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Posts Tagged: "Senate Judiciary Committee"

Vidal Agrees Eligibility Needs More Clarity in Senate Judiciary Committee Questioning of Two IP Nominees

Today, the full Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to question two key IP nominees: Judge Leonard Stark of the of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, who was nominated to replace Judge Kathleen O’Malley on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC); and Katherine Vidal, the nominee for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). IPWatchdog has previously reported on the qualifications of both candidates and what their appointments might mean for IP law and practice going forward. While neither nominee made any particularly earth shattering statements, as is often the case in such hearings, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), a vocal IP advocate, said he was heartened by Vidal’s acknowledgement that it has become “very difficult to understand the contours of [patent eligibility] law.” Vidal also stated that the current USPTO guidelines on eligibility, which were revised by former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu to provide more clarity, are consistent with the law right now.

Vidal Confirmation Hearing Should Provide a Hint at What’s Ahead for Patent Owners

IPWatchdog has been told that Kathi Vidal, who is President Biden’s nominee for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), will have her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, December 1. As of the time of publication, the Senate Judiciary Committee, to which the Vidal nomination has been referred, lists a confirmation hearing for the full Committee at 10am on December 1, but provides no additional information. It is believed Vidal will share the hearing with several nominees for federal judicial positions.

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: E-Commerce Platforms Have Curbed Infringement, But Counterfeits and Safety Problems Persist

The full Senate Judiciary Committee convened today for a hearing titled, “Cleaning Up Online Marketplaces: Protecting Against Stolen, Counterfeit, and Unsafe Goods,” in which witnesses explained the continuing challenges of policing stolen and counterfeit products in online marketplaces. The panelists included small business owners, internet platform advocates, academics and retail store representatives.

Jonathan Kanter Responses to Senate Provide Insight on Approach to Antitrust-IP Nexus

On July 20, President Joe Biden nominated Jonathan Kanter as Assistant Attorney General, a position that would place him at the head of the Antitrust Division at the Department of Justice. Kanter is an antitrust lawyer with over 20 years of experience. He is currently a partner at The Kanter Law Group LLP, which is a boutique antitrust law firm that advocates in favor of federal and state antitrust law enforcement. Prior to founding the The Kanter Law Group, he was Co-Chair of the antitrust practice at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison LLP. Kanter also served as an attorney for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition. 

Judge Koh Responses on Antitrust-IP Intersection Promise More of the Same

On October 5, the Senate Judiciary Committee considered the nomination of Judge Lucy Koh, currently of the U.S. Federal District for the Northern District of California, to an appointment by President Biden to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After that hearing, several Senators submitted written questions, which Judge Koh responded to last week. There is no indication that Judge Koh’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit is in jeopardy, but it is noteworthy, and at least somewhat unusual, numerous Senators asked Judge Koh virtually the same questions regarding her decision in FTC v. Qualcomm. This level of overlapping interest by multiple members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which IPWatchdog.com has learned was not coordinated and developed organically, is normally reserved for nominees to the Supreme Court, and even then, typically reserved to social or constitutional issues. So, even though it is believed Judge Koh can and will easily receive a favorable confirmation vote, the questions relating to the intersection of antitrust and patent law demonstrate a keen awareness and interest in these issues on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Tillis Releases Draft Bill to Modernize the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property released a discussion draft copyright reform bill titled the ‘Digital Copyright Act of 2021’ (the discussion draft). The discussion draft, which is intended to bring revolutionary changes to online copyright law, was developed based on recommendations in six hearings of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property focused on reforming copyright law in the digital environment, two staff briefings, and four extensive Copyright Office studies. This proposed DMCA reform was released in order to solicit comments from stakeholders and other interested parties.

Full Senate Judiciary Committee Addresses COVID-19 Related Fraud

On June 9, the full Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled “COVID-19 Fraud: Law Enforcement’s Response to Those Exploiting the Pandemic.”  The hearing, which was led by Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., included testimony by William Hughes, Associate Deputy Attorney General United States Department of Justice, The Honorable Craig Carpenito, United States Attorney District of New Jersey, Calvin Shivers, Assistant Director Criminal Investigative Division Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Michael D’Ambrosio, Assistant Director United States Secret Service Department of Homeland Security. Following an acknowledgment of the tragic death of George Floyd by each of the witnesses, the testimony focused on the response to fraud that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the sale of fraudulent personal protective equipment (PPE) and cyber-enabled fraud. In general, Hughes focused primarily on the Department of Justice’s response to criminal conduct relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, Carpenito focused on hoarding and price gouging, Shivers focused on fraud schemes and illicit finance activities that seek to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic, and D’Ambrosio focused on the U.S. Secret Service’s work to counter cyber and financial crimes exploiting the pandemic.

Senate Hearing on STRONGER Patents Act Highlights Sharp Split on Injunctive Relief, IPR Fixes

On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 11, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property convened a hearing titled Innovation in America: How Congress Can Make Our Patent System STRONGER. The hearing focused on the STRONGER Patents Act, a piece of legislation that has been reintroduced into both houses of Congress, the Senate portion of which has been co-sponsored by the Senate IP Subcommittee’s Ranking Member, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), fellow Subcommittee members Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), Judiciary Committee member John Kennedy (R-LA) and Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND). Sources at IPWatchdog’s Patent Masters Symposium this week said that the bill still faces many obstacles to passage. However, according to Senator Coons’ Office, the bill has wide bipartisan support in the House as well. The panel for the hearing was evenly split between supporters and detractors of the proposed law, and most of the discussion focused on the injunctive relief and inter partes review (IPR) provisions of the bill.

Chief Points from Responses to Senator Hirono’s Questions to Section 101 Panelists

Yesterday, we ran a series of excerpts from responses to Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) questions for the record to panelists following the June hearings on U.S. patent eligibility law, held by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Along with Tillis and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) also posed several questions to the participants in the 101 hearings. Hirono’s questions overall demonstrate a good faith desire to get to the heart of the problems in search of real solutions.

Integrity, Quality and Secure IP Rights Are Standard-Essential

The decision came down to two technologies for detecting and correcting noise in signals transmitted over the air for 5G—one of the most fundamental features for wireless communications. Scientists and engineers in 2016 vigorously debated for months which one was technologically superior and most efficient. China had lined up Chinese companies’ and allies’ votes behind the “polar codes” technology led by Huawei. Ultimately, the technology that had broader technical support would share a role in the 5G standard with Huawei’s preferred polar coding. But the heightened political battle in a traditional technical arena was unprecedented. This incident highlights a growing threat. “China has politicized the standards-making process,” the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reports. “Beijing expects Chinese companies to vote for [China-backed technologies] whether or not they are the best.”

India’s Patent Law is No Model for the United States: Say No to No Combination Drug Patents Act

The United States is on the brink of making changes to the U.S. patent law that would be modeled on India’s Patent Law. At a Senate Judiciary Committee markup scheduled for tomorrow, June 27, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plans to offer language as an amendment in the form of the No Combination Drug Patents Act. The language of the bill would prohibit the patenting of new forms, new uses and new methods of administration of new medicines unless the patent applicant can show “a statistically significant increase in efficacy”. This language is oddly similar to India’s Section 3(d), something the Trump Administration’s U.S. Trade Representative has complained “restricts patent eligible subject matter in a way that poses a major obstacle to innovators” (see here, page 49). Other Senators have also weighed in against “a generally deteriorating environment for intellectual property” in India (see here), including Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Judiciary Committee members Mike Crapo (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar(D-MN)and Chris Coons (D-CT).

The Only Way to Counter False Claims on Patent Reform is to Enter the Debate

Coverage of the ongoing patent reform debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee by the popular press has been alarmist and largely incorrect. For example, even just yesterday—five days after the final hearing on patent eligibility reform concluded—the top story in Google’s patent alert results was “Corporations shouldn’t be able to patent your DNA,” which leads with the sentence, “The practice of patenting genes, once banned by the Supreme Court, may come back soon despite a measure of horror the very idea once inspired.” It would seem that those companies and entities that oppose reform to patent eligibility requirements are not going to meaningfully participate in the political process, and instead will wield their considerable PR machines in an effort to confuse, conflate and misdirect the public as part of their ongoing scheme to suppress innovation in America. Indeed, we know that the high-tech industry was invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but refused, as Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) explained at the second hearing. Why would the high-tech industry choose to ignore these Senate hearings, where many dozens of witnesses both for and against reform were invited to share their views?

First Senate Hearing on 101 Underscores That ‘There’s More Work to Be Done’

The first of three scheduled hearings in which the Senate IP Subcommittee will hear testimony from a total of 45 witnesses on the subject of patent eligibility law raised many questions. While some read the proposed draft bill released by Congress last month as clearly overturning AMP v. Myriad, for example, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Ranking Member of the Senate IP Subcommittee, said today that was not his intention. In his opening statement, Coons pushed back against an article published on Monday by The Washington Post, which indicated that the proposed draft bill to revise Section 101 would enable the patenting of genes. Coons called the article “significantly misleading” and noted that “our proposal would not change the law to allow a company to patent a gene as it exists in the human body. I believe I speak for the Chairman and myself when I say we do not intend to overrule that holding of the 2013 Myriad decision.” The concerns leading to the Washington Post article arose in recent days, after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a statement and held a phone briefing for Congressional staffers claiming that the proposed draft bill would enable the patenting of genes. Sherry Knowles, Principal of Knowles Intellectual Property Strategies and one of the witnesses at today’s hearing, penned a rebuttal of the ACLU’s position that IPWatchdog published on Monday. Knowles spoke in the second panel of today’s hearing and said she hopes the proposed bill would in fact overturn the Myriad decision because “there’s been a dead stop in research in the United States on isolated natural products. The highest public interest is life itself and that has to be the goal of this statute.”

This Week on Capitol Hill: World IP Day, Cybersecurity Hearings and Promoting Blockchain-Based Innovation

This week on Capitol Hill, both the House of Representatives and Senate are back in full action after the conclusion of two weeks of work periods. Tuesday is an especially busy day for technology and innovation hearings at both houses of Congress. Hearings at the House that day will focus on stopping robocalls, carbon reduction technologies and 2020 fiscal year funding for a couple of government research and development agencies. Tuesday hearings in the Senate will look at American leadership in nuclear energy, cybersecurity concerns related to the Internet of Things and the Senate IP Subcommittee observes World Intellectual Property Day, with a look at IP in sports. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will also host an event on Capitol Hill this week to look at the prospects of blockchain technology adoption in various industries.

‘Bad Patents’ Are Just Another Big Tech False Narrative

Over the last 15 years, Congress, the courts and the USPTO have gutted the patent system. Fortunately, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu has been taking important steps to reverse some of the damage, with revised 101 guidance and changes in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). But the most important thing Iancu is doing is silencing the big tech “patent troll” narrative. False political narratives condense complicated issues into an object and then villainize the object. Once a villain is created, its evil can be expanded to encompass anything you don’t like. When you have pushed enough bad stuff into the moniker, you can simply state its evil name, add a few campaign contributions, and Congress will magically pass laws in your favor to kill the villain. The “patent troll” narrative has been valuable to big tech. It bought the laws they needed to perpetuate their monopolies. With Iancu silencing the “patent troll” narrative, big tech created a new one: “bad patents”.