Eye on Washington: IEEE-USA Activities On and Around the Hill

By Sharon C. Richardson

Bilski Decision Reaffirms Patent Eligibility of Software

In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in Bilski vs. Kappos, held in a narrow 5-4 decision that business methods, including software, are patentable subject-matter, provided they meet traditional legal tests, and are not too abstract.  IEEE-USA had filed an amicus curiae brief with the Court, and IEEE-USA Intellectual Property Committee Chair Keith Grzelak commented on the decision, noting that “We are generally pleased that the Supreme Court did not introduce rules that would limit the scope of ideas available for patent protection in our current information age.” By emphasizing abstractness as a key decisional factor, however, Grzelak added that “applicants attempting to protect business methods and software patents will now be left to guess what is and is not abstract. This could lead to years of costly litigation, something we warned about in our brief.”

IEEE-USA Government Fellows Busy at Work

The 2010 Government Fellows are actively engaged in their chosen placements. IEEE-USA Congressional Fellows, Dr. John “Jack” Cederquist of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is serving his fellowship in the office of Senator Jon Tester of Montana, working on energy and environment issues.  And Dr. L. Jean Camp of Bloomington, Indiana, is serving her fellowship in the office of Congressman Bob Etheridge of North Carolina. IEEE-USA Engineering and Diplomacy Fellow, Dr. Norman Lerner of Arlington, Virginia is serving his fellowship with the U.S. Department of State as a Senior Advisor to CITEL/Organization of American States (Inter-American Telecommunication Commission). You can read their placement reports, as well as other Fellow alumni reports at

Washington Internship for Students of Engineering

The WISE (Washington Internship for Students of Engineering) Summer Program ended 4 August, with outstanding presentations given by the interns on Capitol Hill. Representatives and staffs of the sponsoring associations, societies, and other guests attended the presentations.  IEEE interns Kristie Chin, Brown University, gave a presentation on WISE Schools: Wholly-Integrated Systems of Education; and Levi Lyons, University of Kansas, gave a presentation on Breaking the Deadlock: Expediting Interstate Transmission Siting.

These presentations as well as those of the WISE alumni can be found in the Journal of Engineering & Public Policy.

For information on IEEE’s participation in the WISE program, contact Erica Wissolik, IEEE-USA, 2001 L Street, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036, by phone at (202) 530-8347-0017, by fax at (202) 785-0835, or by e-mail at (Internet).

IEEE-USA – A Voice for the Engineering Community

The IEEE-USA serves IEEE’s U.S. members by being the technical professional’s best resource for achieving lifelong career vitality, and by providing an effective voice on policies that promote U.S. prosperity. Each year, Public Policy Priority Issues are chosen and the volunteer committees, along with staff, become the voice of U.S. IEEE members.  The Public Policy Priority issues for the 111th Congress 2nd Session can be found at


IEEE-USA Position Statements

IEEE-USA position statements identify important technical and/or engineering career-related aspects of specific public policy issues deemed to be of concern to or affecting IEEE’s U.S. members.  They make specific public policy recommendations and provide recommended approaches for consideration by the U.S. Congress, executive branch officials, the judiciary, representatives of state and local government, and other interested groups and individuals, including IEEE members.  The latest position statements include:

  • Tax Incentives for Continuing Education (June 2010)
  • Phased Retirement (June 2010)
  • The L-1 Visa for Intra-Company Transfers (June 2010)
  • Visa Processing (June 2010)
  • Permanent Extension of the R&D Tax Credit (June 2010)

Go to to read more on IEEE-USA Position Statements.

Sharon Richardson is IEEE-USA’s Communications Coordinator.


Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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