This week in Washington IP news and events, both the Senate and the House of Representatives hold hearings looking at various aspects of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), including its impact on small businesses as well as ways that predictability and fairness in PTAB proceedings can be restored by Congress. Elsewhere, the American Enterprise Institute explores the current state of the debate over a waiver of international IP rights for COVID-19 vaccines, and IPWatchdog’s President and CEO Gene Quinn hosts a conversation with outgoing USPTO Commissioner of Patents Drew Hirshfeld and recently confirmed USPTO Director Kathi Vidal.
Tuesday, June 21
At 10:00 AM on Tuesday, online video webinar.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Acting Deputy Director and Commissioner of Patents, Drew Hirshfeld, will officially leave public service after a 30-year career at the agency. That morning, Hirshfeld will engage is a discussion with IPWatchdog’s Founder and CEO Gene Quinn, reflecting upon Hirshfeld’s career at the USPTO, and recently confirmed USPTO Director Kathi Vidal will join to discuss her priorities as head of the agency and what she plans to address in the coming months.
Information Technology & Innovation Foundation
At 11:00 AM on Tuesday, online video webinar.
This Tuesday, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation will release a new report entitled “North American Subnational Innovation Competitiveness Index” ranking all of the 92 states contained within the North American continent. This report is expected to identify policies that are most effective at promoting technology innovation and economic growth so that peer states are able to develop their own strategies to encourage innovation. This event will feature a discussion with Eric Miller, President, Rideau Potomac Strategy Group; Carolina Agurto, Partner, Fundación IDEA & C230 Consultores; Sean Randolph, Executive Director, Bay Area Economic Council; Aaron Wudrick, Director, Domestic Policy Program, Macdonald-Laurier Institute; Patrick Larkin, Deputy Director, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and Director, Innovation Institute, MassTech; Mark Schaan, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; and moderated by Stephen Ezell, Vice President, Global Innovation Policy, and Director, Center for Life Sciences Innovation, ITIF.
House Committee on Rules
At 2:00 PM on Tuesday in H-313 The Capitol.
On Tuesday afternoon, the House Rules Committee will convene a meeting to discuss several proposed pieces of legislation currently working their way through the U.S. House of Representatives. Included among those bills is H.R. 5585, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health (ARPA-H) Act. If passed, this bill would establish ARPA-H as an innovation accelerator within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to lead the U.S. federal government’s research activities into immunotherapies for treating cancer and treatments for diseases like COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s disease.
American Enterprise Institute
At 2:30 PM on Tuesday in AEI Auditorium, 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036.
A lot of debate has sprung up around efforts at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to craft and pass a waiver of international IP obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Just last week, the WTO released a final version of a TRIPS waiver agreement for WTO member countries that has been criticized by those who think that the TRIPS waiver does not go far enough in waiving IP rights covering COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, while others have been critical throughout the negotiation process regarding the lack of evidence that patents pose any barrier to vaccine access. This event will feature a discussion on the proposed TRIPS waiver and its impacts on our world’s ability to handle new COVID-19 variants with a panel including Komal Kahla, Associate Director of Intellectual Property and Trade Policy, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations; Patrick Kilbride, Senior Vice President, Global Innovation Policy Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International; Zain Rivzi, Research Director, Public Citizen; and moderated by Michael Rosen, Adjunct Fellow, AEI.
Center for Strategic & International Studies
At 3:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.
Unlike classical computing architectures, which process algorithms as binary code to execute programs, quantum computing is capable of completing incredibly complex calculations that are practically impossible for classical computers to perform. Quantum computing is expected to improve long-term weather forecasts, combat scenario management and many other difficult modeling projects that involve a large number of variables. This event will feature a discussion on the role of the private sector in developing quantum computing platforms with a panel including Robert Liscouski, President, CEO and Chairman, Quantum Computing, Inc.; Jay Gambetta, Fellow and Vice President, Quantum Computing, IBM; and moderated by James Andrew Lewis, Senior Vice President and Director, Strategic Technologies Program, CSIS.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
At 3:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.
This webinar, the third in the USPTO’s Hand of History – Mind of the Inventor series that runs through June, focuses on the role of patents in the business success of aviator and entrepreneur Lucean Arthur Headen. Speakers at this event will include Jill D. Snider, Author, Lucean Arthur Headen: The Making of a Black Inventor and Entrepreneur; and Adam Bisno, Historian, USPTO.
Wednesday, June 22
House Subcommittee on Energy
At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.
Dark energy, which has been theorized but not observed, makes up nearly 70 percent of the universe’s energy and plays an incredibly important role in its continued expansion. A better understanding of different forms of energy and matter would greatly improve the world’s knowledge of physics. Even with advances in technologies useful for detecting neutrinos, incredibly tiny particles that operate as a form of dark matter, the current state of scientific understanding of energy and matter is incredibly limited. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Asmeret Berhe, Director of the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy; Dr. Brian Greene, Director of the Center for Theoretical Physics, Columbia University; Dr. Lia Merminga, Director, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; Jim Yeck, Associate Laboratory Director and Project Director for the Electron-Ion Collider, Brookhaven National Laboratory; and Michael Guastella, Executive Director, The Council on Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals.
At 12:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed by Congress last November, sets aside $65 billion in federal funding for broadband infrastructure projects to reach the 14.5 million Americans who lack Internet access. At the same time, the United States is losing its dominance in technological fields like 5G wireless networking and large questions as to whether Congress’ broadband policy goals can be achieved even with that level of federal funding. This event will feature a discussion on federal programs for broadband with a panel including Brendan Carr, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission; and Harold Furchtgott-Roth, Director, Center for the Economics of the Internet, Hudson Institute.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
At 1:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.
On Wednesday afternoon, the USPTO’s Texas Regional Office will host the second episode of the agency’s second annual Design Webinar Series, which focuses on the role that design patents have in protecting valuable IP in various industries. This episode will explore how design patents can maximize business value and tips for leveraging design patent rights in different industries.
Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property
At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Since it was established by the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has become an exceptionally important and controversial tribunal within the world of U.S. patent law. Just last week, Senate IP Subcommittee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), along with Ranking Member Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Subcommittee Member John Cornyn (R-TX), introduced the PTAB Reform Act into the U.S. Senate. The bill would limit the PTAB’s ability to issue discretionary denials of AIA validity trials under the Fintiv framework, but it would also address certain petitioner abuses of the PTAB including serial petitions and implement a code of conduct for the PTAB’s administrative patent judges (APJs). The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.
House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation
At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in 310 Cannon House Office Building.
Several emerging areas of technology, including the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), are expected to bring massive gains to the global economy thanks to large increases to productivity. However, many of these advances also bring with them a greater risk of cybersecurity attacks affecting a wider degree of IoT-connected appliances and vehicles, while some tech policy advocates have raised concerns about the tendency that AI platforms have to reinforce the biases of the programmer creating them. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Andrew Lohn, Senior Fellow, Center for Security and Emerging Technologies, Georgetown University; Charles Robinson, Public Sector Quantum Computer Leader, IBM; Ron Green, Executive Vice President and Chief Security Officer, Mastercard; and Rob Strayer, Executive Vice President for Policy, Information Technology Innovation Council.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
At 3:00 PM on Wednesday, online video webinar.
This webinar is the second in the USPTO’s Proud Innovation series, which highlights the accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs and innovators who have successfully leveraged IP rights to scale up their business ideas. This episode will feature a discussion with a panel including Ana Maria Hernandez Marti, Founder and CEO, Equal Love; Jake Kenyon, Owner/Lead Dyer, Kenyarn, LLC; Robin Williams, Owner, Bowtie Behavior; and moderated by Phillip Bailey, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
Thursday, June 23
House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress
At 9:00 AM on Thursday in 210 Cannon.
Governmental agencies and entities often face tremendous difficulties in ensuring that their critical information technology (IT) infrastructure has adopted even those IT platforms that have been commercially available for a decade or longer. At a March hearing of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, the House Chief Administrative Office (CAO) announced that it would be launching a new digital services office to meet IT needs across the entirety of operations within the U.S. House of Representatives. Last week, the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration announced that $100 million in Technology Modernization Fund resources to improve online access to federal government and agency resources. The witness panel for this hearing will include Stephen Dwyer, Senior Advisor to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer; Melissa Medina, Co-Founder, Appmy, LLC; and Reynold Schweickhardt, Senior Advisor, Lincoln Network.
House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet
At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 2141 Rayburn.
Although it was originally sold as an alternative venue for challenging patent validity that would be less expensive for small companies dealing with abusive demands to license patent rights, the PTAB has become a playground for Big Tech and major corporations like Apple, Google and Samsung, who are the top petitioners for validity trials at the PTAB. On the other hand, many independent inventors and small business owners have seen their prospects smashed by PTAB validity trials, which are able to delay infringement actions in U.S. district court while invalidating patent claims at an incredible rate. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.
House Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit
At 10:30 AM on Thursday in 1300 Longworth House Office Building.
Distributed ledger technologies have been evolving in recent years, creating not only new cryptocurrency alternatives to bitcoin but also the non-fungible token (NFT) market that has seen tremendous fluctuations in value. This March, the Biden Administration issued an executive order on the responsible development of digital assets that expressed concerns over the impact that such assets could have on global financial systems and unsophisticated investors alike. In early June, Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Responsible Financial Innovation Act (RFIA) into Congress, which would establish a regulatory framework for digital assets to better differentiate between digital commodities and digital securities and assign regulatory authority to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
At 12:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.
This webinar is the ninth episode in the USPTO’s PTAB Inventor Hour series, which features case studies and practice tips for inventors who are facing the prospect of either an ex parte appeal of an examiner rejection or an America Invents Act (AIA) trial challenging the validity of issued patent claims. This episode features a conversation with Brian Fried, National Inventor Club, and will discuss topics including the contents of ex parte appeals briefs and a historical overview of physical patent models that were once required upon the filing of a U.S. patent application.