Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
May 14, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 186.
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People & Appointments
5/11. Bryan Tramont will become Chief of Staff in the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. He is currently Senior Legal Advisor to FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth. Previously, he was an associate in the Washington DC office of the law firm of Wiley Rein & Fielding. HFR will leave the FCC as soon as the Senate confirms his replacement. The Senate Commerce Committee's confirmation hearing is scheduled for Thursday, May 17. Katie King, who is currently an Attorney Advisor in the Common Carrier Bureau, will be HFR's Senior Legal Advisor with responsibility for wireless and international issues for the short remainder of his tenure. See, HFR release [PDF] and FCC release.
5/8. Four lawyers, Ann Ford, Mark Tidman, Lisa Trovato, and Emily Sexton, joined the Washington DC office Piper Marbury in its intellectual property practice group. All four previously worked in the Washington DC office of the law firm of Baker & Hostetler. Ford practices in the areas of international trademark and copyright law, including the the use of intellectual property on the Internet. Tidman practices in the areas of trademark, trade dress and unfair competition practice and prosecution. Trovato handles drafting and negotiating intellectual property licensing, joint venture and e-commerce related agreements as well as counseling clients with respect to trademark, copyright and domain name matters. Saxton handles trademark prosecution and enforcement, copyright counseling and enforcement, and domain name infringement actions. See, release.
5/7. Paul Rogers and Ross Meador joined the San Francisco office of the law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis as partners in the firm's business and technology practices. See, release.
Unused E-Rate Subsidies
5/11. The GAO released a report [PDF] titled "Schools and Libraries Program: Update on E-Rate Funding." The FCC run e-rate program subsidizes schools' and libraries' expenses for telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections by taxing telephone use. The FCC has fixed the subsidy level at $2.25 Billion per year. The GAO report contains two findings. First, the total dollar amount of requests for subsidies is now more than $2.25 Billion per year, and continues to grow. Second, schools and libraries are not spending a significant portion of their allotted subsidies. The GAO report states that "Data from January 2001 indicate that more than $880 million (24 percent) of the $3.7 billion committed to applicants for the first 2 program years remains unused." The report also found that "For the third program year (2000), the requests exceeded $4.2 billion." The report was prepared at the request of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over the FCC budget. It ranking Democrat, Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC), is also the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC.
Spread Spectrum Devices
5/10. The FCC proposed to revise its rules for spread spectrum systems. It released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) [PDF]. See also, Trends in Spread Spectrum Devices [PDF], a presentation made by the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology at the FCC's May 10 meeting. (ET Docket No. 99-231.) See also, FCC release. The FCC's NPRM "proposes to revise the rules for frequency hopping spread spectrum systems operating in the 2.4 GHz band to reduce the amount of spectrum that must be used with certain types of operation, and to allow new digital transmission technologies to operate pursuant to the same rules as spread spectrum systems. It also proposes to eliminate the processing gain requirement for direct sequence spread spectrum systems".
New Documents
GAO: report re e-rate program, 5/11 (PDF, GAO).
FCC: NPRM re spread spectrum devices, 5/10 (PDF, FCC).
USCA: opinion in Adams v. Battle Creek re ECPA and pagers, 5/11 (HTML, USCA).
Tauscher: H. Con. Res. 132 re international e-commerce, 5/10 (HTML, LibCong).
Manzullo: HR 1782, a bill to create the position of Assistant USTR for Small Business, 5/9 (HTML, LibCong).
Weller: HR 1769, the Technology Education and Training Act of 2001, a bill to provide a tax credit for technology training expenses, 5/9 (HTML, LibCong).
Upton: HR 1765, a bill to increase penalties for common carrier violations of the Communications Act of 1934, 5/8 (HTML, LibCong).
Upton: HR 1735, the Telecommunications Development Fund Improvement Act, 5/3 (HTML, LibCong).
Thompson: S 851, the Citizens' Privacy Commission Act of 2001, 5/9 (HTML, LibCong).
Lieberman: S 803, the E-Government Act of 2001, 5/1 (HTML, LibCong).
New Bills
5/10. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) introduced H. Con. Res. 132, a concurrent resolution expressing the sense of Congress on the importance of promoting electronic commerce. It states that the "Secretary of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative should make the promotion of cross-border trade via electronic commerce a high priority." It was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. See, Dreier release. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the same language in the Senate. See, Lieberman release.
5/9. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL), Rep. James Moran (D-VA), and others introduced HR 1769, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a credit against income tax for information technology training expenses. It was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill would allow a tax credit equal to "100 percent of information technology training program expenses" of up to $1,500 per employee, and $2,000 per employee in specified cases. To qualify, the expenses must be paid in connection with course work and certification testing, and must "lead to an industry-accepted information technology certification".
5/9. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL) introduced HR 1782, a bill to amend the Trade Act of 1974 to provide for the position of Assistant USTR for Small Business. The bill was was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. Manzullo published a statement in the Congressional Record in which he stated that "With the growth of the Internet economy, more small businesses are able to export overseas but sometimes face difficult obstacles in completing a sale." He added that small business needs representation in trade talks. He stated that "trade talks could have positive benefits for small business exporters, primarily in the area of trade facilitation. Topics of discussion under this umbrella are streamlining trade dispute resolution procedures; reforming the documentation and filing procedures for patent and trademark protection; opening the public procurement process by foreign governments to small businesses; enhancing transparency in international tax, finance, customs procedures, and trade rules; and exploring means to internationalize the recognition of technical certification of professionals."
5/10. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) introduced HR 1803, a bill to provide for public library construction and technology enhancement. It was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Interactive TV NOI
Friday, May 11, was the deadline to file reply comments with the FCC in response to its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) regarding cable open access. (See, In the Matter of Nondiscrimination in the Distribution of Interactive Television Services Over Cable, CS Docket No. 01-7.)  The FCC's electronic filing system contains 27 original comments and 7 reply comments.
AT&T submitted a reply comment in which it requested the FCC to close the proceeding without recommending any new regulations. It stated that interactive TV (ITV) is a nascent industry, that there is no evidence of anti- competitive behavior, that the First Amendment prohibits the regulation of ITV, and that concerns over cable operators utilizing set-top boxes to discriminate against unaffiliated ITV service providers are misplaced. See also, similar reply comment submitted by the NCTA.
Three consumer groups (MAP, CU, and CFA) submitted a reply comment that responded to the NCTA's original comment that argued that regulation of ITV would violate the First Amendment.
Motorola submitted a reply comment in which it argued that the FCC should not propose regulation of the nascent ITV area and should allow this new technology to develop further before determining whether any regulatory action is needed. It also argued that issues relating to the retail availability of set-top equipment should be handled in the in another FCC proceeding -- CS Docket 97-80.  
ECPA and Privacy
5/11. The U.S. Court of Appeals (6thCir) issued its opinion in Adams v. Battle Creek, a case involving the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Adams is a police officer for the City of Battle Creek Police Department. He was issued an alpha numeric pager by the department. The department cloned his pager and monitored his messages. Adams filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court (WDMich) alleging violation of the ECPA, the Fourth Amendment search and seizure clauses, and various state laws. On cross motions for summary judgment, the District Court ruled for Battle Creek. The District Court held that the surreptitious monitoring fell within the business use exception contained in the ECPA. It held that the Fourth Amendment was not violated because Adams had no expectation of privacy. The Appeals Court reversed, holding that the business use exception did not apply. Merritt wrote the opinion for the three judge panel; Boggs joined; and Krupansky dissented.
Trade and E-Commerce
5/5. Igor Abramov, Special Advisor to the U.S. Department of Commerce, gave a speech in Baku, Azerbaijan, regarding the importance of the rule of law. He stated that "Electronic commerce, for example, spans continents to create larger and more dynamic markets, making geographic and territorial boundaries almost irrelevant. This means that businesses can no longer afford to rely only on personal relations. Today, they must also be able to call on rule-based institutions for assurance that partners will employ proper business practices or, when necessary, that they have recourse to effective mechanisms for resolving commercial disputes."
5/10. Robert Verrue gave a speech in Washington DC titled "The New Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications." Verrue is the Director General of the European Commission's Information Society Directorate General (DG XIII).
CompUSA Insider Trading
5/10. The SEC filed a civil complaint in U.S. District Court (SDNY)  against Alejandro Duclaud and others in connection with possible insider trading in CompUSA stock in violation of federal securities laws. On January 24, 2000, CompUSA, a retailer of computer equipment, peripherals and software, and Grupo Sanborns, S.A. de C.V., a Mexican holding company, announced that Grupo Sanborns would acquire CompUSA. Duclaud is an attorney in the Mexico City law firm of Franck Galicia Duclaud & Robles which represented Grupo Sanborns. The District Court issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits the defendants from obtaining their assets in brokerage accounts in the U.S. or disposing of any assets, wherever held, in a manner that could impair the SEC's ability to recover ill-gotten gains and obtain civil penalties. The complaint alleges violation of  10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and  14(e) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 14e-3 thereunder. See, SEC release.
12:00 NOON. The Senate will reconvene to consider S1, a bill to extend programs and activities under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
2:00 PM. The House will meet in pro forma session.
Tuesday, May 15
9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DC Cir) will hear oral argument in U.S. Cell Corp. v. FCC, Appeal No. 00-1072. Judges Henderson, Tatel and Garland will preside.
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM. The U.S. Copyright Office will hold a public roundtable discussion on the intellectual property aspects of the preliminary draft Convention on Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters being negotiated by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. See, notice in Federal Register. Location: Library of Congress, John Adams Building, Room LA-202, 110 Second Street, SE, Washington DC.
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on "high technology patents, relating to business methods and the Internet." Location: Room 226, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Banking Committee will hold a meeting. The agenda includes a vote on the nomination of James Jochum, to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration.
2:00 PM. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims will hold a hearing titled "INS and the Executive Office for Immigration Review." Location: Room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building.
5/3. A grand jury of the U.S. District Court (DConn) returned a superseding indictment against Aleksey Ivanov charging him with conspiring to make unauthorized intrusions into computer systems owned by companies in the U.S., transmitting threats to damage those computer systems, extortion, and stealing credit card numbers and merchant account numbers. Ivanov, of Chelyabinsk, Russia, was arrested in the U.S. last year while traveling to met with an undercover company established by the FBI. See, release.
5/9. A grand jury of the U.S. District Court (NDCal) returned an indictment [PDF] against Robert Gordon, a former Cisco Systems employee, charging two counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343. Gordon, who is a former Vice President and Director of Business Development, is alleged to have transfered stock owned by Cisco to himself, and to fraudulently induced Cisco to provide $15 Million to Spanlink, a Cisco affiliated start-up company, so that he could fraudulently obtain $5 Million from Spanlink. See, release.
More News
5/11. The EU Commission approved Bertelsmann's acquisition of a controlling interest in the RTL Group, a European TV and radio conglomerate. See, Bertelsmann release.
5/10. The Association of Communications Enterprises (ASCENT), AT&T, Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel) and McLeodUSA filed a joint petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) seeking the structural separation of SBC/Ameritech Indiana into separate retail and wholesale operations. See, AT&T release, ASCENT release, and CompTel release.
5/10. Xilinx announced that it would appeal the decision of U.S. District Court (NDCal) Judge James Ware in Xilinx v. Altera. See, release. Xilinx filed its complaint against Altera in U.S. District Court (NDCa) in 1993 alleging patent infringement. Xilinx makes programmable logic devices, including integrated circuits, software design tools, and predefined system functions delivered as cores. Altera also produces programmable logic devices.
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