Startup News Digest 10/26/18

The Big Story: Patent trolls aren’t a fairy tale. Last week, in a speech to the Eastern District of Texas Bar Association, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Iancu told a room full of trial lawyers that there is no patent troll problem and that it's just a "narrative" being pushed by large companies trying to decrease innovation and competition. This week, we pushed back on that claim, explaining that abusive patent litigation is “a real threat and one every startup founder dreads.”

In Washington, the debate on the impact of patent trolls on entrepreneurs continued as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hosted two days of panels on innovation and intellectual property policy. As part of their series on competition and consumer protection in the 21st century, the FTC heard perspectives from academics and industry experts on patent policy. Overwhelming evidence was presented that abusive patent litigation has harmed small entrepreneurs, and while recent policy efforts from the courts, Congress, and the USPTO have improved the system, patent trolling continues to be a problem. 

Policy Roundup:

Planning ahead on 5G. The White House released a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Commerce to create a plan to revise spectrum policy in order to ensure that the United States becomes the global leader in 5G technology. 

Two votes for wireless. Also this week, the Federal Communications Commission approved plans to open up spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band for 5G networks and spectrum in the 6 GHz band for next generation WiFi devices.

An opportunity for opportunity zones. The Department of Treasury rolled out much anticipated new rules for investors and startups relocating to “Opportunity Zones.” As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, businesses can receive tax breaks for bringing business to areas that are designated “disadvantaged” by state authorities. 

Balancing privacy and innovation. Andrew Burt from data management startup Immuta explains why smart privacy regulation should take into account the compliance cost for small, innovative companies. Specifically, the article points out a small database management training company that left Europe after the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation earlier this year.

Sounding alarms on Article 13. In a letter to creators, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki warned that a proposed copyright regulation in Europe and its content filtering requirement “threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs, European Creators, businesses, artists, and everyone they employ.”

Startup Roundup

#StartupsEverywhere: San Francisco, C.A. This week, we met with Alec Sorenson, Founder and CEO of Tradespace. Leaning on his view of both the D.C. ecosystem and San Francisco ecosystem, Alec offers a unique perspective of how government can work with startups on issues from immigration to access to capital. He offers a key piece of advice, as Alec believes “This work starts with us - having conversations with lawmakers and speaking up. Education on this issue is key.”

In D.C.? Help us celebrate veterans in tech. We have partnered with General Assembly to host an exciting panel on November 1 from 6:30 - 8:30pm. Register here.