This Week in Washington IP: Deregulating Agricultural Biotechnology, State Sovereign Immunity and IP Infringement, and Copyright Law in Artificial Intelligence

By IPWatchdog
October 25, 2021

Capitol BuildingThis week in Washington IP events, the U.S. House of Representatives hosts a pair of committee hearings on tech subjects, including a joint hearing of the House Biotechnology Subcommittee and the House Livestock Subcommittee to look at how the current market approval process for agricultural biotechnology products could be made less cumbersome to encourage commercialization. Elsewhere, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hosts an event exploring the intersection of copyright law and artificial intelligence, while the Hudson Institute takes a look at studies by the USPTO and the U.S. Copyright Office on state sovereign immunity from IP infringement suits.

Monday, October 25

Hudson Institute 

IP Infringement and State Sovereign Immunity

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

A question that federal courts have grappled with multiple times over the past few decades, most recently in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last March in Allen v. Cooper, is whether Congress can successfully abrogate state sovereign immunity such that states can stand as defendants over allegations that they’ve infringed someone’s intellectual property. Since that decision, both the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office have undertaken state sovereign immunity studies to determine the scope of IP infringement by state governments and whether it is so widespread that abrogation of sovereign immunity by Congress is warranted. Speakers at this event will include Kristen Osenga, Austin E. Owen Research Scholar and Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law; Kevin Madigan, Vice President, Legal Policy and Copyright Counsel, Copyright Alliance; Rick Allen, Co-Founder, Executive Producer, and Director, Nautilus Productions; and moderated by Devlin Hartline, Legal Fellow, Forum for Intellectual Property, Hudson Institute. 

The Brookings Institution 

Forensic Algorithms: The Future of Technology in the US Legal System

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

Facial recognition, surveillance and even judicial determinations on incarceration sentencing are jobs in law enforcement that have increasingly been turned over to artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic technologies. This event, co-hosted by Brookings’ Center for Technology Innovation and the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at the University of California, will explore concerns related to accuracy, transparency and accountability among law enforcement programs utilizing these technologies. The event will begin with a fireside chat between Representative Mark Takano (D-CA), Chairman, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee; and Rebecca Wexler, Nonresident Fellow, Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation. Following that chat will be a discussion with a panel including Wexler; Rediet Adebe, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley; Glenn Rodriguez, Program Director, Horizon Juvenile Center; Andrea Roth, Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law; and moderated by Julia Angwin, Editor in Chief, The Markup.

Tuesday, October 26 

House Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research

House Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture 

Agricultural Biotechnology: 21st Century Advancements and Applications

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

Agricultural biotechnology has brought great advances to the U.S. food supply over the past century including great increases to the nation’s supply of milk, the introduction of disease-resistant livestock and reduced methane emissions. On October 7, the membership of the full House Agriculture Committee sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and U.S. Food & Drug Administration Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock asking both for their help in modernizing the regulatory process surrounding agricultural biotechnology, which has led to relatively few market approvals in the past 25 years. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Copyright Law and Machine Learning for AI: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in the Montpelier Room, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, DC, 20540.

This event will feature speakers from both the USPTO and the U.S. Copyright Office who can discuss the current state of several major policy discussions surrounding copyright and AI including machine learning in practice, how existing copyright laws apply to AI training models, and what the future of policy in this sector may look like.

House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation

House Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security

Transportation Cybersecurity: Protecting Planes, Trains, and Pipelines From Cyber Threats

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

Cyber attacks on critical infrastructure during the first half of 2021 has spurred efforts to shore up cybersecurity in vulnerable sectors, and in early October the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would be issuing new cybersecurity mandates and cyber attack reporting requirements for railroad and airline companies. A few weeks later, a group of Republican Senators sent a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske voicing concerns over a lack of public input in the rulemaking process and the chances that the new regulations disrupt current cybersecurity efforts in those industries. The witness panel for this hearing will include Suzanne Spauling, Senior Advisor, Center for Strategic & International Studies, and Former Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Patty Cogswell, Strategic Advisor, Guidehouse, and Former Deputy Administrator, TSA; Jeffrey Troy, President & CEO, Aviation Information Sharing and Analysis Center, and Former Deputy Assistant Director for Cyber National Security and Cyber Criminal Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Scott Dickerson, Executive Director, Maritime Transportation System Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Trademark Basics Boot Camp, Module 4: Application Requirements

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

This workshop, the fourth in the USPTO’s eight-part Trademark Basics Boot Camp, is designed to teach small business owners and entrepreneurs about the requirements for filing an initial trademark application, including drawings, identification of goods and services, filing bases as well as specimens and ornamentation.

Wednesday, October 27 

U.S. Copyright Office 

Food and Copyright 

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

Every human being on the earth shares a love of food and this event by the U.S. Copyright Office is designed to show the intersection of cuisine and copyright-related industries including film, photography and fiction. Guest speakers at this event will include Bryan Ford, Author, New World Sourdough; and Adam Ragusea, a prominent YouTuber whose videos on food science and culinary culture have been viewed a total of more than 300 million times.

The Brookings Institution 

Aligning Technology Governance With Democratic Values

At 12:45 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.

The proper governance of new technologies, while a difficult balance to strike, is capable of enabling greater prosperity through swift incorporation of new technologies while ensuring that malicious actors, including those in positions of governmental power, have their worst tendencies curbed. This symposium, hosted by the Brookings Global Forum on Democracy and Technology, will feature keynote remarks the Right Honorable Nadine Dorries, MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, United Kingdom. Following those remarks will be a series of sessions on topics including platform governance in an era of digital repression, multilateral coalitions for technology governance in support of democratic values, and strengthening international cooperation on artificial intelligence.

Thursday, October 28 

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

E-Commerce and China: Strategies for Fighting Online Counterfeits, Part I

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

E-commerce accounts for about 14 percent of all retail sales, a percentage share that has certainly been growing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the proliferation of online retail platforms has created a series of challenges for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that rely on their intellectual property rights to succeed. This workshop, the first in a two-part series, focuses on the impact of Chinese entities and online platforms in the distribution of counterfeit goods worldwide and strategies brands can utilize for addressing those issues.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

How China’s Subsidies Threaten Advanced-Technology Industries

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

Despite China’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), that nation has found it difficult to play by the rules of fair international trade whether through forced tech transfer, currency manipulation or by aggressively subsidizing advanced tech industries such as semiconductors, telecommunications equipment and biopharmaceuticals. This domestic subsidization by the Chinese government goes a long way in disrupting foreign markets for those same technologies, aiding inefficient Chinese companies while creating oversupply. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Peter F. Cowhey, Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Communications & Technology Policy Emeritus, and Dean Emeritus of the School of Global Policy & Strategy, University of California, San Diego; Usha Haley, W. Frank Barton Distinguished Chair in International Business, and Professor of Management, Wichita State University; Scott Kennedy, Senior Adviser and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business & Economics, Center for Strategic & International Studies; and moderated by Stephen Ezell, Vice President, Global Innovation Policy, ITIF.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

USPTO Resources for SBIR/STTR Applicants

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

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs offer critical funding for basic research and early commercialization of innovative technologies that hold great promise of consumer benefits when those technologies reach full maturity. This webinar will discuss basics of the SBIR and STTR programs, how intellectual property rights can be used to protect innovations developed with grant funds and resources available at the USPTO for utilizing those programs.


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