Overnight Technology

OVERNIGHT TECH: Patent fight shifts to House

LEDE: Momentum behind patent litigation reform shifts to the House on Thursday as the Judiciary Committee looks to approve its Innovation Act.

After a postponed hearing and weeks of talks with stakeholders, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) unveiled a manager’s amendment with a number of tweaks to the bill on Tuesday. The House’s original bill, which aims to cut off litigation tactics used by so-called patent trolls, went farther than a bill making its way through the Senate.

{mosads}The amendments to provisions on pleading requirements, early discovery, customer stay, a joinder provision for shell companies, and post grant proceedings are meant to allay some industry concerns but others remain. A provision on fee shifting, that has worried Democrats, remains stronger than the Senate version.

For the past few weeks, the focus has been on the Senate, which was unable to move legislation in the last Congress because of opposition from then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The upper chamber advanced its legislation last week and it is expected to make it to the floor now that Republicans are in charge.

The House easily passed a version of the Innovation Act last Congress with 325 votes though advocates don’t expect to get that many this time around. Only five of the 39 current committee members — including one Republican — voted against bill last year on the floor. Another six were not in Congress at the time.

DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH ON ROBOCALL BLOCKING: An official with the Federal Trade Commission is not sold on the idea that phone companies will rush to offer customers call-blocking technology against robocallers once the FCC gives them the go-ahead next week. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said it is popular with consumers and she could not explain why phone marketers “are so dumb on this.”

“Well I’d like to be cautiously optimistic but not hold my breath on it. For years now as you know we have informally been urging carriers to do just that,” said Lois Greisman, the FTC’s associate director of marketing practices.

FACEBOOK AND OTHER SHINY OBJECTS IN 2016: A number of technology campaign operatives said Facebook would likely remain king of social media in the 2016 presidential election because of its user base. During a Politico event at the Microsoft DC offices, the group of operatives also said 2016 will likely bring bigger digital ad budgets and more precise targeting of individual voters.

“These other things are complimentary, but just to be the best Snapchatter in Iowa is not going to win you the election… To me, everything that is new now that doesn’t have audience at scale is kind of, for lack of a better term, a shiny object,” said Zac Moffatt, the former digital director for Mitt Romney and cofounder of Targeted Victory.

VIRTUAL REALITY FIRM HIRES LOBBYIST: Magic Leap, a startup that has said only that they are working on virtual reality or alternative reality technology, is bringing in some K Street muscle. They’ve tapped Franklin Square Group to work on “general education about AR/VR and mixed reality technologies.”

REDDIT BANS SOME SUBREDDITS: Reddit has banned five subreddits — or individual communities on the site — for violating its harassment policy. “We want to be open about our involvement: We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas,” the company said in a blog post. The banned forums were, according to the company, r/fatpeoplehate, r/hamplanethatred, r/trans_f**s, r/neof*g, r/shitn*****ssay.

“The Internet is an evolving medium and presents a number of challenges​ at scale,​and we’re learning and hopefully ​improving our place in it,” Reddit Interim CEO Ellen Pao said in a statement.

GOV’S INFORMATION TECH IS HIGH RISK: The Federal government has major problems with its information technology (IT) investment, according to the Government Accountability Office. A summary of a report released Wednesday noted that the government invests $80 billion a year in IT, but many of the investments fail or go over-budget. GAO currently lists IT investment on a high-risk list of programs that are vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement. The GAO has made 737 recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies on the issue since 2009. But only 23 percent have been fully implemented.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER INTERCONNECTION AGREEMENT: Cogent and AT&T have inked an interconnection agreement. It is one of many that providers have finalized in recent weeks to avoid complaints under the net neutrality order. Backbone providers have complained about ISPs slowing traffic and suggested they might file complaints after the rules take effect on Friday.


At 10 a.m., The House Judiciary Committee will consider the Innovation Act.

At 12:15 p.m., the New America Foundation hosts an event entitled “Cyber War vs Cyber Realities: What Should We Believe and How Should We Respond?”


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is slated to crack down on robocalls next week, and now senators are getting into the mix.

The federal government’s data security problems are “going to get worse” before they get better, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said.

A House appropriations bill released Wednesday would block the Federal Communications Commission from implementing its net neutrality rules until the courts weigh in on the issue.

A House subcommittee approved a bill that would require the Obama administration to give Congress 30 days to review any final plan before handing off oversight of the back end of the Internet.

Civil liberties advocates in both parties are sounding alarms about a Republican attempt to kneecap a small federal privacy watchdog.


— This post was corrected to accurately reflect the name of the cofounder of Targeted Victory, which is Zac Moffatt.


Please send tips and comments to David McCabe, dmccabe@thehill.com and Mario Trujillo, mtrujillo@thehill.com

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Tags Bob Goodlatte Claire McCaskill Harry Reid Mark Warner

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