Overnight Technology

OVERNIGHT TECH: Patent reform opponents make late pitch

LEDE: A group of lawmakers who oppose broad patent reform are becoming increasingly vocal as the House nears a vote. 

Eight bipartisan members of both chambers who oppose the House’s Innovation Act held a press conference Tuesday, arguing that not all of the 325 members who helped approve a similar bill last Congress are on board this time around. 

{mosads}”A lot of people have changed their votes on this already. I kind of got an informal whip count going, and it would surprise you,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said. “Chairmen of committees are going to vote differently this year than they did last year.”

Even so, the bill has a substantial cushion and 27 cosponsors. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill 24-8 in June. It received only three more “no” votes than when a similar bill advanced last Congress 33-5. 

The opponents argued the unresolved differences between the House and Senate bills — and the lack of hearings this year — is proof that neither proposal is ready for floor action. They said opposition from the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology industry, universities and large patent licensors like Qualcomm will hopefully convince Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to reconsider. 

“It’s our hope that after he begins to recognize the significant additional opposition that has come about, we’ll be in a position to meet at some middle ground course to help us get through this,” said the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who has avoided any direct discussions with the chairman.

GOODLATTE TOUTS SUPPORT: Goodlatte, who is shepherding the patent bill through the House, preemptively sent an email to reporters listing the many supporters of the proposal. Many are from a large coalition of technology and retail companies called United for Patent Reform. The group sent a letter to leadership Monday night reiterating its support. The group called the bill “carefully crafted and balanced.”

ASSURANCES: United for Patent Reform, while supporting the bill, is still looking to strengthen it when it hits the floor this month. The group said it has received “assurances” that a provision on pleading requirements will be strengthened in the amendment process.

TWO DEFECTORS URGE OTHERS TO JOIN: There were only two members of the Judiciary Committee who voted for patent reform last Congress but opposed a similar bill in committee last month. Those lawmakers — Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Karen Bass (D-Calif.) — explained their decision to switch in a dear colleague letter sent Tuesday. They cited a slew of Supreme Court cases that have changed the patent landscape as well as changes at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

“Throughout the committee process, the bill sponsors rejected reasonable requests to modify the bill to address the concerns of patent holders, including those suggested by the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,” they wrote in the letter. 

FACEBOOK, TWITTER DRIVE NEWS: Sixty-three percent of Facebook and Twitter users use the social media platforms as a source of news, according to a Pew Research poll released Tuesday. That is an increase from two years ago, when 52 percent of Twitter users said they used the platform for news gathering, while 47 percent of Facebook users said the same at the time. 

The percentage of Twitter users who use the platform to follow news and events as they are happening is nearly double that of Facebook. Fifty-nine percent of Twitter users report following live events on the platform, while 31 percent of Facebook users say the same.

UBER AND LYFT FACING MORE CALIF. CASES: Uber and Lyft are facing a combined three cases in the state from drivers who say they are full employees, not independent contractors, Business Insider reported Tuesday. Two are against Uber, and the third is the only case in the state Lyft is currently facing. Earlier this year, California’s labor regulator ruled that an Uber driver was an employee. It’s not a binding precedent — but labor advocates hope that it is nonetheless a sign of things to come.

WHILE UBER RECRUITS AL SHARPTON IN NYC: Former Obama lieutenant and current Uber exec David Plouffe is in New York to help out in the company’s pushback against legislation it says would hobble its business. He met on Monday with Rev. Al Sharpton, who has the ear of Mayor Bill De Blasio, to convince him to oppose the bill, according to Crain’s New York Business. Uber has made the case before that it helps level racial disparities in taxi service.

AUTHORS ASK CONGRESS FOR BETTER MONITORING OF E-BOOK PIRACY: The Authors Guild, a writer’s group, wrote a letter to the leadership of the House Judiciary Committee asking them to require Internet service providers to monitor the web for pirated content like e-books. “Technology that can identify and filter pirated material is now commonplace,” the group’s executive director Mary Rasenberger wrote. “It only makes sense, then, that ISPs should bear the burden of limiting piracy on their sites, especially when they are profiting from the piracy and have the technology to conduct automated searches and takedowns.” Ars Technica has more.

REDDIT CEO ADDRESSES ONLINE HARRASMENT: New Reddit CEO (and co-founder) Steve Huffman indicated he may not back down from some of the harassment policies implemented by his predecessor Ellen Pao. “The overwhelming majority of content on reddit comes from wonderful, creative, funny, smart, and silly communities,” he said in a post. “There is also a dark side, communities whose purpose is reprehensible, and we don’t have any obligation to support them. And we also believe that some communities currently on the platform should not be here at all.” Huffman will hold an “Ask Me Anything” session on Thursday to discuss the issue. 


At 9:00 a.m., the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation hosts a discussion entitled “Technology: Problem Solver or Dangerous Master.”

At 11 a.m., the House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on how small businesses are using commercial drones. 

At noon, the Hudson Institute will host a discussion called “Collaborative Governance and Security: A Stronger Internet for the Future.”


Twitter stock briefly rose Tuesday because of a hoax story saying that the company was in talks to be bought.

Civil liberties activists on Tuesday asked a federal court to block intelligence agents’ bulk collection of Americans’ phone data, months after the court called the program illegal.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is firing back at the Republican field after comments she made about the so-called sharing economy drew criticism from some GOP presidential candidates. 

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) 2016 presidential campaign uses Twitter’s advertising tools to directly target messages at certain journalists, an aide said Tuesday.

Traffic to NASA’s website boomed Tuesday morning as the agency’s New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto.


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Tags Bob Goodlatte Hillary Clinton Innovation Act Karen Bass Lyft Patent reform Patent trolls Rand Paul Uber
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