Wheeler, dean of statehouse press corps, dies at 67

By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel

Madison - The smell of pipe smoke will fade from the West Washington Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard entrances of the Capitol.

Dick Wheeler, a lover of tobacco and the smallest details of lawmaking and the undisputed dean of the statehouse press corps, died in his Madison apartment Friday at 67 years old. Wheeler had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure six years ago but daughter Gwyn Guenther said the cause of death was still unknown.

"Dick Wheeler was the quintessential Capitol press room reporter. He often knew more about what was going on than his sources. His coverage of state government, including the judicial branch, will be missed, as will his smile and quick wit," Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said in a statement.

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Legislation to fund biotech firms introduced

Bill would invest bioscience payroll taxes in growth

By Kathleen Gallagher and Mark Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

With a venture capital plan still being debated, two Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would use payroll taxes from biosciences firms to fund Wisconsin companies in industries ranging from drug development to soybean processing.

The Next Generation Jobs Reserve bill would divert payroll tax revenue from jobs added by bioscience companies into a fund that would provide grants, loans and direct investments to selected companies in the industry.

"If this bill does what we think it will do, you'll have legislators champing at the bit to do it for information technology, 3-D printing - whatever the next industry cluster is in Wisconsin," said Scott Kelly, chief of staff for Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), one of the bill's sponsors.

The Assembly sponsor is Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green). Reps. Louis Molepske Jr. (D-Stevens Point) and Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) also signed onto the bill.

If the measure had been passed a year ago, the fund would be receiving its first injection of cash, about $15 million, based on the state's bioscience job growth of about 3%, said Bryan Renk, executive director of BioForward, the trade organization for Wisconsin's bioscience industry. BioForward worked with legislators to develop the bill and will support it, Renk said. Money for the bioscience fund would be capped at $50 million a year, or $500 million in total.

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Patent reform OK'd; critics say it impedes start-ups

By John Schmid of the Journal Sentinel

As the nation's economy struggles to reduce persistent unemployment and avert a double-dip recession, the Senate on Thursday passed a sweeping overhaul of the American patent system that supporters touted as essential to job-creation but that critics decried as a strike against innovation and a sellout to big business.

"My prediction is that fewer new companies will be started and many universities will find it too expensive to patent technologies arising from their research," said Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of the patent licensing arm of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

The view in Washington was diametrically different: The Senate overwhelmingly approved the America Invents Act by a vote of 89-9, making it a rare piece of major economic legislation to achieve bipartisan support.

The bill, already passed by the House, was to be sent immediately to President Barack Obama, who has been a strong supporter.

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Patent Reform Passage Likely Today

The Senate has scheduled to vote on final passage of H.R. 1249 for 4 p.m. (ET) today.

A handful of amendments to the bill have been proposed. However, none of them are likely to be approved.

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Congress deals setback to patent office

By John Schmid of the Journal Sentinel

Congress has dealt a renewed blow to America's inventors and innovators by stripping another $100 million from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, an agency incapacitated by two decades of raids on the fees it collects.

Legislators siphoned the funds as part of the emergency spending bill drafted hastily to avert a shutdown of the government this month. The stopgap measure, which President Barack Obama signed into law Friday, cuts federal spending by $38 billion and quietly offset a fraction of that amount by draining more than $100 million in fee income from the patent office.

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State could lose millions in stem cell research funding

Congress could decide fate

By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel

Sept. 7, 2010

Wisconsin researchers and biotechnology companies stand to lose millions of dollars a year in federal funding for promising stem cell research because of a federal judge's ruling, Gov. Jim Doyle and university officials said Tuesday.

The State of Wisconsin will seek to file a friend of the court brief for an appeal to overturn that ruling, which temporarily blocked guidelines set down by President Barack Obama's administration expanding human embryonic stem cell research, Doyle said.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington ruled that the Obama administration can't continue to fund embryonic stem cell research while appealing a ban on government support for any activity using cells taken from human embryos.

Lamberth rejected the government's motion to reconsider his ruling last month enforcing the ban pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. The Justice Department argued that Lamberth's injunction itself is causing irreparable harm to researchers, taxpayers and scientific progress.

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Hybrid Embryo Research Endorsed

By Mary Jordan

Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 20, 2008; A07

LONDON, May 19 -- British lawmakers voted Monday to allow the use of animal-human embryos for research after a national debate that pitted religious leaders who called it unethical against the prime minister and scientists who said it would help cure disease.

Last month, scientists at Newcastle created part-human, part-animal embryos for the first time in Britain. An attempt Monday night to ban the process, during consideration in the House of Commons of the first major revisions to embryo research laws in a generation, failed overwhelmingly on a vote of 336 to 176.

The overall bill, argued Prime Minister Gordon Brown, would enable lifesaving research that could help people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other diseases. He said in an article published in the Observer newspaper Sunday, "I believe that we owe it to ourselves and future generations to introduce these measures."

The bill would allow scientists to continue injecting human DNA into cows' eggs that have had virtually all their genetic material removed, as well as other hybrid embryo processes for stem cell research. Scientists say the embryos would not be allowed to develop for more than 14 days.

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Congressional Budget Office: Patent bill cost exceeds expected revenue

Legislation making sweeping changes in patent law that is slated for Senate debate in the coming weeks would increase federal spending by $26.9 billion and boost revenue by $25.5 billion over a nine-year period beginning in 2009, according to a CBO analysis released late last week.

The legislation sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would alter the rule that prioritizes the award of a patent from the "first to invent" to the first inventor to file; increase the Patent and Trademark Office's authority to collect and spend fees; and institute a number of litigation-related changes. A sizable shift on the federal balance sheet would result from language to make permanent the PTO's authority over money collected from patent and trademark applications, CBO said. Compliance costs could be $200 million annually starting in 2009, with most of the financial burden falling on the private sector, officials said.

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Doyle aims to help tech firms

By Judy Newman
608-252-6156
January 8, 2008

More tax breaks and more state funding — those are some of the tools Gov. Jim Doyle will recommend as a way to encourage investment in young technology companies.

Doyle told a meeting Monday of the steering committee of Thrive, the economic development arm for the eight-county Madison region, that he is proposing a plan called Accelerate Wisconsin.

"My vision is for Wisconsin companies to have access to the capital they need to flourish," Doyle said.

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Forward Wisconsin faces uncertain future

The future of Forward Wisconsin, a 20-year-old public-private economic development initiative, is uncertain as it faces uncertain funding and the loss of its executive director.
Pepi Randolph, an attorney who has been head of Forward Wisconsin for two-and-one-half years, will become national vice president of sales and marketing for the Potawatomi Business Development Corp., starting April 1.

The corporation handles investments for the Forest County Potawatomi tribe, which runs Milwaukee’s the Potawatomi Bingo and Casino in Milwaukee.

Tony Hozeny, a spokesman for Wisconsin Commerce Secretary Mary Burke, said the Forward board of directors will meet Feb. 16. “Beyond that, we have no comment,” he said.

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Stem cell debate goes to voters

Stem cell debate goes to voters
By Christine Vestal, Stateline.org Staff Writer

For the first time since the stem cell debate began, voters are being asked to weigh job creation and potential life-saving cures against moral concerns over the destruction of human embryos in an impassioned battle over a Missouri ballot measure supporting the science.

While the Show Me state is the only one with the question on the Nov. 7 ballot, the controversy over embryonic stem cell research is playing prominently in the Wisconsin governor’s race and cropping up in state races scattered across the country. A few Republican gubernatorial candidates are breaking ranks with the Bush administration by running on their support for the controversial research.

The outcome of the initiative in Missouri – where embryonic stem cell research also has gotten caught up in a tight U.S. Senate race between State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) and incumbent Sen. Jim Talent (R) – could influence future federal and state efforts to either block or support the science, political analysts say.

McCaskill has made support for embryonic stem cell research a keystone of her campaign, while Talent steadfastly opposes the science on moral grounds.

“If the initiative wins in a battleground state like Missouri, where both Republicans and Democrats have been elected statewide, it is likely to embolden other states that have an economic interest in supporting the science,” said Michael Werner of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, an advocacy group for the life sciences.

Scientists are eager to experiment with stem cells from human embryos because the cells have the capacity to develop into any organ tissue in the body. Non-controversial adult stem cell research also is being pursued, but scientists say adult cells do not hold the same potential for cures and therapies.

While Missouri’s proposed constitutional amendment would not commit state funds to the science, it would ensure its legality, unleashing private funding and removing a cloud over the research created by repeated state legislative attempts to criminalize it.

Last year, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R), an anti-abortion conservative, vetoed a measure pushed by conservative legislators that would have made involvement in the science a felony. Blunt derailed the bill because he feared it would cause scientists and the research money backing them to leave the state.

In a close state race, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) is using his support of embryonic stem cell research to differentiate himself from conservative challenger U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R), who opposes using human embryos for the research.


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Senate to Consider Stem Cell Proposals

Senate to Consider Stem Cell Proposals
Fertility Patients Could Donate Embryos

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 30, 2006; Page A05

Senate leaders from both parties agreed yesterday to schedule a vote on a package of bills that would loosen President Bush's five-year-old restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research.

With head counts suggesting there are enough votes to pass the legislation and with Bush having promised he would veto it, yesterday's action sets the stage for what could be the first full-blown showdown between the chamber and the president.

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Patients said to offer stem-cell solution

Patients said to offer stem-cell solution
'we can all live with'

By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As the U.S. Senate prepared to consider competing proposals on the funding of stem-cell research, a representative of the U.S. bishops' pro-life office said the presence of four people on Capitol Hill showed that "there are solutions we can all live with."

Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information in the bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, participated in a June 20 press conference organized by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and featuring four patients who have been treated successfully for a variety of illnesses with adult stem cells or those from umbilical-cord blood.

The four were Jackie Rabon of Waverly, Ill., a paraplegic who received a successful treatment with adult stem cells; Ryan Schneider of Chicago, who received a cord-blood treatment for cerebral palsy; Abby Pell of the Washington area, who was treated with her own cord blood for brain damage she suffered at birth; and David Foege of Naples, Fla., who was successfully treated for heart failure with adult stem cells.

"We praise these patients and families for their courage, their persistence and their willingness to come to Washington to present how ethically sound stem-cell research is paving the road to treatments," McQuade said.

"No one should think that the stem-cell debate forces us to choose between ethics and science," she added. "We can support both. There is no need to sell our souls in the quest to heal our bodies."

At the press conference Brownback said the four told "absolutely phenomenal stories of successes" using adult stem cells or cord-blood stem cells. "We need to do more of this," he added.

The Kansas senator called for a full floor debate on bioethics issues when the Senate considers H.R. 810, the Stem-Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which he and the Catholic Church oppose.

"I want you to see where we're seeing successes without bioethical questions involved," he said at the press conference.


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Law aims for broadband boost

Law aims for broadband boost
Phone companies that extend Internet service would qualify for credits
By DORIS HAJEWSKI
dhajewski@journalsentinel.com
Posted: May 30, 2006

Phone companies that extend broadband Internet service to unserved rural areas will qualify for up to $7.5 million in tax credits under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jim Doyle on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 483, which was introduced by Sens. Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield) and Robert Jauch (D-Poplar), aims to spur investment by telecom providers in areas that are less profitable because of the location or low population density.

The bill was hailed as a boon to development in rural areas by representatives of both AT&T and TDS Telecom Corp.


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UWM re-aims its research

UWM re-aims its research
State money will be used to bring new businesses, outside funding
By JOHN SCHMID and MEGAN TWOHEY
jschmid@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Jan. 12, 2006

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is overhauling the way it allocates state funding for research, with the goal of creating more accountability and entrepreneurship within its ranks.

UWM Chancellor Carlos Santiago said the new Research Growth Initiative is the university's main strategy to boost its annual research budget from $39 million now to more than $100 million within 10 years.

"We've never done this before," said Santiago, who was hired in 2004 to reverse the school's declining research stature and upgrade its role as an economic catalyst for the region. Santiago says he wants to emulate top-ranked technology schools in cities such as Atlanta, Boston and San Francisco that routinely produce entrepreneurs and commercial applications.

"You'll see, hopefully, more patents, more disclosures, more start-ups," he said.

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Bill in Congress takes aim at 'hull splashing' in boat industry

Cracking down on copycats
Bill in Congress takes aim at 'hull splashing' in boat industry
By RICK BARRETT
rbarrett@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Dec. 5, 2005

It's called "hull splashing" when a boat builder makes an unauthorized copy of a hull design and calls it his own.

With a little luck, Wisconsin marine manufacturers say, proposed changes to a federal law would end the practice that's bothered them for decades.

Senate Bill 1785 is meant to strengthen the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act passed by Congress seven years ago but lacking in some important areas, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, a Chicago-based trade group.

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Nanotechnology Regulation Needed, Critics Say

Nanotechnology Regulation Needed, Critics Say

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 5, 2005; Page A08

Amid growing evidence that some of the tiniest materials ever engineered pose potentially big environmental, health and safety risks, momentum is building in Congress, environmental circles and in the industry itself to beef up federal oversight of the new materials, which are already showing up in dozens of consumer products.

But large gaps in scientists' understanding of the materials are slowing the development of a regulatory scheme. Equally unresolved is who should pay for the additional safety studies that everyone agrees are needed.

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Stem-cell vision far from reality

Stem-cell vision far from reality

By Steve Johnson

Mercury News


The $3 billion stem-cell initiative California voters approved one year ago this month triggered proposals to finance similar research in at least 10 other states.

Yet so far, stem-cell scientists, companies and their supporters have little to cheer about.

California's program, which was designed to get around severe federal limits on such research, has been bottled up by two lawsuits. And because of a national stem-cell backlash, only two states -- Connecticut and Illinois -- allocated money for stem-cell studies this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

Worse for stem-cell advocates, several states -- including South Dakota, Arizona and Nebraska -- passed laws this year limiting stem-cell research. In other states, the issue sparked nasty battles likely to rage into next year's legislative session.

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Doyle vetoes ban on human cloning

Doyle vetoes ban on human cloning
Governor says bill would have limited stem cell research
By STACY FORSTER
sforster@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Nov. 4, 2005

Madison - Saying the state shouldn't stand in the way of stem cell research in Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle on Thursday vetoed a ban on all forms of human cloning in the state.

Supporters of the ban said it would have prevented unethical research from being conducted here.

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Small-Time Inventors Take on Congress

Small-Time Inventors Take on Congress

By ERICA WERNER
Associated Press Writer

October 21, 2005, 7:23 PM EDT

WASHINGTON -- In the world of small-time inventors, George Margolin, 75, of Newport Beach, Calif., is a resounding success. He has patented a syringe that prevents unwanted needle-pricks, a folding keyboard that was licensed by Hewlett Packard and 25 other devices from the practical to the arcane.

Now Margolin fears his ability to create is threatened by legislation he says would yank patent protections from little guys like him in favor of big corporations like Microsoft.

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Cloning ban heads toward expected veto

Cloning ban heads toward expected veto
Senate passes bill; Doyle says it targets stem cell studies
By STEVEN WALTERS
swalters@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Sept. 28, 2005

Madison - The Legislature on Wednesday sent Gov. Jim Doyle a bill that would make Wisconsin the eighth state to ban human cloning, but the governor insisted that the real target is stem cell research and promised to veto the measure.

The state Senate voted 21-12 to send Doyle the same ban on cloning passed by the Assembly.

Two Democrats, Sens. Jeff Plale of South Milwaukee and Roger Breske of the Town of Eland, joined all 19 Republicans in voting for the bill.

The 21 Senate votes is one fewer than the two-thirds majority needed to force the ban (AB 499) into law over the governor's objection.

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Senate set to pass ban on human cloning

Senate set to pass ban on human cloning
Doyle promises veto; exemption to allow research to fight diseases is rejected in close vote
By STEVEN WALTERS
swalters@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Sept. 27, 2005

Madison - The state Senate was poised today to pass a bill banning human cloning - with no exception for research to fight crippling diseases - after an initial vote Tuesday showed the ban had enough votes to pass.

But Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle will veto the bill, which has already passed the Assembly, said Doyle aide Melanie Fonder.

"Everyone is against human cloning, but the real purpose for this bill is to prevent stem-cell research, and the governor will veto it," Fonder added.

In emotional debate Tuesday, senators refused, on a 17-16 vote, to exempt therapeutic research, which legislators said is not yet being done in Wisconsin. Some argued that such research offers hope to those suffering diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis and from spinal cord injuries.

After that, Democrats then delayed to today a final vote on the bill (AB 599).

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan), and leaders of Wisconsin Right to Life, which is pushing the change, said it has more than enough votes to pass the Senate.

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Follow-up Article on State Senator: In questions about God, Reynolds trusts

In questions about God, Reynolds trusts
Posted: Sept. 21, 2005
Spivak & Bice

State Sen. Tom Reynolds says he doesn't exactly ask job applicants if they are born-again Christians.

Here is what the West Allis Republican told conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes this week:

"One of the questions I like asking people - and it's not are they born again - but I like asking people, just so I can get an idea of their understanding of their religious views is, if you die today and were standing before the judgment seat of God and God said, 'Why should I let you into heaven?' what would you say?" the senator said, defending himself in response to our Sunday column. "I ask that all the time to people just to get their understanding of how salvation is achieved."

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Patent Reform Criticism

In patent reform debate, high-tech firms lose ground to drug industry
Friday, September 16, 2005

By Erica Werner, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Opposition from drug and biotech companies has forced lawmakers to water down a bill cracking down on the so-called patent trolls who are bedeviling the high-tech industry.

Those are people who get patents for products they never plan to make, just so they can sue for infringement if a company does turn out something similar.

But the resulting draft legislation drew criticism from a top Democrat at a hearing Thursday, and a warning from a high-tech group that said lawmakers could be risking the industry's support.

"We have a bill which to my way of thinking has stripped out very significant reforms," Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., said at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on intellectual property.

"The support of our industry for this legislation should not be taken for granted," Emery Simon, an attorney for the Business Software Alliance, told Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the chairman of the subcommittee.

Drug companies don't have the high-tech industry's problem with patent trolls. Instead, they depend heavily on patents -- and the ability to sue to enforce them -- to safeguard their intellectual property and raise money while they develop new products.

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Critics say Wisconsin's proposed cloning ban muddles issues

Critics say Wisconsin's proposed cloning ban muddles issues

BY PETER GORNER

Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO - (KRT) - The Wisconsin legislature is weighing a cloning ban that critics charge would undermine embryonic stem cell research in the place where it was discovered and threaten the state's huge biotechnology infrastructure.

The bill, passed 59-38 in the State Assembly and awaiting a vote by the full Senate during the fall session that starts Tuesday, would prohibit reproductive cloning, or creating a baby that is a genetic carbon copy of an individual - a concept few scientists support.

But it also outlaws a procedure called therapeutic cloning, which involves using lab techniques to create early embryos containing a trait scientists want to study. They do this to procure a supply of embryonic stem cells that researchers say will advance the understanding of genetic diseases and someday allow development of replacement cells for people plagued by incurable illness.

Supporters of the bill say destruction of human embryos is an inherent part of any kind of cloning and there is no scientifically accepted way of getting around that.

The success of the bill so far alarms researchers and ethicists who say it will only confuse the public about the issues involved. And if it becomes law, they say, Wisconsin will be cutting off its nose to spite its face.

"The assembly is simply preying on fears about cloning to oppose stem cell research using cloning," said Arthur Caplan, chairman of the medical ethics department and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle has agreed, saying the bill really is an attempt to stop stem cell research and is "not going to happen." If it clears the Senate, Doyle has said, he will veto it.

On the other hand, the bill's sponsor remains firm in his determination to get it passed.

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Wisconsin State Senator Reynolds exhibits signs of quirkiness

Reynolds exhibits signs of quirkiness
Posted: Sept. 17, 2005
Spivak & Bice

TomReynolds is not your typical state senator.

He's so out there, in fact, that Republican Party bosses are worried that Reynolds' peculiarities could cost them a Senate seat the party has held since 1993.

And they haven't even heard some of the best stories.

When the freshman from West Allis went on a family vacation to Whitefish Dunes State Park in Door County a couple of years ago, he was angered by a sign that said the sand dunes were off-limits. Reynolds was so perturbed by what he viewed as an assault on his personal liberty that when he got back from the Door County getaway, he put his taxpayer-paid Senate staff on the case.

Yep, you read it right - a state senator told his top aide to rip off a sign.

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Patent bill would make sweeping changes

Patent bill would make sweeping changes
By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
September 13, 2005 4:00 AM PT

When Gordon Gould was a graduate student at Columbia University in 1957, he sketched out the concept of a concentrated beam of light amplified in a gas-filled chamber and coined the term "laser" to describe it.

But Gould waited to seek a patent on his discovery, believing incorrectly that a working prototype was necessary. Eventually, two other researchers were awarded the basic patents instead.

After a decades-long legal tussle, Gould finally reveled in victory when a federal court ruled that the patent application it had approved did not anticipate the common uses of lasers. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office then granted Gould lucrative rights to the invention, in part because as a graduate student he had his original research notebooks date-stamped and notarized.

The legal standard that was applied awards patents to the person who invented a concept first, and it has long been a unique feature of the U.S. patent system. This year, however, Congress is about to consider a controversial proposal from Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, that would grant a patent to the first person to submit the paperwork --a standard that's common outside the United States.


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Legislature to mull cloning ban; scientists outraged

Legislature to mull cloning ban; scientists outraged

By Todd Richmond
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. - Anyone caught cloning a human being in Wisconsin could face up to a decade in prison and a million dollars in forfeitures under a Republican bill that outraged stem cell scientists fear could handcuff their work in the state.

The measure would ban cloning to create babies. It also would outlaw so-called therapeutic cloning, a term for cloning human embryos for research such as extracting stem cells. Embryos are destroyed after taking out the cells.

The bill also would ban a practice called parthenogenesis, in which a female egg cell is stimulated to divide without fertilizing it.

The Senate Judiciary, Corrections and Privacy Committee and the Assembly Committee on Children and Families are scheduled to hear comments on identical versions of the bill in both houses during a hearing Monday. The meeting promises to pit supporters of stem cell research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison against conservative lawmakers and right-to-life lobbyists.

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Controversial Intellectual Property Rights Bill Stalls in Congress

Controversial Intellectual Property Rights Bill Stalls in Congress
U.S. Newswire
08/01/2005

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 /U.S. Newswire/ -- An intellectual property rights bill that was expected by many earlier this year to easily glide through Congress has stalled. Since the Patent Reform Act (HR 2795) has failed to meet expectations, a handful of the bill's early supporters are suggesting the bill die in committee.

Authored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, the bill has had the opposite effect than members of Congress had originally intended. When the bill was introduced on June 8 it was heralded by Rep. Smith as a silver bullet, designed to enhance the nation's patent system. Opponents of the controversial bill argued the bill would dull America's intellectual edge, disadvantage the nation's small businesses, cost Americans jobs and stifle individual ingenuity.

"Behind closed doors, businesses, small and large are fighting tooth and nail to either gut or kill this controversial bill," said Ron Riley, president of the Professional Inventors Alliance. "Many industries directly or indirectly affected by patents, such as high- tech, pharmaceuticals, bio-tech and independent inventors would rather see the legislation die on the vine or heavily gutted."

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Doyle cuts $2 million from biotech proposal

Doyle cuts $2 million from biotech proposal
Alliance expects governor will help it find other funding
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: July 25, 2005

Milwaukee area business and higher education leaders said Monday that they were disappointed but remain optimistic about future funding after Gov. Jim Doyle used a veto to slash money for a southeastern Wisconsin research alliance.

The $2.5 million proposal, which was adopted by the Legislature with bipartisan support, was cut to $500,000 by the governor, who issued 139 vetoes and put his finishing touches on the state budget.

Supporters of the Biomedical Technology Alliance said they would continue their efforts to fund collaborative projects between five area colleges and universities.


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Stem cell bill stalls in Senate, backers vow fight

Stem cell bill stalls in Senate, backers vow fight

By Joanne Kenen
Reuters
Thursday, July 21, 2005; 4:53 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A measure to expand federal funding of stem cell research has stalled in the Senate but backers unable to get the anticipated July vote instead vowed on Thursday to force the issue one way or another this year.

Despite a veto threat by President Bush, the embryonic stem cell bill cleared the House in May with a surprisingly broad bipartisan margin. Backers believed they had momentum in the Senate and a vote was tentatively set for this month.

But now bill sponsors say there is only the slimmest of chances that the Senate can take up the bill before breaking for its August recess.

It bogged down in a procedural morass involving a half-dozen other stem cell and cloning bills -- some written with the apparent aim of peeling away support from the House-passed legislation.

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Some fear restrictions could hinder biotechnology sector

Economics enters cloning debate
Some fear restrictions could hinder biotechnology sector
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: July 12, 2005

Anti-cloning legislation passed by the state Assembly last month has triggered a debate over what is more important: Economic development linked to the potential for new cures or ethical concerns over research that uses human embryos.

The debate has pitted Republicans against Republicans and stem cell pioneer James Thomson against Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake), the lawmaker behind the bill.

Across the nation, other state legislatures are grappling with cloning concerns. The debate's ramifications are particularly significant in Wisconsin, given the University of Wisconsin-Madison's distinction as the place where human embryonic stem cells were first isolated and cultured and its reputation as a leader in life sciences research.

The legislation, which would make it a criminal offense to perform human cloning in Wisconsin, still needs approval from the state Senate and Gov. Jim Doyle. The Senate is not likely to take it up until it reconvenes in September, and Doyle has said he would veto the bill.


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Sweeping Changes to the U.S. Patent System? Don't Bet on It!

Sweeping Changes to the U.S. Patent System? Don't Bet on It!
Mark Scarsi
Special to Law.com
07-05-2005


When Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, introduced the much-heralded Patent Act of 2005 on June 9, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property boasted it made "the most comprehensive change to U.S. patent law since Congress passed the 1952 Patent Act." In reality, however, while earlier drafts of the bill (H.R. 2795) contained a number of welcome changes with real teeth, the bill as introduced is mostly a paper tiger. If the subcommittee continues watering the bill down during mark-up, the Patent Act of 2005 will likely go down in history as yet another failed attempt to bring real reform to the U.S. patent law.


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States Move Forward on Internet Sales Tax

States Move Forward on Internet Sales Tax

By Brian Krebs
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Friday, July 1, 2005; 4:02 PM

Tax officials, state lawmakers and industry representatives agreed Thursday to establish an 18-state network for collecting taxes on Internet sales, a compact they hope will encourage online retailers and Congress to endorse a mandatory national program.

Meeting in Chicago under the auspices of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, the officials agreed that 11 states will oversee the project and outlined incentives to encourage retailers to participate. Forty states have been negotiating since 2000 to create a framework for collecting sales taxes on all remote transactions, whether through regular mail or online.

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Congress Tunes In to WiFi

Congress Tunes In to WiFi

By Robert MacMillan
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Monday, June 27, 2005; 10:45 AM

Mick Jagger said it best: 'The summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy."

The streets run through U.S. cities and towns, where the heat is on local governments to provide free or low-cost Internet access.

For almost a year, the debate over whether Internet access is a paid privilege like telephone service and cable television burbled along in the press and among bloggers and activists. Many see it as necessary to attract new residents, tourists and businesses. Internet service providers, however, see a threat to their billion-dollar high-speed access business. Now that cities such as Philadelphia are trying to make it a reality, the issue's significance is cresting. There's no better way to prove that than with two sets of numbers: 1294 and 2726.

The first is a Senate bill introduced last Thursday by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). The Community Broadband Act of 2005 says "no state can prohibit a municipality from offering broadband to its citizens."

The second is a bill introduced in late May in the House by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). The Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005 -- almost surely destined for shorthand treatment as "PRITA" -- says state and local governments can't offer Internet service if a private provider already does.

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James Thomson reflects on science and morality

Stem cell pioneer does a reality check
James Thomson reflects on science and morality

By Alan Boyle
Science editor
MSNBC
Updated: 4:13 p.m. ET June 22, 2005

MADISON, Wis. — Seven years ago, when James Thomson became the first scientist to isolate and culture human embryonic stem cells, he knew he was stepping into a whirlwind of controversy.

He just didn't expect the whirlwind to last this long.

In fact, the moral, ethical and political controversy is still revving up — in Washington, where federal lawmakers are considering a bill to provide more federal support for embryonic stem cell research; and in Madison, Thomson's base of operations, where Wisconsin legislators are considering new limits on stem cell research.

Thomson, a developmental biologist and veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, made history in 1998 when he and fellow researchers derived the first embryonic stem cell lines from frozen human embryos. The breakthrough came after the news that a sheep named Dolly was born as the first cloned mammal — and together, the two announcements hinted at a brave new world of medical possibilities and moral debates.

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WI Assembly backs ban on cloning

Doyle promises to veto bill if it reaches his desk

The Associated Press

MADISON — The Assembly approved one of the nation’s toughest bans on human cloning Thursday despite concerns the bill would cripple embryonic stem cell research in the state where it was discovered.

The bill not only bans cloning to create a baby but also outlaws so-called therapeutic cloning that researchers say could advance the understanding of genetic diseases. It also would prohibit Wisconsin scientists from using embryos cloned in research labs in other states.

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UW is wary of changes in patent law

UW is wary of changes in patent law
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 20, 2005

The head of Wisconsin's biggest technology transfer organization has been in Washington, D.C., the last few weeks trying to temper enthusiasm in Congress for making big changes to U.S. patent law.

Carl E. Gulbrandsen, who testified at the invitation of House and Senate subcommittees, said the push to give courts more discretion about whether to grant injunctions in patent infringement cases could hurt organizations like his, which are trying to move technology out of university laboratories and into commercial use.

Lawmakers "should pay careful heed not to retard the success of university technology transfer and the creation of vibrant new university spin-out companies," Gulbrandsen told a Senate subcommittee last week. Gulbrandsen is managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, better known as WARF, the technology transfer arm of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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UW officials: Keep cloning an option

UW officials: Keep cloning an option
00:00 am 6/21/05
Ron Seely Wisconsin State Journal

Though no scientists are now cloning embryos at UW- Madison, university officials told legislators Monday that it is important to leave the research avenue open in order to study genetic illnesses and pursue potential cures.

Chancellor John Wiley testified before a legislative committee that is considering a proposed ban on all cloning. The ban would prohibit both therapeutic cloning, or cloning to create cells for research and medical treatments, and reproductive cloning, which is cloning to create an embryo that would result in a child.

Proponents of the bill argued that therapeutic cloning is still morally wrong because the cloned embryo would be destroyed to obtain cells for research. Several cloning opponents testified Monday that they consider an early- stage embryo as the equivalent of a human being.

Matt Sande, legislative director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, said any difference between reproductive and therapeutic cloning is "illusory."

"The only difference," he said, "lies in the intended use of the embryo."

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WI GOP bills would ban human cloning

GOP bills would ban human cloning
Critics argue research in state would suffer
By STACY FORSTER and PATRICK MARLEY
sforster@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 17, 2005

Madison - Concerned that technology is outpacing ethics, Republicans in the Legislature are pushing a ban on human cloning, but critics say the move would block future research into genetic diseases.

The proposal is on a fast track. Identical bills - SB 243 and AB 499 - were introduced late Thursday, and Senate and Assembly committees will jointly hold a public hearing on the measures Monday.

Although Assembly Speaker John Gard (R-Peshtigo) wouldn't commit to a timetable, he said that he hoped the Assembly would vote on the measure by early July. He said it was important to reassure Wisconsin residents that taxpayer funds won't be used for such research.

"It crosses ethical lines that trouble a lot of taxpayers," Gard said.

Federal funds may not be used for cloning, but congressional attempts in recent years to ban the practice have failed.

Full story.

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UW group contests patent law changes

UW group contests patent law changes

By Aaron Nathans
June 14, 2005

Congress should leave the nation's patent law alone, says the director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

Carl Gulbrandsen is in Washington today to testify on the Patent Act of 2005 before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Gulbrandsen, who also serves on an advisory committee to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, spoke to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property last week.

In that testimony, he said the proposed legislation "chips away at the value of university patents for the benefit of certain industries and, thereby, diminishes the good that can come from university technology transfer."

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Smith undertakes reforming U.S. patent, trademark laws

Smith undertakes reforming U.S. patent, trademark laws

WASHINGTON -- Texas Congressman Lamar Smith may have walked away from his dream of being a physicist, but as a politician he believes his passion for science and discovery can still help protect American inventions.

The Republican is working on what he says will be the first comprehensive overhaul of U.S. patent and trademark laws in half a century.

"Everybody recognizes the need for change in patent law. So much has changed in 50 years that we really need to modernize our laws," said Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on courts, the Internet and intellectual property.

It's hugely important for high-technology companies, many of them in Texas, who say changes are needed to stay globally competitive. Smith's proposals could also benefit garage inventors who dream of selling their gadgets on the Home Shopping Network.

He's supported by companies like International Business Machines Corp., but not everyone thinks patent laws need reforming.

A group representing the state's biotechnology industry believes some of Smith's proposed changes could hurt businesses that have invented pregnancy tests, cancer therapies, enzymes that clean up oil spills and a host of pharmaceuticals.

Smith's bill would make it harder for patent owners to win court injunctions to stop patent infringement. Under current law, a patent owner who has sued for patent infringement and prevails in trial can get a permanent injunction to stop production of the competing product.

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Wisconsin researchers lobby Senate on stem cell research

Wisconsin researchers lobby Senate on stem cell research

By Jennifer Brooks
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON — The science of stem cell research got its start at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Now, university researchers are appealing to the Senate to lift federal restrictions they say are hampering their effort to develop stem cell therapies for deadly diseases and crippling injuries.

“(Embryonic stem cells) may be useful in treating some devastating diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury,” said UW-Madison researcher Su-Chun Zhang during testimony Wednesday before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Zhang joined some of the nation’s top scientists and medical researchers — and one former NBA player — on Capitol Hill to plead with the Senate to loosen federal limits on embryonic stem cell research.

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WI Budget Will Not Prohibit Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Senator Fitzgerald of the Joint Committee on Finance issued a statement indicating that there would be no prohibition of embryonic stem cell research included in the budget. However, the statement indicates that such a prohibition will be addressed in seperate legislation in the future.

Download statement pdf

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WI: Limits sought for stem cell research

Limits sought for stem cell research
Some lawmakers don't want state facilities, staff involved in embryonic cell study
By PATRICK MARLEY
pmarley@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 2, 2005

Madison - A contingent of the Legislature's budget committee said Thursday it was putting together a package to ban the use of state resources for embryonic stem cell research.

The provision, which could be unveiled as early as today, would bar using taxpayer funds or state buildings for such research, and would prohibit state employees from engaging in that research.

The University of Wisconsin is considered a pioneer in stem cell research, and advocates of such studies fear the budget provision could set back research and jeopardize private funding.

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle said he would veto the Republican provision if it is included in the budget.

"If you talk about moving us backwards, that's about the most backwards we could move," he said of the measure at an afternoon news conference about expanded Alzheimer's disease research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee, said he would likely introduce the idea before the budget panel today.

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States Keep Watchful Eye on Personal-Data Firms

States Keep Watchful Eye on Personal-Data Firms

By Brian Krebs
washingtonpost.com Staff Write
Wednesday, June 1, 2005; 6:33 AM

A legislative push by states to punish companies that maintain sensitive customer data when they hide a security breach could trigger congressional intervention to set a national standard on when people must be notified that their personal information may have fallen into the wrong hands.

Seizing upon recent incidents in which companies admitted losing or failing to secure their customers' financial and personal information, nearly two dozen states are debating or have passed new legislation, including a tough North Dakota law -- which takes effect today -- that forces companies to reveal unauthorized access to information that is commonly found in phone books.

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WI Budget: Biomedical Technology Alliance to Administer Southeastern WI Research Initiative

Sen. Kanavas: Seeks Funds for Biomedical Technology Alliance:
5/26/2005

High tech research initiative to be centered in Southeastern Wisconsin

(Madison) May 26, 2005… On a vote of 15-1 last evening, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance, approved a proposal offered by Senator Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield) to provide funding for a high-tech research initiative in Southeastern Wisconsin.

“The benefits are limitless. This initiative will provide a tremendous opportunity to create high-tech, high-paying jobs for our state. Private industry and local academic institutions will be able to partner together and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and know how in Southeastern Wisconsin,” Kanavas stated.

The initiative will be administered by the Biomedical Technology Alliance (BTA). The BTA will build bridges, joining academic institutions such as UW-Milwaukee, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marquette University, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and UW-Parkside with local industry to increase biomedical research and development capacity in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Continue reading "WI Budget: Biomedical Technology Alliance to Administer Southeastern WI Research Initiative" »

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Wisconsin vote splits on party lines

Wisconsin vote splits on party lines
Democrats vote yes; GOP, no
By JONATHAN O'CONNELL
joconnell@journalsentinel.com
Posted: May 24, 2005

Washington - Fifty Republicans joined a heavy majority of Democrats in passing a House bill Tuesday that would allow federal funding to support research using new lines of embryonic stem cells.

Wisconsin Republicans were not among those joining the Democrats, however. They denounced the bill as a violation of the rights of human life.

The state's Democrats all voted to support the measure.


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Alternative Stem Cell Bill Added to Debate

Alternative Stem Cell Bill Added to Debate

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 24, 2005; Page A03

With a closely divided House poised to vote today on whether to expand federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, opponents are offering fence-sitters what they say is an embryo-friendly alternative: a bill that would foster the use of stem cells from umbilical cords discarded after birth.

The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act -- introduced by Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus -- would establish a network of blood banks to help make cord blood cells readily available for patients and research. The bill is set for a House vote this morning in advance of a vote on the hotly contested Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. That bill would boost federal research spending on cells taken from live human embryos slated for disposal at fertility clinics.


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House Approves Spyware Penalties

House Approves Spyware Penalties

By David McGuire
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 24, 2005; 12:32 AM

The House of Representatives on Monday night approved two measures designed to punish Internet scammers who install "spyware" on people's computers without their knowledge.

After abandoning efforts to merge the two measures into a single bill, the House voted 395-1 to pass legislation that would send some spyware distributors to jail for up to five years, and 393-4 in favor of another bill that would impose heavy fines on people and companies that install spyware on people's computers without their permission.

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