Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
March 2, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 135.
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Bankruptcy Bill
3/1. The House passed HR 333, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2001, by a vote of 306-108. See, Roll Call No. 25. The House agreed to a privacy related amendment [PDF] offered by Rep. Mark Green (R-WI). It requires the removal of the names of children from bankruptcy filings. The Senate version of bankruptcy reform legislation, S 220, was adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 28.
New Bills
2/28. Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) introduced S 414, a bill to amend the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act to establish a digital network technology program. The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.
2/27. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced S 404, Low Power Radio Act of 2001, a bill that would permit the introduction of low power FM transmitters. The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee, which Sen. McCain chairs.
2/28. Rep. Phil English (R-PA) introduced HR 782, a bill to provide for the establishment of an Internet site on federal financial assistance. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Government Reform.
2/27. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), the Chairman of the House Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property (CIIP) Subcommittee, introduced HR 740, a bill to reauthorize the USPTO and end the diversion of user fees. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
2/27. Rep. Coble and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the CIIP Subcommittee, introduced HR 741, a bill to amend the Trademark Act of 1946 to provide for the registration and protection of trademarks used in commerce, in order to implement the Madrid trademark treaty, and for other purposes. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the ranking Democrat and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced S 407, the Senate version of this bill.
Digital TV
3/1. The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on the transition from analog to digital TV. Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) said in his opening statement that "the government decided that the broadcasters could keep their old analog spectrum a gift from the past until 2006, or until 85 % of American homes had digital TV. ... But this much is clear, by 2006, this country will have neither the transmission facilities, nor the digital content, nor the reception equipment needed to ensure that 85% of the population will be able to receive digital television as their exclusive source of television." See also, statements of witnesses: Jeff Sagansky (Paxson Communications), Ben Tucker (Fisher Broadcasting), Michael Willner (Insight Communications), Mark Cooper (Consumer Federation of America), James Gattuso (Competitive Enterprise Institute), Joseph Kraemer (LECG), and Tom Hazlett (American Enterprise Institute).
Intel - Xircom
3/1. Intel announced that all necessary U.S. and German antitrust clearances have been obtained regarding Intel's proposed acquisition of Xircom. See, Intel release. Xircom makes PC cards and other products used to connect mobile computing devices to corporate networks and the Internet. The two companies announced the merger in January. See, Xircom release of Jan. 15.
New Documents
USCAopinion in TCPIP v. Haar, a domain name dispute, 3/1 (HTML, USCA).
Privacy Hearing
3/1. The House Commerce Committee's newly organized Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection held a hearing on Privacy in the Commercial World. Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) presided. Subcommittee members expressed the views during the first 45 minutes of the hearing. "In addressing privacy we must be mindful of the First Amendment," said Rep. Stearns. "The testimony also informs us of the tremendous benefits that have accrued to our economy and the American consumer from a tradition of free flow of information within the commercial context." Full Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) said that "one thing that I don't want to do at the end of the day, no matter what develops from this Subcommittee, is hand the bulk of the work over to regulators." Ranking Democrat John Dingell (D-MI) said that "individuals must have the power to control how, when, and with whom their personal information is shared. ... government must establish the baseline standards and enforcement procedures ..."
3/1. The privacy hearing included a panel of six law professors and legal experts who addressed the history of privacy laws, and offered their legal analyses of, and opinions as to the constitutionality of, various privacy proposals. The witness who attracted the most attention and questions from the subcommittee members was Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor. He praised privacy principles that are based upon contractual agreements. However, he argued that when the government imposes mandates that go beyond contract enforcement, it can violate free speech principles. "The First Amendment is our code of fair information practices," said Volokh. "The difficulty is that the right to information privacy -- my right to control your communication of personally identifiable information about me -- is a right to have the government stop you from speaking about me."
3/1. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) called for broad federal privacy legislation in his opening statement at the privacy hearing. Later, he offered a comparison of intellectual property and privacy rights. "So we kind of have this duality, you know. On the one hand you got industry coming to us saying, 'We need more copyright protection -- on our information. Don't let anyone disclose it. IT WOULD BE TERRIBLE IF ANYONE TOOK OUR INFORMATION AND SOLD IT!' You know. Thinking of Napster. You know. 'That Napster is going to ruin us.' You know. But, when the individual says, 'Oh, by the way, I want a copyright on my own personality.' You know. 'But, we can't do that,' says the very same industry. 'You're not entitled to copyright. That's different. But, don't let them take mine.' The industry comes in here and they say 'You have got to have the top notch number one encryption technology available to everyone. Security all the way. ... But, once I get the information you shouldn't have any privacy.' ... So, there is a duality here. The industry says, 'copyright good ... privacy bad'. ... The paradox is quite obvious."
SLAPP Suits
2/23. The U.S. District Court (CDCal) issued its order dismissing claims against two defendants in GTMI v. John Does, a case regarding attempts to silence posters to Internet message boards. Plaintiff, Global Telemedia International, Inc. (GTMI), is a publicly traded company. Defendants Reader and King posted numerous negative messages on the Raging Bull Message Board about GTMI and its officers. GTMI and individual officers filed a complaint in California state court against negative posters, including Reader and King, alleging trade libel, libel per se, and interference with contractual relations. Defendants removed the proceeding to U.S. District Court. Defendants filed motions to strike the Plaintiffs' claims, asserting that they were a "transparent effort to intimidate and silence individuals who are critical" of GTMI. The District Court dismissed the claims, pursuant to Cal. Civ. Proc. 425.16, as a Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuit. It held that message boards devoted to discussions about publicly traded companies are "in connection with a public issue" and are protected under anti-SLAPP provisions. Megan Gray of the Los Angeles office of Baker & Hostetler represented one of the defendants.
More News
 3/1. The ICANN published in its web site a request for public comments on proposed revisions to its registry agreements with VeriSign, formerly Network Solutions. See also, VeriSign release.
3/1. President Bush announced his intent to nominate Viet Dinh to be Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy. Dinh is currently a professor at Georgetown University Law School. See, release.
3/1. The Department of Commerce's Bureau of Export Administration held a one day workshop titled "Essentials of Export Controls Workshop". For more information contact the Division of Outreach and Educational Services: 202-482-6031 or Arobinso@bxa.doc.gov.
Domain Name Dispute
3/1. The U.S. Court of Appeals (2ndCir) issued its opinion in TCPIP v. Haar Communications, reversing in part an injunction in a domain name dispute. TCPIP has operated a chain of children's clothing stores under the registered mark, "The Children's Place," for 30 years. In 1996, TCPIP registered two domain names, "tcpkids.com" and "childrensplace.com," which can be used to access to its online store. Haar Communications, and its sole employee, Richard Haar, then registered the domain domain "thechildrensplace.com" and other domain names containing the words "children" and "place". TCPIP demanded that Haar transfer these domain names to TCPIP. Haar made several offers to sell packages of domain names to TCPIP for $570,000, $697,000, and $480,000. TCPIP filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (SDNY). The District Court preliminarily enjoined Haar from using 81 domain names. It held that these names were likely to dilute TCPIP's trademark and service mark, "The Children's Place," in violation of the Federal Trademark Anti-Dilution Act (FTDA), and to infringe plaintiff's mark in violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act. The Appeals Court vacated the injunction as to the FTDA on the basis that the mark "The Children's Place" lacked either sufficient inherent distinctiveness or sufficient fame to qualify for the protection of the FTDA. The Appeals Court affirmed the injunction as to the Lanham Act for domain names which caused a likelihood of confusion, but reversed as to others.
Clipper Patents
3/1. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in Intergraph v. Intel, reversing the District Court judgment that Intel had licensed Intergraph's Clipper patents. Intergraph appealed the decision of the U.S. District Court (NDAla) granting summary judgment that Intel is licensed to practice the inventions of Intergraph's U.S. Patents Nos. 4,860,192, 4,884,197, 4,933,835, and 5,091,846 (also known as the Clipper patents), and dismissing Intergraph's claims for patent infringement. The Appeal Court reversed, holding that Intel is not licensed under these patents.
Today
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association will host a luncheon. The speakers will be five division chiefs of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau: John Chudovan (Information Technology), Bill Kunze (Commercial), Kris Monteith (Policy), D'Wana Terry (PSPW), and Margaret Wiener (Auctions). The price is $15. Location: Sidley & Austin, 1722 Eye Street, NW, 9th Floor, Washington DC.
10:00 AM PT. Hearing before U.S. District Court (NDCal) Judge Marilyn Patel in A&M Records v. Napster.
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