This Week in Washington IP: Senate IP Subcommittee to Address Preventing Poor Quality Patents, House Looks at Clean Energy Workforce

By IPWatchdog
October 28, 2019

This week in technology and innovation hearings taking place in Washington, D.C., subcommittees in the House of Representatives discuss the worker pipeline for the clean energy sector and ways to promote C-Band spectrum auctions on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, the Senate IP Subcommittee holds a hearing on preventing the issuance of poor quality patents, which is likely to include some contentious viewpoints on the U.S. patent system. Other Senate hearings this week focus on innovation in water security as well as national security issues in the 5G supply chain. Elsewhere, The Brookings Institution explores the role of the Federal Trade Commission in consumer data privacy legislation and closes out the week with an event that takes a look at ways to mitigate the risks of artificial intelligence technologies.

Monday, October 28 

The Brookings Institution 

The Role of the Federal Trade Commission in Privacy and Beyond

At 2:00 PM on Monday at The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.

Support continues to grow to pass federal legislation that will address privacy issues in emerging technologies and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal agency that plays a central role in regulating consumer privacy and security. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Rebecca Kelly-Slaughter, Commissioner, FTC; Christine Wilson, Commissioner, FTC; and moderated by Cameron Kelly, Ann R. and Andrew H. Tisch Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Brookings Institution.

Tuesday, October 29 

House Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce
House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology 

Repurposing the C-Band to Benefit All Americans

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.

Last Thursday, a bipartisan group of Representatives including Mike Doyle (D-PA), Chair of the House Communications Subcommittee, introduced the Clearing Broad Airwaves for New Deployment (C-BAND) Act which would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to hold a public auction of C-Band wireless spectrum instead. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said that he expects to unveil the agencies plan on freeing up C-Band spectrum at some point this fall. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

House Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development

Creating the Clean Energy Workforce

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2360 Rayburn.

From 2016 to 2017, jobs in solar and wind energy technologies increased by 24.5 percent and 16 percent respectively and those clean energy workforce jobs now outnumber workers in the coal and gas industry in 30 states. This hearing will explore ways to support the pipeline of skilled workers for the clean energy workforce in a way that benefits small businesses in the sector. The witness panel for this hearing includes Mark Farrar Jackson, Vice President, Community Housing Partners dba CHP Energy Solutions; Jason Wardrip, Business Manager, Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council; Neil James, Vice President, Operations and Maintenance, Apex Clean Energy; and Ed Gilliland, CEcD, AICP, PMP, Senior Director, The Solar Foundation.


Wednesday, October 30

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

China’s Impact on the Solar Industry: Lessons for the Future of Clean Energy

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, 700 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. 

China is the world’s leading producer of solar panels and that nation is home to the world’s five largest manufacturers of solar panels. While government subsidies helped this sector grow in China, that country’s dominance may have also contributed to a technological slowdown inhibiting the potential of solar energy to reduce carbon emissions across the globe. This event will feature a presentation by Gregory Nemet, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison. It will also include a discussion with an expert panel including David Hart, Senior Fellow, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; John Helveston, Assistant Professor, Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, George Washington University; Sasha Mackler, Director, Energy Project, Bipartisan Policy Center; and moderated by Dorothy Robyn, Senior Fellow, Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy. 

Senate Subcommittee on Water and Power

Subcommittee on Water and Power Hearing

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

Water scarcity is an issue affecting many regions in the American West but research organizations such as Future H2O at Arizona State University are developing technologies for water security such as data visualizations that optimize water market transactions and advanced filtration for recapturing rare materials from produced water. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. John Sabo, Director, Future H2O, ASU; Amit Lang, CEO, EMS Mekorot Projects; Margi Hoffman, Community Relations Director, Farmers Conservation Alliance; Mary Beth Sewald, CEO, Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce; and Stephen Harper, Global Director of Environment, Energy and Sustainability Policy, Intel Corporation.

Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property

Promoting the Useful Arts: How Can Congress Prevent the Issuance of Poor Quality Patents?

At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in 226 Dirksen.

The “bad patents” narrative has resulted in a variety of policy suggestions that have been detrimental to patent rights in the name of seeking the issuance of higher quality patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Most recently, a paper authored by Professors Michael Frakes of Duke University School of Law and Melissa Wasserman of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law helped to further this narrative on Capitol Hill by arguing for increased patent examination time at the USPTO to weed out presumably invalid patents during the application process. The sole witness during the first panel of this hearing will be Drew Hirshfeld, Commissioner of Patents, USPTO. The second panel of this hearing will include Professor Melissa Wasserman; Professor R. Polk Wagner, Michael A. Fitts Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School; Teresa Stanek Rea, Partner and Vice-Chair of the Intellectual Property Group, Crowell & Moring LLP; and Professor Colleen Chien, Professor of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law.

Thursday, October 31

Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs 

Supply Chain Security, Global Competitiveness, and 5G

At 9:30 AM on Thursday in 342 Dirksen.

In October, the information and communications technology (ICT) standards group Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) opened up an investigation into supply chain issues in the 5G sector mainly in response to concerns posed by Chinese developers and suppliers in the industry. The witness panel for this hearing includes the Honorable Christopher Krebs, Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Diane Rinaldo, Acting Assistant Secretary, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce; Robert Strayer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy, U.S. Department of State; and the Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission.

The Brookings Institution

Ways to Mitigate Artificial Intelligence Problems

At 10:00 AM on Thursday at The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies hold a great deal of promise to improve the delivery of services in various industry sectors but the use of AI raises many questions regarding ethics, privacy and transparency. This event will feature a discussion with an expert panel including Nicol Turner Lee, Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation; John Villasenor, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation; Robert Atkinson, Former Brookings Expert, and President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; and moderated by Darrell West, Vice President and Director, Governance Studies, and Founding Director, Center for Technology Innovation.



The Author



Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 1 Comment comments.

  1. Pro Say October 28, 2019 4:21 pm

    Dear Senate Subcommittee on IP:

    Really? Really?

    You’re kidding, right?


    Yet another patent hearing?

    Why are you “poor quality patents baloney” fiddling . . . while our Nation’s innovation Alice / Mayo burns?

    Why are you rearranging the deck chairs . . . while our Nation’s innovation ship is quickly sinking?


    Please laser focus your collective eyes on what America really needs; and needs desperately and immediately:

    The restoration of Section 101 eligibility.