This Week in Washington IP: Anticompetitive Acquisitions in Big Data, Copyright Protection in the Digital Age, and Connecting U.S. Innovation with National Security

This week in Washington IP news, various committees at the House of Representatives will meet to discuss the future of NASA’s activities in low-earth orbit, efforts to advance earth system science at NOAA and preserving consumer rights to access personal financial data. Over in the Senate, the Antitrust Subcommittee will follow up on the Federal Trade Commission’s recent activities to rein in anticompetitive behaviors in the high-tech industry. Elsewhere, the Hudson Institute explores what effective copyright protection should look like at this point of the digital age, and the Center for Strategic & International Studies focuses on ways to ensure that U.S. technological competitiveness continues to effectively address national security concerns.

Tuesday, September 21 

House Task Force on Financial Technology

Preserving the Right of Consumers to Access Personal Financial Data

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2128 Rayburn House Office Building.

Although several laws at both the state and federal level provide data privacy protections in the nascent field of fintech, the rapid pace of technological change, as well as the degree to which tech companies have heavily leveraged personal data to build successful revenue streams, have led consumer advocates to call for greater control of personal data by consumers instead of financial institutions. The witness panel for this hearing will include Tom Carpenter, Director of Public Affairs, Financial Data Exchange; Raúl Carrillo, Associate Research Scholar, Yale Law School, and Deputy Director, Law and Political Economy Project; Kelly Thompson Cochran, Deputy Director, FinRegLab; Chi Chi Wu, Staff Attorney, National Consumer Law Center; and Steve Smith, CEO and Co-Founder, Finicity.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation 

Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms and Climate-Tech Innovation: A Happy Coupling?

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

The European Union has been making efforts to implement an environmental regulatory scheme involving carbon border adjustment mechanisms (CBAMs), which could require U.S. exporters sending products to the EU to purchase carbon emissions certificates to offset emissions created during manufacturing if the EU determines that manufacturing standards for the imports have not met EU emissions guidelines. This has obvious implications for international trade and could increase tensions between major trading partners, although the program is expected to yield benefits in enhanced R&D for climate tech innovation. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Maureen Hinman, Co-Founder and Executive Chair, Silverado Policy Accelerator; Sarah Ladislaw, Managing Partner, RMI; Sam Lowe, Senior Research Fellow and Co-Founder, Centre for European Reform & UK Trade Forum; Stefan Koester, Senior Policy Analyst, ITIF; and moderated by Ben Garside, Director and Co-Founder, Carbon Pulse.

House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics 

NASA’s Future in Low Earth Orbit: Considerations for International Space Station Extension and Transition

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

The future of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the area of low-earth orbit space has been very uncertain since the agency shuttered its Space Shuttle program in August of 2011. Just last week, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and three other private individuals became the first all-civilian crew to orbit the Earth. NASA’s plans in low-earth orbit may also have to reckon with the advent of commercial space stations, which the agency expects to see in the 2030s. The witness panel for this hearing will include Robyn Gatens, Director, International Space Station, NASA; Dr. Kathleen Rubins, Astronaut, NASA; Jeffrey Manber, CEO, Nanoracks, LLC; Todd Harrison, Senior Fellow and Director, Aerospace Security Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Captain William Shepherd (USN, Ret.), Former Astronaut, NASA.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Trademark Basics Boot Camp, Module 8: Question-and-Answer Panel

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

This workshop, the last in the USPTO’s eight-part Trademark Basics Boot Camp series, gives small business owners and entrepreneurs the opportunity to speak with and ask questions directly of trademark experts working at the nation’s trademark registration agency.

Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights

Big Data, Big Questions: Implications for Competition and Consumers

At 2:30 PM on Tuesday in 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

On September 15, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report at a commission meeting showing that, of 616 acquisitions conducted by Big Tech firms during the 2010s that exceeded $1 million, 94 of those transactions passed the size threshold for FTC reporting requirements under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act, yet went legally unreported. That same day, the FTC also withdrew vertical merger guidelines implemented by the agency last year under the Trump Administration, another move that indicates stronger scrutiny of tech sector acquisitions. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

Thursday, September 23

House Subcommittee on Environment

Advancing Earth System Science and Stewardship at NOAA

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

Nearly two weeks ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a scientific and regulatory agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, announced that Summer 2021 was the hottest summer on record with an average temperature of 74°F for the entire United States. In late August, NOAA research on clouds and air-sea interaction models, which are expected to improve weather and climate forecasts, was published in the open access journal Earth System Science Data. The sole witness for this hearing will include the Honorable Richard W. Spinrad, Ph.D, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, and Administrator, NOAA.

House Committee on Agriculture 

Voluntary Carbon Markets in Agriculture and Forestry

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

While some skepticism exists regarding their ability to address increasingly severe weather events triggered by climate change, voluntary carbon markets are expected to have some impact in fostering research and development into carbon mitigation technologies funded by credits purchased by some of the largest carbon emitters in industries like agriculture and forestry. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs 

National Cybersecurity Strategy: Protection of Federal and Critical Infrastructure Systems

At 10:15 AM on Thursday in 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

This June, the U.S. Senate confirmed Chris Inglis, formerly the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency, to serve as the nation’s first-ever national cyber director after that White House position was created by congressional statute passed last year. In late August, President Joe Biden held a summit with corporate leaders from the technology, financial services and energy industries to discuss a national cybersecurity strategy involving partnerships between large private firms and the federal government. The witness panel for this hearing will include the Honorable Chris Ingles, National Cyber Director, Executive Office of the President; the Honorable Jen Easterly, Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Christopher DeRusha, Federal Chief Information Security Officer, Office of Management and Budget.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Learn About Design Patents

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

Design patents afford inventors with protections for unique aspects of their inventions but even those with an intermediate grasp of the U.S. patent system are often unaware of the availability of design patents and how they differ from utility patent grants. This event will feature a presentation on the basics of design patents given by a supervisory patent examiner working at the USPTO.

Center for Strategic & International Studies 

Connecting the U.S. Innovation Ecosystem with National Security

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

The United States must compete harder than ever to ensure that it remains a technological leader ahead of many other rival countries in critical areas of innovation. Although U.S. tech giants continue to lead the world in consumer technologies, national security concerns require the nation to make stronger efforts to support defense and military-related technologies. This event, presented by CSIS in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense, will feature a discussion with a panel including John Sargent, Specialist in Science and Technology Policy, Congressional Research Service; Rep. James Langevin (D-RI), Chair, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems, and Member, Cyberspace Solarium Commission; Michael Brown, Director, Defense Innovation Unit, Department of Defense; William Greenwalt, Nonresident Senior Fellow, AEI; and moderated by James Andrew Lewis, Senior Vice President and Director, Strategic Technologies Program, CSIS.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Overview of the USPTO’s Trademark Register Protection Initiatives

At 3:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

In recent months, the USPTO has implemented several measures designed to address the issues of fraudulent and unused marks cluttering the trademark register. This webinar, which is designed for trademark professionals who understand relevant legal terminology, will cover topics including the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020, the post-registration audit program, the U.S. counsel rule, and examining attorney guidance on digitally created or altered specimens.

Friday, September 24 

Hudson Institute 

Copyright Protection in the Digital Age

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

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) helped to modernize U.S. copyright law in light of technological developments in computers and the Internet through the late 1990s, but more than 20 years later there have been serious if unsuccessful efforts to modernize that law, especially in the area of Section 512 safe harbor provisions. Though pirating technologies have advanced into areas like illicit streaming services, filtering techniques for capturing real-time infringement on those platforms may be a technological solution that could be supported in current legislative efforts. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Steven Tepp, President and CEO, Sentinel Worldwide, and Professorial Lecturer in Law, George Washington University Law School; Michael D. Smith, J. Erik Jonsson Professor of Information Technology and Marketing, H. John Heinz III College of Information Systems and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University; Vance Ikezoye, CEO, Audible Magic Corporation; and moderated by Devlin Hartline, Legal Fellow, Forum for Intellectual Property, Hudson Institute.

The Brookings Institution 

Financial Technology: A Hidden Path to a Healthier Outcome?

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

Digital mobile banking platforms and other fintech services are increasingly becoming a gatekeeper to many other services accessible via mobile apps that do not accept cash, including ride hailing, bike sharing and other transportation services. This event will feature a presentation on whether improving access to fintech technologies can improve consumer health outcomes by enabling greater mobility to access healthcare options by Aaron Klein, Senior Fellow, Consumer Studies, The Brookings Institution. This event will also feature a discussion with a panel including Makada Henry-Nickie, Robert and Virginia Hartley Fellow, Governance Studies; Jennifer Tescher, President and CEO, Financial Health Network; Brian Knight, Director of Innovation and Governance and Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason University; and moderated by Ylan Mui, Senior Congressional Correspondent, CNBC.


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3 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Pro Say]
    Pro Say
    September 20, 2021 06:17 pm

    “Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights”

    Dear Congress,

    You (correctly) want more good-for-America competition for Big Tech? More companies offering exciting new advances for everyone?

    Then take this one simple step to go a long way in making it so:

    Restore patent eligibility to all areas of innovation (without adding onerous new requirements) so that many of the “little folks” will have the legal and market protection they and their funders must have in order to not have to settle for being snapped up by the Big Tech behemoths.

    Give Little Tech a fighting chance against Big Tech . . . and sit back and watch as American innovation flourishes.

    For without such protection, Congress, Big Tech will only continue to vacuum up innovative Small Tech.

    With each “removing another potential competitor” acquisition . . . Big Tech only gets bigger . . . and bigger . . . and bigger.