Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
February 6, 2002, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 362.
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Commerce Department Touts Its Tech Budget
2/5. Department of Commerce (DOC) officials held a press conference at which they discussed the President's proposed budget for the DOC for Fiscal Year 2003. Philip Bond, Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology, stated that "the Bush budget is a pro tech budget". He cited the proposed budget's 8% increase in research and development funding, 21% increase funding for the USPTO, increase in funding for basic research at universities, and increase in information technology spending.
James Rogan, Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), stated that the USPTO would receive a 21% increase in funding. He stated that this increase would be used to hire 950 new patent examiners, and to "transform trademarks to a fully electronic operation". He elaborated that the goal of the new hirings is to reduce patent pendancy. He stated that there are currently 3,200 examiners, and that the worst shortage is in the area of electrical engineers. He added that "pendancy is up around three years" in this area.
He was asked about salary increases for patent examiners. He responded that "I certainly would be open to a market based approach". However, he added that he is also constrained by federal regulations, and labor agreements. He added that the current economic recession has made the stability of government employment more attractive, and reduced turnover.
Nancy Victory, Assistant Secretary for the NTIA, focused on spectrum management related funding. She stated that the proposed budget would provide $3.3 Million for spectrum management and telecommunications research. This includes $2.7 Million to upgrade the NTIA's research facilities in Colorado that test new technology applications for radio frequency spectrum use. These funds would also support the NTIA's overhaul of the interagency process for managing spectrum, and the NTIA's "paperless spectrum process".
Kenneth Juster, the Under Secretary of Commerce of Export Administration, discussed a new $20 Million item to create within the Bureau of Export Administration's (BXA's) Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO) a Homeland Security Information Technology and Evaluation Program. This program would develop initiatives in the next two years for information sharing between law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community, particularly with respect to electronic databases, to promote homeland security.
Juster also stated afterwards that the Bush administration strongly supports S 149, the Export Administration Act of 2001, sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY). The Senate passed the bill in early September 2001. Juster also stated that the administration hopes that the House will soon pass a version of the bill similar to that of the Senate.
Conrad Lautenbacher, Administrator of NOAA, and Arden Bement, Director of the NIST, also participated in the event. 
USPTO Funding
2/5. James Rogan spoke at the Department of Commerce (DOC) press conference about U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) funding under the President's proposed budget for FY 2003. He stated that "we will get the equivalent of all of the fees that we collect".
The DOC also stated in a release that "The President's FY 2003 budget request for the United States Patent and Trademark Office is $1.365 billion. The 21.2% increase allows the agency to spend a 100% of its statutory fees plus an additional $45 million to hire 950 patent examiners and transform trademarks to a fully electronic system by 2004. ... The budget request also includes a one-time surcharge of $207 million in order to fulfill the agency's business plan and to meet the President's priorities."
James Rogan said "the PTO is one of the few agencies that actually does not operate off taxpayers' money. It operates off self funding. But, like other areas of government where fees are collected, those monies all go into the general fund, and then are disbursed by Congress."
He added that "because of the President's increased funding for our budget, which I think I have said is going to be over 21 percent of baseline from fiscal year 2002. The fees will be collected. They will be deposited, I suppose, at the Treasury, in the general fund, and then will be disbursed. And so, when we get to disbursement, we will get the President's -- we will get the equivalent of all of the fees that we collect, we expect to collect for fiscal year 2003. Plus there is a surcharge -- a one year surcharge that the President is proposing. We will get an additional 45 million dollars off of that surcharge of, I think, 204 million. The remaining dollars from the surcharge will go to fund homeland security and the President's economic defense effort." (Editor's Note: Rogan probably meant to say 207, rather than 204.)
The President's detailed DOC proposal [PDF] states that fees collected in FY 2003 will total $1,527 Million, and that the proposed FY 2003 appropriation for the USPTO is $1,365 Million. The DOC statement that the proposal would allow the "agency to spend a 100% of its statutory fees", and Rogan's statement that "we will get the equivalent of all of the fees that we collect", would be based on excluding the $207 Million in additional user fees from the categories of "statutory fees" and "fees that we collect". Hence, under the proposed budget, the USPTO is estimated to collect a total fo $1,527 Million in user fees. Of this, $1,320 Million would come from "statutory fees", and $207 Million would come from "one time surcharge" fees. The proposed appropriation to the USPTO of $1,365 would be $45 Million more than the $1,320 in "statutory fees", but $162 Million less than total user fees collected by the USPTO. This would leave $162 Million in USPTO user fees collected pursuant to the "one time surcharge" to be diverted to other government programs.
Rep. Coble Visits USPTO
2/5. USPTO Director James Rogan met with Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, at the USPTO.
The USPTO stated in a release that "Chairman Coble was given a demonstration of the agency's award winning trademark electronic filing system, which is used by more than 25% of the agency's trademark customers to file their applications. During his visit, Chairman Coble also saw a presentation of the desk top search systems used by patent examiners to electronically access nearly 20 million U.S. and international patents and more than 1,000 non patent data bases. Examiners use these search systems to find information that will help determine the novelty of an invention. Patent Examiners performed 10 million electronic searches last year."
Rep. Coble stated that "I look forward to working with Under Secretary Rogan and President Bush to secure the necessary funding to help the agency reach its goals".
FTC Announces ID Theft Affidavit
2/5. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a model ID Theft Affidavit [PDF] to be used by victims of identity theft to attempt to restore their reputations. Currently, victims often have to fill out separate forms for each fraudulent account opened by thieves. The FTC prepared this model affidavit in conjunction with banks, credit grantors and consumer advocates. See also, FTC release.
NTIA Reports on Growth of Internet & Computer Use
2/5. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) published a report [100 pages in PDF] titled "A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet". See also, executive summary.
This report concludes that "More than half of the nation is now online. In September 2001, 143 million Americans (about 54 percent of the population) were using the Internet -- an increase of 26 million in thirteen months. In September 2001, 174 million people (or 66 percent of the population) in the United States used computers."
Broadband. The report found growing use of broadband Internet connections. "Between August 2000 and September 2001, residential use of high speed, broadband service doubled -- from about 4 to 11 percent of all individuals, and from 11 to 20 percent of Internet users."
Handheld Devices. The report found that "The vast majority of Internet users in the United States still access the Internet through a desktop or laptop computer. Although the number of people using alternative Internet access devices is increasing ..." It found that 4.8 percent of households have an Internet enabled cell phone or pager, and 1.8 percent of households have an Internet enabled personal digital assistant (PDA) or other handheld device.
Internet Indecency. The survey upon which the report is based "asked for the first time whether parents were more concerned about exposure of children to material on the Internet or to material on television. On a nationwide basis, a majority of respondents (68.3 percent) said that they were more concerned about their children’s exposure to material over the Internet."
The report also found both that "The concern about exposing children to inappropriate online content does not, however, result in lower levels of Internet use at home" and that "this concern was seldom a factor when households opted to discontinue an Internet subscription or made the decision not to subscribe."
This report was based upon data collected in September 2001 by the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, a survey of approximately 57,000 households and more than 137,000 individuals in the U.S.
What Digital Divide?
2/5. The NTIA's "Nation Online" report marks a shift from similar reports issued by the NTIA during the Clinton administration. These earlier reports focused on differences in technology adoption rates based on race, income and region. These reports labeled these differences "digital divides". The Clinton NTIA called upon government policy makers to close these pernicious divides.
In contrast, this most recent report omits the "digital divide" rhetoric. It focuses instead upon the rapid growth of Internet use by all categories. It concludes that "Internet use is increasing for people regardless of income, education, age, race, ethnicity, or gender."
Income. The "Nation Online" report found that "Between December 1998 and September 2001, Internet use by individuals in the lowest income households (those earning less than $15,000 per year) increased at a 25 percent annual growth rate. Internet use among individuals in the highest income households (those earning $75,000 per year or more) increased from a higher base but at a much slower 11 percent annual growth rate."
Race. The report also found that "Between August 2000 and September 2001, Internet use among Blacks and Hispanics increased at annual rates of 33 and 30 percent, respectively. Whites and Asian American/ Pacific Islanders experienced annual growth rates of approximately 20 percent during these same periods."
Rural v. Urban. Finally, the report found that "Over the 1998 to 2001 period, growth in Internet use among people living in rural households has been at an average annual rate of 24 percent, and the percentage of Internet users in rural areas (53 percent) is now almost even with the national average (54 percent)."
The report wraps up with a brief analysis of "inequality". See page 91 [PDF page 95]. It states that "In discussions of changing computer and Internet use, a common question is whether inequality has been rising or declining. While previous chapters in this report show that inequality remains, this chapter shows that inequality has been declining ..." It attributes this decline to the expanding use of the Internet at schools, work, and libraries, and to declining prices of computers and Internet access.
The report concludes that "The Internet has become a tool that is accessible to and adopted by Americans in communities across the nation. Approximately two million more people become Internet users every month, and over half of the population is now online. Those who have been the least traditional users -- people of lower income levels, lower education levels, or the elderly -- are among the fastest adopters of this new technology. As a result, we are more and more becoming a nation online".
More News
2/5. The House Rules Committee adopted an open rule for consideration of HR 3394, the Cyber Security Research & Development Act. The bill would authorize funding for computer and network security research and development and research fellowship programs. One hour has been allotted for debate. The House is likely to take up the bill on Thursday, February 7.
2/4. The Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) published in its web site a report titled "Export Administration Annual Report; Fiscal Year 2001". See also, executive summary [10 pages in PDF].
2/5. The General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report [PDF] titled "Human Services Integration: Results of a GAO Cosponsored Conference on Modernizing Information Systems". The report states that "Conference presenters maintained that systems modernization is needed because there are major gaps in the capabilities of states’ information systems to meet information needs for administering and overseeing welfare reform. With its shift in emphasis from income maintenance to self-sufficiency, welfare reform has a need for greater data sharing and systems capability to support new partnerships among diverse service providers and variations among local operations."
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Wednesday, Feb 6
The House will meet at 10:00 AM.
10:00 AM. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing titled Ongoing U.S. Trade Negotiations. The scheduled witnesses are Robert Zoellick (USTR), Gary Broyles (Nat. Assoc. Wheatgrowers), George Scalise (Semiconductor Industry Association), and Arthur Wainwright (Nat. Assoc. of Manufacturers). See, release [PDF]. Location: Room 215, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on HR 2341, the Class Action Fairness Act of 2001, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Location: Room 2141, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The FCC's Advisory Committee for the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-03) will meet. Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TWC305 (Commission Meeting Room), Washington DC. This meeting had previously been scheduled for January 30. See, FCC notice of postponement [PDF].
10:00 AM. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on President Bush's FY 2003 budget proposal. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson will testisfy. Location: Room 1100, Longworth Building.
11:45 AM. Mark Forman, Associate Director for Information Technology at the OMB will speak at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) about the Bush administration's plans for expanding electronic government at the federal level. See, CSIS release. Location: CSIS, 4th floor conference room, 1800 K Street, NW.
12:00 NOON. USPTO Director James Rogan will speak at a Congressional Economic Leadership Institute luncheon regarding the role of the USPTO in advancing technological innovation and revitalizing the economy. See, USPTO release. Location: Room B-340, Rayburn Building.
12:15 PM. The FCBA's Online Committee will host a brown bag lunch. The speaker will be Ed Thomas, chief of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET). The topic will be "Broadband When? A View from the OET". RSVP to Scott Harris at sharris Location: Lampert & O'Connor, 5th Floor, 1750 K St., NW.
2:00 PM. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) will hold the first of a series of joint hearings on antitrust and intellectual property. The hearings are titled "Competition and Intellectual Property Law and Policy in the Knowledge Based Economy". The speakers at the opening hearing will be Timothy Muris (FTC Chairman), Charles James (AAG for the Antitrust Division), James Rogan (Director of the USPTO), Judge Pauline Newman (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit), Robert Pitofsky (Georgetown University), Todd Dickinson (Howrey Simon), Gerald Mossinghoff (Oblon Spivak), Richard Gilbert (U.C. Berkeley), and Richard Levin (President of Yale). See, FTC release and DOJ release. Location: Room 432, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
2:00 PM. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on President Bush's FY 2003 budget proposal. OMB Director Mitch Daniels will testify. Location: Room 1100, Longworth Building.
Deadline to submit comments to the FCC regarding Verizon's Section 271 application to provide in region interLATA services in the state of Vermont. See, FCC notice [PDF]. This is CC Docket No. 02-7.
Extended deadline to submit additional comments to the Copyright Office in response to its March 9, 2001, Notice of Inquiry concerning the interpretation and application of the copyright laws to certain kinds of digital transmissions of prerecorded musical works in light of an agreement between the RIAA, the NMPA, and The Harry Fox Agency (HFA). See, 17 U.S.C. § 115. See, notice in Federal Register. This is Docket No. RM 2000-7B.
Thursday, Feb 7
The House will meet at 10:00 AM. It will likely take up HR 3394, the Cyber Security Research and Development Act, sponsored by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). The House Science Committee approved the bill on December 12, 2001, by a unanimous voice vote. The bill would authorize the funding of new research and education programs pertaining to cyber security. See, TLJ Alert No. 323, Dec. 7, 2001.
10:00 AM. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on the President's Trade Agenda for 2002. U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Zoellick will testify. Location: Room 1100, Longworth Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled an executive business meeting. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
12:30 PM. Tom Ridge, Director of the Office of Homeland Security will speak at a luncheon. Location: Ballroom, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor.
Friday, Feb 8
The House will not be in session.
9:00 AM - 12:30 PM. The FTC and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) will hold the second in a series of joint hearings on antitrust and intellectual property. There will be two concurrent sessions, titled "Patent Law for Antitrust Lawyers" and "Antitrust Law for Patent Lawyers". See, FTC release and DOJ release. Location: Rooms 432 and 332, respectively, of the FTC, 600 Penn. Ave., NW.
TO BE DECIDED ON THE BRIEFS. 9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in Chameleon Radio Corp v. FCC, No. 00-1546. Judges Edwards, Sentelle and Silberman will preside.
10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a panel discussion titled "Should the Government Promote Open Source Software? " The speakers will be Robert Hahn (AEI Brookings Joint Center), James Bessen (Research on Innovation), David Evans (NERA), Lawrence Lessig (Stanford), and Craig Mundie (Microsoft). See, online registration page. Location: AEI, 12th Floor, AEI, 1150 17th Street, NW.
10:00 AM. Chris Murck, Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, will speak on the U.S. relationship with China. He will also comment on China's membership into the WTO and its likely impact on the global marketplace. For more information, contact Micaela de Leon Vivero at mdeleon or 202 778-1024. Location: Murrow Room, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor.
10:30 AM. The Department of Commerce (DOC) will host a homeland security technology fair. Location: Main Lobby, DOC, 14th St. and Constitution Ave., NW.
12:15 PM. The FCBA's Wireless Telecommunications Practice Committee will host a lunch. The topic will be "Hot Wireless Issues on the Hill". The price to attend is  $15.00. RSVP to Wendy Parish at by 12:00 NOON on February 6. Location: Sidley & Austin, Room 6-E, 1501 K Street, NW.
Sixth Anniversary of passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Tuesday, Feb 12
9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in WorldCom v. FCC, No. 01-1218. Judges Tatel, Garland and Williams will preside.
9:30 AM. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services will hold a hearing to examine multilateral non-proliferation regimes, weapons of mass destruction technologies, and the war on terrorism. Location: Room 342, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on accounting and investor protection issues surrounding the problems with Enron and other public companies. The witnesses will be five former Chairmen of the SEC, Roderick Hills, Harold Williams, David Ruder, Richard Breeden, and Arthur Levitt. Location: Room 538, Dirksen Building.
12:15 PM. The FCBA's Common Carrier Committee will host a brown bag lunch. Kathleen Abernathy (FCC Commissioner) and Nanette Thompson (Chair of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska) will speak about universal service. RSVP to Rhe Brighthaupt at rbrighth Location: Wiley Rein & Fielding, 1750 K St., NW, 10th Floor.
12:15 PM. The FCBA's Transactional Practice Brown Committee will host a brown bag lunch on wireless transactions. RSVP to Tina Screven at 202 383-3337. Location: Wilkinson Barker & Knauer, 2300 N Street NW.