Overseeing the Fintech Revolution: Domestic and International Perspectives on Fintech Regulation

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday in 2128 Rayburn.

The House Financial Services Committee created a Task Force on Fintech in May and this will be the first hearing convened by this task force to explore financial sector technologies and innovation. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 

Business Meeting

At 2:15 PM on Tuesday in S-116 U.S. Capitol.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will convene a business meeting to consider various pieces of legislation including Senate Concurrent Resolution 10, which would formally recognize that Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE pose serious national security threats to the United States.

Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety 

Examining Technological Innovations in Transportation

At 2:30 PM on Tuesday in 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

This hearing will explore the adoption of technologies in the surface transportation sector, the effects of those technologies on U.S. transportation and the benefits and challenges related to the upcoming generation of new transportation technologies. The witness panel for this hearing will include Steve Ingracia, Deputy Director of Technology and Strategic Planning, Nebraska Department of Transportation; Shailen Bhatt, President and CEO, Intelligent Transportation Society of America; Patrick Duffy, President, Blockchain in Transport Alliance; Brent Hutto, Chief Relationship Officer,; and Ann Schenkler, Director, Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory.

Wednesday, June 26 

House Task Force on Fintech 

Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence: Where Are We and the Next Frontier in Financial Services 

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2128 Rayburn.

This second hearing of the Task Force on Fintech will focus on the applications of AI in the fintech sector for services such as underwriting or financial advising. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology 

Artificial Intelligence: Societal and Ethical Implications 

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn.

In mid-June, news reports indicated that Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwartzman donated nearly $189 million to Oxford University to conduct studies on the potential ethical implications and societal impacts of the rise of AI technologies. The witness panel for this hearing will include Meredith Whittaker, Co-Founder, AI Now Institute, New York University; Jack Clark, Policy Director, OpenAI; Joy Buolamwini, Founder, Algorithmic Justice League; and Dr. Georgia Tourassi, Director, Health Data Sciences Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

House Committee on the Judiciary 

Oversight of the U.S. Copyright Office

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2141 Rayburn.

Recently, the U.S. Copyright Office has issued a proposed rule that would allow for the group registration of musical and graphic works contained on an album and asked Congress to allow satellite compulsory copyright licenses under STELAR to expire. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

House Committee on Homeland Security 

Examining Social Media Companies’ Efforts to Counter Online Terror Content and Misinformation

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 310 Cannon.

Social media channels are often taken advantage of by terrorist groups looking to disseminate their messages as well as foreign nationals attempting to spread information meant to deceive the public. The witness panel for this hearing will include Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management, Facebook; Nick Pickles, Global Senior Strategist for Public Policy, Twitter; Derek Slater, Global Director of Information Policy, Google; and Nadine Strossen, John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, New York Law School.

House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics 

NASA’s Aeronautics Mission: Enabling the Transformation of Aviation

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn.

Last week, NASA exhibited recent advances in urban air mobility and alternate propulsion systems at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Aviation Forum and Exposition in Dallas. The witness panel at this hearing will include Dr. Jaiwon Shin, Associate Administrator, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA; Dr. Alan Epstein, R.C. Maclaurin Professor Emeritus of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Chair, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Dr. Ilan Kroo, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University; and Dr. Mark Lewis, Director, IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute, Professor Emeritus of Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland.

House Subcommittee on Government Operations 


At 2:00 PM on Wednesday in 2154 Rayburn.

This hearing will provide the most recent version of the federal government’s scorecard for agencies in terms of their compliance with IT acquisition guidelines laid out by the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA). The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

Thursday, June 27

Senate Committee on the Judiciary 

Business Meeting

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 226 Dirksen.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will convene a hearing to consider a pair of proposed bills related to drug patents including the Preserving Access to Cost Effective Drugs (PACED) Act and the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act.

The Brookings Institution 

Information-Sharing Ecosystems: How They Operate and What That Means for Privacy Legislation

At 1:30 PM on Thursday in Falk Auditorium, Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

The use of digital systems which share the personal information we create online supports services in many important industry sectors but they also create societal impacts that can threaten individual privacy. This event features discussions by two expert panels. The first panel, which will explore information-sharing in different contexts, will include Jim Shaughnessy, Senior Vice President and Secretary, Workday; Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager and Global Policy Counsel, Access Now; Trevor Hughes, President and CEO, International Association of Privacy Professionals; and Lauren Smith, Senior Policy Counsel, Future of Privacy Forum. The first panel is moderated by Molly Roberts, Editorial Writer, The Washington Post. The second panel, which will explore marketing and targeting by advertising and data brokers, will include Sheila Colclasure, Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy, LiveRamp; Tim Sparapani, Founder and Principal, SPQR Strategies; Justin Brookman, Director, Consumer Privacy and Technology Policy, Consumers Report; and Daniel Sepulveda, Vice President, Global Government Relations, MediaMath. The second panel is moderated by Stacey Gray, Senior Policy Counsel, Future of Privacy Forum.


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Join the Discussion

2 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Concerned]
    June 25, 2019 06:37 am


    I wonder how SCOTUS would explain to a common person like myself that it is alright to add words to a law, for example s101.

    I have heard that judges make law from the bench. s101 is the clearest case of such in my li.mited knowledge.

    And as you pointed out in other threads, SCOTUS will just add new words to any future new s101.

    Too bad SCOTUS cannot just stick to the actual language of a law and make Congress clean up their own mess, assuming it needs cleaned up.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    June 24, 2019 01:42 pm

    InvestPic v. SAP, which asked the Court to consider whether the “Federal Circuit’s “physical realm” test contravene the Patent Act and this Court’s precedent by categorically excluding otherwise patentable processes from patent eligibility” was denied cert.

    I have to imagine that the tuned into the Tillis Congressional hearings and took note of the general, overall (albeit not unanimous) views being expressed that the Supreme Court was not going to clean up its own mess, and that there is a HIGH likelihood that the SC cases are going to be abrogated en mass.