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News Briefs from March 11-15, 2001

3/15. Susan Meyer joined the Orange County office of the law firm of Latham & Watkins as Of Counsel in the Venture and Technology group. She practices intellectual property transactional law, with emphasis on licensing agreements, e-commerce issues, Internet service and large systems deals. She previously worked in the Los Angeles office of Foley & Lardner. See, release.
3/15. Andrew McBride joined the Washington DC office of the law firm of Wiley Rein & Fielding. He was previously with Cooper Carvin & Rosenthal. He will focus on state and federal communications regulation, First Amendment, copyright and general commercial litigation. See, release. Recently, he worked on the case Comcast v. Broward County, a successful challenge to the constitutionality of Broward County's open access ordinance on First Amendment grounds.
3/15. Matthew Sonsini joined the Palo Alto office of the firm of Wilson Sonsini as a partner in the corporate and securities group. He was previously a partner at Cooley Godward. He represents technology companies at all stages of their growth, as well as venture capital funds and investment banks. See, release.
3/15. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) approved, by a vote of 5 to 1, a draft of an Advisory Opinion requested by The FEC, which is responsible for enforcing the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), opined that a political action committee (PAC) may accept contributions in the form of stock. The FEC wrote in its draft that " may accept the contribution, by an individual, of stocks that are publicly traded on an exchange, subject to the limit of 2 U.S.C. § 441a(a)(1)(C). The contribution would be valued at the closing price of the stock on the day of the committee's receipt. ... In order to provide a valid basis upon which the non-publicly traded stock contributed to can be valued, the Commission concludes that the factors described by the IRS for determining the fair market value (on the date the stock is deemed as contributed to the donee) of stock of a closely held corporation, or where selling prices are unavailable, should be applied." See also, Request for Advisory Opinion, Supplement 1 and Supplement 2. The FEC has not yet released the final Advisory Opinion.
3/15. NCR filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DDel) against Palm and Handspring alleging patent infringement. NCR alleges that Palm's handheld computers, named Palm Pilot and Palm, and Handspring's handheld computer, named Visor, infringe two patents issued to NCR in 1987. At issue are U.S. Patent No. 4,634,845 (titled "Portable personal terminal for use in a system for handling transactions") and U.S. Patent No. 4,689,478 (titled "System for handling transactions including a portable personal terminal"). The six count complaint alleges direct patent infringement, inducement to infringe, and contributory infringement as to both patents. NCR seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against both defendants, and monetary damages.
3/15. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) praised the FOIA and eFOIA amendments in a speech in the Senate. He stated that "Five years ago we updated FOIA's charter with the Electronic Freedom of Information Act that I proposed as a way to bring the law into the information age, recognizing that technology is dramatically changing the way government handles and stores information. The 'E-FOIA' law directs federal agencies to make the information in their computer files available to citizens on the same basis as that in conventional paper files." He added that "only constant vigilance will keep Congress from needlessly whittling away its promise to the American people. We fought back one such effort last year, and new carve-out proposals are already in the air."
3/15. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) introduced HR 1047, a bill to amend the Electronic Fund Transfer Act to prohibit any operator of an automated teller machine that displays any paid advertising from imposing any fee on a consumer for the use of that machine. The bill was referred to the House Financial Services Committee.
3/15. A U.S. District Court (CDCal) jury found a Jamie Newburn guilty of two felonies related to arranging criminal acts with a minor over the Internet. He was found guilty of one count of interstate travel with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and one count of using of a facility of interstate commerce (the Internet) to attempt to induce a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity. Newburn was arrested by a Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy who observed the minor walking at about midnight towards Newburn's motel. See, release.
3/15. The Senate passed S 220, the bankruptcy reform bill, by a vote of 85 to 15. The House passed its version of the bill, HR 333, on March 1.
3/15. The GAO published a report [PDF] titled "Information Security: IRS Electronic Filing Systems," which found that the IRS's electronic filing data is vulnerable to hackers. The report stated that "During last year’s 2000 tax filing season, IRS did not implement adequate computer controls to ensure the security of its electronic filing systems and electronically transmitted taxpayer data." The report elaborated: "We demonstrated that unauthorized individuals, both internal and external to IRS, could have gained access to IRS' electronic filing systems and viewed and modified taxpayer data contained in those systems during the 2000 tax filing season. We were able to gain such access because IRS at that time had not (1) effectively restricted external access to computers supporting the e-file program, (2) securely configured the operating systems of its electronic filing systems, (3) implemented adequate password management and user account practices, (4) sufficiently restricted access to computer files and directories containing tax return and other system data, or (5) used encryption to protect tax return data on e-file systems. Further, these weaknesses jeopardized the security of sensitive business, financial, and taxpayer data on other critical IRS systems that were connected to e-file computers through its servicewide network."
3/15. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearings on high performance computer export controls. The GAO presented a report titled "Export Controls: Inadequate Justification for Relaxation of Computer Controls Demonstrates Need for Comprehensive Study". On January 10, 2001, the Clinton administration announced a significant relaxation of export controls on high performance computers (HPCs); it raised the licensing and notification thresholds from 28,000 to 85,000 MTOPS. The 1998 National Defense Authorization Act requires the President to provide a report to Congress justifying export control modifications on three grounds. The GAO report concluded that Clinton only justified his decision on one of the three grounds. The GAO concluded that the Clinton report addressed the first criterion, worldwide availability of HPCs, but failed to address the other two criteria, the computer uses of military significance to which HPCs could be applied at the new MTOPS thresholds, and the national security impact of such uses. The GAO report did not reach any conclusion as to whether 85,000 MTOPS is an appropriate threshold, or even if MTOPS is an appropriate measure.
Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN), Chairman of the Committee, presided at the hearing. He criticized the Clinton report for not making an adequate assessment of the national security implications of raising the MTOPS levels. He stated that "we are still flying blind." He expressed concern about exporting dual use HPCs which can be used to simulate nuclear testing by China.
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), a member of the Committee, offered a defense of liberalization of export controls on HPCs. He argued that other countries are involved in HPC computer manufacture, and that export controls could prevent U.S. manufacturers from competing effectively. He also pointed out that it would harm U.S. national security if U.S. industry lost its lead, and the Defense Department had to purchase HPCs from foreign manufacturers.
3/15. The Senate Banking Committee postponed its mark up of S 149, The Export Administration Act of 2001. "Some things are worth the wait and that's how I classify this bill," said Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), sponsor of the bill. "We are now working with a new Administration. Based on our discussions, it is clear the Administration supports the basic principles of our bill. The White House has just completed a thorough review of our bill. We have been in contact with the President's national Security Advisor Condaleezza Rice. Through her leadership the Administration has suggested a package of improvements for the bill. We will continue discussions with the Administration in the coming days. I am confident we will reach a consensus and receive the full backing of the President." Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX), Chairman of the Banking Committee, said "I am confident that we can in short order reach a consensus and receive the president's full endorsement ..."
3/15. The FBI's NIPC issued an Assessment titled "Intrusion Detection Systems Exploit" that states that "a software package has been identified which, if used maliciously, may disable a victim’s computer or network's IDS by flooding it with Internet traffic emanating from several random Internet Protocol (IP) addresses simultaneously." The NIPC issues three levels of warnings: assessments, advisories, and alerts. Assessments are of the lowest level of severity.
3/15. NCR filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DDel) against Palm and Handspring alleging patent infringement.
3/15. The U.S. Court of Appeals (5thCir) issued its opinion in AT&T v. City of Dallas, a mooted appeal regarding City of Dallas' attempt by ordinance to impose fees and restrictions on local telephone providers. When CLECs attempted to enter the local telephone market in Dallas, the City of Dallas imposed franchise conditions on the CLECs and increased right-of-way fees on all local telephone providers. Various challenges to the ordinance were consolidated in one action, in which the District Court granted preliminary injunctions to the CLECs, and then granted summary judgments holding that a CLEC does not "use" a right of way under § 523 of the Telecom Act of 1996 by leasing the UNEs of an ILEC, and is therefore not responsible for municipal fees. SBC appealed. Then, the State of Texas enacted a statute, which preempted the Dallas city ordinance. The remaining issue on appeal was how to deal with the mooted appeal. The Appeals Court vacated the District Court's judgments and remanded the case with directions to dismiss.
3/15. The U.S. Court of Appeals (2ndCir) issued its opinion in Victor Kiam v. NFL, a old antitrust case involving Victor Kiam's attempts to relocate the New England Patriots football club. This is not a tech case, but the antitrust analysis may be of interest to technology lawyers, and football fans. Kiam, owner of the Patriots, filed a complaint in 1994 in U.S. District Court (SDNY) against the NFL, its member clubs, including Touchdown Jacksonville Ltd (TJL), and Touchdown Jacksonville Inc. (TJI), alleging violation of § 1 of the Sherman Act by engaging in monopolistic and conspiratorial conduct that illegally lowered the value of the Patriots. Kiam had signed a release, but argued that it was void for economic duress, and that it was part and parcel of the antitrust violation. Defendants prevailed in the District Court. The Appeals Court affirmed, except as to TJL and TJI. The Appeals Court wrote, "this leaves the NFL dog of this litigation quite dead but the TJI/TJL tail still wagging".
3/15. The FCC published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments to "update and refresh the record" on issues raised in its Computer III Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, originally issued on January 30, 1998. Comments are due April 16, 2001. Reply comments are due April 30, 2001. See, Federal Register, March 15, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 51, at Pages 15064 - 15065.
3/15. The USPTO published its first set of patent applications under the American Inventors Protection Act. Publication of patent applications is now required for the vast majority of filings made on or after November 29, 2000. Previously, patent applications were held in confidence until a patent was granted. See, release.
3/15. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DC Cir) heard oral argument in NextWave Personal Communications v. FCC, Appeal No. 00-1402.
3/15. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DC Cir) heard oral argument in Global Crossing v. FCC, Appeal No. 00-1204.
3/15. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet held a hearing titled Digital Television: A Private Sector Perspective on the Transition. See, prepared testimony of witnesses:
 • Martin Franks (CBS/Viacom Television)
 • David Arland (Thomson Multimedia / CEA)
 • Lowell Paxson (Paxson Communications)
 • Steve Weed (Millenium Digital Media / ACA)
 • Beth Courtney (Louisiana Public Broadcasting)
 • Ben Tucker (Fisher Broadcasting / NAB)
 • Michael Willner (Insight Comm. / NCTA)
 • Ronald Parrish (RadioShack)
 • Chris Cookson (Warner Bros.)
See also, prepared statement by Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), Chairman of the Commerce Committee.
3/15. The House Education and Workforce Committee's Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness held a hearing titled "Improving Student Achievement Through Technology."
3/15. The Progressive Policy Institute released a report [PDF] titled "A Third Way Framework for Global E-Commerce." See also, executive summary. The authors of the report, Shane Ham and Robert Atkinson, held a press conference in the Capitol Building with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) to release and summarize the report.
3/14. The ICANN published in its web site copies of resolutions adopted at its Melbourne meeting.
3/14. Sidley and Austin announced that Scott Lassar, who is currently the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, will join the firm when President Bush names his successor. See, release.

3/14. Sony and Connectix resolved all pending patent infringement actions pertaining to Connectix Virtual Game Station. Connectix stated that "As part of the agreement the two companies have resolved all legal issues pertaining to Connectix Virtual Game Station (CVGS). For consideration, Sony Computer Entertainment will acquire from Connectix all assets related to the VGS emulation technology. Connectix will continue to offer the current version of both CVGS for Macintosh and Windows until June 30, 2001. Connectix will provide continuing support to existing users. All further emulation development for the PlayStation game console will proceed under the auspices of the joint agreement." See, Connectix release.

3/14. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced HR 1017, the Anti-Spamming Act of 2001, a bill to criminalize the forging of header information in unsolicited commercial email (UCE) messages. On Feb. 14, 2001, Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) introduced HR 718, the Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001. HR 718 is a longer and broader bill with wide support (94 cosponsors). HR 1017 is a narrow bill intended to supplement the HR 718 in one area -- forging of header information. It would merely criminalize the sending of a bulk UCE message "with knowledge that such message falsifies an Internet domain, header information, date or time stamp, originating e-mail address, or other identifier". HR 718 already contains similar language. However, HR 1017 would also criminalize selling or distributing "any computer program that (i) is designed or produced primarily for the purpose of concealing the source or routing information ... (ii) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to conceal such source or routing information; or (iii) is marketed by the violator or another person acting in concert with the violator and with the violator’s knowledge for use in concealing the source or routing information of such messages". HR 1017 is cosponsored by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). HR 1017 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committe, on which Reps. Goodlatte, Boucher, and Smith sit. HR 718 has been referred to both the House Judiciary and Commerce Committees.
3/14. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) introduced S 536, a bill to amend the Gramm Leach Bliley Act to provide for a limitation on sharing of marketing and behavioral profiling information. The bill was referred to the Senate Banking Committee.
3/14. The House passed HR 741, the Madrid Protocol Implementation Act, sponsored by Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), by voice vote. On June 27, 1989, at a Diplomatic Conference in Madrid, Spain, the parties to the Madrid Agreement signed the Madrid Protocol, which provides for an international registration system for trademarks. HR 741 represents implementing legislation for the Protocol. It is identical to measures introduced in the previous four Congresses.
3/14. The House passed S 320, the Intellectual Property and High Technology Technical Amendments Act of 2001, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), by voice vote. The Senate passed the bill on February 14.
3/14. The House passed HR 809, the Antitrust Technical Corrections Act of 2001, sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) by voice vote.
3/14. The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on Internet taxes and extending the existing moratorium on new and discriminatory Internet taxes. See, opening statement of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Committee. See also, prepared statements of witnesses: Lt.Gov. Jane Swift (Massachusetts), Gov. Jim Geringer (Wyoming), Robert Comfort (, Jeff Dircksen (National Taxpayers Union), Elizabeth Harchenko (Oregon Department of Revenue), Frank Julian (Federated Department Stores), Peter Lowy (Westfield America).
3/14. The USPTO announced that it has scheduled a series of education workshops to introduce the agency's patent-related electronic government initiatives and to explain rules and regulations implementing recent changes to patent law. The schedule is: Denver, CO (April 2-3, 2001), Stillwater, OK (April 5-6), Grand Rapids, IA (May 14-15) and Troy, MI (May 17-18). See, release.
3/14. The FCC announced the appointment of Linda Kinney as Acting Associate General Counsel of the FCC.
3/14. The GAO issued a report [39 pages in PDF] on the use of information technology by regulatory agencies in regulatory management, including rulemaking, compliance assistance, information collection and dissemination, and regulatory enforcement. The report concluded that "innovative IT-based approaches to regulatory management have the potential to increase the amount and quality of public participation in rulemaking, increase regulatory transparency, reduce burden on regulated entities and help them understand their responsibilities, save regulatory agencies money, and improve the quality of agencies’ regulatory programs." However, "Officials in federal regulatory agencies were sometimes unaware of the innovative uses of IT to improve regulatory management in other agencies, and sometimes in other parts of their own agencies. As a result, federal agencies may either not adopt innovative approaches that could be useful to them or reinvent the wheel as they develop their own approaches in those areas." The report was written at the request of Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), the Chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Government Affairs Committee.
3/14. BountyQuest announced the responses to its bounty offer for prior art challenging's U.S. Patent No. 5,960,411, a method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network. While BountQuest has not paid out on its bounty offer, it stated that it "received 30 submissions for the 1-Click posting, including evidence that was not discovered by the USPTO or by the litigants in the Amazon v. Barnes & Noble case ... it should make it far more difficult for Amazon to enforce its exclusive right to 1-Click ordering." BountyQuest is a web based business that represents companies in offering rewards for prior art that can be used to challenge the validity of patents.
3/13. By Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced S 521, the Telework Tax Incentive Act, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a credit against income tax for expenses incurred in teleworking. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) introduced a companion bill in the House. Sen. Santorum and Rep. Wolf also introduced substantially identical bills in the 106th Congress (S 2431 and HR 3819). The bill would provide a $500 tax credit for expenses paid or incurred under a teleworking arrangement for furnishings and electronic information equipment which are used to enable an individual to telework. An employee must telework a minimum of 75 days per year to qualify. Both the employer and employee are eligible for the tax credit; the tax credit is available to the party who pays the expense for setting up the at-home worksite. The bills were referred to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. See, Wolf release.
3/13. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) introduced S 522, the Small Business Telecommuting Act, a bill to direct the Administrator of the Small Business Administration to conduct a pilot program to raise awareness about telecommuting among small business employers, and to encourage such employers to offer telecommuting options to employees. The bill was referred to the Small Business Committee. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Tom Daschle, Max Cleland, and Paul Wellstone.
3/13. By Rep. Ronnie Shows (D-MS) introduced HR 1005, a bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require that violent video programming be limited to broadcast after the hours when children are reasonably likely to comprise a substantial portion of the audience, unless it is specifically rated on the basis of its violent content so that it is blockable by electronic means. The bill was referred to the House Commerce Committee.
3/13. President Bush announced his intention to nominate Michael Chertoff to be Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. Chertoff is a partner in the Newark, New Jersey, office of the law firm of Latham & Watkins. See, DOJ release and White House release. In 1995 and 1996, he served as the Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee conducting the Whitewater Investigation. He has also held many federal prosecutorial positions. The Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) is a part of the Criminal Division.
3/13. President Bush formally nominated Ted Olson to be Solicitor General. See, release. However, the White House announced that Olson would be nominated long ago. See, TLJ Alert No. 112, Jan. 30, 2001, for background of Olson.
3/13. The Federal Trade Commission held a public workshop to explore how businesses merge and exchange detailed consumer information and how such information is used commercially. See, agenda. Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) said that "If the government is going to monitor the information sharing practices of the private sector, I'd like to know who's going to monitor the government." He added that "We need to be careful when the government becomes involved with regulating electronic commerce."
3/13. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on S 487, the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act. The bill would amend §§ 110(2) and 112 of the Copyright Act to extend the distance learning exemptions enacted in 1976 to digital delivery media. The TEACH Act incorporates many of the recommendations made by the U.S. Copyright Office in 1999 in a study mandated by the the DMCA. Under current law, there are exemptions for "face-to-face" and "transmission" teaching activities; but Internet based education is not referenced. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard from several educators involved in distance learning who testified in support of the bill: Gerald Heeger (Univ. of Maryland), Richard Siddoway (Utah's Electronic High School), Paul LeBlanc (Marlboro College), and Gary Carpentier (American University). Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyrights, testified in support of the bill. She also said that it is consistent with Berne Treaty and TRIPS obligations. Allan Adler, of the Association of American Publishers, was the sole representative of content producers on the witness panel. He opposed the bill as unnecessary and unworkable. He quipped that it could be called the Technology, Education and Copyright Heist Act. See also, statements for the record submitted by Sen. Leahy, Marybeth Peters, and Allan Adler. Senators Hatch and Leahy, the Chairman and ranking Democrat on the Committee, were the only Senators who participated in the hearing.
3/13. The USPTO published in the Federal Register a notice requesting nominations for the Patent Public Advisory Committee and the Trademark Public Advisory Committee. These advisory committees review and advise the Director of the USPTO on matters relating to policies, goals, performance, budget, and user fees of the USPTO relating to patents and trademarks, respectively. Nominations must be postmarked or electronically transmitted on or before April 12, 2001. See, Federal Register, March 13, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 49, at Pages 14551 - 14552.
3/13. Napster announced that it entered into an agreement with Gracenote to provided services to assist it in complying with the March 5 order of the U.S. District Court in A&M Records v. Napster enjoining it from copying plaintiffs' copyrighted songs. See, Napster release and Gracenote release.
3/13. Star Communications filed a Chapter 11 petition for bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court (DDel).
3/13. The USTR announced that it has designated Ukraine as a "Priority Foreign Country" under the "Special 301" program. Section 301 is the statutory means by which the U.S. asserts its international trade rights, including its rights under WTO Agreements. Under the "Special 301" provisions of the Trade Act of 1974, the USTR identifies trading partners that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. artists and industries that rely upon intellectual property protection. The USTR stated that "This action is being taken as a result of Ukraine's persistent failure to take effective action against significant levels of optical media piracy and to implement adequate and effective intellectual property laws." See, USTR release. The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) praised the USTR action. See, release. Also, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) President Hillary Rosen said that the decision "underscores the recognition by the Bush Administration of the importance of copyright protection to the overall US economy. President Bush and his trade team have made clear that they will not sit by and tolerate the massive and organized theft of US intellectual property." See, release.
3/13. The FTC announced that it settled its lawsuit against Mercury Internet Services and its principal, Neal Saferstein, for cramming onto phone bills unauthorized charges for web sites services. On June 28, 2000, the FTC filed a civil complaint in U.S. District Court (EDPa) alleging that Mercury and Saferstein misrepresented to consumers that they were legally obligated to pay for web site services the defendants charged to their telephone bills without their authorization. See, release.
3/12. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) introduced S 515, the Private Sector Research and Development Investment Act of 2001, a bill to make permanent the research and development tax credit, change the formula of the credit, and to extend the credit to certain collaborative research consortia. Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) announced that she would introduce a companion bill in the House. See, Wilson release. Sen. Domenici and Rep. Wilson introduced similar legislation in the 106th Congress (S 951 and HR 1682).
3/12. Glen Kohl joined the Palo Alto office of the law firm of Cooley Godward. Kohl worked in the Clinton Treasury Department as tax legislative counsel and later as deputy assistant secretary for tax policy. He will focus on mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructurings and corporate tax matters. See, release.
3/12. Alan Albright joined the Austin office of Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich as a partner in the intellectual property litigation group. Albright is a former U.S. Magistrate Judge and former partner in the Austin office of the law firm of Thompson Knight. See, release.
3/12. The FCC's Mass Media Bureau approved 32 long pending applications to transfer broadcast radio licenses. The Telecom Act of 1996 eliminated the limit on the number of radio stations a single entity could own nationally, and significantly relaxed the local market limits. Nevertheless, former FCC Chairman William Kennard "flagged", and hence, delayed, many compliant license transfer applications. Michael Powell, the new FCC Chairman, wrote in a statement that "Congress established quite plainly the number of stations that could be commonly owned in a local market -- and the proposed transfers in all of the flagged cases comply with these numerical caps."
3/12. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) selected eleven new board members at its winter meeting: Howard Bubb (Intel), William Eversole (Texas Instruments), Fred McDuffee (Sumitomo Electric Lightwave), Ralph Hayon (Congruency), Chris Younger (Expanents), Stan Blau (PS Capital), Bob Panoff (RPM), A.R. Forcke (IBM), Fred Yentz (RadiSys), Sandy Lyons (Corning Cable Systems), and Dave Owen (Alcatel). See, release.
3/12. The FTC filed a complaint [PDF] in U.S. District Court (DAriz) against an Internet mall named, and two of its founders, Mark Tahiliani and Harry Tahiliani, alleging violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act for engaging in deceptive acts, and an illegal pyramid scheme. Bigsmart sold investments in Internet theme malls. It claimed that investors would earn substantial income from commissions on products purchased through the Internet. However, defendants structured the scheme so that for investors to realize continued financial gains, they would have to recruit other investors. The FTC and the defendants also reached a settlement of the case, in which defendants agreed to pay consumer redress, post a bond, and agree not to operate any more pyramid schemes. See, Stipulated Final Order Approving Settlement Agreement [PDF]. See also, FTC release.
3/12. WTO Director General Mike Moore gave a speech in London in which he advocated a new round of multilateral trade negotiations. "The economic case for a new WTO round is compelling. Cutting barriers to trade in agriculture, manufacturing and services by a third would boost the world economy by $613 billion ..."
3/12. USTR Robert Zoellick announced his staff appointments. See, release. Peter Davidson will be General Counsel. He was VP for Congressional Affairs at Qwest. Previously, he worked as General Counsel and Policy Director to House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX). He has also been General Counsel and Policy Director for the House Republican Conference, an attorney in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, and law clerk to Judge John Porfilio (10th Circuit). M.B. Oglesby will be Chief of Staff. He was Deputy Chief of Staff, and Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, in the Reagan White House. He has also been an SVP at RJR Nabisco, COO of Cassidy & Associates, and P/CEO of the Association of American Railroads. He has also been a minority counsel to the House Commerce Committee. John Veroneau will be Assistant USTR for Congressional Affairs. He was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. Prior to that he was Chief of Staff to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Legislative Director to Sen. William Frist (R-TN) and former Sen. William Cohen (R-ME). Heidi Nelson will be Special Assistant. She worked on the Bush Cheney campaign, focusing on economic and tax policy. From 1995 - 1998, she was an investment banker with J.P. Morgan, specializing in Latin American mergers and acquisitions. She also worked for former Sen. John Ashcroft (R-MO). Matthew Rees will be Chief Speechwriter. He was a reporter for The Weekly Standard, The Economist, and The New Republic, and an editor and writer for the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. Steven Schrage will be Executive Secretary. He worked for the Bush Cheney campaign and transition. He was previously Counsel to the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the Senate for Foreign Relations Committee and senior foreign policy and trade counsel for former Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-GA). He will be responsible for coordinating and overseeing all policy materials and briefings for the USTR and for interactions with other government agencies. Elizabeth Gianini will be Deputy Chief of Staff. She was a public affairs consultant with law firm of Foley & Lardner in Tallahassee, Florida. Prior to that she was Deputy Executive Director of the Republican Party of Florida. Sarah Hanlon will be Confidential Assistant. She is a fundraiser for Republican Senators. Carolyn Hensarling will Director of Scheduling. She was Executive Assistant and Scheduler to Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX).
3/12. The USPTO updated its business methods patents web page.
3/12. March 12 was the deadline to file reply comments with the FCC in its rule making proceeding (WT Docket No. 00-230) regarding removing some regulatory barriers to secondary markets in spectrum rights. See, for example, reply comments [PDF] by the Software Defined Radio Forum, El Paso Global Networks, AT&T, and the Industrial Telecommunications Assoc. See, notice in Federal Register, Dec. 26, 2000, Vol. 65, No. 248, at pages 81475 - 81486. See also, TLJ story of Nov. 10, 2000.
3/12. released a report [23 pages in PDF] titled "Privacy and Federal Agencies: Government Exchange and Merger of Citizens' Personal Information is Systematic and Routine." It stated that "For the 18-month period from September 1999 to February 2001, federal agencies announced 47 times that they would exchange and merge personal information from databases about American citizens. And these programs are only the tip of an information - trading iceberg. The Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act, which causes agencies to report these activities in the Federal Register, applies only to a small subset of the federal agency programs that exchange and merge databases of personal information." This report was released the day before the FTC holds its one day workshop on how the private sector merges and exchanges databases of personal information. See, agenda of FTC meeting. The report concludes that the government poses a greater threat to privacy than does the private sector.

 Go to News Briefs from March 6-10, 2001.

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