|Oct. 25, 2000
8:00 AM ET.
Alert No. 49.
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10/24. The House passed HR
2413, the Computer Security Enhancement Act of 2000, by a voice
vote. The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner
(R-WI), Rep. Bart Gordon
(B-TN), and Rep. Connie
Morella (R-MD), seeks to promote security and privacy of
sensitive information in federal government computer systems. The
bill would require the NIST to
provide assistance to other agencies, conduct studies, and establish
voluntary interoperabilty guidelines. The bill also provides that
NIST "shall develop electronic authentication infrastructure
guidelines and standards for use by Federal agencies".
10/24. The House rejected HR
4271, the National Science Education Act, by a vote of 215 to
156. It was considered under a suspension of the rules, which meant
that a 2/3 majority was required for passage. Republicans voted 171
to 15 in favor. Democrats voted 140 to 44 against. See, Roll
Call 543. The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI),
would establish and expand programs relating to science,
mathematics, engineering, and technology education.
10/24. USTR Charlene
Barshefsky designated two additional Jordanian Israeli Qualifying
Industrial Zones (QIZs), from which goods can enter the U.S. duty
free. The two new QIZs are Aqaba Industrial Estate and Jordan Cybercity. Both seek
to attract producers of information technology, telecommunications
equipment and software. See, USTR
release. Background on QIZs: On Oct. 2, 1996, the Congress
enacted the U.S. Israel Free Trade Area Implementation Act of 1985
(19 U.S.C. 2112 note), to authorize the President to proclaim the
elimination of duties for articles produced in the West Bank, Gaza
Strip, and Qualifying Industrial Zones. President Bill Clinton
issued Proclamation No. 6955 on Nov. 13, 1996 (published in the
Federal Register on Nov. 18, 1996 (61 Fed. Reg. 58761)) implementing
this statute. See also, U.S. Customs notice
10/24. The U.S. and Jordan signed a Free
Trade Agreement [19 pages in PDF], which covers, among other
things, intellectual property rights and electronic commerce. See, USTR
release. The FTA addresses patents, trademarks, copyright, and
enforcement of IPR (at pages
4-8). Jordan agreed to ratify and implement the WIPO's
Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty within
two years. The FTA also provides that "each Party shall seek to
refrain from: (a) deviating from its existing practice of not
imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions; (b) imposing
unnecessary barriers on electronic transmissions, including
digitized products; and (c) impeding the supply through electronic
means of services ..." (at page 10). See also, USTR
summary. Networking equipment maker Cisco, which has invested in
Jordan, praised the agreement. See, release.
The FTA also incorporates non trade related social provisions
pertaining to labor and the environment.
10/24. The USPTO extended until
Jan. 3, 2001 its deadline for proposals in response to its Request
for Agreements regarding conducting business over the Internet,
including its electronic filing systems. The USPTO seeks
"partnerships with industry to stimulate electronic filing and
correspondence in regard to patent and/or trademark application
filing". This is a solicitation of proposals for non-monetary
10/24. Lynne Beresford was named Deputy Assistant
Commissioner for Trademark Policy at the USPTO. She was
previously an attorney advisor in the Office of Legislation and
International Affairs (OLIA) at the USPTO. See, release.
10/24. Asite.com, a new electronic
B2B for the European construction industry, announced the
signing of an agreement to form the consortium. See, Asite release.
On Friday, Oct. 27, David Balto and Susan DeSanti, of
the U.S. Federal Trade Commission,
will participate in a panel discussion of B2Bs and antitrust law,
at the U.S. Capitol, hosted by the George Mason Law Review.
10/23. Sen. Trent Lott
(R-MS), the Senate Majority Leader, had this to say about HR
4986, the Foreign Sales Corporation (FSC) bill: "I
have tried to move, several times, the Foreign Sales Corporation
legislation reported overwhelmingly by the Finance Committee -- very
important for our ability to do business in the trade area with
Europe. We have not been able to clear it from an objection."
He also stated that the HR 4986 "would also probably be done on
Wednesday." The current FSC tax regime, and this bill, benefit
high tech companies that export goods and services. The current law
was held to be an illegal export subsidy by the WTO.
HR 4986 is its "replacement legislation." If passed, it
will also be challenged by the EU as an illegal export subsidy.
10/23. Gemstar-TV Guide
International filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against Echostar alleging patent
infringement in connection with selling satellite receivers
containing an interactive program guide.
10/23. Labor Sec. Alexis Herman and the ITAA held
a meeting to discuss high tech workforce issues. See, ITAA
release. In January, the ITAA and other tech groups and Sec.
Herman butted heads over an OSHA opinion
letter that purported to extend OSHA
workplace regulation to the homes of teleworkers. OSHA
"withdrew" this, but not other, opinion letters.
10/23. FCC Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth
released a statement
in which he argued that Appeals Court opinion
the Matter of GWI PCS No. 1 v. FCC "casts renewed
doubt on the proper scope of the Communications Act on the one hand
and the Bankruptcy code on the other" and called for the C-Block
re-auction, currently set for Dec. 12 to "be delayed until
the legal cloud surrounding these licenses dissipates."
10/20. The U.S. Court of
Appeals (5th Cir.) issued its opinion
in In the
Matter of GWI PCS No. 1 v. FCC. General Wireless, Inc. (GWI)
was the high bidder for 14 PCS licenses
in the FCC's C-block
auctions between Dec. 1995 and May 1996. GWI subsequently could not
make payments to the FCC, and filed for bankruptcy under chapter 11.
The Appeals Court affirmed the U.S. District Court (NDTx)
opinion, which affirmed a bankruptcy reorganization plan, which
avoided about $894 million of the $954 obligation to the FCC, and
allowed GWI's subsidiary debtors to retain the PCS licenses. The FCC
lost. However, compare this Appeals Court opinion with the opinion
of the Appeals Court for the 2nd Circuit in In
re: NextWave Personal Communications Inc.
10/20. Pincay Investments Co. and others filed a complaint in
U.S. District Court (NDCa) against
Covad and others
alleging that defendants made false and misleading statements in
violation of §10b of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule
10b5. Plaintiffs seek class action status. They are represented by
the law firm of Milberg Weiss,
which specializes in bringing class action lawsuits against
technology companies with volatile stock prices. Covad is a Santa
Clara, CA, based DSL service provider.
Plaintiffs seek damages.
Editor's Note: This column includes all News Briefs added to
Tech Law Journal since the last Daily E-Mail Alert. The dates
indicate when the event occurred, not the date of posting to Tech
Trade Agreement, 10/24 (PDF, USTR).
re bankruptcy court and FCC spectrum auction
proceedings, 10/20 (HTML, USCA).
in Pincay v. Covad, a 10b class action securities fraud case, 10/20
|New and Updated Sections
from Around the Web (updated daily).
|Quote of the Day
"It is the leadership's intention to complete all business by
the end of this week."
Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) 10/23