OVERNIGHT TECH: Leahy introduces patent bill

THE LEDE: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced their highly anticipated patent reform bill Monday.

Unlike the patent reform bill from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Leahy’s bill directly addresses demand letters, which law firms send threatening an infringement lawsuit in the hopes recipients will settle rather than incur costly legal fees.

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The Patent Transparency and Improvements Act clarifies that the Federal Trade Commission has the authority to take action against companies that send misleading demand letters.

“America’s patent system is the envy of the world, but unfortunately some bad actors are misusing the system to sue unsuspecting consumers or extort monetary settlements by making misleading demands,” Leahy said in a statement.

Leahy said his bill “takes important steps to protect those who are targeted by patent trolls while preserving what has made America’s patent system great.”

Leahy’s bill does not address expanding the patent review process to software patents, as some had hoped it would. Currently, companies being sued for patent infringement can challenge the patent at the Patent Office if it is related to financial products.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has pushed for that additional review from the Patent Office to be available for software patents. Leahy has said he will work with Schumer on the issue.

New FTC aides: Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez has appointed Latanya Sweeney as the agency's chief technologist and Andrea Matwyshyn as its senior policy adviser for privacy and data security issues.

Sweeney, who will join the FTC in January, is a professor of government and technology at Harvard University and the founder of the university's data privacy lab. Her research focuses on de-identification of data, developing privacy technologies and protecting health information. 

Matwyshyn is a professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania.  

MPAA to push voluntary agreements: The Motion Picture Association of America will continue putting pressure on lawmakers to support anti-piracy voluntary agreements between the entertainment and tech industries at a copyright hearing Tuesday.

“We all share a responsibility to curb abusive practices online that stunt investment in content, hurt the rapidly evolving digital marketplace, and harm the interests of consumers who benefit from these innovations,” the group’s chief technology officer, John McCoskey, said in his written testimony to the House Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property. 

Earlier this year, the MPAA launched a campaign against search engines — most notably Google — for leading users to pirated content. Through a study, public statements and testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, the film and music industries asked Congress to pressure Google to come to the table on voluntary agreements to curb online piracy.

FCC asks for input on process: The Federal Communications Commission asked for the public's input on Monday on how it should reform its procedures.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a review of the agency's processes one day after he was sworn into office earlier this month. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has been pushing legislation that would overhaul a number of FCC procedures in an attempt to increase transparency and accountability at the agency.

In a blog post, Dianne Cornell, Wheeler's special counsel, who is leading the review, said comments are due by Dec. 2 so that she can prepare a report within 60 days of Wheeler's announcement.  

FTC native ad agenda out: The FTC announced the agenda for its upcoming workshop on native advertising. Representatives from the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Mashable and other online media outlets will speak, as well as online advertising groups and consumer advocates.

Google, Facebook join spectrum group: Google, Facebook and Texas Instruments joined the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance Monday. The international group, formed in June by Microsoft and other companies, promotes efficient use of the airwaves. 

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is looking to drop one of the most contentious parts of his patent reform bill.

Virtual currencies like bitcoin have legitimate uses and should not be banned, federal law enforcement officials told a Senate panel.

The hackers group Anonymous has breached a number of federal government computer systems during the past year, according to an FBI memo.

The National Football League and Major League Baseball are urging the Supreme Court to consider shutting down Internet video company Aereo.

Google has entered a $17 million settlement with 37 states over complaints about the company’s online tracking of users.

The advocacy group backed by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is launching a new round of ads aimed at pressuring Congress to take action on immigration reform.

Mega-donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson's reported plans to launch a major push against Internet gambling drew a swift rebuke Monday from an industry player that says the activity should be legal.

The Supreme Court rejected a bid to end the National Security Agency's phone record collection.

 

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