Tech Law Journal
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Oct. 25, 2000
8:00 AM ET.
Alert No. 49.

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News Briefs

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 re QIZs.
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 agreements only.
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., 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 in In 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 Law Journal.
New Documents

US/Jordan: Free Trade Agreement, 10/24 (PDF, USTR).
USCA: opinion re bankruptcy court and FCC spectrum auction
proceedings, 10/20 (HTML, USCA).
Milberg: complaint in Pincay v. Covad, a 10b class action securities fraud case, 10/20 (HTML, Milberg).
New and Updated Sections

Calendar (updated daily).
News 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