One of the subcommittees of the House Judiciary Committee is the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet. The House IP Subcommittee has primary jurisdiction over all matters relating to intellectual property matters. This includes copyright, patent, trademark law, information technology, and antitrust matters, as well as any other related matters as referred by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. This means that the House Subcommittee on IP is one of the primary focal points for any new legislation that deals with intellectual property.
Over on IPWatchdog.com, I profiled all of the Members assigned to this important subcommittee. See Republicans of the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and Democrats of the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property.
Today, I thought I would go through and identify the Members of Congress who will most likely be the leaders on this Subcommittee. Obviously, the Chair, Vice-Chair and Ranking Member need to be on this list. There are also a handful of others who are either powerful Members of Congress and/or have a history of focusing on innovation, technology and intellectual property policy matters. After the Chair, Vice-Chair and Ranking Member, the other Members are listed in order of seniority.
Howard Coble (Republican, NC-6), Chairman
Representative Coble was born in Greensboro, NC, March 18, 1931. He served in the United States Coast Guard for over 5 years and later in the Coast Guard Reserves for 22 years. He served in the North Carolina House of Representatives prior to being elected to Congress in November 1984. In addition to being named the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, Representative Coble has received subcommittee assignments on both of his full committees. Congressman Coble will serve on a total of five subcommittees on the Judiciary and Transportation and Infrastructure panels.
Tom Marino (Republican, PA-10), Vice-Chairman
Representative Marino was born August 13, 1952, in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. After graduating law school, he practiced law for several years before being elected to two terms as District Attorney of Lycoming County, where he served from 1992-2002. He later was selected to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by President George W. Bush. He was elected to Congress in November 2010. He is a two-time cancer survivor.
Mel Watt (Democrat, NC-12), Ranking Member
Representative Mel Watt was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on August 26, 1945. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1967 with a BS degree in Business Administration and in 1970 he received a JD degree from Yale University Law School. In 1992, Representative Watt was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the House Financial Services Committee, and served as the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (2005-2006).
John Conyers (Democrat, MI-13)
Representative John Conyers was born May 16, 1929. Early in his career, he served in the Michigan National Guard, the U.S. Army and then in the U.S. Army Reserves. He served in Korea as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was awarded combat and merit citations. Representative Conyers was elected to Congress in November 1964 and has continuously won reelection ever since. In fact, Conyers is the second most senior member in the House of Representatives, which itself carries a lot of weight. He was also one of the 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and he is a previous Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He was Chair of the House Judiciary Committee early on in the patent reform debate, which finally culminated in the signing of the America Invents Act.
Jim Sensenbrenner (Republican, WI-5)
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., was born in Chicago and later moved to Wisconsin with his family. He graduated from the Milwaukee Country Day School and did his undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where he majored in political science. He then earned his law degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968. After serving ten years in the Wisconsin State Legislature, he ran for a U.S. House seat and was elected in November, 1978. Representative Sensenbrenner is a former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and has a long, strong record on intellectual property issues. Over the years, he has been a strong advocate for the patent system. When he speaks on intellectual property issues, it is easy to see that he is fluent on the topic, and not merely speaking from talking points prepared for him.
Lamar Smith (Republican, TX-21)
Representative Smith was born on November 19, 1947. He is a graduate of Yale University (1969) and SMU Law School (1975). He was first elected to Congress in November 1986. He currently serves as Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over programs at NASA, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Representative Smith is also a former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Ethics Committee and a former member of the Budget Committee. He was instrumental in passing the America Invents Act (AIA), which in long form carries his name — The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.
Zoe Lofgren (Democrat, CA-16)
Representative Zoe Lofgren was born December 21, 1947, in San Mateo, California. She is a graduate of Stanford University, with a B.A. in political science (1970), and a holds a law degree from the University of Santa Clara School of Law (1975). Prior to running for Congress, she served as Staff Assistant to her predecessor, Congressman Don Edwards, 1970-1978. Lofgren also practiced immigration law as a partner in the firm of Webber & Lofgren, 1978-1980. She served on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors from 1981-1994. Lofgren was elected to Congress in 1994. She represents the District I have sometimes called “the District of Silicon Valley,” and is believed to have been instrumental in bringing a Satellite Patent Office to San Jose, California. She must be considered a primary player in any intellectual property legislation based on the constituents she represents alone. Add the fact that she seems to be interested in technology and intellectual property, and she should easily be one of the more influential Democrats on this subcommittee.
Darrell Issa (Republican, CA-49)
Representative Issa was born November 1, 1953. As a senior in high school, Issa enlisted in the United States Army. Through his Army service, he received an ROTC scholarship and graduated with a degree in business from Sienna Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. Upon graduation, Issa was commissioned as an Army officer, and ultimately obtained the rank of captain. He completed his active-duty military service in 1980. In 1994, Issa was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine, Ernst & Young and The San Diego Union Tribune. He is also a prolific inventor, holding 37 patents in his name. He was elected to Congress in November 2000. While he does not necessarily have a history of making intellectual property issues a top priority, he is a patent holder and some view him as one of the more powerful men in Washington because of his role as head of the Government Oversight Committee.
Jason Chaffetz (Republican, UT-3)
Representative Chaffetz was born March 26, 1967, in Los Gatos, California. He grew up in California, Arizona, and Colorado. Prior to running for Congress, he was Campaign Manager for Jon Huntsman, Jr., who was running for Governor at the time; he later served as Huntsman’s Chief of Staff. On November 4, 2008, Representative Chaffetz was elected by a 37-point margin to represent Utah’s Third Congressional District. While relatively new to Congress, he comes from a “safe” district, which has allowed him to advance rapidly within House Republican leadership, and in many Republican circles, he is viewed as a rising star. On February 8, 2011, I interviewed Representative Chaffetz regarding the Patent Office and his role on the House Subcommittee for Intellectual Property. See IP Exclusive: An Interview with Congressman Jason Chaffetz.
Suzan DelBene (Democrat, WA-1)
Representative Suzan DelBene was born February 17, 1962, in Selma, Alabama. Prior to entering public office, DelBene spent 12 years at Microsoft, most recently as corporate vice president of the company’s mobile communications business. DelBene first ran for Congress in 2010, losing to Representative Reihert in the general election. Subsequently, also in 2010, she was appointed by Governor Gregoire to be the Director of the Washington State Department of Revenue. DelBene again ran for Congress in 2012, this time running in the newly redrawn 1st District. While she has virtually no track record yet in the House, having been a Vice-President at Microsoft should mean that she is uniquely knowledgeable about technology. She presumably has opinions on the importance of various intellectual property protections, perhaps with some particular interest in counterfeiting, which is a problem Microsoft spends considerable time dealing with.