Summary: H.R.1554 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Conference report filed in House (11/09/1999)

Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999 - Title I: Satellite Home Viewer Improvement - Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999 - Amends Federal copyright law to cite circumstances under which the secondary transmission by a satellite carrier (carrier) of a primary transmission of a television broadcast station (TV station) into the station's local market shall be subject to statutory (compulsory) licensing. Requires the carrier: (1) within 90 days after commencing such secondary transmission, to submit to the network that owns or is affiliated with the network station a list identifying all subscribers to which the carrier currently makes such transmission; and (2) on the 15th day of each month, to submit a subsequent list identifying any subscribers who have been added or dropped. Restricts the use of subscriber information to monitoring compliance by the carrier. Applies the submission requirements to a carrier only if the network to which the submissions are to be made places on file with the Register of Copyrights a document identifying the name and address of the person to whom such submissions are to be made.

(Sec. 1002) Precludes any royalty obligation for such secondary transmission. Makes actionable as an infringement and fully subject to copyright remedies a carrier's willful or repeated transmission into a TV station's local market of the station's primary transmission embodying a performance or display, if the carrier has not complied with specified reporting requirements.

Applies such infringement and copyright remedies to a carrier if: (1) the content of a particular program in which the performance or display is embodied or any commercial advertising or station announcement transmitted by the primary transmitter during, or immediately before or after, the transmission of such program is in any way willfully altered by the carrier or is combined with programming from any other broadcast signal; or (2) such transmission is made to a subscriber outside the TV station's local market who is not subject to compulsory licensing, except that no damages (other than certain restricted statutory damages) may be awarded if the carrier promptly withdraws service from the ineligible subscriber. Sets forth additional remedies for willful and repeated patterns or practices of such violations. Places on the carrier the burden of proof in any action brought under this title that its secondary transmission of a TV station's primary transmission is made only to subscribers within the station's local market.

(Sec. 1003) Amends the Satellite Home Viewer Act of 1994 to extend until December 31, 2004, the sunset of the satellite compulsory license.

(Sec. 1004) Revises the formula used to compute the rate of royalty fees in effect on January 1, 1998, to be deposited with the Register of Copyrights by carriers by reducing the $.27 rate for retransmission of: (1) superstation signals by 30 percent; and (2) network stations by 45 percent. Provides that for purposes of copyright arbitration royalty panels, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) shall be the agent for all public television copyright claimants and all PBS member stations with respect to royalty fees paid by the carriers for retransmitting the PBS satellite feed.

(Sec. 1005) Modifies the definition of "unserved household" to eliminate the 90-day period that satellite subscribers must wait after termination of their cable service until they are eligible for satellite service of network signals. Defines an unserved household as one not able to receive through a conventional antenna an over-the-air signal of a primary network station affiliated with that network of Grade B intensity (with certain additional requirements). Provides exceptions to the limitations placed on the secondary transmissions by a carrier of the primary transmission made by a network station with respect to subscribers who do not reside in unserved households.

Allows, until December 31, 2004, a subscriber who does not receive a signal of grade A intensity of a local network station to remain eligible to receive signals of stations affiliated with the same network, as long as that subscriber had satellite service of such signal terminated after July 11, 1998, and before October 31, 1999, or received such service on such latter date.

Exempts from the unserved household requirements operators of recreational vehicles and commercial trucks who have complied with certain documentation requirements.

(Sec. 1006) Subjects copyrighted programming carried upon the PBS's national satellite feed to copyright compulsory licensing requirements. Defines the "Public Broadcasting Service satellite feed" as the national satellite feed distributed by the PBS consisting of educational and informational programming intended for private home viewing, to which the PBS holds national terrestrial broadcast rights.

(Sec. 1007) Subjects the copyright compulsory license to the rules, regulations, or authorizations of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Makes carrier eligibility for such license contingent upon full compliance with all FCC signal carriage requirements.

(Sec. 1008) Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to require carriers that retransmit a television broadcast signal to subscribers located within the signal's local market to carry, upon request beginning January 1, 2002, the signals of all TV stations located within that local market (must-carry requirement), subject to the retransmission consent election by such stations.

Requires a TV station asserting its right to such carriage to bear costs associated with delivering a good quality signal to the carrier's designated local receive facility or to another facility that is acceptable to at least one-half the stations asserting the right to carriage in the local market. Provides that a carrier shall not be required: (1) to carry upon request the signal of any local commercial TV station that substantially duplicates the signal of another local commercial TV station which is secondarily transmitted by the carrier within the same local market; or (2) to carry upon request the signals of more than one local commercial TV station in a single local market that is affiliated with a particular television network unless such stations are licensed to communities in different States.

Requires the FCC to prescribe regulations that provide the same degree of carriage by carriers of multiple local noncommercial television broadcast stations as is provided by cable systems.

Declares that no carrier shall be required to provide a local TV station signal to subscribers in that station's local market on any particular channel number, or to provide the signals in any particular order, except that the carrier shall retransmit the signal of the local stations to subscribers in the station's local market on contiguous channels and provide access to such signals at a nondiscriminatory price and in a nondiscriminatory manner on any navigational device, on-screen program guide, or menu.

Prohibits a carrier from accepting or requesting monetary payments or other valuable consideration in exchange either for carriage of local TV stations in fulfillment of the requirements of this title or for channel positioning rights provided to such stations. Allows any such station, however, to be required to bear the costs associated with delivering a good quality signal to the satellite's local receive facility.

Provides administrative procedures by which stations may seek redress from the FCC for violations of the must-carry obligations for carriers.

Sets a deadline by which the FCC must issue regulations (modeled after those currently applicable to the cable industry) that apply network nonduplication protection, syndicated exclusivity protection, and sports blackout protection to retransmission of broadcast signals by carriers to subscribers.

Permits a carrier to provide the signals of no more than two network stations in a single day for each television network to any household not located within the local markets of those stations. Allows such a carrier to also provide service under the secondary transmission provisions of this title to the local market within which such household is located. Provides penalties for carrier violations.

Requires the FCC to establish regulations that apply the above network nonduplication protection, syndicated exclusivity protection, and sports blackout protection to the transmission of nationally transmitted superstations by carriers, and to apply sports blackout protection to the retransmission of the signals of network stations by carriers to subscribers.

Directs the FCC to conclude an inquiry to evaluate all possible standards and factors for determining eligibility for retransmission of the signals of network stations and, if appropriate: (1) recommend modifications to the current Grade B intensity standard for analog signals (or an alternative standard); and (2) make an additional recommendation relating to an appropriate standard for digital signals. Authorizes a subscriber who is denied the retransmission of a signal of a network station under this title to request from the station a waiver of such denial.

Requires the FCC to develop and prescribe by rule a point-to-point predictive model for reliably and presumptively determining the ability of individual locations to receive signals in accordance with the current effective signal intensity standard, taking into account terrain, building structures, and other land cover variations.

Requires the selection and employment of an independent signal tester by the appropriate carrier and network stations when a subscriber's request for waiver under this subtitle is denied.

(Sec. 1009) Revises generally the requirements for retransmission of a TV station's signal by a cable system or other multichannel video programming distributor. Directs the FCC to revise regulations governing the exercise by TV stations of the right to grant consent to such retransmission. Provides enforcement proceedings against carriers concerning retransmissions of TV stations (without the above consent) in the respective local markets of such carriers. Places, in such proceedings, the burden of proof upon a TV station to establish that the carrier retransmitted the TV station to at least one person in the local market of such station on the day in question. Provides for FCC enforcement of proceeding determinations through cease-and-desist orders, as appropriate. Outlines court proceedings for the enforcement of such FCC orders. Authorizes TV stations to file civil actions for statutory damages for any violations determined by the FCC to have been committed by a carrier.

Title II: Rural Local Television Signals - Rural Local Broadcast Signal Act - Authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture, subject to the availability of appropriations, to provide loans to borrowers to finance projects to provide local television broadcast signals (local TV signals) by providers of multichannel video services, including direct broadcast satellite licensees and licensees of multichannel multipoint distribution systems, to areas that do not receive local TV signals over commercial for-profit direct-to-home satellite distribution systems. Outlines loan guarantee requirements, conditions, and limits, including: (1) a total aggregate limit of $1.25 billion; and (2) certification by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Requires a borrower, as a condition of such guarantee, to: (1) maintain assets, equipment, facilities, and operations on a continuing basis; (2) not make any discretionary dividend payments that reduce the ability to repay the loan obligation; and (3) remain sufficiently capitalized. Makes ineligible for such loan guarantee a satellite carrier (or its affiliate) that provided TV signals to subscribers on October 1, 1999, if either the carrier or affiliate holds a license for unused spectrum that would be suitable for delivering local TV signals into unserved and underserved markets.

(Sec. 2002) Authorizes appropriations for FY 2000 through 2006.

(Sec. 2003) Outlines administrative requirements under the guarantee program, including: (1) a priority for projects which serve the most underserved rural markets; (2) a priority for projects that offer a separate tier of local TV signals and provide lower projected costs to consumers of such tier; (3) borrower performance schedules (with authorized penalties when such schedules are not met); (4) a prohibition on such guarantee with respect to the 40 most populated U.S. market areas; (5) default procedures; (6) an authorized civil action by the Attorney General for breach of condition; and (7) annual audits by the General Accounting Office (requiring annual audit reports to specified congressional committees).

(Sec. 2004) Makes the borrower subject to applicable rights, obligations, and limitations with respect to the retransmission of local TV signals under Federal copyright law or applicable provisions of the Communications Act of 1934.

(Sec. 2005) Directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make a determination regarding licenses or other authorizations for facilities that will utilize spectrum otherwise allocated to commercial use for delivering local TV signals to satellite TV subscribers in unserved and underserved local TV markets. Requires an FCC report to specified congressional committees on the extent to which such licenses and other authorizations have facilitated the delivery of local signals to satellite TV subscribers in such markets.

Title III: Trademark Cyberpiracy Prevention - Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act - Amends the Trademark Act of 1946 to make liable in a civil action by the owner of a mark (including a personal name protected as a mark) any person who, with a bad faith intent to profit from that mark, registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that: (1) in the case of a mark that is distinctive at the time of the domain name registration, is identical or confusingly similar to that mark; (2) in the case of a mark famous at the time of the domain name registration, is identical or confusingly similar to or dilutive of that mark; or (3) is a protected trademark, word, or name. Limits liability to the domain name registrant or that registrant's authorized licensee.

(Sec. 3002) Specifies factors a court may consider in determining bad faith intent, but prohibits such a determination if the defendant believed, with reasonable grounds, that the use of the domain name was fair or otherwise lawful.

Authorizes a court to order the forfeiture or cancellation of the domain name or its transfer to the mark owner.

Prescribes conditions for an in rem civil action, in addition to any other action, against a domain name by a mark owner. Limits remedies in an in rem action to a court order for the forfeiture or cancellation of the domain name or its transfer to the mark owner. Declares that the domain name registrar, registry, or other registration authority shall not be liable for injunctive or monetary relief in an in rem action except in the case of bad faith or reckless disregard, which includes a willful failure to comply with any such court order.

Declares that any person who registers a domain name consisting of the name of another living person, or a name substantially and confusingly similar to it, without that person's consent, and with specific intent to profit by selling the domain name for financial gain to that person or any third party, shall be liable to such person in a civil action for injunctive relief, including forfeiture or cancellation of the domain name or its transfer to the plaintiff. Shields from such liability, however, any copyright owner or licensee who registers such a domain name in good faith if: (1) the name is used in, affiliated with, or related to a work of authorship protected by copyright, including a work made for hire; and (2) the registrant intends to sell the domain name in conjunction with the lawful exploitation of the work, provided registration is not prohibited by a contract between the registrant and the named person.

(Sec. 3003) Applies to cybersquatting actions such trademark remedies in addition to injunctive relief as recovery of defendant's profits, actual damages, and attorneys' fees and court costs. Provides for statutory damages in an amount of at least $1,000 and up to $100,000 per domain name, as the court considers just.

(Sec. 3004) Shields from liability for monetary or (except in specified circumstances) injunctive relief, regardless of whether the domain name is finally determined to infringe or dilute the mark in question, any domain name registrar, registry, or other registration authority that refuses to register, removes from registration, transfers, temporarily disables, or permanently cancels a domain name: (1) in compliance with a court order; or (2) in the implementation of a reasonable policy prohibiting the registration of a domain name identical to, confusingly similar to, or dilutive of another's mark. Makes liable to a domain name registrant for monetary and injunctive relief (including reactivation or transfer to the registrant of the domain name) any person who makes a knowing and material misrepresentation that a domain name is identical to, confusingly similar to, or dilutive of a mark, and a registrar, registry, or other registration authority takes such an action based on such misrepresentation.

Shields a registrar, registry, or other registration authority from liability for damages for the registration or maintenance of a domain name for another, unless there is a showing of bad faith intent to profit from such registration or maintenance of the domain name.

Authorizes a registrant whose domain name has been suspended, disabled, or transferred, upon notice to the mark owner, to file a civil action for injunctive relief (including reactivation or transfer to the registrant of the domain name) to establish that the registration or use of the domain name by such registrant is not unlawful under the Trademark Act of 1946.

(Sec. 3006) Directs the Secretary of Commerce to: (1) study and report to Congress on guidelines and procedures for resolving disputes involving the registration or use by a person of a domain name that includes the personal name of another person, in whole or in part, or a name confusingly similar to it; and (2) collaborate, under the Memorandum of Understanding with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, to develop such guidelines and procedures.

(Sec. 3007) Amends the National Historic Preservation Act to provide a limited immunity from suit under trademark law for historic buildings and structures on or eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, or that are designated by a State or local government as an individual landmark or as a contributing building in a historic district. Permits retention of the name historically associated with such a building or structure.

Title IV: Inventor Protection - American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 - Subtitle A: Inventors' Rights - Inventors' Rights Act of 1999 - Amends Federal patent law to oblige any invention promoter, before entering into a contract for invention promotion services, to disclose to a customer in writing: (1) the total number of inventions evaluated by the promoter for commercial potential in the past five years, including the number of positive and of negative evaluations; (2) the total number of customers who have contracted with the promoter in the past five years; (3) the total number of customers known by the promoter to have received a net financial profit as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided; (4) the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received license agreements for their inventions as a direct result of such services; and (5) the names and addresses of all previous invention promotion companies with which the promoter or its officers have collectively or individually been affiliated in the previous ten years.

(Sec. 4102) Establishes a Federal cause of action for inventors injured by material false or fraudulent statements or representations, or any omission of material fact, by an invention promoter, or by the promoter's failure to make the required written disclosures. Sets statutory damages (if elected by a customer before judgment is rendered) at a maximum of $5,000.

Requires the Commissioner of Patents to make publicly available any complaints received involving invention promoters, along with the response, if any, from the promoters.

Subtitle B: Patent and Trademark Fee Fairness - Patent and Trademark Fee Fairness Act of 1999 - Amends Federal patent law to reduce: (1) from $760 to $690 original filing and reissue fees, as well as the national fee for certain international applications; and (2) from $940 to $830 the three-and-a-half year maintenance fee.

(Sec. 4203) Authorizes the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to adjust trademark fees in FY 2000 without regard to fluctuations in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) during the preceding 12 months.

(Sec. 4204) Directs the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the USPTO Director to study and report to specified congressional committees on alternative fee structures that the USPTO could adopt to encourage maximum participation by the inventor community in the United States.

(Sec. 4205) Changes from discretionary to mandatory the authority of the Commissioner of Patent and Trademarks to make all trademark fees available only for the processing of trademark registrations and trademark-related activities, services, and materials.

Subtitle C: First Inventor Defense - First Inventor Defense Act of 1999 - Amends Federal patent law to declare that it shall be a defense to an infringement action with respect to any subject matter that would otherwise infringe one or more claims for a method in the patent being asserted against a person, if such person had, acting in good faith, actually reduced the subject matter to practice at least one year before the effective filing date of such patent, and commercially used the subject matter before the effective filing date of such patent.

(Sec. 4302) Deems a commercial use, in the case of activities performed by a nonprofit research laboratory, or nonprofit entity such as a university, research center, or hospital, any use for which the public is the intended beneficiary, except that such use: (1) may be asserted as a defense only for continued use by and in the laboratory or nonprofit entity; and (2) may not be asserted as a defense with respect to any subsequent commercialization or use outside such laboratory or nonprofit entity.

States that the sale or other disposition of a useful end product produced by a patented method, by a person entitled to assert such a defense with respect to that useful end result, shall exhaust the patent owner's rights under the patent to the extent such rights would have been exhausted had such sale or other disposition been made by the patent owner.

Limits the defense to inventions for methods. Prohibits the defense if the subject matter on which the defense is based was derived from the patentee or persons in privity with the patentee.

Declares that this defense is not a general license under all claims of the patent at issue, but extends only to the specific subject matter claimed in the patent with respect to which the person can assert a defense. Extends the defense, however, to variations in the quantity or volume of use of the claimed subject matter, and to improvements that do not infringe additional specifically claimed subject matter of the patent.

Requires a person asserting the defense to establish it by clear and convincing evidence.

Prohibits any person who has abandoned commercial use of subject matter from relying on activities performed before the date of abandonment in establishing a defense with respect to actions taken after such date.

Limits assertion of the defense to the person who performed the acts necessary to establish it. Prohibits licensing, assignment, or transfer to any person but the patent owner of the right to assert the defense, except as an ancillary and subordinate part of a good faith assignment or transfer for other reasons of the entire enterprise or line of business to which the defense relates. Restricts the site of use of a subject matter for which the defense may be asserted if the defense has been acquired as part of such a good faith assignment or transfer.

Subtitle D: Patent Term Guarantee - Patent Term Guarantee Act of 1999 - Amends Federal patent law to extend the term of a patent one day for each day lost as a result of delay created by the USPTO when the agency fails to: (1) make notifications within 14 months after filing of a non-provisional application about the rejection of any patent claim, or objections to or requirements for it, or of allowance of the application; (2) respond within four months to a reply to a rejection, objection, or requirement, or to an appeal of a twice-rejected claim; (3) act on an application within four months after the date of a decision by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, or a decision by a Federal court in a case in which allowable claims remain in the application; or (4) issue a patent within four months after the date on which the issue fee was paid and all outstanding requirements were satisfied.

(Sec. 4402) Requires a day-for-day extension of a patent term if: (1) a patent is not issued within three years after the filing of the application; or (2) issue is delayed by interferences, secrecy orders, or appeals. Specifies limitations to such an extension, as well as grounds for its reduction.

Requires the USPTO Director to prescribe regulations establishing procedures for the application for and determination of patent term extensions and adjustments.

(Sec. 4403) Authorizes the USPTO Director to: (1) prescribe regulations for the continued examination, at the applicant's request, of a patent application notwithstanding a final rejection; and (2) establish appropriate fees for continued examination proceedings, with a mandatory 50% fee reduction for qualifying small entities.

Subtitle E: Domestic Publication of Patent Applications Published Abroad - Domestic Publication of Foreign Filed Patent Applications Act of 1999 - Requires the USPTO Director to publish each patent application 18 months after the earliest filing date for which a benefit is sought, unless the applicant requests earlier publication. Makes final and unreviewable the Director's determination to release or not to release information concerning a published patent application. Prohibits publication of any application: (1) no longer pending; (2) subject to a secrecy order; (3) which is provisional; (4) for a design patent; or (5) for an invention the applicant certifies has not and will not be the subject of an application filed in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications 18 months after filing. Requires any applicant, in the latter instance, who subsequently files, in a foreign country or under a multilateral international agreement, an application directed to the invention disclosed in the application filed in the PTO, to notify the Director.

(Sec. 4502) Allows an applicant to submit a redacted copy of the PTO-filed application, eliminating any part or description of the invention that is not also contained in any of the corresponding applications the applicant has filed in one or more foreign countries whose applications require a less extensive description of the invention than the application or description of the invention in the application filed in the PTO. Requires the USPTO Director to publish only the redacted copy of the application, unless it is not received within 16 months after the earliest effective filing date.

Requires the USPTO Director to establish appropriate procedures to ensure that no protest or other form of pre-issuance opposition to the grant of a patent on an application may be initiated after publication of the application without the express written consent of the applicant.

Prohibits publication or disclosure of the application of any invention whose publication or disclosure would be detrimental to the national security.

Directs the Comptroller General to study and report to specified congressional committees on applicants who file only in the United States on or after the effective date of this subtitle.

(Sec. 4503) Amends Federal patent law with respect to the option of an applicant seeking patent protection in the United States to claim the filing date of an application for the same invention filed in another Convention country, provided the subsequent application is filed in the United States within 12 months of the earlier filing in the foreign country. Revises requirements for claiming such priority. Authorizes the Director to: (1) consider an applicant's failure to file a timely claim for priority to be a waiver of any such priority claim; and (2) establish procedures (including the payment of a surcharge) to accept an unintentionally delayed priority claim.

(Sec. 4504) Amends Federal patent law to state that a patent shall contain a (provisional) right to obtain a reasonable royalty for applicants whose applications are published under this title, or international applications designating the United States filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

Entitles the applicant to obtain a reasonable royalty from any person who between publication of the application and issuance of the patent: (1) makes, uses, offers for sale, or sells the invention in, or imports it into, the United States; or (2) if the invention claimed is a process, makes, uses, offers for sale, sells, or imports a product made by that process in the United States; and (3) had actual notice of the published application, including a translation into English if it was filed in a non-English language under the PCT designating the United States.

Denies availability of such right unless the invention as claimed in the patent is substantially identical to the invention as claimed in the published application.

Sets a six-year statute of limitations from the date of patent issuance in which an action for reasonable royalties must be brought.

(Sec. 4505) Grants a published application prior art effect as of its earliest effective U.S. filing date against any subsequently filed U.S. applications. States that any foreign filing date to which the published application is entitled will not be the effective filing date of the U.S. published application for prior art purposes, unless it is an international application designating the United States published in English under the PCT.

(Sec. 4506) Requires the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the USPTO Director to recover the cost of early publication required by this title by charging a separate publication fee after a notice of allowance is given.

Subtitle F: Optional Inter Partes Reexamination Procedure - Optional Inter Partes Reexamination Procedure Act of 1999 - Amends Federal patent law to allow a third party to request inter partes reexamination by the PTO of a patent on the basis of any prior art, as long as the real party in interest is identified.

(Sec. 4604) Requires the USPTO Director to: (1) make a determination (which shall be final and non-appealable) of whether a substantial new question of patentability affecting any claim of the patent concerned is raised by the request, with or without consideration of other patents or printed publications; and (2) order an inter partes reexamination of the patent for resolution of any substantial new question determined.

Prescribes procedures for an inter partes reexamination.

Entitles the third-party requester to: (1) submit one written comment addressing issues raised by the action of the Office or the patent owner's response each time the patent owner files a response to the USPTO; and (2) appeal to the USPTO Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (but not the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) from an examiner's determination that the reexamined patent is valid. Entitles the patent owner to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit any decision adverse to a claim's patentability.

Estops any third-party requesters who participate in an inter partes reexamination proceeding from raising in a subsequent civil action or inter partes reexamination any issue of patent validity that they raised or could have raised during such inter partes reexamination. Permits a subsequent assertion of patent invalidity, however, based on newly discovered prior art unavailable to the third-party requester and the PTO at the time of the inter partes reexamination proceedings.

Requires the USPTO Director, upon expiration of the time for appeal or termination of any appeal proceeding with regard to an inter partes reexamination, to cancel any patent claim finally determined unpatentable, confirm any claim determined patentable, or incorporate in the patent any proposed amended or new claim determined patentable.

Prescribes circumstances in which an inter partes reexamination is prohibited.

(Sec. 4606) Directs the Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and the USPTO Director to evaluate for Congress whether the inter partes reexamination proceedings established under this title are inequitable to any of the parties in interest and, if so, recommend suitable changes.

(Sec. 4607) Estops an inter partes reexamination requester from challenging at a later time, in any civil action, any fact determined during the process of such reexamination, except with respect to a fact determination later proved to be erroneous based on information unavailable at the time of the inter partes reexamination decision.

Subtitle G: Patent and Trademark Office - Patent and Trademark Office Efficiency Act - Amends Federal patent law to reorganize the Patent and Trademark Office in the Department of Commerce into a U.S. agency within the Department, called the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), subject to the general policy direction of the Secretary of Commerce but exercising independent control of its budget, personnel, procurements, and other administrative and management functions.

(Sec. 4713) Vests the enumerated powers and duties of the USPTO in an Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO (currently, the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks). Requires the Secretary to appoint a Commissioner of Patents and a Commissioner of Trademarks.

(Sec. 4714) Establishes a Patent Public Advisory Committee and a Trademark Public Advisory Committee.

(Sec. 4715) Revises the composition of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences to reflect the changes of this Act. Repeals the current authority (of the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks) to designate any patent examiner of the primary examiner grade or higher to serve as examiner-in-chief for a six-month period, and act as a member of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.

Subtitle H: Miscellaneous Patent Provisions - Amends Federal patent law to permit the conversion, upon applicant request, of a provisional application into a non-provisional application. Repeals the requirement that a provisional application be pending on the filing date of a non-provisional application in order for the provisional application to be relied upon in any proceeding in the USPTO.

(Sec. 4802) Permits persons who filed an application for patent first in a World Trade Organization (WTO) member country to claim the right of priority in a subsequent patent application filed in the United States, even if such country does not yet afford similar privileges on the basis of applications filed in the United States.

Provides for the right of priority in the United States on the basis of an application for a plant breeder's right first filed in a WTO member country or in a foreign member of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV Contracting Party).

(Sec. 4803) Makes certain limitations on remedies for patent infringement applicable only to applications filed on or after September 30, 1996.

(Sec. 4804) Authorizes the USPTO to receive, publish, disseminate, and maintain information in electronic form.

Prohibits the USPTO Director from ceasing to maintain paper or microform collections of U.S. patents, foreign patent documents, and U.S. trademark registrations, except pursuant to notice and opportunity for public comment. Requires the USPTO Director to report to Congress the details of any proposal to cease maintaining paper or microform collections, certifying that its implementation will not negatively impact the public.

(Sec. 4805) Directs the Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on the potential risks to the U.S. biotechnological industry regarding biological deposits in support of biotechnology patents. Requires the USPTO to consider the Comptroller General's recommendations when drafting regulations affecting biological deposits.

(Sec. 4806) Specifies that an inventor involved in a USPTO interference proceeding who establishes a date of invention is subject to certain requirements, including the one that the invention was not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed.

(Sec. 4807) Revises the condition of patentability that subject matter developed by another person which qualifies as prior art only in certain circumstances shall not preclude the granting of a patent on an invention with only obvious differences where the subject matter and claimed invention were, at the time the invention was made, owned by the same person or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person. Adds to such qualifying prior art circumstances that the invention was described in another patent granted on an application filed before the applicant's date of invention. (Thus allows an applicant to receive a patent when an invention with only obvious differences from the applicant's invention was described in a patent granted on an application filed before the applicant's invention, provided the inventions are commonly owned or subject to an obligation of assignment to the same person.)

(Sec. 4808) Prohibits the USPTO Director from entering into an agreement to provide copies of specifications and drawings of U.S. patents and applications to a foreign country, other than a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) country or a WTO member country, without the express authorization of the Secretary of Commerce.

Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions - Amends Federal law establishing the Commission on Online Child Protection to: (1) revise membership provisions; (2) extend by one year the Commission report deadline; (3) terminate the Commission either 30 days after such report (current law) or on November 30, 2000, whichever is earlier; and (4) revise meeting requirements and establish Commission rules.

(Sec. 5002) Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to provide privacy requirements with respect to donors to public broadcasting entities.

(Sec. 5003) Requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), within 180 days after enactment of this Act, to complete a biennial regulatory review required under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

(Sec. 5004) Amends Federal copyright law to provide a remittance of copyright damages for public broadcasting entities that were not aware that their acts constituted a copyright violation.

(Sec. 5005) Amends the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Tariff Act of 1930 to make technical amendments relating to vessel hull design protection.

(Sec. 5007) Amends Federal copyright law to allow surety corporations, like other corporations, to utilize approved state officials to receive service of process in any legal proceeding in lieu of having a separate service agent in each Federal judicial district.

(Sec. 5008) Community Broadcasters Protection Act of 1999 - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to direct the FCC to prescribe regulations to establish a class A license for qualifying low-power television (LPT) stations. Requires notification of LPT licensees of the requirements for class A designation. Requires requesting licensees to submit to the FCC a certification of eligibility based on the requirements of this section. Requires the FCC to: (1) grant such certification absent a material deficiency; and (2) act to preserve the service areas of LPT stations pending final resolution of such applications. Allows an LPT station to submit an application for class A designation only within 30 days after final regulations are adopted.

Defines as a qualifying LPT station one which, during the 90 days preceding the date of enactment of this title: (1) broadcast for at least 18 hours per day; (2) broadcast an average of at least three hours per week of programming that was produced within the market area served by such station or the market area served by a group of commonly controlled LPT stations that carry common local programming produced within the market area served by such group; and (3) complied with other requirements applicable to LPT stations and, after the date of its license application, complies with the FCC's operating rules for full power television stations. Allows the FCC to also qualify stations as LPT stations if public interest, convenience, and necessity would be so served.

Provides that: (1) the FCC is not required to issue any additional licenses for advanced television services to the licensees of class A television stations; and (2) the FCC shall approve such applications proposing facilities that will not cause interference to any other broadcast facility authorized on the date of the filing of the advanced television application.

States that nothing in this section shall preempt Federal provisions concerning the allocation and assignment of new public safety services licenses and commercial licenses.

Prohibits the FCC from granting a class A license to an LPT station operating between 698 and 806 megahertz, but requires the FCC to provide to LPT stations assigned to and temporarily operating within such bandwidth the opportunity to meet the licensing requirements.

Prohibits the FCC from granting a class A license to an LPT station operating on a channel that includes any of the 175 additional channels referenced within a certain FCC Memorandum of Opinion and Order of Reconsideration. Directs the FCC to identify such channels within 18 months after enactment of this section.

Prohibits the FCC from granting a class A license or modification unless the applicant or licensee shows that the station for which such license or modification is sought will not cause interference within: (1) the predicted contour (service area) of any television transmitting in analog format; (2) certain digital television service areas; (3) the predicted contour of any LPT station or LPT translator station that was licensed, authorized for construction, or had a pending application before the date of the class A license application; or (4) 80 miles from the geographic center of certain listed areas, including the 482-488 megahertz band in New York.

Provides that LPT stations that are displaced by applications filed under this section shall have priority over other LPT stations in the assignment of available channels.