The startup community is deeply troubled by the Administration’s decision to limit the movement of immigrants—including lawful visa holders—into the U.S. on the basis of religion and country of origin—a move that came with no forewarning and has engendered uncertainty for many people, including employees at America’s startups. The executive order is both morally and economically misguided, and sets a dangerous precedent that signals to the rest of the world that America is no longer open for innovation.
Under Director Michelle Lee, the Patent Office has made real strides toward fixing patent quality. While much work in that area remains to be done, we are encouraged by the steps she and her team have taken and are pleased that she will remain in her role in the incoming Administration so that this important work can continue. Startups in particular rely on a well-functioning patent system, and under Director Lee's leadership, the Patent Office has welcomed the startup community to play a role in that debate. We look forward to continuing working with her to ensure that that the patent system promotes rather than hinders innovation.
On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act by a vote of 344 to 73, an even wider margin of support than when the bill passed the House during the previous Congress. Engine applauds the House passage of the bill, which would clarify regulatory ambiguities around general solicitation to ensure that startups aren't unintentionally running afoul of securities laws when participating in demo days and pitch competitions
Engine commends Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), and the bill’s other cosponsors for today’s reintroduction of the Email Privacy Act, legislation that would make critical reforms to our nation’s outdated outdated digital privacy laws.
Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his plans to step down from the agency on January 20, 2017. The following statement can be attributed to Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom: “In his time at the helm of the FCC, Chairman Tom Wheeler has been a tireless champion for startups and innovators everywhere, and Engine is grateful for his service.
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed unanimously an ordinance sponsored by Supervisor Mark Farrell that will give San Francisco residents more freedom to choose their broadband provider. Engine helped galvanize support around the issue by circulating a petition signed by more than 200 San Franciscans. The following statement can be attributed to Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom:
This morning, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Samsung’s favor in a case against Apple involving how damages should be calculated and awarded in design patent cases. In a win for the startup community, the court held that an award for design patent infringement does not necessarily allow the patent holder to obtain damages equivalent to the total profits of a product in which the patented design is used, as the lower court originally ruled. Rather, courts can award design patent damages for the particular components in which the patent was used. The decision may result in the lower court drastically decreasing its original award of almost $400 million to Apple, though the Supreme Court did not rule on how the modified damage amount should be calculated.
Today, Engine Advocacy and Tusk Ventures released their second “Grading the Candidates on Tech” report card, this time grading the positions that candidates for the U.S. Senate are taking with key issues facing startups and the innovation economy. Twenty-two candidates were rated based on their level of support, understanding, and familiarity with technology and the priorities of the nation’s startup community. Final grades reflect candidates' positions on key issues including broadband access and infrastructure, intellectual property, data security and privacy, and talent acquisition.
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Empowering Employees through Stock Ownership Act (H.R.5719), which will encourage startup growth by making it easier for employees at private companies to exercise their stock options. The following statement can be attributed to Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom:
There are countless startups that provide platforms through which individuals can share feedback and unbiased reviews of the businesses and services they rely on. These platforms are integral to the internet economy and consumers depend on them to inform their decisions on everything from where to grab drinks to which dentist to see. Protecting freedom of speech on these platforms is critical. But non-disparagement and gag clauses silence legitimate criticism, rendering these platforms less useful and harming the broader internet ecosystem. Engine welcomes the House’s passage of the Consumer Review Fairness Act, which would outlaw these gag clauses and go a long way towards protecting consumers’ right to share their thoughts and opinions freely in the digital marketplace.
Today, the House of Representatives passed a package of bills that will improve the capital access landscape for innovators across the country. The package included two pieces of legislation championed by Engine: the Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act (H.R.4850) and the Private Placement Improvement Act of 2016 (H.R.4852). With the approval of these two bills, the House has now passed four of Engine’s 2016 legislative priorities related to capital access.
The startup community has been fighting for years for reforms that would allow the world’s brightest innovators to start and scale their companies here in the United States. Engine welcomes the Department of Homeland Security’s International Entrepreneur proposal, which will allow talented foreign-born entrepreneurs to build their companies in the U.S., in turn creating jobs and driving economic transformation. Today’s announcement is an important step towards making our immigration system work for the 21st century innovation economy.
Meaningful broadband access and affordability are essential to a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. Startups rely on broadband to connect with users, develop innovative products and services, and run their daily operations. Access to quality broadband can also save startups an average of $16,000 per year, which is a significant amount for a company trying to get off the ground.
In the months since the original Safe Harbor agreement was invalidated by the European Court of Justice, the startup community has been in legal limbo awaiting resolution. The approval of this revised trans-Atlantic data-transfer framework brings much needed certainty for American startups with European users.
Today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) historic net neutrality rules in a 2-1 vote. Affirming that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cannot block, throttle, or slow down web traffic at their own discretion, the ruling is a major victory for thousands of startups that depend on the open internet as a level playing field.
Engine applauds the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act. The bill, which was approved by a wide margin of 325-89, would clarify regulatory ambiguities around general solicitation, making it easier for startups to publicly showcase their ideas without unintentionally running afoul of securities laws.
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the widely supported, broadly bipartisan Email Privacy Act by a unanimous vote of 419-0. The bill would make long overdue updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to bring our digital privacy laws into the 21st century. Specifically, the bill would clarify that law enforcement must obtain a warrant—except in certain clearly defined emergencies—before accessing individuals’ electronic communications.