This Week in Washington IP: IP Protections for COVID-19 Vaccines, Increasing Inclusivity in the U.S. Patent System and App Store Antitrust Issues

By IPWatchdog
April 19, 2021

This week in Washington IP news, committees in the House of Representatives will debate ways to increase broadband and mobile Internet infrastructure across rural America, as well as the ARTS Act for waiving certain copyright registration fees. In the Senate, the IP Subcommittee will take a look at tackling inclusivity issues in the U.S. patent system, while the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee will grill representatives from Apple and Google on anticompetitive business practices related to their app stores. Elsewhere, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation will explore multi-cancer early detection technologies while the Center for Strategic & International Studies closes out the week with a look at the importance of IP protections during the COVID-19 pandemic in developing vaccines and other treatments. 

Monday, April 19 

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation 

Does the United States Need China to Fight Climate Change?

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

The Biden Administration plans to take a much stronger stance on addressing climate change than the Trump Administration and on April 18, news reports indicated that government representatives from the United States and China, the world’s two greatest polluting nations, entered into an agreement to cooperate on addressing climate change. However, there are concerns that increased efforts to enforce China’s commitment to addressing environmental issues may come at the price of reducing U.S. efforts to address Chinese theft of American intellectual property. This event will feature a discussion panel with opposing viewpoints on this issue including Michael Klare, Senior Visiting Fellow, Arms Control Association, and PAWSS Professor Emeritus, Hampshire College; Robert D. Atkinson, President, ITIF; and moderated by Craig Allen, President, US-China Business Council.

Tuesday, April 20

House Committee on Agriculture

Examining Internet Connectivity Needs and Opportunities in Rural America

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 1300 Longworth House Office Building.

Although 92 percent of the U.S. population live in areas having access to effective fixed-line Internet, only 68.6 percent of rural Americans have the ability to access both 25 megabytes per second (Mbps) fixed broadband and 5 Mbps mobile Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks according to a 2018 report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). President Joe Biden recently unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan which includes $100 billion earmarked for rural Internet buildout, but concerns exist over broadband coverage maps released by the FCC that misstate the amount of coverage in certain rural areas hurting rural broadband providers’ ability to obtain federal subsidy. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

House Committee on the Judiciary 

Legislative Markup Hearing

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

On Tuesday morning, the House Judiciary Committee will convene a legislative markup hearing to look at several proposed bills including H.R. 704, the Artistic Recognition for Talented Students (ARTS) Act. If enacted, this bill would direct the U.S. Copyright Office to waive copyright registration fees for works that win competitions sponsored by the Congressional Institute or that have been established by Congress.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

Will Productivity and Growth Return After the COVID-19 Crisis?

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

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused great damage to global economies, the world’s transition to information technology (IT) platforms to find new ways of continuing business, education and many other activities has staved off even worse economic deprivation. While many of these IT platforms will undoubtedly continue to be used for many essential activities once the world returns to a post-COVID normal, policymakers have debated the government’s role in continuing to support the transition to remote platforms. This event will feature a discussion panel including Robert D. Atkinson, President, ITIF; Robert Gorden, Professor of Economics, Northwestern University; Jan Mischke, Partner, McKinsey Global Institute; Paul Mizen, Professor of Monetary Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nottingham; and moderated by Nell Henderson, Economics Editor, The Wall Street Journal.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Trademark Basics Boot Camp, Module 3: Application Requirements

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

This workshop, the third in the USPTO’s eight-part Trademark Basics Boot Camp, is designed to teach small business owners and entrepreneurs basic requirements for initial trademark applications including drawings, identifications of goods and services, filing bases and specimens of use.

Wednesday, April 21

Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property

Improving Access and Inclusivity in the Patent System: Unleashing America’s Economic Engine

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

In recent years, Congress has engaged in several efforts to improve diversity among America’s inventor class and in early March, a bipartisan, bicameral collection of federal lawmakers reintroduced the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement (IDEA) Act to improve collection of demographic data from U.S. patent applicants in order to promote participation of underrepresented groups in the U.S. patent system. While the legislative effort is well-intentioned, critics of the bill point out that inclusivity of underrepresented groups can be better achieved by supporting STEM and professional training programs rather than addressing diversity issues during the patent application process, which can result in relaxed examination standards leading to low-quality patent issuances to these underrepresented groups which are then easier to invalidate in district court or through agency post-grant proceedings. The witness panel for this hearing will include Georgia Grace Edwards, Co-Founder, SheFly; Mallun Yen, Founder and Partner, Operator Collective; Angela Grayson, Founder and Principal Member, Precipice IP LLC, American Intellectual Property Law Association; and Lateef Mtima, Professor of Law, Howard University School of Law.

Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities

Receiving Testimony on Science and Technology, Technology Maturation, and Technology Transition Activities

At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in SR-222 Russell Senate Office Building.

U.S. military leaders are constantly looking for ways to harness state-of-the-art technologies to meet combat scenario needs for U.S. forces as well as maintain technological dominance over foreign rivals. In recent weeks, the U.S. Army Futures Command recently opened an Army Software Factory at Austin Community College’s Rio Grande Campus to provide technical support for soldiers in battlefield scenarios, while the U.S. Department of Defense awarded a contract worth nearly $22 billion to tech giant Microsoft to order 120,000 HoloLens augmented reality headsets for weapons training purposes. The witness panel for this hearing will including Brigadier General Heather Pringle, Commander, Air Force Research Laboratory; Rear Admiral Lorin Selby, Chief, Naval Research; Major General John George, Commanding General, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command; and Dr. Peter Highnam, Deputy Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights

Antitrust Applied: Examining Competition in App Stores

At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in 226 Dirksen.

Exorbitant fees charged by smartphone software companies like Apple and Google have increasingly become the target of antitrust regulators and in early March, antitrust regulators in the UK announced that they would be looking into allegations that Apple forces unfair and anticompetitive terms on app developers seeking to have their apps included on Apple’s App Store. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced, although both Apple and Google have reportedly agreed to send corporate representatives to attend the hearing and answer questions from the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee.

Brookings Institution

Policymaking and Artificial Intelligence: A Conversation With John R. Allen and Darrell M. West

At 2:30 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has gone from a topic relegated to the most futuristic of science fiction to one of the most exciting sectors of innovation with applications across every conceivable industry. However, much of the policy debate focused on AI has looked both at how governments can support further development of these technologies and properly regulate them to mitigate disadvantages from programmer bias and privacy concerns. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including John R. Allen, President, The Brookings Institution; Darrell M. West, Vice President and Director, Governance Studies, and Senior Fellow, Center for Technology Innovation; and moderated by Sanjay Patnaik, Director, Center on Regulation and Markets, and Bernard L. Schwartz Chair in Economic Policy Development and Fellow, Economic Studies.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Patent Prosecution Boot Camp – Module Two

At 4:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

This workshop, the second module in the USPTO’s four-part Patent Prosecution Boot Camp, is designed to teach law students interested in pursuing IP law careers about the importance of patent claims, different types of claims and claim interpretation, with attention paid to relevant parts of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP).

Thursday, April 22

Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources

Full Committee Hearing on Carbon Utilization Technologies

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 366 Dirksen.

Carbon capture technologies may one day play a major role in addressing climate change concerns and this March, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced legislation into that house of Congress that would enhance tax breaks for carbon capture projects, especially those improving direct air capture of carbon dioxide. Major carbon capture projects with private industrial firms continue to ramp up with Honeywell International recently announcing that it will be providing technological solutions for a carbon capture utilization and storage facility in Indiana designed to capture and sequester 1.65 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. The witness panel for this event will include Dr. Brian Anderson, Director, National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy; Jason Begger, Managing Director, Wyoming Integrated Test Center; Randall Atkins, CEO, Ramaco Coal; and Dr. Gaurav Sant, Professor, UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, CarbonBuilt Inc.

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions

Protecting U.S. Biomedical Research: Efforts to Prevent Undue Foreign Influence

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 430 Dirksen.

Undisclosed affiliations with rival foreign governments among researchers working on U.S. federally-funded projects is a major concern for U.S. policymakers and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in recent years has convened a working group of the Advisory Committee to the Director to develop policies for addressing these improper influences. Last September, the leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee sent letters to the NIH and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) asking both to provide the committee with details on addressing undisclosed researcher affiliations with governments improperly trying to benefit from American biomedical research. The witness panel for this hearing will include Michael Lauer, MD, Deputy Director for Extramural Research, NIH; Lisa Aguirre, Acting Director, Office of National Security, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Gary L. Cantrell, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Candace N. Wright, Acting Director, Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics, U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

Seizing the Transformative Opportunity of Multi-Cancer Early Detection

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

Multi-cancer early detection (MCED) technologies pose an exciting new method for screening multiple cancers using highly accurate blood-based technologies that can enable earlier detection for a wider degree of patients, resulting in more lives saved. In order for American patients to widely benefit from these technologies, policy analysts have debated the need for ensuring that Medicare coverage for MCED technologies is available. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Anna Howard, Policy Principal, Access and Quality of Care, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; Jody Hoyos, President and Chief Operation Officer, Prevent Cancer Foundation; Lynn M. Matrisian, Chief Science Officer, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network; Joshua Ofman, Chief Medical Officer and External Affairs, GRAIL; and moderated by Stephen Ezell, Vice President, Global Innovation Policy, ITIF.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Learn About Remote Hearings

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

This latest event in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Boardside Chat webinar series will explore how the PTAB approaches remote hearings, including procedural and technical aspects of videoconferencing or telephone hearings as well as tips for proper oral advocacy in these types of remote hearings.

Center for Strategic & International Studies

The Importance of Intellectual Property in Healthcare Innovation During COVID-19

At 12:30 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

Intellectual property protections have been a growing target of government officials around the world who want to ensure public access to COVID-19 vaccines and in mid-April, a collection of 10 Senators, including nine Democrats and independent Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have urged President Biden to support a proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive patent protections for COVID-19 vaccine inventions during the pandemic. On the other hand, many intellectual property experts, including former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, have pointed out that there is no evidence that patent exclusivity for marketing COVID-19 vaccines has actually slowed public access to vaccines. This event will feature a keynote address by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). Following Sen. Coons’ remarks will be a discussion with a panel including Jayashree Watal, Former Counsellor for Intellectual Property, WTO; Robert DeBerardine, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Johnson & Johnson; Bryan Zielinski, Chief Patent Counsel, Pfizer; Earl “Eb” Bright, President and General Counsel, ExploraMed; and moderated by Andrei Iancu, Non-Resident Senior Advisor, Renewing American Innovation Project.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Attend the 14th Annual Design Day

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

Co-sponsored by several IP industry groups including INTA, AIPLA, ABA-IPL and IPO, the 14th Annual Design Day will explore several aspects of design patents including recent international design law changes and a case study on design protection by social media giant Facebook. USPTO personnel speaking at this event will include Valencia Martin Wallace, Deputy Commissioner for Patents; Karen Young, Director, Technology Center 2900; and Henry Tang, Associate General Counsel.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Wine & IP: Green Patents in Vinification

At 4:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

This event, part of the USPTO’s observation of Earth Day, will feature a look at several innovations related to reducing the polluting aspects of the winemaking industry. Speakers at this event will include Stephen Yanchuk, USPTO Employee and Wine Educator; Diana Snowden Seysses, Snowden Vineyards and Domain Dujac; Payam Pourtaheri, Agrospheres; and a yet-to-be-named representative from Monarch Tractors.

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IPWatchdog

IPWatchdog

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