TLJ News from February 26-28, 2013

Divided Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Medine Nomination for PCLOB

2/28. The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) held an executive business meeting at which it approved the nomination of David Medine to be Chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) by a vote of 10-8. It was a straight party line vote, with Democrats voting yes, and Republicans voting no.

The Senate confirmed other members of the PCLOB late in the 112th Congress.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the SJC, said that "I have serious concerns with his views regarding limitations on foreign nationals coming to this country from certain high risk countries. Specifically, Mr. Medine views that it would be inappropriate, those are his words, for the federal government to profile foreign nationals from high risk countries based solely upon the country of origin."

Sen. Grassley said that "This is troubling. All of the other members of the Board correctly stated at their hearing that foreign nationals do not have the same Constitutional or statutory rights as U.S. persons, and the government may lawfully and appropriately use  country of origin as a limiting factor for the purpose of admissions to the United States."

David Medine is currently an Attorney Fellow in the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Division of Corporate Finance, where he work on financial privacy issues.

Before that he worked for a decade at the law firm of Wilmer Hale. Before that he worked in the Executive Office of the President at the end of the Clinton administration. Before that he worked for over a decade at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its Financial Practices Division, where he worked on privacy issues.

See also, story titled "Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on PCLOB Nominees" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,375, April 19, 2012, and story titled "Senate Judiciary Committee Approves PCLOB Nominees" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,385, May 23, 2012.

Divided Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Orrick for NDCal Judgeship

2/28. The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) held an executive business meeting at which it approved the nomination of William Orrick to be a Judge of the U.S. District Court (NDCal) by a vote of 11-7. It was a nearly straight party line vote, with Democrats voting yes and Republicans voting no. However, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) voted yes by proxy.

If confirmed by the Senate, he would become a Judge in the District that includes Silicon Valley and which hears many of the most important technology related cases.

President Obama first nominated Orrick on June 11, 2012. See, story titled "Obama Nominates Two for USDC Northern District of California" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,397, June 15, 2012. The SJC approved that nomination. However, it was the subject of a filibuster. The President nominated him again on January 3, 2013.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the SJC, suggested that Republicans will not filibuster Orrick this time.

Orrick has worked at the San Francisco law firm of Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass for 25 years. He also campaigned, raised money for, and contributed to Obama in the 2008 election cycle. He also contributed to Obama's 2004 Senate campaign.

In 2010 he was appointed a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Division. His responsibilities included overseeing the Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL). His OIL related activities are the main cause of Republican opposition to his nomination.

He left that position, and returned to Coblentz Patch, shortly after his first nomination last summer.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the SJC, spoke at the meeting. He said that Orrick had "failed to answer many of my questions", and that his answers to written questions were "non-responsive". He also expressed substantive concerns about his positions on immigration.

See, Orrick's 2012 questionnaire responses [32 pages in PDF], responses [40 pages in PDF] to questions mostly from Sen. Grassley and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and responses [6 pages in PDF] to questions from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

Sen. Grassley's and Sen. Session's extensive written questions reflect Republican concern about Orrick's role at the DOJ with respect to enforcement of immigration laws by the Obama administration. The Senators asked questions about the Obama administration asserting executive discretion to decline to enforce the statutes passed by the Congress.

Secondarily, their questions reflect a concern about Orrick's involvement in seeking to overturn the Congressionally passed Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) defended Orrick, and his actions at the DOJ, in brief comments.

Sen. Grassley then said, "Senator Feinstein, just in case my remarks were interpreted by you that we are going to fight to the death to keep this guy from getting confirmed, I am going to vote against him, but we are not going to hold it up." Sen. Feinstein responded, "Thank you. That is the best news of the morning."

It is highly unlikely that a District Court judge would have any significant impact on immigration law or the DOMA. Also, while Orrick has been nominated for the District that decides many of the most important patent and copyright cases, neither Sen. Grassley nor Sen. Sessions asked any written questions about these subjects.

But also, neither his SJC questionnaire responses nor his Coblentz Patch biography disclose any experience or expertise in patent, copyright, or other technology related areas of law. Coblentz Patch touts his experience in breach of contract, business torts, employment, and real estate and construction litigation, and other largely state law matters, over which the federal courts have jurisdiction only in diversity cases.

In short, there were many other persons who might have been nominated who possess better qualifications for serving as a Judge in this District. But secondly, Republican opposition to Orrick has very little to do with his qualifications to serve as a Judge in this District.

More Judicial Appointments

2/28. The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) held an executive business meeting at which it approved the nomination of Nelson Roman (USDC/SDNY) by voice vote. There were no audible no votes.

2/28. The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) held an executive business meeting at which it approved the nomination of Shelly Dick (USDC/MDLa) by voice vote. There were no audible no votes.

2/28. The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) held an executive business meeting at which it held over the nominations of Sheri Chappell (USDC/MDFl), Kenneth Gonzales (USDC/DNMex), Michael McShane (USDC/DOre), Nitza Alejandro (USDC/EDPenn), Luis Restrepo (USDC/EDPenn), and Jeffrey Schmehl (USDC/EDPenn). All six nominations are again on the SJC's agenda for its executive business meeting of Thursday, March 7, 2013. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said that there would likely be a day long mark up of the gun bills on March 7, which may carry over to the following Monday or Tuesday.

Rep. DeFazio and Rep. Chaffetz Introduce SHIELD Act

2/27. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced HR 845 [LOC | WW | PDF], the "Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act of 2013". This is a short but not simple bill that would shift the burden of paying the winner's attorneys fees and costs to the loser in some patent cases, and impose a bond posting requirement on some patent litigants.

The sponsors and proponents of this bill state that it is directed at disincenting "patent trolls" from filing meritless patent suits. However, the bill makes no attempt to define "trolls".

The bill would create a disincentive to litigate for the sorts of egregious litigants that the sponsors and proponents describe in their speeches, releases, and papers. However, it is also overbroad, and would sweep into troll status a wide range of other litigants who do not engage in any of the egregious conduct that is often cited by the sponsors and proponents of this bill.

Also, this is a crudely and inartfully drafted bill that lacks clarification on many points. But then, the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) and Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) excel in this process.

The bill was referred to the HJC. Rep. Chaffetz is a member of the HJC and its Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.

Bill Summary. The main intent of the sponsors and supporters of this bill is to create two financial disincentives to file frivolous patent claims in the District Court. The bill, as introduced, would also have other and unintended consequences. See, related story in this issue titled "Summary of HR 845, the SHIELD Act".

This is much revised version of a bill that the same two Representatives introduced in the 112th Congress, HR 6245 [LOC | WW | TLJ]. See, story titled "SHIELD Act Would Allow Court to Award Costs and Attorneys Fees to Prevailing Parties in IT Patent Cases" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,420, August 4, 2012.

The two bills have the same title, the same purpose, and the same sponsors. (Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) later joined as co-sponsors.) Also, both bills employ shifting of attorneys fees and costs. Otherwise, the bills are different.

Currently, 35 U.S.C. § 285 provides that "The court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party." That is, each party ordinarily pays its own attorneys. And, except in "exceptional cases", the winner cannot recover its attorneys fees at the conclusion of the case. Fee shifting could have a significant impact, because a party often pays millions of dollars in legal fees to pursue a patent case to judgment.

Neither bill is a straight replacement of Section 285 to provide that the loser pays the winner's costs and attorneys fees in patent litigation. Although, such a bill would be short and simple, and easy for the courts to apply.

HR 6245 (112th Congress) would have provided that "Notwithstanding section 285, in an action disputing the validity or alleging the infringement of a computer hardware or software patent, upon making a determination that the party alleging the infringement of the patent did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding, the court may award the recovery of full costs to the prevailing party, including reasonable attorney's fees".

The just introduced HR 845 (113th Congress) would add a new Section 285A that would impose a bond posting requirement on a party against whom patent "invalidity" or "non-infringement" is asserted, and if such party loses, a requirement to pay the winner's attorneys fee and costs, if such party (1) is not either the inventor or original assignee of the patent, (2) had not exploited the patent through production or sale an item covered by the patent, (3) is not a university, and (4) is not a technology transfer organization.

HR 6245 applied only to computer hardware or software patents. HR 845 applies to any kind of patent.

HR 6245 did not have a bond posting requirement. HR 845 does.

HR 6245 provided for fee and cost shifting if the court found that a party alleging infringement "did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding". HR 845 does not require the court to make a determination regarding the meritlessness of an infringement claim. Rather, fee and cost shifting to the loser, and bond posting, would turn solely on whether that party falls into one of several categories. Each of these categories is both ethically and policy neutral.

Sponsors' Explanation. The two sponsors held a joint news conference on February 27. See, and video [12:02 in YouTube].

Rep. Peter DeFazioRep. DeFazio (at right) complained at the news conference about patent "trolls" and "non-practicing entities", although the bill uses neither phrase. Nor does the bill use other words and phrases often employed by proponents of this bill, such as "frivolous" and "meritless" claims and lawsuits, "patent assertion entities".

He stated in a release that troll "pad their pockets by buying patents on products they didn’t create and then suing companies from every industry for infringement. These egregious lawsuits have spread to nearly every sector of the economy, costing billions of dollars and countless jobs. The bipartisan SHIELD Act is a targeted reform that will force patent trolls to take financial responsibility for their frivolous lawsuits."

Rep. DeFazio said at the news conference that trolls first targeted software patents, then applications, and are now going after end users.

He said that trolls are sending demand letters asserting patent infringement for things as legitimate as "scanning a document and attaching it to an e-mail".

Rep. Jason ChaffetzRep. Chaffetz (at left) stated at this event that "patent trolls add no economic benefit to our nation" and that "they are hampering innovation".

He stated in the release that "Patent trolls contribute nothing to the economy. No industry is immune to these attacks. Instead of creating jobs and growing the economy, businesses are wasting resources to fight off frivolous lawsuits. This bipartisan legislation will curb future abuse by requiring trolls to bear the financial responsibility for failed claims."

He said that this bill "aligns financial incentives", and does not affect "legitimate" lawsuits. Rep. Defazio added that "it will discourage a lot of the frivolous litigation".

The two also addressed the prospects for enactment of this bill, and patent reform generally. Rep. Chaffetz said that "this is the simplest, swiftest piece of legislation that we could pass in a bipartisan way". He added this: "the broader issue of software patents -- there is a lot of work to be done -- and a whole array of tech issues".

Rep. Defazio said that "there was a bit of fatigue after the America Invents Act" was enacted in 2011. But, he added that "it is my understanding that Chairman Goodlatte is going to hold a hearing on this issue in the not to distant future".

Indeed, the HJC's Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet is scheduled to hold a hearing on March 7 titled "Abusive Patent Litigation: The Impact on American Innovation & Jobs, and Potential Solutions". See, notice.

He said that the "massive coalition" of supporters of the bill includes the trolls' targets, such as airlines and municipalities. Even "the pharmaceutical industry is on board with this". Rep. DeFazio elaborated that they have not yet been targeted by trolls, but fear that they might be in the future.

Reaction. Ed Black, head of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), stated in a release that "Legitimate and innocent companies who become targets of trolls face an unpleasant but stark reality. The cost of defending oneself in court usually far outweighs the cost of settling when confronted by a patent troll. Victims facing these often baseless lawsuits find it hard to fight back knowing that winning in court often costs more than settling. That is why legislation like the SHIELD Act is needed. Shifting the costs of baseless litigation onto patent trolls who lose in court should help discourage nuisance lawsuits".

Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), stated in a release that "If we want to build American businesses and create jobs, we need to change the law that encourages baseless but disruptive legal threats for American businesses. A successful defense of a patent lawsuit costs upwards of a million dollars, so many small businesses and startups cannot fight back or get funding to continue their businesses. Today’s law encourages unethical patent trolls, and we stand with President Obama and the authors of the SHIELD Act to get it changed. The SHIELD Act allows the losing litigant to be assessed legal fees, a helpful and sensible first step to strike back at patent trolls, and disincentives baseless lawsuits. We urge Congress to pass the SHIELD Act as soon as possible."

Summary of HR 845, the SHIELD Act

2/27. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced HR 845 [LOC | WW | PDF], the "Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act of 2013", or SHIELD Act.

This bill pertains to shifting attorneys fees and costs, and requiring the posting of a bond, in patent cases.

This bill does not amend, remove or replace 35 U.S.C. § 285, which provides that "The court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party." Thus, this is not a straight replacement of Section 285 to provide that the loser pays the winner's costs and attorneys fees in all patent litigation.

Rather, this bill would create a complex regime regarding bond posting and fee and cost shifting in some situations in patent cases. Parts of the bill contain crude language that fails to put attorneys, judges and magistrates on notice of their meaning. Parts would have consequences other than disincenting the filing meritless patent infringement lawsuits.

This bill would add a new Section 285A that would create financial disincentives for what supporters of the bill call "trolls", and others.

Fee and cost shifting to non-prevailing "trolls" alone would not achieve the disincentive effect sought by proponents of shifting, because "troll" plaintiffs could be thinly capitalized limited liability companies without the financial resources to pay an award of attorneys fees and costs to the prevailing party. Hence, the bill also provides for posting a bond in advance. These bonds would not only assurance recovery of cost and fee awards. The up front cost of posting such bonds would often be substantial, and would have an independent deterrent, even upon parties who have reasonable grounds to expect to prevail.

The bill does not reference "plaintiff" and "defendant", or "claim" and "counterclaim". A target of a "patent troll" might preemptively file a declaratory judgment action. Rather, it provides that "a party asserting invalidity or noninfringement" may file a motion regarding fee and cost shifting, and posting of a bond.

Then, the fee and cost shifting and bond posting requirement would apply to the non-moving party, unless the District Court finds that non-moving party falls into one of four categories.

First, the non-moving party would avoid Section 285A troll status, if such party "is the inventor, a joint inventor, or in the case of a patent filed by and awarded to an assignee of the original inventor or joint inventor, the original assignee of the patent".

Second, the non-moving party would avoid troll status, if "such party can provide documentation to the court of substantial investment made by such party in the exploitation of the patent through production or sale of an item covered by the patent."

Third, the non-moving party would avoid troll status, if "such party ... an institution of higher education".

Fourth, the non-moving party would avoid troll status, if "such party ... a technology transfer organization whose primary purpose is to facilitate the commercialization of technology developed by one or more institutions of higher education".

A Section 285A motion would by filed in any "action involving the validity or infringement of a patent". It could be filed by any "party asserting invalidity or noninfringement" in such action. It could be filed at any time, including after entry of final judgment.

The ruling on the motion would be made by Court (not a jury), it would be a judgment, and it must be made within 120 days of the filing of the motion.

Then, there would be two consequences of a judgment by the Court that the non-moving party does not fall into one of the four exempting categories. First, "notwithstanding section 285, the Court shall award the recovery of full costs to any prevailing party asserting invalidity or noninfringement including reasonable attorney’s fees, other than the United States, upon the entry of a final judgment"

Second, such non-moving party that does not fall meet one of the four exemptions (Section 285A troll status) "shall be required to post a bond in an amount determined by the court to cover the recovery of full costs described" above.

The bill does allow the Court some discretion. The fee and cost shifting requirement applies "unless the court finds that exceptional circumstances make an award unjust". However, this clause does not apply to the bond posting requirement.

Also, the bill contains no findings, no statement of purposes, and statement of the sense of the Congress.

Rep. Goodlatte Outlines Agenda for House Judiciary Committee

2/27. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (HJC), gave a speech in which he discussed his agenda for the HJC for the 113th Congress.

He listed, among other things, "reforms to discourage frivolous patent litigation", reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), cyber security, and immigration law reform, including "to bring needed, skilled workers to America".

Rep. Bob GoodlatteRep. Goodlatte (at right) said that "Under my leadership, the Judiciary Committee will advance an agenda that is focused on making America more competitive and free."

"First, I'm committed to restoring accountability and providing relief from excessive regulation to our nation's small businesses and job creators who need it most."

On March 5 the HJC's Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law will hold a hearing on HR 367 [LOC | WW], the "Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2013" or "REINS Act". This bill would require Congressional approval before certain new agency regulations could take effect.

Rep. Goodlatte's agenda also includes litigation reform.

He also said that "We'll also focus on reforms to discourage frivolous patent litigation and keep U.S. patent laws up to date. The strength of our economy relies on our ability to protect new inventions and build on innovation in the 21st century." He added that "We need to make sure that the federal government’s efforts are focused on creating incentives that encourage innovation and eliminating policies that hinder it."

Rep. Goodlatte may be one of the speakers at a Capitol Hill event on Thursday, February 28, titled "How Patent Trolls Are Harming Innovation". This event, hosted by the Computer & Communications Industry Assocation (CCIA), will begin at 12:00 NOON in Room 366 of the Dirksen Building.

He also said that the HJC will "look at modernizing" the ECPA "to reflect our current digital economy".

Late in the 112th Congress the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) began a process of re-examining and amending the ECPA. See, story titled "Sen. Leahy Seeks ECPA Reform in 113th Congress" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,498, December 26, 2012.

See also, November 29, 2012 red line markup of HR 2471 and story titled "Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Leahy Bill to Require Warrant for Accessing Cloud Stored E-Mail" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,479, November 30, 2012.

He also addressed cyber security. "We should recognize that while technology has brought tremendous improvements to our quality of life, these advances have also brought about significant vulnerability. Cyberattacks are a direct threat to our economic prosperity, privacy, and way of life. The Judiciary Committee will make it a priority to enhance our nation's vulnerable systems to protect our networks and computers and ensure our national security and economic well-being."

People and Appointments

2/27. The Senate confirmed Jack Lew to be Secretary of the Treasury by a vote of 71-26. See, Roll Call No. 25.

DC Circuit Upholds FCC Pole Attachment Rules

2/26. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) issued its opinion [19 pages in PDF] in American Electric Power Service v. FCC, denying a petition for review of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) April 7, 2011 Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration [144 pages in PDF] that contains rules changes regarding pole attachments.

47 U.S.C. § 224, which was enacted in 1978 by the Pole Attachment Act, and amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, addresses "any attachment by a cable television system or provider of telecommunications service to a pole, duct, conduit, or right-of-way owned or controlled by a utility".

This statute also provides that the FCC "shall regulate the rates, terms, and conditions for pole attachments to provide that such rates, terms, and conditions are just and reasonable, and shall adopt procedures necessary and appropriate to hear and resolve complaints concerning such rates, terms, and conditions".

That is, electric utilities and incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) tend to own the only set of poles in any given location, and therefore have the means to charge monopoly prices to cable companies and others. Hence, the Congress gave the FCC price regulation authority.

In 2011 the FCC amended its pole attachment rules in a lengthy report and order (R&O) that includes a reinterpretation of Section 224.

The Court of Appeals summarized the changes. First, R&O "for the first time allows incumbent local exchange carriers ... to share the benefits of some of § 224's provisions". (For example, they can file pole attachment complaints.) Second, the Court wrote that the R&O "reformulates the ceiling on the rate that pole-owning utilities can charge ``telecommunications carriers´´ seeking to make pole attachments". And third, the R&O "moves back the date as of which compensatory damages start to accrue in favor of parties filing successful complaints against utilities.

The Court added that "because § 224(a)(5) excludes ILECs from the definition of ``telecommunications carriers,´´ the newly reformulated rates do not directly affect the rates chargeable to ILECs."

Electric utility companies brought the present petition for review of the R&O, challenging all three changes.

The Court of Appeals, applying the standards of review established by the Supreme Court in Chevron v. Natural Resources Development Council, 467 U.S. 837, and FCC v. Fox Television Stations, 556 U.S. 502, rejected the petition in full.

The Court, quoting from FCC v. Fox, wrote that an agency can change its interpretation of a statute, provided that it "display awareness that it is changing position". Moreover, "it need not demonstrate to a court’s satisfaction that the reasons for the new policy are better than the reasons for the old one; it suffices that the new policy is permissible under the statute, that there are good reasons for it, and that the agency believes it to be better.".

The Court therefore upheld the FCC's new interpretation that ILECs are "providers of telecommunications services" for purposes of § 224(a)(4).

The Court also held that "Because the Commission’s methodology is consistent with the unspecified cost terms contained in § 224(e), and the Commission’s justifications are reasonable, the revision warrants judicial deference."

Michael Powell, head of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), stated in a release that "The court’s decision to affirm the FCC’s pole attachment order is a win for American consumers. By reducing the cost of attaching equipment and wires to utility poles, the changes adopted by the Commission in 2011 will help promote the deployment of broadband and telecommunications networks by cable operators and other providers."

Walter McCormick, head of the US Telecom, stated in a release that this opinion "is a win for competition, a win for consumers, and a win for broadband deployment.  Assuring  that incumbent local exchange carriers have access to the federal statutory protections of just and reasonable pole attachment rates was a key objective of Chairman Genachowski’s Broadband Acceleration Initiative, and today’s action by the D.C. Court of Appeals provides the certainty and predictability that is so important to investment. We applaud both the FCC, and the Court, on a wise decision that advances the public interest."

The FCC's Report and Order is FCC 11-50 in WC Docket No. 07-245 and GN Docket No. 09-51. See also, FCC brief.

This case is American Electric Power Service Corporation, et al. v. FCC and USA, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, App. Ct. No. 11-1146. a petition for review of a final order of the FCC. Judge Williams wrote the opinion of the Court of Appeals, in which Judge Sentelle and Tatel joined.

People and Appointments

2/26. The Senate confirmed Charles Hagel to be Secretary of Defense by a vote of 58-41. See, Roll Call No. 24. All of the no votes were cast by Republicans.

2/26. President Obama announced his intent to nominate Stephen Mayo (California Institute of Technology) to be a member of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) National Science Board (NSB).  See, White House news office release.

2/26. President Obama announced his intent to nominate Bruce Ramer and Janette Dates to be members of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. See, White House news office release and release.

More News

2/26. Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech on February 26 at a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) in Washington DC in which he mentioned "cracking down on intellectual property crimes". (Emphasis added.) Tony West, the acting Associate Attorney General, gave a speech at the same event on February 25 in which he mentioned that "high-tech crime" remains with us. Holder also said that if "sequester" were to go into effect, "Our capacity -- to respond to crimes, investigate wrongdoing, and hold criminals accountable -- will be reduced".

2/26. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board (FRB), testified before the Senate Banking Committee (SBC) on the state of the economy. He said that gross domestic product (GNP) was "essentially flat in the fourth quarter" of 2012, but that this "does not appear to reflect a stalling-out of the recovery. Rather, economic activity was temporarily restrained by weather-related disruptions and by transitory declines in a few volatile categories of spending, even as demand by U.S. households and businesses continued to expand". See, prepared testimony. The FRB also released its semi-annual Monetary Policy Report [66 pages in PDF]. It lacks detail on technology related sectors of the US economy.

Go to News from February 21-25, 2013.