This Week in Washington IP: Regulating Stablecoins and Digital Assets, Establishing ARPA-H for Biomedical Research, and Clean Hydrogen for U.S. Industries

Washington DC Capitol dome detail with waving american flagThis week in Washington IP news, committees in the House of Representatives will host a string of hearings focused on improving data innovation and R&D to stop human trafficking, recommendations for regulating stablecoins as they become a larger part of the universe of currencies accepted in the U.S., and efforts to establish an advanced research project for healthcare in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Senate, the Agriculture Committee will host a hearing on regulating digital assets like NFTs, while the Energy Committee will examine the possibilities for incorporating clean hydrogen technologies into various U.S. industry sectors. Elsewhere, The Hudson Institute debates concerns over Chinese companies heavily subsidized by that foreign government to acquire U.S. firms that are involved in sensitive areas of tech R&D. 

Tuesday, February 8 

House Committee on Financial Services 

Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets’ Report on Stablecoins

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

Last November, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG), in collaboration with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, issued a report that assessed the feasibility of enabling the use of stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency that has a value tied to the value of the U.S. dollar, among all American households and businesses. The report contained several recommendations including requiring stablecoin issuers to be insured depository institutions and appropriate federal oversight of custodial wallet providers to reduce payment system risk. The sole witness for this hearing will be the Honorable Nellie Liang, Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, U.S. Department of the Treasury.

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

Data Challenges Impacting Human Trafficking Research and Development of Anti-Trafficking Technological Tools

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

Human trafficking is illegal under U.S. law but certain technological shortcomings make it very difficult to discover trafficking operations where they develop around the world. A 2019 report from the United Nations’ Inter-agency Coordination Group Against Trafficking in Persons found that sex traffickers abuse technological tools available on the Internet to conceal their identities while facilitating recruitment and exploitation of people into trafficking systems. Standardizing data stores on human trafficking operations and improving technologies for prevalence estimation have both been suggested as research and development goals for addressing this form of crime. The witness panel for this event will include Dr. Gretta Goodwin, Director, Homeland Security and Justice, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Dr. Louise Shelley, Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Endowed Chair and University Professor, Director, Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, George Mason University; Theresa Harris, Interim Program Director, Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Hannah Darnton, Associate Director, Ethics, Human Rights, and Technology, Business for Social Responsibility, Secretariate of Tech Against Trafficking.

House Subcommittee on Health 

ARPA-H: The Next Frontier of Biomedical Research

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

While COVID-19 vaccines were developed at a breakneck pace by any objective measure, the pandemic overall shined a light on many gaps within the biomedical research and development sector that can produce a drag on medical innovation. President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 budget request includes appropriations of $6.5 billion to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) as a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) charged with coordinating federally-funded research into evolving areas such as mRNA vaccines for cancer prevention and patient-specific immunotherapy treatments. The sole witness on the hearing’s first panel will be Eric S. Lander, Ph.D., Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The hearing’s second witness panel will also include Keith R. Yamamoto, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy, University of California San Francisco; Esther Krofah, Executive Director, FasterCures and Center for Public Health, Milken Institute; Geoffrey Shiu Fei Ling, M.D., Ph.D., CEO, On Demand Pharmaceuticals and Professor of Neurology, Johns Hopkins Medicine; Admiral Brett P. Giroir, Former Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Brian James Miller, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Trademark Basics Boot Camp, Module 5: Application Filing Walk-Through

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

This workshop, the fifth module in the USPTO’s eight-part Trademark Basics Boot Camp, will discuss the basics of filing trademark applications with a focus on the agency’s online Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). Topics covered during this workshop include TEAS basics include pre-filing checklists as well as a live demonstration of filing a trademark application through TEAS Plus.

Wednesday, February 9 

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry

Examining Digital Assets: Risks, Regulation, and Innovation

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

As cryptocurrencies continue to grow in value and popular appeal, and new digital assets like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have begun to diversify the crypto market, lawmakers in D.C. have been moving forward legislation designed to tax, regulate and create consumer protections for these decentralized forms of currency. For example, the major infrastructure legislation passed by Congress last November included a provision defining brokers in the cryptocurrency and digital asset markets for tax reporting purposes. The sole witness on this hearing’s first panel is Rostin Benham, Chairman, Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The second witness panel will include Sandra Ro, CEO, Global Blockchain Business Council – USA; Samuel Bankman-Fried, Founder and CEO, FTX; Perianne Boring, Founder and CEO, Chamber of Digital Commerce; and Kevin Werbach, Professor, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

A Legislative Hearing to Examine S. 2373, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2021, and S. 1290, the STRANDED Act

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in G50 Dirksen.

On Wednesday morning, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will convene a legislative hearing to examine S. 2373, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2021. If passed into law, the bill would improve federal funding for domestic research and development programs in nuclear energy generation and to support the licensing and commercialization of advanced nuclear technologies. The committee will also debate S. 1290, the Sensible, Timely Relief for America’s Nuclear Districts’ Economic Development Act of 2021, which would establish a task force to study and work towards the removal of stranded nuclear waste affecting communities across the United States.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation 

Nominations Hearing

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

The nomination of Gigi Sohn to serve as a Commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been controversial from the earliest days of President Biden’s selection. A collection of Senate Republicans, including Senate IP Subcommittee Ranking Member Thom Tillis (R-NC), sent a letter addressed to President Biden late last November asking the President to withdraw Sohn’s nomination because of her prior stances on net neutrality and copyright protections. This hearing will be the second nomination hearing during which the Senate Commerce Committee will vet Sohn’s nomination, and some commentators are noting that a second such nomination is unusual enough that support to confirm Sohn on the FCC may be waning. The sole witness during this day’s hearing will be Gigi Sohn.

Thursday, February 10 

Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources 

Full Committee Hearing on Clean Hydrogen

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 366 Dirksen.

Among the many federal funding appropriations included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law by President Biden last November is $9.5 billion in funds to accelerate research and development of clean hydrogen energy, which could help to displace the use of fossil fuels in several sectors including transportation and energy utilities. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

The Heritage Foundation 

Delivering U.S. Army Modernization

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

The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated issues with modernizing the U.S. Army, which has taken a procurement holiday for much of the past two decades, leaving this branch of the U.S. military less capable of incorporating advanced technologies with military applications. This event, which will explore the U.S. Army’s modernization efforts in light of downward pressures on budgets, will feature a discussion with General James C. McConville, 40th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army; and Thomas Spoehr, Director, Center for National Defense.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

What You Need to Sell Your Arts and Crafts Online: An Introduction to Entrepreneurship for Native American Visual Artists (Session 1)

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

This USPTO workshop is designed to address challenges faced by Native American artists in tribal communities across the United States as they try to reach larger audiences for their artworks by selling on e-commerce platforms online. This session, which features speakers with extensive experience in selling Native American arts and crafts, will cover e-commerce basics, ways that artists can enforce their IP rights in an e-commerce context, and help on developing business plans.

Friday, February 11 

The Hudson Institute

Should Companies Subsidized by China Be Permitted to Buy US Tech Firms?

At 12:00 PM on Friday, online video webinar.

The ruling Communist Party in China maintains a close control of many state-owned enterprises and uses subsidies in order to advance Chinese interests in several key technological sectors. As Congress debates differences in the Senate and House’s versions of key legislative packages to promote America competitiveness against China, some policymakers have suggested that the United States should take a stronger stand against allowing Chinese firms to acquire U.S. firms in areas of tech that could pose a national security concern. This event will feature a discussion with Representative Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI); Representative Greg Stanton (D-AZ); and moderated by Scott Duesterberg, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute.


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