Following an incredibly contentious vote for Speaker of the House, it has taken some time for Congressional subcommittees to take shape. However, at least the Republican membership of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet has taken shape in recent days, featuring a couple of well-known politicians whose efforts on patent system reforms have represented the interests of either end of the world of IP system stakeholders. The House IP Subcommittee during the 118th Congress also contains several incoming Representatives, including a few that have had some engagement with IP matters prior to joining the subcommittee.
During the PTAB Masters 2023 program, which was held this week on Tuesday and Wednesday at IPWatchdog’s headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia, former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director David Kappos explained on a panel about potential reform of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that the PTAB was meant to be an alternative to district court, but “that hasn’t worked out.” Kappos was Director during the enactment and implementation of the America Invents Act (AIA), which established the PTAB.
This week in Washington IP news, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is holding a hearing on the state of the country’s supply chains, IPWatchdog is hosting a two-day event on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) at its headquarters, and an educator is sharing his experience implementing IP education as a STEM teacher and his current work with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
As Robert Frost poetically noted, two roads diverged in the woods he was exploring. One road was well trod, easy to traverse, and the other less traveled, difficult and getting weedy. Sadly, although Americans pride themselves on innovation, American innovation, particularly inventorship, is now the difficult road. Bad decisions made in previous forks in the road have gradually undermined the innovative spirit in our nation, but some inventors in Washington, DC, next week want to change course before we automatically go down the well-trod path.
When Adam Smith spoke about an “invisible hand,” he was talking about a good thing – the way that free markets harness the laws of competition, supply and demand and self-interest to improve the economy. But he also could have been thinking of another law. The law of unintended consequences: that actions of people, and especially of governments, always have unanticipated effects. Sometimes these effects can be perverse, reflecting a profound failure of “second-order thinking” (in other words, thinking ahead about “how could this possibly go wrong?”). On January 5, 2023 – a day that may go down in IP infamy – we saw two bold actions. First, the “Protecting American IP Act” became law; and second, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a new rule that would invalidate noncompete agreements across the United States. But wait, you might say, that actually sounds great! What’s the problem with protecting American IP, and making the rest of the country join California in unleashing talent to go where it likes? Well, don’t be too hasty. Stay with me on this, and you will see just how shortsighted our government can be.
US Inventor is publicly opposing the appointment of Representative Darrell Issa (R – CA) to Chair the IP Subcommittee due to Issa’s record of IP reforms that are harmful to independent inventors and startups. To accomplish these IP reforms, Issa squelches the voices of independent inventors and startups while amplifying the voices of Big Tech and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) controlled multinationals. Now, in a recent statement, Issa argues that his IP reforms have made the patent system more fair for everyone, even as the facts show he is completely wrong. Issa is unfit to be IP Subcommittee Chair.
This week in Washington IP news, Congress is back in session with a light week of hearings including a Senate Judiciary hearing on competition in live entertainment. Elsewhere, there is a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) training session on the patent appeals process, and a discussion about President Biden’s tech agenda from the ITIF.
The House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee—Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet (IP Subcommittee) writes patent law and is responsible for other patent-related initiatives. A country’s patent laws directly affect its innovation economy. In a free-market economy, patent laws can boost or destroy incentives to invent and commercialize new things. As a result, patent law influences economic and job growth, social mobility, technological advances and national security. The 118th congress has begun. Currently, the Republican Steering Committee is selecting the Chairs for the various committees and filling the ranks with members. The next step is for the Chairs of the various committees to select their subcommittee chairs. In the case of the IP Subcommittee, Jim Jordan is the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, so he selects the IP Subcommittee Chair. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) is the most likely candidate to be selected.
This week in Washington IP news, following the federal holiday to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Congress is not in session, but there are still some interesting events to put on your calendar, including the all-day listening session on United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)-U.S. Food & Drug Administration collaboration on Thursday; a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute about the near-term future for financial markets; and a discussion with IP experts at the USPTO about IP protection in China.
This week in Washington IP news, after a hectic week that saw the House take 15 rounds of voting to nominate new Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, both the House and Senate will not be holding any hearings this week. Events to look out for this week include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hosting a discussion on how companies can create a more inclusive culture, the Hudson holding a panel discussion on microelectronics in the U.S., and a talk on technological innovation from a former Google CEO hosted by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Paul Morinville, Founder of US Inventor, recently published a response to my column criticizing RALIA, a bill in Congress that would abolish the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). I offer a few observations in reply. I argued in “The Made in China Act,” November 16, 2022, that juries are not an effective or reliable check on patent validity and that eliminating contested validity reviews at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) would be a disaster for U.S. manufacturing. As if determined to prove my point, the VLSI patent-assertion group recently obtained yet another monster infringement verdict against Intel based on a patent that probably shouldn’t have issued.
This week in Washington IP news, the USPTO is hosting an event on becoming an Administrative Patent Judge, and the Brookings Institute is hosting a debate on cryptocurrency regulation.
This week in Washington IP news, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding an Executive Business Meeting in which they will discuss the Pride in Patent Ownership Act, while several Senate subcommittees hold hearings related to American manufacturing, diversity in entrepreneurship, and increasing access to capital in underserved markets. Elsewhere, IPWatchdog is hosting a webinar discussing USPTO Director Kathi Vidal’s tenure, the USPTO will host a virtual Boardside Chat with Deputy Director Derrick Brent, and the CSIS looks at the latest meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC).
As the Senate Judiciary Committee gears up for an Executive Business Meeting Thursday where members will in part consider S.2774, the Pride in Patent Ownership Act, co-sponsored by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a number of patent advocacy organizations have sent a joint letter to the committee asking it to oppose the bill. The Pride in Patent Ownership Act (PPOA) is seemingly intended to ensure that the public has access to information about the true owner of a patent. But critics of the bill have noted that it focuses on ownership of patents, and does not seek to provide true transparency by identifying those funding and benefiting from Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) challenges, for instance. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) last year questioned the bill’s approach, which would entail penalizing patent owners who fail to record accurate ownership information within 90 days after the issuance date.
This week in Washington IP news and events, the House Judiciary Committee convenes a hearing Wednesday afternoon to mark up a new copyright bill that would require AM/FM radio stations to pay copyright royalties to music creators. Over in the Senate, the Agriculture Committee explores the research and innovation programs that could be funded through the next iteration of the Farm Bill that will pass Congress next year. Elsewhere, the Hudson Institute pushes back on misguided claims that patent licensing will prevent innovation in the Internet of Things, while the Center for Strategic & International Studies invites USC Gould School of Law Professor Jonathan Barnett for a discussion on patent licensing and enforcement policies in the People’s Republic of China.