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

Vol. 2007, No. 2 (20 February 2008)

1) CAPITOL HILL WATCH

  • Senate: Patent Law Overhaul Likely to Slip Until Spring

2) WHITE HOUSE & EXECUTIVE AGENCY WATCH

  • USPTO to Hold Live On-Line Chat for Independent Inventors: February 28
  • OSTP: Advancement of Science Remains a Top Priority
  • IP Council Cites Progress On Enforcement, More Challenges
  • Commerce Secretary Gutierrez Names New Members to Patent and Trademark Public Advisory Committees

3) REPORTS, SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

  • Clinton, Obama S&T Advisers Square Off At AAAS

4) U.S. COURTS ACTIVITY

  • DDB Technologies v. MLB Advanced Media

5) U.S. STATES WATCH

6) AWARDS & GRANTS

  • USPTO: Nominees Sought for National Medal of Technology and Innovation

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

  • IEEE-USA Government Fellowships: Linking Engineers With Government

8) LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

  • IEEE-USA Public Policy Priority Issues - 110th Congress, 2d Session (2008)
  • IEEE-USA Entrepreneurs Committee: TechMatch
  • Track IEEE-USA's Progress
  • IEEE-USA In The News

9) OTHER ITEMS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST

  • 2008 National Inventor's Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

1) CAPITOL HILL WATCH

  • Senate: Patent Law Overhaul Likely to Slip Until Spring

According to the chatter on Capital Hill, the Senate is not expected to take up the pending patent reform bill (S.1145) until April at the earliest. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the bill's sponsor, has been pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedule S. 1145 for floor action. However, Reid is unlikely to do so until after a two-week recess in March because the bill does not have the support of at least 60 members of the Senate. Obtaining this support before floor action will help prevent a filibuster and other efforts to kill the legislation. With an election year-shortened legislative calendar, the majority leader has made it clear he is not likely to schedule bills for floor action unless they can be considered under unanimous consent agreements on amendments and debate time.

Adding to the bill's woes could be this week's release of the Congressional Budget Office's estimate that while the changes would boost federal revenue by $25.5 billion over a nine-year period beginning in 2009, they would also increase federal spending by $26.9 billion.

Leahy has been vying for a spot on the floor schedule as a way of spurring an array of high-tech companies, manufacturers, pharmaceutical giants and universities to strike a deal on contentious provisions in the legislation. But so far there have been no substantive negotiations over those provisions — particularly a section dealing with damages awards in patent infringement lawsuits — since the Judiciary Committee approved the bill last July.


2) WHITE HOUSE & EXECUTIVE AGENCY WATCH

  • USPTO to Hold Live On-Line Chat for Independent Inventors: February 28, from 2:00 to 3:00 PM (EST)

On Thursday, February 28th, senior officials from the United State Patent and Trademark Office will be available live on-line from 2:00 to 3:00 PM (EST). They will be answering questions and offering tips for independent inventors. Instructions for taking part in the on-line chat will be posted on the home page of the USPTO web site at 10:00 AM (EST) next Thursday (Feb. 28). Inventors can begin logging on for the chat at 1:30 PM.

The independent inventor on-line chat is part of the USPTO's continuing efforts to promote and protect America's independent inventors. This effort includes educating inventor-entrepreneurs about the risks of working with invention development companies.

Transcripts (http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip/onlineiip.htm) and frequently-asked questions (http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip/transcripts.htm) from previous onlines are available on the Inventors Resource pages.

  • OSTP: Advancement of Science Remains a Top Priority

FEB: 14: Dr. John Marburger, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), testified before the House Science and Technology Committee on the FY 2009 Federal R&D Budget. Marburger reflected on the progress that has been made since the President first took office in 2001 and stressed increased funding for "critical basic research in the physical sciences is [his] highest budget priority." He also commended the committee's leadership for fully authorizing basic research increases in the bipartisan America COMPETES Act, but indicated success is not had until Congress implements actual funding for both the American Competitiveness Initiative and the COMPETES Act.

"With the 2009 Budget, real growth in outlays for the conduct of non-defense R&D, with the effect of inflation factored out, is up 31 percent in eight years," Marburger said. "Real non-defense R&D growth for the previous eight years was 11 percent. The President's commitment to the government's R&D enterprise is strong, and the advancement of science remains among his top budget priorities.

Overall, Ranking Committee Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) expressed support for the President's R&D budget request, particularly applauding his commitment to the agencies included in the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) and COMPETES Act. He also echoed Dr. Marburger's disappointment that Congressional appropriators did not make funding COMPETES a priority.

"I am sure that we can all agree that striking that delicate balance between adequately funding our nation's priorities while at the same time exhibiting fiscal restraint to reduce the deficit continues to be a challenge," Hall said. "Likewise, I know we also are all in agreement that if we are to remain the world leader in competitiveness and innovation, we must make the appropriate investments in research, development, technology, and math and science education.

Hall continued, "Building on the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and Republican led efforts in the last Congress, we stepped up to the plate and enacted the America COMPETES Act last year, authorizing increased levels of funding for these agencies. So, I am sure you shared my surprise and disappointment when I realized that our friends over on the Appropriations Committee did not see fit to adequately fund these agencies for this fiscal year. The funding they provided was not only 12 percent below the level that we authorized in COMPETES, it was 6 percent below the President's FY2008 Budget Request levels. This is simply unacceptable."

Subcommittees will hold additional hearings regarding specific agency budgets, including for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Department of Energy (DOE). Click here for an overview President's R&D budget proposal.

  • IP Council Cites Progress On Enforcement, More Challenges

In early February, federal agencies involved in enforcing U.S. intellectual property rights released a new report touting a year of increased lawsuits, heightened border controls, and international crime-fighting in the administration's annual piracy and counterfeiting report to Congress.

The scorecard from the National IP Law Enforcement Coordination Council -- which brings together the Commerce, Homeland Security, Justice and State departments, as well as the U.S. Trade Representative -- coincided with a call from IP owners for more government resources to fight the global problem. International IPR Enforcement Coordinator (U.S. Department of Commerce) Chris Israel told reporters there have been "promising successes" but challenges remain because respect for IP "is not a universally held appreciation." More efforts are needed to publicize the health and safety dangers associated with phony goods, he said. To read the full report, visit: http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime/NIPLECC_Report_2008_Final.pdf

According to the report, in 2007 the Department of Justice ramped up its efforts to fight IP theft, filing 217 cases -- a 7 percent increase over 2006 and a 33 percent increase over 2005. Officials said 287 defendants were sentenced for IP crimes, representing a 35 percent rise over 2006 and a 92 percent increase over 2005. Border activity leveled off in 2007 after five consecutive years of steady increases, with agents processing nearly 14,000 seizures of counterfeit and pirated merchandise. The estimated value of the material was up 27 percent from 2006 at $200 million.

On the international front, the USTR expanded efforts within the World Trade Organization by bringing
the first IP-related disputes against China in April. The office also said it would begin negotiating a major deal on IP enforcement with Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea and others. Global engagement is the administration's top priority, officials said. Representatives have brought
the issue to the forefront of nearly all multilateral and bilateral relationships including at gatherings of G8 leaders.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) said protecting the rights of innovators is critical for the U.S. economy to maintain its competitive edge. "Domestically, we must maintain and strengthen our nation's IP enforcement system. Globally, we must develop and communicate a stronger sense of the value of IP globally," he said.

A filing from the International Intellectual Property Alliance to the USTR highlighted the failure of some governments to take effective action against physical piracy and flagged barriers to lawful digital distribution of copyrighted content. The report recommended that 43 countries be placed on a special USTR watch list.

  • Commerce Secretary Gutierrez Names New Members to Patent and Trademark Public Advisory Committees

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez recently named three new members to the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) and three to the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (TPAC). They will serve three-year terms. The Committees were created by the 1999 American Inventors Protection Act to advise the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on the management of patent and trademark operations, respectively, including goals, performance, budget and user fees. The committees have nine voting members who are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Secretary of Commerce.

The new PPAC members are:

Louis J. Foreman, founder and chief executive of Enventys, an integrated product design and engineering firm. A prolific inventor, he lectures on the topics of small business creation and product development as well as intellectual property. Mr. Foreman is the publisher of Inventors Digest, a 20-year-old publication devoted to the topic of American innovation. He was the founding member of the Inventors Network of the Carolinas. He is the executive producer and judge for a new inventor's TV show called Everyday Edisons, which airs nationally on PBS stations. (FYI IEEE inventors...the next casting call is March 15th in Dallas, TX)

F. Scott Kieff, law professor at Washington University, St. Louis; research fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution where he runs the Hoover Project on Commercializing Innovation; faculty member, Munich Intellectual Property Law Center, Germany; previous visiting professor in the law schools at Northwestern, Chicago, and Stanford, as well as a faculty fellow in the Olin Program on Law and Economics at Harvard; trial lawyer and patent lawyer for Pennie & Edmonds, New York and Jenner & Block in Chicago; and law clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge Giles S. Rich.

Damon C. Matteo, vice president and chief intellectual property officer of the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). His two-decade career in intellectual capital management (ICM) includes extensive experience in the creation, strategic management, venture/funding and commercialization of the full spectrum of corporate intellectual property assets through such vehicles as direct-to-product use, licensing, assertion, start-ups and M&A in North America, Asia & Europe.

The new TPAC members are:

James H. Johnson, Jr., attorney at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, Atlanta; member of INTA, where he served on the Board of Directors from 1990 to 1993 and from 1995 to 1997; Chairman of the Trademark Committee for the Georgia Bar.

Elizabeth R. Pearce, Director of the Intellectual Property Group at American International Group, Inc., managing the AIG trademark, patent and copyright portfolios, and an executive member of AIG's IP Task Force.

Jeffrey W. Storie, shareholder, law firm of Decker Jones McMackin McClane Hall & Bates, P.C., Fort Worth, TX; member of the International Trademark Association, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Brand Protection Council of the American Apparel and Footwear Association and the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC). Mr. Storie has been active in the development of the Texas music community, having served as vice president of the Texas Music Association and an associate editor of the Entertainment and Sports Law Journal of the State Bar of Texas.


3) REPORTS, SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

  • Clinton, Obama S&T Advisers Square Off At AAAS

16 FEB: Science and technology advisers to the U.S. presidential campaigns of Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton outlined their candidates' S&T plans at the AAAS Annual Meeting. The advisers discussed how they would handle S&T issues differently from their primary opponent, the current administration and the Republican challengers.

Many of their proposals were similar in spirit: double the amount of federal funding for basic science; reduce the "politicization" of federal research; push for increased information technology to streamline health care; and support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education as a way to build a 21st century workforce.

Thomas Kalil, adviser for science, technology and innovation for Clinton's campaign, said that, compared to Obama, Clinton "has been a lot more specific about steps she would take to restore the prominence of science and technology...and more specific on the types of research investments she thinks are necessary to restore American economic competitiveness."

Alec Ross, adviser on technology, media and telecommunications for Obama's campaign, disputed that claim, saying Obama has produced a "dense," detailed platform on technology issues in particular. From broadband Internet access to alternative energy sources, Obama "really gets into the weeds," according to Ross, who repeatedly urged the audience to visit Obama's Web site to read the campaign proposals.

Both candidates have promised to raise the profile of S&T advisers in their administrations. Ross said Obama would be the first president to appoint a chief technology officer to ensure the safety of the government's information networks and work with "each arm of the federal government to make its records open and accessible." Kalil said Clinton would restore the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as a direct assistant to the president.

Ross and Kalil both spoke extensively about the need to restore scientific integrity to federal agencies and governmental advisory boards, in response to numerous accounts of suppressed research and political manipulation of science under the current administration.

Claudia Dreifus, the New York Times science journalist who moderated the forum, asked the advisers how their candidates would match up against the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain (R-Az.).

"I think that the contrast on issues specific to science and technology would be a sharp one," Ross said, recalling a comment by McCain during the primary campaign that the Arizona senator would hand over "less important" issues like technology to his vice president.

"It's not a question of specifically disagreeing with positions that he's [McCain] taken, it's a question that he's been silent on these issues," Kalil agreed.

The advisers fielded questions from the audience on a range of topics, from the future of manned missions to the Moon and Mars, federal investment in nuclear energy, and genetic testing privacy protections. Ross said the Obama campaign will make a major announcement related to space policy next month, but did not give details.

The Annual Meeting forum was organized by AAAS's Center for Science, Technology and Congress; the Association of American Universities (AAU); and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.


4) U.S. COURTS ACTIVITY

  • DDB Technologies v. MLB Advanced Media

Decided by the Federal Circuit on February 13th - http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/opinions/07-1211.pdf

Case summary: Dr. David Barstow, an inventor who, outside of his work as an engineer at Schlumberger Technology Corporation and in collaboration with his brother Daniel Barstow, developed and patented an invention that his employer did not deem at the time to be related to its business. However, when the Barstows sued major league baseball ("MLB Advanced Media") for infringement, MLBAM contacted Schlumberger and obtained all of the patent rights that the company may have had. MLBAM was then able to convince the district court that it was the true patent owner and ask that the lawsuit be dismissed.

This case raises issues of whether employee inventor agreements are governed by state or federal law, whether the assignment of rights to a particular patent is automatic, and how long an employer may wait before asserting its right to a patent.


5) US STATES WATCH

No items at this time.


6) AWARDS & GRANTS

  • USPTO: Nominees Sought for National Medal of Technology and Innovation

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking nominations for the nation's highest honor for technological achievement.  The National Medal of Technology and Innovation (NMTI) is presented each year by the President of the United States to America's leading innovators.  USPTO has been delegated the authority to administer the NMTI program.  The deadline for nominations is May 30, 2008.

The nominations can be made for an individual, a team of up to four individuals, a company or a division of a company.  The honorees are chosen for their outstanding contributions to the nation's economic, environmental and social well-being through the development and commercialization of technological products, processes and concepts; technological innovation; and development of the country's technological manpower.  To learn more about nomination guidelines and to submit a nomination go to http://www.uspto.gov/nmti/nomination.html.

If you should have questions or need additional information, please contact the NMTI program manager at 571-272-8600 or e-mail NMTI@uspto.gov.

  • 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

For information on NSF Engineering (ENG) Active Funding Opportunities, visit: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=ENG


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

  • IEEE-USA Government Fellowships: Linking Engineers With Government

Application information for the 2009 Fellowships is available online: Congressional and Engineering & Diplomacy. The deadline for both is 14 MARCH 2008.

When you see your new IEEE-USA president Russ Lefevre, ask him about his 2001 experience as a government fellow in Senator Jay Rockefeller's office. And when you run into 2009 IEEE-USA president-elect Gordon Day, ask him the same thing about his experience in Senator Rockefeller's office. (Its pure coincidence that they both worked in that office; you may work wherever you choose if you receive a fellowship appointment.)

***Please note, the eligibility requirements and stipend levels have changed for the 2009 fellowship year.


8) LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

  • IEEE-USA Public Policy Priority Issues - 110th Congress, 2d Session (2008)

The updated public policy priorities list is available online at: http://ieeeusa.org/policy/issues/index.html

  • IEEE-USA Entrepreneurs Committee: TechMatch

IEEE-USA's Entrepreneurs Committee will hold its first TechMatch Conference on 12 May in Minneapolis, MN in collaboration with LifeScience Alley and their MedTech investment conference. The TechMatch will provide one-on-one meetings for entrepreneurs to meet with Chief Technology Officers, Venture Capitalists, and Angels.

  • FYI - Recent IEEE-USA Letters to Congress

13 FEB: Letter to the House Science Committee urging Congress to enact full funding for America Competes Act's S&T authorization.

  • Track IEEE-USA's Progress

For the IEEE-USA Year-in-Review, go to: http://www.ieeeusa.org/about/YearinReview/2007/default.asp

For the latest IEEE-USA Annual Report, go to: http://www.ieeeusa.org/about/annual_report/2006.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.

  • Its election Year!!

Make sure that you're a part of the solution. Register to vote: http://www.engineeringthevote.org/register.asp

Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, NPR calls for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Health and Medicine, and Science and Technology Policy. http://sciencedebate2008.com/www/index.php


9) OTHER ITEMS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST

  • 2008 National Inventor's Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Congratulations to IEEE Life Member Erna Hoover (made key contributions to the system architecture of the first electronic telephone central office developed by Bell Labs); IEEE Fellow Amar Gopal Bose, founder of Bose Corp. (maker of hi-quality audio systems); IEEE Fellow N ick Holonyak, Jr. (breakthrough research on LEDs); and IEEE Medal of Honor recipient Amos Joel, Jr. (switching concept for cellular phones). Other inductees are listed at: http://www.invent.org/images/images_hof/induction/docs/08_press_release.doc

Please visit the IEEE-USA Intellectual Property Policy Committee page for information on making nominations to next year's awards. http://ieeeusa.org/volunteers/committees/ipc/index.html


Top of Page | What's New@IEEE | 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 © 2008, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  Permission granted to copy for personal use or for non-commercial republication with appropriate attribution.

Updated: 20 February 2008

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