House to Study Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation

A House subcommittee will examine June 17 whether intellectual property issues add to the problems facing the federal government in fostering innovation and research and development in information technology.

The House Government Reform subcommittee on technology and procurement policy will meet at 10 a.m. in Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building to consider the intersection of intellectual property concerns, procurement law and procurement practices, and to examine efforts to make the government's contracting process more flexible.

Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the subcommittee, said there is a balance to be struck between intellectual property rights, which encourage innovation and fuel capitalism, and procurement policies intended to guard the government from monopolistic practices.

"It is axiomatic that competition breeds innovation and reduced prices for consumers," Davis said. "In the government's case, it is important to recognize that the treatment of [intellectual property] rights will greatly impact the availability and viability of competing alternatives for any government contract and the implementation of leading-edge innovation."

Davis cited an article in the Wall Street Journal that said private-sector R&D spending, which amounted to roughly one-third of the United States' total R&D spending in 1960, had grown to two-thirds of the total in 1999. Over the same period, military spending on R&D dropped from 53 percent of the total to just 16 percent.

Compounding the problem, according to the article, three quarters of the country's top 75 IT companies will not do federal research, because of difficulties in contracting with the government and the treatment of intellectual property in R&D contracts.

Among those scheduled to testify at the hearing are Deidre Lee, director of defense procurement at the Defense Department; Rich Carroll, president of Digital System Resources Inc.; Richard Kuyath, counsel at 3M Corp. Inc.; Christopher Hill, professor of public policy and technology and vice provost for research at George Mason University; and representatives of the General Accounting Office and the Energy Department.

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