OVERNIGHT TECH: Grassley considers patent bill tweaks

SENATE TRYING TO THREAD NEEDLE ON PATENT REFORM: Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday said the committee is "trying to craft" additions to a patent reform bill that would alleviate concerns from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries about the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (PTO) post grant review process. Those critics argue the PTO proceedings, which were set up a few years ago to offer a quick alternative to challenging a patent in court, skew too far against patent holders. Grassley said the committee is trying to find a plan that "threads the needle" on the issue but indicated it is not guaranteed. He said other reforms included in the bill dealing with patent litigation practices strike the "right balance."

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"Let me make clear that if we succeed, no one will get everything they want – our goal is to strike the right balance in a way that doesn't gut the Patent Office proceedings, and at the same time makes improvements to address the perception that these proceedings are biased and being abused," he said, adding that there will be more discussion at a markup after the Memorial break.

HIGH PRAISE: FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel's colleagues and tech trade groups praised her on Thursday, a day after President Obama announced he was planning to nominate her for another term.

"Commissioner Rosenworcel has a deep background in communications law and policy, extraordinary professional experience and a history of public service, and has shown herself to be a responsible Commissioner dedicated to the public interest," U.S. Telecom President Walter B. McCormick Jr. said in a statement. NAB President Gordon Smith said that the group appreciates "her fair treatment and open door policy toward broadcast-related issues and strongly support[s] her swift confirmation."

"She has been a tireless advocate for the need for more spectrum to meet Americans' mobile connected lives, and we look forward to continuing to work with her to keep meeting the demands by Americans for anywhere, anytime Internet access," said CTIA chief Meredith Attwell Baker, while CEA head Gary Shapiro called her a "technophile who seeks out and understands our nation's innovators and the needs of first responders."

She got praise from a key lawmaker, as well. "Commissioner Rosenworcel has been a tireless and passionate public servant throughout her career," said House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) "Her deep understanding of the issues that Commission confronts has made her a valuable resource for the agency and for those of us in Congress."

At Thursday's commission meeting, Chairman Tom Wheeler used her renomination to praise President Obama's "continuing wisdom." GOP Commissioner Ajit Pai, who joined the commission on the same day as Rosenworcel, called her a dedicated advocate on public safety and freeing up unlicensed spectrum. GOP Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, who just went through a confirmation, said, "I wish her all the best" in the process.

FCC WON'T TIP HAND ON NET NEUTRALITY AS PART OF MERGERS: If the FCC wants to force AT&T to follow new net neutrality rules as a condition of its proposed merger with DirecTV, it isn't tipping its hand to reporters. When asked about the issue in general, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday said, "I'm going to be real careful... not deciding telecommunications mergers in press conferences. Good question to ask." Earlier this month a group of companies and advocacy groups pressed the commission to force those terms.

WHEELER CALLS CABLE EXECS: The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Wheeler had called a number of cable executives -- including those from Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications -- to clarify that companies should not assume the FCC is against future cable mergers because it had concerns with the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.

COMCAST AND LEVEL 3 SIGN INTERCONNECTION AGREEMENT: Comcast is the latest ISP to reach an interconnection deal with backbone operator Level 3 Communications as they try to avoid complaints when the net neutrality order takes effect.

GOOGLE'S ROBOT TEDDY BEAR: The San Jose Mercury News notes a 2012 patent, published Thursday, from two Google engineers for a device that can be a  "doll or toy that resembles a human, an animal, a mythical creature or an inanimate object." A drawing with the patent depicts a teddy bear and a very eager looking rabbit that would supposedly respond to user's commands. One example, provided by the inventors: If you asked the bear (or rabbit, or mythical creature) to play "late-period John Coltrane," it would know to give you the musician's work from 1965 until 1967.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Most federal agencies have not done enough to help cut down on the $1.2 billion a year the government pays for mobile phones and other wireless devices, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday.

Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday suggested the FCC currently has no plans to act on its own to strengthen political ad disclosure requirements.

And the FCC voted to extend a program that offers deaf-blind people specialized equipment to help them use smartphones, laptops and related devices.

The CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which regulates domain names, will step down next year.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Thursday that he wants more information from wireless companies about law enforcement agencies' requests for mobile phone data.

 

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