The Laws of Invention: Patent Reform
Last week, through its partnership in TechVoice, CompTIA hosted a webinar session with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to discuss pending patent reform legislation in the United States Congress. While there seems to be significant momentum this year to pass comprehensive patent reform legislation, there are several aspects of the legislation that cause concern among small and medium sized technology firms. We have made the webinar available for viewing and would encourage you to take the time to listen and see the material presented by the USPTO.
For several years, the United States Congress has debated the scope and details of patent reform. A backlog of patent applications has clogged the in-boxes of the patent examiners, and litigation seems to have become the coin of the realm for those seeking to protect their inventions. Both of these developments have made it extremely costly for any inventor – let alone a small tech inventor – to obtain valid protection for his or her intellectual property. Yet the question remains, is the cure worse than the disease?
The current state of play is that a bill in the Senate, the “America Invents Act”, recently passed by a vote of 95-5, and a similar bill in the House was voted out of committee by a vote of 32-3 and now awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives. The intention of both bills is to:
- simplify and speed up the process for obtaining a patent;
- enhance the quality of the patents that are granted; and
- address litigation uncertainty and cost.
Learn more about the proposed legislation and review the webinar. Reach out to your member of congress if you have questions or concerns about the pending legislation.
White House Cybersecurity Reform
This month the White House put forward a proposal to reform cybersecurity that is comprehensive in scope and reach. The proposal covers the federal government's ability to respond, coordinate and plan against cybersecurity threats and attacks. Now that the White House proposal is out, members of Congress will initiate what we expect will be a series of hearings and or briefings to develop a cybersecurity legislative package that will require bipartisan support. Read more.
Renewed Push for National Data Breach Law
Those in Washington know that the best way to get steam behind a public policy issue is by building on the momentum of a national news cycle. The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade held a hearing entitled, “The Threat of Data Theft to American Consumers”, in response to Sony’s April announcement of a massive data breach caused by computer hackers that resulted in the theft of 77 million user accounts. What caused an even greater uproar was that Sony announced the breach seven days after the incident occurred. Read more.
SBIR/STTR Update: Temporary Extension Anticipated
Senate legislation that would re-authorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program has stalled. While these programs are set to expire on May 31, Sen. Landrieu has filed a one-year extension, which will have to be passed by both the Senate and House to keep these programs running. Read more.
IRS Defers Withholding Requirement to 2013
The IRS has issued final regulations that defer enforcement of the three-percent federal income tax withholding requirement on government contract payments until January 2, 2013. This law will require all federal, state and local government entities and instrumentalities to withhold three percent of payments made for goods and services. The withholding would be made without regard to the profit margin of the contract. Read more.
SBA Advocacy Report Questions IRS Targeting Small Business
SBA Advocacy released a report calling into question the IRS’ contention that a third of the estimated non-collected tax gap was due to underreporting of business income by small businesses. This questionable IRS conclusion has led to greater audit scrutiny for small businesses. Read more.
Legislation To Require Sales Tax Collection on Interstate Sales
Legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate that would require any seller to collect and file sales tax returns on all interstate sales. Long-supported by a number of states, this anticipated legislation would bring some uniformity to state sales tax requirements but could require even small businesses to collect sales tax and file returns for any sales made into another state. Read more.
INNOVATION AND COMPETITIVENESS
Tap into Federal Funding for Job Training
The Department of Labor made $240 million available in federal grants for training U.S. workers in high growth, high tech and high skill jobs. U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced the H-1B Technical Skills Training Grants program competition yesterday. Grants will be awarded to help workers update current job skills or acquire new skills so they can enter career pathways that lead to higher-paying jobs, including IT positions. The Department of Labor expects to fund 75-100 grants. Read more.
Federal Health IT Strategic Plan
Last month we wrote that the Office of National Coordinator at the Department of Health and Human Services had announced its “Federal Health IT Strategic Plan: 2011-2015,” which was last updated in 2008. The plan focuses on implementing key healthcare IT policies over the next five years through coordination among government agencies, the private sector and the public.
After hearing from our member companies, CompTIA submitted its comments on the plan, which will be reviewed by the Office of the National Coordinator. You can review the full text of our comments, or read more for a summary.
Member Advocacy Spotlight: Aaron Woods, Xerox
To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, you cannot impact decisions and achieve success if you aren’t in the arena. CompTIA provides our member companies with tools so that you are not only in the arena but have the bullhorn to address policies and politics that affect your business. CompTIA member Aaron Woods of Xerox gives his account of what it means to be an advocate for the industry, why he thinks it is important, and how you can become involved. Read more.
COMPTIA EVENTS & ACTIVITIES
Meet with Peers and Partners Before Breakaway
More than 1,100 IT solution providers, vendors and distributors are expected at the CompTIA Breakaway conference this August. Want to meet these IT channel leaders before the big event? Check out MyBreakaway. Whether you want to network, get educated, learn about new products or discuss current trends, MyBreakaway can help you get organized. Once you register for the conference, you’ll receive an invitation to participate in MyBreakaway.
Government Seeks Efficient Tech Solutions
Challenged by tight budgets, bureaucratic hurdles and a dramatic rise in cybersecurity attacks, government agencies are looking for technology solutions that help them become more efficient while at the same time reducing costs, according to new CompTIA research. Our Second Annual Government IT Purchase Plans study finds that the desire to become more efficient and reduce long-term costs influence 60 percent of the purchase decisions made in government IT.
Make IT Cool
Ever since the dot-com bubble burst at the beginning of the last decade, the IT industry has been waging an uphill battle to attract the talent it needs to meet its ever growing workforce demands. Somewhere along the way, as words like outsourcing and off-shoring became permanently derogatory terms in our vocabulary, pursuing an IT career lost its “cool” factor. Hear more on how you can join our efforts to reverse this trend.
To read previous issues of Policy Watch, click here.
REGULATIONS IN THE NEWS
|CONTRACTING & GRANT OPPORTUNITIES
NIST seeks to establish a health information technology testing infrastructure.
NIST needs a firm-fixed price contract for helpdesk, break fix, deskside and managed desktop support services.
The Defense Logistics Agency Distribution has a requirement for IT system support services for information operations at New Cumberland, PA.
The U.S. Army Contracting Command needs IT services at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Mich. and Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Ala.
Key CompTIA Public Policy Contacts
Vice President, Public Advocacy
Director, Public Advocacy
Senior Director, Public Advocacy
PAC and Grassroots Advocacy
Matthew L. Evans
Manager, Public Advocacy