OVERNIGHT TECH: Goodlatte releases second patent draft

THE LEDE: As expected after meetings last week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) released a second discussion draft of legislation aimed at curbing patent litigation abuse.

The draft includes transparency measures that would require companies suing for patent infringement to disclose the patent's assignee, the assignee's parent company, "any entity with a right to sublicense or enforce the patent" and entities other than the company bringing the case that have a financial interest in the company or the patent.

The bill would limit the kinds of documents that firms could force their opponents to produce during a trial, open up the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) process to small businesses and allow manufacturers to intervene in infringement cases against the manufacturer's customers.

To the dismay of some in the patent reform debate, the draft does not expand the types of patents that can be reexamined by the USPTO to software patents, an issue addressed in dueling letters to lawmakers from tech groups.

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Groups on both sides of the debate applauded the discussion draft.

"The Chairman’s proposal contains important measures that will help eliminate incentives for opportunistic litigation while ensuring that the law continues to protect all inventions, including software," Victoria Espinel, former U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and current CEO of BSA - The Software Alliance, said in a statement.

"The release of this draft legislation is an important step toward tackling this problem," Michael Beckerman, CEO of the Internet Association, said in a statement. "The Internet Association will examine the new draft closely to ensure that it includes meaningful reform that puts the patent trolls out of business."

Phone unlocking a telecom, not copyright, issue: The Center for Democracy and Technology voiced its support for a recently submitted Department of Commerce cellphone unlocking petition to the Federal Communications Commission. The petition is "clean and straightforward ... would go a long way toward improving consumer choice in the market for mobile communications," and "would render the copyright angle effectively moot," the advocacy group wrote.

Blind advocate promotes FCC program: Steven M. Rothstein, president of the Perkins School for the Blind, will be in Washington on Tuesday to meet with Federal Communications Commission officials to lobby for the agency's National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, which helps people who are blind or deaf use technology. 

The program, a pilot effort created 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, is promoted as iCanConnect. 

"There now are hundreds of people living with significant hearing and vision loss who can access the Internet, send emails, texts and instant messages thanks to iCanConnect," Rothstein said in a statement. "But, for all those who have learned about this life-changing program, there are so many more we need to reach."

Microsoft applauds attorneys general: In a blog post, Microsoft Chief Online Safety Officer Jacqueline Beauchere applauded the National Association of Attorneys General — led by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen — for taking on the issue of children's online safety. Beauchere wrote that the company spoke to attorneys general about the company's efforts around the issues of "standing up to online bullying, taking charge of online reputations, our industry-leading PhotoDNA technology and our efforts to thwart child trafficking" during the group's annual meeting last week.


ON TAP

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will give a speech on Tuesday morning at Georgetown Law Center on foreign surveillance and national security. Leahy has been critical of NSA surveillance and has introduced legislation to curb the government's powers.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Comcast Vice President David Cohen will tout the company's Internet Essentials program for low-income consumers at an event at a Washington, D.C., elementary school. Comcast will announce a local partnership to promote digital literacy. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) called for criminal charges to be filed against people who defrauded Lifeline.

Nine Senate Judiciary Committee members called on the intelligence community's inspector general to conduct "comprehensive reviews" of the government's surveillance programs.

Drug regulators are taking a look at smartphone and tablet applications that help patients monitor their health and connect with doctors remotely.

The Federal Aviation Administration is nearing a decision on allowing airline passengers to keep their electronic devices on during takeoffs and landings. 

Democratic lawmakers are calling on federal regulators to investigate reports that first responder radios failed during last week's shooting at Washington's Navy Yard.

The social networking company LinkedIn denied charges Monday that it hacks into users’ email accounts to distribute spam messages.


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