Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
July 17, 2001, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 228.
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Media Ownership Rules
7/16. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the Chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Commerce Committee, sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives regarding the Federal Communications Commission's media cross ownership and multiple ownership rules. On July 17, the House is scheduled to vote on HR 2500, a bill to make appropriations for FY 2002 for the Departments of Commerce, State, and Justice, for the Judiciary, and related agencies. The FCC's appropriation is a part of this bill. On July 16 the House Rules Committee adopted an open rule for consideration of this bill. Rep. David Obey (D-WI) is likely to offer an amendment that would prevent the FCC from modifying its media cross ownership and multiple ownership rules. Reps. Tauzin and Dingell oppose Rep. Obey's amendment.
The Senate Commerce Committee, now chaired by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC), will hold a hearing on media concentration on July 17 at 9:30 AM. In addition, Sen. Hollings may introduce a bill that would prevent the FCC from eliminating ruled that limit the size of media companies until it has conducted a study of the market.
Comdisco Sells Technology Services to HP and Files Chapter 11
7/16. Comdisco announced that "it has reached a definitive agreement with Hewlett-Packard Company to sell substantially all of its Availability Solutions (Technology Services) business for $610 million." Comdisco also announced that it and its U.S. subsidiaries have filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court (NDIll). See, Comdisco release and HP release.
Antitrust Division Takes No Action Against Homestore
7/16. Homestore.com announced that it has been notified by the Department of Justice that the DOJ has concluded its inquiry into certain business activities of Homestore, and that no enforcement action is necessary. See, Homestore release.
Tegal v. Tokyo Electron
7/16. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued it opinion in Tegal Corp. v. Tokyo Electron, a consolidation of three appeals in patent litigation regarding plasma reactors, which are used in the fabrication of semiconductor devices. The issues on appeal included right to jury trial, invalidity for obviousness, invalidity for being anticipated, enforceability, willful infringement, and attorneys fees. The Court of Appeals vacated and remanded.
New Documents
GAO: report re Commerce Department, 7/16 (PDF, GAO).
CompTel: report on structural separation of ILECs, 7/14 (PDF, CompTel).
USCA: opinion in Michigan Bell v. Engler re Michigan Telecom Act of 2000, 7/13 (HTML, USCA).
Tauzin: letter to Member of Congress re media ownership rules, 7/16 (HTML, HCC).
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Fed Circuit Vacates District Court Judgment on Freeny Patent
7/13. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in Interactive Gift Express v. Compuserve, an en banc rehearing of an appeal of a judgment of noninfringement of U.S. Patent No. 4,528,643. This patent, also known as the Freeny patent, discloses a system for reproducing information in material objects at point of sale locations. Plaintiff asserts that it applies to sales over the Internet of software, books, and music. The District Court entered a judgment of noninfringement. The Court of Appeals vacated and remanded.
Plaintiff, Interactive Gift Express, which is now known at E-Data Corp., filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (SDNY) against numerous software, publishing, and bookstore companies alleging infringement of the Freeny patent by selling software and documents via the Internet.
The Feeny patent defines the following invention: "A method for reproducing information in material objects utilizing information manufacturing machines located at point of sale locations, comprising the steps of: providing from a source remotely located with respect to the information manufacturing machine the information to be reproduced to the information manufacturing machine, each information being uniquely identified by a catalog code; providing a request reproduction code including a catalog code uniquely identifying the information to be reproduced to the information manufacturing machine requesting to reproduce certain information identified by the catalog code in a material object; providing an authorization code at the information manufacturing machine authorizing the reproduction of the information identified by the catalog code included in the request reproduction codes; and receiving the request reproduction code and the authorization code at the information manufacturing machine and reproducing in a material object the information identified by the catalog code included in the request reproduction code in response to the authorization code authorizing such reproduction."
The Appeals Court held that the District Court erred in at least one aspect of its construction of each of the five claim limitations upon which the judgment of noninfringement was based. The Appeals Court vacated and remand for further proceedings consistent with the claim construction provided in the opinion.
Michigan Bell v. Engler
7/13. The U.S. Court of Appeals (6thCir) issued its opinion in Michigan Bell v. Engler, a challenge to a Michigan statute abolishing the end user common line charge on phone customers. Phone companies filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court (EDMich) challenging  310(7) of the Michigan Telecommunications Act (MTA) of 2000. The District Court denied Plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction of  310(7). However, the District Court enjoined another provision of the MTA,  701, which froze certain regulated telephone rates at their May 1, 2000 level until December 31, 2003. The phone companies appealed, and Michigan cross appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's order preliminarily enjoining  701, and reversed its order denying the motion to enjoin  310(7).
More News
7/16. The GAO released a report [PDF] titled "Department of Commerce: Status of Achieving Key Outcomes and Addressing Major Management Challenges." The report addresses, among other topics, proliferation of dual use commodities.
7/14. The Competitive Communications Association (CompTel) released a report [PDF] on structural separation at the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners (NARUC) conference in Seattle, Washington. The report recommends the functional separation of incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) into wholesale and retail units. See also, CompTel release.
7/16. Napster announced that it has licensed PlayMedia Systems' AMP technology to power the secure digital music player in its new membership service. See, Napster release and PlayMedia release [PDF].
People and Appointments
7/16. Susan Creighton will join the FTC's Bureau of Competition, which handles antitrust matters. She is currently a partner in the law office of Wilson Sonsini. She focuses on intellectual property and antitrust issues. She is best known for co-authoring with Gary Reback a white paper regarding antitrust matters relating to Microsoft that preceded action by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice against Microsoft. She has also represented Orbitz, VISX, Lexis Nexis, and Autodesk in federal antitrust matters, and Borland and Octel in intellectual property matters.
7/16. Christopher Libertelli was named Legal Counsel to the FCC's Common Carrier Bureau Chief, Dorothy Attwood. He will focus on local competition, broadband deployment, and antitrust merger reviews. He joined the FCC in 1999. Previously, he was an associate in the Washington DC office of the law firm of Dow Lohnes & Albertson.
7/16. Stephen Crimmins joined the Washington DC and New York City offices of the law firm of Holland & Knight as a partner in its securities litigation practice. He was Deputy Chief Litigation Counsel in the SEC's Division of Enforcement until July 13, 2001. See, SEC release.
Tuesday, July 17
The House will meet at 9:00 AM for morning hour and at 10:00 AM for legislative business. Several bills are on the agenda, including the FY 2002 Appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary.
9:30 AM. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing to on media concentration. Room 253, Russell Building.
10:00 AM. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) will hold a press conference to announce the introduction of Internet tax legislation. Location: Room 2226, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Finance Committee will meet to mark up SJRes 16 (re U.S. Vietnam Trade Agreement),  S 643 (re implementation of agreement establishing a U.S. Jordan Free Trade area), S 942 (re reauthorization of TANF Supplemental Grant program for one year), and an original committee resolution calling for an investigation of the importation of certain steel products. See, notice [PDF]. Location: 215 Dirksen Building.
12:00 PM. The Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee will host a panel debates Internet sales taxes, BAT taxes and moratorium issues. The speakers will be Bill Whyman (The Precursor Group), Jeff DeBoer (Real Estate Roundtable), Frank Julian (Federated Department Stores), Michael Mazerov (Center on Budget & Policy Priorities), Grover Norquist (Americans for Tax Reform), Art Rosen (Coalition for Responsible & Fair Taxation), Frank Shafroth (National Governors Association). Lunch will be served. RSVP to Danielle at RSVP@netcaucus.org or 202-638-4370. Location: Room SC-5, U.S. Capitol Building.
3:00 PM. EU Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy will give a speech titled "The New WTO Round: The European Point of View." Location: Zenger Room, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington DC.
Wednesday, July 18
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation management reform issues. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a mark up session. The agenda includes HR 2047, the Patent and Trademark Office Authorization Act of 2002. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The U.S. International Telecommunication Advisory Committee Telecommunication Development Sector (ITAC-D) will hold a public meeting. 48 hour pre-clearance is required. See, notice in Federal Register, July 16, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 136, at Pages 37086 - 37087. Location: Room 2533A, Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington DC.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's Mass Media Practice Committee will host a brown bag lunch with Roy Stewart and the FCC's Mass Media Bureau's front office. RSVP to Tami Smith of Sidley & Austin at 202-736-8257. Location: FCC, Second Floor South Conference Room, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-C305, Washington DC.
2:00 PM. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on HR 1410, the Internet Tax Moratorium and Equity Act. Location: Room 2141, Rayburn Building.