[Ex head of patents at Google and] U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee has resigned, administration sources confirm to POLITICO….
Lee’s appointment by Obama — after a two-year vacancy in the post — was seen at the time as something of a coup for the technology industry, given her background at Google. There have long been tensions between Silicon Valley and the pharmaceutical industry over the office’s handling of patents.
During his confirmation hearing in January to be Trump’s pick to head the Commerce Department, Ross praised aspects of Lee’s tenure, in particular her navigation of potential conflicts of interest with Google, her former employer of nearly a decade….
The following month, a coalition of industry groups and tech companies — including Google, Facebook and Amazon — encouraged Trump to retain Lee as director. “We have been very pleased with the leadership of Director Lee, who has been committed to making sure that the USPTO creates the maximum economic benefit for American inventors and businesses,” the letter read.
As President-elect Trump prepares to take office, tech behemoth Google has changed course, now trying to align itself with the incoming Republican administration after backing Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.
Watchdog.org reported extensively last year on Google’s cozy relationship with the Obama administration, from a lobbyist’s frequent visits to the White House to the number of employees who have transitioned from Google to the Obama administration and vice versa.
The company also has amped up its influence of Congress, becoming one of the most influential tech lobbyists and provider of campaign contributions in the United States.
Shortly after Trump’s win, the Mountain View, California-based company posted a listing for a conservative outreach manager, Bloomberg noted. Google sought a D.C. veteran to “act as liaison to conservative, libertarian and free market groups.”
No matter the ideological disposition of a company’s leadership, it’s not at all unusual for big lobbying shops to include advocates of both political parties — just in case.
Bloomberg pointed out that Trump’s position on several issues important to Google, including autonomous vehicles, telecommunications rules and antitrust concerns, is uncertain.
Federal lawmakers are calling for an independent Copyright Office that would be led by a Register nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday released the first in what is expected to be a series of reforms. They suggest keeping a newly independent office in the Legislative branch, and funding technology upgrades including a searchable, digital database of historical and current copyright ownership.
Coming on the heels of the resignation of Copyright Register Maria Pallante, and previous suggestions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the proposals set up a show-down between Congress and new librarian Carla D. Hayden over the future of the agency.
In today’s NY Times, Jon Taplin of USC notes the continuing lopsided antitrust enforcement by Obama administration (and previous Bush administration). Traditional media companies (and also songwriters) are held to much higher standards while politically connected Silicon Valley monopolies like Google and Facebook get a free pass. This drives down revenues to creators […]
The proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner has drawn censure from both sides of the political aisle, as well as a Senate hearing that looked into the potential for the combined company to become a monopoly.
But if we are going to examine media monopolies, we should look first at Silicon Valley, not the fading phone business.
Mark Cuban, the internet entrepreneur, said at the meeting of the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee last week that the truly dominant companies in media distribution these days were Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon.
“Facebook is without question in a dominant position, if not the dominant position, for content delivery,” he said.
Look at the numbers. Alphabet (the parent company of Google) and Facebook are among the 10 largest companies in the world. Alphabet alone has a market capitalization of around $550 billion. AT&T and Time Warner combined would be about $300 billion.