Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
Dec. 5, 2000, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 76.
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Breaking News

The Wall Street Journal reports in its Tuesday edition that Microsoft is opposing the AOL Time Warner merger. Quote: "Behind the scenes, the software colossus is raising questions with antitrust enforcers about the effect the merger would have on high-speed Internet access for consumers." See, full story (subscription web site).
New Documents

EPIC: letter to FTC re Amazon privacy practices, 12/4 (HTML, EPIC).
Kennard: speech re competition, regulation, and universal Internet access.
CDT: comments filed with the FCC re open access to broadband cable facilities, 12/1 (HTML, CDT).
AIPLA: White Paper on business method patents, 11/27 (PDF, AIPLA).
New and Updated Sections

Calendar (updated daily).
News from Around the Web (updated daily).
Quote of the Day

"Digital citizenship is the ability to participate in societyís basic functions through the telecommunications system. We are all becoming digital citizens. Telecommunications access is becoming necessary for access to health care and such tasks as registering for class, doing school homework, shopping, getting bus schedules, buying tickets, obtaining a driverís license, securing a job, and, even voting. Digital citizenship eventually will become a basic right of all peoples, recognized by the law, the courts and the just information society."

William Kennard, FCC Chairman, in a speech in Budapest on Dec. 4

News Briefs

12/4. The House of Representatives began a lame duck session. Several key appropriations bills which fund technology related agencies have yet to be passed. House Republicans are also campaigning for key committee chairmanships, including Ways and Means, Commerce, and Judiciary. Outgoing Chairmen Bill Archer (R-TX) and Tom Bliley (R-VA) did not seek re-election. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) has served three terms as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and is thus barred by Republican Rules from continuing as Chairman. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Rep. Mike Oxley (R-OH) both want to be Chairman of the Commerce Committee. Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL) are vying for the Ways and Means post.
12/4. FCC Chairman Wm. Kennard gave a speech in Budapest, Hungary, in which he advocated the creation of strong independent regulatory agencies that are "infused with a culture of transparent, independent decisionmaking". He also argued for competition and universal access. Moreover, he described universal access as Internet access, rather than telephone access.
12/4. EPIC wrote a letter to the FTC requesting that it "investigate whether Amazon has deceived consumers in its representations about privacy, particularly regarding the circumstances under which information about customers and their purchases might be sold or otherwise disclosed."
12/4. Bill Gates, Sen. Elect Hillary Clinton, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) held a media event in New York City. Gates announced that Microsoft will donate $12.3 Million in cash and $88 Million in software over the next five years for materials, training and software to technology enable every Boys & Girls Club in the United States. Sen. Biden is a long time supporter of the Boys & Girls Club. Both Sen. Biden and Sen. Schumer are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. See, MSFT release.
12/1. The CDT filed comments with the FCC in its Inquiry Concerning High-Speed Access to the Internet Over Cable and Other Facilities. The CDT urged the FCC to mandate open access. It stated "that unless private industry acts immediately to open their systems, the Commission must act to require openness. Voluntary industry efforts toward achieving verifiable openness have not, to date, been successful. ... CDT urges the FCC to publicly embrace third party access and set a clear deadline by which its implementation must be complete. Failing its implementation by some time in the year 2001, the FCC should act to require open access."
11/27. The American Intellectual Property Association (AIPLA) issued a White Paper [PDF] titled "Patenting Business Methods" that defends current law and USPTO practices. It concluded that "The AIPLA sees no basis or need for discriminating against inventions related to business methods. No major changes in the U.S. patent laws or in USPTO procedures are needed in light of the increasing numbers of patent applications filed on business method inventions ..." However, the AIPLA recommends improvement of USPTO non-patent prior art collections, more training for examiners, an end to the diversion of USPTO fees to pay for other government programs, and early inter partes reexamination of issued patents without estoppel until appealed to the Federal Circuit. It also seeks "clarification that the first inventer defense applies to all methods". The AIPLA White Paper differs with a legislative proposal pending in the Congress. On Oct. 3 Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduced HR 5364, the Business Method Patent Improvement Act. Both were re-elected, and both sit on the House Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee. They have stated that they will reintroduce the bill in the 107th Congress. The AIPLA's White Paper also contrasts with the European Commission's Green Paper [PDF] dated Oct. 19, 2000, and titled "The Patentability of Computer-Implemented Inventions." The EC is soliciting comments on this matter. Comments are due by Dec. 15. Send comments by mail or to MARKT-SOFTPAT@cec.eu.int.
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.

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