Posts Tagged: "Capitol Hill"

Senate Judiciary Committee Sends Vidal and Stark Nominations to Senate Floor

Today, the full Senate Judiciary Committee officially voted to confirm the nomination of Katherine Vidal by a vote of 17-5 for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Committee also voted 16-6 in favor of Judge Leonard Stark, President Biden’s nominee to replace U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley, who announced on July 27, 2021, that she will retire, leaving a vacancy on the court as of March 11, 2022. The hearing was originally scheduled to take place last week, but was postponed to allow members of the committee to attend the funeral of former Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) on January 6.

This Week in Washington IP: Votes Rescheduled for Stark and Vidal, Examining the Proposed COVID-19 TRIPS Waiver, and Impacts of Electric Vehicle Investments

This week in Washington IP news, following a cancellation last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote this week on a series of nominations from the Biden Administrations to fill vacancies at both the Federal Circuit and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In the House of Representatives, the Oversight Committee explores possible updates to the Federal Information Security Management Act in light of a spate of cyber attacks on federal agencies, while the Agriculture Committee focuses on the impact of electric vehicle investments in U.S. agriculture and rural communities. Elsewhere, the Federalist Society hosts an event with two former USPTO Directors on the potential impacts of the proposed TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines, and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation explores the potential of a national strategic-industry policy in helping the U.S. meet the challenges of its competitive economic rival China.

Big Tech’s Great Patent Troll Smash and Grab

Big Tech’s patent troll narrative is really just the great Big Tech smash and grab. Jean Ann Booth explains in the Waco Tribune what patent trolls are by taking Big Tech’s cartoonish characterization as her own: Patent trolls are rich investors who buy up patents from failed startups just so they can sue companies commercializing the invention in order to extort their money. Extortion – that’s what patent trolls do. And they are wrecking U.S. innovation to boot. They sure sound scary. Patent trolls are indeed frightening. Flush with big bucks, Big Tech lobbyists pushed the patent troll narrative on Congress, the administration, and the courts, demanding that we gut U.S. patent law (the same U.S. patent law that drove over 200 years of American innovation) if we are to save American innovation. Government bureaucrats and politicians complied by smashing the U.S patent system. Now Big Tech can grab whatever technology they want.

Tillis Backs Vidal for USPTO Head, Dubbing Her a ‘Visionary Leader’

Senator Thom Tillis has come out on the record in support of Kathi Vidal to be the next Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), on the eve of a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on her confirmation. Despite recent scrutiny of her ties to big tech and Silicon Valley, Tillis in a statement today said that he was satisfied with Vidal’s responses to his “tough questions” during the confirmation hearing process and feels he has received her commitment that she will continue the reforms implemented by former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu.

Congress focuses on chip supply chains to promote competitiveness, national security

The United States’ share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity has dropped from 37 percent in 1990 down to 12 percent in 2021. Congress now seeks to secure chip supply chains to promote both economic competitiveness as well as U.S. national security.

The Most (Potentially) Consequential ITC Decisions of 2021

This has been a year full of ups and downs, including at the International Trade Commisison (ITC). The ITC has stayed open for business, instituting a near-record number of investigations and holding hearings, albeit virtually. There have been a number of ITC decisions with interesting holdings, all of which have been covered well here and in other blogs. However, there have been a number of ITC-related happenings in 2021 which, though they received less coverage, may, like the proverbial butterfly, have important ramifications for years to come.

Trademarks in 2021: Recounting the Most High-Profile Trademark Developments of the Year

The past year has seen the implementation of brand-new trademark legislation, significant analysis of trademark liability for new technologies, renewed focus on the doctrine of initial interest confusion, the transformation of Nikes into “Satan Shoes,” the functionality of chocolate dipped cookies, and the end to a long-running case involving two multi-million dollar jury awards for willful infringement. As 2021 comes to an end, we look forward to what 2022 has in store.

In Written Responses to Senators’ Questions, Vidal Supports Iancu’s 101 Guidance ‘In Principle’

In written answers to Senators’ questions for the record submitted today by Kathi Vidal, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the next U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director, Vidal said that she “support[s] the principle of” former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu’s Patent Eligibility Guidance for examiners, but stopped short of wholly endorsing the present guidance or committing to keeping it in place. Instead, Vidal said she would review the guidance in light of intervening case law and comments on the USPTO’s study on the state of patent eligibility jurisprudence to determine if updates are needed.   

This Week in Washington IP: Accelerating COVID-19 Vaccinations Globally, The Impact of Monopolies on American Innovation, and Compensating Creators in Today’s Content Ecosystem

This week in Washington IP news, both houses of Congress are slowing down prior to the Christmas holiday, but Senate committees will hold hearings on the potential adoption of stablecoins into the U.S. financial system, as well as the impact of consolidation and monopolies on American innovation. In the House, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will debate ways to accelerate global vaccination rates. Elsewhere, the Hudson Institute hosts an event exploring new avenues for compensating copyright owners in the new content ecosystem, while the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation will explore evidence of China’s broken promises on economic policy during its two decades as a member of the World Trade Organization.

As Policymakers Say They Want to Rein in Big Tech, Others Seek to Give It Even More Power

Over the past several years, Congress has raised a long overdue microscope to Big Tech and its worst practices and as a result, the relationship between Washington, DC and Silicon Valley has changed tremendously. Rather than being feted by policymakers, Big Tech is now being forced to answer tough questions. Elected officials are now more aware of Big Tech’s reach and impact on our elections, security, and data collection – and they are not liking what they see.  These companies have intruded on nearly every aspect of American lives and have avoided any responsibility or accountability.

This Week in Washington IP: Improving Biomedical Research, Amending Section 230 to Hold Big Tech Accountable, and Promoting Privacy in the Tech Sector

This week in Washington IP news, the House of Representatives will host committee hearings discussing several draft pieces of legislation that would update the 21st Century Cures Act as well as reduce immunity to liability for major tech firms currently enjoyed under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Over in the Senate, the Fiscal Responsibility Subcommittee will discuss how changes to privacy policies in Big Tech firms have impacted targeted advertising activities for a wide swath of the economy. Elsewhere, the Center for Strategic & International Studies hosts a debate on the topic of China’s tech crackdown and its potential impacts on innovation, and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation will explore whether increased support for advanced renewables research can help the global community meet certain clean energy goals by the middle of this century.

Senator Bob Dole: A Staunch Defender of His Country, and Our Patent System

If you’re going into a desperate fight, there are some people that you want on your side. One was Robert Dole, who passed away yesterday, December 5, at 98 years old….. It was characteristic of his generation—and of Bob Dole—to honor his fallen colleagues, even when he was bound in a wheelchair. Few who saw it will ever forget Senator Dole insisting on getting up and walking to the coffin of his friend, Senator Daniel Inouye, who lost an arm fighting in Italy, close to where Dole was wounded. Even though his health was deteriorating last year when we honored Bayh-Dole’s 40th anniversary, Senator Dole made a very gracious video tribute to his former colleague, Senator Birch Bayh. That Birch Bayh and Daniel Inouye were Democrats made no difference to Bob Dole.

The PTAB Desperately Needs Reform, Not Preservation

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), created by the America Invents Act (AIA) just over 10 years ago, is the most electrifying lightning rod in the industry. As explained repeatedly by Members of Congress at the time the AIA was enacted, the purpose was to create a streamlined, less expensive, alternative administrative means to challenge the invalidity of issued patents. Sadly, with that being the stated purpose, the creation of the PTAB can be objectively characterized as nothing other than an abysmal failure. What has evolved is anything but streamlined, and certainly not inexpensive, even compared with district court litigation.

Tillis and Other Senate Republicans Bristle at Biden’s Nomination of Gigi Sohn to the FCC

On November 30, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) wrote a letter  addressed to President Joe Biden asking Biden to withdraw the nomination of Gigi Sohn, a co-founder of the open Internet advocacy group Public Knowledge, to serve as a commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Tillis is one of a growing number of Republican lawmakers who are speaking out strongly against Biden’s nomination of Sohn, who previously served as a senior staffer to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler during the Obama Administration. Tillis’ letter to President Biden certainly pulls no punches in assessing the likely impact of Sohn’s nomination on copyright owners especially. “[Sohn] is a radical open-content activist with no respect for intellectual property rights,” Tillis wrote. “As an activist, Ms. Sohn has consistently worked against commonsense measures that would crack down on illegal piracy. She has even testified before Congress that ‘piracy has absolutely no effect on [music] prices whatsoever.’”

Tillis Pushes Tai Again on TRIPS IP Waiver Proposal, as South Africa Asks to Delay Delivery of Vaccines

Yesterday, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), the Ranking Member on the Senate IP Subcommittee, wrote to Ambassador Katherine Tai, the United States Trade Representative who is responsible for negotiating an IP Waiver to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO). This TRIPS IP Waiver is generated by proposals submitted by South Africa and India and seeks the waiver patent and trade secret protections relating to COVID-19 innovations. This is the fifth such letter Tillis has sent Tai. As noted by Senator Tillis and many commentators, including here on IPWatchdog, the proposed TRIPS IP Waiver is nothing more than an attempt to steal intellectual property rights covering important innovations that took nearly a generation to bring to fruition. And now we have definitive proof.