Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
June 21, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 213.
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House Republicans Announce New e-Contract with High Tech America
6/20. House Republicans leaders announced the latest version of their e-Contract with High Tech America at an event in the U.S. Capitol. Most of its provisions are broad and vague principles, such as "Modernizing and reforming our education system", "Protecting intellectual property rights", "Modernizing our spectrum allocation process", and "Promoting research and development."
One item on the contract is "Allowing high- speed Internet access to flourish." A reporter asked House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) which of the pending broadband bills he supports. Armey said that "I haven't found the answer to that. There are good arguments on both sides of that issue."
Another item on the contract is "Protecting the Internet from predatory, or multiple and discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce." Armey was asked about this also. He said that the Congress will likely make the ban on taxes on Internet access permanent, and extend the moratorium on new or discriminatory sales taxes for another three to five years.
Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee stated his Committee's focus will be assuring that there is power for the new economy, and protecting the high tech economy against government regulation, taxation and interference.
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), the Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, stated that his Committee will focus on promoting K-12 math and science education. He also advocated making permanent the research and development tax credit.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, also advocated making permanent the R&D tax credit. He stated that his Committee will take up several tech issues this year, including the Internet tax moratorium, distance education over the Internet, fraud on the Internet, and USPTO funding.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman of the Republican High Tech Working Group, and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the Crime Subcommittee, also participated.
Senators Kohl and DeWine Set Antitrust Agenda
6/20. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Business Rights, and Competition, and Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), the ranking Republican on the Subcommittee, released a joint statement about the Subcommittee's agenda for the remainder of the years. These two Senators have always worked in a bipartisan and cooperation manner on this Subcommittee.
Telecom. They stated that "The Subcommittee will continue to examine competition in telecommunications and work to ensure that the promise of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is fully realized and that true price competition is brought to a wide array of telecommunications services. The Subcommittee will continue its efforts to speed the development of local telephone competition. It will carefully examine proposals concerning building access and stronger enforcement to ensure nondiscriminatory access to essential facilities. It will also strive to increase competition within the multi- channel video programming market by working to ensure that competitive providers have reasonable access to programming and to promote the development of a competitive navigation devices market. The Subcommittee will work to ensure that media consolidation does not diminish the diversity of viewpoints available to consumers."
Oversight of the FTC and Antitrust Division. They also stated that "The Subcommittee will continue to work closely with the Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that the agencies can efficiently and effectively carry out their enforcement responsibilities."
House Holds Hearing on Internet Education Bill
6/20. The House Education and Workforce Committee's Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness held a hearing on HR 1992, the Internet Equity and Education Act of 2001, sponsored by Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-GA).
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), the Chairman of the Subcommittee summarized the purpose of the bill in a prepared statement. He said that "In the early 1990s, Congress and the Administration enacted a number of reforms aimed at fighting abuses in our federal financial aid programs. Examples of these abuses included correspondence courses that offered little value to the student or recruitment practices in which "bounty hunters" were paid on a per-head basis to bring students in to a particular school. In order to end these abuses, Congress and the Administration may have ultimately imposed a straightjacket on all of higher education where handcuffs on a few bad actors would have sufficed. The legislation we are considering today will remove the straightjacket while maintaining program integrity and implement some of the recommendations of the Web-based Education Commission."
See also, prepared testimony of witnesses: Stanley Ikenberry (American Council on Education), Joseph DiGregorio (Georgia Tech), Richard Gowen (South Dakota School of Mines and Technology), Omer Waddles (ITT Educational Services), and Lorraine Lewis (Department of Education).
Committee Approves Patent Reexamination Bills
6/20. The House Judiciary Committee adopted two bills pertaining to patent reexaminations, HR 1866 and HR 1886, by unanimous voice votes after a brief discussion. The Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property had approved both bills on May 22.
HR 1866 is intended to overturn the 1997 opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) in In Re Portola Packaging. In that case the Appeals Court held that the restriction on the scope of reexaminations to "substantial new questions" precludes the consideration of prior art that was before the examiner. The key language of the HR 1866 amends 35 U.S.C. 303(a) and 312(a). It adds the following: "The existence of a substantial new question of patentability is not precluded by the fact that a patent or printed publication was previously cited by or to the Office." This final clause ("or to the Office") is an amendment added at the June 20 mark up.
HR 1886 affords all participants, including third party requesters, in reexamination proceedings, judicial review before federal appeals courts. It was adopted without any further amendment. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) stated that "while I strongly endorse the professionalism of the Patent and Trademark Office, I also believe that it is necessary to place a check on the PTO's actions by affording all participants judicial review before a federal appeals court." Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) also spoke in favor of the bill. She stated that it is "a good, although small, step, in improving the reexamination procedure, and we note that, and I think the Chairman agrees, that there may be some additional measures that we will need to take."
Committee Approves DOJ Authorization Bill
6/20. On June 19, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced HR 2215, a bill to authorize appropriations for the Department of Justice for FY 2002. The House Judiciary Committee amended and approved the bill on June 20. It authorizes appropriations of $140,973,000 for the Antitrust Division. See, release.
FCC Adopts Report on Wireless Competition
6/20. The FCC adopted, but did not release, its sixth annual report on the state of competition in the wireless marketplace. The FCC stated in a release that "the wireless industry continued to experience increased competition and innovation. This has meant lower prices and an increased diversity in service offerings for many consumers."
The FCC stated that "The mobile telephony sector experienced another year of strong growth and competitive development. In the twelve months ending December 2000, this sector generated over $52.5 billion in revenues, increased subscribership from 86.0 million to 109.5 million, and produced a nationwide penetration rate of roughly 39 percent." The FCC also said that "at the end of 2000, digital customers made up 62 percent of the industry total, up from 51 percent at the end of 1999 and 30 percent in 1998".
The FCC also addressed developments in mobile data services, including "paging / messaging services; mobile telephone Internet access; data services offered over handheld personal digital assistant (PDA) devices with a mobile Internet connection; and mobile data offerings by dedicated data network operators." The FCC said that "the mobile data sector has continued its transition from paging / messaging to mobile Internet access services."
FCC Adopts NOI on Video Competition
6/20. The FCC adopted, but did not release, a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) into the status of competition in the market for the delivery of video programming. The FCC stated in a release that "The NOI seeks information that will allow the FCC to evaluate the status of competition in the video marketplace, prospects for new entrants to that market, and its effect on the cable television industry and consumers. The NOI also solicits information regarding the extent to which consumers have choices among video programming distributors and delivery technologies." Comments are due by August 3. Reply comments are due by September 5. (CS Docket No. 01-129.)
House Holds Hearing on Campaign Finance Bill
6/20. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet held a hearing on campaign finance proposals impacting broadcasters, cable operators and satellite providers. At issue is the Torrecilli amendment to the McCain Feingold campaign bill, S 27. See, opening statement of Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and opening statement of Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA). See also, prepared testimony of witnesses: Lillian BeVier (University of Virginia Law School), Dwight Morris (Campaign Study Group), Andrew Wright (Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association), Jack Sander (Belo Corporation), Joshua Sapan (Rainbow Media Holdings), and Paul Taylor (Alliance for Better Campaigns). 
Bush Nominates DC Judges
6/20. President Bush nominated John Bates and Reggie Walton to be Judges of the U.S. District for the District of Columbia. See, release. Walton is a Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was deputy drug czar under the elder George Bush. He was also an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia before becoming a judge. Bates is a former Deputy Independent Counsel in the Office of the Independent Counsel, where he worked on the Whitewater matter. He is also a member of the Washington DC law firm of Miller Chevalier. See, MC bio.
Thursday, June 21
9:30 AM. The Senate Finance Committee will hold the second of two days of hearings on granting the President trade promotion authority. Location: Room 215, Dirksen Building.
9:30 AM. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing titled Information Privacy: Industry Best Practices and Technological Solutions. Room 2123, Rayburn Building. The scheduled witnesses are:
  Michael Wallent (Microsoft).
  Austin Hill (Zero- Knowledge).
  Frances Schlosstein (Webwasher).
  Stephen Hsu (SafeWeb).
  John Schwarz (Reciprocal).
  Trevor Hughes (Engage).
  Jerry Cerasale (DMA).
  Steven Cole (BBB).
  Jerry DeVault (Ernst & Young).
  Marc Rotenberg (EPIC).
10:00 AM. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on international trade issues. Location: Room 253, Russell Building.
10:00 AM. The Joint Economic Committee will hold a hearing to examine cyber security issues. Location: Room 562, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on S 856, the Small Business Technology Transfer Program Reauthorization Act of 2001. Location: Room 428A, Russell Building.
11:30 AM. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on several nominations. Location: Room 215, Dirksen Building. The nominees include Allen Johnson (Chief Agricultural Negotiator, USTR), William Lash (Asst. Sec. of Market Access and Compliance, DOC), and Brian Roseboro (Asst. Sec. of Financial Markets, Treasury).
Sold Out. 12:00 NOON. The Federal Communications Bar Association will host a lunch. FCC Chairman Michael Powell will speak. Doors open at 12:00 NOON, the luncheon starts at 12:30 PM, and Powell's remarks will begin at 1:00 PM. RSVP to Arlice Johnson at arlice@fcba.org. Location: Congressional Senate Room, 2nd Floor, Capital Hilton, 16th & K Streets, NW, Washington DC.
12:30 PM. A Privacy Task Force will hold a press conference. For more information, contact Jake Lewis at 202-387-8030. Location: West Room, National Press Club, Washington DC.
1:00 PM. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime will hold a legislative hearing and mark up session on HR 1877, the "Child Sex Crimes Wiretapping Act of 2001". Location: Room 2237, Rayburn Building.
HP Settles More Injet Patent Cases
6/20. Hewlett Packard stated that it has settled more outstanding patent infringement litigation regarding its thermal inkjet printer cartridges. HP settled proceeding in Germany and France against International United Technology (IUT) and other companies. HP described the settlement as follows: "IUT acknowledges that its inkjet cartridges infringe several of HP's European patents and has agreed to immediately cease and desist from offering and/or selling the infringing cartridges in the relevant European countries. IUT will also make a payment to HP in respect of past sales. Under the terms of the settlement, neither party will disclose additional details." See, HP release.
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