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Technology and Manufacturing Intersect at the NAM

Companies from a diverse set of industries converged at the NAM in mid-December to discuss the 2014 plan for the newly created NAM D.A.T.A. Policy Center. During and after the brainstorming session it became even clearer that the intersection of technology and manufacturing was at the corner of 10th and G Street, NW that day.

What we also learned in talking with our members is that those intersections span from Washington to every state in the union and to every country in the world. Manufacturers are the world’s leading innovators and the D.A.T.A. Center is set to launch a series of events in 2014 to showcase that leadership.

NAM members are not wasting any time and are starting the new year off just how they are ending the last one: demonstrating to a global audience just how innovative they are by being a part of the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 6 -10 hosted by NAM member the Consumer Electronics Association. The NAM team is on the ground once again this year telling you from the front row what breakthroughs manufacturers are driving for their customers and partners. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and right here on Shopfloor.org to get up to the minute reports from the show floor.

Manufacturing is a highly-sophisticated industry and a technology leader. CES is just part of that story. The NAM D.A.T.A Center will tell you the entire story throughout 2014 by showcasing NAM member companies, their facilities, solutions, and innovative shopfloors. And while we are excited about what this year has to offer inside the D.A.T.A. center, we still remain committed to our technology policy agenda and making the U.S. the best place in the world to innovate. The D.A.T.A. Center will be an effective educational tool for public officials to better understand the intersection of manufacturing and technology, but at the end of the day, they still have to act. The NAM is committed to working with our leaders to making that happen.

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Abusive Patent Litigation Harmful to Manufacturers

Efforts are currently underway in both the House and Senate to address the issue of abusive patent litigation. As the industry that holds the most number of patents, manufacturers are the targets of many of these lawsuits. The NAM and our members agree: this practice needs to be stopped.

Intellectual property (IP) drives growth across the entire manufacturing ecosystem. From transportation, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, semiconductors, energy, consumer goods, to food and beverage – you name it – all manufacturing industry segments leverage their IP to help them compete in the global marketplace. When there is uncertainty in the protection of that IP or exposure to meritless lawsuits it hurts companies, their employees, and the overall competitiveness of those that manufacturer in the U.S.

Back in 2011, the NAM strongly supported the America Invents Act, a bill signed into law that is now helping to improve the patent application review system and therefore eliminate low-quality patents from being issued. However, filing of questionable lawsuits against patent holders unfortunately continues and more disincentives should be carefully crafted to target those who bring abusive suits. The NAM is pleased to see that Congress is aggressively going after those that abuse the litigation system and attempt to extort manufacturers.

Making the United States the best place in the world to innovate is a keystone of the NAM Growth Agenda. IP is the fuel of the manufacturing innovation engine. As a result, maintaining the ability of manufacturers to protect their IP without the threat of frivolous lawsuits is at the top of NAM’s policy priority list. We looking forward to working with Congress as the legislative process continues to move forward.

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Technology and Manufacturing Intersect at Capitol Hill Hearing Today

The House Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today had a hearing today titled “Challenges and Opportunities in the 5 GHz Spectrum Band.” Sound technical? Well, it is. Thankfully the panel of experts testifying today helped explain to Congress what lies ahead for a critical intersection of technology and manufacturing.

Witnesses from Toyota, Cisco, Comcast, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) discussed a slice of spectrum, or airwaves, and how the automobile industry is using it to increase driver safety and what impact the deployment of wi-fi in that same slice of airwaves may have on these efforts.

John Kenney, Principal Researcher at the Toyota InfoTechnology Center in Mountain View, CA testified extensively on how vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is a game-changer that will almost allow drivers to “see” around corners. Toyota along with the rest of the auto industry is “making significant progress towards our ultimate goal of zero casualties from traffic incidents,” Mr. Kenney explained to the committee today.

The NAM is fully aware of the importance of wireless technology to manufacturing. Cisco’s Chief Technology Officer Bob Friday agreed in his testimony when he said “And in manufacturing, workers are using mobile devices to get instantaneous alerts of equipment failure, to control machines remotely and to have real time video conversations with coworkers.”

The issue at hand is what impact the use of more wireless devices will have on this new technology and driver safety innovations. We applaud the Subcommittee, the regulators, and all the segments of the industry that are working together to ensure the extensive amount of innovation already achieved and the existing users of the spectrum are not negatively impacted and that all manufacturers, their customers, and consumers benefit as the process moves forward.

Brian Raymond is Director of Technology Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers

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NAM Continues to Spread the Word on IP Theft

If you are reading this blog post it likely means you care about how intellectual property theft puts manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage. Well, the NAM cares strongly about this issue too. As part of our ongoing efforts to educate the public on the high premium manufacturers place on the value of IT to their business, the NAM is participating in a panel discussion tomorrow on the impact of information technology theft and what tactics State Attorney Generals (AG) are using to combat it. You are welcome to listen in via the live webcast.

Information technology (IT) and intellectual property (IP) theft directly harms manufacturers and compromises American competitiveness.  The American Bar Association (ABA) is sponsoring this panel discussion on innovative enforcement actions designed to curb unfair competition from manufacturers that use stolen technology. The panelists include former FTC Chair Bill Kovacic, the NAM’s Tiffany Adams, and Emilio Varanini from the California Department of Justice. The panel will be moderated by Rob McKenna, the former Washington state AG.

As a leading member of the National Alliance for Jobs & Innovation (NAJI), the NAM’s participation in the panel continues our efforts to support initiatives that level the competitive playing field for manufacturers in the US. We encourage you to join us or listen in.

The event is Wednesday, June 26, from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. There is no charge for the event.

Click here for more information and to register.

 

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President Focuses on New Manufacturing Innovation – Not New Spending

The President is in Texas today and it is being reported that he plans to announce that he is issuing an Executive Order focused on manufacturing innovation. This is good news. It continues to recognize what the NAM already knows: Manufacturers in the U.S. are the world’s foremost innovators and therefore are driving our economy. It also endorses the NAM’s position that this White House initiative can be accomplished with existing funding and not increase the deficit.

Today’s announcement follows through on the President’s commitment, made in his State of the Union address earlier this year, to launch three new manufacturing hubs around emerging manufacturing technologies. The existing hub launched as a pilot in Youngstown, OH is centered on additive manufacturing and is being led by many NAM member companies. The competition for the next three institutes are said to focus on digital manufacturing, lightweight and modern metals manufacturing, and manufacturing for next generation power electronics. It is hard to imagine given these areas that NAM’s members will not once again be the innovative brainpower behind these centers as well.

The NAM has been an advocate of this concept. Public-private partnerships bringing together the best minds from industry, academia, the research community, and the government have a proven track record of delivering game-changing innovations in manufacturing products and processes. The NAM has also been clear that now more than ever before these partnerships must be strategic and not lead to wasteful spending. In a recent letter to the U.S Senate we in fact supported an amendment to the Budget resolution that would accelerate the development of advanced manufacturing technologies as long the effort did not add to the deficit.

While it is encouraging that the President continues to bring attention to the power that manufacturing has in job growth and creation the NAM will remain vigilant that any new proposals are fiscally responsible and are in sync with the NAM’s Growth Agenda.

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Tackling a Uniquely 21st Century Problem: How to Tax Digital Goods

During the recent debate in the Senate on the Marketplace Fairness Act, S. 743, another 21st century tax issue popped up, albeit briefly.  We think it’s worth going back to consider an amendment submitted by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) that clarifies the taxation of digital goods and services. This amendment is based on bipartisan legislation the Senator introduced last Congress with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Simply put, digital goods are electronic files sold online. This includes software, manuals in digital form, and images among other products. Digital services include products ranging from cloud computing to alarm monitoring. These are all products and services that may be leveraged by manufacturers to increase the efficiency of their shopfloor, enhance their ability to connect with customers, and help them better manage their supply chain.

When these goods and services are “shipped” online it is not always as simple as traveling from point A to point B. These digital products can actually bounce around to many “locations” in cyberspace all in the blink of an eye. Today’s current tax regime allows multiple states to tax a manufacturer or other taxpayer on just one transaction.

Manufacturers are already under intense economic pressure ranging from global competition and other adverse and unnecessary regulations in the United States. Fixing this statute with Senators Thune and Wyden’s proposal that would eliminate duplicative and discriminatory taxes would increase manufacturers’ ability to compete.

We look forward to working with both chambers on this very targeted issue so that manufacturers have one less obstacle in their way as they continue to lead America’s most innovative industry.

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2013 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) Released

If all the news we shared with you last week on the legislative activity on cybersecurity has you looking for more this week, we call your attention to the release of Verizon’s sixth annual Data Breach Investigation Report just made public. The report commonly referred to as the DBIR analyzed more than 47,000 security incidents and studied more than 600 data breaches. What they found is alarming but should not be surprising to all the manufacturers on the front lines working hard to protect their data every day from theft and intrusion.

Manufacturers know their intellectual property, including patents, product designs, and trade secrets are the envy of their competitors around the world. They are therefore the constant target of cyberthieves attempting to access this critical data. The DBIR in fact found that manufacturing is the highest targeted industry (33%) by those motivated by industrial espionage. The report also provides a wealth of data on where the threats originate, what the motivating factors are, and provides some recommended best practices to help prevent them.

This type of research performed by Verizon and other industry segment leaders is extremely useful to their manufacturing peers and policymakers around the world. In the United States, our government made a good step forward to address the threats outlined in the DBIR when the House of Representatives passed H.R. 624, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) on April 18. The NAM now looks forward to working with the U.S. Senate to ensure similar legislation is passed in that chamber and sent to the President for his signature.

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President’s Budget Supports Manufacturers as Innovation Leaders

The NAM’s Growth Agenda lays out policies that will make manufacturers in the United States the world’s leading innovators. This can be accomplished partly through federal government support of Federal research agencies and encouraging strong collaborations between the public and private sector. These innovations and the resulting intellectual property coming out of the private and public sector also need to be protected. A robust Federal cybersecurity infrastructure therefore needs improvement. The budget released today by President Obama gives considerable attention to these issues important to manufacturers.

The President’s budget provides for $143B investment in Federal research and development spending across multiple agencies. Much of the research spending is geared specifically toward advances in manufacturing innovation and technology. Of the overall R&D spending, $2.9B is set aside for supporting advanced manufacturing efforts at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce. The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program which is highly utilized by many small manufacturers also receives a $25M increase in the FY14 budget request.

Cybersecurity investment appears to be a priority for the Administration by just looking at the numbers. Almost across the board increases are seen in agencies such as the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to support cybersecurity research and development inside the government and cyberworkforce training. It also supports the NAM-supported multi-agency Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program.

Another focus of the President’s budget is the mandatory $1B in new spending for a new program called the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). This money will fund fifteen regional centers to develop and commercialize emerging technologies. The NAM is in support of this concept but still remains concerned about where the money is found to fund it.

These numbers by themselves are all good news for today’s manufacturers that must continue to out-innovate their competitors around the world. We are pleased by this commitment by the Federal government to take the necessary steps to put manufacturers on the front of the cutting edge of innovative developments.

The investments are real commitments to manufacturers and in support of the NAM Growth Agenda. But many other steps need to be made before new dollars can be spent and manufacturers can have the ability to participate in these projects. Manufacturers will continue to push all policymakers to give us a comprehensive innovation agenda which will include delivering on the entire NAM Growth Agenda, not just this one piece of it.

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Lots of Talk, But Manufacturers Want Action on Cybersecurity

It’s hard to avoid the issue of cybersecurity these days. Everywhere you turn there seems to be another story about hacking, theft of intellectual property, and other activity ranging from disruptive to sinister. As a result, the number of proposed solutions now seem to equal the number of press articles. At the NAM we think it is time to stop talking and take action.

The NAM has lent its support once again to a bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives that would allow companies to share cyberthreat information with the government, and vice versa, as well as with other companies. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 624) is a bipartisan bill championed by the leaders of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD). The NAM has repeatedly said to the Hill and the White House that if manufacturers are allowed to share information – and have liability protection when they do – the cybersecurity of our critical infrastructure can be significantly enhanced.

The White House has also weighed in on this issue. President Obama raised the importance of cybersecurity and protecting our nation’s intellectual property in his State of the Union address. The day after that speech he issued an Executive Order on cybersecurity. While we are encouraged that the issue of cybersecurity is a priority for this Administration the Executive Order lacks the incentives and liability protection for manufacturers that legislation like The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act would provide.

The economic and national security of our nation is the NAM’s highest priority. Manufacturers need timely, reliable, and actionable cyber information so their businesses can address the threats quickly and move on to what they do best and what matters most – making America strong. Let’s stop talking about cybersecurity and pass a bipartisan bill that will help manufacturers.

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NAM Co-Hosts Hill Briefing on Tech Innovation and Manufacturing Growth.

If Congressional staff did not know before this morning how high-tech manufacturing is, they do now after attending a briefing with some of the leading American innovators. The NAM joined forces with the BSA | The Software Alliance on Thursday, February 21, to demonstrate to members of Congress, their staff and the media the important role software solutions have in spurring manufacturing technology advances and creating economic opportunity.

Executives from NAM members The Procter & Gamble Company and Microsoft Corporation were among the companies that participated on a panel discussion on why software and other intellectual property must be protected to help drive innovation. Manufacturers of all sizes leverage information technology to design, produce and deliver their products.

Educating Congress and the public on the strong role that manufacturers play in America’s global technology leadership position is a priority for the NAM. We encourage you to share your innovative story with the NAM and help us drive that message.

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