This Week in Washington IP: PPAC Quarterly Meeting, Pending Nominations Within the DOE’s Science Leadership, and Bills on Composite Technologies and Cybersecurity in U.S. Infrastructure week in Washington IP news, the House of Representatives remains quiet as it enters a scheduled district work period. However, several Senate committees will host hearings and business meetings, including the Senate Energy Committee which will discuss pending nominations to important science roles within the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Senate Homeland Security Committee which will explore several bills related to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity matters. Elsewhere, the American Enterprise Institute takes a look at the Federal Reserve’s efforts to establish a digital U.S. dollar, while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will hold its most recent quarterly meeting of the Patent Public Advisory Committee this Thursday. 

Tuesday, August 3 

Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources

Full Committee Hearing to Consider Pending Nominations

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

On Tuesday morning, the full Senate Energy Committee will convene a hearing to consider a series of pending nominations, including a few individuals nominated for positions at the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) who could have a great impact on the DoE’s science and research goals if confirmed. The nominees are Dr. Geraldine Richmond, to be Under Secretary for Science, DoE; Cynthia Weiner Stachelberg, to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior (Policy, Management and Budget); and Dr. Asmeret Berhe, to be Director of the Office of Science, DoE. The nomination of Berhe, a soil scientist at the University of California, signals a strong stance by the Biden Administration on climate science while Dr. Richmond’s background work in chemistry has focused on the molecular characteristics of water surfaces.

The Heritage Foundation

Killer Drones: Swarming Change to the Battlefields of the Future

At 1:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

The use of military drones in battlefield scenarios has changed over time, moving from a focus on large drones like the MQ-1 Predator or the MQ-9 Reaper that have heavy weapons capabilities to smaller drones like the Orbital 1K or Harop drones, which can be employed in swarms and have better ability to loiter on the battlefield. In recent years, such smaller drones have been employed to devastating effect in border skirmishes between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and foreign military officials in both China and the U.S. have been exploring how to best counteract this growing small drone threat. This event will feature a discussion with Dr. Seth Frantzman, Author, Middle East Security Expert; and John Venable, Senior Research Fellow for Defense Policy, The Heritage Foundation.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Trademark Basics Boot Camp, Module 1: Fundamentals

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

This workshop is the first module in the USPTO’s eight-part Trademark Basics Boot Camp and is designed to teach small business owners and entrepreneurs about the fundamentals of trademark registration including types of trademarks, benefits of a federal registration and filing and registration tips.


Wednesday, August 4

 Senate Committee on Science, Commerce, & Transportation

Executive Session

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 253 Russell Senate Office Building.

On Wednesday morning, the full Senate Science Committee will convene an executive session to consider a series of pending nominations and proposed pieces of legislation, including a pair of bills that would impact the technological development of certain areas of U.S. infrastructure. These bills include S. 451, the Composite Standards Act, which would direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to facilitate the adoption of composite technologies, such as carbon fiber materials, in infrastructure projects; and S. 1790, the Secure Equipment Act, which would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create rules that would deny authorization to any application for telecommunications equipment on the list of covered communications equipment posing a risk to U.S. national security.

Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs 

Business Meeting

At 10:30 AM on Wednesday in 342 Dirksen.

On Wednesday morning, the Senate Homeland Security Committee will convene a business meeting to discuss a series of bills, several of which involve actions on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity meant to improve national security. These bills include S. 2559, the Deepfake Task Force Act, which would establish the National Deepfake and Digital Provenance Task Force; S. 2551, the Artificial Intelligence Training for the Acquisition Workforce Act, which would require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to establish an AI training program for the acquisition workforce; and S. 2439, the DHS Industrial Control Systems Capabilities Enhancement Act, which would amend the Homeland Security Act to direct the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to maintain capabilities for identifying cyber threats to industrial control systems.

Thursday, August 5 

Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources

Full Committee Hearing on the Role Of and Programs Within the DoE’s Office of Science

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 366 Dirksen.

The DoE’s Office of Science plays a critical role in supporting basic research and development throughout the United States by maintaining a network of 10 U.S. national laboratories including Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory. In recent months, research projects funding by the DoE’s Office of Science have made strides in developing liquid magnetic droplets and discovering how plants interact with microbes found in fertilizers and soils. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

American Enterprise Institute 

Should the Fed Launch a Digital Currency? A Speech by Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller

At 10:30 AM on Thursday, online video webinar.

With cryptocurrencies like bitcoin grabbing news headlines by reaching record high values during the first half of 2021, many national financial systems have been contemplating the pros and cons of implementing a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The U.S. Federal Reserve for its part has publicly stated that it is “fully engaged in CBDC research and policy development” and the U.S. central banking system is exploring the underlying technology and policy issues involved with the potential of a digital U.S. dollar. News reports indicate that Fed Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is interested in pursuing a digital U.S. dollar in order to diminish consumers’ appetite for stablecoins, or cryptocurrencies that are tied to the value of the U.S. dollar. This AEI event will feature a presentation by Christopher Waller, Member, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Following that presentation will be a discussion between Waller and Michael R. Strain, Director of Economic Policy Studies, AEI.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Attend the Patent Public Advisory Committee Quarterly Meeting

At 11:00 AM on Thursday, online video webinar.

On Thursday morning, the USPTO will convene a regular quarterly meeting of the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC), the public advisory committee for the patent operations of the USPTO including policies, goals, performance, budget and user fees. Topics covered at this PPAC meeting will include a post-Arthrex update to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB); an update on pendencies for utility patents, design patents and petition flow; information on artificial intelligence initiatives at the USPTO, including enhanced search and Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) auto-classification; as well as an update on Section 101 subject matter eligibility.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

IP Enforcement: Overview for Artists and Creative Organizations

At 1:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

This workshop on IP registration and enforcement is designed specifically for artists and creative organizations who want to learn more about how to protect their creative works. Intellectual property attorneys at the USPTO will discuss how various forms of IP can be applied to artists and creative organizations, as well as a case study involving copyright and trademark infringement over creative works in the Internet context.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The Path to a Patent, Part IV: Learn How to Draft a Patent Application

At 1:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

This workshop, coordinated by the USPTO’s Silicon Valley Regional Office, is the fourth in the agency’s eight-part Path to a Patent series designed to teach individuals with an intermediate knowledge of patenting how to successfully apply for a patent. This workshop will focus on how to properly draft a patent application and avoid common mistakes made in formalities and other filing requirements.


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