OVERNIGHT TECH: Administration stands behind patent reform

THE LEDE: The Obama administration announced its support for provisions of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s recently introduced patent reform bill.

In a speech on Thursday to the American Intellectual Property Law Association, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea said the administration supports measures that increase transparency and accountability in the patent litigation system.

The administration supports fee-shifting, or requiring the losing party to pay the winning party’s legal fees, Rea said. Reform advocates say fee-shifting provisions would cut back on meritless lawsuits by increasing the costs of bringing those suits.

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The administration also supports requiring companies to be more transparent in their financial ties to the patents at the heart of infringing cases, Rea said, warning against placing unnecessary burdens on patent holders.

“We recognize that while seeking to build a more transparent system, we need to do so with an eye toward limiting the additional burden on applicants and owners,” she said.

Rea said the administration also supports broadening the software review process currently reserved for financial products “to include a limited range of software-related patents.”

Goodlatte’s bill faces criticism from both sides on this issue. Reform advocates say his expanded review process does not go far enough, while intellectual property rights groups say the bill goes too far.

Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute event Thursday, Goodlatte said he drafted his bill with input from the Patent Office and White House “to try to assemble the best ideas that we could put together to address patent litigation reform.”

The administration is “very interested in this legislation,” he said.

FCC moves to loosen TV ownership rules: The Federal Communications Commission will vote on a proposal to loosen rules restricting foreign ownership of broadcast TV stations.

Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn circulated the proposed ruling with the other commissioners Thursday; it's set for a vote at the open meeting on Nov. 14.

The ruling would bring the agency's rules for broadcast foreign ownership more in line with its rules for cable companies, wireless carriers and other industries. Currently, the rules mostly ban a foreign company from owning more than 25 percent of a TV station. 

"This disparity makes no sense, especially considering the difficult financial circumstances facing many broadcasters," Commissioner Ajit Pai said in a statement. "Now is the time for the Commission to revise this out-of-date restriction."

National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith also applauded the proposal, saying it is "fundamentally fair and will serve the public interest."

There is still no word on Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) hold on Tom Wheeler, the nominee for FCC chairman, so it’s unclear who will be in charge of the meeting in three weeks. 

FCC to study Hispanic TV: The FCC announced its first study of the Hispanic television market Thursday. The study will examine Hispanic ownership of TV stations, Hispanic-oriented programming and Hispanic viewing patterns. 

The commission said the study will help it better understand how to adopt policies to promote the public interest. The commission noted that 17 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic, according to 2012 Census survey data.

 

ON TAP

The Technology Policy Institute will host an event on patent reform Friday morning that features Intellectual Ventures Vice-Chairman Peter Detkin.

The Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus will host a Friday luncheon briefing on NSA Internet surveillance.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Microsoft Deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez says the smartphone wars are proof that the U.S. patent system is working.

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden reiterates his statements about the widespread telephone surveillance being conducted by the U.S.

Republicans on the House and Senate Judiciary committees tell the Federal Trade Commission that it needs to be clearer about its views on anticompetitive behavior.

Germany summons U.S. Ambassador John Emerson over recent surveillance allegations.

 

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