OVERNIGHT TECH: Patent reform advocates hope to keep momentum

THE LEDE: Though they don’t agree on some of the specifics, a cross section of patent reform advocates sent a letter to key members of Congress last week, urging them to maintain the momentum around the issue.

“There was a lot of momentum” before the shutdown, Matt Levy, patent counsel at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, said.

“I think everybody wants to make sure the momentum keeps going.” 

The letter pushes for the less controversial reforms to the litigation process, including forcing plaintiffs to provide more specific information in their infringement claims, limiting discovery requirements and requiring the losing party to pay the winner’s legal fees.

Reforms like these “will help weed out the exploitative cases in which the accuser seeks to extract a settlement based on the cost of litigation, rather than on the merits of the cases,” the letter said.

The letter did not address extending patent review provisions to software patents, which would allow the accused party to challenge the patent’s validity at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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Patent review provisions are included in bills by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), but they are not included in a recent discussion draft from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

The letter’s signatories have disagreed on provisions that would expand patent review to software patents. In dueling letters to Congress last month, companies like Microsoft and IBM said expanding the review process would harm intellectual property protections, while companies including Google and Intel said expanding the review process would help innovators.

The topic of patent review was not mentioned in the letter, likely “to get more signatures,” Levy said. Levy’s group, which represents tech companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, did not sign the letter.

“The proposals here have broad support,” while the patent review proposals are more divisive, he said.

Feinstein op-ed: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) continued her defense of the National Security Agency's call data collection program in a USA Today op-ed Monday.

She reiterated her view that the program is not "surveillance" and is critical for thwarting terrorist attacks. 

"The Senate Intelligence Committee will soon consider legislation to add public reporting requirements and more court review, and to codify existing procedures into law. I hope this will restore public confidence to a program that continues to protect the homeland from terrorism," she wrote.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is working on legislation that would end the NSA's bulk data collection powers. 

Case hopeful on immigration: AOL Founder Steve Case is confident Congress will return to work on immigration legislation soon.

"I think it's going to be back on the table starting in the next couple weeks," Case said in an interview with Bloomberg Monday, explaining that he has had discussions with leaders of both parties. He acknowledged that the issue has been overshadowed — first by Syria, then the budget battle — but he said "there really is broad bipartisan support" for immigration legislation. 

H block auction delayed: The government shutdown has forced the Federal Communications Commission to delay the planned auction of the "H block" of wireless spectrum. The commission had set the auction for Jan. 14, but on Monday, the agency announced that date will be bumped back to Jan. 22.

House FTC hearing postponed: The House Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade subcommittee has postponed Thursday's planned hearing on the future of the Federal Trade Commission. The House canceled Thursday's session so members can attend the funeral of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.). 

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Intellectual Ventures, which has been accused of being the world's biggest "patent troll," has ramped up its lobbying as Congress works on legislation to curb abusive patent lawsuits. 

Google unveiled three new tools to combat surveillance and attacks against websites as part of its fight against global censorship.

President Obama spoke with French President François Hollande by phone just hours after a report revealed the National Security Agency has spied on France.

After a summer of revelations about U.S. surveillance, the European Union Parliament is moving ahead with privacy regulations that would restrict how Internet companies share user data with third parties, including government entities.

 

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