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Posts in Capitol Hill

Senators Tear into Facebook and Google Reps During ‘Big Data, Big Questions’ Hearing on Competition and Privacy

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights held a hearing yesterday titled “Big Data, Big Questions: Implications for Competition and Consumers,” in which both Republican and Democratic senators pushed representatives of Facebook and Google to answer difficult questions about their platforms’ impact on everything from competitive marketplaces to teenagers’ body image. The hearing is one in a series that aims to conduct a bipartisan review of America’s competition issues, according to Subcommittee Chair, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

New Tillis-Leahy Bills to Boost Innovation: The Good, the Bad and the Nonsense

Earlier today, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Ranking Member and Chair of the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee, introduced a pair of bipartisan bills that the Senators say are aimed at improving the participation Americans from all backgrounds in the patent system and ensuring that the public knows the true owners of patents. If enacted, the Unleashing American Innovators Act (UAIA) would require the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to establish another satellite office within three years somewhere in the Southeastern region of the nation, which the bill specifically defines as Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Of course, given that the main campus of the USPTO is located in Alexandria, Virginia, it would seem unlikely that Virginia would be the final destination of any Southeast Region satellite office. The UAIA would also require the Director to determine within two years whether any additional regional satellite offices are necessary to— in the words of the bill— “achieve the purposes described in section 24 23(b) of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act… and increase participation in the patent system by women, people of color, veterans, individual inventors, or members of any other demographic, geographic, or economic group that the Director may determine to be underrepresented in patent filings.”

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.

U.S. Embassy Failures, COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, Keep Attorney Working on COVID-19 Technology Out of United States

Surely there can be no greater national interest to the United States than to allow each and every single person working to solve the COVID-19 pandemic to cross our border without issue, especially those who have already earned visas to work in the United States. However, a series of unfortunate events and policies has resulted in an ironic situation in which, in one example, an attorney from Sweden, who has spent significant periods of time within the United States since 2006, cannot return to the states to sit for the patent bar; aid members and clients of her law firm who are needful of her unique skills, including one colleague who is undergoing medical treatment for a serious health condition; or prosecute several patent applications representing some vital advancements in the fight against COVID-19. U.S. Embassy inaction, which is blocking her ability to take the U.S. patent bar, join her colleagues in the U.S. who have mentored her in this field for a year-and-a-half, and work on these COVID-19 patent solutions, arguably threatens the very chance of those inventions and technologies being properly commercialized to benefit everyone in the United States and beyond.

Celebrating (?) the America Invents Act: Ten Years On, Many IP Stakeholders Say it’s Time for a Second Look

During IPWatchdog LIVE 2021 in Dallas, Texas, I asked a handful of willing attendees for their thoughts on the impact of the America Invents Act (AIA) in anticipation of today, the ten-year anniversary of the day President Barack Obama signed the AIA into law. I began writing for Managing IP magazine in 2007 and remember well the lead-up to the law. The discussion centered mostly on the change from a first-inventor-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file system, which was seen as a way to harmonize the United States with the rest of the world, but which many feared would be detrimental to U.S. innovation. Some of the most controversial provisions were ultimately dropped in order to get the law through Congress, and overall, the IP world was celebrating on September 16, 2011, that at least some action had been taken on reforming, and ostensibly strengthening, the U.S. patent laws.

Tillis and Leahy Urge USPTO to Address Inconsistent Prior Art Statements by Patent Applicants at the FDA

On Thursday, September 9, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sent a letter addressed to Drew Hirshfeld, performing the functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), discussing the issue of inconsistent statements made by patent applicants pursuant to their disclosure requirements at the USPTO and other federal agencies, especially the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Senators are asking the USPTO to take swift action to ensure that applicants are disclosing all known prior art at both the USPTO and the FDA.

Commerce Department Announces National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced on Wednesday that it has established a National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Advisory Committee that will advise the President and other federal agencies on issues surrounding AI. The Committee will work with the existing National AI Initiative Office (NAIIO) in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

This Week in Washington IP: Think Like a USPTO Examiner, Prepping Arguments for AIA Trials and a Look at the Changing Cyber Threat Landscape

This week in Washington IP events, both houses of Congress remain quiet during regularly scheduled work periods. However, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host several workshops including a series of events geared towards patent attorneys to aid their skills in communicating with patent examiners or presenting oral arguments in AIA trials. Elsewhere, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) hosts events exploring ways to secure critical supply chains for the United States in batteries and semiconductors, the Heritage Foundation speaks with Retired Admiral Michael Rogers, Former National Security Agency (NSA) Director, on the changing landscape of cyber threats, and the Cato Institute focuses on state efforts to amend medical licensing laws to pave the way for the future of telemedicine.

USPTO and Copyright Office Reports Attempt to Quantify Extent and Effect of IP Infringement by State Entities

On August 31, at the request of Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) provided a report to Congress analyzing infringement disputes between patent and trademark rights holders and states and state entities. The U.S. Copyright Office produced a similar, much lengthier report, also in response to a letter from Tillis and Leahy, studying whether there is sufficient basis for federal legislation abrogating State sovereign immunity when States infringe copyrights. The Senators’ letters were prompted by the March 2020 Allen v. Cooper Supreme Court decision. While the USPTO report came to no conclusions, the Copyright Office found that “the evidence indicates that state infringement constitutes a legitimate concern for copyright owners.”

Note to Congress: Resist Big Tech Pleas to Weaken Strong Patents in Light of Recent Losses

In recent days, both Google and Apple have lost big patent cases. On August 13, Apple lost a $300 million jury verdict to PanOptis. Also on August 13, Google was found to infringe five Sonos patents at the International Trade Commission (ITC) in an initial determination by Judge Charles E. Bullock, which, if upheld by the full Commission, would block the importation of Google hardware, including Chromecast and Pixels. This likely means that Apple, Google and their big tech allies will use these instances, as well as other recent high-profile patent losses, as evidence of the need for yet more innovation-crippling patent reform. That would be a huge mistake for America at a time when we find ourselves locked in a race for technological supremacy with the Chinese.

This Week in Washington IP: Protecting State Venue Choices in Big Tech Antitrust Lawsuits, Designing Accessible Digital Public Infrastructure, and Addressing Climate Change and Food Security with Oceanic Tech Developments

This week in Washington IP events, both houses of Congress are mainly quiet this week except for an executive business meeting hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss a pair of bills, including one that would protect venue choices by state attorneys general who have brought antitrust actions against Big Tech firms like Google. Elsewhere, New America discusses efforts to build digital public infrastructure to address access concerns raised during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Atlantic Council explores advances in data collection and technological developments that can help the scientific community gain a better understanding of the world’s oceans to address social problems like climate change.

This Week in Washington IP: PPAC Quarterly Meeting, Pending Nominations Within the DOE’s Science Leadership, and Bills on Composite Technologies and Cybersecurity in U.S. Infrastructure

This week in Washington IP news, the House of Representatives remains quiet as it enters a scheduled district work period. However, several Senate committees will host hearings and business meetings, including the Senate Energy Committee which will discuss pending nominations to important science roles within the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Senate Homeland Security Committee which will explore several bills related to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity matters. Elsewhere, the American Enterprise Institute takes a look at the Federal Reserve’s efforts to establish a digital U.S. dollar, while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will hold its most recent quarterly meeting of the Patent Public Advisory Committee this Thursday. 

A Closer, Evidence-Based Look at ‘Patent Quality’ Advocacy

The Patent Infringer Lobby has ramped up banging the drum about “patent quality.” They dedicated a week-long campaign to questioning “patent quality,” which its constituents regard as a huge problem. Advocates have taken advantage of the vacuum left after U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu left the building. Anti-patent advocates are exploiting the new dynamic of Senator Patrick Leahy, coauthor of the America Invents Act (AIA), who now chairs the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee. Leahy recently did the Infringer Lobby the favor of holding a hearing on this subject.

Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Legislation to Reduce Drug Prices, Rein in Pharma Industry Practices

Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting in which the Committee discussed and favorably reported four bills aimed at reducing prescription drug prices for consumers and curbing perceived abuses of the patent system by brand pharmaceutical companies. The bills would do so by increasing the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) authority to initiate enforcement actions against drug companies. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opened the meeting with an explanation of the need for the bills. He said that nearly 40% of U.S. patients struggle to pay for medication. The world’s best-selling drug, Humira, brought in $16 billion in sales in 2019 and Humira manufacturer, AbbVie, has obtained 130 patents on the drug, with 90% filed after Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

This Week in Washington IP: Energizing Technology Transfer, Case Studies in International Offshore Wind Innovation and Celebrating 75 Years of the Lanham Act

This week in Washington IP news, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a series of bills that could limit pharmaceutical patent owners’ ability to enforce their patents against generic drug makers. Over in the House of Representatives, the House Science Committee will mark up a series of bills to support research and development as well as technology transfer and commercialization, while the House Europe Subcommittee will explore international case studies in offshore wind renewable energy innovation. Elsewhere, the American Enterprise Institute focuses on developments in the private commercial space sector, while the USPTO celebrates 75 years of the Lanham Act’s codification of U.S. trademark law this Tuesday.