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Statement of Cisco VP, Intellectual Property, Dan Lang on Senate Judiciary Committee Consideration of Patent Reform

By beginning consideration of patent reform legislation, the Senate Judiciary Committee today took a significant step toward ending the abusive patent assertion entity business model.  Yet, there is still a great deal of hard work necessary to get a strong, bipartisan agreement across the finish line.

Significantly, we appreciate Chairman Pat Leahy’s statement today describing the work being done to bring together his bill and major elements of the bills sponsored by Senators John Cornyn and Orrin Hatch.

We know that members on both sides of the aisle are working in good faith to forge a bipartisan compromise.  This includes major contributions and leadership from Chairman Leahy and Senator Cornyn, as well as Senators Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Grassley, Chuck Schumer, Orrin Hatch, Amy Klobuchar, Mike Lee, Richard Blumenthal and other members of the committee.  With this level of commitment and engagement on the issue, we are looking forward to a strong bipartisan bill

The problem of abusive patent litigation is large and growing.  Nearly 60 percent of new patent lawsuits are being filed by patent assertion entities, up from 25 percent in 2007.   These are speculators manipulating the patent system to shake down business of all sizes — from innovators like Cisco to tens of thousands of small businesses around the country, including Cisco customers.    

So we need a bill that ends the patent scam business model.  Patent reform should include strong fee shifting that can’t be gamed by speculators hiding behind shell corporations; pleading standards that force plaintiffs to investigate their claims before suing; and limits on expensive discovery fishing expeditions.   Such reforms would provide a level of accountability and transparency that simply does not exist today.

At a time when it difficult for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on many issues, patent litigation reform is one area where a bipartisan agreement is possible, and indeed, within reach. Cisco stands ready to work with the Committee in any way possible to help find a lasting solution to this significant problem.

Cisco Supports U.S. Department of Commerce Decision to Transition Internet Management Functions

On Friday, March 14, the US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multi-stakeholder community.  As the first step, NTIA is requesting the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to convene global stakeholders and develop a proposal to transition the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS).

This is a significant milestone in the transition of Internet governance to a global multi-stakeholder model, and Cisco welcomes this development.  We applaud the NTIA for seeking to complete the final phase of the privatization of DNS management, as outlined by the U.S. Government in 1997. Cisco has long supported an open and innovative multi-stakeholder Internet governance process and this next step in its evolution.

NTIA has outlined a powerful process for the move towards full privatization and globalization of DNS management.  It is based upon the recognition that the ecosystem of organizations, groups and individuals which make up the multi-stakeholder Internet governance community is mature and robust and can stand on its own.

At the same time, NTIA has outlined a transition designed to ensure participation by the entire Internet community, and that will continue to support the open and multi-stakeholder nature of the Internet.  Key to this process will be the continued strong collaboration between ICANN, the Regional Internet Registries who allocate addresses, and the IETF that specifies Internet standards.

We look forward to working with the Internet community stakeholders to make this transition as successful as possible.


The New Spectrum Caucus: Bringing Focus to an Unseen, Indispensable Tool

Most Americans don’t know it, but radio spectrum has become an indispensable tool in our daily lives.  Spectrum is the invisible link between our smart phones, tablets, laptops, fitbits, and other mobile devices to the Internet.  It carries the video, voice, text and rich media that has transformed the world around us.

Recognizing this reality, Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) have formed a new Spectrum Caucus to focus attention in Congress and around the country about the vital need for more spectrum for broadband.  No doubt about it, radio spectrum is a hot topic on Capitol Hill. Here’s why:

  • The recently released Cisco Mobile Visual Networking Index forecasts  that by 2018, consumers will be sending 2.7 exobytes/month over cellular networks, nearly eight times the data sent over US mobile networks in 2013. That type of traffic growth has a serious impact on networks and the potential for network congestion – unless more spectrum can be found.
  • Just as consumers are loading the licensed airwaves with video and other apps, they are also loading up Wi-Fi networks.  Demand for Wi-Fi networks is rising both for use in the home and enterprise, and to offload mobile traffic. By 2018, consumers, using  devices equipped with both Wi-Fi and mobile capability, will offload 64% of their data  to Wi-Fi.  Wi-Fi is  an essential access technology, and also requires radio spectrum.
  • Why is this all important?  A study for GSM by Deloitte and using Cisco demand forecasts  found that a doubling of mobile data traffic leads to an increase in GDP per capita of 0.5%.   Creating wireless connectivity that enables wireless data usage grows economies.  That’s huge.
  • For Wi-Fi, a Cisco-sponsored study by Plum Consulting  showed that just the value of increasing Wi-Fi spectrum for mobile offloading, along the benefit of de-congesting dense Wi-Fi environments, would can be valued in the billions.

By no means does this represent the universe of spectrum issues.  Growth in Machine to Machine uses and the Internet of Everything represent an emerging category of spectrum uses.  The recently released Department of Defense Spectrum Strategy  demonstrates that our Defense spectrum needs are growing and changing also.

Every member of Congress uses radio spectrum every day, whenever they reach for a smartphone or use Wi-Fi.  As do all their constituents.  Everyone needs to think about how we can be better stewards of our radio spectrum.  So let me thank Representatives Matsui and Guthrie for forming this new Caucus and bringing focus to this critical matter.

Statement of Mark Chandler on Need for Patent System that Rewards Innovation and Discourages Speculation

I’ve commented here about the imperative to return to a patent system that incents and rewards innovation and discourages the speculators and opportunists who are using litigation leverage and bad patents to extract money from the productive elements of the economy.  That’s why we urge the Senate to follow the House’s overwhelming, bipartisan vote to limit patent rent-seeking by these financiers.  We also welcome today’s White House initiative to drive better patent quality from the get-go by making sure applications that don’t meet patentability requirements aren’t granted.   I am pleased to announce that Cisco will participate.

I once worked for a giant company whose employees used to joke, “If only we knew what we know.”  Well, nowhere is that saying more true than in the search for prior art to determine if a patent should be granted. To do the most effective job of reviewing new patent filings, the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) needs ready access to relevant prior art so that patents aren’t improperly approved just because our superb but chronically overworked patent examiners have no practical way of finding it.  This is especially important in rapidly developing fields where important advances aren’t captured in patent filings or conventional publications.  

To improve the quality of patents in networking technology, Cisco is today committing to assembling our own public product documentation, converting it to electronic form, and making it readily searchable by examiners.  We hope that our peers will join in this effort and help greatly broaden the scope of searchable prior art in the information technology field.  Patent prior art search is an ideal opportunity to put “crowdsourcing” to work.  

Additionally, we will continue to electronically publish many invention submissions that are not internally approved to be patent filings so that these too can be used by examiners.  Another important aspect of this effort: continuing to provide examiners access to senior Cisco technical talent in the form of training on current technology and the prior art in the networking field.    

As the owner of over 10,000 US patents and a frequent target of assertions of bad patents, we have a responsibility to work to improve the system with the tools we have.  And we will keep doing so.  When our patent examiners can say, “We know what we know”, we’ll be one more step toward a patent system that meets the Founders’ goal of truly “promoting progress in science and useful arts.”


Statement of Adam Golodner on the Rollout of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework

Earlier today, the White House cybersecurity office and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) rolled out the first version of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.  Congratulations to all in the public and private sector who worked so hard to get to this important milestone.  The high level government and widespread private sector involvement in this work is a clear indication that cybersecurity remains a central challenge for businesses and governments alike.

Today’s rollout is just the beginning.  NIST ran an exhaustive, open, process, with hundreds of comments, five public workshops around the country, and thousands of participants. More work will surely be needed going forward.  As NIST says, the Framework will be an iterative process, and this is a dynamic area where threats and challenges change on a near-daily basis.

The result achieves the goals of most of the participants:  a Framework that sets a common risk management language, is voluntary, flexible, based on existing best practices, recognizes the importance of innovation, and has global applicability. This approach sets an important precedent globally.  It also demonstrates the value of public-private partnerships which are the basis for future action in this important area.

Cisco looks forward to continuing to work with those who participated in this process, as well as other stakeholders, to build on and incorporate lessons learned into future versions of the Framework.