Posts Tagged: "Congress"

Proposal from Senator King Won’t Reduce Drug Prices, Just Innovation

Many were stunned to learn that Senator Angus King (I-ME) included language undermining the Bayh-Dole Act in the report of the Senate Armed Services Committee as it approved the National Defense Authorization Act. The the language “directs” the Department of Defense (DOD) to issue compulsory licenses under Bayh-Dole “whenever the price of a drug, vaccine, or other medical technology is higher in the U.S. than the median price charged in the seven largest economies that have a per capita income at least half the per capita income of the U.S.” The provision gives the Department no discretion— it must comply. Apparently no one bothered to check with DOD or anyone familiar with the law to discover that this language incorporates a long discredited theory of how Bayh-Dole operates, or of the significant damage it would do to the development of badly needed medicines and the U.S. economy. The bill is headed to the full Senate for consideration. So before that happens, let’s consider why this is such a bad idea.

The High Tech Inventors Alliance: The newest institution of the efficient infringer lobby in D.C.

Eight tech companies owning a collective 115,000 patents announced the establishment of the High Tech Inventors Alliance (HTIA), an organization they claim is “dedicated to supporting balanced patent policy.” According to coverage by Congressional blog TheHill, the formation of the HTIA is intended to further debate on Capitol Hill over patent reform… The members of the alliance are your typical “Who’s Who” of the efficient infringer lobby… Every member of the HTIA, including Adobe, Cisco, Oracle and Salesforce.com all lobbied on issues related to the Innovation Act.

Thomas Massie: America’s Inventor Congressman

“I can tell you, every day Congress is in session there are lobbyists here trying to weaken the patent system,” Massie explained. In Massie’s words, those companies that come to Capitol Hill and lobby to weaken the patent system want to get into new fields, but the problem is they didn’t invent in those fields, so they face problems. Patent problems. A lot of those companies want to become automobile manufacturers, or cell phone manufacturers, or they want to write software for operating systems, but they didn’t invent in those areas and they don’t own the patents that have historically been the touchstone of innovation ownership. “They’d love to just come in and start playing in those fields and start using their size and scale as an advantage, and to them, patents look like a hindrance,” Massie explained. “They are here in Congress looking to weaken patents and they are not just interested in weakening patents issued in the future, they are looking to weaken all patents.”

A section-by-section look at the STRONGER Patents Act introduced in the Senate

In late June, the Support Technology and Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (STRONGER) Patents Act of 2017 was introduced into the U.S. Senate by co-sponsors Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AZ), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). The bill’s purpose is “to strengthen the position of the United States as the world’s leading innovator by amending title 35, United States Code, to protect the property rights of the inventors that grow the country’s economy.”

Issa seems to believe patents are an entitlement, not a property right

For the first 220 years of United States black letter law and precedent based directly on the U.S. Constitution, patents are property rights. Even the Republican Party Platform states that patents are property rights. Issa disagrees with all of that. Issa seems to believe that patents are instead some sort of public entitlement like food stamps as is evident in his bill, the America Invents Act, and his continuing actions even last week. Issa’s hypocrisy is so blatant, so obvious and so up front that I’m not sure he even understands what he just said, which is a very dangerous problem. So long as Darrell Issa remains in key lawmaking position in the Republican leadership in Congress, venture capital, patenting, new technologies, startups and jobs will continue to flee from the U.S. to China.

House IP subcommittee looks for further ways to curb patent trolls after TC Heartland decision

The day’s hearing focused on the patent troll narrative despite the lack of a substantive connection between that narrative and the TC Heartland case… Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House IP subcommittee, started his remarks by asking to what degree the Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland fixed a decade-old problem. Noting that new lawsuits have hit consumer electronics giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the Eastern District of Texas (E.D. Tex.), Issa went on to say that “patent trolls, in my opinion, are the scourge of the patent world. We have time and time again attempted to stop patent trolls while in fact being objected to by genuine innovators who feel that they will be trampled in our effort to stop the worst of the worst.” Issa also opined that the TC Heartland decision now likely makes businesses of all kinds avoid the jurisdiction of E.D. Tex. “Why set up shop in Eastern Texas if it creates venue for patent infringement,” he said.

Patent troll narrative returns to Capitol Hill as relentless push for patent reform continues

The beauty of the patent troll narrative was it took little time to absorb and instantly painted a pejorative picture in the minds-eye of the listener. It became easy to repeat. Its bumper-sticker simplicity lead to widespread usage, which ultimately (and quickly) became accepted as fact without much, if any, critical thought. Most important, the strategy by-passed the arcane complexity of its convoluted subject matter by shifting the burden of Congressional persuasion to its victimized and under-resourced opponents… Expect big tech and its leftist bed-fellows to exert more effort to “de-propertize” patents on Capitol Hill and in the courts… Expect proponents of reform to mischaracterize patent reform as a step towards tort-reform, which is nearly comical given that the tortfeasor in the equation is the party that is trampling on the property rights of patent holders through infringement, which is many times purposeful and willful.

Senate judiciary committee holds hearing on intellectual property as a driver of innovation

“As a society, we depend on innovators… to make our lives better and to solve the challenges we face,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the House judiciary committee. Grassley cited statistics published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) on the 40 million American employed by IP-intensive industries. These same industries contribute $5.8 trillion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and account for 74 percent of U.S. exports, according to the Global IP Center. In his opening statements, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) cited separate statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce which reported $6.6 trillion in value added to national GDP from IP-intensive industries.

Congress seeks to make Register of Copyrights a Presidential Appointment

H.R. 1695 would amend 17 U.S.C. 701. Currently, the Register of Copyrights is appointed by the Librarian of Congress, and acts under the Librarian’s direction and supervision. That would change if and when H.R. 1695 becomes the law of the land. The substantive change would add the following sentence: “The Register of Copyrights shall be a citizen of the United States with a professional background and experience in copyright law and shall be appointed by the President from the individuals recommended under paragraph (6), by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

Supreme Court hears Oral Arguments in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods

Justices Kagan and Ginsburg seemed skeptical. Indeed, Congress has already passed a general venue statute that defined residency “for all venue places – all venue purposes,” as Justice Ginsburg put it. Justice Kagan chimed in, questioning the propriety of overturning the broader rule, which she called “the decision that the practice has conformed to” and the “practical backdrop” against which Congress was legislating. Next, Justice Breyer noted the many arguments and briefs discussing the Eastern District of Texas, but which he felt were not relevant.

Can Congress Bar Review of PTAB Decisions to Institute Inter Partes Review?

Wi-Fi One stands among the latest—and potentially the most important—in a series of cases that have called into question both the degree to which Congress intended to restrict the authority of federal courts to review certain decisions made by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the limits on Congress’s power to actually do so. While it remains to be seen how the en banc Federal Circuit will ultimately rule, the answer to its question will inevitably have a broad and deep impact on future inter partes review and other post-grant proceedings, Patent Office procedures, and beyond.

Change in NASA focus between Administrations may be greatest threat to Mars mission

Multiple members of the hearing’s witness panel attested to the problems created when agency plans change during a change of administration, a problem which Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford, a NASA astronaut during the Gemini and Apollo programs and a member of NASA’s International Space Station Advisory Committee, said has been detrimental to the space program. “We have in recent years seen all too clearly the consequences of a failure to carry out long-term objectives,” Stafford said, referring to NASA’s activities under the Obama Administration as “eight years of lost opportunities… NASA’s present does not do justice to its past.” During questioning, Stafford recommended reestablishing the National Space Council (NSC), which had shown effectiveness in the past in ensuring that multi-year NASA missions which span administrations, such as the Apollo mission to the moon, reach their goal. Stafford also noted that if the federal government had stuck to previous plans to reach Mars, such as were discussed as part of the Space Exploration Initiative carried on under the administration of George H. W. Bush, humans could have reached Mars as early as 2016.

Other Barks & Bites for Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

On the menu this week for Other Barks & Bites… Video game systems developed by Nintendo and Sony are targeted in a patent infringement suit filed in Delaware federal court. The infamous scan-to-email patent giving rise to the patent troll debate has finally been invalidated at the Federal Circuit. A multi-billion dollar copyright suits between two American tech giants gets new life from Oracle. California’s state legislature moves to create trademark protections for marijuana products at the state level, circumventing federal restrictions on such trademarks. And Zillow gets hit with a copyright infringement verdict.

Does Patented Intellectual Property Still Matter? Yes, Depending on Who You Are

If Bill Hewlett and David Packard were just starting in their garage, they might be wise not to waste money acquiring them… An individual inventor, or SME, may defend patented inventions against unauthorized use – by everyone and anyone. However, it is disingenuous to say it is reasonable for them to do so, no matter what Congressional soundbites trumpet. The system is severely biased against these entities to the point of no longer serving them.

With Agency Accountability Act Congress moves to divert agency fees, but not Patent Office fees

The United States Patent and Trademark Office would be exempt from turning over its collected fees to the Treasury. The USPTO, however, would be required no later than March 1 of each year to submit to Congress a report that describes any fee, fine, penalty, or proceeds from a settlement collected by the Office for the previous fiscal year. So why is the USPTO specifically excluded from this particular government wide agency fee diversion? That is a very good question.