This Week in Washington IP: Rebuilding U.S. Research Enterprises Post-COVID, Climate Change Innovation Strategies and Examining the SolarWinds Data Breach

By IPWatchdog
February 22, 2021

This week in Washington IP news, both the Senate and the House of Representatives get back into their schedule of committee hearings with the Biden Administration starting to take shape in D.C. The Senate Committee on Armed Services gets the week in IP and tech hearings underway with a look at emerging technologies with military applications and their impacts on U.S. national security. On Thursday, the House Science Committee explores decisions lawmakers can take to rebuild U.S. research networks affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and on Friday morning the House Homeland Security and Oversight Committees explore the role that private tech firms and actors played in the federal government’s data security breach that leveraged network vulnerabilities at SolarWinds. Elsewhere, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation explores the possible ramifications of Section 230 reforms while the American Enterprise Institute will look at the intersection of public space exploration programs and private space commercialization enterprises.

Tuesday, February 23

Senate Committee on Armed Services

Emerging Technologies and Their Impact on National Security

At 9:30 AM on Tuesday in SD-106 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Military rivalry among major foreign powers often spurs technological advancement and many emerging technologies that have yet to fully mature, including artificial intelligence and quantum computing, have major national security implications as nations on the leading edge of these systems will have a great advantage in battlefield scenarios. With the recent election cycle over and President Biden inaugurated in the White House, many pundits have focused on how the new administration can address military threats posed by technologically-advanced foreign rivals through the National Defense Strategy or the National Security Council. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Eric E. Schmidt, Co-Founder, Schmidt Futures; Brad L. Smith, President, Microsoft Corporation; and Gen. Herbert J. Carlisle (Ret.), President and CEO, National Defense Industrial Association. 

House Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems 

Innovation Opportunities and Vision for the Science and Technology Enterprise

At 11:00 AM on Tuesday in 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.

The early days of the Biden Administration has included some Executive Branch action on elevating the role of technological innovation and scientific inquiry in the political process, including an executive order issued one week after the inauguration establishing an advisory council to the President on science, technology and innovation. This hearing, which will focus on the current innovation landscape for defense technologies and tech investment opportunities for the U.S. Department of Defense, features a witness panel including the Honorable Christine Fox, Former Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense, Assistant Director for Policy and Analysis, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory; Dr. Victoria Coleman, Former DARPA Director, Senior Advisor to the Director, CITRIS, UC Berkeley; and Klon Kitchen, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Learn Online How Examiners Approach Petitions Practice

At 1:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

Petitions practice at the USPTO can be a crucial tool for overcoming office rejections or abandonment issues. This training webinar offered by the agency introduces patent applicants to the activities of the USPTO’s Office of Petitions as well as recent updates to petitions practices, petitions that are most commonly filed by patent applicants as well as best practices in petition filing.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Trademark Basics Boot Camp, Module 4: Application Filing Walk-Through 

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

This is the fourth module in the USPTO’s eight-part Trademark Basics Boot Camp designed for teaching small businesses and entrepreneurs about introductory topics in trademark applications and registration. This module focuses on the agency’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) including TEAS basics, pre-filing checklist for applicants and a live demonstration of a trademark filing using TEAS.

American Enterprise Institute

To the Moon, Mars, and Beyond: Space Exploration and Public Policy

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

Although many critics of space program funding feel that space exploration doesn’t provide enough concrete benefits here on earth, the history of scientific research supporting human life outside of Planet Earth has led to many advancements in everyday consumer products including coffee makers, baby formula and hair curlers. In recent years, private firms have been commercializing space technologies and that activity has renewed interest among lawmakers to spur action in public programs. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Tim Fernholz, Senior Reporter, Quartz; Sara Seager, Professor of Planetary Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Stan Veuger, Resident Scholar, AEI; Matthew C. Weinzierl, Joseph and Jacqueline Ebling Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School; and moderated by James Pethokoukis, DeWitt Wallace Fellow, AEI.

House Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems

Near-Peer Advancements in Space and Nuclear Weapons

At 3:00 PM on Tuesday in 2118 Rayburn.

Both Russia and China are at the top of the list when it comes to foreign economic and military rivals to the United States and policymakers have grown increasingly worried in recent months about deepening strategic ties between those two nations and the prospects that their partnership could threaten American dominance in space and nuclear weapons. Russia and China have been engaging in joint military exercises and this has put pressure on military officials to develop strategic responses. The witness panel for this hearing will include Gen. Robert Kehler (Ret.), Affiliate, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University; Madelyn Creedon, Nonresident Fellow, The Brookings Institution; Todd Harrison, Director, Aerospace Security Project, Center for Strategic & International Studies; and Tim Morrison, Senior Fellow, The Hudson Institute.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Noche de Ciencias 2021

At 5:30 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

Hosted in partnership with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Noche de Ciencias is a national program designed to introduce K-12 students to various career fields in science and engineering through hands-on activities designed to teach concepts behind innovation and intellectual property. This event, which will also take place on Thursday evening at 5:30 PM, is presented in collaboration with SHPE and Alexandria City Public Schools.


Wednesday, February 24

Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Building Back Better: Investing in Transportation While Addressing Climate Change, Improving Equity, and Fostering Economic Growth and Innovation

At 10:15 AM on Wednesday in G-50 Dirksen.

The transportation sector is a major contributor of carbon-based emissions into the environment and statistics released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that transportation contributes 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the largest percentage contribution from any industrial sector. Further, GHG emissions in the transportation sector increased more in absolute terms between 1990 and 2018 than any other sector. Electric vehicles and alternative fuels hold great promise for the future and many lawmakers are focused on supporting the advancement of those technologies to address climate change. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

New America 

Ranking Digital Rights Launches the 2020 RDR Corporate Accountability Index

At 11:00 AM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

Public advocacy groups have been increasing their calls for holding large corporations accountable for the data collection and privacy practices and the annual Corporate Accountability Index produced by Ranking Digital Rights (RDR) provides a snapshot of how well Big Tech companies are doing at protecting consumers. This year, New America hosts the release event for the 2020 RDR Corporate Accountability Index, which will include discussion of how policymakers, advocates and corporate shareholders can cooperate on issues of fundamental consumer rights in the Internet Age. Speakers at this event will include Rebecca MacKinnon, Founding Director, Ranking Digital Rights; Jessica Dheere, Director, Ranking Digital Rights; Nabiha Syed, President, The Markup; Marta Tellado, President and CEO, Consumer Reports; and Marina Madale, General Manager, Sustainability and Shared Value, MTN.

Thursday, February 25

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Building Back the U.S. Research Enterprise: COVID Impacts and Recovery

At 10:00 AM on Thursday, online video webinar.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed great strain on all aspects of the global economy, including basic scientific research activities that underpin much of the technological advancement benefitting society and the economy. While governmental funding helped to stabilize many research activities during the pandemic’s early stages, disruptions to travel- and group-related research activities have raised concerns about the resiliency of research institutions as the world hopes for a return to post-COVID normalcy in 2021. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Sudip Parikh, CEO, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Dr. Christopher Keane, Vice President for Research, Washington State University; Dr. Felice J. Levine, Executive Director, American Educational Research Association; and Thomas Quaadman, Executive Vice President, Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation 

If Congress Overhauls Section 230 to Make Platforms More Liable for User Speech, What Will Change?

At 12:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

Attempts to overhaul Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which limits the legal liability faced by online platform providers for user content posted by third parties, have been supported by both sides of the political aisle. Proponents of maintaining Section 230 as is point to the incredible economic development enabled by reducing liability for companies providing Internet-based services, while critics seeking reform note that Internet technologies and their impact on society have changed greatly in the 25 years since the statute was passed into law. This event, which will discuss issues of intermediary liability, free speech and content moderation, will feature a discussion with a panel including Matthew Feeney, Director, Project on Emerging Technologies, Cato Institute; Emma Llansó, Director, Free Expression Project, Center for Democracy & Technology; Matt Perault, Director, Center on Science & Technology Policy, Duke University; and moderated by Ashley Johnson, Policy Analyst, ITIF.

House Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies 

Strategies for Energy and Climate Innovation

At 2:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

The early days of the Biden Administration have set a much different tone on climate change compared to related policy under former President Trump. One of President Biden’s first actions after his inauguration was signing an executive order that effected the United States’ rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change. The U.S. Department of Energy has also recently announced that it would issue $100 million in funding for innovative clean energy projects through the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Colin Cunliff, Senior Policy Analyst, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation; Robin Millican, Director, Breakthrough Energy; Dr. Shobita Parthasarathy, Professor of Public Policy and Director, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, University of Michigan; and Rich Powell, Executive Director, ClearPath.

Friday, February 26

House Committee on Oversight and Reform

House Committee on Homeland Security

Weathering the Storm: The Role of Private Tech in the SolarWinds Breach and Ongoing Campaign

At 9:00 AM on Friday, online video webinar.

In December, news reports broke the story that the U.S. federal government had been the target of a massive and ongoing data breach that was able to take root in part because of cybersecurity vulnerabilities at SolarWinds, a Texas firm that supplies the federal government with network monitoring equipment. Last week, Microsoft President Brad Smith said that the data breach, backed by foreign government actors and impacting Microsoft along with other private tech firms, was the largest and most sophisticated cyber attack that the world has ever seen. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

The Path to a Patent, Part VI: Learn How to Protect Your IP Abroad

At 1:00 PM ET on Friday, online video webinar.

This seminar, hosted by the USPTO’s International Patent Legal Administration, is designed to teach patent owners and applicants about the benefits of international patent filings through either the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) or Paris Convention filing systems used in non-PCT countries. This seminar will discuss the basics of both systems as well as considerations and options for patent applicants interested in exploring foreign filing.

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