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Posts Tagged: "Senator Thom Tillis"

Day One of PTAB Masters™ 2022: Tillis and Iancu Chime in on PTAB and Patent System Problems

The first day of IPWatchdog’s PTAB Masters™ 2022 program featured a welcome from Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, who told attendees that Congress should consider codifying some of the reforms made by former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu in order to better avoid “gamesmanship” at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Tillis specifically called out entities like OpenSky Industries, who last December petitioned the PTAB to institute an IPR proceeding challenging claims from one of two patents involved in VLSI Technologies’ $2.175 billion jury verdict for patent infringement against Intel, which was handed down in March 2021 in the Western District of Texas.

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.

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.’”

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.

Senator Tillis Letter to Ambassador Tai: TRIPS Waiver (Copyright)

Dear Ambassador Tai: I write you again today for the fourth time about the Biden Administration’s waiver of international obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS agreement. Last week, several open-content organizations wrote to President Biden and argued that your proposed TRIPS Waiver should cover not just patents, but also copyright and other intellectual property rights. These organizations ask that you include copyright simply because it may apply to software, medicine labels, manuals, or “tools” associated with vaccines. The letter fails to address the importance of these protections to the economy, trade, and employment, the limitations placed on protections to ensure a balanced system, and how copyright protection facilitates the very innovation, creativity, and knowledge sharing that will make it possible for us to end this once in a lifetime pandemic. The inclusion of copyright is both unsubstantiated and unwarranted, and would impose devastating consequences on American creators, businesses and workers, while doing nothing to advance the objective of combatting COVID.

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.”

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.

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.”

USPTO Delivers on Senators’ Request for Patent Eligibility Jurisprudence Study

In March of this year, a bipartisan group of senators asked Drew Hirshfeld, who is Performing the functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to “publish a request for information on the current state of patent eligibility jurisprudence in the United States, evaluate the responses,” and provide the senators with a detailed summary of the findings in order to assist them as they consider appropriate legislative action. The letter gave a deadline of March 5, 2022 to submit a report on the topic. Now, a Federal Register Notice (FRN) scheduled to be published July 9 is requesting answers and input from stakeholders to 13 questions/topics to assist in that effort, according to a publicly posted draft of the FRN.

Reflections on Unintended Consequences of Proposed Patent Law Amendments

Senators Leahy and Tillis have proposed another patent law amendment for the Endless Frontiers Act (SA 2060). No defense or damages limitation has ever turned on the niceties of recordation of ownership at the USPTO. This would be a sea change in patent law. Something so radical at least should rise or fall based on thorough and thoughtful legislative debate, investigation and committee work, including testimony by experts in real estate law and patent practice.

Leahy-Tillis Amendments to Endless Frontier Act Opposed by Inventor Advocacy Group

The full U.S. Senate is currently considering passing S. 1260, the Endless Frontier Act, a bill that would establish a Directorate for Technology and Innovation within the National Science Foundation (NSF) that would work to establish U.S. dominance in crucial areas of basic research including artificial intelligence, high-performance computing and advanced manufacturing. The bill, which represents a bipartisan effort to address China’s ambitions to become a globally dominant technological power, includes a pair of amendments from Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) that would impact U.S. patent law by requiring foreign entities to register ownership changes to ensure the availability of infringement remedies, and by increasing the scope of ex parte reexamination to adjudicate whether patent claims are unenforceable for inequitable conduct. But according to small business and independent inventor advocacy group US Inventor, these amendments would negatively impact small inventors.

Republican Senators Demand Answers from Biden on ‘Disastrous Decision’ to Support COVID IP Waiver

A group of 16 Republican senators sent a letter on Wednesday to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai denouncing the Biden Administration’s “disastrous decision” to support a proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive intellectual property (IP) rights for COVID-19-related inventions and products.  The letter explains that the waiver is not limited to vaccines and “will do nothing to end the pandemic,” but will instead “undermine the extraordinary global response that has achieved historically remarkable results in record time and our nation’s global leadership in the technologies, medicines, and treatments of the future.”

Tillis and Cotton Urge Hirshfeld to Adopt Pilot Program to Address ‘Inherently Vague and Subjective’ Eligibility Analyses

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent a letter on Monday to the acting Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Drew Hirshfeld, asking him to “initiate a pilot program directing examiners to apply a sequenced approach to patent examination,” rather than the traditional “compact approach.” This proposed pilot program would require a select group of examiners and applicants who elected to participate in the program “to engage in a full examination of the grounds of patentability and then, once that process is complete, a full examination of the grounds of eligibility.”

Bipartisan Group of Senators Asks Hirshfeld to Gather Info on Eligibility Law by Next Year

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Chris Coons (D-DE) sent a letter on Friday to the Acting Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Drew Hirshfeld, asking him to “publish a request for information on the current state of patent eligibility jurisprudence in the United States, evaluate the responses,” and provide the senators with a detailed summary of the findings in order to assist them as they consider appropriate legislative action.

Twist Emerges in Senate IP Subcommittee Leadership for 117th Congress

On Sunday, February 14, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced the Subcommittees and Subcommittee Chairs of the Senate Judiciary Committee for the 117th Congress. Many in the IP universe had hoped Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), the Ranking Member of the Senate IP Subcommittee for the 116th Congress, would be appointed the IP Subcommittee Chair, considering his strong support for various IP reforms along with the previous IP Subcommittee Chair, Thom Tillis (R-NC). Tillis will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee this Congress, but Coons was not selected to serve as Chair.