This Week in Washington IP: Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Microelectronics, Amending Section 230 Immunity for Big Tech, and the Decadal Survey for Astronomy and Astrophysics

Washington DC Capitol dome detail with waving american flagThis week in Washington IP news, committee hearings in the House of Representatives will focus on ways to ensure that America retains global leadership in microelectronics, proposed legislative amendments to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to rein in legal immunities for major online platform providers, and recommendations from the recent decadal survey for astronomy and astrophysics, including recommendations for building a next-generation large telescope. Over in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee will discuss several judicial nominations, including a pair of nominees to sit on the Ninth Circuit. Elsewhere, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation will host the annual Global Trade and Innovation Policy Alliance summit, while the American Enterprise Institute explores ways that Congress can make minor changes to current antitrust law to increase regulation against anticompetitive Big Tech practices while limiting negative impacts on consumers. 

Tuesday, November 30 

American Enterprise Institute 

How Can Congress Act More Constructively on Antitrust?

At 3:30 PM on Tuesday, online video webinar.

Legislators in both houses of Congress have proposed a series of bills with the goal of expanding the authority of U.S. antitrust regulators to go after certain business practices of Big Tech companies. While many of the activities certainly have anticompetitive effects, many of these bills include some provisions that some critics have found problematic for the potential negative impacts they may have on consumers. This event will feature a discussion on more constructive ways to improve current antitrust laws with a panel including Michael Kades, Director, Markets and Competition Policy, Washington Center for Equitable Growth; Andrea Agathoklis Murino, Partner, Antitrust and Competition, Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Chair, Global Antitrust and Competition, Baker Botts LLP; Nancy L. Rose, Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Applied Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and moderated by Mark Jamison, Nonresident Senior Fellow, AEI; and Scott J. Wallsten, President, Technology Policy Institute.


Wednesday, December 1

House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology 

Holding Big Tech Accountable: Targeted Reforms to Tech’s Legal Immunity

At 10:30 AM on Wednesday in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

On Wednesday morning, the House Communications Subcommittee will convene a hearing to discuss a series of proposed bills designed to amend provisions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to eliminate certain immunities enjoyed by technological platforms available online. These bills include H.R. 2154, the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act; H.R. 3184, the Civil Rights Modernization Act of 2021; H.R. 3421, the Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism, and Consumer Harms (SAFE TECH) Act; and H.R. 5596, the Justice Against Malicious Algorithms Act of 2021.

House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics

House Subcommittee on Research and Technology 

A Review of the Decadal Survey for Astronomy and Astrophysics in the 2020s

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

In early November, the National Academy of Sciences released its latest decadal survey of the fields of astronomy and astrophysics, providing several recommendations for the U.S. government in directing federal funding for science projects to advance those fields. Chief among the most recent survey’s recommendations is the construction of a large infrared/optical/ultraviolet telescope for greater exploration of habitable exoplanets that are currently considered to be capable of supporting life. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Fiona A. Harrison, Co-Chair, Steering Committee, Committee for a Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and Harold A. Rosen Professor of Physics, California Institute of Technology; Dr. Robert C. Kennicutt, Co-Chair, Steering Committee, Committee for a Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Laureate Professor, University of Arizona, and Professor of Physics and Technology, Texas A&M University; and William Russell, Director, Contracting and National Security Acquisitions, Government Accountability Office.

Thursday, December 2 

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

2021 Global Trade and Innovation Policy Alliance Annual Summit

At 8:15 AM on Thursday at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, 700 K Street Suite 600, Washington, DC, 20001.

On Thursday, the annual summit for the Global Trade and Innovation Policy Alliance (GTIPA) will bring together a collection of leading policy analysts from a network of more than 40 think tanks dedicated to developing economic and trade policy across the globe. The keynote address at this event will be given by Matt Murray, Senior Bureau Official, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Following that address will be a series of panels discussing several challenges to the international community, including COVID-19 and the digital transformation, the future of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and global trade, supply chains as a force for economic development and resilience, maximizing global innovation through robust IP protections and open data flows, and lessons on stimulating innovation from the North American Competitive Index.

Senate Committee on the Judiciary 

Executive Business Meeting

 At 9:00 AM on Thursday in 216 Hart Senate Office Building.

On Thursday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee will convene an executive business meeting to discuss a pair of bills, one related to the modernization of electronic case management systems and another bill increasing personal safeguards for federal judges and their immediate families. The committee will also discuss more than a dozen judicial nominations selected by the Biden Administration, including two nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which handles many important intellectual property cases typically appealed from California federal district courts. Those nominees include Holly A. Thomas, currently a judge in Los Angeles County Superior Court, and Gabriel P. Sanchez, currently an associate judge with California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

E-Commerce and China: Strategies for Fighting Online Counterfeits, Part 2

At 9:00 AM on Thursday, online video webinar.

As e-commerce continues to make up a larger portion of global retail sales, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face growing pressures in fighting online sales of counterfeit goods, thanks in large part to Chinese entities selling knockoff goods on e-commerce platforms. This USPTO workshop features presentations by senior IP attorneys at the agency as well as brand experts from Mattel, Specialized Bicycles and Amazon, and will focus on topics including administrative, civil and criminal IP enforcement, ways to collaborate with e-commerce platforms, and how to establish a criminal case for IP infringement.

House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology

Ensuring American Leadership in Microelectronics

At 10:00 AM on Thursday, online video webinar.

The global chip shortage, exacerbated by several factors including increased demand for computer chips in a wide variety of appliances and vehicles as well as supply chain bottlenecks created during the COVID-19 pandemic, has created economic pressures in several industries. In recent weeks, Samsung announced that it would be building a $17 billion chip manufacturing facility in Tyler, TX, while major American automakers Ford and GM have been taking steps towards establishing their own semiconductor fabrication businesses. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Ann Kelleher, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Technology Development, Intel; Manish Bhatia, Executive Vice President, Global Operations, Micron Technology, Inc.; Dr. Michael Witherell, Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Dr. Mung Chiang, Executive Vice President and Dean of Engineering College, Purdue University.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Preparing an Effective Letter of Protest

At 3:00 PM on Thursday, online video webinar.

This USPTO workshop is designed to teach trademark practitioners about amendments made to the process of filing letters of protest by the passage of the Trademark Modernization Act late last December. Speakers will focus on several aspects of these third-party submissions of objective evidence for refusal of trademarks in currently pending applications, including appropriate subject matter, strict evidence requirements and common pitfalls in submitting letters of protest.

Friday, December 3 

Center for Strategic & International Studies 

Sparking a Revolution in Open Source Intelligence

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

The development of open source intelligence (OSINT) techniques have great potential for unlocking real world benefits by providing more effective analytics for the ever increasing amount of data available through open source databases accessible through digital networks. Currently, OSINT advances have been pursued to improve the current state of determining enterprise-level cloud security issues during mergers and acquisitions as well as surveilling the actions of foreign rivals on climate change. This event, which precedes the release of a CSIS paper on redefining OSINT for the intelligence community, will feature a discussion with a panel including Robert Cardillo, President, The Cardillo Group, and Former Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; Sean P. Roche, Director, National Security, Amazon Web Services (AWS) International Public Sector; Lauren Zabierek, Executive Director, Cyber Project, Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center; and Emily Harding, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, CSIS.



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