This Week in Washington IP: Exploring Mobile Networking Beyond 5G, The SBA’s Role in Small Business Franchising, and Strengthening U.S. Leadership in Technical Standards week in Washington IP news, the House Science Committee hosts hearings discussing improving R&D activities in the bioenergy sector and increasing U.S. leadership in contributions to technical standards, while the House Communications Subcommittee explores the world of mobile networking innovations beyond 5G. Over in the Senate, the Small Business Committee debates the U.S. Small Business Administration’s role in facilitating franchising opportunities for small business owners. Elsewhere, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation hosts an event to discuss ways to reconcile the House and Senate versions of major innovation and competition legislation, while the Brookings Institution urges caution on proposals to limit Section 230 protections to liability for user-created content in light of the negative impacts of recent curbs to those limited liability provisions under the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.

Monday, March 14 

Brookings Institution 

The Future of Section 230 Reform

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

In recent years, there have been increasing calls from both sides of the political aisle on Capitol Hill to revisit the limited liability provisions for online platforms that are made available by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Most recently, Congress carved out certain Section 230 exceptions through passage of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) of 2018. Critics of that bill point to unintended consequences that FOSTA has had in shutting down websites that have nothing to do with sex trafficking, and forcing organized sex workers into more dangerous work environments, as reasons why Congress should be very careful when stripping Section 230 protections in any context. This event will feature a discussion with a panel including Quinta Jurecic, Fellow, Governance Studies, and Senior Editor, Lawfare; Danielle Citron, Jefferson Scholars Foundation Schenck Distinguished Professor in Law, Caddell and Chapman Professor of Law, and LawTech Center Director, University of Virginia School of Law; Kate D’Adamo, Partner, Reframe Health and Justice Counseling; and moderated by Benjamin Wittes, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, and Editor-in-Chief, Lawfare.

Tuesday, March 15

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Patent Basics

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

This USPTO workshop is designed to teach basic concepts in patents including different forms of patents, differences between provisional and non-provisional patent applications, the role of patent examiners and what to expect during the patent prosecution process at the agency. A Spanish-language version of this online workshop will take place two hours earlier at noon.

Wednesday, March 16 

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology 

Bioenergy Research and Development for the Fuels and Chemicals of Tomorrow

At 10:00 AM on Wednesday in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

Both the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Bioenergy Technologies Office of the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) are charged with directing federal-level activities into supporting research and development into bioenergy technologies. These technologies are capable of producing alternative fuel sources that contribute fewer carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, or can even capture carbon from the environmental sources and catalyze CO2 for reuse in plastics or even food additives. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. Jonathan Male, Chief Scientist, Energy Processes and Materials, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Dr. Andrew Leakey, Director, Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Dr. Laurel Harmon, Vice President, Government Affairs, LanzaTech; and Dr. Eric Hegg, Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation 

Dynamic Antitrust Discussion Series: “Has Economic Concentration Really Increased?”

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

While the current wave of D.C. lawmakers favoring increased antitrust regulation against Big Tech and other sectors of the economy have forwarded a narrative that dangerous levels of market concentration is slowing productivity and wage growth, many have questioned whether these claims of excessive market concentration and their negative impacts can be substantiated. This event, part of ITIF’s Dynamic Antitrust Discussion Series, will feature a discussion on the relationship between market concentration and antitrust with a panel including Robert D. Atkinson, President, ITIF; Nicholas Trachter, Senior Economist and Research Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Gregory Werden, Former Senior Economic Counsel, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice; and moderated by Julie Carlson, Associate Director for Antitrust and Innovation Policy, ITIF.

House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology

5G and Beyond: Exploring the Next Wireless Frontier

At 10:30 AM on Wednesday in 2123 Rayburn.

Federal management of wireless spectrum across the United States is expected to incentivize private commercial firms to invest in fifth-generation (5G) mobile networking infrastructure. 5G mobile networks are expected to increase data download speeds and device connectivity each by an order of magnitude, while some technology experts are already beginning to plot the path forward towards 6G mobile networks in the distant future. To ensure effective management of spectrum, lawmakers in D.C. are exploring ways to increase the amount of wireless spectrum available for commercial entities and improve coordination of spectrum management activities between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The witness panel for this hearing will include Scott Bergmann, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, CTIA; Mary L. Brown, Senior Director, Government Affairs, Cisco Systems Inc.; Greg Guice, Director of Government Affairs, Public Knowledge; Jayne Stancavage, Global Executive Director, Product and Digital Infrastructure Policy, Intel Corporation; and Von Todd, Chief Executive of Corporate Strategy and Analytics, HTC Inc., and Director, Competitive Carriers Association Board of Directors.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium, Part Two: Trends and Opportunities

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

This professional business outreach program is the second installment of the USPTO’s two-part Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium, which is designed to explore the economic impact of women in business and social trends affecting their career trajectories. This event will feature a discussion on economic social trends of women in business with a panel including Adji Fatou Diagne, Ph.D., Economist, Survey and Economic Research, Demographic Research Area, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau; Tené Dolphin, Executive Director, National Women’s Business Council; and moderated by Andrew A. Toole, Ph.D., Chief Economist, USPTO.

Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Small Business Franchising: An Overview of the Industry, SBA’s Role, and Legislative Proposals

At 2:30 PM on Wednesday in 301 Russell Senate Office Building.

Small business franchising, which heavily leverages the licensing of trademark rights to brands that are recognizable to U.S. consumers, offers a pathway for many entrepreneurs to build a business based upon a model that has already proven successful time and time again. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers counseling and several other resources to prospective franchisees who are looking for more information as to important considerations when looking at opportunities to franchise. The witness panel for this hearing has yet to be announced.

Thursday, March 17

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

Setting the Standards: Strengthening U.S. Leadership in Technical Standards

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 2318 Rayburn.

American entities have largely lead the rest of the world in terms of developing technologies that are essential to various technical standards for mobile networking, WiFi connectivity and more. In recent years, however, foreign rivals in China and elsewhere have worked to unseat the United States from their top spot by encouraging patenting activities by domestic firms, which in turn has led to greater contributions to technical standards by telecoms and other R&D firms in those countries. The witness panel for this hearing will include Dr. James K. Olthoff, Acting Director, National Institutes of Standards and Technology; Mary Saunders, Vice President, Government Relations and Public Policy, American National Standards Institute; Dr. Alissa Cooper, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Technology Policy and Cisco Fellow, Cisco Systems Inc.; and Andrew Updegrove, Partner, Gesmer Updegrove L.L.P.

Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Understanding the Role of Digital Assets in Illicit Finance

At 10:00 AM on Thursday in 538 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Last Wednesday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order on ensuring responsible development of digital assets which acknowledged that, as the global market capitalization of non-state issued digital assets has eclipsed $3 trillion as of November 2021, the unregulated nature of these financial assets makes them an easy target for illicit finance operations such as money laundering. Biden’s executive order directs several Cabinet-level secretaries and heads of federal agencies to identify illicit finance risks posed by digital assets and develop a coordinated action plan to mitigate those risks. As of this writing, the only witness listed for this hearing’s panel is Jonathan Levin, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Chainalysis, Inc.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation 

Devil in the Details: Reconciling the House and Senate Versions of Competitiveness Legislation

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

Although it took more than half a year for the House of Representatives to pass the America COMPETES Act following the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, and while differences between those bills must be negotiated by lawmakers in Congress, the passage of both bills represent a major reshaping of the U.S. innovation economy for R&D into semiconductors and other critical areas of technology. This event will feature a discussion on how those differences can be reconciled to result in a legislative package that helps the U.S. effectively compete against China and other foreign economic rivals with a panel including Bruce H. Andrews, Corporate Vice President and Chief Government Affairs Officer, Intel; Stephen Ezell, Vice President, Global Innovation Policy, ITIF; David M. Hart, Senior Fellow, ITIF; David Vasko, Director of Advanced Technology, Rockwell Automation; and moderated by Robert D. Atkinson, President, ITIF. This event will also feature remarks delivered by Senator Todd Young (R-IA).

House Subcommittee on Health

The Future of Medicine: Legislation to Encourage Innovation and Improve Oversight

At 10:30 AM on Thursday in 2123 Rayburn.

On Thursday morning, the House Health Subcommittee will convene a hearing to discuss a total of 22 proposed bills that are designed to increase innovation in medical fields or improve oversight of market approval processes for new or generic medicines. These bills include H.R. 2565, the FDA Modernization Act; H.R. 5566, the Finding Orphan-disease Remedies With Antifungal Research and Development (FORWARD) Act; H.R. 5585, the Advanced Research Project Agency-Health (ARPA-H) Act; H.R. 6000, the Cures 2.0 Act; and H.R. 6988, the Drug Manufacturing Innovation Act.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Behind the Scenes at PTAB: Board Operations Division

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

This webinar, part of the USPTO’s PTAB Boardside Chat series, will feature a discussion on the activities of the Board Operations Division, which is responsible for paneling PTAB cases, managing hearings at the Board, performing paralegal duties and maintaining critical IT systems.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

The Path to a Patent, Part VIII: Common Mistakes and Post-Filing Support

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

This workshop, the final session in the USPTO’s eight-part Path to a Patent series, will provide information on properly filing a patent application, including common mistakes to avoid, as well as responsibilities for maintaining a patent application after filing.


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