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Posts Tagged: "Senator Richard Blumenthal"

Another Front in China’s Economic War: Senate IP Subcommittee Seeks to Solve USPTO’s Fraudulent Trademarks Problem

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) yesterday led a hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property titled “Fraudulent Trademarks: How They Undermine the Trademark System and Harm American Consumers and Businesses.” The hearing included five witnesses from academia, private practice and the business community who testified on ways to declutter the U.S. trademark register, curb fraudulent trademark filings from China, and improve current mechanisms for enforcing trademarks in U.S. courts, among other topics. All agreed that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) August rule change requiring that foreign trademark applicants use U.S. counsel has likely only temporarily helped to ebb the flow of fraudulent filings from China, as bad actors are already adjusting their strategies.

As Stakeholders Await New 101 Bill, Responses to Tillis Underscore Need for Movement

Last month, we reported on the responses submitted to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) by panelists who participated in the June hearings on the state of U.S. patent eligibility, held by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Blumenthal entered a series of questions for the record to be answered by certain participants. While movement on the bill appears to be stalled for the time being, with reports that Tillis and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) have reinstituted the stakeholder roundtables that led up to the draft bill and hearings in the first place, it’s worth reviewing some of the responses to Tillis’ questions as the IP community waits for the next move. From David O. Taylor’s statistic that 62% of investors he surveyed said they were less likely to invest in companies where patent protection is not available, to Bob Armitage’s characterization of the draft bill’s revision to Section 112(f) as “perfect,” to the Cleveland Clinic’s statement that they are currently less likely to make the necessary investments to bring new advances in diagnostics to market, these responses are a reminder of what’s at stake.

How Senate IP Subcommittee Witnesses on Patent Eligibility Responded to Questions from Senator Blumenthal

Through the first half of June, a series of hearings on the state of patent eligibility in America held by the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee rendered a variety of interesting exchanges regarding current U.S. subject matter eligibility under Section 101 relating to various important sectors of the U.S. economy. During the second hearing, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) talked to panelists regarding his concerns about patent abuses in the pharmaceutical industry. During his period of questioning, Blumenthal grilled witnesses on the subject of whether the expansion of subject matter eligibility that would result from the proposed Section 101 draft text would exacerbate issues related to “patent thicketing,” a process by which drug companies attain large patent portfolios covering various aspects of a single drug formulation. Along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Blumenthal entered a series of questions for the record to be answered by panelists attending the recent patent eligibility hearings. Although the questions don’t overtly single out the pharmaceutical industry, panelist answers largely indicate that this sector was on most people’s mind while responding.

Spilling the ‘Detox Tea’: Are We About to See More FTC Action on Social Media Influencer Advertising?

In a recent letter, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action against makers of “detox teas” for engaging in “predatory” and misleading marketing tactics on social media platforms, targeting primarily young adults (and young women in particular). Taking aim at the Instagram idol Kim Kardashian, Senator Blumenthal pointed out that influencers earn up to “six figure sums” for a single social media post promoting detox tea products without any expectation that the endorsers personally use the products and expose themselves to the alleged health risks associated with the teas.    

Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act Would Allow FTC to Prosecute Pharma Patent Thickets, Product Hopping

On Thursday, May 9, the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients (APP) Act was introduced into the U.S. Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). If passed by Congress and signed into law, the bill would modify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act to give the FTC additional antitrust authority to challenge the anticompetitive nature of certain actions by pharmaceutical patent owners in the service of providing more consumer access to generic and biosimilar drugs.

Up and Running: Senate IP Subcommittee Debates USPTO Oversight After Setting Ambitious Agenda in February

Today, March 13, the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property met to discuss “Oversight of the United States Patent and Trademark Office,” with USPTO Director Andrei Iancu as the sole witness. IPWatchdog will report the details of that hearing in full, but in the meantime it is worth reviewing what the Subcommittee covered in its first hearing, held February 26, which included the report of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) on the findings of the IPEC’s Annual Intellectual Property Report. While the hearing was nominally about the IPEC report, comments made and questions raised by Subcommittee members throughout the course of the hearing made it clear that the Subcommittee intends to play an important role in the debate around IP and patent law during the 116th Congress.

Closing a Loophole to Prevent Online Sex Trafficking

The U.S. Senate is slated to vote on the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), legislation that would help prevent online sex trafficking by holding accountable the websites that knowingly facilitate such trafficking. After overwhelmingly passing the House in late February, and with 67 co-sponsors already on the Senate version, the legislation is almost certain to head to President Trump’s desk. Despite significant support from Congress, the White House, and stakeholders including the Fraternal Order of Police, U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, UNICEF USA, and Teens Against Trafficking, SESTA has received considerable pushback from portions of the tech community who are concerned with the changes the legislation would make to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA)

St. Regis Mohawks, BIO send letters to Senate Judiciary slamming the unfair playing field of IPRs at PTAB

On Thursday, October 12th, a pair of letters addressed to the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee were delivered in an attempt to inform Senators on that committee of various issues in play regarding the recent patent deal between multinational pharmaceutical firm Allergan and the sovereign St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. The two groups sending the letters represent stakeholders in the U.S. patent system coming from very different backgrounds who realize that there are fundamental flaws in the system created by inter partes review (IPR) proceedings which are carried out at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

Senate Commerce Committee seems comfortable with Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce

In his opening remarks, Ross noted that he had been a consumer of various forms of data published by various agencies within the commerce department. He seemed attuned to the importance of data collection and dissemination, noting that 40 percent of publicly disseminated data from all federal agencies comes from the Department of Commerce. With experience operating businesses in 23 countries, Ross was confident in his ability to negotiate foreign trade agreements to the benefit of the American economy. “I know directly what’s good and what’s not good about trade policies in other countries,” Ross said. He added that he was neither pro-trade nor anti-trade but rather pro-sensible trade, which he defined as being supportive of trade deals which were good for American workers and businesses.

Senators told FTC report on patent assertion entities due out this spring

When patents were brought up in the hearing, however, it seemed to focus mainly on their effects in the pharmaceutical world. Ramirez’s prepared remarks for the hearing touched on pay for delay in pharmaceutical patent infringement settlements, and she noted that the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision in Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis has given the FTC a greater capacity to challenge pay for delay schemes in court. Ramirez also stated that a report on the FTC investigation into patent assertion entities (PAEs) will be made available sometime this spring.

Defend Trade Secrets Act ready for markup in Senate Judiciary Committee

Earlier today the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which is authored by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). This is an important issue for Congress because trade secret theft puts American jobs at risk and threatens incentives for continued investment in research and development in the United States. Currently, civil trade secret laws can and do vary state-to-state, and while the differences may not be substantively large it is truly odd that in a global economy the United States has left trade secret law to the States to individually regulate. It is long since time for Congress to act.

FTC concerned over weak consumer provisions in automotive cybersecurity rules

At the end of October, the FTC again made a push on Capitol Hill for stronger data privacy standards, this time dealing specifically with the idea of connected cars. In prepared testimony for the hearing, entitled Examining Ways to Improve Vehicle and Roadway Safety, the commission brought up concerns it had with certain provisions of rules currently being drafted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which will require auto manufacturers to outfit their cars with vehicle-to-vehicle communications units in an effort to improve safety on America’s roads. The testimony was presented by Maneesha Mithal, an associate director of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, during an October 21st hearing of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.