Startup News Digest 11/16/18

The Big Story:

A flood of perspectives on privacy. Late last week, the federal government got dozens of comments from companies, trade groups, non-profits and more on how to approach consumer privacy online. As part of the response to a request for comments on a broad framework for consumer privacy, Engine submitted comments to the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, outlining the ways in which various privacy proposals and laws affect startups.

As we explained in a blog post announcing our comments, the startup perspective has been sorely missing from the federal privacy debate, with most policymakers focusing on the headline-grabbing privacy missteps from Internet giants with household names. But privacy laws, and the obligations and burdens that come with them, will have a disproportionate impact on the small and new companies that make up the country’s thriving startup ecosystem. As we explained in our comments, “creating regulatory or legislative burdens in the name of protecting users’ privacy without fully understanding the actual privacy benefits and the very real threats to startups would risk unnecessarily crippling one of the most important sectors in our economy.”

Policy Roundup:

New patent case at the Supreme Court. This week, we filed an amicus brief in HP v. Berkheimer, encouraging the Supreme Court to weigh in on a circuit split dealing with patent subject matter eligibility. And for a background on the patent system and recent changes to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) processes, read our new booklet entitled “The Strength of the American Patent System.”

A three year plan for IP. We submitted comments to the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) this week to weigh in on its Joint Strategic Plan for 2019-2021. Our comments discussed the importance of balancing the interests of rights holders with innovation and the need to protect copyright safe harbors as well as intermediary liability.

New idea for spectrum. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah)  and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a new bill this week that would have federal government agencies place a value on the spectrum they hold as part of a broader push to have agencies use their spectrum more efficiently and cooperatively.

Unicorns and trolls. In a recent speech to a group of lawyers in the Eastern District of Texas, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu downplayed the problem of “patent trolls,” or abusive patent legislation. Video tech startup Bitmovin explains why trolls are still a problem.

Startup Roundup:

#StartupsEverywhere: Erie, Pennsylvania. Beth Zimmer has worked to grow the Erie ecosystem into the powerhouse it is today as the managing director and co-founder of Innovation Collaborative. Beth would like to see more emphasis put on entrepreneurial ecosystem building from a policy level, including tax credits and additional resources.

Amazon across the nation. As you probably have heard, Amazon announced two new headquarters this week — Long Island City, N.Y. and Crystal City, V.A. This new phase of Amazon will create 50,000 new jobs, many of them in the tech sector. There are some concerns about the ability of these cities to meet the talent and infrastructure need, but overall we are excited for this economic development.

In D.C.? Check out two upcoming events on a new copyright regulation in Europe and the ways in which startups and others rely on encryption.