In this white paper, TLPC student attorneys Colter Donahue and J. Parker Ragland outline steps that the FCC can take to avoid having rulemakings and other policymaking initiatives delayed or negatively affected by intellectual property issues. In recent years, the Commission has faced several situations, including in the context of 9-1-1 services, telecommunications relay services, and set-top boxes, where intellectual property issues have arisen and affected proceedings. The white paper urges the Commission to develop adequate expertise in intellectual property law and to proactively anticipate and address IP issues to avoid these situations in the future.
Working with Silicon Flatirons Senior Fellow Pierre de Vries, TLPC student attorneys Andrew Manley and Jonathan Bair endorse prior recommendations that the Federal Communications Commission improve its waiver application process for radio operations through the adoption of Risk-Informed Interference Assessment (RIA). The TLPC and de Vries submitted a filing to the Commission suggesting how RIA might be adopted as a tool to assist the Commission in its decision making process. The filing elaborates on the RIA method, offers a checklist by which the Commission can request RIA from parties, and explores three test waivers for the application of RIA.
(by Zach Goldberg and Eilif Vanderkolk, TLPC Student Attorneys)
Over the past several months, the TLPC, in collaboration with the National 911 Program, has researched problems burdening 911 call centers, with the aim of discovering solutions to improve the efficiency of emergency response throughout the country. Specifically, we have examined the negative impact of calls made from non-service-initialized devices (“NSIDs”) and high non-emergency 911 call volume upon the efficacy of public safety answering points (PSAPs). We aimed to gain deeper understanding of how 911 systems work, the difficulties they face, and how changes in law and policy, technology, and consumer awareness and behaviors might help. However, crafting effective solutions to these problems is difficult because the factors contributing to high non-emergency 911 call volume figures are complex, and reliable, precise studies and data is scarce. We explore these problems in the attached white paper.
(by Zach Goldberg, TLPC Student Attorney)
Over the past month, the TLPC has researched autonomous vehicle technology and its susceptibility to physical layer cyber attacks, with the aim of encouraging research and development efforts to counteract such threats. We sought to gain deeper understanding of the communication systems that enable autonomous vehicle technology, the vulnerabilities of these systems to jamming and spoofing attacks, and possible defenses against such attacks. We explore these issues in the attached comment, filed in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest proceedings relating to autonomous vehicle safety and vehicular cyber security.
(by Caroline Jones and Max Brennan, TLPC Student Attorneys)
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission released a public notice seeking comment on a petition by the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) and the TLPC to help bridge the homework gap. BVSD seeks to connect the students in Boulder’s low-income housing communities to its high-speed fiber network so they can access the internet after school hours to do their homework.
The petition asks for a waiver certain provisions of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate Program, a federal program that provides subsidies for schools and libraries to obtain telecommunications services. The public notice also invites comment on a petition filed by Microsoft that asks the FCC to permit the use of TV White Spaces technology to extend a school’s internet access service to students’ homes for educational purposes.
The FCC has designated the period for public comment until November 3rd, 2016, with reply comments due December 5th, 2016. Interested parties may file comments on the FCC’s website.
This semester, TLPC student attorneys Marcus Degen, Kolton Ray and Jeff Westling continued work on the clinic’s Petition for Rulemaking regarding spectrum interference dispute resolution. With the help of Silicon Flatirons Fellow Pierre de Vries, the student attorney’s analyzed, synthesized and replied to comments and concerns raised in the docket by various stakeholders regarding the Clinic’s proposed ALJ option: where issues arising from spectrum management could be resolved by the Commission’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.
The Clinic incorporated this research, in addition to the feedback from attorneys, technologists and policymakers, into a reply comment filed with the FCC late last week. The reply rebuts negative assumptions and responds to key concerns; the key takeaway is that numerous parties agree that there is a problem with the current system of interference dispute resolution. With this filing, we urge the FCC to take the next step and initiate an NPRM to develop a timely, transparent, and fact-based mechanism to resolve spectrum interference disputes.
Last week, the TLPC testified at several hearings (PDF) in favor of our proposed exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We’ve linked below to various pictures and coverage of the hearing. Congratulations to the many TLPC students who took part!
- Politico Pro coverage of security research hearing (1, 2)
- Prof. Rebecca Tushnet on security research hearing
- Prof. Rebecca Tushnet on multimedia ebooks hearing
- Authors Alliance on multimedia ebooks hearing
- Prof. Rebecca Tushnet on ebook accessibility hearing
On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, three TLPC student attorneys submitted a White Paper to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) detailing a proposal to discourage frivolous claims in trademark opposition proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). Current PTO rules can allow for entities known as “trademark bullies” to unfairly target new trademark applicants with aggressive litigation tactics that can cost, on average, around $80,000 to defend. For this project, the team partnered with our sister law clinics at American University and Suffolk University.
The team developed two proposals: a Second Look Review procedure and fee-shifting authority housed within the TTAB.
The Second Look Review procedure would allow trademark holders and other interested parties to request that the examining attorney who approved the trademark application take a “second look” at the application in light of evidence presented by the interested parties. If unsatisfied with the examining attorney’s determination, either party can then appeal directly to the TTAB.
The team’s second proposal is for Congress to implement a statutory fee-shifting mechanism for frivolous opposition suits before the TTAB. Current patent regulations allow for similar sanctions for parties who file frivolous patent oppositions in litigation, so the team proposes an analogous mechanism for trademark regulations. Because the PTO does not currently have the authority under the Lanham Act to incorporate fee-shifting procedures into TTAB proceedings, the team included an argument that the PTO or other parties might make to Congress to obtain an explicit grant of this authority.
The Second Look Review procedure, coupled with fee-shifting authority, could provide a balanced approach that eliminates incentives for companies or other entities to engage in frivolous and aggressive trademark opposition practices, while allowing incumbent trademark holders an easier avenue to defend potential threats to their trademarks. Furthermore, these proposals would help ensure that only legitimate oppositions from committed parties are admitted to the TTAB docket, which could increase overall efficiency within the PTO.
The student attorneys for this project were Austin Gaddis, Paul Garboczi, and Conor Stewartson.
The full text of the White Paper can be found here:
This semester, TLPC student attorney Stephanie Vu and student technologist Stefan Tschimben continued their work from the previous semester on a petition for rulemaking at the FCC under Silicon Flatirons Fellow Pierre de Vries’ guidance and mentorship. During the fall semester, the students, along with student attorney Chris Laughlin, researched how the FCC currently resolved spectrum interference disputes and drafted a petition for rulemaking to improve the process by suggesting that the FCC allow parties to bring their cases directly to an Administrative Law Judge for adjudication. This semester, the students sought feedback from attorneys, technologists, and policymakers, which was addressed and incorporated into the petition, filed today at the Commission.
This semester, TLPC student attorneys Victoria Naifeh, Allison Daley, and Elizabeth Chance and student technologist Jeff Ward-Bailey worked with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission’s 911 task force to research the legal landscape surrounding 911 accessibility for the deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, and speech disabled communities in Colorado. The final project, a white paper summarizing the research, is now available here and on the the Social Sciences Research Network: