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April 1, 2004, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 867.
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FASB Proposes Expensing of Stock Options

3/31. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) released a document titled "Exposure Draft, Share-Based Payment, an Amendment of FASB Statements No. 123 and 95." It proposes that companies must expense employee stock option plans.

The FASB summarized its report in a release. It wrote that "The exposure draft covers a wide range of equity-based compensation arrangements. Under the Board’s proposal, all forms of share-based payments to employees, including employee stock options, would be treated the same as other forms of compensation by recognizing the related cost in the income statement. The expense of the award would generally be measured at fair value at the grant date. Current accounting guidance requires that the expense relating to so-called fixed plan employee stock options only be disclosed in the footnotes to the financial statements."

The FASB's comment period for the exposure draft ends June 30, 2004.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who represents a Silicon Valley district, stated in a release that "This issue cuts to the heart of job creation, economic growth and competitiveness ... Broad-based stock option plans for rank-and-file employees are a critical tool in helping small start-ups to mature into medium and large-size companies. Yet if FASB's proposal is put into effect, it will result in the elimination of most broad-based stock option plans, doing away with a powerful tool for attracting talented workers and promoting employee ownership."

She added that "FASB's draft rule ignores the fact that no accurate model for valuing employee stock options has been identified -- including the binomial and Black-Scholes models required by FASB's proposal ... Neither of these methods was designed for the purpose of valuing employee stock options and FASB has refused to road-test these formulas in a real-world business environment."

Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA), Rep. Eshoo, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), and others have introduced HR 3574, the "Stock Option Accounting Reform Act", a bill that would require expensing of stock options for only the CEO and the next four highest paid officers. The related bill in the Senate is S 1890, sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY).

The House Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Capital Markets, which is chaired by Rep. Baker, announced that it will hold a hearing on April 21, after the two week House spring recess, to evaluate the FASB's exposure draft on share-based payments, or stock options, and its effects on publicly traded companies.

Rep. Baker stated in a release that "With today's action I fear FASB is beginning to stand for Flatten All Start-up Businesses ... There is mounting evidence of the terrible impact this rule would have on our economy at the very time we are fighting through a jobless recovery. It's my hope this hearing will set the stage for near-term congressional action on vital legislation that helps to protect workers and job-creating businesses."

The FASB report was widely criticized by technology industry groups. For example, Robert Holleyman, P/CEO of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), stated in a release that "Stock options are a key benefit that technology companies -- particularly start-ups -- use to attract and retain talented workers ... Forcing companies to list options as an expense, rather than the dilution of ownership that they are, would make them more expensive, and ultimately, less available to workers."

Ken Wasch, President of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), stated in a release that "In a move touted as a step to improve financial transparency and enhance the ability of investors to evaluate corporate performance, FASB has actually accomplished the opposite. By requiring all companies to expense the value of employee stock options, absent a method to accurately value the options, corporate balance sheets will become less transparent, not more."

Wasch added that "Not only does the proposal fail to accomplish its objective of clarifying corporate accounting, but it poses an enormous threat to innovative companies and the U.S. economy at the worst possible time. The U.S. high-tech industry was built on entrepreneurship and innovation, inspired largely by stock options. Mandatory expensing of stock options will have a chilling effect on the on-going economic recovery, forcing companies to abandon their commitment to broad-based plans."

George Scalise, President of the Securities Industry Association (SIA), stated in a release that "Stock option grants to employees have been an important part of the compensation program that helped drive U.S. high-tech companies to world leadership ... Stock options have been a powerful incentive for employees of U.S. chipmakers, aligning employee interests with those of shareholders. More than 80 percent of the options granted by SIA members are to employees who are not corporate officers. Current plans are very broadly based and give a wide range of employees an opportunity to share in their companies’ success. The proposed FASB rule would likely significantly diminish the use of broad based stock option and stock purchase plans and make it more difficult to attract and retain talented employees."

FCC to Seek Extension of Stay of DC Circuit Vacatur of TRO

3/31. All five of the Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wrote a letter to telecommunications carriers and trade associations regarding the opinion [62 pages in PDF] of the U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) in USTA v. FCC, vacating parts of the FCC's latest rules (contained in the triennial review order) regarding the unbundling requirements of incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs). The letter states that the FCC will seek an extension of the Court of Appeals' stay of its vacatur. The letter also encourages the incumbent and competitive carriers, and their trade groups, to use this time to negotiate. See, letter [PDF] sent to CompTel, and statement [PDF] released by the FCC.

The letters and statement announce that the FCC will petition the DC Circuit for a 45-day extension of the stay of its decision the triennial review order (TRO). That is, the March 2, 2004 opinion vacated key portions of the TRO that were challenged by the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) pertaining to switching, and delegation to the fifty states of authority regarding impairment determinations.

The Appeals Court also wrote that "As to the portions of the Order that we vacate, we temporarily stay the vacatur (i.e., delay issue of the mandate) until no later than the later of (1) the denial of any petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc or (2) 60 days from today's date. This deadline is appropriate in light of the Commission's failure, after eight years, to develop lawful unbundling rules, and its apparent unwillingness to adhere to prior judicial rulings."

See also, story titled "Appeals Court Overturns Key Provisions of FCC Triennial Review Order" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 848, March 3, 2004.

The FCC now seeks a 45 day extension of this 60 day stay. The FCC letters and statement further announce that the FCC urges telecommunications carriers and trade associations to use this time to engage in negotiations.

The three paragraph statement is set in full below:

"Today, we sent a letter to telecommunications carriers and trade associations urging them to begin a period of commercial negotiations designed to restore certainty and preserve competition in the telecommunications market. Ongoing litigation has unsettled the market. To address this uncertainty, we ask all carriers to engage in a period of good faith negotiations to arrive at commercially acceptable arrangements for the availability of unbundled network elements. We trust the parties will utilize all means at their disposal, including the selection of a third-party mediator, to maximize the success of this effort.  The Communications Act emphasizes the role of commercial negotiations as a tool in shaping a competitive communications marketplace. After years of litigation and uncertainty, such agreements are needed now more than ever."

"To provide additional time for these negotiations, we intend to petition the D.C. Circuit for a 45-day extension of the stay of its decision vacating our unbundling rules. We likewise will request that the Solicitor General seek a comparable extension of the deadline for filing a petition for certiorari. The express, limited purpose of this request is to allow these negotiations to take place and for the parties to reach commercial agreements. We have asked the carriers to indicate to us by Tuesday, April 6 whether they will participate and will support a stay of the court’s mandate."

"In the past, the Commission has been divided on these issues. Today, we come together with one voice to send a clear and unequivocal signal that the best interests of America's telephone consumers are served by a concerted effort to reach a negotiated arrangement. We call on all sides to commit to working in good faith toward a prompt negotiated resolution."

Commissioner Michael Copps released an additional statement, in which he wrote that "I join my colleagues in encouraging carriers to engage in negotiations in an effort to preserve competition in the telecommunications market. I support negotiations, provided they are conducted in good faith and on a level playing field.  But the ground here is not naturally level. As a result, carriers will be doubly challenged to reach fair commercial agreements in a limited timeframe."

Michael CoppsCopps (at right) added that "Consumers -- the people who pay America’s phone bills -- don't have a seat at the negotiating table. They will rightfully feel left out in the cold if these negotiations only lead to higher phone rates. I commit to watching these discussions to ensure that consumers are protected in the months ahead. They deserve -- and expect -- no less."

U.S. Telecom Association (USTA) P/CEO Walter McCormick stated in a release that "We applaud Chairman Powell for his statesmanship, for his faith in the free market, and for his leadership in forging consensus among a majority of the Commission on a market-based approach to encouraging real competition, consumer choice, and rapid deployment of broadband technology.  The FCC’s call for commercial negotiations is consistent with the approach our companies have been taking in reaching out to their wholesale customers. In a world of competing technologies -- wireline, cable, wireless, powerline and satellite -- we are seeking to maximize the use of our networks by meeting our wholesale customers’ unique business needs."

The USTA's membership includes ILECs. William Daley, President of SBC, an ILEC, stated in a release that "We're greatly encouraged that the FCC sees the value in business-to-business negotiations and mutually acceptable, commercial agreements as a preferable alternative to government-mandated and -managed competition for consumers. And we applaud Chairman Powell's leadership in bringing it about."

Daley, who was Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration, added that "Three weeks ago, SBC made an identical offer to our wholesale customers. Since then, we've been negotiating in earnest with a number of companies. ... We look forward to working with the commission and our wholesale customers to reach an acceptable, negotiated end to the bitter regulatory debates that have taken place for the past eight years, and to bring the promise of real, sustainable competition to consumers throughout the country."

CompTel/ASCENT CEO Russell Frisby wrote in a release that "CompTel/ASCENT accepts the FCC's request that the telecommunications industry enter into commercial negotiations for the purpose of reaching acceptable terms for UNEs. CompTel/ASCENT and its members are poised to enter these commercial negotiations in good faith, with the expectation of finding a mutually beneficial solution to the current issues in contention. Our hope is that the Bells come to the table with the same intentions and do not use this as a forum to exploit their exclusive control over critical portions of the public switched telecom network."

The CompTel/ASCENT's members include competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs). Frisby added that "it is vital that the process governing these negotiations is transparent, so that all competitive carriers -- large and small alike -- are afforded the same considerations in a non-discriminatory fashion. Without such a process in place, it will be difficult to avoid the problems that have plagued the industry during eight years of failed negotiations.

Frisby concluded that "The end result of any commercially negotiated agreements should be the transition to a true wholesale environment for local telecom services. In this scenario, which is not dissimilar to how the Bells are able to purchase wholesale long distance access, competitive local providers should be treated as wholesale customers with the ability to access critical facilities at just and reasonable rates."

The National Association of Regulatory Utiltity Commissioners (NARUC) issued a release in which it stated that  "NARUC commends the Commission for its leadership and applauds the Commission’s efforts to bring all the parties together on the terms of competition and to avoid disruption to the millions of consumers who rely on competitive carriers for their telephone service. A few State commissions, including Michigan and New York, have issued similar calls for commercial negotiations. A crucial element in creating this opening for further negotiation is the extension of the stay and appeal deadlines so that no party is required to forfeit its due process prerogatives to have a seat at the table.

The Federation for Economically Rational Utility Policy (FERUP), a coalition of state regulators that favor market oriented approaches, also issued a release praising the FCC's latest effort. It stated that it "commends the FCC for this timely proposal to encourage telecommunications carriers to reach commercially acceptable solutions.  Likewise, FERUP is supportive of the FCC’s  impending petition for an extension of the D.C. Circuit’s stay of its decision regarding the TRO to allow marketplace solutions to materialize in lieu of further litigation, delay, and uncertainty."

Greg Sopkin of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission stated in this FERUP release that "I applaud Chairman Powell and the entire FCC for preferring the path of arms-length negotiation over protracted litigation.  It is high time that industry resources be rerouted from enriching lawyers and lobbyists for the purposes of delay and uncertainty, to enhancing consumer welfare and the economy through sustainable FCC rules and mutually agreed upon rates."

FTC Supports State Legislation Allowing Internet Wine Sales

3/31. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) submitted a letter [15 pages in PDF] to the several members of the New York Assembly and Senate regarding pending legislation that would "allow out-of-state vendors to ship wine directly to New York consumers if the vendors comply with certain regulatory requirements, such as labeling delivery packages and reporting sales to state authorities." The bills would facilitate internet sales of wines.

The FTC concluded that "By allowing interstate direct shipping, the bills could allow New York residents to purchase a greater variety of wines at lower prices" and "enhance consumer welfare".

The FTC elaborated that "Through direct shipping, and particularly through the Internet, consumers can conveniently purchase many wines that are not available in nearby bricks-and-mortar stores. The Internet effectively expands the geographic market by allowing online vendors to compete nationally. An individual online store may feature more products than many bricks-and-mortar retail locations. More importantly, the total number of varieties available online may surpass the total number available in bricks-and-mortar stores that are within a reasonable distance of a particular consumer."

Small wineries in Virginia and California have brought suit against the state of New York challenging its ban on direct sales as a violation of the dormant commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. District Court (SDNY) held that the ban is unconstitutional. See, story titled "Court Holds New York's Ban on Internet Wine Sales Is Unconstitutional" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 551, November 18, 2002.

However, on February 12, 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals (2ndCir) issued its opinion [28 pages in PDF] reversing the District Court, and holding that NY's statute is a permissible exercise of authority granted to states under the 21st Amendment. See, story titled "2nd Circuit Rules in Internet Wines Sales Case" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 840, February 19, 2004.

The wineries have filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. See, story titled "Small Wineries File Petition for Writ of Certiorari Re NY Direct Sales Ban" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 852, March 9, 2004.

See also, FTC release.

There was no issue of the TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert on Wednesday, March 31, 2004.
Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
Thursday, April 1

The House will meet at 10:00 AM for legislative business. See, Republican Whip Notice.

The Senate will meet at 9:30 AM for morning business, and at 10:30 to resume consideration of HR 4, the Welfare Reform Reauthorization bill.

9:00 AM - 1:15 PM. The Department of Commerce's (DOC) National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and Technology Administration (TA) will host a forum titled "From RFID to Smart Dust: The Expanding Market for Wireless Sensor Technologies". The participants will include Kevin Martin (FCC Commissioner), Jon Dudas (acting Director of the USPTO), Michael Gallagher (acting Administrator of the NTIA), Elizabeth Prostic (Chief Privacy Officer), and Benjamin Wu (Deputy Under Secretary for Technology). See, NTIA release and notice in the Federal Register, March 1, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 40, at Page 9598. Location: DOC Auditorium, 1401 Constitution Ave., NW.

9:30 AM. The U.S. Court Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in Telcordia v. Telkom, No. 03-7099. Judges Randolph, Rogers and Garland will preside. Location: Prettyman Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave.

9:30 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a business meeting. The agenda includes consideration of S 1735, the "Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act of 2003", and several judiciary nominations, including Henry Saad (to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit), Peter Hall (2nd Circuit), William Gerry Myers (9th Circuit), Roger Benitez (Southern District of California), Jane Boyle (Northern District of Texas), Marcia Cooke (Southern District of Florida), Paul Diamond (Eastern District of Pennsylvania), and Walter Kelley (Eastern District of Virginia). This Committee frequently departs from its announced agenda. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.

10:00 AM. The House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing on the proposed budget for the Information and Analysis and Infrastructure Protection directorate of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Location: TBA.

12:00 NOON - 1:30 PM. The Americans for a Secure Internet (ASI) will host an event to announce its formation and to discuss cyber security issues. The speakers will include Bob Dix (Staff Director for the House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Technology & Information Policy), Steve DelBianco (Association for Competitive Technology), Tom Santaniello (Computing Technology Industry Association), Jonathan Zuck, (Association for Competitive Technology), Jim Dempsey (Center for Democracy and Technology), and Wayne Crews (Cato Institute). Lunch will be served. Location: Phoenix Park Hotel, 520 North Capitol Street, NW (First Floor Ballroom).

2:00 PM. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet will hold a hearing on HR __, the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Reauthorization Act of 2004. The witnesses will be Eloise Gore (Assistant Division Chief, Media Bureau's Policy Division, FCC), David Moskowitz (SVP & General Counsel of Echostar), Eddy Hartenstein (Vice Chairman of DirecTV), Robert Lee (President of WDBJ-TV), Frank Wright (President, National Religious Broadcasters). See, notice. The hearing will be webcast by the Committee. Press contact: Sean Bonyun (Upton) at 202-225-3761 or Jon Tripp (Barton) at 202 225-5735. Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building.

2:00 PM. The House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies will hold a hearing on the proposed budget for the National Science Foundation (NSF). Location: Room 2359, Rayburn Building.

Friday, April 2

The House will meet at 10:00 AM for legislative business. See, Republican Whip Notice.

8:30 AM - 3:45 PM. There will be an event titled "The 19th Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference". The speakers will include Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. Prices vary. For more information, call 312-988-5598. Location: Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.

9:30 AM. The U.S. Court Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in Communications & Control Inc. v. FCC, No. 03-1213. Judges Henderson, Randolph and Roberts will preside. Location: Prettyman Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave.

10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a panel discussion titled "Preemption in the Rehnquist Court". See, notice. Location: AEI, 12th floor, 1150 17th St., NW.

12:00 NOON. The Cato Institute will host a panel discussion and luncheon titled "The Truth about Job Losses and Free Trade". See, notice and registration page. Location: Room B-339, Rayburn Building, Capitol Hill.

12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) will host a lunch. The speakers will be legal advisors on wireless issues to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioners. The price to attend is $15. RSVP to Wendy Parish at by 5:00 PM on Wednesday, March 31. Location: Sidley Austin, 1501 K Street, NW, 6th Floor.

Sunday, April 4

Daylight Saving Time begins.

Monday, April 5

The House will be in recess from April 5 through April 16 for the Spring recess. It will next meet on Monday, April 19.

The Supreme Court will begin a recess. (It will return on April 19, 2004.)

10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) will hear oral argument in Typeright v. Microsoft, No. O3-1197. Location: Courtroom 203, 717 Madison Place, NW.

Deadline to submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOI & NPRM) [31 pages in PDF] regarding the interference temperature method of quantifying and managing interference among different services. See, notice in the Federal Register, January 21, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 13, at Pages 2863 - 2870. This NOI/NPRM is FCC 03-289 in ET Docket No. 03-237. See also, stories titled "FCC Announces NOI/NPRM on Interference Temperature Model" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 779, November 14, 2003, and "FCC Releases NOI/NPRM on Interference Temperature Approach" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 789, December 1, 2003.

Deadline to submit comments to the National Archives and Records Administration's Electronic Records Policy Working Group regarding implementation of Section 207(e)(1)(A) of the E-Government Act of 2002, regarding "Public Access to Electronic Information". This section provides for "the adoption by agencies of policies and procedures to ensure that chapters 21, 25, 27, 29, and 31 of title 44, United States Code, are applied effectively and comprehensively to Government information on the Internet and to other electronic records.'' See, notice in the Federal Register, March 8, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 45, at Page 10764.

Tuesday, April 6


Wednesday, April 7

9:30 AM. The U.S. Court Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in AT&T v. FCC, No. 03-1035. Judges Edwards, Tatel and Silberman will preside. Location: Prettyman Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave.

10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts will hold a hearing on a proposal to split the Ninth Circuit. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.

12:30 - 1:30 PM. The Center Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will host a program on cybersecurity. The speakers will be Steve Ballmer (CEO of  Microsoft), John Hamre (P/CEO of the CSIS), Robert Holleyman (P/CEO of the Business Software Alliance). Press contact: Mark Schoeff at 202-775-3242 or or Gina Maffei at 202-775-3167 Location: CSIS, 1800 K Street, NW, B-1 conference level.

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM. The DC Bar Association's Section on Criminal Law and Individual Rights will host a brown bag lunch (with admission charge) titled "Federal Practice Series: Handling Electronic Evidence: From Authentication to Admissibility to Minimizing that Damaging E-mail". The speaker will be Adam Rosman (Zuckerman Spaeder). Prices vary. For more information, call 202 626-3463. Location: D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1250 H Street NW, B-1 Level.

Deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding its proposed rules regarding universal service subsidies for rural health clinics. Comments are due by February 23, 2004. Reply comments are due by April 7, 2004. See, notice in the Federal Register, December 24, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 247, at Pages 74538 - 74541.

Thursday, April 8

1:30 - 3:00 PM. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) World RadioCommunication 2007 (WRC-07) Advisory Committee's Informal Working Group on Satellite Services and HAPS will meet. See, FCC notice [PDF]. Location: Leventhal Senter & Lerman, 2000 K Street, NW, 7th Floor Conference Room.

6:00 - 8:00 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) will host a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar titled "FCC's Environmental and Historic Preservation Action Plan - One Year Later". Prices vary. To register, contact Wendy Parish at Location: Wiley Rein & Fielding, 1750 K Street, NW, 10th Floor.

Bills Introduced

3/24. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced S 2230, the "Workers Equity Act". This bill would amend the Trade Act of 1974 to include shifts in production, for purposes of trade adjustment assistance, to countries to which the U.S. has extended permanent normal trade relations. It provides that "Section 222(a)(2)(B)(ii)(II) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2272(a)(2)(B)(ii)(II)) is amended by inserting before the semicolon the following: `or a country to which the United States has extended permanent normal trade relations'." The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

3/24. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced HR 4024, the "TV Consumer Freedom Act". This bill would repeal the must carry requirements of the Communications Act of 1934, codified at 47 U.S.C. §§ 338, 534, and 535. This bill would also provide that "No cable system or other multichannel video programming distributor shall retransmit the signal of a broadcasting station, or any part thereof, except with the express authority of the station". The bill was referred to the House Commerce Committee. Rep. Paul is not a member.

3/24. Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) introduced HR 4026, the "Local Emergency Radio Service Preservation Act of 2004". This bill provides that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "shall revise section 25.144 of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 25.144) to provide that (1) digital audio radio satellite service licensees shall not, using any capability either on a satellite or in a radio receiver, provide services that are locally differentiated or that result in programming being delivered to consumers in one geographic market that is different from the programming that is delivered to consumers in any other geographic market; and (2) digital audio radio satellite service repeaters shall be restricted to simultaneously retransmitting the programming transmitted by satellite directly to digital audio radio satellite service subscribers' receivers, and may not be used to distribute any information not also transmitted to all subscribers' receivers." The bill was referred to the House Commerce Committee.

3/24. Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA), Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), and Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) introduced HRes 576, a resolution urging the government of the People's Republic of China to improve its protection of intellectual property rights. For examples, it "urges the Chinese Government to undertake a coordinated nationwide intellectual property rights enforcement campaign, to eliminate the high criminal liability threshold and procedural obstacles that impede the effective use of criminal prosecution in addressing intellectual property rights violations, to increase the criminal penalties provided for in its laws and regulations, and to vigorously pursuit counterfeiting and piracy cases". The resolution was referred to the House International Relations Committee.

3/25. Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) introduced S 2235, the "Domestic Workforce Protection Act". This bill would rename the Department of Commerce (DOC) the Department of Trade and Commerce. It would transfer the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to the DOC. It would transfer the responsibilities of the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) to the DOC. It would create an Assistant Attorney General for Trade. It would also make several changes to the Internal Revenue Code pertaining to offshore production, earnings of controlled foreign corporations, and deductions for certain offshore royalty payments. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

People and Appointments

3/31. Thomas Barnett was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Enforcement at the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division. He was previously a partner in the law firm of Covington & Burling, and vice-chair of the firm's Antitrust and Consumer Protection practice group. David Meyer will replace Barnett as vice-chair of the practice group. See, DOJ release and Covington release.

3/31. Attorney General John Ashcroft resumed work at the Department of Justice (DOJ). He had surgery to remove his gallbladder on March 5, 2004. See, DOJ release.

3/31. Craig Barrett resigned as a member of Qwest Communications' board of directors. He had been a director since 1998. He is also the CEO of Intel. See, Qwest release.

More News

3/30. Phil Bond, Technology Administration Under Secretary, gave a speech regarding DTV at a convention in Washington DC hosted by the American Television Systems Committee.

3/25. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a meeting titled "Emergency Communications and Homeland Security -- Working with the Disability Community". FCC Chairman Michael Powell gave a speech [3 pages in PDF]. He discussed "the need for Congress, the FCC, the communications industry, and the disability community to work together cooperatively to ensure access to communications services, especially during emergencies." He reviewed prior actions of the FCC, but made no proposals for future action.

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