DC Dispatch

DC Dispatch - February 10, 2017

House Passes Comprehensive Energy Science Bill

The House has recently passed: a comprehensive energy policy and innovation bill.  From the press release “[T]he U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously approved the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act (HR 589), introduced by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas).  H.R. 589 provides policy direction to the Department of Energy (DOE) on basic science research, nuclear energy research and development (R&D), research coordination and priorities, and reforms to streamline national lab management.”  The bill includes language from a number of bills that passed the House in the last session; notably the America COMPETES Act (original House version), and the DOE Lab Modernization and Tech Transfer Act.  Language from the latter (Modernization Act) of particular interest to the tech transfer community can be found in Title I (enabling the national labs to utilize technology transfer funds for early stage and pre-commercial technology demonstration activities, directing DOE to issue a report on improving its ability to transfer new energy technologies to the private sector, and authorizing and extending the Agreements for Commercializing Technology pilot program which provides the labs with “increased authority to negotiate contract terms, such as intellectual property rights, payment structures, performance guarantees, and multiparty collaborations” See a summary of the bill by AIP.  (Original Sources: House SST Cmte web site, AIP web site, congress.gov)

House Science Cmte Sets Priorities for 115th Congress

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee has released: its agenda for the coming term.  This committee is arguably one of the more important committees in the House for the FLC community, as it has oversight authority for tech transfer (under its Research and Technology Subcommittee).  From the press release Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) notes “[A]n active two years lay ahead of us as we have important work to do in the new Congress.  The Science Committee plans to create transparent environmental policies based on sound science and focused on innovation rather than regulation.  The committee will work to make sure every agency research dollar spent works for the taxpayers who fund them.  We’ll work to re-stake America’s leadership in STEM concentrations by crafting critical science education initiatives, and we will conduct rigorous oversight of cybersecurity standards and breaches at federal agencies to ensure all Americans’ private information is secure.  Rebalancing NASA’s portfolio and setting course for its future successes will also be a key priority this Congress.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the new administration to carry out these goals to keep America at the forefront of the world’s scientific enterprises.”  The Chair has also released the majority membership

For the new session (majority side) (Original Sources: House SST Cmte web site)

House Judiciary Cmte Sets Priorities for 115th Congress

The House Judiciary Committee has also released: its agenda for the new session.  With responsibility for IP policy and law, this committee’s influence also cuts across agencies and has implications for the tech transfer community.  In a speech to the Federalist Society, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) outlined in broad strokes where his committee will focus his attention in the near term.  From the press release, on the subject of patent law, he noted “[W]hile we must protect the ability of Americans to seek redress through the courts when they are truly damaged or injured, there are measures we can take to reduce the wasteful burden that truly frivolous lawsuits impose on American competitiveness.  Like excessive regulation, frivolous lawsuits are a drain on businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, and hardworking Americans.  We can and must do better.  Over the next Congress, the House Judiciary Committee plans to reform the litigation system by seeking to reduce frivolous lawsuits, making it harder for trial lawyers to game the system, and improving protections for consumers and small businesses.  We’ll also work on reforms to discourage abusive patent litigation and keep U.S. patent laws up to date.  Collectively, these reforms will help alleviate the wasteful burden of unnecessarily expensive litigation costs, thereby freeing small businesses to flourish, unleash innovation, and create new jobs for Americans.”  (Original Sources: House Jud. Cmte web site) 

Supreme Court 2017 IP Preview

The blog Patently-O provides: its take on patent-related cases that will come before the Supreme Court in 2017.  From his post, “[A] new Supreme Court justice will likely be in place by the end of April, although the Trump edition is unlikely to substantially shake-up patent law doctrine in the short term.  The Supreme Court has decided one patent case this term. Samsung (design patent damages).  Five more cases have been granted certiorari and are scheduled to be decided by mid-June 2017. These include SCA Hygiene (whether laches applies in patent cases); Life Tech (infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f)(1) for supplying single component); Impression Products (using patents as a personal property servitude); Sandoz (BPCIA patent dance); and last-but-not-least TC Heartland (Does the general definition of “residence” found in 28 U.S.C. 1391(c) apply to the patent venue statute 1400(b)).”  (Original Sources: Patently-O blog)

New From NSF

Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2017 is “a congressionally mandated biennial report that provides a broad base of quantitative information about the participation of these three groups in science and engineering education and employment.  The Digest highlights key issues and trends through graphics and text.  New to the Digest this cycle are data from a pilot study on early career doctorate holders.  Detailed data tables available online provide information on higher education enrollment, degrees earned, institution types, and financial support, as well as on employment status, sector of employment, occupations, and salaries.”  (Original Sources: NSF web site)

Fun Facts:  US STEM Jobs

According to a recently released report: by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) approximately 6.2 percent of U.S. workers (nearly 8.6 million people) were employed in STEM jobs in May 2015.  In a summary by SSTI, “[O]f those nearly 8.6 million people, nearly half (45 percent) are employed in computer occupations. In addition, seven of the 10 largest STEM occupations were related to computers and information systems including the largest STEM occupation – applications software developers (750,000 people).  STEM occupations provide nearly double the wages of non-STEM occupations.  While these STEM occupations pay more, they also come with more educational requirements.  BLS reports that nearly 93 percent of STEM occupations had wages above the $48,320 national average, with an average wage for all STEM occupations of $87,570. In comparison to other jobs, BLS finds that almost all STEM occupations require some level of post-secondary education (99 percent) while only 36 percent of non-STEM occupations require post-secondary education.”  You can find the BLS study here.  (Original Sources: SSTI web site, BLS web site)

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Note:  The DC Dispatch is a periodic update of selected items of interest to the FLC and technology transfer community -- i.e., current legislation, trends, reports, policy and other developments potentially affecting technology transfer or related activities -- designed to keep the community informed of relevant issues on a timely basis.  Information is gleaned directly from a variety of sources (newsletters, email alerts, web sites, direct participation at events from the FLC DC Representative’s office, etc.) -- with original sources, contacts and links provided.

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