IP and Innovation on Capitol Hill: Week of March 4

This week on Capitol Hill and in the Washington D.C. area, the Supreme Court grants the petition in Iancu v. NantKwest; the U.S. House of Representatives will hold several hearings on important topics in technology, including electronic health records modernization for veterans, cybersecurity measures for voting systems and research on the nexus between energy and water. House committees will also explore ways to improve broadband access for small businesses and promote generic competition to reduce branded pharmaceutical prices. Drug pricing, which often involves a focus on patents, is the subject of a two-part hearing series in the U.S. Senate. Other Senate hearings this week will look at data breaches in the private sector and IP issues related to Chinese trade. The week is book-ended by a pair of events hosted by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, including a Thursday event that looks at the impact of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 and controversial calls to enforce certain provisions of the law to reduce drug prices.

Monday, March 4

SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Iancu v. NantKwest

The Supreme Court announced Monday morning that it will hear Iancu v. NantKwest Inc., a case that examines whether a patent applicant appealing an adverse decision on his or her patent from the USPTO in district court is liable for the USPTO’s attorneys’ fees. The Question Presented is: “Whether the phrase ‘[a]ll the expenses of the proceedings’ in 35 U.S.C. § 145 encompasses the personnel expenses the United States Patent and Trademark Office incurs when its employees, including attorneys, defend the agency in Section 145 litigation.”

Tuesday, March 5

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

Taking the Fight to Clean Energy: What the Military’s Investment in Energy Innovation for the Warfighter Means for the Rest of Us

10:00 AM on Tuesday at Suite 610A, 1101 K St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005

Each year, the Department of Defense invests $1.6 billion into research, development, test and evaluation activities that look at the energy needs of pieces of the nation’s military infrastructure including solar drones and tactical microgrids. While some question the relevance of these activities to the civilian sector, these clean energy developments can be better leveraged to reduce carbon emissions. The discussion panel for this event includes Lee Buchanan, Paladin Capital Group; Jeffrey Marqusee, Senior Research Adviser, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Conner Prochaska, Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of the Office of Technology Transitions; and Dorothy Robyn, Senior Fellow, Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy. The moderator for the panel discussion is David Hart, Senior Fellow, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.

Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights 

Does America Have a Monopoly Problem? Examining Concentration and Competition in the U.S. Economy

2:30 PM on Tuesday in 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Last November, the Open Markets Institute released a report titled America’s Concentration Crisis which discussed monopoly issues in 32 industries operating in the U.S., including social networking sites, electronic medical records systems, e-commerce and smartphone operating systems. The witness panel for this hearing includes the Honorable Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley; the Honorable Joshua Wright, Professor of Law, Executive Director of the Global Antitrust Institute, Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University; John Kwoka, Neil F. Finnegan Distinguished Professor of Economics, Northeastern University; and A. Douglas Melamed, Professor of the Practice of Law, Stanford Law School.

House Committee on Rules 

Meeting: H.R.1 – For the People Act of 2019

5:00 PM on Tuesday in H-313 The Capitol

H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019, was originally introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) and the bill has since garnered 236 total co-sponsors, the only original co-sponsor being House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Along with provisions on ethics rules for public servants and transparency in political funding, the bill includes sections on promoting voter registration through the Internet and promoting cybersecurity technologies for digital voting systems.

Wednesday, March 6

Senate Special Committee on Aging

The Complex Web of Prescription Drug Prices, Part I: Patients Struggling with Rising Costs

9:30 AM on Wednesday at 138 Dirksen

This hearing is the first of a two-part exploration of issues related to prescription drug prices, a debate which has increasingly focused on the impact of patents blocking consumer access to generics. The witness panel for this hearing includes Michelle Dehetre, Pam Holt, Donnette Smith, Sheldon Armus, and Barbara Cisek.

House Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies

Electronic Health Record Modernization and Information Technology Oversight

10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2362-B Rayburn House Office Building

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been in the midst of a 10-year, $16 billion project meant to modernize the VA’s medical record keeping system to enable electronic health records which can be shared much more quickly with authorized medical institutions and personnel than traditional paper records. The witness panel for this hearing includes James Byrne, General Counsel, Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of the VA; James Gfrerer, Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and Chief Information Officer, VA; and John Windom, Executive Director, Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization, VA.

House Committee on Small Business 

Rebuilding America: Small Business Perspective

11:00 AM on Wednesday in 2360 Rayburn

This February, the Small Business Optimism Index released by the National Federation of Independent Business showed that optimism in U.S. small business dropped to its lowest levels since November 2016 due in part to fears of recession. This hearing will explore how upgrades to the nation’s infrastructure, including its broadband Internet system, can benefit American small businesses. The witness panel for this hearing includes Terri Williams, Director, SDBC Procurement Technical Assistance Center, University of Texas at San Antonio; Tim Donovan, Senior Vice President, Legislative Affairs, Competitive Carriers Association; Rosaline Bougher, President, A.D. Marble, testifying on behalf of the American Council of Engineering Companies; and the Honorable Kris Knochelmann, Judge Executive, President, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology 

Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Science and Technology

2:00 PM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn

Last January, the National Science Foundation released a Science and Engineering Indicators report which showed that, while the U.S. was the leader in science and technology activities around the globe, other countries including China were grabbing a larger share of those activities and closing the gap between them and the U.S. The witness panel for this hearing includes Dr. Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences; Dr. Patrick Gallagher, Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh; and Dr. Mehmood Khan, Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer at PepsiCo.

Thursday, March 7

Senate Special Committee on Aging

The Complex Web of Prescription Drug Prices, Part II: Untangling the Web and Paths Forward

10:00 AM on Thursday in 138 Dirksen

This is the second part of the two-part hearing series at the Senate Special Committee on Aging which will look at issues related to prescription drug prices. The witness panel for this hearing includes Lisa Gill, Deputy Editor, Special Projects, Consumer Reports; Pooja Babbrah, Practice Lead, Point-of-Care Partners; Dr. Stacie Dusetzina, Associate Professor, Health Policy, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and Jane Horvath, Principal, Horvath Health Policy.

House Subcommittee on Health

Promoting Competition to Lower Medicare Drug Prices

10:00 AM on Thursday in 1100 Longworth House Office Building

The high price of pharmaceuticals for both America’s consumers and the nation’s Medicare system has been a topic of debate for years; in recent months, policymakers in the nation’s capital have increasingly turned towards the subject of eliminating drug patents to promote access to generics and reduce drug prices. The witness panel for this hearing includes Robin Feldman, Director of the Institute for Innovation Law, UC Hastings School of Law; Ameet Sarpatwari, Assistant Director of the Program on Regulation, Therapeutics, and Law, Harvard Medical School; Amy Kapczynski, Co-Director of the Global Health Justice Partnership, Yale Law School; Frederick Isasi, Executive Director, Families USA; and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, American Action Forum.

House Subcommittee on Energy 

The Energy Water Nexus: Drier Watts and Cheaper Drops

10:00 AM on Thursday in 2318 Rayburn

The infrastructure for the energy and water systems of the United States are very interconnected—energy is used to treat and deliver water while water is used to cool thermoelectric plants and grow crops. Last December, the Department of Energy announced a $100 million project to establish an Energy-Water Desalination Hub which will examine certain issues related to the nexus between energy and water. The witness panel for this hearing includes Dr. Vincent Tidwell, Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories; Kate Zerrenner, Senior Manager, Environmental Defense Fund; Dr. Richard Bonner, VP of R&D, Advanced Cooling Technologies Inc.; Dr. Raman Singh, Associate Dean for Engineering at OSU-Tulsa, Professor and Head, School of Materials, Science and Engineering, Oklahoma State University; and Dr. Michael Webber, Chief Science and Technology Officer at ENGIE, Professor at UT Austin.

Senate Subcommittee on Security 

China: Challenges for U.S. Commerce

10:00 AM on Thursday in 562 Dirksen

The heightened trade tensions between the U.S. and China have focused a great deal on the impact to security that China’s activities have on the American marketplace. This hearing will look at challenges to American intellectual property along with manufacturing competitiveness data localization requirements, standards-setting and cybersecurity threats. The witness panel for this hearing includes the Honorable Eric Rosenbach, Co-Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; Jonathan Kallmer, Executive Vice President of Policy, Information Technology Industry Council; Daniel Rosen, Partner, Rhodium Group; and Samm Sacks, Cybersecurity Policy Fellow and China Digital Economy Fellow, New America.

Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations

Examining Private Sector Data Breaches

10:00 AM on Thursday in 106 Dirksen

In recent years, major data breaches at private sector firms like Marriott, Equifax, ebay, Yahoo and Target Stores have compromised personal information including credit card info, e-mail addresses and driver license numbers for hundreds of millions of Internet consumers. There is no witness panel announced for this hearing.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

Preserving Bayh-Dole – the “Inspired” Law That Underpins U.S. Leadership in Life-Sciences Innovation

12:00 PM on Thursday in Room HVC-200, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center

Since its enactment in 1980, the Bayh-Dole Act has played a crucial role in enabling the commercialization of discoveries stemming from federally-funded scientific research, fueling America’s rise as the global leader in life-sciences innovation. However, there have been growing calls on the U.S. government to exercise “march in” rights under Bayh-Dole as part of efforts to control drug pricing in this country despite the fact that such an exercise would harm research universities and limit further innovation. A keynote address at this event will be given by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). A panel discussion at this event will involve Stephen Ezell, Vice President, Global Innovation Policy, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation; Joseph Allen, President, Allen & Associates, Inc.; Melissa Brand, Associate Counsel and Director for Intellectual Property Policy, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO); and Steve Susalka, CEO, Association of University Technology Managers.




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