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Democracy & Technology Blog Podcast on patent reform and FreeConference v. AT&T

This week in the Tech Policy Weekly podcast, Jerry Brito, Drew Clark, Tim Lee and I discuss patent reform, FreeConference’s antitrust suit against AT&T and e-voting.
On patent reform, I observed that the momentum for fundamental reform reminds me in some ways of the eagerness for telecom reform in the mid 1990s. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 created many problems, demonstrating the inevitability of unintended consequences. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has stepped up to the plate and has a chance to recalibrate the patent system without major reform. I’d like to see what the Supreme Court does, and hope Congress takes it’s time. A long time.
I’m not sure what to make of FreeConference v. AT&T. As Tim Lee points out, in effect, FreeConference appears to have been thwarted in an arbitrage scheme. I wonder why FreeConference hasn’t filed a formal complaint with the FCC alleging a violation of the commission’s rules or policies (the commission has a net neutrality policy, though you might never know it from the left-wing hype promoting net neutrality regulation). Last time the FCC considered a similar complaint it acted expeditiously against a midsize phone company named Madison River Communications. Why didn’t FreeConference file an FCC complaint? Instead it has brought an antitrust claim in federal district court. That may take longer to resolve, and leads me to wonder what is FreeConference seeking here? Is it primarily interested in a cease-and-desist order — which the FCC could issue — or perhaps in a broader settlement agreement, or, possibly, some kind of ongoing publicity value. I don’t know.
The podcast is here.

Hance Haney

Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project
Hance Haney served as Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute, in Washington, D.C. Haney spent ten years as an aide to former Senator Bob Packwood (OR), and advised him in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee during the deliberations leading to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He subsequently held various positions with the United States Telecom Association and Qwest Communications. He earned a B.A. in history from Willamette University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.