British Parliamentary Committee Urges Rgulation on the Technology Industry
On February 18th, 2019 a scathing report by a British parliamentary committee was published urging tougher rules to keep technology companies in check. In this report, they stated that Facebook “misled” Parliament on data misuse. They also argued that “companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like digital gangsters.” This report was released after 18 months of investigating Facebook and contributes to the growing global movement to increase regulations on technology companies. Facebook has “acknowledged past mistakes,” with the public policy manager of Facebook in Great Britain indicating “while we still have more to do, we are not the same company we were a year ago”, and stating they have increased their team size and invested in AI, machine learning, and computer vision technology, to help address these concerns.
The Federal Circuit Hears Coda Development v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber
On February 22nd, 2019, the Federal Circuit decided Coda Development v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber. In this case, Coda and Goodyear worked on commercializing a “self-inflating” technology invented by Coda. Coda showed its prototype to Goodyear representatives, who then took a picture of this prototype without permission. These exchanges were also protected by a non-disclosure agreement. One month later, Goodyear applied for a patent for “Self-Inflating Tire Assembly” without including Coda’s CEO as an inventor. Coda was informed of this at a later day from a retired Goodyear employee. Coda sued, asking to have an inventor added to this patent, along with 11 other Goodyear patents which they believed contained their technology. The District Court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded this decision, arguing that there was indeed a plausible claim of improper inventorship.
India’s New E-commerce Proposal Focuses on Data Regulation
On February 23rd, 2019, India outlined a “proposed overhaul” in how the country handles e-commerce to help protect its domestic firms. It promoted the idea of storing data locally, setting up more data centers within its country’s borders, and imposing restrictions on the flow of data from users within the country to other countries. Amazon and Flipkart indicated they were reviewing the new draft rules in order to offer input. New Delhi has invited the public to comment on the proposals until March 9th, at which time the rules are likely to be adopted.
New York City Council Speaker Argues for Using 35 U.S.C. § 203 to “Break” PrEP Patent
On February 21st, 2019, New York City Council informed NBC News that he would support a decision by the National Institutes of Health to “break” the patent held by Gilead Sciences that allows them to exclusively produce the HIV prevention drug Truvada (PrEP). He stated, “[t]he cost of PrEP in our country reveals something deeply rotten about our healthcare system, and the NIH needs to march in and break the patent immediately. This is life or death and there is no time to waste.” This makes Johnson one of the highest-ranking officials in the U.S. to support this proposal. The idea is to use the rarely-invoked power in the Patent and Trademark Law Amendment Act under 35 U.S.C. § 203 wherein a patent may be broken when the government feels the “action is necessary to alleviate health or safety needs which are not reasonably satisfied by the contractor, assignee, or their licensees”. Supporters of this proposal argue the price of the drug effectively shuts out many people, and, as such, their health needs are not being satisfied. Gilead contests this argument pointing to patient assistance programs that reduce the cost of the drug, with Ryan McKeel, a Gilead spokesman saying, “Gilead’s extensive efforts to provide access to Truvada for PrEP (and even before as HIV treatment) clearly satisfy the Bayh-Dole requirement of reasonable efforts to make an invention (emtricitabine) available for health and safety needs.”
President Trump Agrees to Extend Deadline to Tariff Increases on Chinese Goods
On February 24th, 2019, President Trump tweeted that “substantial progress” had been made between China and the US on important issues such as intellectual property and the forced transfer of U.S. technology (a process which involves the Chinese requiring that American companies form joint ventures with Chinese companies if they want to do business in China). In this venture, the American companies are required to share their trade secretes with the Chinese co-party, which has led to accusations of trade secret theft of American intellectual property. The President has cited this progress in his decision to extend his imposed deadline to increase the tariffs on $200 million dollars’ worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%. In another tweet President Trump stated that if progress continued, the US would plan a summit with President Xi Jinping of China to reach an official conclusion on trade issues.