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What's New @ IEEE-USA - Eye On Washington

Vol. 2007, No. 10 (28 September 2007)

1) CAPITOL HILL WATCH

  • Patent Reform: Where For Art Thou Incentive to Invent?
  • Global Warming Bill Likely Delayed as Energy Legislation Faces Procedural Dilemma

2) WHITE HOUSE & EXECUTIVE AGENCY WATCH

  • White House Stance on the Patent Reform Legislation

3) REPORTS, SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

  • SBA Report: Gender Similarities and Differences in Entrepreneurs
  • OECD Report - Innovation in China
  • AAAS Says R & D Earmarks Alive and Well

4) U.S. COURTS ACTIVITY

5) U.S. STATES WATCH

6) AWARDS & GRANTS

7) CONFERENCES, FELLOWSHIPS, PROGRAMS & INTERNSHIPS FOR ENGINEERS, and STUDENTS and SCHOLARS OF ENGINEERING

8) LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

9) OTHER ITEMS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST

  • IEEE GLOBECOM:  The Premier Telecommunications Event!

1) CAPITOL HILL WATCH

  • Patent Reform: Where for Art Thou Incentive to Invent?

Just after Congress returned from their August recess, the House passed the Patent Reform Act of 2007.  The bill, now awaiting Senate floor activity, is designed to do several things including, warding off "patent trolls." (The Intellectual Property Owners Association prepared a chart showing the differences between the current versions of the House and Senate bills; view here.) However, the 2007 patent reform act could have a much broader and negative effect on America's small and independent inventors.

Microsoft, Cisco, Intel and other large tech companies are strong supporters of the bill and claim that it will control excessive litigation from those who secure many questionable patents and demand licensing fees by threatening to sue large companies for infringement. But opponents to the current bill language, including IEEE-USA, say the bill undermines the patent protections that inventors rely on, and creates a powerful disincentive for investors to take a risk on untried ideas.

In August, IEEE-USA sent a letter to both the House and the Senate, expressing opposition to some of the language in the patent reform act and asked that Congress take more time to investigate the bill's impact and to hear from everyone who would be impacted. Based upon discussions held throughout the IPC's 2007 meetings, IEEE-USA stated that "much of the legislation is a disincentive to inventiveness, and stifles new businesses and job growth by threatening the financial rewards available to innovators in U.S. industry. Passage of the current patent reform bill language would only serve to relax the very laws designed to protect American innovators and prevent infringement of their ideas."

Hoping to slow down passage of the bill and allow those who have not been given the opportunity to participate in drafting the legislation, IEEE members Dean Kamen – famous for inventing the Segway – and Steve Perlman – former Microsoft division president, Apple Principle Scientist and inventor of QuickTime – traveled to Capitol Hill to participate in a press conference.  The September 20th event called," The Patent Reform Act of 2007: Throwing the Baby Out with the Bath Water," was hosted by Congressmen Mike Michaud (D-ME) and Mike Manzullo (R-IL), and co-sponsored by IEEE-USA, the Innovation Alliance and the NanoBusiness Alliance.  Other guests included 2007 IEEE-USA President John Meredith, Keith Grzelak, chair of the IEEE-USA Intellectual Property Policy Committee (IPC), and executives from companies such as Corning and Monsanto.


2007 IEEE-USA President John Meredith,
Steve Perlman and 2008 President-Elect Russ Lefevre (L. to R.)


IPC Chairman Keith Grzelak, Russ Lefevre, Dean Kamen and John Meredith (L. to R.)

After the press conference, the participants visited various members of Congress.  President Meredith, a resident of Colorado, met with Senator Allard (R-CO) to discuss the wider implications of patent reform.  He stated, "During our meeting I brought up the point that we need to consider competitiveness in patent reform. After all, if we don't remain competitive in America, many young kids will not be able to live their dreams as the Senator and I did. We need to make sure that every young person can dream and that their dreams can be realized." Perlman delivered a PowerPoint to Congressional staff which can be viewed here: Stopping Trolls Without Killing Innovation.

Prior to House passage of the patent bill, IEEE-USA also issued an action alert to the CARE Network, our legislative action center.  Many of you responded and passed on your concerns to your congressional representatives.  We will do the same with the Senate. If you are not already part of the network and wish to participate, please visit the CARE web page and sign up. After joining the CARE Network, you will be notified of when to act on not only the patent issue, but all of the issues that IEEE-USA is working on throughout the year.

  • Global Warming Bill Likely Delayed as Energy Legislation Faces Procedural Dilemma

Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chairman of the House subcommittee on energy and air quality, working with John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the full Energy and Commerce Committee, hopes to introduce a global warming bill sometime this fall, and move the bill through the committee and onto the House floor before the year ends. The bill includes an "aggressive target" to cap greenhouse gas emissions at about 80 percent below current levels by 2050. Boucher acknowledges that House and Senate efforts to resolve differences between comprehensive energy bills (HR6, HR3221) could delay the process and he suggested delaying the energy bill conference to incorporate a climate change bill into the package. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not indicated willingness to do so, but her office is "interested in seeing what legislation the Energy and Commerce Committee produces."

The House and Senate energy bills contain significant differences. The House first passed HR 6 on January 18th. The Senate passed its version of H.R. 6 on June 21st. The House then passed another bill, HR 3221, on August 4th, a move that has irked Senate staff. The Senate has not acted on the second House bill.

Bicameral staff meetings aimed at resolving the differences stalled recently when Republican aides refused to attend the sessions, complaining that Democrats "screwed up the procedure" by passing two separate bills, instead of different versions of the same legislation.  The meetings are being held as House aides become familiar with the Senate's 500-plus page bill (HR6) and Senate aides can get better acquainted with the second House bill (HR3221), with more than 1,000 pages.

Typically, the House and Senate pass their own versions of the same bill and settle the differences in a conference. In this case, Republicans say, each chamber passed a significantly different, independent bill, making it unclear procedurally how to conference the versions. Republican staff say they will wait to meet with Democrats until the procedure becomes clear.

A spokesman for the committee's ranking Republican, Pete Domenici (R-NM), said, "We just want some clarification as to what we're conferencing, and who's going to be a part of it."

Significant policy differences between the bills' versions include tougher mandates for vehicle fuel-efficiency standards that appear only in the Senate bill, and a provision in the House bill that mandates utilities to generate more power from alternative fuels.


2) WHITE HOUSE & EXECUTIVE AGENCY WATCH

  • White House Stance on the Patent Reform Legislation

Just before the House passed the 2007 Patent Reform Act (H.R.1908), the White House Office of Management and Budget issued its statement on the legislation, saying that while the Administration "strongly supports the passage of patent modernization legislation that fairly balances the interests of all innovators by improving patent quality and reducing patent litigation costs," the President would continue to oppose certain provisions. Most notably the White House stressed that limiting the discretion of a court to determine damages adequate to compensate for an infringement is unwarranted and risks reducing the rewards from innovation. The bill emphasizes apportioning damages according to a patent's contribution to an invention. The emphasis on apportionment, rather than other factors currently considered by judges, would make it difficult to determine damages and would probably result in lower royalty rates for patents. The Administration opposes H.R. 1908 and will work with Congress to address concerns. View the OMB's Statement of Administration Policy.


3) REPORTS, SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

  • SBA Report: Gender Similarities and Differences in Entrepreneurs

A new Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy-sponsored report finds that men and women entrepreneurs share more similarities than differences. The study's main conclusion is that, when other factors are controlled, gender does not affect a new venture's performance. Women and men often decide to become entrepreneurs for different reasons, but these differences don't appear to have a huge effect on the bottom line. What are some key differences? Men are more likely to start a technology business and to start a business with a primary objective of making money. Women, in turn, are more likely to operate in low risk/return business sectors. Women were more likely to operate a business with positive revenue, while men are more likely to own a firm with employees. In the past, these many interesting trends led some researchers to suspect major differences in male and female entrepreneurs. This new research contends that most of the differences in firm performance are due to past industry or start-up experience as opposed to gender differences. Download the September 2007 Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy-sponsored report, "Are Male and Female Entrepreneurs Really That Different?" by Erin Kepler and Scott Shane.  

  • OECD Report - Innovation in China

A new Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study assesses China's current innovation policy framework. The report recognizes China's impressive achievements, and especially highlights the Chinese government's capacity to mobilize investment resources for science and technology. China ranks No. 2 in the world (behind the US) in the number of employed researchers, and has sustained a 19 percent annual R&D spending increase for more than ten years. While the input side is impressive, the output performance has lagged. China's performance still lags in many critical areas, such as patent applications, funding for basic research, and the quality and productivity of research personnel and scientists. The report concludes with suggestions for how China can improve its support for innovation. These recommendations include strengthening of China's weak intellectual property regime, improving corporate governance practices, using state procurement to help stimulate innovation, and shifting investment away from its current emphasis on building research infrastructure to providing more support to nurture human capital. Download the 2007 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Review of Innovation Policy, "China: Synthesis Report."

  • AAAS Says R & D Earmarks Alive and Well

A new Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) study finds that the effect the 2006 moratorium on earmarks has been fairly limited. According to the study, earmarking of science projects has made a cautious return. This year's budget process is not yet complete, but, to date, the Senate has spent $624 million on "Congressionally-designated, performer-specific" R&D projects as opposed to spending in a general agency or department budget. The House has spent $529 million on earmarked projects. Overall, the earmarks are smaller and more transparent than in previous years. These totals amount to less than 1 percent of total domestic agency R&D appropriations and approximately 3 percent of total Department of Defense R&D spending. To learn more visit: http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2007/0831earmarks.shtml


4) U.S. COURTS ACTIVITY

No items at this time.


5) US STATES WATCH

No items at this time.


6) AWARDS & GRANTS

  • AAAS Grant Site

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has a service called GrantsNet Express.  Each week GrantsNet will provide a listing of science funding opportunities from private foundations and organizations, and new U.S. government grant announcements in the sciences. AAAS will send GrantsNet by e-mail to AAAS member subscribers. The weekly emails will include: — New science funding programs, divided into opportunities for postdocs/graduate students and undergraduates — Submission deadlines for funding opportunities scheduled in the upcoming week — New listings of funding for science-related research.

  • National Science Foundation

NSF funding opportunities can be viewed at: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/The NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to over 1,700 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 42,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 10,000 new funding awards. The NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers (ADVANCE) - The goal of the ADVANCE program is to develop systemic approaches to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers, thereby contributing to the development of a more diverse science and engineering workforce. Creative strategies to realize this goal are sought from women and men. Members of underrepresented minority groups and individuals with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply. Proposals that address the participation and advancement of women with disabilities and of women from underrepresented minority groups are encouraged.

Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) - The Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) program aims to significantly increase the number of U.S. citizens and permanent residents receiving post secondary degrees in the computing disciplines, with an emphasis on students from communities with longstanding under representation in computing: women, persons with disabilities, and minorities. Included minorities are African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The BPC program seeks to engage the computing community in developing and implementing innovative methods to improve recruitment and retention of these students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Because the lack of role models in the professoriate can be a barrier to participation, the BPC program also aims to develop effective strategies for encouraging individuals to pursue academic careers in computing and become these role models.

NSF Outreach Activities - The first National Science Foundation Regional Grants Conference of fiscal year 2008 will be held in Portland, OR and hosted by Portland State University on October 22-23, 2007, with optional FastLane sessions on the 21st.


7) CONFERENCES, FELLOWSHIPS, PROGRAMS & INTERNSHIPS FOR ENGINEERS, and STUDENTS & SCHOLARS OF ENGINEERING

No items at this time.


8) LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

The need and desire for the U.S. to be energy independent has grown greatly in the post-9/11 years.  However, 2007 saw a bumper crop of legislation designed to bring us closer to that goal. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle introduced several hundred bills encouraging the growth of alternative/ renewable energy resources, including biofuels; wind, solar, and hydro; and various forms of hybrid or fully electric automobiles.  In regards to the latter, the IEEE-USA Energy Policy Committee created the
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Task Force to promote this technology. Dr. Tom Schneider is chairman of the task force.

Conventional Hybrid vehicles are on track to achieve record U.S. sales this year. More than 187,000 hybrid vehicles were sold in the first six months of 2007 alone, with a projection of over 345,000 hybrids sold by the end of the year, a 35 percent increase over 2006. Hybrids now account for 2.3 percent of all vehicle sales.

With plug-in hybrids, the technology is taken one step further by combining the popularity of hybrid vehicles with the added energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness of our nation's electricity grid. This allows the plug-in hybrid's battery to be recharged directly from the grid. Recharged vehicles can provide a range of 20 to 60 miles of all electric operation. With 50 percent of the drivers in the United States driving 25 miles or less, millions of motorists could potentially make their daily commute using little, if any, gasoline. By charging the battery at night when electricity rates are cheap, a plug-in hybrid can be run at the equivalent cost of 75 cents per gallon of gasoline.

On September 19th, IEEE-USA, along with several other IEEE societies and organizations, cosponsored a symposium called Plug-In Hybrids: Accelerating Progress 2007. (View Dr. Schneider's PowerPoint presentation.) Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Jon Wellinghoff, Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, served as keynote speakers. Former CIA Director and founder of the Set America Free coalition, James Woolsey, was the luncheon speaker. Attendees included Google, Inc. (See "Google Goes Green," p. 26, Spectrum, October 2007), Hitachi, Ltd., American Honda Motor, Carnegie-Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Toyota and many others.

Senator Cantwell spoke to the crowd and called plug-in hybrids one of the "most promising solutions to the energy challenges facing our nation."  She stated that there is "a lot of enthusiasm" on Capitol Hill over their potential to reduce foreign oil dependence and contribute to cleaner transportation. Continuing, the Senator said she is fighting create opportunities to give Americans more for their energy dollar while growing the American economy. Plug-in hybrids are a big part of that next chapter.

For those of you who are constituents of Senator Cantwell, please write to her and express your support for her work.  Others can write to or call their own senators and congressmen to convey their thoughts and ask their representatives what they plan to do support alternative modes of transportation such as the plug-in hybrid. Stress that investing in new energy sources should become a priority over ensuring fossil fuel supplies from unreliable sources.

Senator Cantwell is one of the main cosponsors of S.1617, the FREEDOM Act,along with Senators Hatch and Barak Obama, which is designed to help develop commercially viable plug-in hybrids and other electric-drive vehicles. The proposal would provide significant tax credits to purchasers and producers
of plug-in hybrids and gives incentives for electric utilities to provide rebates to customers who purchase plug-in hybrids.

IEEE-USA Position Statement on Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles

"Now I used to think that I was cool, running around on fossil fuel.
Until I saw what I was doing was driving down the road to ruin."

--Traffic Jam, James Taylor 1977

IEEE-USA defined innovation as a strategic priority in 2006. The ability to innovate is an increasingly critical skill set for U.S. engineers in order to maintain rewarding careers, as well as for the nation to sustain its competitiveness in the global economy.  In response to the globalization challenges facing the technology sector, IEEE-USA has outlined the Innovation Initiative, a key focus of our efforts to serve IEEE's U.S. membership.

The IEEE-USA Innovation Initiative will offer programs to advance the preparation of leaders responsible for the innovation of new products and services. IEEE-USA considers innovation to extend from invention through R&D, design, development, production and delivery. The presentations cover the human resource aspects of the processes, and related legal and policy issues.

  • FYI - Recent IEEE-USA Letters to Congress

14 Sept. 07 - Letter to the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense offering recommendations on ways to augment the President's Executive Order on National Security Professional Development.

  • Track IEEE-USA's Progress

Review IEEE-USA's year-to-date progress in working for the IEEE U.S. members at the new IEEE-USA Year-in-Review Web page. Check out what IEEE-USA activities and programs helped the IEEE U.S. members in 2004 at the new IEEE-USA Annual Report online. And find out what's on IEEE-USA's agenda through 2009, with the new, online IEEE-USA Strategic & Operational Plan.

For the IEEE-USA Year-in-Review, go to: http://www.ieeeusa.org/about/yearinreview.asp

For the IEEE-USA Annual Report, go to: http://www.ieeeusa.org/about/Annual_Report/2004.pdf

For the IEEE-USA Strategic & Operational Plan, go to:

http://www.ieeeusa.org/volunteers/strategicplan/index.html

Read a full listing of IEEE-USA lobbying activities on our web site at: http://ieeeusa.com/policy/policy/index.html

Many newly approved position statements are now available online at:

http://ieeeusa.com/policy/positions/index.html

  • IEEE-USA In The News

For more IEEE-USA in the News items, see: http://ieeeusa.org/communications/inthenews/default.asp.


9) OTHER ITEMS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST

  • IEEE GLOBECOM:  The Premier Telecommunications Event!

IEEE GLOBECOM celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year in Washington, DC from 26-30 November.  Themed "Innovate, Educate, Accelerate," IEEE GLOBECOM 2007 will include a general symposium and nine technical symposia that will offer more than 1,000 technical presentations, as well as diverse tutorials and workshops. Topics for the technical symposia include ad-hoc and sensor networking, communication theory, Internet protocols, optical networks, multimedia communications, signal processing, and wireless communications.

The 50th Anniversary Celebration, hosted by Dr. Irwin Jacobs (Co-Founder and Chairman, QUALCOMM, Inc.), will feature Keynote Dr. Jeong Kim (President, Bell Labs at Alcatel-Lucent); IEEE GLOBECOM Panel Session with Roberto de Marca (PUC-Rio), Ann Miller (University of Missouri - Rolla), and Tom Rowbotham (Vesbridge Partners); plus a Commemorative Lecture by Dr. Leonard Kleinrock (UCLA).

IEEE GLOBECOM 2007 will host the 2nd Annual IEEE Communications Industry Forum and Expo, which consists of ACCESS '07 Executive Business Forum, an executive-level meeting on telecommunications, Design & Developers Forum, and Industry Exhibits. The Communications Expo features distinguished industry speakers Matt Bross (CTO, BT Group), Scott McGregor, (CEO, Broadcom), Mark A. Wegleitner (Senior Vice President, Technology & CTO, Verizon Communications), and Prof. Wu Hequan (Vice President, Chinese Academy of Engineering).

Attend IEEE GLOBECOM 2007 for the latest advances in telecommunications and the opportunity to network with pioneering practitioners and leading innovators.  For detailed conference information, visit www.ieee-globecom.org/2007.

Co-located events include:

Maniac Challenge - Much of the research on mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs) has focused on simulation and testbed studies, while plans for actual deployment of large-scale MANETs remain limited. The Manica Challenge is a multi-institution competition that allows the study of tension between the desire of nodes to focus only on delivery of their team's packets (in order to preserve battery life and competitive advantage) and the need for nodes in a MANET to cooperate in order to permit the delivery of packets across the heterogeneous network.

2007 EntNet - the 7th IEEE International Conference on Enterprise Networking & Services (EntNet), the premier forum for a rich diversity of leading telecom experts from industry, universities and government to consider where the industry is going and discuss hot topics in enterprise networking and services, technology solutions and best practices.   EntNet's focus on the more practical aspects of enterprise communication technologies complements the more formal and analytical format that IEEE GLOBECOM has firmly established over a 50-year tradition. This year's program offers technology panels and tutorials.

  • And Finally, The Onion at Their Finest

With all due respect to those we work with everyday... Scientists Ask Congress To Fund $50 Billion Science Thing


Top of Page | What's New@IEEE | EyeOnWash Archive | IEEE-USA


What's New @ IEEE-USA's Eye on Washington highlights important federal legislative and regulatory developments that affect U.S. engineers and their careers. In addition to this biweekly newsletter, subscribers receive legislative bulletins and action alerts on IEEE-USA priority issues, including: retirement security, employment benefits, research & development funding, computers and information policy, immigration reform, intellectual property protection and privacy of health/medical information.

You can change your IEEE-USA Eye on Washington subscription status by using the forms at http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/emailupdates/default.asp

Copyright © 2007, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  Permission granted to copy for personal use or for non-commercial republication with appropriate attribution.

Updated: 28 September 2007

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