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Blog Entries from March 7, 2012

A Cross-Country Tour of American Ingenuity

USPTO Director Kappos engages with an audience member at an American Invents Act roadshow

Guest blog post by David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

As I flew into the Windy City today, I couldn’t help but marvel once again at the ideas and innovations that continue to shape our lives in a myriad of ways we take for granted—from the thousands of components and systems in the airplane that brought me here to chips in my smartphone—patented and trademarked technologies that seek protection from the United States Patent and Trademark Office are constantly shaping the way we conduct our daily lives.

So in order to best communicate historic changes to our nation’s patent system, I hit the road. And ever since kicking off our America Invents Act (AIA) roadshows in Alexandria, Virginia on February 17, Deputy Director Terry Rea and I have been privileged to meet with some of the inventors and entrepreneurs behind our nation’s greatness—remarkable men and women in exciting hotbeds of innovation as diverse as Sunnyvale, California; Salt Lake City; Dallas; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Boston; and Chicago, with a final hearing to be held in San Diego on Friday.

The goal of these roadshows and hearings has been twofold: first, to explain the thinking behind the proposed rules for various provisions under the AIA—including new systems to challenge and evaluate patents, like supplemental examination, inter partes review, and post grant review. And second, to conduct a spirited and productive dialogue with our user community, whose input is vital to our mission of building a 21st century patent system. These efforts not only help advance President Obama’s strategy for unleashing American innovation, but it also supports Secretary Bryson’s commitment to leveraging intellectual property to boost American manufacturing, American exports and American jobs.

National Consumer Protection Week: Spotlight on Trusted Identities

National Consumer Protection Week logo

On Monday, President Obama declared March 4-10, 2012 as National Consumer Protection Week, building on a coordinated effort that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. The Commerce Department is using this occasion to showcase the efforts of our Internet Policy Task Force, which is leveraging the expertise of several Commerce bureaus that are aimed at ensuring continued innovation in the Internet economy and preserving consumer trust in Internet commerce and online interactions. In particular, the Task Force continues to move forward in our work to promote new efforts that will lead to improved Internet privacy protection and better security for consumers online.

One of the biggest problems facing consumers online is the heavy reliance on usernames and passwords.  Most Internet users are asked to create so many logins and passwords that they have to create coping mechanisms to keep track of them all, from using the same one as often as possible to writing them all down, none of which lead to strong security practices.  In fact, exploiting the inherent weaknesses of passwords was the top method attackers used last year, according to the 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report produced by Verizon.  

General Counsel Kerry Amplifies President Obama’s Consumer Privacy Protection Message in Europe

Cam Kerry seated at conference table in Berlin

Guest blog post by Cameron F. Kerry, Department of Commerce General Counsel

As co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy, I am proud to have worked on the Obama administration’s comprehensive blueprint to improve consumer privacy protections, the “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy” (PDF).  As the president stated in the report, “we must reject the conclusion that privacy is an outmoded value.  It has been at the heart of our democracy from its inception, and we need it now more than ever.”

This is the message I took to European lawmakers, officials, and businesses about the administration’s privacy policy framework. Central to the framework is the tenet that consumers who have confidence their privacy is respected are more likely to express themselves online, engage in commercial activity, and form social connections on the Internet. Consumer trust is essential for a strong digital economy, which in turn provides a platform for greater innovation and job creation.