DC Dispatch - June 9, 2017

Article on Software Copyright v. Patenting

A recent guest post in the intellectual property (IP) blog Patently-O discusses the issue of software copyright versus patenting.  In the post Are Copyright and Patent Overlapping or Mutually Exclusive in Protecting Software Innovations, the author states, “[B]ecause the contours of copyright and patent protections for software innovations remain unclear notwithstanding more than 50 years of experience trying to apply these intellectual property (IP) regimes to these utilitarian writings and virtual machines, the question of whether or to what extent copyright and patent overlap or are mutually exclusive continues to bedevil the field. The Federal Circuit’s Oracle decision is unlikely to be the last word on this subject.”  While copyright isn’t an option for all of our members, I include this article here since the issue of software protection generally is an important issue for many of our members.  (Original source: Patently-O blog)

FLC and Federal T2 Noted

A recent guest post in the IP blog IP Watchdog provides some thoughts on supporting and promoting U.S. innovators—and tech commercialization.  In the post How the US Can Inspire the Next Generation of Innovators, the author points to ideas such as angel investing, innovator networks, crowdfunding, and building innovation culture within an organization—and accessing the U.S. federal labs.  He notes, “[A] somewhat overlooked initiative among the innovation industry could be the network of federal laboratories that conduct tax-funded R&D across science and technology disciplines, according to the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) that promotes, educates and facilitates tech transfer (T2), the process by which federal technologies are licensed to industry. …”  (Original source: IP Watchdog blog) 

USPTO Director Lee Resigns

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Michelle Lee has announced her resignation.  From a post in Patently-O, “the resignation appears to be effective immediately. …  Lee will be known as a stabilizing force, managing the agency during these tumultuous post-AIA (America Invents Act) and post-ALICE (American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange) years.  While critics suggest that Lee is not sufficiently pro-patent property rights, the USPTO has continued to issue a record-number of patents each year.  Although the timing is a surprise, Lee was an Obama appointee, and the departure itself is not a surprise.”  The USPTO has announced that “[A]ssociate Solicitor Joseph Matal [will] perform the functions and duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO … during the nomination and confirmation process for a new director.” (Original sources: Patently-O blog, USPTO website)

New From the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Science and Engineering State Profiles: Spring 2017 update is “an interactive website providing access to state-level data on science and engineering (S&E) personnel, and finances and state rankings.  State Profiles displays up to seven state profiles of the user’s choice.  Data is available from surveys sponsored by the NSF on employed science, engineering, or health (SEH) doctorate holders; S&E doctorates awarded, including by major S&E fields; SEH graduate students and postdoctorates; federal research and development obligations by agency and performer; total and business R&D expenditures; and higher education R&D performance, including by major S&E fields.  Data available from other sources include population, civilian labor force, per capita personal income, federal expenditures, patents, small business innovation research awards, and gross domestic product.”  See the link for the latest update. (Original source: NSF website)

GAO Report on SBIR/STTR

The 2011 reauthorization for Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) included “a provision for GAO [the Government Accountability Office] to review Agencies’ compliance with SBIR and STTR spending and reporting requirements and other program aspects.”  This latest report satisfies that provision for FY 2015.  From the report highlights, “[D]ata submitted to the [SBA] indicate that most of the agencies participating in the [SBIR and STTR] programs met spending requirements for fiscal year 2015.  Nine of the 11 agencies participating in the SBIR program and 4 of the 5 agencies participating in the STTR program submitted the required data on obligations for extramural [R&D] … needed to determine whether they met spending requirements.  Of the agencies that submitted the required obligations data, 8 of 9 met SBIR spending requirements and all 4 met STTR spending requirements for fiscal year 2015.  GAO could not determine compliance for agencies — the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — because these agencies did not submit the required obligations data.  Officials at most agencies, including DOD and EPA, identified difficulties in using extramural R&D obligations data to calculate spending requirements and determine compliance.  A working group of several participating agencies is considering proposing an alternative methodology to calculate spending requirements, according to an agency official involved in leading the effort.”  (Original source: GAO website)

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Note:  The DC Dispatch is a periodic update of selected items of interest to the FLC and the technology transfer community—namely 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, websites, direct participation at events by the FLC DC Liaison’s office, etc.), with original sources, contacts, and links provided.

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