Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: House chair sees opening for patent reform

LEDE: House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) says getting patent reform through the lower chamber is all about “timing.”

Legislation to rein in so-called patent trolls was pulled from the floor in July amid opposition and has not made much headway since. Goodlatte, however, isn’t giving up on its chances in 2016 — during a shortened congressional calendar in a presidential election year.

{mosads}”It was pulled from the floor to examine the appropriate time to do this and to have ongoing discussions with some of the folks that had concerns about various issues,” he said. “And we believe the overwhelming support from the Congress is the reason to bring it to the floor. And to bring it to the floor at a time when the leadership will be looking for a bipartisan bill.”

The chairman did not acknowledge any changes to the bill that would make it more palatable for critics. Instead, when asked how a proposal that leadership previously pulled would get a future vote, he said, “because timing is everything.”

He said leadership is “definitely open” to bringing it to the floor, but they are still discussing “the timing and manner in which that happens.”

“The speaker has been very positive about moving legislation through regular order,” Goodlatte said. “That’s what we’re seeking here. But as to the specifics of discussions, we will have to wait until those discussions can take a public form.”

TECH APPLAUDS MOVEMENT ON INTERNET TAX BAN: A number of telecom trade groups applauded Congress’s expected passage of a permanent ban on state and local taxes of Internet access. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association said the ban has been a “fundamental principle since the Internet” was created, while CTIA-The Wireless Association said passage would be a “great holiday gift to American consumers.”

LABOR UNVEILS ON-DEMAND ECONOMY PRINCIPLES: The AFL-CIO offered principles today for policies dealing with labor at on-demand economy firms like Uber. They include using tech “to empower, not weaken, workers” and making “portable benefits available to all workers.” “The AFL-CIO is committed to making sure that the on-demand economy leads to better lives for working people,” said Damon Silvers, AFL-CIO director of policy. “New technologies must not be an excuse for old style injustice. Workers in the on-demand economy, no matter what their titles, must have decent wages and benefits, safety and most of all, a collective voice on the job.” Read them here.

MEANWHILE, ON THE WEST COAST: The federal judge presiding over the driver class-action suit against Uber just made the suit larger, and a negative judgment potentially more costly for Uber. Judge Edward Chen said that drivers who didn’t opt out of an arbitration clause can still be a part of the lawsuit, which alleges the drivers are employees rather than independent contractors. He also said that they could seek reimbursement for their expenses — which could make a judgment in the drivers’ favor more expensive for the ride-hailing startup. “We will appeal the district court’s decision immediately,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.

D.C. CONTEXT: All this comes during a flurry of activity around the on-demand economy. On Thursday, the Department of Labor will host a symposium on the future of work and Wednesday morning saw a series of panels hosted by the Brookings Institution on labor in the on-demand economy.

CHAFFETZ PUSHES GAMBLING BILL: House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) convened a hearing on Wednesday focused on his Restoration of America’s Wire Act legislation. It would block a Justice Department interpretation of the federal Wire Act that opens the door to certain types of online gambling. In 2011, the agency said that the Wire Act should not be used to pursue online gambling operations, except those that were allowing sports betting. “We don’t simply make up laws by one attorney at the Department of Justice,” Chaffetz said in an opening statement that cast the bill as a states’ rights measure.



At 9:30 a.m., the Department of Labor is holding an event exploring “the future of work.”



A proposal to permanently prevent states from taxing access to the Internet is included in a broader bill expected to pass Congress.

The 2016 presidential election was the most-discussed topic on Facebook in the United States this year, joined by a number of other closely-watched political issues.

At least two Web addresses appearing to be associated with Republican politics in New Hampshire are now redirecting users to Donald Trump’s official campaign website.

It’s too early to tell whether new limits on federal surveillance powers are affecting the government’s ability to track terrorists, the head of the FBI said Wednesday.

Sen. Mark Warner on Wednesday warned against rushing legislation ensuring benefits for workers in the “on-demand economy,” a departure from the Virginia Democrat’s previous calls for urgency.


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

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Tags Bob Goodlatte Donald Trump Jason Chaffetz Mark Warner

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