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As Time Runs Out, Unease Grows Around Patent Negotiations As Time Runs Out, Unease Grows Around Patent Negotiations

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As Time Runs Out, Unease Grows Around Patent Negotiations

Welcome to National Journal's Tech Edge, a morning tip sheet with the news you need in technology policy, featuring a roundup of the best coverage and exclusive tips for the day ahead. Got this by forward? Sign up at

By Alex Brown (@AlexBrownNJ), Laura Ryan (@NJLJRyan), Brendan Sasso (@BrendanSasso), and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)


TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: The Senate Judiciary Committee still hasn't announced an agreement on patent legislation. A federal court upheld the FTC's authority to sue companies over inadequate data security. The head of the broadcast industry lobby said he doesn't trust the FCC, and a House subcomittee scheduled a vote on a bill that could delay the transfer of Internet authorities. Comcast is expected to file its application with the FCC to buy Time Warner Cable as soon as today. 


PATENT NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE DOWN TO THE WIRE: Senate Judiciary staffers kept working on crafting a workable patent-reform measure Monday evening, as another day passed without any manager's amendment made publicly available. But even as the committee said it was "hopeful" it could broker a bipartisan deal and begin consideration today, stakeholders worried the morning will see another delay. A markup today, scheduled for 2:30 p.m., "seems highly unlikely," said Julie Samuels, executive director of Engine Advocacy, adding, "we're still hopeful for Thursday."

But with a two-week recess lurking ominously at the end of the week, some reform backers are beginning to worry that if a compromise doesn't get out of committee this week, it could spell trouble. And it being an election year doesn't help. Even as the committee has seen progress forging consensus on other issues, fee-shifting remains the unforgiving knot, sources say.


"I am committed to ensuring we move forward with meaningful legislation to support businesses and combat abuses in the patent system," Chairman Patrick Leahy said in a statement issued Monday evening. "Weekend negotiations on this complex issue were positive, and I am confident we are closer to solidifying a bipartisan agreement that incorporates the ideas of many members."

FTC WINS DATA SECURITY CASE: The FTC beat back a challenge to its authority over data security on Monday. Consumer advocacy groups were nervous that a loss for the FTC in the Wyndham case could leave the public with few protections from companies that recklessly fail to protect sensitive data. U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas cautioned that her decision "does not give the FTC a blank check to sustain a lawsuit against every business that has been hacked," but the ruling could embolden the FTC as it investigates Target and other companies that have suffered major breaches in recent months. (Sasso, NJ)

​TOP BROADCAST LOBBYIST SLAMS FCC: Tensions between the broadcast industry and the Federal Communications Commission ran high on the first day of the National Association of Broadcasters' annual conference in Las Vegas. Gordon Smith, the head of NAB, ​urged​ the FCC to bridge the "trust gap" between the commission and broadcasters with national spectrum plan and accused the agency of pursuing regulatory policies that favor cable.

"In light of the FCC's recent action, it's not surprising that broadcasters are finding it hard to trust that the FCC will follow through on its commitments during the incentive auction," Smith said, referring to the commission's recent vote to ban "joint sales agreements​."​ "How can we trust that the carpet won't be pulled from underneath us again. The truth is, we don't know. And that's a problem for the incentive auction."


​Later in the day, Univision Chairman Haim Saban said the FCC stands for "Friendly Cable Commission." FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will get a chance to respond to the criticism in his own speech at the conference today.

HOUSE PANEL SCHEDULES VOTE ON INTERNET GOVERNANCE BILL: The House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will vote on Wednesday on the DOTCOM Act, which would require a government study of the administration's plan to give up oversight of certain Internet functions.

LINEUP FOR COMCAST-TWC MERGER HEARING ANNOUNCED: The Senate Judiciary Committee announced the witnesses for Wednesday's hearing on the cable merger: David Cohen, executive vice president at Comcast; Arthur Minson, Jr., EVP and CFO for Time Warner Cable; Gene Kimmelman, CEO and President of Public Knowledge; James Bosworth, Back9Network Chairman and CEO; Spot Richard Sherwin, On Networks CEO; and Christopher Yoo, professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School.

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Comcast is expected to formally file its application with the FCC as soon as today.

TECH VISAS HIT LIMIT: U.S. Customs and Immigration Services announced Monday that it hit its limit for high-skill H-1B visas less than one week after it began accepting applications. Tech groups continued their push to loosen immigration rules. "Hitting the cap today is a clear reminder that our badly broken and out-of-date immigration system doesn't meet our workforce needs in a global economy," Joe Green, the president of Mark Zuckerberg's, said in a statement.


EU COURT RULES AGAINST SURVEILLANCE LAW: Europe's highest court struck down a data retention mandate. (Jan Strupczewski, Reuters)

MOVIE STUDIOS SUE MEGAUPLOAD: Kim Dotcom and his now-shuttered file storage site face more legal troubles, as movie studios seek millions in damages. (Todd Spangler, Variety)

FREE SPEECH WAR OVER MOZILLA OUSTER REACHES CONGRESS: Conservatives are hoping to make Brendan Eich a martyr for free speech, a la Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson. (Volz)

PRESIDENT OBAMA KICKS OFF ENTREPRENEURSHIP INITIATIVE: The president met with a group of entrepreneurs–including Steve Case, Salman Khan, and Reid Hoffman–to inaugurate the Department of Commerce's Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship program that aims to promote entrepreneurship at home and abroad.

FAA SHUTS DOWN SEARCH-AND-RESCUE DRONES: A group that has used drones to look for missing persons is suing the agency after it shut down their operation. (Jack Nicas, WSJ)

FTC SUES JERK.COM: The FTC says the website secretely used information from Facebook to label millions of users "Jerk" or "Not a Jerk." (Ryan)

COMCAST, TWC MERGER HINGES ON INTERNET CHOICE: In driving home its message that the two biggest cable companies do not compete in any market, Comcast highlighted a weakness in its argument. (Ed Wyatt, NYT)

MARKET TUMBLES AMID TECH-STOCK SELLOFF: The "brutal" selloff of high-tech stocks is a canary in the coal mine for deeper problems. (Paul Vigna, WSJ)

RESIDENTS NERVOUS ABOUT AT&T EXPERIMENT: Some people in Carbon Hill, Ala. are worried about losing landline phone service. (Ryan Knutson, WSJ)


  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will deliver keynote remarks at the National Association of Broadcaster's annual show in Las Vegas at 12 p.m. EDT, and the other four FCC commissioners will speak on a panel at 5:30 p.m. EDT.

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a markup of patent legislation at 2:30 p.m.

  • The House Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing and Trade will hold a hearing on patent demand letters at 10 a.m.

  • Attorney General Eric Holder will testify before the House Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing at 10 a.m.

  • The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the role of the Department of Defense in technology and innovation at 2:15 p.m.

  • The House Appropriations Subcommittee Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on NASA's 2015 budget request at 9:30 a.m.

  • The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will host an event on the economic impact of big data at 11:30 a.m.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Love it - first thing I read in the morning."

Amy, VP of Communications

I read the Tech Edge every morning."

Ashley, Senior Media Associate

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