Who is the new leader of the conference?

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Who is the new leader of the conference?

— Show yourself: There’s no law requiring public identification of patent owners after a patent is issued. Senators today will discuss why that’s a bad idea, especially as the U.S. competes with China.

IT’S TUESDAY, OCT. 19. WELCOME TO MORNING TECH. I’m your host, Benjamin Din. Are you also thinking about making an exit from Congress? Let me know.

The position will open in early 2023, when Doyle leaves Congress after more than a quarter-century. Among his potential successors are senior Democrats like Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.). A person close to Matsui, who serves as Doyle’s vice chair and co-chairs the Spectrum Caucus, reached out to John shortly after the announcement, telling him that she would be a “terrific choice.” (Her office didn’t comment.)

DOYLE EXIT TO SHAKE UP HOUSE DEMOCRATS’ TECH LEADERSHIP — Get ready for speculation over who will take over as top Democrat on the telecom subcommittee whose jurisdiction covers everything from broadband and net neutrality to media ownership and online liability protections, a coveted spot among lawmakers.

Story Highlights

  • — House intrigue: Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) is retiring from Congress. Who will replace him as chair of the House Energy and Commerce telecom panel?

  • — Hitting the floor: House lawmakers will take up four telecom bills today, in an effort to better secure communications networks and supply chains.

— Doyle’s legacy: The Pennsylvania Democrat replaced Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) as the subcommittee’s top Democrat in 2017 and became chair in 2019. He has prioritized efforts to restore Obama-era net neutrality regulations that were repealed during the Trump years. His bill to do so cleared the House in 2019 but died in the Senate. He has also pushed for aggressive investment (in the scores of billions) to build out broadband internet infrastructure and better coordination on 5G airwaves, and has helped shape recent debates over infrastructure spending.

Doyle also enjoyed generally productive negotiations with his GOP counterparts, such as former E&C Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who retired last year. (One of their bipartisan collaborations: a measure to sunset a decades-old satellite TV law).

— Why now? In remarks Monday, Doyle cited the pandemic and redistricting among his retirement calculations. But one other factor could be Democrats’ steep challenge in holding onto their House majority in the 2022 midterms — and it’s less fun being in the minority. The elections are “shaping up to look a lot like 36 of the 39 other midterms of the party in power for the first two years in the White House,” Walden told John recently. “Probably more likely than not, the Republicans take the House majority.” (Several Democratic Hill staffers are also leaving.) — One perk of the post: Top E&C lawmakers tend to rake in plenty of cash from the tech and telecom interests they oversee. (Doyle’s campaign war chest collected donations from the political action committees of Comcast, Google and USTelecom.)

SENATE JUDICIARY SHINES LIGHT ON PATENT OWNERSHIP — The Senate Judiciary intellectual property panel will discuss today the importance of knowing who owns U.S. patents, especially in the context of national security concerns. The hearing builds on a piece of legislation — the Pride in Patent Ownership Act — introduced by Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) last month. “As America positions itself to compete with China over the technologies that will drive our future, such as 5G, we simply need to know how much of our intellectual property is in the hands of foreign countries,” Leahy will say, per prepared remarks, warning that foreign competitors are stockpiling U.S. patents.

The proposed bill would require patent owners to disclose their identities to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office whenever a patent is issued or is transferred, information that would then be accessible to the public. — Public interest: Leahy will also note how the lack of such a law has affected small businesses and entrepreneurs, who may have to engage in expensive and drawn-out litigation just to find out who owns a patent. Without that information, someone may not know who is suing them or who to contact to license a patent.

TELECOM BILLS HIT THE HOUSE FLOOR — The House is expected to take up a slate of four telecom bills today related to supply chain and security issues. The legislation will be considered under suspension of the rules, an expedited process, typically reserved for less controversial bills, that bars floor amendments. — What’s in them? One of the bills would make sure the FCC doesn’t approve radio frequency devices that pose a national security risk (H.R. 3919); another would promote Open RAN technology among small providers (H.R. 4032); a third would establish a council at the FCC to boost the security, reliability and interoperability of communications networks (H.R. 4067); and a fourth would direct the Commerce Department to develop a strategy related to the economic competitiveness of the information and communication technology supply chain (H.R. 4028).

— Elsewhere in patent land: The Innovation Alliance, a coalition that represents R&D-based tech companies like Qualcomm, on Friday filed comments with the USPTO as part of its study on how confusion over what is patentable is impacting key technology areas, such as artificial intelligence. “The ability to obtain patents overseas, but not in the United States, favors our foreign competitors and disadvantages U.S. companies,” the coalition warned in its filing. That’s particularly concerning, according to Tillis, given how heavily the American economy relies on patents and other intellectual property rights. “It doesn’t make sense to require inventors and investors to waste resources navigating the patent system instead of developing new technologies, discovering new cures and researching new frontiers,” he will say.