Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
July 30, 2001, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 237.
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Sen. Torricelli Introduces Bill to Criminalize Hacking School Computers
7/26. Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) introduced S 1252, the School Website Protection Act of 2001. It would criminalize tampering with computers of schools and institutions of higher education. The bill provides, in part, that 18 U.S.C. 1030(a) is amended by adding the following clause to the list of prohibited acts: "knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command, and as a result of such conduct, intentionally affects or impairs without authorization a computer of an elementary school or secondary school or institution of higher education". The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Sen. Torricelli is a member.
Rep. Paul Introduces Privacy Bill to Ban Certain Medical Databases
7/24. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and others introduced HR 2615, the Patient Privacy Act of 2001. The bill provides that, subject to certain enumerated exceptions, "no Federal funds may be spent to develop or implement any database or other system of records containing personal medical information of any United States citizen, or to collect medical records for the purpose of storing them in a database or other system of records." The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Wiretapping Legislation
7/25. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), introduced S 1234, a bill to provide that certain sexual crimes against children are predicate crimes for the interception of communications. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Hatch said in the Senate that "The Anti-Sexual Predator Act of 2001 will add three predicate offenses to the Federal wiretap statute. This addition will enable law enforcement to intercept wire and oral communications relating to child pornography materials, the coercion and enticement of individuals to travel interstate to engage in sexual activity, the transportation of minors for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity." He elaborated that "Although in many cases much of the initial relationship between these sexual predators and their child victims takes place online, the predators will ultimately seek to have personal contact with the child. Thus, the communications will move first to the telephone, and then to face to face meetings. .. As the laws stand today, investigators do not have access to the Federal wiretap statutes to investigate these predators."
See also, HR 1877, the Child Sex Crimes Wiretapping Act of 2001, introduced by Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and others on May 16. HR 1877 was marked up by the House Crime Subcommittee on June 21.
Bill Would Create Telework Tax Credits
7/23. Rep. Scott McGinnis (R-CO) and others introduced HR 2597, the Broadband Deployment and Telework Incentive Act of 2001. The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide an employer telework tax credit, and a telework equipment tax credit. The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Employer Telework Tax Credit. The bill provides that "the employer telework tax credit for any taxable year is equal to $500 for each employee who participates in an employer sponsored telework arrangement during the taxable year."
Telework Equipment Tax Credit. The bill provides that the "telework equipment tax credit for any taxable year is equal to 10% of qualified telework expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year by either the employer on behalf of the employee, or directly by the employee, pursuant to an employer sponsored telework arrangement."
To qualify, the employee must "telework for a minimum of 25 days per taxable year." Qualified expenses include "expenses paid or incurred for computers, computer- related hardware and software, modems, data processing equipment, telecommunications equipment, and access to Internet or broadband technologies, including applicable taxes and other expenses for the delivery, installation, or maintenance of such equipment." Finally, telework is defined as "work functions at locations other than the traditional work place of the employer thereby eliminating or substantially reducing the physical commute to and from that traditional work place."
Dow v. Sumotomo
7/27. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in Dow v. Sumitomo, a patent infringement action. The District Court entered summary judgment of noninfringement for Sumitomo. The Appeals Court vacated and remanded.
Dow Chemical is the assignee of U.S. Patent No. 4,499,255 which is directed to a process for making high purity epoxy resins. Dow filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (EDMich) against Sumitomo alleging that certain processes used by Sumitomo infringe this patent. The District Court determined that certain limitations required by claim 1 of the patent are not present in Sumitomo's processes either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents, and granted Sumitomo's motion for summary judgment of noninfringement.
Antitrust Law News
7/27. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would file a complaint to block United Airlines from acquiring US Airways. The DOJ asserted that the merger "would reduce competition, raise fares, and harm consumers on airline routes throughout the United States." See, DOJ release. United then announced that the two companies "have terminated their merger agreement." See, United release. See also, US Airways release.
7/26. The U.S. Court of Appeals (2ndCir) issued its opinion in Virgin Atlantic Airways v. British Airways, an antitrust action. Virgin filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (SDNY) against British Airways (BA) alleging violation of §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act. It alleged that BA engaged in predatory business practices, including the use of incentive agreements with corporate clients and travel agencies. Virgin argued that these agreements offered below cost pricing and thus attracted passengers to BA's transatlantic flights, and that losses from pricing tickets below cost were recouped by coupling these flights with other routes on which BA exercised monopoly power and could charge higher fares. The District Court granted summary judgment to BA. The Appeals Court affirmed. John Warden, a partner in the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, is lead counsel for British Airways in this case. He is also lead counsel for Microsoft in the government's antitrust case in Washington DC.
New Documents
HRC: report on P2P networks and pormography, 7/27 (PDF, HRC).
McGinnis: HR 2597 re telework tax credits, 7/23 (HTML, LibCong).
Torricelli: S 1252, the School Website Protection Act, 7/26 (HTML, LibCong).
Paul: HR 2615, the Patient Privacy Act, 7/24 (HTML, LibCong).
Hatch: S 1234, re wiretapping, 7/26 (HTML, LibCong).
USCA: opinion in Virgin v. British Airways re antitrust, 7/27 (HTML, USCA).
House Report Concludes P2P Networks Endanger Children
7/27. The Minority Staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Committee on Government Reform released a report [PDF] titled "Children's Access to Pormography Through Internet File-Sharing Programs". The report, which was prepared at the request of Rep. Steve Largent (R-OK) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), examined peer to peer networks, including Music City Morpheus, BearShare, and Aimster.
The report found that peer to peer (P2P) file copying networks other than Napster are growing rapidly in popularity. It also found that one of the major categories of content on these networks is pormography, including videos. Moreover, innocent search terms, such as "Britney Spears", return as results pormographic files, thereby endangering children. Finally, the report found that use of these peer to peer networks is free, and unaffected by the filtering software.
The report contains no recommendations for government action. Rep. Waxman stated that he wants to "draw attention" to the problem. He added that "As legislators, we can try to pass laws to address these issues. But sometimes legislation can’t solve the entire problem by itself. In this case, parental awareness and parental involvement matter more than legislation. And that's the whole point of the report Mr. Largent and I are releasing today." He also said that in comparison, the debate over the V-Chip is "trivial." See, statement.
Editor's Note: Tech Law Journal intentionally misspells words that have caused e-mail filters to block the TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert.
V-Chip Debate
7/24. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) announced that it conducted a public opinion poll on the V-Chip. It found that 40% of American parents now own a TV equipped with a V-Chip. However, only 17% of parents who own a V-Chip – or 7% of all parents – are using it to block programs with sexual or violent content. See, KFF release.
7/25. Rep. Clifford Stearns (R-FL) spoke in the House about the KFF report. He stated that "Some of my colleagues are quick to rely on government as a panacea for all of our problems. Yesterday's report reveals that the long arm of government regulation is no substitute for good parenting."
House Holds Hearing on Market Data
7/26. The House Financial Services Committee's Capital Markets Subcommittee held its second hearing on market data, titled "Implications to investors and market transparency of granting ownership rights over stock quotes." Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA), Chairman of the subcommittee, said in his opening statement [PDF] that the purpose of the hearing was to discuss "the question of whether there should be legislation to explicitly establish a proprietary right over market databases or to give protection to the operators of the databases through new private causes of action."
Congress amended the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 in 1975 to put in place the current market data regime. Rep. Mike Oxley (R-OH), the Chairman of the full Committee, said in his opening statement [PDF] that "New communications technology, like the Internet, have transformed the markets so significantly that the rules that were put in place in 1975 are now outdated." Brokerages are required to provide quotation and trading data immediately and without compensation to the self regulatory organizations (SROs), such as the NASDAQ, which consolidate the data, and sell it to information vendors and brokerage firms.
The House Commerce Committee passed a broad database bill in the last Congress that included a title on market data. However, that bill never made it to the House floor. See, HR 1858 (106th Congress). That bill would have amended the Securities and Exchange Act to provide a civil remedy for certain misappropriation of market data. The jurisdiction of the House Financial Services Committee (previously called the House Banking Committee) was expanded at the beginning of the 107th Congress to include securities regulation. This had previously been handled by a subcommittee of the Commerce Committee that had been chaired by Rep. Oxley.
Richard Ketchum, President of the NASDAQ, said in his prepared testimony [PDF] that the NASDAQ supported HR 1858, but also believes "There may be circumstances in which copyright, trade secret, and unfair competition and/or misappropriation rights and remedies, in addition to those that would have been available under H.R. 1858, may properly need to be asserted by market information processors." He added that all SROs should be able to protect its market data, and establish prices.
In contrast, Hardy Callcott, General Counsel of Charles Schwab, said in his prepared testimony [PDF] that "Database protection legislation should not give the securities markets a property right over market information. Market data is made up of the facts that are the most critical feature of our capital markets. No one can own this, or any, set of facts. Granting ownership or copyright protection to any one party would simply be contrary to the goal of ensuring broad access to market information." He also said that the SEC should "continue to play a critical role in enforcing the non- discrimination requirements, as well as setting and enforcing general standards for such issues as capacity, sequencing, and synchronization."
Rep. DeLauro Attacks PR China's Record on Intellectual Property
7/25. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) addressed trade with China in the House. She stated that "China has engaged in unfair trade practices, pirated intellectual property, spread weapons and dangerous technology to rogue nations, suppressed democracy, denied its citizens religious freedom, and engaged in human rights abuses." She continued that "The United States should use our trade laws with China to pressure for greater access for American companies and goods. I oppose NTR for China because we need to let China know that more of the same is not acceptable. It is vital that we insist on fair and equal standards in compliance with all aspects of our trade laws. Until this happens, I cannot support NTR."
Denial of Trademark Application Upheld
7/27. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in In Re Save Venice New York, Inc., a appeal from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The Board denied Save Venice's application for a composite mark consisting of the phrases "THE VENICE COLLECTION" and "SAVE VENICE INC." and an image of the winged Lion of St. Mark on the grounds that it was geographically deceptively misdescriptive. The Appeals Court affirmed.
Statute. § 2(e)(3) of the Lanham Act provides in relevant part that: "No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it ... (e) Consists of a mark which ... (3) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive of them."
Background. Save Venice is a not-for-profit New York corporation devoted to preserving and restoring some of the cultural treasures of Venice, Italy. However, almost none of the goods that it sells are made in Venice. The PTO refused the registration because the mark was geographically deceptively misdescriptive. The Board affirmed.
People and Appointments
7/27. Greg Abbott joined the Austin office of the law firm of Bracewell & Patterson in its Appellate Group, effective August 1, 2001. He was previously a Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. See, release.
7/25. Alan Mendelson and Ora Fisher were appointed Co-Chairs of Venture and Technology Practice Group at the law firm of Latham & Watkins. Mendelson replaces Ted Sonnenschein, who will joining Coastview Capital, a venture capital firm focusing on life science investments. Sonnenschein will remain of Counsel to the firm. See, LW release.
7/23. Charlene Barshefsky joined the law firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering. She was previously the U.S. Trade Representative. She will focus on global business, investment, regulatory, and negotiating advice. See, WCP release [PDF].
7/23. Robert Novick joined the law firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering as a partner in the Washington DC office. He was previously General Counsel in the Office of the USTR. See, WCP release [PDF].
7/27. FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy named Stacy Robinson to be her Legal Advisor for mass media issues. Robinson has previously worked at the law firms of Skadden Arps, Alston & Bird, and Wiley, Rein & Fielding, and at Discovery Communications, Inc. She will start in mid August.
7/26. FRB Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson was sworn in for a new term on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. See, FRB release.
Monday, July 30
The House will meet at 12:30 PM for morning hour and at 2:00 PM for legislative business. The House will likely consider several items under suspension of the rules, and complete its consideration of HR 2620, the VA/ HUD Appropriations Act for FY 2002.
1:00 PM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Robert Mueller to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will preside. Location: Room 216, Hart Building.
1:00 PM. Opening statements in the Copyright Office's (CO) arbitration proceeding regarding webcasting of digital sound recordings. The CO has scheduled a "180-day arbitration period to set the rates and terms for two compulsory licenses. One license allows certain eligible nonsubscription services to perform sound recordings publicly by means of digital audio transmissions and the other allows a transmitting organization to make an ephemeral recording of a sound recording for the purpose of making a permitted public performance." Presentation of direct cases is scheduled for July 31 through September 13. See, notice published in Federal Register, July 23, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 141, at Pages 38324 - 38326.
1:30 PM. The President's Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations will hold a meeting on 1:30 to 4:30 PM. The meeting will be closed to the public from 1:30 to 4:00 PM, and open to the public from 4:00 to 4:30 PM. See, notice in Federal Register. For more information, contact Heather Wingate (Office of the USTR) at 202-395-6120. Location: USTR ANNEX Building in Conference Rooms 1 and 2, located at 1724 F Street, NW, Washington DC.
Tuesday, July 31
10:00 AM. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing for titled "How Secure is Sensitive Commerce Department Data and Operations? A Review of the Department's Computer Security Policies and Practices." Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing titled Current Issues Before the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Location: Room 2322, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM. The House Transportation Committee's Highways and Transit Subcommittee will hold a hearing on red light cameras. Location: Room 2167, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on several pending nominations, including Rosario Marin to be Treasurer of the United States and Jon Huntsman to be a Deputy U.S. Trade Representative. Location: Room 215, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. Ronald Dick, Director of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center, will speak on the NIPC's efforts to detect, deter, warn of, respond to and investigate malicious acts, both physical and cyber, that threaten critical infrastructures. For more information, contact Debbie Weierman, FBI's National Press Office, 202-324-8055. Location: Zenger Room, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington DC.
2:00 PM. The House Science Committee's Research Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled "Innovation in Information Technology: Beyond Faster Computers and Higher Bandwidth." Location: Room 2318, Rayburn Building.
2:30 PM. The Senate Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing on spectrum management and third generation wireless systems. Location: Room 253, Rayburn Building. The scheduled witnesses are William Hatch (NTIA), Julius Knapp (FCC), Linton Wells (Department of Defense), Denny Strigl (Verizon Wireless), Carroll McHenry (Nucentrix Broadband Networks), Mark Kelly (Leap Wireless), Martin Cooper (ArrayComm), and Thomas Wheeler (CTIA).
More News
7/27. Microsoft announced the filing seven complaints in U.S. District Courts in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio alleging copyright infringement. Each complaint alleges distribution of counterfeit copies of components of Office 97 and/or Windows 95/98/2000 software. See, release.
7/27. Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and others introduced HR 2669, a bill to improve access to telecommunications and Internet services in rural areas, by providing government loans and grants. The bill was referred to the House Agriculture Committee and the House Commerce Committee. See, Moran release.
7/25. The Senate Judiciary Committee issued its Report No. 107-46 on S 407, the Madrid Protocol Implementation Act. This bill amends the Trademark Act of 1946 to provide for the registration and protection of trademarks used in commerce, in order to carry out provisions of certain international conventions.
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