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Innovators & Influencers: Four People Who Will Affect Tech Policy Matters In Washington

From staff to lobbyist to senator, they're in positions to influence key policy matters

The patent mess is Doll's to fix

The patent mess is Doll's to fix
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is about to be transformed, and that will make Commissioner John Doll a busy man next year. The agency, riddled by criticism, has adopted a five-year plan to decrease massive backlogs, speed up the patent process, hire more people, and improve patent quality. Congress may turn up the heat with reforms of its own. How Doll implements all this will help shape the future of intellectual property.


This year's Democratic takeover of Congress means Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, will drive telecom policy as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. The Senate debated but never passed a telecom reform bill last year. Inouye favors "net neutrality," which would bar telecom carriers from selling tiered access to Web sites, while outgoing chairman Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, opposed it. Inouye also is expected to be a tough sell on megamergers like AT&T and BellSouth.


The last president of the Information Technology Association of America, Harris Miller, was a lightning rod on key issues, especially the H-1B visa debate. Phil Bond isn't afraid of the storm clouds either. Bond's promising to make the ITAA more visible than ever, and he has the broad experience to do it--as a former lobbyist, congressional aide, and technology undersecretary at the Commerce Department. Bond, who joined the ITAA in August, is looking to raise money for champions of IT in Congress and promises to be more visible with the press. Among the hot issues: patent reform, education, R&D tax credits, regulation on tech startups, health care, trade, e-government--oh, yeah, and H-1B visas.


Deregulation and telecom consolidation characterized Kevin Martin's first 22 months as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Next year figures to feature more of the same, though Martin, a Bush appointee, will face more resistance. A Democratic Congress is more likely to pass net neutrality requirements for telecom companies, which Martin has decried. And two Democratic FCC commissioners created a stalemate on the AT&T-BellSouth merger, thanks to one Republican recusing himself. But on the FCC's wide range of telecom and media issues, Martin's role-- and the 3-2 Republican edge on the commission--still gives him plenty of sway.

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