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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 11 min 4 sec ago

Links 25/4/2017: Kali Linux 2017.1 Released, NSA Back Doors in Windows Cause Chaos

Tuesday 25th of April 2017 10:43:40 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Dark times for OmniOS – an Oracle-free open-source Solaris project

    Development of OmniOS – an Oracle-free open-source variant of Solaris – is being killed after five years of work.

    Active development of OmniOS by OmniTI is being suspended, we’re told, with its current beta being the final release. OmniOS is a distribution of Illumos, which is derived from OpenSolaris, Sun’s open-source flavor of Solaris.

  • Apache Fineract Open-Source Financial Services Application Graduates

    Ever wanted to build your own banking platform? Now you can with the open-source Fineract project.

    The open-source Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has many different processes, including one for how a new project can be incubated, mature and eventually graduate to become a Top-Level Project.

  • Open Source Stats–But What Do the Numbers Mean?

    I recently sent a report to project management containing some numbers that purport to describe the status of the RDO project.

    I got a long and thoughtful response from one of the managers—we’ll call him Mark—and it seems worthwhile sharing some of his insights. To summarize, what he said was, don’t bother collecting stats if they don’t tell a story.

    [...]

    We track “downloads” of RDO, which roughly speaking means every time someone runs the quickstart and it grabs the RPM. Except RDO is on a mirror network, so that number is false—or, at best, it reflects what the trends might be across the rest of the mirror network. So we have no idea what this metric means. So why are we bothering to track it? Just stop.

  • Baidu Open-Sources Its Software To To Speed Up The Development Of Autonomous Car Tech

    Baidu, China’s largest search engine, said last week that it’s opening up its self-driving technology to drive the development of the budding industry. At the Shanghai Auto Show, according to the Financial Times, the company said the project would provide an “open, complete and reliable software platform for its partners in the automotive and autonomous driving industry to develop their own autonomous driving systems.”

  • Baidu to Launch Autonomous Cars by 2020
  • Baidu Self-Driving Vehicle Platform Started Trails
  • The “Google of China” Is Releasing a Self-Driving Operating System for Free
  • Baidu’s New “Project Apollo” Opens Its Self-Driving Vehicle Tech Platform
  • Haivision and Wowza Form SRT Alliance to Support New Open Source Low Latency Video Streaming Initiative

    Developers can also improve upon, use, and re-contribute (under LGPLv2 license) to SRT.

  • Wowza, Haivision launch SRT Alliance
  • Haivision and Wowza Launch SRT Alliance for Low-Latency Streaming
  • NAB 2017: Wowza, Haivision make SRT protocol open-source
  • Release Update: Prometheus 1.6.1 and Sneak Peak at 2.0

    After 1.5.0 earlier in the year, Prometheus 1.6.1 is now out. There’s a plethora of changes, so let’s dive in.

    The biggest change is to how memory is managed. The -storage.local.memory-chunks and -storage.local.max-chunks-to-persist flags have been replaced by -storage.local.target-heap-size. Prometheus will attempt to keep the heap at the given size in bytes. For various technical reasons, actual memory usage will be higher so leave a buffer on top of this. Setting this flag to 2/3 of how much RAM you’d like to use should be safe.

  • Events
    • OpenStack for Research Computing

      In this video from Switzerland HPC Conference, Stig Telfer from StackHPC presents: OpenStack for Research Computing. OpenStack is a cloud operating system that controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter, all managed through a dashboard that gives administrators control while empowering their users to provision resources through a web interface.

    • Martin Casado at ONS: Making SDN Real

      Software Defined Networking (SDN) has evolved significantly since the concept began to be considered in the 1990s, and Martin Casado, General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz, used his keynote at the Open Networking Summit to talk about how he’s seen SDN change over the past 10 years.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Continues to Oppose the U.S. Administration’s Executive Order on Travel

        Mozilla and more than 150 other tech companies continue to oppose the U.S. administration’s revised Executive Order on travel as it winds its way through the U.S. Court system.

        This order seeks to temporarily prohibit the U.S. Government from issuing new visas to travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries and suspend the U.S refugee program. Soon after it was issued, two federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland held the revised order to be discriminatory and unconstitutional. So far, their decisions have prevented the order from being enforced, but the administration has appealed to higher courts asking for a reversal.

  • Healthcare
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • FSFE Fellowship Representative, OSCAL’17 and other upcoming events

      The Free Software Foundation of Europe has just completed the process of electing a new fellowship representative to the General Assembly (GA) and I was surprised to find that out of seven very deserving candidates, members of the fellowship have selected me to represent them on the GA.

      I’d like to thank all those who voted, the other candidates and Erik Albers for his efforts to administer this annual process.

    • Linux Foundation and Free Software Foundation Europe Introduce Resources to Support Open Source Software License Identification and Compliance

      The open sourcing of “cregit,” the underlying tool used at cregit.linuxsources.org, provided by The Linux Foundation. cregit enables easy access to and improves the visibility of details in the history of changes in source code files.

    • The Linux Foundation and FSFE introduces new OSS resources

      The open-source landscape can be tricky to navigate with the different projects, licenses, and compliance requirements. The Linux Foundation and Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) are announcing new resources to simplify free and open-source software license identification and compliance.

    • Open Source Groups Provide New Licensing Resources

      Newcomers to free and open source software (FOSS) might be bewildered by the variety of licenses that dictate how users can use community offerings.

      For example, the Open Source Initiative lists nine “popular licenses” and Wikipedia lists dozens more coming in a variety of flavors for different purposes. Those purposes include linking, distribution, modification, patent grant, private use, sublicensing and trademark grant.

  • Public Services/Government
    • France: How a high school association finally obtained a source code

      In October 2016, the association Droit des Lycéens, which represents French high school students and helps them assert their rights, finally obtained the source code of an algorithm that influences students’ choice of university after the Baccalauréat exam. This puts an end to a conflict lasting more than seven months between the association and the Ministry of Education, which until then had refused to publish the source code of its tool.

      The opening of algorithms and calculators is a flagship measure in the French law for a digital republic that was passed in 2016. Since then, France has started to publish some source codes, such as the personal tax calculator in April 2016. This may have created a precedent for the present case, according to the association.

      The algorithm in question forms the core of the APB (Admission Post-Bac) online platform, which is used by all students in France. It allows them to enter their preferences in terms of universities and syllabus, and helps match applicants to available places. But Droit des Lycéens believes that the calculation method has been kept secret by the Ministry, and lacks transparency.

    • OFE welcomes continued emphasis on openness in EIF

      The OpenForum Europe (OFE) think tank welcomes the publication of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF). This document continues to emphasise the importance of openness, the organisation writes on its blog.

    • Czech Finance Ministry app boosts open data, source

      A data visualisation application developed in 2015 by the Czech Ministry of Finance, is helping to promote the publication of open data, and is making the case for open source software development across the government. The tool, called Supervizor, was one of the winners of the European Commission’s Sharing and Reuse Award. At the Sharing and Reuse Conference in Lisbon (Portugal), on 29 March, Supervizor was awarded EUR 15,000 – to help the project expands its reach.

    • Garanti Bank Romania implemented Allevo’s open source solution for processing payments

      Garanti Bank Romania selected FinTP, Allevo’s open source solution to connect to SWIFTNet, ensuring compliance to SEPA standards and regulations, in order to optimize its operations. The bank continues, as such, to grow rapidly on the Romanian market, offering better services to its customers.

      By adopting FinTP, Garanti Bank Romania benefits from a technology that drives cost reduction and conveys full control over the source code of the application, thus eliminating the vendor lock-in dependence, while gaining access to a transparent product development process and transparent product audit.

      [...]

      FinTP is distributed under the free GPL v3 open source license. This distribution model is different from what vendors in this industry practice, its main advantage being that it removes any dependence on the vendor.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Access/Content
      • States to Cut College Costs by Introducing Open-source Textbooks

        These two states are moving to slash the astronomical costs of higher education by introducing open source textbooks.

        The University System of Maryland awarded mini-grants to 21 recipients across 12 different universities for converting all of their reading materials to open source platforms for students. Between the 7 Maryland community colleges and 5 public four-year institutions, the initiative has the potential to save over 8,000 students $1.3 million in textbook costs over the Fall 2017 semester.

        New York state Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is also moving to invest $8 million of the state budget into open source educational materials. The budget also included a new proposal that will provide free college tuition to any families or students in the state making less than $125,000 per year.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway: hardware hackers face the climate apocalypse

    Science fiction has long served as a platform for the hashing out of big social, political and economic issues, either metaphorically or literally. Cory Doctorow has never been shy of speaking their names directly, whether examining the implications of the surveillance state or the shifting of social and economic forces caused by technology. In his first novel for an adult audience in eight years, Doctorow revisits many of the themes he’s written about in the past, and he refines them into a compelling, cerebral “hard” science fiction narrative of a not-too distant future that ranks with some of the best of the genre.

    Walkaway (from Tor Books, which releases on April 25 in hardcover) is a very Doctorow-y book. Intensely smart and tech-heavy, it still manages maintains the focus on its human (or in some cases, post-human) protagonists. Walkaway is also full of big ideas about both the future and our current condition, and it has enough philosophical, social, and political commentary lurking just below the surface to fuel multiple graduate theses.

  • Arca Noae “Blue Lion” Nearing Release, Letting OS/2 Live On

    or those still having OS/2 software to run or just missing the days of OS/2, the software firm Arca Noae that is run by OS/2 veterans is preparing a new installment of the operating system with blessings from IBM.

    Arca Noae is preparing this week to release their final beta of ArcaOS 5.0 “Blue Lion”to allow OS/2 software to run on modern hardware. Blue Lion can run on modern devices with USB support, AHCI / SATA, and other modern hardware compared to when OS/2 development ended in the late 90′s. The final/GA release of ArcaOS 5.0 is expected soon.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Recursive DNS Server Fingerprint Problem

      Our goal is to identify hijacked resolvers by analyzing their fingerprints, in order to increase safety of Internet users. To do that, we utilize data collected via RIPE Atlas (atlas.ripe.net).

    • Online developer tutorials are spreading XSS and SQL injection flaws

      The researchers, from across three universities in Germany and Trend Micro, checked the PHP code bases of more than 64,000 projects on Github and uncovered more than 100 vulnerabilities that they believe might have been introduced as a result of developers picking up the code that they used from online tutorials.

    • BrickerBot, the permanent denial-of-service botnet, is back with a vengeance

      BrickerBot, the botnet that permanently incapacitates poorly secured Internet of Things devices before they can be conscripted into Internet-crippling denial-of-service armies, is back with a new squadron of foot soldiers armed with a meaner arsenal of weapons.

    • Reproducible Builds: week 104 in Stretch cycle
    • Webroot antivirus goes bananas, starts trashing Windows system files

      Webroot’s security tools went berserk today, mislabeling key Microsoft Windows system files as malicious and temporarily removing them – knackering PCs in the process.

      Not only were people’s individual copies of the antivirus suite going haywire, but also business editions and installations run by managed service providers (MSPs), meaning companies and organizations relying on the software were hit by the cockup.

      Between 1200 and 1500 MST (1800 and 2100 UTC) today, Webroot’s gear labeled Windows operating system data as W32.Trojan.Gen – generic-Trojan-infected files, in other words – and moved them into quarantine, rendering affected computers unstable. Files digitally signed by Microsoft were whisked away – but, luckily, not all of them, leaving enough of the OS behind to reboot and restore the quarantined resources.

    • How The Update Framework Improves Security of Software Updates

      Updating software is one of the most important ways to keep users and organizations secure. But how can software be updated securely? That’s the challenge that The Update Framework (TUF) aims to solve.

      Justin Cappos, assistant professor at New York University, detailed how TUF works and what’s coming to further improve the secure updating approach in a session at last week’s DockerCon 17 conference in Austin, Texas. Simply using HTTPS and Transport Layer Security (TLS) to secure a download isn’t enough as there have been many publicly reported instances of software repositories that have been tampered with, Cappos said.

    • Malware Hunts And Kills Poorly Secured Internet Of Things Devices Before They Can Be Integrated Into Botnets

      Researchers say they’ve discovered a new wave of malware with one purpose: to disable poorly secured routers and internet of things devices before they can be compromised and integrated into botnets. We’ve often noted how internet-of-broken-things devices (“smart” doorbells, fridges, video cameras, etc.) have such flimsy security that they’re often hacked and integrated into botnets in just a matter of seconds after being connected to the internet. These devices are then quickly integrated into botnets that have been responsible for some of the worst DDoS attacks we’ve ever seen (including last October’s attack on DYN).

    • Google zero-trust security framework goes beyond passwords

      With a sprawling workforce, a wide range of devices running on multiple platforms, and a growing reliance on cloud infrastructure and applications, the idea of the corporate network as the castle and security defenses as walls and moats protecting the perimeter doesn’t really work anymore. Which is why, over the past year, Google has been talking about BeyondCorp, the zero-trust perimeter-less security framework it uses to secure access for its 61,000 employees and their devices.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • NSA Malware ‘Infects Nearly 200,000 Systems’
    • Former Spies’ Dubious Claim: Release Of NSA’s Windows Exploits Has Seriously Harmed National Security
    • NSA’s DoublePulsar Kernel Exploit In Use Internet-Wide

      MS17-010 was released in March and it closes a number of holes in Windows SMB Server exploited by the NSA. Exploits such as EternalBlue, EternalChampion, EternalSynergy and EternalRomance that are part of the Fuzzbunch exploit platform all drop DoublePulsar onto compromised hosts. DoublePulsar is a sophisticated memory-based kernel payload that hooks onto x86 and 64-bit systems and allows an attacker to execute any raw shellcode payload they wish.

    • Hackers uncork experimental Linux-targeting malware [Ed: Not a Linux problem; if you have easy-to-guess username+password, then obviously you're in trouble. It's like blaming the gate for intrusion when you've left it wide open.]

      Hackers have unleashed a new malware strain that targets Linux-based systems.

      The Linux/Shishiga malware uses four different protocols (SSH, Telnet, HTTP and BitTorrent) and Lua scripts for modularity, according to an analysis of the nasty by security researchers at ESET.

      Shishiga relies on the use of weak, default credentials in its attempts to plant itself on insecure systems through a bruteforcing attack, a common hacker tactic. A built-in password list allows the malware to try a variety of different passwords to see if any allow it in.

    • Securing Docker, One Patch at a Time

      Finding and fixing vulnerabilities is a good thing, according to Docker engineer Michael Crosby. In a standing-room only session at the DockerCon conference in Austin, Texas last week, Crosby went into detail on how the open-source container project deals with vulnerabilities.

  • Defence/Aggression
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Koch Industries and Other Corporations Lobbied for Donald Trump’s Cabinet Picks, Filings Show

      Many of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations faced vocal opposition from constituents and public interest groups. But well-connected corporate lobbyists stalked the halls of Congress to make sure Trump’s team was confirmed by the Senate, new filings show.

      Koch Industries, a fossil fuel conglomerate that owns a variety of business interests that have clashed with environmental regulators, directly lobbied to help confirm Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

      The firm’s latest disclosure form reports that its in-house corporate lobbying team spent $3.1 million to influence lawmakers over the first three months of the year on a variety of issues affecting its bottom line, including the EPA’s Clean Power Rule on carbon emissions, carbon pricing, the Clean Air Act and “nominations for various positions at the Department of Energy.”

  • Finance
    • Wipro sacks 600 employees on ‘performance grounds’

      Indian IT companies get over 60 per cent of their revenues from the North American market, about 20 per cent from Europe and the remaining from other economies.

    • Infosys, TCS, Cognizant violating H-1B visa norms: US official

      WASHINGTON: The US has complained that Indian blue chip IT firms Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Cognizant unfairly get the lion’s share of H-1B visas by putting extra tickets into the lottery system, which the Trump administration wants to replace with a ‘merit-based’ immigration policy.
      A Trump administration official said at a White House briefing last week that a small number of giant outsourcing firms flood the system with applications, which increases their chances of success in the lottery draw.

    • BitTorrent Inventor Bram Cohen Will Start His Own Cryptocurrency

      BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen has already earned a spot in the Internet hall of fame, but he’s not done yet. In recent years he’s taken a strong interest in cryptocurrencies, something he will devote himself full-time to in the near future. This includes launching a new cryptocurrency which addresses some of the challenges facing Bitcoin.

    • Brexit campaign was largely funded by five of UK’s richest businessmen

      The five contributed £15m out of a total £24.1m given to Leave campaigns in the five months before the referendum

    • Brexit brain drain threatens UK universities, MPs warn

      The government is being urged to act swiftly to halt a post-Brexit brain drain which threatens the international competitiveness of the UK’s university sector.

      A significant new report by MPs sitting on the Commons education committee says the rights of 32,000 university staff from EU countries to continue working in the UK should be guaranteed as a matter of urgency.

      It says the government should be prepared to unilaterally agree the rights of EU nationals in the UK before the end of the year, even if a reciprocal deal has not been agreed, to prevent an exodus of talented EU staff leaving the UK for competitor countries.

      Launching the report, Neil Carmichael, the Conservative chairman of the committee, said: “Higher education in the UK is a world leader, but Brexit risks damaging our international competitiveness and the long-term success of our universities.”

    • Brexit university ‘brain drain’ warning

      University staff from EU countries should be guaranteed a right to stay and work in the UK after Brexit to avoid a “damaging brain drain”, says a report from MPs.

      The education select committee wants urgent steps taken to end uncertainty over the future status of EU academics.

      The MPs also want overseas students to be taken out of migration figures.

      Committee chairman Neil Carmichael said Brexit risks damaging universities’ “international competitiveness”.

    • Developing Countries Lay Out E-Commerce Plan As Basis For WTO Ministerial

      A group of ministers from developing countries released a roadmap today for global digital commerce discussions, aimed at paving the way to discussions on electronic commerce at the World Trade Organization ministerial conference in December.

    • Nestlé set to cut 300 UK jobs and move production of Blue Riband bars to Poland

      “The Government needs to step in before it’s too late – and reassure millions of workers across the country this is not just the tip of the Brexit iceberg.”

    • President Trump’s dramatic retreat on trade

      Trade was a major theme in President Trump’s campaign.

      He repeatedly complained that our trade negotiators were stupid and therefore had negotiated bad trade agreements. These bad trade deals are the cause of our trade deficits, which have cost us millions of manufacturing jobs over the last two decades.

      Trump made very specific promises to turn things around once he was in the White House. In “Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter,” his “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again” included two very clear trade-related promises:

    • The Bewildered Wilbur Ross

      Now, the whiners in the US lumber industry don’t want Canadian lumber in their market but they can’t exclude it. Instead they whine that the royalty system is government intrusion in the market, a subsidy, when it’s not. It’s a tax. Effectively, the Canadian tax is less than the USAian tax determined by auctions. They keep taking this to court and LOSING.

      So, bewildered Wilbur and stupid USAians who think the world should do things their way are doing everything they can to drive exports of softwood lumber to China and India… Smart. Real smart. Perhaps USAians won’t mind rising costs for building homes and shortages of lumber and deforestation and … Look, we Canadians don’t have to do things USA’s way. We are a free nation of free people and we choose our own path.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • EU leaders: We’re not meddling by backing Macron

      As EU leaders rushed to praise Emmanuel Macron, they were confronted with questions about how appropriate it is for Brussels to intervene in a national election amid fears of a backlash from French voters.

      Perhaps nowhere was the question as irresistible — or inevitable — as in Moscow, where the pro-Kremlin television network Russia Today pressed the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, to explain a tweet she sent Sunday night that appeared to hail Macron as “the hope and future of our generation.”

    • Breitbart News Denied Permanent Capitol Hill Press Credentials

      The Senate Press Gallery’s Standing Committee of Correspondents chose to deny permanent Hill credentials to Breitbart News on Tuesday morning.

      Breitbart has been using temporary press credentials for over two years as it has attempted to meet the press gallery’s requirements. The committee has repeatedly extended its temporary passes after deciding Breitbart has not met those requirements, and more recently for not providing adequate evidence of severing its ties with former executive chairman and current White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

    • White House official Gorka walks out of ‘fake news’ event

      White House national security staffer Sebastian Gorka faced off with student critics he described as “victims of fake news” at a Georgetown University panel on Monday, eventually walking out of the event in the middle of the question-and-answer period.

      Gorka, a deputy assistant to President Trump, blamed “fake news” — the topic of the panel — for a series of stories alleging connections between him and far-right or anti-Semitic Hungarian political organizations.

    • U.S. government shutdown threat recedes after Trump’s wall concession

      The threat of a U.S. government shutdown this weekend appeared to recede on Tuesday after President Donald Trump backed away from a demand that Congress include funding for his planned border wall with Mexico in a spending bill.

      In remarks to conservative news media outlets that were confirmed by the White House, Trump said on Monday evening he may wait until Republicans begin drafting the budget blueprint for the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1 to seek funds for the wall.

      Trump’s fellow Republicans control both chambers of Congress but the current funding bill, which has to be passed by Friday night, will need 60 votes to clear the 100-member Senate, where Republicans hold 52 seats and so will have to get some Democratic support. Democratic leaders had said it would not get it if funds for the wall were included.

    • Senate ID Cards Use A Photo Of A Chip Rather Than An Actual Smart Chip

      Our government isn’t exactly known for its security chops, but in a letter sent recently from Senator Ron Wyden to two of his colleagues who head the Committee on Rules & Administration, it’s noted that (incredibly), the ID cards used by Senate Staffers only appear to have a smart chip in them. Instead of the real thing, some genius just decided to put a photo of a smart chip on each card, rather than an actual smart chip. This isn’t security by obscurity, it’s… bad security through cheap Photoshopping.

    • If ever there was a time to vote Labour, it is now

      Where are the nose-pegs this time? Those who tolerated anything the Labour party did under Blair tolerate nothing under Corbyn. Those who insisted that we should vote Labour at any cost turn their backs as it seeks to recover its principles.

      They proclaimed undying loyalty when the party stood for the creeping privatisation of the NHS, the abandonment of the biggest corruption case in British history, the collapse of Britain’s social housing programme, bans on peaceful protest, detention without trial, the kidnap and torture of innocent people and an illegal war in which hundreds of thousands died. They proclaim disenchantment now that it calls for the protection of the poor, the containment of the rich and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

    • Hearing Set for Class Action Lawsuit Against DNC

      After deliberating since October 2016, a federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has recently issued an order for appearance to the lawyers representing the DNC and former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the plaintiffs representing Bernie Sanders supporters, Jared Beck and Elizabeth Lee Beck. The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. on April 25, when the judge is expected to announce the court’s decision in response to the DNC’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The lawsuit was initially filed in June 2016 in response to the mounting evidence that Wasserman Schultz used the DNC to tip the scales in Hillary Clinton’s favor during the Democratic primaries.

    • Giving NY’s Governor a $783,000 Bribe Is Business as Usual for Rupert Murdoch

      Buffalo News headline (4/18/17) asked a pointed question about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “How Did Cuomo Make $783,000 on Memoir That Sold 3,200 Copies?”

      The accompanying article did not delve particularly deep into the mystery, beyond noting that the royalty amounts to $245 per copy for a book that retails on Amazon for $13.05, and that it more than doubled Cuomo’s income for 2016, when his $216,000 in royalties topped the $168,000 he got as his gubernatorial salary. “This payment was contractual and per the agreement with the publisher,” a Cuomo spokesperson told the News.

      The identity of that publisher—HarperCollins, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp—goes a long way to solving the mystery: Murdoch has long made a practice of funneling large payments to influential politicians via HarperCollins book contracts, in what amounts to a system of legalized bribery.

    • BREAKING: Federal judge blocks Trump’s attack on ‘sanctuary cities’

      The Justice Department threatened to cut off grant funding to eight cities on Friday — unless those cities provide more support to federal officials trying to crack down on undocumented immigrants. But DOJ’s threat is unconstitutional and is highly unlikely to survive a lawsuit.

      In fact, the Justice Department’s threat against these eight cities appears to be so amateurish and so poorly aligned with longstanding Supreme Court precedent that it raises serious questions about whether the threat was properly vetted.

      At issue is funding for so-called “sanctuary cities,” a term that’s often used for cities that choose not to cooperate with federal efforts to arrest immigrants.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Iran sucks at censoring apps, so the Persian diaspora is using them for unfiltered political discussion

      Maziar Bahari is a dissident, exiled Iranian journalist who was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for 118 days in 2009. Now he runs Iranwire, a leading Persian politics site. They’ve just launched Sandoogh96 (Vote 2017), an app that publishes independent political news. Word of the app is spreading in Iran, and it’s challenging the dominant narrative.

    • China’s Public Prosecutors Complain About Leak Of Anti-Corruption TV Series They Bankrolled To Raise Awareness

      China’s state prosecutors are not normally in the business of bankrolling TV productions. Presumably, they took that unusual step on this occasion because it was important to increase public support for Xi Jinping’s long-running fight against corruption’s “tigers” and “flies” using a medium that would reach a much wider audience than dull government speeches or press articles exhorting them to do the same.

      One of the best ways to ensure the widest possible audience for that message would be to allow the TV series to appear on sites for people to download freely. So asking the companies running them to remove copies in order to “protect” the official broadcasts seems perverse. If anything, it shows that respect for copyright in China has now gone so far as to be harmful to more serious matters like tackling the country’s corruption.

    • DFB backs Bild over claims of Russian censorship for Confederations Cup

      German Football Association (DFB) president Reinhard Grindel has backed the Bild newspaper over claims of Russian censorship ahead of this summer’s Confederations Cup.

      Bild, Germany’s most popular paper, has said it will boycott this summer’s Confederations Cup in Russia if journalists are not given freedom to report as they please.

      Print journalists attending the event — which serves as a warm-up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia — have been informed that they will be restricted in their travelling and reporting.

    • North Korean censorship

      The AP maintains a permanent presence in the country, with a small team of international correspondents and photographers, and a few North Koreans who work primarily as fixers. Eric Talmadge, who has led the bureau since 2013, likens working in Pyongyang to being embedded with the military. “Obviously the context is quite different,” he said. “But in practical and psychological terms, I find it very similar to my experiences embedded in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

      The freedoms granted to the AP reporters are denied to would-be journalists from inside the country, said Kang Cheol Hwan, president of the North Korea Strategy Center. “Journalism in North Korea is run by the state,” Kang said.

    • Film can apply for censorship: Central Board of Film Certification

      For two years, he has been waiting for his chance to apply to CBFC. But the authorities refused to entertain him since the title of his movie didn’t have a registration from the Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA). On Monday, his problem was finally resolved after an instruction came from the CEO of CBFC. Many other independent filmmakers apart from Mukherjee stand to benefit after CBFC’s new stance.

    • It’s Time to Crush Campus Censorship
    • Anti-Censorship Coalition Pushes Back Against Challenge of Manga Novel in Jerome Middle School Library
    • Legislature: Student journalists not entitled to censorship protections

      Legislation designed to protect student journalists from censorship has hit a roadblock Thursday amid criticism from some lawmakers that they’re not entitled to those protections.

      House Majority Leader John Allen, R-Scottsdale, yanked SB 1384 from consideration after more than an hour of debate over its merits. Allen told Capitol Media Services he was unsure whether there were sufficient votes on the floor for approval.

      Allen said the measure still could be resurrected. But he said Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, who crafted the legislation and got it approved unanimously in the Senate, is going to have to work to convince some House foes to drop their opposition.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • User Safety is a Myth call 911

      Hotmail is boycotting a vital service to all humanity, they are boycotting the use of a VPN service, the thing that actually improves user safety. What if you live in a country like China or just happen to be traveling there, where the government blocks access to U.S. email services like Hotmail, what could be done? The thing a VPN is good for, to access the Internet when a government is blocking it, to read your emails, to let other Chinese folks read their emails too. Hopefully not being arrested for using a VPN. I would expect Hotmail to understand how important the use of a VPN is to humanity.

    • NZ spied on Japan to help US – NSA document

      New Zealand spied on Japan to help the United States at an international whaling meeting in 2007, according to a classified National Security Agency document.

      The Intercept website published the paper, received from US whistleblower Edward Snowden, as part of an article on Japan’s secretive relationship with the National Security Agency.

    • Ex-NSA techies launch data governance tool for future algorithm-slavery
    • Immuta adds accountability and control for project-based data science
    • Immuta Launches ‘Projects’ to Help Data Science Teams Comply with GDPR
    • Privacy-Related Worries Are Keeping Users From Using E-Commerce, Survey At UNCTAD Finds

      A global survey on internet security and trust found users are worried about privacy, and in particularly wary of cybercriminals, internet companies, and governments. This lack of trust is hurting the potential of electronic commerce, the survey revealed.

    • NSA newsletter reveals ‘critical gaps’ in intelligence during ’04 North Korea drill

      Newly released documents sourced from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal details of the intelligence community’s planning for large-scale evacuations and the response to a North Korea attack.

      The Intercept news website – run by Glenn Greenwald and a team of investigative journalists – released a batch of 251 internal National Security Agency newsletters, a publication called SIDtoday.

    • Attorney says no attempts from Trump administration to contact Snowden

      “No, no one tried to contact him. I believe that Snowden clarified his position which has not changed. Nothing has changed actually, he still lives and works in Russia,” the attorney said.

      Kucherena added that Snowden continued to learn Russian.

      “He started to learn the Russian language and he can already speak a little of it,” the attorney said.

    • Legislators, School Administrators Back Off Cellphone Search Bill After Running Into ACLU Opposition

      Supporters of the bill claim the lack of an exception to the privacy law leaves administrators powerless. True, a school administrator can’t seek a warrant to access the contents of a student’s phone, but there are options schools can use rather than exempt every California student from the state’s privacy law.

      Most schools have electronic device policies that tie search consent to school attendance, which usually includes personal electronic devices along with vehicles parked on school grounds and lockers. A consensual search — even if performed under an “implied consent” standard rather than a more affirmative version — is still a “clean” search, though possibly one less likely to survive a courtroom challenge. Many schools also have police officers on staff. Whether or not these officers can seek warrants to access phone contents is unclear, but in cases of suspected criminal conduct, this would be turned over to law enforcement anyway.

    • Cars will get superior digital vision with ARM’s camera chip

      A camera inside a car could also identify [...]

  • Civil Rights/Policing
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is expected to unveil new net neutrality plans on Wednesday
    • Canada Rushes To Defend Net Neutrality As The U.S. Moves To Dismantle It

      Here in the States, regulators and Congress are preparing to gut our existing net neutrality rules — replacing them with the policy equivalent of wet tissue paper. In Canada, regulators are taking the complete opposite tack, last week cementing the country’s net neutrality rules as some of the most comprehensive in the world.

      After years of some obnoxious behavior by Canadian ISPs like Rogers, Canadian regulators adopted guidelines back in 2009 that prevent ISPs from blocking websites, while requiring that they’re transparent about network management. In 2013, those guidelines were expanded to cover zero rating after Ben Klass, a graduate student in telecommunications, filed a complaint with the CRTC over zero rating. Specifically, Klass and his co-filers noted that Bell had begun exempting its own streaming video service from the company’s usage caps, thereby putting smaller streaming competitors at a notable disadvantage.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Paul Hansmeier Argues Convicting Him Of Fraud Would Seriously Damage The Judicial System

        It looks like Prenda’s Paul Hansmeier isn’t nearly as interested John Steele in striking a deal with the feds. Of course, Steele folded immediately, offering up Hansmeier as bus undercoating, which likely means Hansmeier isn’t being feted by feds with plea deals.

        The 17-count indictment relayed a story familiar to Techdirt readers, since we have covered nearly every part of the scam: a get-rich-quick scheme that paid off at first for Prenda, but quickly unraveled as courts (and many copyright troll fighters) uncovered fake defendants, shell companies, forged documents, and honeypot-as-business-model tactics.

      • With Register of Copyrights bill, big media seeks its own in-house lobbyist

        Why are advocates for major media and entertainment companies pushing Congress to rush through a bill that would make the U.S.’s top copyright official— the Register of Copyrights— a position appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate? Unfortunately, it is likely because the new appointment process will increase the ability of the incumbent copyright lobby to influence the Copyright Office, to the detriment consumers, creators and innovators.

        H.R. 1695’s supporters insist that it would increase accountability by giving Congress more of a voice in the selection process. But in practice, making the appointment one more contentious political contest would create a Register who’s only really accountable to the lobbyists and special interests that help her get selected and confirmed. Indeed, proponents of the bill have touted it as a measure that will better enable the Copyright Office to serve the interests of the “creative industries.”

      • New Survey: Most Millennials Both Pay For Streaming Services And Use Pirate Streams When Content Isn’t Legally Available

        For any of the entrenched entertainment players seated comfortably in their lofty offices, quite used to counting stacks of money and calling it a profession, they likely already know this fearful mantra: the millennials are coming. Millennials, and even more so the generations younger than them, are driving changes in the entertainment industry. These younger consumers are largely responsible for the cord-cutting trend winding its way through the cable industry, not to mention being the force behind ever-expanding streaming options for everything from movies to television shows and live sports. These are the customers of the future. Customers that will outlive a public that became used to having bloated cable television packages filled with channels and content fit to be ignored.

      • The RIAA is Now Copyright Troll Rightscorp’s Biggest Customer

        Music industry group RIAA, which represents the leading recording labels in the US, is now a major customer of anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp. In fact, the RIAA’s commitment to the copyright troll outfit is so significant that its business accounted for 44% of Rightscorp’s revenue in 2016.

Astoundingly, IP Kat Has Become a Leading Source of UPC and Battistelli Propaganda

Tuesday 25th of April 2017 03:09:46 PM

It’s only getting worse than earlier this month

Summary: The pro-UPC outlets, which enjoy EPO budget (i.e. stakeholders' money), are becoming mere amplifiers of Benoît Battistelli and his right-hand UPC woman Margot Fröhlinger, irrespective of actual facts

IN our previous post, a post about the EPO, we noted that the UPC cannot happen (it’s stuck). Everybody knows it, but the lobbyists (notably Team Battistelli and Team UPC) try hard to deny it. The UPC threatens to bring to Europe the patent trolls that currently or previously revolved/orbited around the USPTO.

One new comment from this morning spoke about BB’s (Battistelli’s) “Plan B” as follows, reinforcing voices of insiders who believe that Battistelli has no intention of leaving (just like Erdoğan). To quote:

Don’t assume that BB does not have (or will not generate) a “Plan B” that will be equally unpalatable as a 3-year extension.

Remember, this is a man who has virtually wrecked the EPO on the grounds of financial self-interest (of the EPO management, the AC delegates and the Member States), in the process trampling over the (basic human) rights of the staff, crippling the Boards of Appeal and blatantly ignoring both the interests of the users and the rule of law. For someone who has achieved all that, what is to stop him twisting the agenda yet again to suit his personal needs? Certainly not the AC.

We expect that Battistelli will use the UPC woes as an excuse and ask for “more time” to “make it happen”. It’s like that classic Martial Law (or national emergency or wartime) pretext for never-ending dictatorship.

“They are manipulating international media and apparently even blogs now.”We are still truly disgusted to see what IP Kat has become. I used to view them as allies, but now they are like foes. They do exactly the opposite of fixing the EPO and instead bolster the dictatorship. Here it is writing once again about that stupid think tank, complete with stuffed/stacked panels from Microsoft, Bristows and other lovers of UPC (litigation plus patent maximalism) Kool-Aid. Battistelli’s chief UPC liar, Margot, was already aided by the Bristows mouthpieces, who in effect took over IP Kat. It’s almost unthinkable and unbelievable that IP Kat was a prominent critic of Battistelli one year ago. “The mere presence of members of the Boards of Appeal [in the panels] would have spoiled the performance of the other member of staff of EPO,” said one comment. “She came to herald the UPC, one wonders why.”

She did the same thing in Korea some weeks ago. They are manipulating international media and apparently even blogs now. Yesterday, the Bristows-run blog (IP Kat) continued to cheer for patent trolls that operate in London (profitable for Bristows). Something like the UPC would make things even worse!

As someone pointed out in the comments this morning:

What always worries me in this respect is A54(3) EPC. I could scan through the patent publications in the afternoon of the publication day, find something interesting, add a few trivial features (the processor may be silicon based, a copper containing current distributor may be used, etc.) and file it as my patent application before 24:00. As the original application is only prior art according to A54(3) and I have some trivial features for novelty, I should be fine and get it granted.

Another person asked: “Entitlement?”

“…Annsley Merelle Ward continued acting almost like a Battistelli ‘mole’ inside the blog.”Remember that Unwired Planet is just a patent troll utilised by Ericsson.

Bristows staff soon thereafter proceeded to another EPO puff piece (like amplifying Margot). In it, Annsley Merelle Ward continued acting almost like a Battistelli ‘mole’ inside the blog. Those who make a living out of litigation (like trolls with threatening letters) understandably tolerate Battistelli because of his UPC ambitions. Watch this new tweet that says “Anjali Chopra of GreyB believes that getting rid of #Patenttrolls would hurt #innovation”

Let’s just pretend — as some legal firms do — that patent trolls are good for innovation. Let’s just invert truths, pretending that UPC would be good for SMEs etc. Just earlier this month the Washington Times published “Banish the [patent] trolls” — an article which explains, in the words of United For Patent Reform, that “[p]atent reform requires shifting burden of proof “to the trolls and away from inventors & innovators”…”

From the article:

There’s an entire class of litigants in patent law that lawyers call “venue-shoppers.” U.S. district courts in East Texas and Delaware have become the go-to venues, courts likely to produce huge judgments in plaintiffs’ favor. Courts in these jurisdictions have shown themselves to be sympathetic to the trolls, or as they call themselves, “patent-assertion entities.”

Patent trolls, typically shell companies, buy the rights to dormant patents and use them to extort holders of similar patents by filing false patent-infringement claims. Defendants will often settle out of court just to make the case go away. It’s cheaper than hiring expensive lawyers to fight claims without merit.

The predatory patent-infringement threats and lawsuits drained an estimated $29 billion from the U.S. economy in 2011 alone, according to a Boston University study released in June 2012. That figure represents only direct legal costs, so the true economic toll is much higher since the true toll includes “various indirect costs such as diversion of resources, delays in new products, and loss of market share.”

Taking much of the above into account, what we have now is a British blog called IP Kat which is primarily run by proponents of patent trolls, software patents, the UPC and even Battistelli’s agenda. The FFII’s President today complained that “Redhat does not do much against swpats [software patents] anymore, against UPC for ex it is around zero.”

“Taking much of the above into account, what we have now is a British blog called IP Kat which is primarily run by proponents of patent trolls, software patents, the UPC and even Battistelli’s agenda.”It leaves not so many of us to fight for EPO justice, to combat the UPC, to stop trolls, and take away those software patents they rely on so much.

IAM ‘magazine’, a think tank of Battistelli, pushes on with propaganda and fake news about the UPC, citing this piece that says:

The Isle of Man is signing up to a Europe-wide system for registering patents.

It is planned for the agreement to continue beyond Brexit.

No, it’s not. That’s a lie right there. They perpetuate UPC lies again. It probably won’t be long before IP Kat, i.e. Bristows, does another series of lies about the UPC, feeding much of the misinformation whose purpose is to compel officials abroad to ratify (based on false information).

EPO Fiasco to be Discussed in German Local Authority (Bavarian Parliament) Some Time Today as the Institution Continues Its Avoidable Collapse

Tuesday 25th of April 2017 02:14:18 PM

Summary: Conflict between management and staff — a result of truly destructive strategies and violations of the law by Benoît Battistelli — continues to escalate and threatens to altogether dismantle the European Patent Office (EPO)

T

WO hours ago (at the earliest), based on this page, there was a Freie Wähler motion for EPO workers who are being abused in Germany. It can go on almost until midnight, or the window for this motion will be some time from 2 hours ago until 10 PM GMT. The “basic rights for EPO employees,” SUEPO explains, “will be discussed today, 25.04.2017, between 14.00-23.00…”

“Meanwhile, as some people have already noticed, Battistelli’s political party in France has just lost…”“Unfortunately,” SUEPO continues, “we cannot inform you on the exact time. We can only inform you that it is motion 23 of 29 motions to be discussed.”

We can only wait and hope that someone in Germany (or someone who understands German) will publish the outcome, transcript, etc. We’ll happily accept and of course publish anything to that effect if it’s sent to us.

Meanwhile, as some people have already noticed, Battistelli’s political party in France has just lost (his political affiliation disqualifies him by the way, just like his age, making him strictly unsuitable for his position). Here is a comment posted in relation to the outcome of the election (first round):

Bad evening for Battistelli : crooked Fillon lost it!

Indeed Battistelli placed until very recently, his hope in Fillon’s election (they both belong the same political party Les Republicains). He was heard in Munich telling with his usual arrogance that should Fillon win, he would get a three years’ extension

well Benoit, time for a change? En Marche back in St Germain !

http://techrights.org/2017/04/23/board-of-epo-and-servregs/

Battistelli should never have been given the job of President (of EPO). He is a political figure. It’s not allowed. But Battistelli, being Battistelli, breaks all the rules and lies all the time. The man is a chronic liar. It has gotten so bad that every time he speaks out (it has been a while) it’s guaranteed to be a lie and this is why we call him the Liar in Chief.

Recall the latest article from The Register; it was neatly split into four parts: Battistelli’s claims (lies), refutation from stakeholders, refutation from insiders, then an attack on insiders who say the truth. The third part contained some new information (not covered here before) and it noted “a stunning 99 per cent conformity” at the EPO, which means that Battistelli turned the EPO into another FISA/FISC, i.e. rubberstamping operation. To quote from page 2:

At the same time that the EPO management has relentlessly pushed to speed up processes, it has had maintained a second keen focus on quality, knowing full well that the entire Battistelli experiment could fall apart if the quality of patent examination is seen to suffer.

Ominously, however, as soon as the reforms started taking effect EPO management introduced a new approach to quality measurement that removed many of its independent aspects and put them under the control of the president and his team. In addition, an effort to speed up the process, combined with an aggressive clampdown on staff by management, has undermined the process for critical evaluation of patents.

Previously, the three-person team working on a given patent case would work together and then the chair in each case would do a quick quality check at the end of that process to confirm all was fine.

Under the new system, the chair is expected to weigh in earlier and lodge any concerns in the EPO’s Conformity Assurance for Search and Examination (CASE) system before talking to the first evaluator. The subsequent conversation on those points is then also lodged in the system.

The end result of this change is any errors that were previously caught at the earliest stages become a part of the record: so either the first examiner is seen to have made a mistake or the chair is seen to have falsely flagged a problem.

The end result of that, according to internal figures that The Register has seen is that there is less critically analysis being applied to applications rather than more as examiners worry about EPO management blaming them for, ironically, bringing down quality metrics.

Prior to the change, there was a 85-88 per cent conformity rate i.e. agreement between examiners; after the change, a stunning 99 per cent conformity. Battistelli’s team, convinced that their pressure tactics are simply causing people to work harder and better, view the results as validating their approach when in reality it undermines it.

But just as the EPO is increasingly unable to keep a lid on the impact of its “early certainty” program, so the knock-on impact on EPO report quality is starting to overwhelm the management’s efforts to contain it.

At the last meeting of the EPO’s Administrative Council, when the management team outlined their unlikely double-whammy of more patent application approvals while quality also rose, staff union representatives gently suggested that the figures were not showing the full picture.

Astounding, isn’t it?

No matter if one is an examiner, an attorney, lawyer or whatnot, this isn’t good. It’s not good at all. It’s almost as though the EPO covertly adopted 'registration' only, just like in France. It means that stakeholders are overpaying, examiners are made almost redundant (their skills aren’t being put to proper use), they are compelled to operate like machines and get sacked if they refuse to. Who takes the blame for all this? Not the management.

Battistelli is now doing the same thing to judges and notice the following remarkable comment:

As I have heard Americans refer to Patent Agents and Patent Atttorneys as “Patent Lawyers”, for the benefit of our transatlantic cousins, perhaps Mr. Justice Birss’ comment that that “… you don’t have to have a science degree to be a great patent lawyer” requires qualification. As far as the UK is concerned, the statement may well be true for someone who wishes to qualify as a Barrister or Solicitor with a view to specialising in Intellectual Property: however, in order to sit the qualifying exams for a UK Patent Attorney or a European Patent Attorney, a degree in Science or Engineering is normally essential. As an exception the EPO does allow candidates who have a technical qualification that is not of the required academic standard may be allowed to sit if they can offer sufficient post-qualification experience in industry.

Well, not anymore. First of all, the EPO almost stopped hiring judges (see the sad state of the appeal boards), as if the only judges to be hired are seen as UPC placeholders. Some insiders have openly hypothesised that Battistelli hopes to just demolish the EPO, negligently deal with the remaining pending patents, and get the UPC off the ground, even if it’s not possible due to Brexit and other show-stopping barriers.

In blunt terms, the EPO has truly become a clusterf*ck under Battistelli. Everyone knows it and everybody suffers from it.

In the US and Elsewhere, Qualcomm’s Software Patents Are a Significant Tax Everyone Must Pay

Tuesday 25th of April 2017 01:26:38 PM

Welfare for a fossil of a company which bullies real companies (like Microsoft still does) without really creating anything

Summary: The state of the mobile market when companies such as Qualcomm, which don’t really produce anything, take a large piece of the revenue pie

Qualcomm does not make phones. At least not anymore. The same is true for Microsoft (with rare, minor exceptions here and there). Yet they want to be paid for every phone produced (raising prices considerably). They’re like patent trolls — the very same thing that BlackBerry and Nokia gradually become as their sales flat-line near 0. Their stockpiling of patents, they believe, is their last remaining ‘asset’ in the mobile market (Nokia, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Microsoft also feed patent trolls for this purpose). Various software patents, granted by the USPTO before Alice, account for the lion’s share of the said patents, the rest being on hardware, radio, etc. Please note that we are not opposing hardware patents like this one just covered by Patently-O or material-related patents like the one just covered by Managing IP. In the case of Qualcomm, a lot of their patents are on software (their former chiefs advocated these patents last month), so we stand on pretty firm ground when we oppose these. So does Florian Müller, who has just found out that “Qualcomm’s involuntary refund to BlackBerry amounts to approximately $5 per device” and added:

The term “specified number of subscriber units from 2010 through the end of 2015″ in Qualcomm’s press release on this month’s arbitration award could mean all or some of the devices BlackBerry sold during the period in question. What I’m interested in (because I believe many readers will be curious, too) is what indication the “rebate” gives us with a view to Qualcomm’s standard-essential patent (SEP) royalty demands. A couple of months ago I saw indications, by deducing and inferring information from certain public documents, that Apple may have been paying Qualcomm approximately $20 for its baseband chip and a second amount like that for patent license (a total of $40 per device for the chip and the license). The higher the rebate is on a per-unit basis, the more likely it is that Qualcomm’s royalty demands are really that high (we’re talking about stratospheric heights compared to what other companies are rumored to receive; for example, financial investors appear to believe that Nokia receives about $2 per device from Apple).

So let’s look at publicly-available information in the light most favorable to Qualcomm: that the “royalty cap” applied to all BlackBerry smartphones sold in the years 2010-2015. Not only is that most favorable to Qualcomm but it’s also a reasonable assumption.

How many of the patents in question are no longer valid after Alice and what will regulators say about Qualcomm’s anticompetitive practices?

“We live in a world where journalism about patents is composed by non-scientists who speak to lawyers, not scientists.”We certainly hope that Qualcomm will just disappear. It contributes nothing and takes away from everyone.

Suffice to say, the patent microcosm is supportive of Qualcomm. They push the bogus narrative of “inventors” (who create nothing) being “robbed”. Some take this further and pretend that it’s the root of all the problems in the US. For example, as if everything boils down to patents (the more, the merrier), Watchtroll has just published “Fixing America’s Patent System is the Best Strategy to Jump-Start our Stalled Economy” (on Monday).

“It has become so bad that the industry is full of trolls — one of whom (Erich Spangenberg) made about $50 million from one single patent which recently turned out to be invalid.”What they mean by “fixing” is the very opposite of fixing. They want to bring rise to more Qualcomm-like parasites.

Yesterday, behind a paywall, the patent microcosm also promoted software patents, as it so habitually does. Heck, who needs the opinion of actual software professionals? We live in a world where journalism about patents is composed by non-scientists who speak to lawyers, not scientists. It has become so bad that the industry is full of trolls — one of whom (Erich Spangenberg) made about $50 million from one single patent which recently turned out to be invalid. Think of all the companies he robbed by this charalatan over the years.

In South Asia, Old Myths to Promote Patent Maximalism, Courtesy of the Patent Microcosm

Tuesday 25th of April 2017 12:51:06 PM

Summary: The latest example of software patents advocacy and patent ‘parades’ in India, as well as something from IPOS in Singapore

THE USPTO has shifted in a direction similar to that of India, i.e. no software patents, at least not without some loopholes that would most likely fail to convince courts (so the patents are no longer potent, at least once challenged).

“LexOrbis is not a software firm; it’s an enemy of many and it uses terms like “Computer Related Inventions” (CRI), which just like CII is a dodge from the term that would instantaneously disqualify patents.”Several weeks ago we saw LexOrbis promoting Indian software patents at IAM and elsewhere, based on flawed logic. These opportunists, spinners and self-serving staff of LexOrbis keep lobbying against India’s laws not because they care about software but because they want to prey on software developers, using patents on software. The latest such piece is “India: Need ‘SoftPatents’ for Software Inventions” and it shows them trying to work around the law, then concluding with “let us keep looking for that inventive step in ‘software inventions’ and file patent applications for Computer Related Inventions.”

Or how about quit meddling in software? LexOrbis is not a software firm; it’s an enemy of many and it uses terms like “Computer Related Inventions” (CRI), which just like CII is a dodge from the term that would instantaneously disqualify patents.

“Just because patents become available for something doesn’t mean one will produce a better product or “think harder” or “innovate better”.”Elsewhere in the Indian press today, the patent microcosm maintains an atmosphere of confusion and mass deception. Here, for example, we have a new article titled “India leads Asian peers in growth in filing patents” — a piece which asserts that it’s something to be celebrated. Corporate media wants us to think that more patents mean more innovation and are necessarily more desirable. It’s not that simple. It depends on what these patents cover. Another corporate media ‘genius’ now conflates patents with innovation. Is he just gullible or intentionally dishonest? Just because patents become available for something doesn’t mean one will produce a better product or “think harder” or “innovate better”. It’s a myth.

What is the role model? China! Here is a portion:

China reduces patent fees by 75-80% for people who can’t afford it and has a patent fund to provide cash subsidies for patent applicants and patentees gratuitously.

And what has China gotten out of it? A massive surge in litigation and patent trolls. Is this really desirable? Well, for those who make a living messing around with papers (lawsuits, filings etc.) this is great.

Over at IAM, in the mean time, IPOS is quoted as some sort of authority; they never speak to actual engineers that create something. Daren Tang from IPOS is talking nonsense, resorting to the lingo of patent maximalists who compare monopoly to objects. Remember that it is IAM that keeps attacking India’s patent policy all the time (and almost every week/fortnight this year). We responded to some of it in:

We certainly hope that developers/engineers in India are paying attention and operating in a reactionary manner to all that meddling from the patent microcosm, its think tanks, and cooperative media. They will never rest until (if ever) software patents become legal in India.

Links 24/4/2017: Linux 4.11 RC8, MPV 0.25

Monday 24th of April 2017 11:57:39 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Source Software: 10 Go To Solution for Small Businesses

    While closed-source operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS may still dominate the OS market, not everyone can afford the high costs that they entail. For small- and medium-sized enterprises where every penny matters, taking advantage of open-source software such as Ubuntu’s Linux is a good bet to boost productivity and cost effectiveness. The fact that open-source softwares have evolved to become somewhat user-friendly and sleek also helps a good deal.

  • How I became a webcomic artist in less than a month with open source tools

    If you are reading this, you probably care about, or are at least mildly interested in, open source. Like you, I care about and am interested in open source. Perhaps unlike you, I am also a webcomic artist. You can find my work at Herpaderp.party.

    This is a story about how I came to use and, indeed, vaunt open source. I’ll also tell you about how and why I produce my comic using open source tools and infrastructure.

    The story begins in 2005 when I got my first computer as an off-to-college gift. It was an iBook G4. I carefully booted it and set it up according to the manual. It worked. I didn’t feel as excited as I expected. I didn’t feel cool, or dangerous, or in control, or like I should start wearing a leather trench coat like in The Matrix five years before. I knew a place called SourceForge, which had programs that weren’t written by Apple, but I didn’t see anything I really needed there. I installed The Matrix screensaver and moved on to my next challenge.

  • Switch to open source model turns costs into R&D

    Public administrations that switch to an open source software model and contracting for services, also transform the costs previously spent on acquisition and maintenance into budget for research, development and innovation, says Álvaro Anguix, general manager of the gvSIG association.

  • How to track and secure open source in your enterprise

    Recently, SAS issued a rather plaintive call for enterprises to limit the number of open source projects they use to a somewhat arbitrary percentage. That seems a rather obvious attempt to protest the rise of the open source R programming language for data science and analysis in a market where SAS has been dominant. But there is a good point hidden in the bluster: Using open source responsibly means knowing what you’re using so you can track and maintain it.

  • An Aerospace Coder Drags a Stodgy Industry Toward Open Source

    More than a decade ago, software engineer Ryan Melton spent his evenings, after workdays at Ball Aerospace, trying to learn to use a 3-D modeling program. After a few weeks, for all his effort, he could make … rectangles that moved. Still, it was a good start. Melton showed his spinning digital shapes to Ball, a company that makes spacecraft and spacecraft parts, and got the go-ahead he’d been looking for: He could try to use the software to model a gimbal—the piece on a satellite that lets the satellite point.

    Melton wanted to build the program to save himself time, learn something new. “It was something I needed for me,” he says. But his work morphed into a software project called Cosmos—a “command and control” system that sends instructions to satellites and displays data from their parts and pieces. Ball used it for some 50 flight projects and on-the-ground test systems. And in 2014, Melton decided Cosmos should share its light with the world. Today, it’s been used with everything from college projects to the planet-seeking Kepler telescope.

  • SRT Video Transport Protocol Open-Sourced

    In aiming to enhance online video streaming, the SRT video protocol has been open-sourced and an alliance forming around that for low-latency video.

    SRT is short for Secure Reliable Transport and is a low-latency video transport protocol developed by Haivision. The SRT protocol is being opened under the LGPL license.

  • Events
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Your CEO’s Obliviousness about Open Source is Endangering Your Business [Ed: Jeff Luszcz says nothing about the risk of proprietary components with back doors etc. and instead 'pulls a Black Duck']

      But what caused these issues? Itis what happens when an open source component is integrated into a commercial software product and violates its open source license, or when it contains a vulnerability that was previously unknown. As technology evolves, open source security and compliance risk are reaching a critical apex that if not addressed, will threaten the entire software supply chain.

  • BSD
    • TrueOS STABLE Update: 4/24/17

      After testing the UNSTABLE push over the weekend, the devs are happy to release a new STABLE update and installation files today! This update consists of two parts: installer changes for those who install TrueOS fresh, and general updates for systems with TrueOS already installed.

    • TrueOS 20170424 Stable Update
  • Public Services/Government
    • German states adopt open source-based security checks system

      The German federal state of Thuringia will join North RhineWestphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg and Hesse and start using OSiP, a system for performing security checks for staff access to sensitive areas. The system, built on open source components, is set to become the default security system for all 16 federal states.

  • Programming/Development
    • GCC 6 Becoming Auxiliary Compiler In OpenIndiana

      While GCC 7 is being released in the days ahead, the OpenIndiana crew continuing to advance the open-source Solaris stack has begun offering GCC 6 as an auxiliary/supplementary compiler.

    • LLVM Still Working Towards Apache 2.0 Relicensing

      LLVM developers have been wanting to move from their 3-clause BSD-like “LLVM license” to the Apache 2.0 license with exceptions. It’s been a while since last hearing about the effort while now a third round of request for comments was issued.

    • How Operation Code helps veterans learn programming skills

      After leaving the military, Army Captain David Molina knew he wanted to go into software development. As Molina did research on the field, he found himself overwhelmed by the vast amount of information and choices. For example: What coding language is the right one to learn? What language is the most valuable for being competitive in the job market? To add to the confusion, there are a myriad of for-profit code schools that are proliferating at an exponential rate, and each one advertises career outcomes for a fraction of the cost of a four-year computer science degree. Where could he turn for guidance on how to enter the tech industry?

    • Stack Overflow: Python snakes up developer ecosystem ladder
    • Almost 10pc of Dublin workers are software developers
    • Which programmers work late at night
    • These are the fastest growing developer technologies in the UK and Ireland
    • Stanford Uni’s intro to CompSci course adopts JavaScript, bins Java

      In early April, Stanford University began piloting a new version of its introductory computer science course, CS 106A. The variant, CS 106J, is taught in JavaScript rather than Java.

      “[CS 106J] covers the same material as CS 106A but does so using JavaScript, the most common language for implementing interactive web pages, instead of Java,” the university website explains. “No prior programming experience required.”

      According to The Stanford Daily, Eric Roberts, emeritus professor of computer science, has been working on the transition for the past five years, writing a new textbook, creating assignments, and training teaching assistants.

    • Assimilate Go Programming with Open Source Books

      Go is a compiled, statically typed programming language that makes it easy to build simple, reliable, and efficient software. It’s a general purpose programming language with modern features, clean syntax and a robust well-documented common library, making it a good candidate to learn as your first programming language. While it borrows ideas from other languages such as Algol and C, it has a very different character. It’s sometimes described as a simple language.

Leftovers
  • Stop Guessing Languages Based on IP Address

    Instead, Accept-Language should be used and the browser should provide appropriate methods at relevant times for specifying it.

    Currently there are ways to specify Accept-Language in the major browsers, but almost nobody does it, knows about it, and leaves it as the language of their browser’s interface.
    [...]
    That is a UX failure, not an engineering one. That’s a shame because Accept-Language is likely more powerful than you realize.

  • Linguistic experts warn Icelandic language is at risk of dying out because smartphones don’t speak it

    The widespread use of English in the country, both for tourism and for voice-controlled electronic devices, has slowly reduced the numbers of people speaking Icelandic to less than 400,000.

  • [Old] Björn Bjarnason
    Minister of Education, Science and Culture: Address on the Signing of the Translation Agreement with Microsoft, 20th January 1999

    Referring to the policy adopted by the Ministry in 1993 to fund only the publication of software for DOS/Windows, the booklet stated:
    [...]

  • Guardian US receives major grant to create change within the homelessness crisis [Ed: Bill Gates pays The Guardian again].
  • Science
    • How The March For Science Finally Found Its Voice

      They marched for science, and at first, they did so quietly. On Saturday, as thousands of people started streaming eastward from the Washington Monument, in a river of ponchos and umbrellas, the usual raucous chants that accompany such protests were rarely heard and even more rarely continued. “Knowledge is power; it’s our final hour,” said six enthusiastic people—to little response. “What do we want? Science! When do we want it? After peer review!” shouted another pocket of marchers—for about five rounds.

      Scientists are not a group to whom activism comes easily or familiarly. Most have traditionally stayed out of the political sphere, preferring to stick to their research. But for many, this historical detachment ended with the election of Donald Trump.

    • In Photos: Scientists Worldwide Fight Back Against Anti-Science Trump Agenda
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Farm Workers Resist Trump’s Policies

      President Trump’s promised purge of undocumented people from the United States is facing resistance from the United Farm Workers (UFW) and other groups in California that reject this rollback of civil rights and workers’ rights.

      On March 31, the birthday of the late founder of the UFW, Cesar Chavez, the union kicked off a month-long series of activities to fight back against Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, which many analysts believe is designed to make life so miserable and difficult in the U.S. that people begin to “self-deport in” in large numbers.

    • Sanders’ Stumping for Anti-Choice Mayoral Candidate Draws Ire

      U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who’s now on a multi-state tour to galvanize grassroots resistance to the Trump agenda, can boast of high popularity, but he’s taking flak for backing an anti-choice mayoral candidate.

      Speaking Thursday at a sold-out event at the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Baxter Arena, Sanders rallied support for Heath Mello, the Democrat who’s hoping to unseat Omaha’s Republican Mayor Jean Stothert next month.

      “Maybe, just maybe it’s time to change one-party rule in Nebraska,” Sanders said during the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) “Come Together and Fight Back” tour stop, the Associated Press reports. “And we can start right here by electing Heath Mello as the next mayor,” Sanders said.

  • Security
    • More Windows PCs infected with NSA backdoor DoublePulsar [Ed: Look what Microsoft’s back doors for the NSA are causing this month; recall Snowden’s leaks about it.]

      Although the exact number varies among security researchers, the DoublePulsar infection rate is climbing

    • NSA-linked hacking tools released by Shadow Brokers have compromised almost 200,000 Windows PCs
    • ‘Beautiful’ NSA hacking tool DoublePulsar infects almost 200,000 Windows PCs

      Tools supposedly developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA) leaked early this month by the Shadow Brokers hacking group are being used in attacks on Windows PCs.

      The tools, released to the open-source developer website Github, have been gratefully scooped up by malware writers of varying levels of competency and pimped via phishing emails across the internet.

      And researchers at Swiss security company Binary Edge claim to have found 183,107 compromised PCs connected to the internet after conducting a scan for the DoublePulsar malware. Conducted every day over the past four days, the number of infected PCs has increased dramatically with each scan, according to Binary Edge.

    • Three months on, no Linksys router patches for remote holes

      More than three months after being informed about remotely exploitable vulnerabilities in 25 router models, Linksys is yet to issue patches to remedy them.

    • [Older] Tracing Spam: Diet Pills from Beltway Bandits

      Here’s the simple story of how a recent spam email advertising celebrity “diet pills” was traced back to a Washington, D.C.-area defense contractor that builds tactical communications systems for the U.S. military and intelligence communities.

    • Top-ranked programming Web tutorials introduce vulnerabilities into software

      “[Our findings] suggest that there is a pressing need for code audit of widely consumed tutorials, perhaps with as much rigor as for production code,” they pointed out.

    • [Old] PHP: a fractal of bad design

      PHP is an embarrassment, a blight upon my craft. It’s so broken, but so lauded by every empowered amateur who’s yet to learn anything else, as to be maddening. It has paltry few redeeming qualities and I would prefer to forget it exists at all.

    • The Cloud Foundry Approach to Container Storage and Security

      Recently, The New Stack published an article titled “Containers and Storage: Why We Aren’t There Yet” covering a talk from IBM’s James Bottomley at the Linux Foundation’s Vault conference in March. Both the talk and article focused on one of the central problems we’ve been working to address in the Cloud Foundry Foundation’s Diego Persistence project team, so we thought it would be a good idea to highlight the features we’ve added to mitigate it. Cloud Foundry does significantly better than what the article suggests is the current state of the art on the container security front, so we’ll cover that here as well.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • ‘Every Day Things Are Getting Worse’ for Children in Yemen

      Persistent attacks on health care in Yemen is severely impacting children’s well-being, civil society detailed at the launch of a report.

      In the report, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, in collaboration with Save the Children, found a series of systematic attacks on medical facilities and personnel and families’ restricted access to health care across three of the most insecure governorates in the Middle Eastern nation.

      According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), warring parties carried out at least 160 attacks against medical facilities and personnel between March 2015 and March 2017 through intimidation, air strikes, and impeded access to medical supplies.

      In one incident, anti-Houthi forces raided and shutdown Al Thawra hospital for reportedly treating several injured Houthi-fighers. The hospital had also previously been shelled on numerous occasions.

    • With Error Fixed, Evidence Against ‘Sarin Attack’ Remains Convincing

      In my report published April 19 on Truthdig, I misinterpreted the wind-direction convention, resulting in my estimates of plume directions being exactly 180 degrees off. This article corrects that error and provides important new analytic results that follow from correction of that error.

      When the error in wind direction is corrected, the conclusion is that if there was a significant sarin release at the crater as alleged by the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued April 11, the immediate result would have been significant casualties immediately adjacent to the dispersion crater.

    • NYT Mocks Skepticism on Syria-Sarin Claims

      In the old days of journalism, we were taught that there were almost always two sides to a story, if not more sides than that. Indeed, part of the professional challenge of journalism was to sort out conflicting facts on a complicated topic. Often we found that the initial impression of a story was wrong once we understood the more nuanced reality.

    • At Sea With Capt. ‘Wrong Way’ Trump

      Baby boomers like me fondly remember the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons of childhood (and adulthood, for that matter — in their grown-up jokes and cultural references they presaged The Simpsons by a good 25 years and are still pretty hilarious).

      You may particularly recall one Rocky and Bullwinkle character, Capt. Peter “Wrong Way” Peachfuzz, an addled mariner so spectacular in his incompetence that even his toy boats sank in the bathtub.

      At one point, Peachfuzz managed to steer his ship into New York’s financial district — and I mean into, so much so that it was given the permanent address of 17 ½ Wall Street. Now at the helm of an investment firm, his board of directors wanted to get Capt. Peachfuzz as far away as possible and found him a job counting penguin eggs in Antarctica. But a secretary mistyped the form and Peachfuzz was made head of the nation’s intelligence community.

      [...]

      In recent days, we’ve heard inconsistent policy statements, and not just about where the hell our ships are. There have been flip-flops on China and Russia as well as conflicting declarations when it comes to President Bashar al-Assad’s brutality in Syria and the contested referendum in Turkey that by a narrow margin gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan increased dictatorial control over his government. Trump called to heartily congratulate Erdogan on his win, yet at the same time the State Department warned the Turkish leader against ignoring the “rule of law” and urged him to respect “a diverse and free media.”

    • Dropping the (Non-Nuclear) Big One

      After pounding “war on terror” targets for 15-plus years, the U.S. military dropped its “mother of all bombs” on some caves in Afghanistan, a show-off of its terrifying weapon, peace activist Kathy Kelly told Dennis J Bernstein.

    • Borussia Dortmund bombs: ‘Speculator’ charged with bus attack

      Police in Germany have charged a man suspected of being behind an attack on the Borussia Dortmund team bus.

      Rather than having links to radical Islamism, he was a market trader hoping to make money if the price of shares in the team fell, prosecutors say.

      The suspect has been charged with attempted murder, triggering explosions and causing serious physical injury.

    • Human rights lawyer lodges case at International Criminal Court against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for ‘mass murder’

      A human rights lawyer lodged a case on Monday (April 24) with the International Criminal Court (ICC), calling President Rodrigo Duterte a “mass murderer”, and seeking an investigation into “this dark, obscene, murderous and evil era in the Philippines”.

      In a 77-page complaint filed with ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, lawyer Jude Jose Sabio sought to have Mr Duterte and 11 others arrested and held in The Hague to prevent him “from further committing mass murder and from killing potential victims and witnesses”.

    • Istanbul law enforcement ban April 23 Armenian Genocide commemoration event

      Turkish law enforcement banned the April 23 Armenian Genocide commemorative event in Istanbul’s Sisli district. The event is being held for five years.

      Police told the participants of the event they “have orders from above to ban the rally”, threatening if they don’t obey, police are authorized to intervene.

      The demonstrators collected the posters, which said: “Don’t forget, don’t let to be forgotten”, “As long as there is no confrontation, genocides won’t stop” and took off to the Sisli office of the People’s Democratic Party.

    • US ‘deep state’ sold out counter-terrorism to keep itself in business

      New York Times columnist Tom Friedman outraged many readers when he wrote an opinion piece on 12 April calling on President Trump to “back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria”. The reason he gave for that recommendation was not that US wars in the Middle East are inevitably self-defeating and endless, but that it would reduce the “pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah”.

    • Tell Us Why We’re At War, President Trump

      People speak of Afghanistan as “our generation’s” Vietnam, a quagmire, a war that goes on simply because it has been going on.

      The Afghan war is dragging into being our generation’s, and soon the next generation’s Vietnam as well, over a decade and a half old. There are troops deploying now that were two years old when the conflict started. There are fathers and sons deploying together. Bin Laden’s been dead for years.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • CIA, FBI launch manhunt for leaker who gave top-secret documents to WikiLeaks

      The CIA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation into one of the worst security breaches in CIA history, which exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart televisions and computer systems.

    • Prosecuting Assange under Espionage Act would set dangerous precedent

      Last week, news reports indicated that the Justice Department is considering whether to press charges against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for posting classified information on the Internet. Section 793(e) of the Espionage Act makes it illegal for anyone with “unauthorized possession” of “national defense information” to “willfully communicate” such information “to any person not entitled to receive it” if the person “has reason to believe” the information “could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” This language is incredibly broad and, if applied as written, raises serious First Amendment concerns. As Steve Vladeck noted on Twitter, using the Espionage Act in this way would set a troubling precedent.

      The Trump administration is not the first to consider using the Espionage Act to prosecute those who disclose embarrassing national security information. The George W. Bush administration considered prosecuting journalists for publishing information about surveillance and other counter-terrorism activities. At the time, I co-authored an article with Michael Berry for National Review Online explaining why such prosecutions would be a bad idea (with a follow-up here).

    • Long before WikiLeaks, the FBI spent decades obsessing over Gavin MacFadyen

      In response to the initial FOIA request for files on deceased WikiLeaks Director and Courage Foundation trustee Gavin MacFadyen, the FBI cited a litany of exemptions. These included an ongoing investigation, national security, and the need to protect the identity of a confidential informant. While the Bureau used these exemptions to withhold all of the materials on MacFadyen in their possession, they did reveal that at least four files mentioning MacFadyen had been transferred to the National Archives.

    • Candidate Trump: ‘I Love Wikileaks.’ President Trump: ‘Arrest Assange!’

      “I love Wikileaks,” candidate Donald Trump said on October 10th on the campaign trail. He praised the organization for reporting on the darker side of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was information likely leaked by a whistleblower from within the Clinton campaign to Wikileaks.

      Back then he praised Wikileaks for promoting transparency, but candidate Trump looks less like President Trump every day. The candidate praised whistleblowers and Wikileaks often on the campaign trail. In fact, candidate Trump loved Wikileaks so much he mentioned the organization more than 140 times in the final month of the campaign alone! Now, as President, it seems Trump wants Wikileaks founder Julian Assange sent to prison.

      Last week CNN reported, citing anonymous “intelligence community” sources, that the Trump Administration’s Justice Department was seeking the arrest of Assange and had found a way to charge the Wikileaks founder for publishing classified information without charging other media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post for publishing the same information.

      It might have been tempting to write off the CNN report as “fake news,” as is much of their reporting, but for the fact President Trump said in an interview on Friday that issuing an arrest warrant for Julian Assange would be, “OK with me.”

    • Symantec Blames Global Cyber Attacks On Secret CIA Tools

      Agency spokeswoman Heather Fritz Horniak said any WikiLeaks disclosures aimed at damaging the intelligence community “not only jeopardise United States personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm”.

      Numerous tools revealed in the WikiLeaks Vault7 cache have been spotted in the wild attacking targets in 16 countries and linked to a group operating since at least 2011, Symantec claimed. Given the close similarities between the tools and techniques, there can be little doubt that Longhorn’s activities and the Vault 7 documents are the work of the same group.

    • CIA Director Says WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Has No Freedom Of Speech Protection Because He’s Not A Citizen
    • Wikileaks investigation could threaten freedom of the press

      Late Thursday, The Washington Post reported that the Department of Justice is reconsidering whether to file charges against Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, for publishing classified government documents.

      Potential charges against Assange and other members of Wikileaks could include conspiracy, theft of government property, and charges under the Espionage Act, according to the Post.

    • Why Soviet Weather Was Secret, a Critical Gap in Korea, and Other NSA Newsletter Tales

      Three years after the 9/11 attacks, a frustrated NSA employee complained that Osama bin Laden was alive and well, and yet the surveillance agency still had no automated way to search the Arabic language PDFs it had intercepted.

      This is just one of many complaints and observations included in SIDtoday, the internal newsletter of the NSA’s signals intelligence division. The Intercept today is publishing 251 articles from the newsletter, covering the second half of 2004 and the beginning of 2005. The newsletters were part of a large collection of NSA documents provided to The Intercept by Edward Snowden.

      This latest batch of posts includes candid employee comments about over-classification, descriptions of tensions in the NSA-CIA relationship, and an intern’s enthusiastic appraisal of a stint in Pakistan.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • The Planet Can’t Stand This Presidency

      What I mean is, we have only a short window to deal with the climate crisis or else we forever lose the chance to thwart truly catastrophic heating.

    • French Elections: Alt-Right, Total and Gold Mines, the Story Behind the Candidates’ Environmental Policies

      France, the birthplace of the Paris Agreement, is a week away from the first round of its presidential election on April 23. Throughout the campaign debates on the environment have often been side-lined, with the three leading candidates showing no sign of real climate leadership.

      The backdrop to the election campaign has been full of “fake news”, Brexit and Donald Trump. It has also been mired in scandals over corruption claims and growing concerns of Russian interference.

    • Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers

      One of the least understood aspects of global warming is entire countries threatened by loss of major rivers, for example, the Lancang River (70% of its headwater glaciers gone), affectionately known as “the Danube of the East” of China and the Andes river system in South America (the World Bank warning that millions threatened by loss of glacial water supplies), and the Lower Colorado River in America, at “the breaking point.”

      River systems provide recreation, sport, wildlife habitat, agricultural irrigation, and drinking water for the majority of the world’s population. The loss of river system integrity and strength of its flow indubitably throws the world into utter chaos, likely leading to worldwide water wars, e.g.: India’s numerous clashes and riots over water for example in Bundelkhand (deadly clashes), Bangalore, and Munak (18 people killed and 200 injured); and, Tunisia’s “thirst uprisings”; and, 10 deaths over water rights on Iran and Afghanistan border; and, Peru farmers challenging (clashes) a corporation over water rights; and, Syria’s repeated fighting over water; and, Somalia where dozens killed over water access; and, Mexico’s 100 injured in water clashes; and, Yemen, where 4,000 die every year from water-related violence. Moreover, the list of water wars goes on and on, seemingly evermore.

    • The environment-hating US Chamber of Commerce is losing the support of the world’s biggest companies

      The US Chamber of Commerce, which represents the interests of over 3 million companies and spent $104 million on lobbying in 2016, has been less than willing acknowledge the role that humans, and businesses, play in climate change.

      When the Chamber’s representative was asked whether climate change was real and caused by humans in a 2014 Senate hearing, she dodged the question until finally saying that it was “an ongoing discussion.”

      Following president Donald Trump’s executive actions that would gut the Obama administration’s policies to curb global warming, the chamber’s president, Thomas Donohue, said, “These executive actions are a welcome departure from the previous administration’s strategy of making energy more expensive through costly, job-killing regulations that choked our economy.”

  • Finance
    • Sir Philip Green could still lose knighthood, says MP

      Sir Philip Green has been warned that he could still be stripped of his knighthood and faces further questions from MPs, one year after the collapse of BHS.

      The veteran Labour MP Frank Field said Green had not done enough to keep his title amid lingering concerns over the £363m settlement struck between the retail tycoon and the Pensions Regulator.

      “Sir Philip Green remains on the hook,” he said. “When parliament comes back from the election we need to pursue the charge sheet from the Pensions Regulator against him and what the Pensions Regulator got in return,” said Field.

    • Displacing the Unprofitable and Undesirable in San Jose’s Fountain Alley

      The impulse to surveil this area in this manner brings up a question of San Jose’s decision-makers: who is being protected and for what motives? The individuals the police presence targets are predominantly Black and Brown folks, many of whom are homeless or poor. Some are caught up in alleged drug violence or sex work, which are not acknowledged as a symptom of larger issues – of poverty, a lack of housing, of mental illness among others – in our community, but as the problem itself. In our minds, the very people targeted are the ones who need the most assistance and protection.

    • In Latest Populist Betrayal, Trump Executive Order Unchains Wall Street Greed

      Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for watchdog group Public Citizen, described the orders signed Friday at the Treasury Department as “nothing more than special favors for the same Wall Street banks that crashed our economy in 2008 and put millions of Americans out of work.”

      According to ABC News, Trump signed “two presidential memoranda on the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which former President [Barack] Obama signed in response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis.” They order two six-month reviews of what the Los Angeles Times called “pillars” of Dodd-Frank: the Orderly Liquidation Authority and the Financial Stability Oversight Council.

    • “Fear City” Explores How Donald Trump Exploited the New York Debt Crisis To Boost His Own Fortune

      Reading this, it struck me how Trump’s entire career has been shaped by the exploitation of crisis. And that’s relevant stuff for what it tells us about what we can expect from his administration in the months and years to come. So I’m very happy to be joined by Kim Phillips-Fein, a historian of the first order, in The Intercept studios.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Front National’s Le Pen can be called fascist, court rules
    • French election: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen through to second round, estimates show – live
    • Far-Right Le Pen and Center-Right Macron Frontrunners in French Election

      France will see the far-right, xenophobic Front National candidate Marine Le Pen face off against Emmanuel Macron, an investment banker who hasn’t held public office, in a runoff vote on May 7, as the first round of an unusual presidential election concluded with Sunday’s vote.

    • Russia’s Shadow-War in a Wary Europe

      Last month, the combative populist Marine Le Pen of the right-wing National Front flew to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin. It was a display of longtime mutual admiration. The frontrunner in a field of 11 candidates, Le Pen shrugs off allegations of corruption and human rights abuses against Putin, calling him a tough and effective leader. Her hard-line views on immigration, Islam and the European Union win praise from Putin and enthusiastic coverage from Russian media outlets. Her campaign has been propelled by a loan of more than $9 million from a Russian bank in 2014, according to Western officials and media reports.

    • Remember Those Temporary Officials Trump Quietly Installed? Some Are Now Permanent Employees.

      Last month, ProPublica revealed that the Trump administration had installed hundreds of political appointees across the federal government without formally announcing them.

      The more than 400 officials were hired in temporary positions for what the White House calls “beachhead teams.” Government hiring rules allow them to have those positions for up to eight months.

      Now some of them are getting permanent federal jobs, oftentimes with little or no public notice.

      A review of federal agencies’ staffing lists, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and department websites, found the Trump administration has made at least 25 of its beachhead hires permanent. The White House and federal agencies don’t have to make public hires that don’t require Senate confirmation.

    • RIP United Kingdom, 1927-2017

      Theresa May’s call for a snap election received overwhelming endorsement from parliament by 522 to 13, whereas the Scottish SNP abstained. It is now expected that parliament will end all business in early May in the run up to the ballot of 8 June. Why did May call an early election since her argument all along has been that the “country needs stability” and that new elections would take place as normal in 2020?

      May was appointed PM in the wake of the Brexit referendum of 23 June 2016, after the country, albeit narrowly, voted to leave the EU. Commentators argue that she needed an electoral mandate to strengthen her position and image as PM. Also, her surprise move, the argument goes, was caused by a shrewd power calculus, the most important factors being the disarray in the Labour Party; the need for May to strengthen her grip on her own party and government undermining Europhile influence while boosting her parliamentary majority (currently only at 17 seats whereas polls show a Tory lead as high as 21%); and, thereby ‘strengthening the external position of the country in the Brexit negotiations’ that May herself triggered on 29 March. These arguments do not go to the bone of British, European and global politics.

    • Trump Inaugural Committee Falsely Lists Big Donation From “Hidden Figures” Hero

      The 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, the campaign entity used to fund Donald Trump’s inauguration and related festivities, claimed in its official filing with the Federal Election Commission that it received a $25,000 donation from Katherine Johnson, the distinguished NASA mathematician and physicist. The filing listed her address at 1 NASA Drive in Hampton, Va., the location of NASA’s Langley Research Center. Johnson, who is retired at age 98, does not live at the research center.

      Eugene Johnson, who described himself as a friend and power of attorney for Katherine Johnson, told The Intercept that the “donation is fake, she did not make that donation.”

    • Donald Trump: Ruling Class President

      One of the many irritating things about the dominant United States corporate media is the way it repeatedly discovers anew things that are not remotely novel. Take its recent discovery that Donald Trump isn’t really the swamp-draining populist working class champion he pretended to be on the campaign trail.

      The evidence for this “news” is solid enough. His cabinet and top advisor circle has been chock full of ruling class swamp creatures like former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn (top economic adviser), longtime top Goldman Sachs partner and top executive Steve Mnuchin (Secretary of the Treasury), and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce). Trump has surrounded himself with super-opulent and planetarily invested financial gatekeepers – the very club he criticized Hillary Clinton for representing.

      Trump meets regularly with top corporate and financial CEOs, who have been assured that he will govern in accord with their wishes. He receives applause from business elites for his agenda of significant large scale tax cuts and deregulation for wealthy individuals and for the giant, hyper-parasitic, and largely transnational corporations they milk for obscene profits

    • Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?

      Trump seems to suffer from a kind of attention deficit disorder.

      [...]

      Uncharacteristically, Trump didn’t even pause for a selfie beside the smoldering crater left by his MOAB bomb in Afghanistan, before he was rattling his sabre at North Korea, boasting about how his giant Armada was steaming toward the Korean peninsula. A few days later this robust pronouncement was obsolete, when it turned out that the mighty fleet was instead retreating 3,000 miles in the opposite direction, south to the coast of Australia. Call it the wrong-way Armada. Meanwhile, Trump had already fast-forwarded to furious denunciations of Iran.

      Trump’s martial pronouncements are generally too truncated and disarticulated to ever embody something so substantial as a trope or a theme. Indeed, many of these public utterances are so garbled that they defy translation by even the most gifted linguists. They are more like the petulant bleats of an overgrown adolescent testing out a rack of video games, blasting away at one zombie invasion after another until he tires of it and seizes on another scenario. It might be said that he practices the Man-Child theory of foreign relations: belligerent, shallow, easily bored.

    • Group of Mental Health Professionals Warn Trump’s State ‘Putting Country in Danger’

      A group of mental health professionals gathered at Yale University Thursday to discuss what they believe is their duty to warn the public of the “danger” posed by President Donald Trump.

      The “Duty to Warn” event was attended by roughly two dozen people and was organized Dr. Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, the CTPost writes. Lee called the mental health of the president “the elephant in the room,” and said: “Colleagues are concerned about the repercussions of speaking.”

    • The Corbyn Conundrum

      Having shared a platform with Jeremy Corbyn several times, I have to admit I had doubts about his leadership capacity. I had none about his heart, his motives, or his intellectual capacity. My doubts were about his interpersonal skills and charisma. I had him marked down as not very sociable and even shy.

      I have just watched his interview on Marr where Corbyn performed much better than I would have imagined possible. He was calm, reasonable and even wise. He came over as an attractive personality. He was, in short, excellent.

      Marr did the job his masters paid him to. He started, instantly, going for the jugular on the tabloids’ favourite attack line on Jeremy Corbyn. Having stated he was going to kick off with foreign policy, did Marr then ask whether Corbyn would continue to support the Tory policy of selling weapons to the Saudis to kill children in Yemen? Would continue uncritical support of Israel and diplomatic protection of its illegal occupation?

    • Equal under the Law

      The Pirate Party stands for justice and equality. We believe that a person’s beliefs, preferences, and physical attributes should have no bearing on how they are treated or what opportunities they have access to.

    • Whistleblower exposes conflict of interest at the heart of HS2

      A whistleblower exposed a significant conflict of interest at the heart of the government’s controversial HS2 project which led to the withdrawal of American firm CH2M from the contract, City AM reported yesterday.

      CH2M was set to be awarded the HS2 contract when a whistleblower alerted rival firm Mace to a major potential conflict of interest involving former HS2 Chief of Staff Chris Reynolds, who had taken up a role with CH2M three months after leaving HS2. Upon questioning, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling claimed that the onus was “first and foremost” on the firms bidding to conform to the rules, rather than on the Department for Transport (DfT) or HS2 to look for possible concerns.

    • Nearing 100 Days In, Trump is Least Popular President in Modern History

      A NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll recorded a 40 percent approval rating, and a Washington Post-ABC News poll saw 42 percent approval. Other surveys have previously put his approval rating as low as 37 percent.

    • “You black bastard” Offensive, friendly banter, somewhere in between or both?

      The Sun publishes an article comparing a black Everton player to a gorilla. While the reporter denies that his piece could be seen as racist, The Sun issues an apology. How might the law deal with this situation? Was the original article racist, defamatory, ignorant or simply fair comment?

    • A Hundred Days of Trump

      On April 29th, Donald Trump will have occupied the Oval Office for a hundred days. For most people, the luxury of living in a relatively stable democracy is the luxury of not following politics with a nerve-racked constancy. Trump does not afford this. His Presidency has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite. The hundred-day marker is never an entirely reliable indicator of a four-year term, but it’s worth remembering that Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama were among those who came to office at a moment of national crisis and had the discipline, the preparation, and the rigor to set an entirely new course. Impulsive, egocentric, and mendacious, Trump has, in the same span, set fire to the integrity of his office.

      Trump has never gone out of his way to conceal the essence of his relationship to the truth and how he chooses to navigate the world. In 1980, when he was about to announce plans to build Trump Tower, a fifty-eight-story edifice on Fifth Avenue and Fifty-sixth Street, he coached his architect before meeting with a group of reporters. “Give them the old Trump bullshit,” he said. “Tell them it’s going to be a million square feet, sixty-eight stories.”

    • Stop It. Trump’s Lawyers Did Not Say That Protestors Have No First Amendment Right To Dissent

      If you’re wondering why people who support Donald Trump can repeatedly claim that various mainstream publications traffic in “fake news,” look no further than the ongoing news coverage of a lawsuit that was filed against his campaign by three protestors. Yes, we know that reporting on legal issues by mainstream publications is bad, but the reporting on this particular case is so bad that over and over and over again it directly states, or at least implies, things that are simply not true. Over and over and over again, the press has taken fairly mundane and expected aspects of this lawsuit and taken them out of context, misreported them and generally suggested they meant things they absolutely did not. And, of course, every time, the reporting has made the President look bad. It should be quite clear by now that I’m not a fan of the President, who I think may be the least qualified person in office ever, but this particular case is a perfect case study in the kind of biased bad reporting, which will cling to anything to attack the President.

      So if you’ve heard reporting recently about how a Trump supporter was suing the President for inspiring him to violence against a protestor, or how a judge said Trump incited violence at a rally, or how Trump’s lawyers claimed there’s no right to protest the President at rallies or that the President is claiming that protestors violated his First Amendment rights, then you’ve been had. None of those are accurate depictions of what’s happening. And, amazingly, these all refer to the same exact case. A case where the press can’t help themselves but to report everything in misleading ways.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Homeland Security’s Inspector General Investigating Attempt To Unmask ‘Rogue’ Tweeter

      As you probably recall, a few weeks ago Twitter sued Homeland Security after it received a summons from Customs & Border Patrol seeking to identify any information about the @ALT_uscis account. USCIS is the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, and the “alt” part is similar to many other such accounts purporting to be anonymous insiders in the government reporting on what’s happening there (whether or not the operators of those accounts truly are inside those organizations is an open question). Anyway, the issue here is that such a use of Twitter would be protected by the First Amendment, and unless the account was revealing classified info, it’s unlikely that there would be any legit means to investigate who was behind the account. And, because of that, it certainly appeared that Customs and Border Patrol decided to use illegitimate means to get the info. Specifically it sent a 19 USC 1509 summons, which is an investigative tool for determining the correct duties, fees or taxes on imported goods. As you can see, identifying a Twitter user does not seem to fit into what that law is for.

    • NSA Kept Watch Over Democratic and Republican Conventions, Snowden Documents Reveal
    • Japan secretly funneled hundreds of millions to the NSA, breaking its own laws
    • NSA Gave Japan Access to Secret Internet Surveillance Program in 2013 – Reports
    • Japan Made Secret Deals With the NSA That Expanded Global Surveillance

      It began as routinely as any other passenger flight. At gate 15 of New York City’s JFK Airport, more than 200 men, women, and children stood in line as they waited to board a Boeing 747. They were on their way to Seoul, South Korea’s capital city. But none would ever make it to their destination. About 14 hours after its departure, the plane was cruising at around 35,000 feet not far from the north of Japan when it was shot out of the sky.

      The downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007 occurred on September 1, 1983, in what was one of the Cold War’s most shocking incidents. The plane had veered off course and for a short time entered Soviet airspace. At Dolinsk-Sokol military base, Soviet commanders dispatched two fighter jets and issued an order to “destroy the intruder.” The plane was hit once by an air-to-air missile and plummeted into the sea, killing all passengers and crew. President Ronald Reagan declared it a “crime against humanity,” marking the dawn of a volatile new chapter in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Soon, tensions would escalate to a level not seen since the Cuban missile crisis, which 20 years earlier had brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

    • LinkedIn Apologizes For Trying To Connect Everyone In Real Life

      LinkedIn has apologized for a vague new update that told some iPhone users its app would begin sharing their data with nearby users without further explanation.

    • [Tor] Transparency, Openness, and our 2015 Financials

      After completing the standard audit, our 2015 state and federal tax filings are available. We publish all of our related tax documents because we believe in transparency.

      I’m sorry for the delay in posting them: we had everything ready in December, but we had a lot going on at the end of the year (if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Tor at the Heart of Internet Freedom blog post series!), and then time got away from me after the new year.

    • USPTO site downgrades to HTTP despite US federal government promise to adopt HTTPS on all websites

      The US Patent Office’s (USPTO) website is now unusable with HTTPS as of April 21st, 2017.

    • Uber tried to fool Apple and got caught

      Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to have Uber’s iPhone app removed from the App Store in 2015, when it learned that the ride-sharing company had secretly found a way to identify individual iPhones, even once the app was deleted from the phone, according to The New York Times.

    • Uber’s C.E.O. Plays With Fire

      For months, Mr. Kalanick had pulled a fast one on Apple by directing his employees to help camouflage the ride-hailing app from Apple’s engineers. The reason? So Apple would not find out that Uber had been secretly identifying and tagging iPhones even after its app had been deleted and the devices erased — a fraud detection maneuver that violated Apple’s privacy guidelines.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • How tech created a global village — and put us at each other’s throats

      For years now, psychological and sociological studies have been casting doubt on the idea that communication dissolves differences. The research suggests that the opposite is true: free-flowing information makes personal and cultural differences more salient, turning people against one another instead of bringing them together. “Familiarity breeds contempt” is one of the gloomiest of proverbs. It is also, the evidence indicates, one of the truest.

    • Saudi Arabia elected to UN women’s rights commission

      [UN Watch's] executive director slammed the election, which occurred in a secret vote during the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council.

    • No Joke: U.N. Elects Saudi Arabia to Women’s Rights Commission, For 2018-2022 Term

      The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch condemned the U.N.’s election of Saudi Arabia, “the world’s most misogynistic regime,” to a 2018-2022 term on its Commission on the Status of Women, the U.N. agency “exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

      “Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “It’s absurd.”

    • US family wins battle, names baby ‘Allah’

      Their daughter, ZalyKha Graceful Lorraina Allah, was born in 2015, but Georgia’s health department had insisted that the initial birth record should have one of the parent’s last names, or a combination thereof.

      [...]

      Handy and Walk’s two sons had previously been given the surname “Allah” without objection from Georgia authorities, according to the civil rights group.

    • Crime Lab Scandal Forces Prosecutors to Disavow Thousands of Drug Convictions

      During her career as a Massachusetts lab chemist, Annie Dookhan has admitted to making up drug test results and tampering with samples, in the process helping send scores of people to prison. Her work may have touched some 24,000 cases.

      On April 18, nearly five years after Dookhan’s confession, prosecutors submitted lists of about 21,587 tainted cases with flawed convictions that they have agreed to overturn. The state’s highest court must still formally dismiss the convictions.

      Once that happens, many of the cleared defendants will be freed from the collateral consequences that can result from drug convictions, including loss of access to government benefits, public housing, driver’s licenses and federal financial aid for college. Convicted green card holders can also become eligible for deportation, and employers might deny someone a job due to a drug conviction on their record.

    • Thousands of hardline Islamists protest Bangladesh statue

      Protesters want the statue of the blindfolded woman holding scales — said to represent justice — destroyed and replaced with a Koran, despite Bangladesh’s secular constitution.

    • Reforming Islam: Can it be done?
    • Chechen Leader Wants Gays ‘Eliminated By Start Of Ramadan’
    • Maldives blogger stabbed to death in capital

      His blog, The Daily Panic, had a considerable following and was known for poking fun at politicians in the nation of some 340,000 Sunni Muslims.

    • 2nd doctor, wife arrested in genital mutilation case

      Nagarwala’s husband, Moiz Nagarwala, is listed as a leader of the Farmington Hills mosque, according to the mosque’s password-protected website, and records list him as having served as joint treasurer.

    • Here Are 11 Weird Fatwas Issued By Clerics Which Will Leave You In Splits

      In 2007, Dr Izzat Atiya, head of Al Azhar University’s Department of Hadith, issued a fatwa, or Islamic decree, saying that female workers should “breastfeed” their male co-workers in order to work in each other’s company.

    • Anti-Israel Sharia advocate to give CUNY commencement speech

      Anti-Zionist who praised terrorist murderer, hailed stone throwers as ‘courageous’ tapped to give commencement address at public NY college.

    • UK Crime Agency’s Latest Moral Panic: Kids Modding Videogames May Be A Gateway To Becoming Criminal Hackers

      In this age where having more people knowledgeable about computers and programming is important for future innovation, these kinds of scaremongering reports do a hell of a lot of damage. Lots of really smart techies got their programming chops started by messing around with video games. Having parents stop them from tinkering because of this overblown report of how it’s a “gateway” to crime could do a lot of damage.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • The relentless fighting over net neutrality rules needs to end, but how can it?

      Leaving the matter to voluntary pledges and the Federal Trade Commission, on the other hand, would be precious close to having no safeguards at all.

    • Net neutrality changes would ‘kneecap’ Mass. entrepreneurs, say tech execs

      The Massachusetts tech community continued its vocal opposition to the Trump administration’s policies on Friday at a press conference where a number of prominent CEOs joined U.S. Sen. Ed Markey in decrying potential changes to so-called net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission.

      Speakers argued that allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to choose which data travels fastest over their networks would give them too much control over who wins and who loses in the internet economy and would be especially damaging to startups, which can’t afford to pay ISPs for faster access to the internet.

    • Boston tech firms, Markey, vow net neutrality fight

      Markey met with executives of 14 major companies, including General Electric Co.,TripAdvisor , Wayfair LLC, iRobot Corp., and Microsoft Corp., at the Boston headquarters of data backup company Carbonite Inc. At a post-meeting press conference, Markey said the coming fight over net neutrality “is going to create a national debate about the Internet the likes of which we have never seen before.”

    • Trainwreck – the danger of upending net neutrality

      The anti-net neutrality crowd prefers a system in which, much like airlines, a monopolist entity can dominate a market deciding service levels and fees. Of course one of the big issues in net neutrality is giving this oligopoly the ability to set up a multi-tiered system for delivering Internet services. Another way to look at it would be institutionalizing slow Internet.

  • DRM
    • Kodi and DRM

      Thanks to a bunch of ill-informed idiots on YouTube posing as Kodi experts and shady vendors looking to make a quick buck off our backs and take advantage of gullible people, Kodi is generally portrayed as a piracy platform. Meanwhile, Team Kodi takes all the heat. Add to that lazy article authors on several news and media sites and we have the perfect storm. Sadly, for many article authors, hearsay is actually a credible source and click bait their living.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Why Authorities in the Netherlands Need to Strip the EPO of Immunity and Investigate Fire Safety Violations

Sunday 23rd of April 2017 04:38:27 PM


Reference: Factory alleged to have ignored warnings

Summary: How intimidation and crackdown on the staff representatives at the EPO may have led to lack of awareness (and action) about lack of compliance with fire safety standards

IN THE last part about the fire hazard at the EPO we shed light on the continuation of this problem at the next building in the Netherlands. Why does this matter? Because the unwillingness of Dutch authorities to compel the EPO to obey the law causes the EPO to operate with impunity and potentially put a lot of lives in great danger, even consciously.

“Lately, it was the Dutch representatives taking a lot of heat or even coming under fire (pardon the pun).”Staff representatives are understandably afraid to bring this up. Each time they say the truth there is severe action of retribution from Battistelli and his goons. Lately, it was the Dutch representatives taking a lot of heat or even coming under fire (pardon the pun).

“Unfortunately,” one person explained to us, “the majority of the local staff committee as well as the local SUEPO committee have been very reluctant to take any further measures to protect our safety in case of a fire at our site. Until now they did not bother to inform [...] though some members were aware of this issue since November 2010.”

“The immunity of the EPO must be ended, and not only after a major catastrophe (one that would belatedly put the EPO in the headlines, due to a tragedy other than Battistelli).”See the effect of union-busting actions and extreme attacks on staff representatives? Even life-threatening risks (mere facts) become suppressed. We too need to be careful in what we say because we are well aware of risk to our sources. Not too long ago we belatedly kick-started a series revolving around the inadequacy of these facilities by sharing, in redacted form, anything but the most sensitive details. We feel safe to assert that this helps highlight human rights aspects (disregard for staff’s safety) and is in the public interest.

We would like to urge readers, especially Dutch-speaking readers, to forward these bits of information to the suitable authorities in Holland and urge for immediate action. The immunity of the EPO must be ended, and not only after a major catastrophe (one that would belatedly put the EPO in the headlines, due to a tragedy other than Battistelli).

Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part IX: Testament to the Fear of an Autocratic Regime

Sunday 23rd of April 2017 03:32:07 PM

Summary: A return to the crucial observation and a reminder of the fact that at the EPO it takes great courage to say the truth nowadays

THE lives ruined by the EPO‘s management extend well beyond EPO staff and stakeholders; spouses, children, friends and peers are impacted as well. The whole European economy is negatively affected. This is why we believe that everyone in Europe (if not well beyond Europe) should pay closer attention to scandals which the media seems unwilling to cover (like it covered FIFA scandals, for instance, if not Volkswagen too, especially amid Dieselgate).

“The EPO has become a sociopathic institution which takes orders from one single person as though he is a monarch in a palace.”In part VII and part VIII of this series we wrote about whistleblowing at the EPO and absolutely zero tolerance of criticism. The EPO has become a sociopathic institution which takes orders from one single person as though he is a monarch in a palace. Nothing like this ever happened at the USPTO or any other patent office (as far as we are aware). European autocracy up on display? Certainly a reputational issue for the EU, even if the EPO isn’t an EU entity (unlike the distant ‘fantasy’ — or contrariwise nightmare — which is UPC).

“In any healthy (or functional) institution, none of this would be required and there would be an ombudsman to turn to. But not the EPO under Battistelli…”The EPO’s whistleblowers are scared; they are not always confident and occasionally they feel the need to forge details not about the story but about themselves. “We were thinking also of changing some terms and details of the story,” one person once told us regarding “nationalities, countries, disease details, sex and ages etc. — [just] enough to make sure that if they [are] still going [to point] the finger on me, it would be an open admission that they did what we relate.”

In any healthy (or functional) institution, none of this would be required and there would be an ombudsman to turn to. But not the EPO under Battistelli…

For the Fordham Echo Chamber (Patent Maximalism), Judges From the EPO Boards of Appeal Are Not Worth Entertaining

Sunday 23rd of April 2017 02:59:52 PM

Microsoft is the sole leading sponsor this year (same as last year)

Summary: In an event steered if not stuffed by patent radicals such as Bristows and Microsoft (abusive, serial litigators) there are no balanced panels or even reasonable discussions

THE EPO is not interested in patent quality. Everyone knows it by now, both inside and outside the Office.

According to patent maximalists’ tweets from Fordham, “[i]n the EPO it is easier to get a method for diagnosis patent than in the US.”

“Bristows staff — the one who ‘took over’ IP Kat — was attending this echo chamber of the patent microcosm recently.”Well, CPIP treats patent quality as a nuisance (they ask for Alice to be undermined and software patents to be back to old glory). They do not treat quality as a desirable feature; they profit not from quality. The same goes for some firms that say the EPO more easily grants software patents than the USPTO these days. Bristows staff — the one who 'took over' IP Kat — was attending this echo chamber of the patent microcosm recently. She professed admiration for Microsoft’s chief patent bully and quoted (or paraphrased) a judge as saying that “everyone is equipped to deal with science.”

“Sorry to disappoint the Honorable judge,” said one of the comments, “but that is an absurd comment, demonstrating ignorance and delusion.” An earlier comment said: “No judges from the EPO Boards of appeal present?”

“At two levels, both technical and juridical, the EPO has been unhinged and is not totally out of control.”Of course not! That would be disruptive to the echo chamber.

The attack on the appeal boards has been (in our humble assessment) intended to help mask the sharp decline in patent quality and/or suppress criticism related to that. At two levels, both technical and juridical, the EPO has been unhinged and is not totally out of control.

“A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select die panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. Since you can’t expect representatives of our competitors to speak on your behalf, you have to get the moderator to agree to having only “independent ISVs” on the panel. No one from Microsoft or any other formal backer of the competing technologies would be allowed -just ISVs who have to use this stuff in the “real world.” Sounds marvellously independent doesn’t it? In feet, it allows us to stack the panel with ISVs that back our cause. Thus, the “independent” panel ends up telling the audience that our technology beats the others hands down. Get the press to cover this panel, and you’ve got a major win on your hands.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

EPO Staff Representatives Fired Using “Disciplinary Committee That Was Improperly Composed” as Per ILO’s Decision

Sunday 23rd of April 2017 02:00:20 PM

Union-busting in defiance of the rules of the EPO, e.g. Article 98(1) ServRegs

Summary: The Board of the Administrative Council at European Patent Organisation is being informed of the union-busting activities of Battistelli — activities that are both illegal (as per national and international standards) and are detrimental to the Organisation

THE EPO has been quiet lately, even days after Easter was finished. Someone has sent us the above letter, which is dated a few days ago and is worth reproducing below. The very concept of negotiating with Benoît Battistelli should be considered laughable at this stage. It’s entrapping oneself; the prospects of negotiating with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would likely be more positive and yield much more. At least the EU occasionally dares condemn him for his actions.

“The very concept of negotiating with Benoît Battistelli should be considered laughable at this stage.”In spite being 3 pages long (with Battistelli having a copy), this letter to Members of the Board of the Administrative Council (who are aware of "a crisis," in their own words) is quite short or at least concise. It focuses not on the technical perils but on the social and juridical perils, which concern the staff representatives who are unable to properly function any longer (under rational fear from an irrational tyrant who is accountable to nobody). Here is the letter in full (original above as animated GIF).

19 April 2017

Members of the Board
of the Administrative Council
European Patent Organisation

Restart of dialogue – SUEPO’s position

Dear Sir, Madam,

One of the aims of Resolution CA 26/16 is to reach “a consensus on an MoU which would establish a framework for negotiation between social partners”. However, as the Council also noted: “…the disciplinary sanctions and proceedings against staff or trade union representatives have, among other reasons, made it more difficult to reach such a consensus…”

So far, further discussions on union recognition between the EPO and SUEPO have remained impossible for well-known reasons. Furthermore, far from improving with time as might have been hoped, the social situation has in fact further deteriorated, particularly following the dismissal of a third staff representative and SUEPO official in November 2016.

At the same time, there is now an increased level of awareness both in the public and at the highest political level1 that something must be done to move forward.

_____
1 letter by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands dated 23 February 2017 (emphasis added):
In dit kader heb ik de heer Minnoye meegegeven dat de interne onrust te lang voortduurt en dat de situatie nu snel
verbetering behoeft. Om met spoed een begin te maken aan herstel van vertrouwen tussen het management en het
personeel, is voorgesteld de sociale dialoog constructief te hervatten en daarbij op zeer korte termijn een aantal
vertrouwenwekkende maatregelen, onder andere gebaseerd op de Social Study, door te voeren:

Heroverweging van disciplinaire maatregelen die ten aanzien van enkele vakbondsleden zijn ingezet

English translation:
In this context, I informed Mr Minnoye that the internal unrest has been going on for too long and that the situation now needs to improve quickly. In order to make a rapid start to restoring trust between the management and staff, the proposal is to resume constructive social dialogue and to introduce a number of trust-building measures in the very short term, based among other things on the Social Study:

Reconsideration of the disciplinary measures implemented with respect to certain trade-union members.

For our part, SUEPO remains committed to fulfilling the Council’s demands as set out in its resolution. As a gesture of good will we wish to inform you that we would be prepared to participate in a first and renewed meeting providing it would be organised with the involvement of an independent mediator.

We would be grateful if the Board 28 would consider endorsing this proposal at its next meeting in April 2017. Following this we would be prepared to enter into discussions concerning the selection of a mediator and other meeting arrangements.

We look forward to your response and attach, also for your consideration, a draft agenda for such a first meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Joachim Michels
SUEPO Central Chairman
On behalf of SUEPO Central and all local SUEPO sections

Annex: Draft agenda

Copy:Heads of Delegation of the Administrative Council
President of the EPO
Council Secretariat

ANNEX

Draft agenda

1. Reintegration of dismissed staff and SUEPO representatives, and cancellation of other sanctions against further staff and SUEPO representatives.2

2. Aims of a negotiation scheme

3. Benchmarking some existing agreements, viz. EU-Agreement with its Unions, the SUEPO proposal, and the existing EPO-FFPE MoU.

4. MoU establishing a framework for negotiation between social partners i.e. the EPO and trade unions

5. Time framework for a global solution for normalising relations between EPO and SUEPO

_____
2 The implementation of the Resolution is here all the more urgent since, in the meantime, it has transpired that the disciplinary measures against SUEPO officials in 2015 and 2016 (in particular Els Hardon, Ion Brumme, Malika Weaver, Laurent Prunier) have been imposed after consultation of a disciplinary committee that was improperly composed: the Chairperson was appointed without the consultation of the GCC required by Article 98(1) ServRegs. A progress on this issue would allow discussing the other points on the agenda.

That second footnote is important. The EPO’s President not only routinely and nonchalantly violates the rules of the EPC (akin to gross constitutional violations), but also violates his very own Code of Conduct. It’s probably far too optimistic to believe that Battistelli is capable of grasping the mere concept of negotiation partners. He exploits power for power’s sake; he’s a hardliner with LE PENthouse de patent maximalism.

Links 23/4/2017: End of arkOS, Collabora Office 5.3 Released

Sunday 23rd of April 2017 01:34:22 PM

Contents GNU/Linux

Intellectual Discovery and Microsoft Feed Patent Trolls Like Intellectual Ventures Which Then Strategically Attack Rivals

Saturday 22nd of April 2017 07:23:18 PM

Still unleashing trolls like Intellectual Ventures at competitors that are actually successful at selling products

Summary: Like a swarm of blood-sucking bats, patent trolls prey on affluent companies that derive their wealth from GNU/Linux and freedom-respecting software (Free/libre software)

PATENT trolls are not just a nuisance. Sometimes they are intermediaries. For instance, Ericsson used a patent troll in order to sue in London and it won earlier this month. Microsoft does something similar and they both go after devices that run Linux, albeit they attack these not directly. They want the ‘protection’ money without all the negative publicity this entails (brand erosion).

“They want the ‘protection’ money without all the negative publicity this entails (brand erosion).”IAM has published this blog post about “Intellectual Discovery” [sic; twice even, for both words], revealing that it feeds trolls that litigate in the Eastern District of Texas. To quote: “Document Security Systems (DSS) has filed lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas alleging infringement of LED-related patents acquired from Intellectual Discovery. The assertion campaign – and its eventual outcome – could represent a major test not just for the embattled publicly traded IP company (PIPCO) model, but also for sovereign patent funds (SPFs) and third-party IP litigation funding at a time when pure-play patent monetisation has become riskier than ever before.”

Not too long ago we wrote that “Bascom Research is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lexington Technology Group, which announced its merger with Document Security Systems…”

“Microsoft would be too hypocritical to join Apple in complaints about Qualcomm (which does similar things to Microsoft on the patent front), so its meddling in complaints appear to have adopted a very familiar intermediary.”Bascom became better known for a CAFC case involving software patents (in their favour) — the very thing that CAFC usually bins straight away.

Microsoft would be too hypocritical to join Apple in complaints about Qualcomm (which does similar things to Microsoft on the patent front), so its meddling in complaints appear to have adopted a very familiar intermediary. William New covered this at IP Watch and Florian Müller had beaten him to it with this post based on a quick tipoff. To quote: “I just received–and wanted to immediately share–an open letter addressed by major automotive and information and communications technology companies to President Donald J. Trump, urging him to shield the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from political interference that could derail the ongoing antitrust litigation in the Northern District of California against Qualcomm (this post continues below the document)…”

“Nokia is commercially if not medically/clinically dead, but Microsoft ended up scattering the company’s patents into the hands of patent trolls that Microsoft is able to control.”Worth noting are the non-corporate entities in there. Notice that Microsoft’s AstroTurfing front ACT is in there too. This is a bunch of patent thugs who now devise patent trolls as a weapon against GNU/Linux and Free/libre software, as we explained this month and last month [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. They have, for example, passed Nokia‘s patents to patent trolls like MOSAID (renamed since, after a lot of negative publicity) and today we learn that the Acacia lawsuit which we mentioned here the other day (Friday) utilises a bunch of patents from Nokia in fact! As Joe Mullin put it, the Microsoft-connected Acacia “uses ex-Nokia patents to sue Apple, phone carriers…” (that’s the headline).

The largest publicly traded patent-assertion company, Acacia Research, has launched a new lawsuit (PDF) against Apple and all the major cell phone carriers.

Cellular Communications Equipment, LLC, a unit of Acacia, has sued Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. The company says that the five industry giants infringe four patents related to basic cell phone technologies. All four patents originated at Nokia, which has been sharing its patents in so-called “patent privateering” arrangements for some years now.

[...]

Another company using Nokia patents, MobileMedia Ideas, won a $3 million jury verdict last year. Nokia did a major deal with another patent-licensing company, Pendrell, in 2013.

Just witness the degree of corruption and recall what Microsoft entryism inside Nokia has caused (we have a lot more to say about it in the future). Nokia is commercially if not medically/clinically dead, but Microsoft ended up scattering the company’s patents into the hands of patent trolls that Microsoft is able to control. Quite a clever strategy… if you want to be evil.

The European Patent Office Has Just Killed a Cat (or Skinned a ‘Kat’)

Saturday 22nd of April 2017 06:45:30 PM

IP Kat, which historically gave a voice to EPO workers and whistleblowers, has never been the same since the EPO's sanctions

Context (in the news this weekend and on Friday):

Summary: The EPO’s attack on the media, including us, resulted in a stream of misinformation and puff pieces about the EPO and UPC, putting at risk not just European democracy but also corrupting the European press

THE EPO‘s thuggery managed not only to silence IP Kat‘s criticisms but also, apparently, to turn it into a UPC propaganda mill, headed not by one but several firms that stand to benefit financially from excess in litigation. The EPO accomplished something similar with IAM and dividends continue to be paid. What gives?

“We are quite justified with our assertion that the blog is Bristows-run these days.”Sometimes we joke that IP Kat has become AmeriKat i.e. Bristows with its UPC agenda. Just look at the blog’s activity in the past week. The 8th post in a row yesterday was from Bristows and later came a ninth. We are quite justified with our assertion that the blog is Bristows-run these days. The Bristows worker says her “new IP idol [is] Brad Smith (Microsoft),” the man who engages in patent blackmail against Linux (we have written about his nefarious activities for over a decade). Need we remind readers that Microsoft bankrolled the event?

The only short break from the Bristows marketing was this EPO puff piece. Vardy offered a little break from the Bristows marathon and accomplished nothing but embellishment of the EPO’s image.

“Vardy offered a little break from the Bristows marathon and accomplished nothing but embellishment of the EPO’s image.”Is this the same IP Kat that wrote about the EPO last year? It has come to our attention that there is a little more going on behind the scenes. Vardy says nothing about the existential threat to the EPO and violations of the law, pretending there’s smooth sailing. So does FRKelly, which in this new piece (“Changes in European Patent Office practice following findings of lack of unity”) completely overlooks the crucial point that EPO search quality is nowadays terrible, as reaffirmed by internal leaks.

“Is this the same IP Kat that wrote about the EPO last year?”FRKelly says that “from 1 April 2017, the EPO now provides applicants with a provisional opinion on the patentability of the invention (or unitary group of inventions) first appearing in the claims together with the Partial Search Report – see notice in the Official Journal of the EPO here.”

But what good are such reports if they are prepared in a rush? Stakeholders have already publicly complained about this. One of them said that even the Spanish patent office (not particularly renowned for leadership in this area) does a better job than the EPO and at a much lower cost.

Where are those anonymous writers at IP Kat who used to write about those things? The founder has retired and the pseudonym shared by multiple people (“Merpel”) is no longer even mentioned in the blog (it used to be habitually thrown into the mix). Where are the Joe Hills and the Rosa Parks? Why do we feel like it’s mostly us, The Register and sometimes Juve that really still care about the EPO? Caring about the integrity of the Office is the opposite of caring about Battistelli’s reputation.

“Stakeholders have already publicly complained about this. One of them said that even the Spanish patent office (not particularly renowned for leadership in this area) does a better job than the EPO and at a much lower cost.”Just look what Bristows has turned IP Kat into! It’s shocking! It’s a disgrace. Even EPO workers tell us that. They are definitely not happy. The most signal that can be derived from IP Kat these days is in the comments. Responding to the EPO’s Margot and Bristows (which carried Margot’s message about the UPC), this one person wrote: “It is amazing to see what is coming out now in order to save the UPC.”

Yes, well…

Truth does not matter at IP Kat when the chronic liars of Bristows run the show. Here is the comment in full:

It is amazing to see what is coming out now in order to save the UPC.

UPC is an agreement reserved to EU member states. This is a fact which seems conveniently forgotten.

As long as UK is member of the EU it might ratify. Once out of the EU it cannot any longer be part of the UPC, at least in the present form.

This means that:
1) the participation of UK in the UPC post Brexit will be part of the bargaining under Art 50. Any more enchanting perspective?
2) provisions have to be found how to transfer pre-Brexit judgements of the UPC into the UK legal system. This might be the easiest part, although it does not appear as simple as it may look at a glance.
3) provisions about enforcement post-Brexit of UPC judgements in the UK have to be devised. This is a point which has been conveniently dodged up to now by all proponents of the post-Brexit participation of UK.

I see here three reasons of great uncertainty. Can, in all honesty and in view of this uncertainty, any representative suggest to his client not to opt-out until any of those points are cleared?

That US industry and PAEs are interested in the UPC is pretty obvious, but should not be taken as a push to satisfy this need.

Here the Commission oversees a great danger and belittles the point of view expressed for instance by IP2P(?) about the danger of trolling. I am not convinced that the harmonisation effect heralded by the Commission will eventually be a benefit for European industry in general and SMEs in particular. In the case of patents subsidiarity might be better.

And now CH and NO should come into the UPC! Ever heard of Opinion 1/09? One should not forget that it was the death knell of EPLA!

As a commenter wrote: is this “knowledge, blind optimism or desperation”? A nice summary!

Responding in another thread — the one in which Bristows tackled those who warn about the UPC and trolls — one person wrote:

Kindly note that the UPC fee for a COUNTERclaim for revocation is between EUR 11k and EUR 20k, depending on the value of the case. Especially if the defendant in the infringement case is an SME, it is unlikely that the maximum revocation fee of EUR 20k will have to be paid, because this only occurs if the value of the case exceeds EUR 2 million.

So a business would need at least 11,000 Euros (at least!) to drive trolls away. And how many trolls would there be under a UPC-like regime? Some patent law firms earn this much in a month, sometimes per person, but for SMEs in Europe that’s a lot of money. It can cost a lot of jobs. And who benefits? Firms like Bristows and trolls. Firms that give bad advice to clients, possibly even an intentionally bad advice…

And back to the propaganda from Battistelli’s right-hand UPC woman (Margot), here is a quoteworthy new comment:

Any idea what I tell my client about UPC cases that are ongoing on Brexit day? For example, if on Brexit day there is an ongoing UPC case where infringement is exclusively in the UK, what happens?

Quite frankly, the statement that “uncertainty is unlikely because legal provision will inevitably be made to deal with the treatment of, for example, pending UPC cases on Brexit day” is ridiculous. That uncertainty already exists and will continue to exist unless and until the specifics of the assumed provision are finally decided on.

Here is another comment:

Uncertainty is not unlikely it is likely! The statement should be read correctly.

That an ongoing case in UK on Brexit day will continue is not at stake here. The uncertainty lies in the how it will happen in the UK. This might be solved if only UK is at stake.

There is however also an uncertainty, but much larger then, on what will happen if it affects not only UK but other contracting states on Brexit day, whether or not it is taken by a UPC court having its seat in UK.

This leads inevitably to the post Brexit enforcement problem.

Not everything revolves around an island bordering the North Sea. After all ridiculous for ridiculous, who is the more ridiculous??

“The UPC may have already been derailed for good, but Team UPC just won’t want to admit it…”It’s quite sad when all that’s left of value in IP Kat are anonymous comments. The blog is otherwise an utter disgrace of no value to anyone, except those in the echo chamber who love being deceived (patent maximalism is music to their ears).

The UPC may have already been derailed for good, but Team UPC just won’t want to admit it (it profits from lying to clients about it) and Luke McDonagh, a scholar from London, said that the General Election this year “will certainly delay Unified Patent Court, may even derail it…”

“Bristows staff (in various different platforms) just lies to everyone, as we have repeatedly demonstrated here over the years.”He was linking to Team UPC’s analysis, which quotes the article by Max Walters, who in turn serves as Bristows’ megaphone. Team UPC said: “In an article in the Law Gazette, Robert Burrows, partner at Bristows, says a start date of early 2018 for the Unitary Patent system could be a more realistic possibility.”

No, it can be altogether called off and it’s the most likely thing given the inherent incompatibility of UPC and Brexit. To quote the more independent view:

In the same article, Luke McDonagh of the Law School at City University London is more pessimistic: ‘It is clear there will be a delay now. Everything is likely to cease pending the election. The decision to ratify may even be up in the air.’

Be careful of anything IP Kat will say in the coming days about UPC (in light of the General Election). Bristows staff (in various different platforms) just lies to everyone, as we have repeatedly demonstrated here over the years. “Nobody said the creation of a new patent system covering all EU member states was going to be easy,” Team UPC added (after the failure). Actually, Team UPC did insinuate this, repeatedly even. Now that they’re losing all their marbles they start engaging in a bit of revisionism, too. It’s an attempt to recover some credibility and save face.

Yann Ménière Resorts to Buzzwords to Recklessly Promote Floods of Patents, Dooming the EPO Amid Decline in Patent Applications

Saturday 22nd of April 2017 05:32:35 PM

Photo credit: Last year’s talk on “Patent Hold-Up”

Summary: Battistelli’s French Chief Economist is not much of an economist but a patent maximalist toeing the party line of Monsieur Battistelli (lots of easy grants and litigation galore, for UPC hopefuls)

WE recently published quite a few articles about software patents that piggyback buzzwords like “cloud” and “AI” (or phrases like “in a car”, “on a device”, “from a phone”, “over the Internet” and so on). Another such buzzword is “IoT”, which simply means some embedded device with a IPv4/6 module built onto it. It’s nothing innovative or even new. The buzzword itself is relatively new, not the underlying technology.

“It’s rather embarrassing to watch. The EPO has been reduced to quite a circus!”The EPO seems to have hired some truly incompetent managers recently. Many of them are French and quite a few are friends of Battistelli. The degree of nepotism at the EPO is nothing to sneeze at and last year we saw Yann Ménière joining the team, replacing those who had warned about low patent quality. He was last mentioned earlier this year in relation to his rather bizarre talk wherein has been reduced to Battistelli’s shadow, just like Margot the UPC propagandist of Battistelli. It’s rather embarrassing to watch. The EPO has been reduced to quite a circus! See this new puff piece which conflates patents with invention (titled “Young Italians becoming great inventors again”); it’s nothing more than EPO parroting, distracting from the fact that EP applications are actually down, not up (the EPO tried hard to hide it if not lie about it).

“A lot of software components are typically at the core of these things and it was recently reported by IP Watch that the EPO figureheads openly promote and defend patents on those (i.e. software patents, in defiance of directives, the EPC, and common sense).”But anyway, about Ménière, IP Watch‘s Dugie Standeford, writing behind a paywall, said this: “The European Patent Office has a “tradition of looking forwards” to anticipate patenting trends, and it sees the Internet of Things (IoT) as the next challenge, Chief Economist Yann Ménière said at 20 April OxFirst webinar on the office’s contribution to the coming world of billions of connected objects.”

A lot of software components are typically at the core of these things and it was recently reported by IP Watch that the EPO figureheads openly promote and defend patents on those (i.e. software patents, in defiance of clear directives, the EPC, and common sense). In other words, it certainly sounds like Battistelli got himself a patent maximalist in the role of “Chief Economist”, spouting out things about technology which he neither practiced nor understands. That has truly become the hallmark of Battistelli appointments. They send the Office crashing and burning and it is painful to watch, especially for insiders whose job is on the line and may soon become redundant because not enough applications are coming in. It’s simple, just do the maths. The stock is running out. Battistelli ordering the issuing en masse of EPs does a lot of harm not just to existing stakeholders but also past applicants, whose patents will inevitably lose value/worth. What kind of economist would be incapable of grasping it? If the EPO was a for-profit business, it would be heading towards bankruptcy right now and even pensions would not be assured (there are rumours, based on another French hire, that these too are going to be cut soon).

Even Patent Bullies Like Microsoft and Facebook Find the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Useful

Friday 21st of April 2017 11:45:34 PM

Summary: Not just companies accused of patent infringement need the PTAB but also frequent accusers with deep pockets need the PTAB, based on some new figures and new developments

THE US has virtually excluded software patents, if not at the USPTO, then at least at the higher courts. Moreover, a lot of software patents are being eliminated outside the courts, owing to PTAB.

For those who used to make money from software patents, notably patent law firms, this trend may be an existential threat, so such firms just give bad advice almost every day. They interject themselves into news sites and give the impression that software patents are OK. The latest anti-Alice rant comes from the patent microcosm, as usual, and now it’s Patricia Martone who writes that the “Court declined to hold that all improvements in computer-related technology and all software patents are inherently abstract and can never pass the Step One test for patentable subject matter.”

“…a lot of software patents are being eliminated outside the courts, owing to PTAB.”The article is actually a bunch of tips for working around restrictions and patenting software. Don’t pursue these patents, however, as most such patents end up enriching nobody but patent lawyers. That is why they keep pretending that things are OK and they can work their way around Alice.

Curiously enough, as this new article points out, PTAB is at it again (squashing patents) and for a change it’s a patent aggressor behind the petition, along with a company it previously blackmailed with patents. Here is the key parts:

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit mostly affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ruling that a patent challenged by technology companies ZTE and Microsoft is invalid.

IPR Licensing is the owner of the patent, US number 8,380,244, which describes and claims “dual mode” communications devices that can use cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

“For those who used to make money from software patents, notably patent law firms, this trend may be an existential threat, so such firms just give bad advice almost every day.”“How Facebook learned to love the PTAB,” IAM also wrote today, alluding to this news about all-time highs at PTAB, which even the pro-trolls sites bother to note. The author admits that patent reformers are succeeding but fails to identify patent trolls as such. “There has been much to pick over from the litigation data for the first quarter of this year,” he says. “There was the ongoing fall in the number of new cases which has dropped to levels not seen since 2011. There was also a notable spike in activity at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which according to analysis from Unified Patents made it the most active quarter ever with 561 reviews filed.”

“What’s noteworthy here is that PTAB comes handy even for patent maximalists; it serves justice faster than the courts and at a lower cost.”Notice how many of the patent holders are LLCs that are mostly likely patent trolls. To quote, “Facebook’s 21 reviews for Q1 were filed against five patent owners with three NPEs — Skky LLC, Sound View Innovations LLC and Windy City Innovations LLC — accounting for all but two according to data from Lex Machina. The company is in litigation with all five patent owners. This PTAB strategy has been seen before with Apple the leading exponent but as Facebook’s recent burst of activity shows, the social media business is a quick learner.”

Well, it shows that patent trolls are preying on such sites. Suffice to say, the patents in question would be software patents — something that Facebook too has been stockpiling and sometimes using for litigation purposes.

What’s noteworthy here is that PTAB comes handy even for patent maximalists; it serves justice faster than the courts and at a lower cost.

Links 21/4/2017: Qt Creator 4.2.2, ROSA Desktop Fresh R9

Friday 21st of April 2017 10:52:03 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 12 ways to maintain your existing community: How you deal with difficult conversations?

    Help us collect community knowledge by blogging about the weekly community management theme. Blog posts are due the following Thursday after each new theme is announced. Next week’s challenge is Difficult Conversations.

    Check out ways to recruit new community members in week #1 blogging challenge.

  • Baidu To Open-Source Its Self-Driving Vehicle Platform
  • Baidu launches Apollo, opens self-drive platform
  • Baidu Makes Its Self-Driving Car Technology Available for Free
  • Uber has high hopes for its open source data visualization software

    Any time a representative of car sharing service Uber Technology Inc. shows up at an analytics conference, his or her session is always packed.

    People crowd into the room for two reasons. First, Uber does a lot of interesting things with advanced analytics, and getting a peak under the hood at how it all works can inspire new projects at other enterprises.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Tor Browser 6.5.2 Features Important Security Updates from Firefox 45.9.0 ESR

        Tor Project announced the release and immediate availability for download of the second and probably the last scheduled point release of the Tor Browser 6.5 stable series of the anonymous web browser based on Mozilla Firefox.

        Tor Browser 6.5.2 is out for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows, and it looks like it incorporates all the important security updates that Mozilla implemented in the Firefox 45.9.0 ESR (Extended Support Release), along with HTTPS-Everywhere 5.2.14 and NoScript 5.0.2.

      • This Simple Tweak Will (Apparently) Make Firefox Faster
      • Firefox 53 Introduces Quantum Compositor, Reducing Browser Crashes

        Mozilla released its Firefox 53 update on April 19, introducing a new browser engine and patching 39 vulnerabilities in the open-source web browser.

        The new browser engine technology in Firefox 53 is known as Project Quantum and is a multipart effort to accelerate and improve the web browsing experience for users. The Project Quantum component included in Firefox 53 is known as the Quantum Compositor; it is designed to help reduce the number of browser crashes due to graphics issues.

  • Databases
    • The new replication features in MySQL 8

      This year at the Percona Live open source database conference, I will present a talk on the latest replication features in MySQL 8.0.

      It was a huge amount of work to get the MySQL Group Replication plugin out with MySQL 5.7.17. Group Replication is a new plugin that gives the user some nice replication properties by resorting to group communication and state machine replication. This makes the system able to protect data against split brain situations, enables fault-tolerance and high availability, and provides coordination between servers committing transactions that change the data.

      In addition to Group Replication, the team has also invested quite a bit on core replication features. Some of these features were already released, and others will be released at some point in time in a MySQL Development Milestone Release (DMR).

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Programming/Development
    • Meet Mark Hinkle, the New Executive Director for the Node.js Foundation

      These days, Node.js is under the hood of everything from the web, the Internet of Things and desktop applications to microservice architectures. Node’s 15 million-plus downloads per month, and more than a billion package downloads per week, render it the world’s biggest open source platform.

      The Node.js Foundation was started in 2015, under the aegis of the Linux Foundation, to support Node’s ongoing growth and evolution. The foundation represents an open governance of the Node ecosystem, with a steadily growing roster of members from every cohort, from Fortune 500 companies to sole proprietor freelancers.

    • Node.js Monitoring/Debugging Tool Now Free for Open Source Projects
    • Announcing Free Node.js Monitoring & Debugging with Trace

      Today, we’re excited to announce that Trace, our Node.js monitoring & debugging tool is now free for open-source projects.

    • veggies: Haskell code generation from scratch

      I wish we had a formally verified compiler for Haskell, or at least for GHC’s intermediate language Core. Now formalizing that part of GHC itself seems to be far out of reach, with the many phases the code goes through (Core to STG to CMM to Assembly or LLVM) and optimizations happening at all of these phases and the many complicated details to the highly tuned GHC runtime (pointer tagging, support for concurrency and garbage collection).

Leftovers
  • Science
    • How Garry Kasparov Learned To Stop Worrying & Love The Machines That Beat Him At His Job

      I am sure that some will dismiss this as a retread of techno-utopianism, but I think it’s important for people to be focusing on more broadly understanding these changes. That doesn’t mean ignoring or downplaying the disruption for those whose lives it will certainly impact, but so much of the discussion has felt like people throwing up their arms helplessly. There will be opportunities for new types of work, but part of that is having more people thinking through these possibilities and building new companies and services that recognize this future. Even if you can’t predict exactly what kinds of new jobs there will be (or even if you’re convinced that no new jobs will be coming), it’s at the very least a useful thought exercise to start thinking through some possibilities to better reflect where things are going, and Kasparov’s essay is a good start.

    • Computer pioneer Harry Huskey dies aged 101

      Engineer Harry Huskey, who helped build many of the first ever computers, has died aged 101.

      Dr Huskey was a key member of the team that built the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (Eniac) which first ran in February 1946.

      Eniac is widely considered to be one of the first electronic, general purpose, programmable computers.

      Dr Huskey also helped complete work on the Ace – the Automatic Computing Engine – designed by Alan Turing.

    • Scientists prepare for protest: ‘the march should be a starting point’

      The placards are made, the speeches prepared. On Saturday, crowds in their thousands are expected at 500 marches in more than 35 countries to remind the world, and its many politicians, that society cannot thrive without science. It will be the largest show of solidarity for science the globe has ever seen.

      Arranged to coincide with Earth Day, the anniversary of the modern environmental movement, organisers hope that the mobilisation of so many can help restore science to what they consider to be its rightful place. But despite healthy support for the events – more than 100 professional societies and organisations have endorsed them – marches alone will not be enough, according to researchers who study protest movements.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • WHO: Hepatitis Death Toll Rising, Vaccination Works But Access To Tests And Medicines Still Issue [Ed: People die from hepatitis (maybe a million dead over the years) because companies bicker over money.]

      Hepatitis-related mortality is on the rise, despite the existence of an efficient vaccine for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C, according to the World Health Organization hepatitis report 2017 published today. One of the issues is that a majority of people are unaware of their condition due to limited access to affordable hepatitis testing. The price of the hepatitis C medicines has decreased in low-income countries, but still remains a barrier in upper-middle income and high-income countries, the WHO said.

    • Licence For A New Hepatitis Treatment, With An Eye To Affordability

      The Medicines Patent Pool has received a licence to develop ravidasvir, a new treatment for hepatitis C.

      The new licence is in partnership with Pharco Pharmaceuticals in Egypt, and expands upon the licence issued in March 2016 by Presidio, the original developer of ravidasvir, and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).

  • Security
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Network Firewalls: How to Protect Your Network from Unauthorized Access
    • The Architecture of the Web Is Unsafe for Today’s World

      The Internet is based on protocols that assume content is secure. A new, more realistic model is needed.

      Twenty-eight years ago, British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee proposed a system to link text documents across a computer network. It changed the way the world communicates and does business. From its humble beginnings, the Internet has become a complex, dynamic, and heterogeneous environment.

      Today, the Internet revolution’s main instrument, the Web browser, exposes users to unbounded malicious content and has become unmanageable.

      How did browsers become such a liability? Because they’re based on an ancient set of communication rules, protocols that assume connections are secure and content is safe. The openness and utility of the protocols led to enormous innovation. But today, with all its sophistication, the Web is still based on protocols that weren’t designed for security or enterprise-class management.

    • In encrypted-messaging market, open source not only key to success [Ed: Overlooked the point that easy-to-use programs whose sources code you cannot study are worse than nothing, just a trap. In this age of government-mandated back doors in programs and protocols the term "proprietary encryption" should be a paradox.]

      A couple months ago, one of the oldest encrypted, ephemeral messaging apps, Wickr, decided to open up its cryptographic code for the world. By allowing hackers and developers to examine their crypto code, it reasoned, it could earn a veritable security merit badge. And the approach had already boosted the appeal of another secure-messaging app, Signal.

      At least on the surface, Wickr’s open-source move appears to be paying off. Scott Stender, vice president of cryptography at NCC Group, a British company that specializes in helping clients manage cybersecurity risks, says it influenced his company’s decision to use Wickr, which incorporates end-to-end encryption, to keep its internal communications private.

    • Self Driving Taxis Are Going To Be A Nightmare To Secure, Warns Ex-Uber Security Researcher [Ed: Trams, trains, subways etc. go on rails; flights managed by programs nowadays. But there's a reason a pilot/driver is still crucial. Same for cars. Unless your driver/pilot is a suicidal maniac (which happens), the negative impact of accident on her/him helps secure the passengers.]

      So over the last few years you probably remember seeing white hat hackers demonstrate how easily most modern smart cars can be hacked, often with frightening results. Cybersecurity researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have made consistent headlines in particular by highlighting how they were able to manipulate and disable a Jeep Cherokee running Fiat Chrysler’s UConnect platform. Initially, the duo documented how they were able to control the vehicle’s internal systems — or kill it’s engine entirely — from an IP address up to 10 miles away.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • New York Times defends hiring extreme climate denier: ‘millions agree with him’

      Amidst backlash and subscription cancellations for hiring extreme climate science denier, Bret Stephens, the New York Times offered a stunning defense: There are “millions of people who agree with him.”

      With that ‘logic’, the Times could hire as a columnist former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke — or a flat earther or someone who thinks vaccines pose a health hazard. After all, millions agree with them.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • VIDEO: iPhones Are iSpies – Wikileaks “Vault 7” Revelations Continue To Terrify

      Most of us carry smartphones and watch web-enabled TVs without much thought. But the revelations found in Wikileaks’ “Vault 7” release warn that we should consider the sinister capabilities that such devices could lend to those who might abuse them.

    • In Secret Court Hearing, Lawyer Objected to FBI Sifting Through NSA Data Like It Was Google

      In her first appearance representing the American public before the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2015, Amy Jeffress argued that the FBI is violating the Fourth Amendment by giving agents “virtually unrestricted” access to data from one of the NSA’s largest surveillance programs, which includes an untold amount of communications involving innocent Americans.

      The NSA harvests data from major Internet companies like Facebook, Google and Apple without a warrant, because it is ostensibly “targeting” only foreigners. But the surveillance program sweeps up a large number of Americans’ communications as well. Then vast amounts of data from the program, including the Americans’ communications, are entered into a master database that a Justice Department lawyer at the 2015 hearing described as the “FBI’s ‘Google’ of its lawfully acquired information.”

    • In Time for the Reform Debate, New Documents Shed Light on the Government’s Surveillance of Americans

      The ACLU today released more than a dozen new documents concerning the government’s warrantless surveillance of millions of Americans. They were obtained from several intelligence agencies in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and relate to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law that the government relies on to conduct its PRISM and Upstream spying programs.

    • Frms make sweet 8K 360 cameras using Facebook Surround’s open source [Ed: Facebook is openwashing a truly spooky and villainous surveillance apparatus; remember what Zuckerberg said]
    • Weeping Angel

      Today, April 21st 2017, WikiLeaks publishes the User Guide for CIA’s “Weeping Angel” tool – an implant designed for Samsung F Series Smart Televisions. Based on the “Extending” tool from MI5/BTSS, the implant is designed to record audio from the built-in microphone and egress or store the data.

      The classification marks of the User Guide document hint that is was originally written by the MI5/BTSS and later shared with the CIA. Both agencies collaborated on the further development of the malware and coordinated their work in Joint Development Workshops.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Copyright & Censorship on Instagram: How Marie Claire Stole My Photo

        I soon discovered that my photo had been picked up by a few other Instagram accounts before Marie Claire, the main one being Bumble and bumble, a company owned by Estée Lauder. The other accounts, including Bumble and bumble, at least had the decency and respect to credit me as well as the hair stylist when reusing my photo. Sadly the model wasn’t credited, which upset me quite a bit.

      • Singapore Court Tosses Copyright Troll Cases Because IP Addresses Aren’t Good Enough Evidence

        We’ve been saying this for years, but IP addresses are not good enough evidence on which to base copyright infringement lawsuits. At some level, everyone already knows this to be true. You can tell that’s the case because the typical pretenders stating otherwise are the copyright trolls with a business model that relies on gathering large numbers of supposedly infringing IP addresses, mailing out settlement demands to the supposed pirates that own the accounts of those IP addresses, and then collecting very real money from some percentage of the recipients. On top of that, even these trolls will often claim that the onus is on the account holder of an internet connection to police their own pipe, which is a delightful end-around to the common concept of punishing true infringers as opposed to innocent third parties.

        There are places with legal systems that have had enough of this practice and we can now add Singapore’s to the list. The High Court in Singapore recently threw out requests from several copyright trolls made to ISPs there to produce account information for IP addresses they claim were used to infringe on two movies, Fathers & Daughters and Queen Of The Desert.

At the EPO, Seeding of Puff Piece in the Press/Academia Sometimes Transparent Enough to View

Friday 21st of April 2017 06:51:03 PM

Summary: The EPO‘s PR team likes to 'spam' journalists and others (for PR) and sometimes does this publicly, as the tweets below show — a desperate recruitment and reputation laundering drive

@tuvienna @BOKUvienna @uniinnsbruck @collegeofeurope @LeuvenU Are your students aware of this opportunity? https://t.co/cjAo0yQHdp

— EuropeanPatentOffice (@EPOorg) April 18, 2017

@MasarykUni @univerzitaMUP @TallinnTech @helsinkiuni @UJML
Are your students aware of this opportunity? https://t.co/HW8c23LYdG

— EuropeanPatentOffice (@EPOorg) April 19, 2017

@Hanken_fi @UniTurku @SorbonneParis1 @unistra @tudresden_de
Are your students aware of this opportunity? https://t.co/eWJPyogVph

— EuropeanPatentOffice (@EPOorg) April 20, 2017

@UniLUISS @unimessina @BresciaPR @tcddublin @ucddublin
Are your students aware of this opportunity? https://t.co/eWJPyogVph

— EuropeanPatentOffice (@EPOorg) April 21, 2017

Affordable and Sophisticated Mobile Devices Are Kept Away by Patent Trolls and Aggressors That Tax Everything

Friday 21st of April 2017 04:27:42 PM

With hundreds of thousands of patents (around the world) on mobile technology, including SEPs, one is unable to operate without being sued ad infinitum


Reference: Patent thicket

Summary: The war against commoditisation of mobile computing has turned a potentially thriving market with fast innovation rates into a war zone full of patent trolls (sometimes suing at the behest of large companies that hand them patents for this purpose)

THE MOBILE market (as in mobile phones, connections etc.) is a sordid mess when it comes to patents. It’s so saturated with patent thickets that one is unable to operate without being sued (or simply overtaxed) from every single direction. Simple devices now cost more than a sophisticated personal computer (where patents are expired or barely enforced anymore).

“Simple devices now cost more than a sophisticated personal computer (where patents are expired or barely enforced anymore).”As mentioned in this older post of ours, Samsung now need to pay a lot of money to Rembrandt Wireless (Rembrandt Wireless Technologies LP), which is a patent troll that relied on a jury in Texas (the capital of patent trolling). Here is one new article about it:

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit remanded part of a patent suit earlier this week, meaning that Samsung may not have to pay the full $15.7 million in damages to Rembrandt Wireless.

Handed down on Monday, April 17, the Federal Circuit’s ruling disagreed with the district court’s denial of Samsung’s motion based on the marking statute, so it remanded the issue.

Samsung is not even an American company, it is Korean.

“Will we finally see the demise of Qualcomm, which is a relic that has been reduced to just patent aggression?”To make matters worse, a ‘supertroll’, Qualcomm [1, 2], has been grabbing a lot of money (possibly billions) from Samsung and only a decade too late Judge Lucy Haeran Koh, an American judge of Korean descent, decides to look into the case. As Florian Müller put it the other day: “After last week’s joint case management statement in FTC v. Qualcomm (Northern District of California), Qualcomm filed a revised proposed schedule on Monday. Judge Koh had denied a stay of discovery and asked Qualcomm to revise its proposed schedule accordingly. Now Judge Koh has set a schedule that is materially consistent with the FTC’s proposal and a lot more ambitious than Qualcomm’s revised schedule (this post continues below the document)…”

Will we finally see the demise of Qualcomm, which is a relic that has been reduced to just patent aggression? IAM, the voice of patent trolls, says this week that “Qualcomm reveals $150 million dispute with licensee as it provides more detail on Apple lawsuit” and here is the key part:

There was plenty to discuss yesterday on Qualcomm’s call with analysts concerning the company’s latest quarterly results. On the positive side the company is in the final stages of its acquisition of NXP Semiconductors and reported that it is seeing strong sales in China, a market where it has had some well-publicised problems.

But throughout the call there was an Apple sized cloud hanging over the discussions as the company updated its position in its high-profile dispute with the iPhone manufacturer. It also revealed an additional dispute, unconnected with the Apple case, with an additional, unnamed licensee, which has resulted in an underpayment in royalties of more than $150 million.

That’s a lot of money. Apple is challenging this and we hope that Apple wins because it would also help Android OEMs if Apple got its way.

Meanwhile, as per Apple advocacy sites, patent troll Acacia is at it again. It is a patent troll with Microsoft connections and according to Apple Insider, “Apple and a handful of partner cellular carriers are the target of a new lawsuit leveled by Acacia Research subsidiary Cellular Communications Equipment, which alleges the iPhone maker infringed and continues to infringe on four patents developed by Nokia covering messaging, emergency alerts and other key cellular technologies.”

“Apple is challenging this and we hope that Apple wins because it would also help Android OEMs if Apple got its way.”A day earlier Apple Insider wrote that “Apple settles Unwired Planet patent suit for undisclosed amount” (via). Unwired Planet is a patent troll that now operates in Europe, too (it does for Ericsson what MOSAID/Conversant does for Microsoft through Nokia). It recently got its way in London and Germany is already attracting lots of patent lawsuits (many of which are initiated by trolls now), from companies that are not even German. Whose system is this? Here is a new press release titled “Motorola Solutions Files Patent Infringement Complaints in Germany Against Hytera Communications and Hytera Mobilfunk” (another case involving mobile).

Regarding the troll lawsuit in London, which we covered here very recently, this new guest post by Prof. Mark Patterson from Fordham Law (patent maximalists) covers it by promoting FRAND patent thickets. It’s mostly FRAND advocacy but it is supporting a notorious patent troll in the process. Here is the outline: “Last week Professor Jorge Contreras provided here an excellent summary of the April 5 decision of Mr. Justice Birss of the UK’s High Court of Justice in Unwired Planet International Ltd. v Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., [2017] EWHC 711. The case addresses the problems that arise in determining FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) licensing terms. Professor Contreras highlighted several novel aspects of the decision.”

“In China right now there is not a thicket but smog of low-quality patents.”What we have here is a disturbing passage of trolling venues into Europe (for which the EPO can be partly blamed). The same thing is happening in China, which the EPO seems to be imitating. In China right now there is not a thicket but smog of low-quality patents. SIPO’s quality control is a joke, resulting in protectionism for massive corporations that create a patent thicket in China. Here is Huawei, a government-connected company, having a go against Korea’s government-connected company and getting its way in Chinese courts. To quote government-connected Chinese press: “Huawei Technologies Co Ltd scored another point in its patent fight with its rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in China, which may weigh down on the South Korean company’s business in the world’s largest smartphone arena.” As IAM admitted yesterday, patent lawsuits in China skyrocket due to SIPO’s policy (patent microcosm profits at the expense of real workers). IAM says that “civil patent litigation cases increased by 20% compared to last year.” It also says “we’ll be getting a lot of statistical insight into China’s relatively closed court system in the coming days as the Supreme People’s Court releases white papers summing up how many IP case were filed and by whom in 2016.”

“This is anything but desirable and it’s antithetical to the patent system as it was perceived at the time of inception.”What it all boils down to is more patents and a lot more patent lawsuits over mobile devices; each such lawsuit will ultimately artificially elevate the price of phones and money will typically end up in the pockets of lawyers, not technologists. At the same time phones will have featured removed from them (intentionally hobbled), meaning inferior products available in the market. This is anything but desirable and it’s antithetical to the patent system as it was perceived at the time of inception.

In Spite of Lobbying and Endless Attempts by the Patent Microcosm, US Supreme Court Won’t Consider Any Software Patent Cases Anymore (in the Foreseeable Future)

Friday 21st of April 2017 03:12:36 PM

Alice stands firm.


Software patents are being invalidated en masse using Alice. Not to be confused with Alice the software.

Summary: Lobbyists of software patents, i.e. proponents of endless litigation and patent trolls, are attempting to convince the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to have another look at abstract patents and reconsider its position on cases like Alice Corp. v CLS Bank International

THE USPTO can grant as many software patents as it wants, but American courts reject these and litigation with such patents has become an unattractive, risky strategy. Even pursuing such patents in the first place may prove to be a waste of time and money, irrespective of the outcome at the patent office.

Earlier this week we spotted this press release about HEVC — certainly a massive software patents trap [1, 2] (evergreening). “This innovative product utilizes Beamr’s 29 granted patents and 18 pending patent applications to produce HEVC video encodes that are up to 50% smaller than Beamr’s market-leading HEVC software encoder, Beamr 5,” the press release stated. Wanna bet all of these patent applications, even if they got granted, would be thrown away by courts like the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), if not SCOTUS above it? This whole thing in an exercise in ‘thicketing’ — i.e. making up for the invalidity of patents by quantity rather than quality (to make legal challenges more lengthy and thus expensive). Microsoft does this quite a lot. It flings a large pile of lousy software patents at poor companies and demands that they settle (pay ‘protection’ money) or spend years in courtrooms (at the expense of millions of dollars, making settlement the cheaper option, securing the patents from much-needed scrutiny).

“Even pursuing such patents in the first place may prove to be a waste of time and money, irrespective of the outcome at the patent office.”The matter of fact is, software patents should no longer be issued by the USPTO. These contribute to extortion, not innovation. Only the law firms profit from that.

The other day we saw this new rant about Alice, courtesy of Matthew Schantz who profits from legal chaos. That’s just latest example of patent law firms promoting software patents and yearning for them. Watch the language of optimism and positivism: “Software patents have seen better times. The glory days of the 1980s and 1990s, after the U.S. Supreme Court held in Diamond v. Diehr (1981) that inventions implemented in software are not unpatentable just because they are implemented in software, continued long past the generalized expansion of patentable subject matter by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in State Street Bank v. Signature Financial Group (1998). But the Supreme Court shook the foundations of the software patent world in 2012 (Mayo v. Prometheus) and 2014 (Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International), leaving business leaders (and their patent attorneys) to wonder whether — or even hope that — software patents were dead. While the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and courts have struggled to find reasonable, “new normal” limits on software patents that are practical in application and justifiable under precedent, recent cases reflect a maturing of the law surrounding patents on software-implemented inventions.”

“The matter of fact is, software patents should no longer be issued by the USPTO.”That’s good. That’s very desirable. Just ask any software professional about it. These professionals do not want software patents, unlike those who pretend to speak on ‘their behalf’. Some of them repeatedly heckle PTAB and try to slow it down, for it invalidates a growing number of software patents these days (a lot more than courts do). Patently-O, one of the scarcely-closeted opponents of PTAB, only accentuates the negatives, not the positives, and then proceeds to looking into SCOTUS cases that have nothing whatsoever to do with software patents. The first of these says: “A newly filed petition for writ of certiorari offers a substantial challenge to the quick-look eligibility decisions that have been so popular among district courts. The challenge here is especially focused on no-evidence eligibility decisions that serve as a substitute for an obviousness determination.”

Again, he is hoping to slow down (or prevent) invalidation of bogus patents. The second of these says: “The Court affirmed that requirement in a non-patent case, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger (Apr. 18, 2017). In that case, Goodyear engaged in a years-long effort to hide key documents from the plaintiffs, who, not knowing of them, settled the case. When they sought sanctions, the district court awarded all of the litigation fees the plaintiff had incurred from the time when the scheme had begun: $2.7 million. It also held, conditionally, that $2 million was caused directly by the shenanigans.”

“Maybe we can urge some readers of ours to submit an amicus brief to explain why software patents are a bad idea and Alice already tackling the issue means that there’s no point revisiting the matter.”But this case isn’t even about patents. Why is Patently-O covering this?

The threat that SCOTUS will revisit Alice-type cases isn’t quite there, at least not yet. Watchtroll is trying to change this right now, by urging (in the form of amici) an escalation of a software patents case to SCOTUS. To quote: “BBiTV appeals from the Federal Circuit’s Rule 36 affirmance of two summary judgment decisions in which the district court found claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,631,336, entitled “Method for converting, navigating and displaying video content uploaded from the internet to a digital TV video-on-demand platform,” to be directed to the abstract idea of “using the same hierarchical ordering based on metadata to facilitate the display and locating of video content.” The following excerpts of the Petition set forth the issues presented and portions of BBiTV’s arguments. Amicus briefs in support of the Petition are due by May 15, 2017.”

Maybe we can urge some readers of ours to submit an amicus brief to explain why software patents are a bad idea and Alice already tackling the issue means that there’s no point revisiting the matter.

“Software patents are on the rocks in the United States, but this should not be taken for granted and we must never rest on our laurels knowing that the opposition, i.e. those who prey on software developers, try to overturn and cancel prior decisions.”We are no doubt going to see many more attempts like the above to crush Alice. There is in fact a whole "task force" now, led by IBM and its lobbyists (people like David Kappos), dedicated to doing just that.

Software patents are on the rocks in the United States, but this should not be taken for granted and we must never rest on our laurels knowing that the opposition, i.e. those who prey on software developers, try to overturn and cancel prior decisions.

Expect Team UPC to Remain in Deep Denial About the Unitary Patent/Unified Court (UPC) Having No Prospects

Friday 21st of April 2017 02:01:01 PM

It’s called belief disconfirmation

Summary: The prevailing denial that the UPC is effectively dead, courtesy of sites and blogs whose writers stood to profit from the UPC

READERS keep telling us (even today) that patent quality at the EPO is farcical. It’s not the fault of examiners but the fault of their superiors, who threaten them with unemployment (for ‘daring’ to do their job like they’re supposed to). We can relate to the problem as we have covered similar scenarios (elsewhere) over the years.

“The only ‘businesses’ that are guaranteed to profit are litigation firms, even if (or especially if) the litigation is frivolous.”The EPO, based on this new press release, grants yet more controversial and low quality patents while working to make litigation easier and harsher (UPC). Who benefits from that? Certainly not the average European business. The only ‘businesses’ that are guaranteed to profit are litigation firms, even if (or especially if) the litigation is frivolous. They would profit from both sides of a legal dispute over patents.

Here in Techrights we have been amicable and oftentimes collaborative with other sites that covered EPO scandals, including IP Kat, so we are deeply disturbed to see what this blog has become lately. We have begun joking that Bristows has managed to ‘buy’ the blog, so to speak. The past 7 posts in the blog, for example, are all composed by Bristows staff (this is the latest) and it’s just self promotion like this: “The IPKat’s own Annsley Merelle Ward (a.k.a. the Amerikat) eloquently introduced the philosophical question: is there an existential crisis in the equilibrium between patent filings and trade secrets? She noted that various commentators from industry have suggested an increased trend for a preference for trade secrets, leading to a decrease in innovation.”

“So they hope that the British government will change the law too, in order to accommodate the UPC, even when British companies oppose it?”She is talking about “innovation” while not practicing/championing any and also while promoting UPC and software patents. Who are these people kidding? It’s an echo chamber-like event that we have scrutinised here over the years [1, 2], even 7 years ago.

Responding to the part about UPC (echoing Battistelli’s paid-for liars), one person tackled the issue of changing national laws for Battistelli and his ilk by stating: “Regarding Unitary Patents: Couldn’t the UK Government simply legislate unilaterally to recognise the effect of Unitary Patents in the UK? No agreement with the EU or official negotiation of an agreement under Article 142 EPC required?”

So they hope that the British government will change the law too, in order to accommodate the UPC, even when British companies oppose it? All that latest propaganda from Bristows serves to reinforce our accusations from last year. Another new comment said: “And so, the summary is?? It’s hard to tell whether the ‘oh, it’ll be alright’ is knowledge, blind optimism or desperation. CH and NO seem to be complicated whereas UK is tootling along nicely (although it is still complicated?). I’m lost. 2017? 2018? 2019?…”

“It probably won’t be long before Bristows posts another IP Kat analysis spinning the General Election as “good” news for UPC.”And soon they’ll say 2020, 2021…

It probably won’t be long before Bristows posts another IP Kat analysis spinning the General Election as “good” news for UPC. Maybe they’re still working/figuring out on how to construct such a lie. Remember that infamous lie about SMEs? Or Bristows' latest spin about UPC and trolls?

Linking to pro-UPC sites, UPC proponents in Germany state: “Don’t you have a constitutional discontinuity principle in the #U.K.? Meaning: after elections all legislative processes are reset? We have.”

“Remember the swpat [software patents] directive,” Benjamin Henrion responded, “it was discussed to reset the directive because they don´t have it at the EU level.”

“It’s a lobbying strategy, designed to seduce if not actively pressure politicians to ratify. We have seen this strategy in action for over half a decade now.”They are going to try all sorts of workarounds to ensure that they can maintain the charade of UPC being “inevitable”, “unstoppable”, “just a matter of time” or whatever (all lies).

In the above, Mark Richardson should say “call off”, not delay, but for those in the business of legal attacks the UPC means a lot of money so they still pretend that the UPC is bound to happen sooner or later. That’s patently false. It’s a lobbying strategy, designed to seduce if not actively pressure politicians to ratify. We have seen this strategy in action for over half a decade now. It’s truly a classic!

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