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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 57 min ago

High US Court Rules Against Patents on GUIs

Tuesday 29th of May 2018 10:24:09 AM

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has decided that patents on handheld devices for displaying GUIs aren’t valid, in effect affirming the decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

TECHRIGHTS wrote several articles about patents on GUIs some months back. These are arguably software patents, mostly the callback functions. The EPO earned infamy after it had granted a patent on the progress bar, so this debate isn’t entirely new. In fact, it was recently revisited — at least indirectly — because of Apple v Samsung; patents on designs are inadequate. It’s the wrong law. Use of trademark law, for example, can cover appearances. Making the USPTO look farcical was this decision captured as an image. Are patents on mere looks worth a hundred times more than function/utility? Apple makes itself looks like an enemy of patent reason and Apple has in fact just been sued again, this time too by Voip-Pal (this press release is an hour old).

Generally speaking, GUIs don’t merit patents and more often than not they’re a bloody joke because there’s plenty of prior art in the analogue world. CAFC ‘gets’ it. It seems like right now, as opposed to months ago, CAFC decides that “Shapes and Shading of Graphical User Interface Not Enough to Uphold Validity,” based on this new analysis of Valmont Industries, Inc. v Lindsay Corp. To quote:

The Board found that all of the challenged claims, except claim 11, would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art, but that claim 11 would not have been obvious.

In particular, the Board found that claims 1–3, 6–10, 12–14, 17, and 18 would have been obvious in view of two prior art references including a primary reference that described remotely monitoring and controlling an irrigation system using a computer to display GUIs, and a secondary reference brought in for describing remotely monitoring and controlling various types of field devices for industrial processes using a handheld device displaying GUIs.

On appeal, Valmont argued that there was insufficient evidence of a motivation to combine the references because the handheld devices in the secondary reference lacked sufficient display capabilities and computing capacity to operate the system described in the primary reference. The ’357 patent has a 2001 priority date, and expert testimony was provided to demonstrate that at the time of the invention, a person of ordinary skill would be able to employ the system of the primary reference on a mobile device disclosed in the secondary reference. In particular, mobile phones at the time, could display GUIs and receive user commands through manipulation of GUIs.

The patent microcosm barely spoke about this; they probably hope that nobody will notice and instead people will remember that months-old decision on mobile phone GUI.

St. Germain’s “Système Lamy” and Its EPO Clone – Part 1: Rubber-stamp Committees and Secret Meetings

Tuesday 29th of May 2018 07:52:00 AM

Summary: A look at the parallels between the notorious governance style of Emmanuel Lamy (above) and that of Benoît Battistelli at the EPO

A recent Techrights posting drew attention to the reputed influence of the “Système Lamy” in St. Germain-en Laye on the “Système Battistelli” at the EPO and posed the question whether the political culture of Battistelli’s hometown in France had contaminated the governance of the EPO.

Further research on this topic has confirmed the existence of striking similarities between the management style of the ENArque Battistelli at the EPO and the functioning of the municipal “political machine” operated in St. Germain-en-Laye for decades by his fellow ENArque and political mentor, the late Emmanuel Lamy.

Indeed the similarities are so pronounced that one could almost speak of a clone of the “Système Lamy” at the EPO.

The operational methods of both “systems” include a number of key characterising features such as:

  • Reducing oversight bodies to “rubber-stamp committees”
  • Suppression of open debate and transparency
  • Controlling and manipulating the flow of information
  • Shooting the messenger and defaming opponents
  • Disclaiming responsibility for one’s own mistakes and projecting the blame onto others

We propose to look at the above operational methods in more detail and give some specific examples to let readers form their own opinion.

Reducing oversight bodies to “rubber-stamp committees”

In an interview given to the local press during the 2014 municipal election campaign, Anne Gommier of the conservative opposition group Agir pour Saint-Germain expressed a general dissatisfaction with Lamy’s style of governance in St. Germain-en-Laye.

“Indeed the similarities are so pronounced that one could almost speak of a clone of the “Système Lamy” at the EPO.”Amongst other things she spoke of an unacceptable “disconnect” with the local populace as well as problems with a lack of transparency and consultation. She also deplored the way in which the municipal council had been degraded to a rubber-stamp committee: “Le conseil municipal est une chambre d’enregistrement”.

See the article (in French)Municipales : une dissidente en lice à Saint-Germain-en-Laye“.

It should be noted here that Gommier served as a Deputy Mayor under Lamy from 2008 to 2014 and was speaking from first-hand experience of his modus operandi.

“In an interview given to the local press during the 2014 municipal election campaign, Anne Gommier of the conservative opposition group Agir pour Saint-Germain expressed a general dissatisfaction with Lamy’s style of governance in St. Germain-en-Laye.”Gommier’s criticisms were echoed by another conservative dissident, Yves Maillard, who also ran as a candidate in the 2014 municipal elections and expressed similar views in the local press:

“The purpose of my action and my project is to strengthen local democracy, he says. What frustrates me in our operations is that the mayor [i.e. Lamy] is capable of acting like a patriarch at the head of a family business. He listens to all sides but the decision will be made by a small committee and the group as a whole is presented with a fait accompli. There’s not going to be any debate. For me, this is not democracy. During the current mandate I have not seen a single decision that has been the result of a debate. The council is a rubber-stamp committee.”

See the article (in French)Municipales. Yves Maillard veut raviver la démocratie locale“.

“It should be noted here that Gommier served as a Deputy Mayor under Lamy from 2008 to 2014 and was speaking from first-hand experience of his modus operandi.”Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era should have no difficulty in recognising the parallels, in particular the way in which Battistelli successfully reduced the EPO’s various statutory bodies including its governing body, the Administrative Council, to mere “rubber-stamp committees”.

With regard to Battistelli’s control of the Administrative Council it should be noted that here he managed to surpass his mentor Lamy. During the period in question Battistelli was not the head of the EPO’s Administrative Council but was — at least on paper — subject to its authority. This was truly a most spectacular case of the “tail wagging the dog”!

Suppression of open debate and public scrutiny

“Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era should have no difficulty in recognising the parallels, in particular the way in which Battistelli successfully reduced the EPO’s various statutory bodies including its governing body, the Administrative Council, to mere “rubber-stamp committees”.”Both Lamy and Battistelli have shown themselves to be masters at suppressing open debate and public scrutiny.

A favourite tactic of Lamy was to declare meetings of public bodies such as the municipal council of St. Germain or the executive committee of SIDRU to be “closed sessions” due to the discussion of allegedly confidential matters.

For example, as the “toxic loan” problems at SIDRU were becoming the subject of public concern in 2013, Lamy managed to have an important public meeting of the intercommunal executive committee declared a “closed session” as reported in the local newspaper Courrier des Yvelines on 23 January 2013 [PDF]. This resulted in the exclusion of the press and members of the local opposition group who were in attendance as public observers.

“A favourite tactic of Lamy was to declare meetings of public bodies such as the municipal council of St. Germain or the executive committee of SIDRU to be “closed sessions” due to the discussion of allegedly confidential matters.”See the blog post (in French)Débat d’orientation budgétaire du SIDRU: la presse et l’opposition expulsées de la salle !

A video of the opening of the meeting showing the vote in favour of a closed session on a proposal from Lamy can be seen here.

SIDRU, Committee meeting of 16 January 2013

Request for a closed meeting by union president Emmanuel Lamy (UMP).

Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines): Meeting of the Committee of the urban waste disposal union (SIDRU). This is a public meeting of which we usually put the most notable passages online, as the law allows. For the second time, the SIDRU executive requested that the meeting be held behind closed doors, so that the debates would not be filmed. The journalists and the municipal opposition of Saint-Germain were therefore expelled.

“For example, as the “toxic loan” problems at SIDRU were becoming the subject of public concern in 2013, Lamy managed to have an important public meeting of the intercommunal executive committee declared a “closed session”…”In a posting dated 13 August 2013 the opposition group Saint-Germain Autrement criticised Lamy’s attempts to silence its members on the municipal council because of their persistent criticism of his management of SIDRU and its “toxic loans”.

See the blog post (in French)Débat sur le SIDRU : quand le maire de Saint-Germain-en-Laye veut faire taire l’opposition de gauche“.

Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era will be familiar with the deployment of such tactics, in particular Battistelli’s frequent use of “confidential sessions” of the Administrative Council to pursue dubious agendas and keep matters of legitimate public interest hidden away from any external scrutiny.

“Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era will be familiar with the deployment of such tactics, in particular Battistelli’s frequent use of “confidential sessions” of the Administrative Council to pursue dubious agendas and keep matters of legitimate public interest hidden away from any external scrutiny.”Like the mythical vampire Battistelli and his cronies at the EPO seem to have a strong aversion to sunlight. Perhaps this has something to do with its reputation as the “best of disinfectants” to borrow a well-worn phrase from Louis Brandeis.

Jut to give one prominent example, Battistelli’s reaction to the Enlarged Board of Appeal’s decision to hold a public hearing in the case of proceedings under Article 23 of the European Patent Convention (removal from office of a member of the Boards of Appeal) is well known and has been widely documented, e.g. [1, 2].

In most other contexts — leaving aside totalitarian states such as North Korea — any holder of public office who had been caught interfering with judicial independence in such an open and flagrant manner would most likely have been forced to face the consequences.

“In most other contexts — leaving aside totalitarian states such as North Korea — any holder of public office who had been caught interfering with judicial independence in such an open and flagrant manner would most likely have been forced to face the consequences.”In Battistelli’s case he was never called to account. Perhaps this was because he had been so successful in reducing his oversight body to a mere “rubber-stamp committee”?

In Part 2 we will examine some further aspects of “Système Lamy” and its EPO clone.

Links 28/5/2018: Linux 4.17 RC7, Fedora 26 EOL Soon

Monday 28th of May 2018 08:48:20 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • First look: One Mix Yoga running Ubuntu 18.04 Linux

      The One Netbook One Mix Yoga mini PC will ship with Windows 10 when it hits the streets in the coming weeks, but since I’ve been testing a pre-production prototype sent to me by the folks at Geekbuying (who are taking pre-orders for $460), I figured I’d see how it handles the recently-released Ubuntu 18.04 Linux operating system.

      For the most part it was smooth sailing, but there was one major issue: the Ubuntu didn’t recognize the little computer’s audio hardware out of the box. So while the keyboard, optical touch pointer, touchscreen, and digital pen all worked out of the box, audio did not.

    • How Linux Can Make Your Life Easier

      Linux is an Operating System (more specifically a kernel) that provides an interface between the computer hardware and the user. Like Microsoft Windows and OS X, Linux provides a platform to the users, enabling them to carry out their daily chores on their beloved computer. And in case you dual-booted or installed Linux on your computer or are just curious to know how Linux can make your life easier, then, you are at the right place.

    • Why I use a Mac computer, but an Android phone

      Yes, you could use a flavour of Linux on cheaper hardware, but then you trade the great Mac graphical interface with the ones available to Linux.

      You can fight me in the comments, but deep down you know I’m right.

      MacOS comes with Bash, and many of the tools those familiar with Linux would expect to have by default in their favourite distribution, including basics like “whois”, which aren’t installed in Windows by default.

    • Everything you knew about Chromebooks is wrong

      The original assumed vision of the Chromebook platform was a laptop and operating system capable of running only the Chrome web browser. You could do anything you wanted, as long as you wanted to stay on the web at all times.

      Today, the best new Chromebooks can runs apps from three additional operating systems.

      Not only do Chromebooks run apps, but they run more apps without dual- or multi-booting than any other computing platform. Chromebooks can run apps from Android, Linux and Windows concurrently in the same session.

    • Librem 13: A few problems

      I bought my old Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (1st gen.) when I entered grad school for my Master’s program, in 2012. And after six years, the Thinkpad still ran well, but it was getting old, so I figured it was time for a change. I went back and forth about what kind of system should replace my laptop. I don’t travel that much, so I figured a desktop would be better. And I could get a bigger screen.

      After going back and forth on the decision, I decided to get a laptop. I don’t often travel with a laptop, but when I do, I prefer to use my primary system so I don’t have to keep things synced. Of course, I wanted my system to run Linux. Purism is aimed at the Linux laptop market, and I wanted to support that. So I bought a Librem 13.

      I’ve had it now for about a week, and I love it now. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t love it right out of the box. I’d like to note two issues for folks who are thinking about getting a Librem laptop, so you aren’t surprised like I was.

    • Dell Precision ‘Developer Edition’ mobile workstations run Ubuntu Linux and are RHEL certified

      While Dell is mostly known as a Windows PC manufacturer, the company is also a big proponent of Linux. Its “Developer Edition” models can be configured with Ubuntu, for instance. Of course, despite this branding, non-developers can buy them too. The XPS 13 “Developer Edition” in particular is a svelte machine that should make many home Linux users very happy.

      In addition to home users, Dell manufactures solid business-class mobile workstations, and the company recently announced four such Linux-powered models. These Precision “Developer Edition” laptops run Ubuntu and are RHEL certified. One of these notebooks, the Precision 3530, is available today, while the other three will be available soon.

    • Dell refreshes Precision laptops with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed

      It’s been a little over a year since Dell updated its Precision mobile workstation line, which is notable for its inclusion of the Ubuntu flavor of Linux as an operating system option alongside Windows 10. But last week, the company refreshed the laptop lineup without much fanfare, starting with the entry-level Precision 3530.

  • Server
    • What is a Linux server and why does your business need one?

      IT organizations strive to deliver business value by increasing productivity and delivering services faster while remaining flexible enough to incorporate innovations like cloud, containers, and configuration automation. Modern workloads, whether they run on bare metal, virtual machines, containers, or private or public clouds, are expected to be portable and scalable. Supporting all this requires a modern, secure platform.

      The most direct route to innovation is not always a straight line. With the growing adoption of private and public clouds, multiple architectures, and virtualization, today’s data center is like a globe, with varying infrastructure choices bringing it dimension and depth. And just as a pilot depends on air traffic controllers to provide continuous updates, your digital transformation journey should be guided by a trusted operating system like Linux to provide continuously updated technology and the most efficient and secure access to innovations like cloud, containers, and configuration automation.

    • Linux+ Certification and InfoSec Institute’s Linux-related Training and Courses

      Linux operating system (OS) is used by many users both at home and at the office: it is running on personal computers, mobile devices, and web server systems on-premise, hosted or in the cloud. So, why so many Linux addicts? Free, open-source and with a community of enthusiastic supporters and experts, Linux is the choice of many for private and commercial purposes, as it allows total control and customization capabilities.

    • IBM wins $310 mil. contract with KB Kookmin

      KB Kookmin has decided to continue its controversial partnership with IBM, which offered heavy discounts to supply its mainframe system for use in the bank’s banking application system.

      The monetary value of the deal is estimated at 340 billion won ($310 million). KB Kookmin will hold a board meeting later this week to fix the budget for the system renewal, bank officials said Monday.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.17-rc7

      So this week wasn’t as calm as the previous weeks have been, but despite
      that I suspect this is the last rc.

      This week we had the whole “spectre v4″ thing, and yes, the fallout from
      that shows up as part of the patch and commit log. But it’s not actually
      dominant: the patch is pretty evenly one third arch updates, one third
      networking updates, and one third “rest”.

      The arch updates are largely – although not exclusively – spectre v4.

      The networking stuff is mostly network drivers, but there’s some core
      networking too.

      And “the rest” is just that – misc drivers (rdma, gpu, other),
      documentation, some vfs, vm, bpf, tooling..

      The bulk of it is really pretty trivial one-liners, and nothing looks
      particularly scary. Let’s see how next week looks, but if nothing really
      happens I suspect we can make do without an rc8.

      Shortlog appended as usual. Go out and test.

    • Linux 4.17-rc7 Released: Linux 4.17.0 Might Be Out Next Week

      While this past week for kernel development has been busier than in prior weeks, Linus Torvalds today released Linux 4.17-rc7 and feels the official/stable release might be ready next week.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Vulkan Virgl Has Kicked Off For Supporting This Graphics/Compute API Within VMs

        Of the hundreds of projects for this year’s Google Summer of Code, there are many interesting GSoC 2018 projects but one of those that I am most excited for is Vulkan-Virgl for getting this modern API supported with hardware acceleration by guest virtual machines.

        As implied by the name, this effort is based upon the Virgl project started by David Airlie and originally tasked with getting OpenGL acceleration to guest VMs using a fully open-source Linux driver stack. Virgl has been in good shape for a while now with OpenGL, while this summer the hope is to get the Vulkan API support going for opening up VMs to using this high-performance graphics and compute API.

      • AMDVLK Driver Lands Half-Float Additions, Many Other Improvements

        There’s been another weekly-ish public code push to the AMDVLK open-source AMD Vulkan Linux driver stack and this time around it’s heavy on feature work.

        There has been a fair amount of changes pertaining to half-float (FP16) support including support for the AMD_gpu_shader_half_float extension, prepping for VK_AMD_gpu_shader_half_float_fetch, FP16 interpolation intrinsics and register settings, and more.

      • Vega M Graphics On Intel Kabylake G CPUs Are Beginning To Work Under Linux

        We have been covering the Linux driver upbringing of “Vega M” for the Vega/Polaris graphics found in select newer Intel “Kabylake G” processors. The code is still in flight before it will work in all released versions of the Linux driver components, but for those willing to build the code or rely upon third party repositories, Vega M is now working on Linux.

        As I have covered in various past articles, the open-source driver support for Radeon Vega M is queued into DRM-Next for the upcoming Linux 4.18 kernel cycle, Mesa 18.1 albeit with new hardware I always recommend using the latest Git (current Mesa 18.2), and there are also binary GPU microcode files needed too.

      • DXVK for Direct3D 11 with Vulkan in Wine has another update with 0.53

        DXVK [GitHub] advances so quickly it’s really quite incredible, it had a release only a few days ago and here we are with another.

        No big new features with this release, as it’s mainly to clean up some issues. Two regressions were fixed from the previous release with World of Warcraft, Far Cry 3 and Nier: Automata.

      • DXVK 0.53 Released With Many Fixes

        Less than one week after releasing DXVK 0.52, the DXVK 0.53 release is now available for running Direct3D 11 games/applications over Vulkan.

    • Benchmarks
      • 12-Way Linux Graphics Card Comparison Using The Newest May 2018 Drivers

        Here is a look at twelve different AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards while testing was done using the newest available graphics drivers and using an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS installation.

        With the 14th birthday coming up in two weeks as well as marking the 10th birthday of the initial Phoronix Test Suite release, a lot of exciting benchmarks are coming in the days to come. For kicking off the latest of some large comparisons to come are some fresh graphics card benchmarks using the newest and continuously evolving open-source Radeon graphics drivers as well as the latest NVIDIA 396 Linux driver, which is also exciting due to the roll-out of their new LLVM-based SPIR-V compiler.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Jade: New Linux Desktop Built On Python, HTML5 & JavaScript

      The Jade Desktop Environment is a new effort at delivering another Linux desktop option.

      The Jade Desktop is built on Python, HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript for delivering a new Linux desktop experience primarily built atop of web technologies but using GTK with WebKit2 for the tool-kit. Jade is licensed under the GNU GPLv2.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Plasma 5.13 – Amazing Tux, How Sweet Plasma

        Plasma 5.13 is (going to be) a very nice release. It builds on the solid foundation that is the LTS edition, and adds cool, smart touches. The emphasis is on seamless integration of elements, which is what separates professionals from amateurs. It’s all around how the WHOLE desktop behaves, and not individual programs in isolation. And Plasma is making great strides, offering a polished version of an already mature and handsome product, with extra focus on fonts, media and browser connectivity and good performance.

        There are some rough patches. Apart from the obvious beta issues, those goes without saying, KDE Connect ought to be a true multi-phone product, the network stack really needs to be spotless, and that means full Microsoft Windows inter-operability, Spectacle should allow for configurable shadows and alpha channel, and I want to see if the decorative backend has been cleaned up, i.e. can you search and install new themes and icons without encountering useless errors and inconsistencies.

        But all in all, I’m quite impressed. The changes are big and noticeable, and above all, meaningful. You don’t just get features for the sake of it, you get things that improve the quality and consistency of the desktop, that maximize fun and productivity, and there’s deep thought in orchestrating it all together. It ain’t just a random bunch of options that happen to work. I like seeing patterns in things, and I’m happy when there’s functional harmony. This spring season of distro testing hasn’t been fun, and Plasma 5.13 is balm for my weary wrists, so hurting from all that angry typing. More than worth a spin, and highly recommended. Full steam on, Tuxers.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 20

        Here’s some more Usability and Productivity! This week a ton of bugs got stamped out, some of them serious and long-standing. There’s also a lot more goodness that’s in the works, but not quite finished yet, so stay tuned for next week…

      • Krita Interview with Răzvan Rădulescu

        Hi! My name’s Răzvan Rădulescu, I’m from Romania. I’ve had an interest in drawing since I was little. Unfortunately Romania is one of those countries that can crush creativity at a very early stage. At the time I was also interested in computers and started learning programming by myself, finally ended up doing physics in college and about three years ago I started playing with the idea of digital drawing and painting. The first two years have been painting on and off different things to get the hang of it, but about a year ago I decided to think about this path as more than just a hobby.

      • Krita Manual Updated
      • 2018 KDE Connect Development Sprint

        Between the 23rd and 25th of March, KDE Connect developers gathered in Verse’s offices in Barcelona to work together for a weekend. It was the first meeting KDE Connect had in a while, and it was very productive!

        It’s been some time since the sprint, and the work carried out there has already started to trickle down into our devices. Nevertheless, we wanted to shed some light on our accomplishments, and encourage everyone to participate.

        Holding discussions and making decisions is much easier in person. We kicked off the sprint by going through our backlog of ideas to decide what was worth implementing. That helped us set the focus for the sprint and resume some blocked tasks.

      • A Quick Look At What’s Coming To KDE Connect
      • Second week of coding phase, GSoC’18

        The week was totally involved in developing QML APIs similar to WebExtension APIs.

      • Shadows in Window Screenshots

        Every few months there is a review about Plasma by dedoimedo and one critic point is that screenshots include the shadow. As I’m rather annoyed of these complaints about this I’m now doing a blog post to explain the situation so that in future this can be skipped.

        Shadows in the screenshots are not a bug, but an intended feature. It was implemented by me in 2010 on request by Nuno Pinheiro, our Oxygen god. Before screenshots did not support shadows and looked really, really bad as the window decorations are round and contained black corners. Shadows were part of the design and that was completely lacking. So we came up with a rather decent solution on how to screenshot the window with shadows included. I first mentioned this new effect in this blog post from August 2010.

      • Summary of my first two weeks at GSoC
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Games, Tests and GitLab CI

        We are getting midterm of the GNOME 3.30 development cycle and many things already happened in the Games world. I will spare the user facing news for later as today I want to tell you about development features we desperatly needed as maintainers: tests and continuous integration.

        TL;DR: GLib, Meson, Flatpak and GitLab CI make writing and running tests super easy!

      • Someone Donated $1 Million to the GNOME Foundation Anonymously

        An anonymous entity just pledged to donate $1 million to the GNOME foundation over the next two years. Any guesses who could be this anonymous donor?

      • Thoughts on Flatpak after four months of Epiphany Technology Preview

        It’s been four months since I announced Epiphany Technology Preview — which I’ve been using as my main browser ever since — and five months since I announced the availability of a stable channel via Flatpak. For the most part, it’s been a good experience. Having the latest upstream development code for everything is wonderful and makes testing very easy. Any user can painlessly download and install either the latest stable version or the bleeding-edge development version on any Linux system, regardless of host dependencies, either via a couple clicks in GNOME Software or one command in the terminal. GNOME Software keeps it updated, so I always have a recent version. Thanks to this, I’m often noticing problems shortly after they’re introduced, rather than six months later, as was so often the case for me in the past. Plus, other developers can no longer complain that there’s a problem with my local environment when I report a bug they can’t reproduce, because Epiphany Technology Preview is a canonical distribution environment, a ground truth of sorts.

      • Five or More Modernisation Overview

        Before jumping right into the Five or More implementation plan and details, I would like to keep you updated with the progress made thus far.

        I started working on some project-related tasks during the community bonding period, to cover up for the upcoming exam and research session and any other time frame in which I might not be as active as I would like to. Also, during this period, I had a previously announced one week trip, which kept me from working more on the project.


        Then, I intend to create a basic Vala app and window based on the template generated by GNOME Builder, only using the UI file that already exists in the Five or More repository. If everything goes as planned, I will start adding one component at a time in the short run, starting with the application menu, the callbacks for the UI buttons, the preferences window, the score and the preview widgets, and lastly, the game area.

      • LAS @ GiNA Planning + GNOME 3.26 Release Party in SF

        GNOME in North America (this isn’t official, but it’s the name we’re proposing for the event in North America that is a consolidation of the Boston Summit and the West Coast Summit)

  • Distributions
    • Sad News! Development Stopped for Korora and BackSlash Linux

      It seems more and more small distributions are facing a had time. Recently we saw the crisis at Void Linux. Now we have two more small Linux distributions calling it quit, albeit temporarily.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE Conference 2018

        This year openSUSE conference was held in Prague and, thanks to both my employer and openSUSE conference organizers, I’ve been able to spend almost a full day there.

        I’ve headed to Prague with a Fleet Commander talk accepted and, as openSUSE Leap 15.0 was released Yesterday, also with the idea to show an unattended (“express”) installation of the “as fresh as possible” Leap 15.0 happening on GNOME Boxes.

        The conference was not so big, which helped to easy spot some old friends (Fridrich Strba, seriously? Meeting you after almost 7 years … I have no words to describe my happiness on seeing you there!), some known faces (as Scott, with whom I just meet at conferences :-)) and also meet some people who either helped me a lot in the past (here I can mention the whole autoyast team who gave me some big support when I was writing down the autoinst.xml for libosinfo, which provides the support to do openSUSE’s express installations via GNOME Boxes) or who have some interest in some of the work I’ve been doing (as Richard Brown who’s a well-know figure around SUSE/openSUSE community, a GNOME Boxes user and also an enthusiastic supporter of our work done in libosiinfo/osinfo-db).

    • Red Hat Family
      • Demand rising for people with skills in open source tools: Red Hat

        Red Hat, a major global player in open source solutions, is planning to expand its outreach programme to create human resources with skills required for its clients.

        Red Hat Academy, an arm of Red Hat, runs about 250 academies in various educational institutions in the country. “We have 1,000 such academies across the world. Of this, 500 are in the Asia-Pacific region,” Shirish Pandey, APAC Lead for Red Hat Academy, told BusinessLine.

        The academy offers open source and Linux curriculum programmes in engineering colleges.

      • Ascend Money selects Red Hat to process payments across Southeast Asia

        Thailand-based Ascend Money has selected open source solutions provider Red Hat to carry out and accelerate electronic payments across Southeast Asian region.

      • Ascend Money Selects Red Hat Solutions to Accelerate Electronic Payment Systems Across Southeast Asia

        Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat Ansible Automation, and Red Hat Satellite help address technical debt, enable more agile and rapid deployment of payment services

      • Fedora
        • Fedora 26 end of life approaching

          As readers may be aware, Fedora 28 recently released to great acclaim. That means Fedora 26 hits its End of Life (EOL) status on June 1, 2018. Read more here about what this means, and what steps you can take with your older Fedora systems.

          After June 1, packages in the Fedora 26 repositories no longer receive any security, bugfix, or enhancement updates. Furthermore, at that point the community adds no new packages to the F26 collection.

        • Building Legacy 2.0

          Ansible, while being agent-less, is not interpreter-less and requires a working Python installation on the target machine. Up until Ansible 2.3 the minimum Python version was 2.4, which is available in EL5. Starting with Ansible 2.4 this requirement has been bumped to Python 2.6 to accommodate future compatibility with Python 3. Sadly Python 2.6 is not easily available for EL5 and people who want/need to manage such old systems with Ansible have to find a new way to do so.

          First, I think it’s actually not possible to effectively manage a RHEL5 (or any other legacy/EOL system). Running ad-hoc changes in a mostly controlled manner – yes, but not fully manage them. Just imagine how much cruft might have been collected on a system that was first released in 2007 (that’s as old as Debian 4.0 Etch). To properly manage a system you need to be aware of its whole lifecycle, and that’s simply not the case here. But this is not the main reason I wanted to write this post.

        • Get the FESCo badge/FESCo nomination period extended
    • Debian Family
      • Shutter, a nice Perl application, may be removed from Debian

        Debian is moving away from Gnome2::VFS. This obsolete module will be removed from next release of Debian.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Memorial Day Weekend 2018

            What is new in Ashtabula?

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS

              Pop!_OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution from System76, a Colorado-based company that sells computers with Linux pre-installed. The first release of Pop!_OS, version 17.10, was interesting and provided a very nice experience, but mostly involved pulling what System76 felt was the best bits from various upstream sources and combining them into a cohesive whole. While Pop!_OS 17.10 was fairly conservative, Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS provides some major new features, some of which are quite interesting. For example: GRUB has been replaced with systemd-boot and a tool called kernelstub, and there is a recovery partition, so a USB flash drive is no longer needed to rescue a system (at least in theory, the recovery partition is still a work in progress).

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Coreboot Picks Up Support For Another Eight Year Old Intel Motherboard

    If by chance you happen to have an Intel DG41WV motherboard, it’s now supported by mainline Coreboot so you can free the system down to the BIOS.

    The DG41WV motherboard comes from the LGA-775 days with an Intel G41 Eaglelake chipset back when DDR3-1066 was great, motherboards topped out with 4GB of RAM, four USB 2.0 ports were suitable, and motherboard PCBs were much less fashionable. The DG41WV was a micro-ATX board and a decent choice for the times to pair with a CPU like the Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad.

  • 5 open source tools for building a map app in a snap

    All the attention geographical information systems (GIS) have gotten in recent years may make you think they are something new. In fact, geospatial data helped play a major role more than 160 years ago in identifying the source of the deadly London cholera outbreak of 1854. Dr. John Snow, a local physician, suspected that contaminated drinking water was the source of the disease. During the investigation, he plotted a density map of cholera cases and interviewed residents in the affected neighborhood to learned about their water use habits. His analysis showed a high number of incidents near a communal water pump.

  • The Race for Open Source Neural Machine Translation

    Neural machine translation (NMT) often figures prominently during SlatorCon events, and SlatorCon London held at Nobu Hotel in London Shoreditch on May 17, 2018 was no exception. In his presentation for the event, Jean Senellart, Global CTO of event partner Systran, discussed an aspect of NMT that he found both exciting and scary at the same time: the race for open source.

    Senellart briefly went through the history of 50-year old machine translation company Systran, a company that experienced and was directly involved in production-level deployments of all MT technologies—from rules-based MT to statistical MT to NMT.

  • Tron (TRX) Opensource Wallet DApp Is Being Developed by Marius Gill


    A 19-year-old German developer has been the one in charge of creating Tron’s Opensource Wallet DApp. The name of this genius is Marius Gill, and has been programming since he was just 13 years old.

    The wallet DApp has been launched back in March, 2018, and is a result of the so called Project Genesis. The intention behind it was to encourage the crypto community to bring something new to the cryptocurrency ecosystem – which is in constant development and has great talents.

  • Grow your business without jolts thanks to open source software

    A lot of big software vendors in the market including Microsoft are concerned that the source code of their program is not accessible by third parties. The implication of this is that the ability to develop applications and fix detected errors are vested in the hands of specific developers.

    This is not so with open source software where everyone has access to the source code of a program. Therefore, anyone who knows how to write code can modify, supplement or enhance such program according to their taste.

    Several popular programs such as Firefox or VLC player make use of open source licenses. They function on operating systems such as Windows, Mac,and Linux. Currently, over 300,000 software products have been designed for diverse tasks and purposes.

  • ReactOS 0.4.9 Working On Shell Improvements. Kernel Fixes

    While ReactOS 0.4.8 came out just a month ago, ReactOS 0.4.9 is approaching and currently at the release candidate phase.

    As of this weekend, ReactOS 0.4.9-RC23 is now available as the latest testing build towards ReactOS 0.4.9.

  • Privacy Plugins

    Although your phone is probably the biggest threat to your privacy, your web browser is a close second. In the interest of providing you targeted ads, the web is littered with technology that attempts to track each site you go to via a combination of cookies and JavaScript snippets. These trackers aren’t just a privacy threat, they are also a security threat. Because of how ubiquitous these ad networks are, attackers have figured out ways to infiltrate some of them and make them serve up even more malicious code.

    The good news is that a series of privacy plugins work well with Firefox under Linux. They show up as part of the standard list of approved add-ons and will help protect you against these kinds of threats. Many different privacy plugins exist, but instead of covering them all, in this article, I highlight some of my personal favorites—the ones I install on all of my browsers. Although I discuss these plugins in the context of Firefox, many of them also are available for other Linux browsers. Because all of these plugins are standard Firefox add-ons, you can install them through your regular Firefox add-on search panel.

  • Events
    • Diversity, education, privilege and ethics in technology

      And that is the ultimate fraud: to make the world believe we are harmless little boys, so repressed that we can’t communicate properly. We’re so sorry we’re awkward, it’s because we’re all somewhat on the autism spectrum. Isn’t that, after all, a convenient affliction for people that would not dare to confront the oppression they are creating? It’s too easy to hide behind such a real and serious condition that does affect people in our community, but also truly autistic people that simply cannot make it in the fast-moving world the magical rain man is creating. But the real con is hacking power and political control away from traditional institutions, seen as too slow-moving to really accomplish the “change” that is “needed”. We are creating an inextricable technocracy that no one will understand, not even us “experts”. Instead of serving the people, the machine is at the mercy of markets and powerful oligarchs.

      A recurring pattern at Kubernetes conferences is the KubeCon chant where Kelsey Hightower reluctantly engages the crowd in a pep chant:

      When I say ‘Kube!’, you say ‘Con!’

      ‘Kube!’ ‘Con!’ ‘Kube!’ ‘Con!’ ‘Kube!’ ‘Con!’

      Cube Con indeed…

      I wish I had some wise parting thoughts of where to go from here or how to change this. The tide seems so strong that all I can do is observe and tell stories. My hope is that the people that need to hear this will take it the right way, but I somehow doubt it. With chance, it might just become irrelevant and everything will fix itself, but somehow I fear things will get worse before they get better.

    • Application Modernization and Migration Tech Talk + Scotland JBug Meetup

      I’m heading back to my friends in Scotland to speak at the JBoss User Group (JBug) Scotland next month. It’s a fun group of people who really seem to enjoy working with open source and JBoss software stacks.

      First off, on June 6th there will be a wonderful tech talk on application modernization and migration. This is followed by the JBug Scotland hosting a hands-on workshop. Come and get hands-on experience in a workshop showcasing application development in the cloud using containers, JBoss middleware, services, business logic, and APIs.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Additions to Firefox’s health dashboard

        At the beginning of the month I came back from my last few weeks of parental leave (thanks Mozilla!). While I was away Sarah Clements took over some Firefox Quantum release criteria work and I’m pleased to see that she managed to tackle everything well by herself.

        Some of the major changes she made was to separate the Quantum criteria page into 32-bit and 64-bit. This simplifies the graphs and allows release stakeholders to see more clearly how one specific architecture is doing.

      • Firefox Developers Still Hesitant About Using EGL Over GLX On X11 Linux

        While Wayland support depends upon EGL and there has been EGL support within Mesa and the other graphics drivers on Linux for a number of years now, Firefox developers are still hesitant about shipping EGL support by default for Firefox on X11.

        A Phoronix reader pointed out a bug report to us where Firefox developers are still apprehensive over using EGL by default for Firefox on Linux/X11, even though Mesa’s EGL support has been relatively solid for years. There’s a belief that the EGL performance is worse off than GLX, but at least some upstream Mesa developers don’t believe that to be the case plus the fact most modern drivers relying upon GLAMOR with EGL/OpenGL for 2D acceleration.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • The Kubernetes ‘fork’: Open source purists miss the point [Ed: Mormon Mac Asay uses religious terms like "purists" to describe the largely atheistic Free software movement in order to make it look toxic and unreasonable]

      Except they clearly don’t, given Red Hat’s OpenShift revenue, which keeps rising. Either those customers are blind to Beda’s argument (similar to those made by another competitor, Canonical, over the years), or they don’t agree with the accusations. Or maybe, just maybe, they don’t care.

    • Emacs 26.1 Brings Double Buffering To Reduce Flickering, Lisp Threads, 24-Bit Colors

      For fans of the GNU Emacs feature-packed text editor, Emacs 26.1 is out this US Memorial Day.

      Emacs 26.1 features a basic limited concurrency implementation by making use of Lisp threads. Another notable change is Emacs on X11 now using double-buffering to reduce screen flickering scenarios.

      Besides the limited form of Lisp threads concurrency and double buffering, Emacs 26.1 also now can optionally display the line numbers in the buffer, redesigned Flymake, a new single-line horizontal scrolling mode, a systemd user unit file is shipped as part of the package, and there is support for 24-bit colors on capable text terminals.

    • Emacs 26.1 released
    • bison-3.0.5 released

      We are happy to announce the release of GNU Bison 3.0.5, a bug fix release.

    • GCC 9 Has Been Landing Many Ada Improvements This Week

      For those still making use of the venerable Ada programming language, the latest development code for GCC 9 of the GNU Compiler Collection has been seeing a number of Ada front-end improvements this week.

      This strongly-typed, object-oriented programming language, that’s quite proven compared to Rust and other attention-getting languages these days, has seen a surprising number of fixes and improvements landing this week into mainline GCC 9. The Ada work in GCC 9 besides various fixes have included some performance improvements, addressing some spurious errors, support for C99/C++ standard boolean types, minor documentation updates, Windows updates, and moe.

  • Public Services/Government
    • FOSSID awarded grant for AI in Open Source Auditing by Sweden’s government agency for innovation

      FOSSID, the world’s largest database for scanning open source code and snippets, today announced it is being awarded a grant of 2 Million SEK (US $250,000) to integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies into its database and code-scanning tools. The grant is being awarded by Vinnova, Sweden’sgovernment agency focused on research and innovation.

      The FOSSID AI For Open Source Auditing Project will combine the largest and highest performing knowledge base of open source on the market to dramatically cut costs in the software auditing process, reduce risks for tech companies and accelerate overall innovation.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Flash your Libre Firmware with a Libre Programmer

        Whether or not you personally agree with all the ideals of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), you’ve got to give them credit: they don’t mess around. They started by laying the groundwork for a free and open source operating system, then once that dream was realized, started pushing the idea of replacing proprietary BIOS firmware with an open alternative such as Libreboot. But apparently, even that’s not enough, as there’s still more freedom to be had. We’re playing 4D Libre Chess now, folks.


        Luckily, the FSF has just awarded the Zerocat Chipflasher their “Respects Your Freedom” certification, meaning every element of the product is released under a free license for your hacking enjoyment.

  • Programming/Development
    • 6 Essential Python Tools for Data Science

      Data science is an emerging, multidisciplinary field of scientific methods, processes, algorithm development and technology to extract knowledge or insights in ingenious ways from structured or unstructured data.

      At the heart of data science is data. Buckets loads of it, streaming in and stored in enterprise data warehouses. According to IBM, globally, we currently generate over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day. This data ranges from molecular biology to social media activity, astronomy, climate monitoring to health care. Large data sets are now generated by almost every activity in science, society, and commerce. There’s much to learn by mining that data, finding patterns and making predictions from this data. Data science is ultimately about asking interesting questions, and then finding answers using data that add value.

    • What is behavior-driven Python?

      Have you heard about behavior-driven development (BDD) and wondered what all the buzz is about? Maybe you’ve caught team members talking in “gherkin” and felt left out of the conversation. Or perhaps you’re a Pythonista looking for a better way to test your code. Whatever the circumstance, learning about BDD can help you and your team achieve better collaboration and test automation, and Python’s behave framework is a great place to start.


      The main benefits of BDD are good collaboration and automation. Everyone can contribute to behavior development, not just programmers. Expected behaviors are defined and understood from the beginning of the process. Tests can be automated together with the features they cover. Each test covers a singular, unique behavior in order to avoid duplication. And, finally, existing steps can be reused by new behavior specs, creating a snowball effect.

  • Why digital devices are dope

    Most Indians are tied to their screens though they probably don’t see the extent of their dependence. About 45 per cent of respondents to a recent survey by TOI said they spent more than four hours a day on their phones. If you take away seven hours of sleep and seven hours at a job, that’s almost 40 per cent of your free time spent on a phone. As many as 76 per cent say their phone is the last thing they check just before they go to bed. It’s also the first thing 53 per cent of respondents look at in the morning, even before they use the toilet or brush their teeth. Close to 55,000 readers participated in the TOI survey conducted online.

  • The Airline Geek Trying to Build a Media Giant With No Reporters

    Yoneshige, now 29, realized the perilous situation of Japanese media when he was writing for an airline news website while still in middle and high school. The industry is too heavily staffed and doesn’t make enough money, he says.

  • Science
  • Hardware
    • Atari co-founder Ted Dabney dies

      Dabney was destined to work in tech early on. He learned about electronics while in the US Marine Corps, and took on tech roles at Bank of America and HP soon after leaving the military. His most fateful move, though, was when he joined Ampex in 1961. That gave him early experience with display technology and led him to meet Bushnell, who joined in 1969. They envisioned launching a pizza place with a coin-operated computer gaming system, and… well, you know the rest.

  • Health/Nutrition
  • Security
    • Hacker Summer Camp 2018: Prep Guide

      For those unfamiliar with the term, Hacker Summer Camp is the combination of DEF CON, Black Hat USA, and BSides Las Vegas that takes place in the hot Las Vegas sun every summer, along with all the associated parties and side events. It’s the largest gathering of hackers, information security professionals and enthusiasts, and has been growing for 25 years. In this post, I’ll present my views on how to get the most out of your 2018 trip to the desert, along with tips & points from some of my friends.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 98 – When IT decisions kill people

      Josh and Kurt talk about the NTSB report from the fatal Uber crash and what happened with Amazon’s Alexa recording then emailing a private conversation. IT decisions now have real world consequences like never before.

    • There are cyber threats to veterans’ medical records [iophk: "Windows TCO; infection misattributed to a thumbdrive rather than the managers that signed off on using Microsoft instead of real software"]

      Veterans have also fallen victim of non-targeted cyber intrusions. Cyber criminals routinely attempt to steal personal health records to sell on the dark web, given how valuable such records are. As an example of a non-targeted cyber attack, the Conficker worm infected 104 medical devices at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Florida in 2012 simply because a vender [sic] updated the devices with a thumb drive that had unknowingly been infected.

    • USB Reverse Engineering: Down the rabbit hole

      It seems the deeper I went, the more interesting I found the content, and this post grew and grew. Hopefully it will help to shortcut your own journey down this path, and enlighten you to a whole new area of interesting things to hack!

    • Security and Human Behavior (SHB 2018)

      SHB is a small invitational gathering of people studying various aspects of the human side of security, organized each year by Alessandro Acquisti, Ross Anderson, and myself. The 50 or so people in the room include psychologists, economists, computer security researchers, sociologists, political scientists, neuroscientists, designers, lawyers, philosophers, anthropologists, business school professors, and a smattering of others. It’s not just an interdisciplinary event; most of the people here are individually interdisciplinary.

    • The FBI tells everybody to reboot their router
    • FBI: Reboot Your Router Now To Fight Malware That Affected 500,000 Routers

      This week only, Cisco reported about the malware called VPNFilter which is assumed to have targeted around 500,000 routers to create a massive botnet. It’s believed that the malware, having a resemblance to BlackEnergy malware, could have its roots originating in Russia.

    • Buggy software could lock a Jeep’s cruise control

      Fiat Chrysler America is recalling 4.8 million vehicles in the US to fix a software bug that could lock the vehicle’s cruise control.

      Until it’s fixed, owners of some Ram pickups, Jeep SUVs, and other Chrysler and Dodge vehicles are being warned against using cruise control.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • How a Bernie Sanders resolution is normalising the war on terror

      Donald Trump launched his presidency with the killing of nine children. Only a week after taking office, the reality star turned commander-in-chief ordered a made-for-TV raid in the dead of night that saw Navy SEALs storming a rural village in Yemen. A leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was said to be hiding out there.

      “A fierce gunfight turned into an intense aerial bombardment,” the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported. By dawn, 14 militants had been killed – along with 25 civilians, among them the 8-year-old daughter of extremist preacher Anwar al-Awlaqi. Awlaqi and his 16-year-old son had already been killed in separate US drone strikes in 2011.


      The resolution was first put forward to vote in the Senate in March, but was defeated. Nevertheless, Sanders intends to bring back the measure for another vote, according to his spokesperson Josh Miller-Lewis .

      “The resolution is concerned specifically with the lack of authorisation for US military support for the Saudi-led war against the Houthis,” he told me in an email exchange.

      Ending the Saudi-led war should be a priority for anyone who values human life. Since 2014, weddings, funerals and street markets have all been bombed by the Saudi coalition. Yemenis are besieged and mortared by Houthi militants, too, but they are killed, overwhelmingly, by the other side, which drops bombs that the US and Europe provide.

      By the end of 2017, according to the United Nations, more than 5,200 civilians had been killed as a result of a war with no clear point or end in sight; tens of thousands more face death from starvation or cholera.

    • Ex-Mossad chief’s ‘off the cuff remark’ prompted CIA to send emergency team to Pakistan

      An “off the cuff-remark” by a former chief of Mossad, Israeli Intelligence agency, prompted the American CIA to send an emergency team to Pakistan to learn if a major conflict between India and Pakistan was imminent in 90s.

      In a recent interview with a magazine and in his book “Head of the Mossad”, Shabtai Shavit has shared his views on a variety of issues.

      According to Shavit, In 1990, during a meeting with chief of CIA’s analysis department at a restaurant in the Israeli capital he made the remarks about India-Pakistan issues.

    • More than 100 killed in Yemen in four days amid heavy fighting

      Heavy fighting in Yemen between pro-government forces and Shiite rebels has killed more than 150 people in the last four days, Yemeni officials and witnesses said on Sunday.

      Government forces have been trying to seize rebel-held areas along the western coast, while an allied Saudi-led coalition has been targeting the rebels with airstrikes in the northwestern Saada province, a rebel stronghold.

    • Former CIA director on North Korea: ‘These folks are not going to get rid of all their nuclear weapons’

      Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said on Sunday that he does not believe North Korea’s claims that it is willing to denuclearize.

      “These folks are not going to get rid of all their nuclear weapons,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

    • Iran: Sanctions & War
    • ‘Ehud Barak Gave the Order to Kill’

      Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was on the stomp in San Francisco last weekend to promote his new memoir, My Country, My Life. He was met by a group of highly organized young protesters who were interested in a few facts that the former Israeli PM did not include in his new memoir.

      “Ehud Barak gave the order to kill 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza, with 344 children dead,” called out Lauren Holtzman, a member for Jewish Voice for Peace and one of those arrested at the event. “He declared the siege on Gaza, limiting food, medicine and water.” Holtzman was referencing Barak’s responsibility as Israeli Defense Minister for Operation Cast Lead, the Jewish State’s bloody 2008-09 assault on Gaza.

    • Of weddings: royal, bombed & droned

      WILL the new Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle speak out against human rights violations caused by drone attacks, more so, because as a newly-wedded bride, she can imagine better how horrible it must be to have one’s wedding party bombed, the bride herself, killed? Body parts scattered… To paraphrase a HRW report title, for A Wedding to Become a Funeral?
      Will her feminist empathy extend to female victims of drone attacks? To say, six-year old Paliko (same age as Markle’s bridesmaid), who was brought to the hospital still wearing her party dress, whose family members had all been killed when a US air patrol had mistaken traditional gunfire to celebrate Pashtun weddings, as enemy fire?
      Most unlikely. For, the murder of civilians is built into the USA’s so-called ‘war on terror’ and, as Binoy Kampark writes, Markle is not there to inflict change upon the institution of monarchy, but to be changed by it.
      And, Grenfell Tower will perhaps be too close to home.

    • Israeli army kills three Gaza militants after foiling border bombing

      Israeli tank shelling killed three members of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, medical officials said, after weeks of border protests that have drawn lethal army fire.


      Islamic Jihad operates with a measure of independence from Hamas, the Islamist group that has controlled Gaza since 2007 and fought three wars against Israel.

      Hostilities over the frontier have soared since Palestinians began mass-demonstrations on March 30, which Israel deems to be cover for attempts to breach the border fence.

      At least 115 Palestinians have been killed and thousands hurt by army gunfire in the protests, drawing foreign censure.

    • Parmanu, the true story of Pokhran: How India ‘fooled’ CIA with historic nuclear test

      On May 13, 1998, at 15:45 hours, India secretly conducted a series of underground nuclear tests with five bombs in Pokhran, Rajasthan. Although this was not the first time the country was testing its nuclear weapons (the first successful test took place in 1974 under the codename “Smiling Buddha”), this one was certainly the most memorable if one takes into consideration the sheer effect it had on its states and neighbouring countries.

      Pokhran-II (AKA Operation Shakti-98) was the name assigned to the series of tests that comprised one fusion bomb and four fission bombs. On May 13, 1998, shortly after the detonation of all five warheads, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India a full-fledged nuclear state.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange ‘faces eviction’ from London’s Ecuador embassy

      His lawyer For the last eight years, the UK has refused to either confirm or deny that they have received an extradition request from the US. told CNN: “The concern from day one until the present is that if Julian Assange walks out of the Embassy, he will be extradited to face what the executive director of the ACLU described as an ‘unprecedented and unconstitutional’ prosecution under the US Espionage Act.”

      Meanwhile, Ecuador’s newly elected president, Lenín Moreno, is under US pressure to expel Mr Assange, having described him as an “inherited problem” and “more than a nuisance” in January.


      Swedish prosecutors dropped the case last year, but maintain the right to resume the investigation if Assange leaves the embassy.

      In addition, could be arrested and extradition to the United States.

      In April 2017 CNN reported that the US has was seeking to arrest Mr Assange, whom intelligence agencies believe Russia used to distribute hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
      Ms Taylor added: “For the last eight years, the UK has refused to either confirm or deny that they have received an extradition request from the US.

    • For international action to defend Julian Assange!

      The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and the World Socialist Web Site International Editorial Board call for urgent action to be taken around the world to defend WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange. After fighting for close to eight years against relentless persecution by the US government and its allies, the Australian-born journalist is now in tremendous danger of falling into their clutches.

      The American ruling class and its counterparts internationally are hostile to WikiLeaks and its editor because he published leaked information that exposed before the world their war crimes, anti-democratic intrigues and corruption. The US government is determined to silence Assange and intimidate all principled journalists and whistleblowers by hauling him before a show trial and convicting him of fraudulent charges of “espionage.” Assange now faces the risk of lengthy imprisonment, or even the death sentence, for revealing the truth.

    • Julian Assange is Ready To Testify On Alleged Russian Hacking, As His Safety In Ecuador Is Questioned

      Julian Assange was perhaps the most instrumental individual not named Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton during the U.S. presidential election of 2016. The organization he leads, WikiLeaks, released thousands of unredacted, unaltered emails belonging to Hillary Clinton, her campaign, and the greater Democratic National Committee near the end of the campaign cycle. Verified by DKIM, or DomainKeys Indentified Mail, the emails are indisputably legitimate, as far as the IETF or Internet Engineering Task Force, an international body responsible for certifying what technologies and protocols can be considered internet standard, is concerned. The emails were extremely embarrassing and damaged the Clinton campaign, at least to some extent, according to Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.

      Whether one believes that Assange and WikiLeaks were in collusion with Russian agents is immaterial; he is sought after by U.S. officials for publishing the sensitive information and for many other subversive activities.

    • Open Letter to Mr. Carlos Antonio Abad Ortiz Re Julian Assange

      It is an open secret that the United States contemptuously considers the sovereign states, the independent nations, of Latin America as its ‘backyard,’ and frequently exerts enormous pressure on Latin American countries to do its bidding, to the extent of effecting changes in the government by means both peaceful and violent. This arrogant superpower is now pressuring your small country to evict Mr. Julian Assange from your embassy and render this valourous warrior for truth and justice to the British – who are hand-in-glove with the Americans.

      The government and people of Ecuador surely realize that when your country so courageously granted asylum to Mr. Assange, she served as a model for Latin America – nay, for 195 countries and 7.6 billion people. In granting asylum to Assange, Little Ecuador set an extraordinary example: for she not only protected the world’s pre-eminent cyber freedom-fighter, she stood up to a most terrifying tyranny that is neither subject to any checks and balances nor pays the slightest heed to the Rule of Law.

    • US has no interest in hearing what Julian Assange can freely say about Russiagate – Max Blumenthal

      US intelligence claims that WikiLeaks acted on behalf of Russia as part of a campaign to prop up the candidacy of Donald Trump and undermine that of Hillary Clinton. The offer was flatly rejected by Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who said Assange would only be interviewed if he is in US custody.

      “The US has no intention of interviewing Julian Assange except under duress, possibly after a long period of solitary confinement, the kind that Chelsea Manning endured,” journalist Max Blumenthal told RT, referring to the whistleblower, whose leak to WikiLeaks of classified US material exposing abuses in Iraq lead to her nearly seven-year confinement. Schiff is “the de facto grand inquisitor of the Russiagate investigation”, he said, so he presumably speaks for the entire US intelligence community.

      No WikiLeaks people were publicly accused of having a hand in the supposed hacking of the DNC computer network and that the narrative of the hacking itself is on a very shaky foundation, Blumenthal remarked.

      “They don’t want to interrupt their narrative with what could be facts very similar to the case of the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. The DNC has never handed over its servers to any US intelligence or law enforcement agency and has likely destroyed those servers,” he said. “It seems like the US does not want to know what’s in them just as the US only wants to know what Assange has to say only after he has been sufficiently held and intimidated.”

      Blumenthal says Assange is rightfully afraid of leaving the Ecuador embassy because of his claim that he would then be grabbed by the UK law enforcement and extradited to the US under a classified indictment – the existence of which neither Washington nor London will confirm. If put in US custody, he is likely to become the first person prosecuted in America for what is essentially a journalist revealing classified information, he added.

    • Assange embarrasses US govt, CIA; they fear him & his revelations – Max Blumenthal
    • WikiLeaks Calls QAnon A Likely ‘Pied Piper’ Operation

      A few months back I started having bizarre interactions on social media of a kind I’d never experienced previously. Suddenly, whenever I’d write about President Trump’s nonstop warmongering and capitulations to longstanding neoconservative agendas like implementing aggressive new cold war escalations against Russia along multiple fronts, the illegal occupation of Syria with the stated goal of effecting regime change, increasing troop presence in Afghanistan, unprecedented civilian deaths in drone strikes, facilitating the slaughter of civilians in Yemen, or the administration’s open regime change policy against Iran, I’d get all these weird accounts telling me things like “Trust the plan” and “This is the Art of the Deal, Trump is playing 4-D chess”, and saying I should research something called “QAnon” or “Q”.

      It happens literally every time I write anything critical of this administration; a deluge of commenters telling me in effect, “Shush. Calm down. This is nothing. What looks like Trump facilitating longtime establishment agendas just like his predecessors is actually brilliant strategic maneuvering.” Every single time, without a single solitary exception.

    • Assange Associate Doubts US House Wants to Know Truth About ‘Russiagate’

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has announced that he is ready to testify in the investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Sputnik spoke with Assange’s long-term associate Randy Credico about the development.

      In an interview with Sputnik, Credico said that he conveyed Assange’s message to the Adam Schiff, but he doubts that the congressman will actually go to London to meet with Assange.


      He went on to say that there needs to be more pressure from the international community because Britain and the US are acting in a very unlawful way and are in violation of international law.

      Recently there were rumors that Ecuador may soon stop providing asylum to Julian Assange. However, Credico said that if that were to happen, the president of Ecuador would face an extreme backlash from other leaders in the region and from citizens across South America.

    • This Friday: CourageSound podcast launch

      Courage is very proud to announce the launch of the CourageSound podcast, which will start this Friday 1 June with a discussion of the case of Reality Winner. CourageSound will broadcast every two weeks on Radio Vendetta, with archives made available to listen back later.

      Why a podcast? 2018 is shaping up to be a busy year with huge implications for our community. We want to bring you information about the big cases, the campaigns and the debates that are dominating our work. We’ll give you detailed takes on all of this, with discussions and interviews with those who know the issues best.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • BYD & The Oompa Loompas Shine (China Electric Car Sales Report)

      After the usual off-season (January and February), the Chinese plug-in vehicle (PEV) market is back at full charge, with 71,000 units registered in April, up 129% year over year (YoY). Overall, 2018 sales have more than doubled compared to the same period last year.

      Consequently, the record 3.7% PEV share of April pulled the 2018 share to 2.3%, already above the 2.1% of 2017, and with sales expected to pick up significantly as the year advances, the 2018 PEV share should end north of the 3% threshold, with December possibly reaching 6%.

    • Analyzing US Sales Trends For 24 Shared ICE/EV Models: Yes, Price & Range Matter

      To answer the above question I analyzed 24 different models that are currently available in the US with either a traditional internal combustion engine version or regular hybrid and a plug-in hybrid and/or full battery electric version. Using sales data from and, I analyzed March 2018 and Q1 2018 sales data. For simplicity in presenting the data, in most of the charts that follow, I only used the sales numbers for the month of March. (See notes at end on intent of this analysis, approach to price comparisons, models that were not included, etc.)

  • Finance
    • Tourists complain as Sweden becomes more cash-free

      Tourists also complain that some payment systems only work with Swedish credit cards, excluding foreign consumers.

    • How Social Media Became a Pink Collar Job

      But one job in the digital economy falls predominantly to women. It’s an oft-overlooked position, drawing on both marketing and editorial skills, that has become increasingly critical both to business success and online discourse. The pay is poor, and the respect can be limited. Take a look at the job posting for any social media manager. You’ll discover the same bias in its language, in reverse: a bias for sourcing female candidates.

    • How Tax Avoidance Distorts U.S. Trade and Investment

      U.S. trade negotiators bothered by the lackluster performance of American exports should focus on a rule change that was meant to simplify tax filing. Instead, it enabled American corporations to avoid paying hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes to the U.S. and abroad by laundering real economic activity through tax havens.

    • Credit Card Companies Race Toward Crypto Tech to Boost Profits

      The patents are important because they provide a clue as to how the credit card industry is working furiously behind the scenes to get ahead of the curve on blockchain.

      Using the technology may or may not usher in the broad use of cryptocurrency over, say, U.S. dollars.

      But it does have the potential to greatly lower the cost of doing business for the finance industry. And that means more profits for the credit card issuers.

      A Mastercard patent application disclosed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office outlines the means by which a computer node can connect with and authenticate elements of a particular blockchain.

    • Con- and F-words in the Brexit era

      Quite how the EU and the UK will be governed post-Brexit remains controversial. One of the main arguments put forward by the Brexiteers in the UK for ‘leaving Europe’ was that the EU had embarked on an inevitable journey towards a fully-fledged federal state, that there was little that could be done to alter this course, and that the UK wanted nothing to do with it. So, the only reasonable response was to withdraw from the whole enterprise and restore the sovereignty of the British state.

      But two issues immediately arise in this context. First, was the EU on a journey towards a federal state (or had it, for all intents and purposes, already arrived there)? And secondly, is the UK state still an entity that could reasonably be described as unitary – a state capable of being governed from a single centre of sovereign power, namely the Westminster parliament?

      This second issue, of course, has been debated for a long time, particularly after the various rounds of UK domestic devolution since 2010 and the emergence of mayoral-based governmental forms in several UK cities since. But it will arise acutely again in the near future – post-Brexit -– because the issue will then move from arguments about the governance of the EU’s internal market and the UKs relationship to that framework, to how the UK’s own internal market will be governed. What are going to be the commercial and legal principles and relationships between the various constituent elements of the UK internal market?

    • Where Has Teen Car Culture Gone?

      Something is missing in the lives of today’s adolescents: that magical coming-of-age feeling when a whole world opened up.

    • The Patented Solution for Paying Off the National Debt
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Facebook’s new political ad rules could upend June 5th primaries

      Facebook introduced new disclosure rules for political advertisements this week designed to block bad actors from meddling in elections. But in the meantime, the rules are blocking legitimate candidates from buying Facebook ads — and at least one congressional candidate in Mississippi says it could tip the election toward his opponent.

      The rules that Facebook implemented in the United States this week require anyone wishing to buy a political ad to verify their identity. To do so, Facebook mails a card to their physical location containing an authorization code. Only after the candidate or advocacy group enters that authorization code on Facebook can they purchase political ads.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Six detained for circulating hate videos on social media in Imphal

      “We will soon arrest all those involved in making and uploading the videos”, Khongsai added. He also warned that the admins of WhatsApp groups would be liable to equal punishment with that of internet trolls if they fail to prevent such inflammatory messages from spreading in time.

    • Manipur: PRJA convener Erendro Leichombam held for posting hate video on Facebook

      PRJA spokesperson asserted that Erendro has been an outspoken critic against government’s fail policies and high handedness. For the same reason, the BJP also recently filed a defamation case against Erendro, he added.

    • J&K police crack down on ‘keypad jihadis’ on social media

      Jammu and Kashmir Police have a new task at hand — identify the ‘keypad jihadis’ who spew venom on social networking sites to try and create a law and order situation in the state by spreading rumours on the [I]nternet or giving communal colour to any event.

      The police have registered cases against five Twitter handles and filed complaints with service providers against such misleading posts on Facebook and WhatsApp so that necessary action is taken at the earliest, officials have said.

    • Putin Asked to Investigate Damage Caused By Telegram Web-Blocking

      In a report presented to President Vladimir Putin, Internet Ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev says there should be an investigation into the actions of telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor after it tried to block Telegram last month. Millions of innocent IP addresses were caught up in the dragnet, a result of Roscomnadzor not carrying out a damage assessment, Marinichev says.

    • Apple will start coughing up government app takedown demand stats

      In its latest Transparency Report, covering government demands for customer and device data in the second half of 2017, Apple said that it will soon enumerate government app takedown requests.

      “Starting with the Transparency Report period July 1 – December 31 2018, Apple will report on Government requests to take down Apps from the App Store in instances related to alleged violations of legal and/or policy provisions,” Apple’s report declared.

      With the rise of cloud computing over a decade ago, law enforcement authorities recognized the value of data stored in cloud-oriented services. Tech companies, to signal the limits of their ability to deny lawful demands for data and encourage government moderation, began publishing transparency reports.

    • Google Censors Black Lives Matter Book advert; Calls it ‘Dangerous and Derogatory’ – Civil Rights Leaders Fight Back

      Civil rights leaders on Monday, May 28 demanded that Google CEO Gundar Pichai rescind Google’s racial censorship policy. Google rejected two YouTube promotional videos for the forthcoming book, Black Lives Do Matter, by noted author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson. Google called the promo for the book “dangerous and derogatory.” It claimed that it violated its standards against inciting hate and violence.

      The book is a social and historical analysis of racial stereotypes and racial injustice and violence against African-Americans published by a respected African-American owned publisher, Middle Passage Press. Hutchinson and other civil rights leaders charged that Google’s policy of racial censorship of African-American issues sets a dangerous precedent and is an overreaction to the backlash it got from Trump and conservatives to its firing of right-wing engineer/writer James Damore in August 2017.

    • Chinese Pressure Leads To Censorship Of Taiwanese Students’ Artworks In Australia

      THE DECISION BY an Australian city council earlier this month to remove the words “Taiwan” and colors resembling those of the ROC flag from fish artwork on a bull statue in the city of Rockhampton in Central Queensland by Taiwanese-born high schoolers proves a telling incident regarding how governments which conduct a great deal of trade with China treat Taiwan, when push comes to shove. In particular, the incident proves to have had surprisingly high implications, seeing the removal of the fish occurred due to pressure from the Chinese vice consul of the Chinese embassy in Brisbane, Zhou Li.


      Yet, of course, this will always happen because, at the end of the day, China will always prove more militarily, politically, and economically powerful than Taiwan and it usually easier to avoid standing up for Taiwan in order to avoid controversy. This continues to be Taiwan’s uphill struggle in the international world, then–it will always be easier and less controversial to try and avoid the issue.

    • Muthoni Drummer Queen calls out artists to join movement against censorship

      Kenyan singer, rapper, drummer and entrepreneur Muthoni Drummer Queen has called out on artists to join in on the conversation and the movement against censorship, creative rights and KFCB’s Mandate.

      Muthoni made the appeal while attending a talk held at Ukweli Café on Saturday the 26th of May prompted by Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) move to ban films and censor the creative industry.

    • Swaziland: Censorship Total At Swazi State Media

      The extent to which state media in Swaziland is censored to control people’s understanding of what is going on in the kingdom, has been revealed by UNESCO.

      The news agenda is manipulated in favour of absolute monarch King Mswati III. No opposition to the government is allowed on the airways and media practitioners in state-run media are civil servants first and journalists second, it reported.

      In Swaziland all radio stations except one that does not report news is state-controlled. The largest of two TV stations in Swaziland is also state-controlled.

    • Madmind Studio Releases Official Statement on Agony Censorship

      Madmind Studio has provided an update rolling back the earlier promise of a uncensored patch for Agony and revealing the content that will be cut in the final version of the game.

      For the most part, Agony will not censor almost anything of what players are expecting to see in the final package, including gore, brutal sex scenes, homosexual sex scenes, genital physics, eye gouging, heart plucking, children’s heads exploding, and much more.

    • Paul Little: No place for censorship, period
    • Otago University student magazine Critic hits back at censorship with new edition
    • Pornhub Launches a Free VPN Service to Bypass Internet Censorship [Ed: Proprietary, untrustworthy, connected to smut. Like Facebook with its malicious, privacy-infringing 'VPN']
    • Pornhub’s VPNhub is a free VPN for everyone
    • Tucker Carlson Exposes Facebook Censorship in Interview of ‘Roe v. Wade’ Producer
    • Weibo microblogging site deletes posts by embassies, says report
    • ‘Critic’ cover features censored letter from uni
    • Student magazine Critic hits back at Otago University with its own cheeky censorship
    • Critic cover features censored letter from uni
    • A new wave of censorship

      Unlike the past, the media is not banned; the circulation of newspapers is blocked or tv channels are put off air. Had restrictions come under any black law one could have at least fought a legal battle. But, when it comes from ‘hidden sources’. What do you do?

    • Where will Spotify’s censorship end?

      The announcement this month that Spotify had instituted a new policy to deal with “hate content and hateful conduct” led some to ask: “Where will this end?” Its first decision was to remove the music of the singer R Kelly, serially accused of various sexual misdemeanours, from its promoted playlists. Rival streaming services have followed Spotify’s lead. R Kelly faces no criminal charges and has accused the streaming service of acting on “false and unproven allegations”.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Revealed: Brexit campaigner obtained millions of voters’ data

      Under UK election law, registered ‘third party’ or ‘non party’ campaigners can legally ask for copies of local electoral rolls. Thomas Borwick’s company, Voter Consultancy Ltd (VCL), made by far the most requests for the electoral roll in 2016 and 2017, according to new data released to openDemocracy following a series of Freedom of Information requests. VCL also made requests for the electoral roll in 2014 and 2015, openDemocracy discovered.

      Voter Consultancy is one of around 30 organisations included in the UK Information Commissioner’s ongoing investigation into the use of data during the Brexit campaign. Another data analytics company run by Borwick, Kanto, produced an election app that was used by Cambridge Analytica.

      Kanto is currently working with anti-abortion activists in Ireland ahead of Friday’s referendum. A separate openDemocracy investigation published today has found that other Irish anti-abortion campaigners acquired the electoral roll in a number of Irish counties.

      Data experts and voting reform campaigners have questioned why British political groups should have access to so much personal information about individual voters, warning that these details could potentially be used alongside data from social media and other sources for targeted online political advertising.

    • GDPR Oddsmakers: Who, Where, When Will Enforcement Hit First?

      The GDPR grace period ends today. Experts take their best guesses on when data protection authorities will strike – and what kind of organizations will be first to feel the sting of the EU privacy law.

      Alarm bells are ringing. The grace period is over. As of today, supervisory authorities are officially free to lay down enforcement action for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Now come the real questions: who gets hit first, for what, how hard, and when does the hammer drop?

    • Google And Facebook Facing $8.8 Billion Lawsuits Under GDPR rules
    • Facebook, Google face first GDPR complaints over ‘forced consent’

      Schrems argues that the companies are using a strategy of “forced consent” to continue processing the individuals’ personal data — when in fact the law requires that users be given a free choice unless a consent is strictly necessary for provision of the service. (And, well, Facebook claims its core product is social networking — rather than farming people’s personal data for ad targeting.)

    • Facebook and Google targeted as first GDPR complaints filed

      Across four complaints, related to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Google’s Android operating system, European consumer rights organisation Noyb argues that the companies have forced users into agreeing to new terms of service, in breach of the requirement in the law that such consent should be freely given.

    • Overseas Microsoft staff to have access to servers storing secret Australian data

      Microsoft staff based overseas will have access to servers in Australia where top-secret government data is stored on the company’s Azure cloud service.

    • Child campaigners to Zuckerberg: scrap Messenger Kids

      In an open letter and petition led by two groups, the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) and MomsRising, the campaigners urged Zuckerberg to use his “enormous reach and influence to promote children’s wellbeing.”

    • Six reasons why social media is a Bummer

      The issue isn’t only that internet users are crammed into environments that can bring out the worst in us, or that so much power has concentrated into a tiny number of hands that control giant cloud computers. A bigger problem is that we are all carrying around devices that are suitable for mass behaviour modification. For example, with old-fashioned advertising, you could measure whether a product did better after an ad was run, but now companies are measuring whether individuals change their behaviours as they browse, and the feeds for each person are constantly tweaked to get the desired result. In short, your behaviour has been turned into a product – and corporate and political clients are lining up to modify it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Former British minister Malcolm Rifkind calls for probe into Hong Kong role in CIA rendition programme that sent Sami al-Saadi to be tortured in Libya

      Hong Kong’s role in a pan-Asia secret rendition programme run by US and British intelligence services should be scrutinised as part of a top-level inquiry, a former British cabinet member has said.

      The call from former foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind came as it emerged a prominent human rights barrister retained to pursue legal action against the Hong Kong government over an alleged role in the CIA and MI6-led rendition programme – which included cloak-and-dagger operations in Malaysia and Thailand – was no longer involved in the case.


      It involved the 12-day detention at Hong Kong International Airport of Libyan national Sami al-Saadi, his wife and their four young children, followed by their forced repatriation – also via Thailand – to the Tripoli torture cells of the Gaddafi regime.

      This month’s apology to Belhaj, for what British Prime Minister Theresa May described as their “appalling treatment”, came six years after the UK government paid al-Saadi £2.2 million in compensation for his ordeal which began in Hong Kong.

    • Time to come clean on secret CIA prison

      Now Gina Haspel has been sworn in as the CIA’s first female director, it is time the government speak out on a matter in which it has kept silent for over a decade.

      President Donald Trump’s pick of the 61-year-old Russian specialist who spent her career in the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine service, to take over the top position of the agency sparked a fierce debate ahead of Senate voting over Ms Haspel’s role involving torture techniques she used for the interrogation of terror suspects in the post-9/11 era.

    • Prosecutor lied about key evidence in Trump inauguration protester trial, judge rules

      The latest big setback for the crusade against Inauguration Day protesters could be its death knell.

    • New CIA chief Haspel tainted by prior acts, seen as part of ‘attack’ on Constitution

      The president swears in the new CIA director, a person in direct violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court has long held that punishments involving torture are forbidden under the Eighth Amendment.

      In the Senate, the Republican chairman called the new CIA director the most qualified person the president could have chosen. Fact: The new director played a key role in the destruction of interrogation videotapes showing the torture of detainees, both at the “black site” she oversaw and other secret agency locations.

      Crimes against International Law are committed by man (or woman) — not by abstract entities.

    • Dr. Ron Paul: Haspel is Not the Problem. The CIA is the Problem.

      As a general rule, when Dick Cheney favors a foreign policy position it’s best to be on the opposite side if you value liberty over war and authoritarianism. The former vice president’s enthusiastic endorsement of not only Gina Haspel as CIA director but of the torture program she oversaw should tell us all we need to know about Haspel.

      Saying that Haspel would make a great CIA director, Cheney dismissed concerns over the CIA’s torture program. Asked in a television interview last week about the program, Cheney said, “if it were my call, I’d do it again.”

      Sadly, the majority of the US Senate agreed with Cheney that putting a torturer in charge of the CIA was a good idea. Only two Republicans – Senators Paul and Flake – voted against Haspel. And just to confirm that there really is only one political party in Washington, it was the “yes” vote of crossover Democrats that provided the margin of victory. Americans should really be ashamed of those sent to Washington to represent us.

    • Strasbourg court to issue ruling on suspected CIA prison in Lithuania this week

      The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is planning to issue its ruling regarding suspicions that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operated a secret prison for terror suspects in Lithuania between 2005 and 2006.

      The Strasbourg court is scheduled to deliver its judgement at a public hearing at 11 a.m. Vilnius time next Thursday, May 31.

      The complaint against Lithuania was brought by Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia who is now held at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

      The 47-year-old man, who is suspected of involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, claims that he was held in a secret CIA detention facility in Lithuania in 2005 and 2006 and that his treatment amounted to torture.

    • Criticizes headline about CIA director Gina Haspel

      I was appalled to see the Gazette’s irresponsible reporting of Gina Haspel’s confirmation as CIA chief on the front page on May 18 (“Haspel becomes 1st female CIA chief”).

      The headline frames her confirmation as the “1st female” in her position, as if the confirmation of a war criminal — who refuses to admit that torture is immoral — is some kind of achievement for the feminist movement. It is morally repugnant to elect and then celebrate someone like Haspel, no matter their gender.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Did The WIPO Copyright Committee Just Approve A Group With Mission To Free The World From “Space Lizards’ Control”?

      Was the group’s website hacked? Is it the wrong website address? Are we under attack by space lizards? Are WIPO committee members paying attention to the documents they approve (and the dangers the human race is facing)?

    • Intel Files Patent For Automated Method To Verify Block Record

      The US Patent and Trademark Office has published a patent filed by Intel that describes an automated method to verify a block record for a digital ledger. The patent titled “Technology for secure partitioning and updating of a distributed digital ledger” suggests a method to securely partition a DLS so that some or all of the scalability issues faced by a monolithic, unpartitioned DLS are avoided.

      Intel’s patent explains the automated block record verification as follows.

      The system involves a first validation node (FVN) which receives a block record from a second validation node (SVN). The block record will include a digital signature. Once a block record is received, the FVN will automatically obtain a node identifier for the SVN, based on the digital signature. The first validator node will use the node identifier for the SVN to determine whether the SVN belongs to a validation group that comprises the FVN. The FVN will also use an attestation service to determine whether the node identifier for the SVN belongs to a node with a trusted processor. The FVN will determine whether the digital signature for the block record was created with a private key that corresponds to the node identifier for the SVN.

    • Samsung owes Apple $539M for infringing iPhone patents, jury finds

      Samsung must pay Apple $539 million for infringing five patents with Android phones it sold in 2010 and 2011, a jury decided Thursday in a legal fight that dates back seven years.

    • South Africa Approves New IP Policy, With Guidance From UN Agencies

      It took nine years of policy development, two different draft policies and various rounds of public consultation, to finally see Cabinet give the nod to the new Intellectual Property (IP) policy in South Africa.


      This involved a series of activities on the draft IP policy as well as its predecessor, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) draft consultative framework for IP, the sources said. UNCTAD and UNDP organised two national stakeholder consultations, in 2016 and 2017, on the policy document. The process also was said to involve other organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    • Copyrights
      • How Effective is The UK Pirate Bay Blockade?

        UK Internet users are no stranger to website blocking. Many of the world’s largest pirate sites, including The Pirate Bay, are inaccessible due to court orders. But does this mean that piracy has been eradicated as well? A look at the most visited websites in the UK suggests that there is still a long way to go.

      • Pornography and the butterfly effect

        That story seems simple in outline. A Belgian named Fabian starts trading in passwords to porn sites in the 1990s. Next decade, he purchases a relatively small company in Montreal which offers porn online for free; it faithfully complies with DMCA takedown requests, but they have no hope of keeping up with the firehose of uploads. He applies modern data science, A/B testing, SEO, etc., and his business grows from “substantial” to “enormous.”

      • MPAA Revenue Drops 20% as Movie Studios Cut Back

        The latest MPAA tax filing shows that the revenue generated by the anti-piracy group has fallen after a few years of modest growth. The decrease is the result of lower membership fees paid by the major Hollywood studios, which resulted in a significant loss. The filing further reveals that the MPAA’s former CEO Chris Dodd earned $3.4 million during his final year.

Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Face an Uphill Battle in a Patent System Which is Increasingly Hostile Towards Software Patents

Monday 28th of May 2018 03:17:43 PM

Summary: The huge number of shells (trolls) that are connected directly and indirectly to Microsoft are struggling in the age of PTAB and 35 U.S.C. § 101; but that does not mean that we should take our eyes off them (and their proponents)

Microsoft, the company which “loves Linux” so much that it sees the need to create cheesy memes about it and then paste them like a million times all around the World Wide Web, relies on patents granted by the USPTO to sue companies which distribute GNU/Linux. Apple does the same thing. Microsoft typically does this through patent trolls, some of which are based in the Eastern District of Texas, the capital of patent trolls. Some are based elsewhere, e.g. Acacia, and they have a cluster of shell entities (making it incredibly hard to keep track of, just as they intended).

Having spent about a dozen years researching these trolls and their connections, we’re a little harder (than most) to fool. 5 days ago Unified Patents wrote about its petition against Acacia, a Microsoft-connected patent troll (which attacks GNU/Linux vendors). Remember that Acacia had hired for its management from Microsoft just before it sued companies like Red Hat and Novell. Here is what Unified Patents wrote:

On May 23, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 8,902,770 owned and asserted by Cellular Communications Equipment, an Acacia subsidiary and well-known NPE. The ’770 patent, directed to a method for “explicit signaling between a network and the user equipment,” has been asserted in district litigation against such companies as Apple, ZTE, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Boost Mobile, and T-Mobile.

Acacia is still around unfortunately; it’s also active. The above names one of its many shells, “Cellular Communications Equipment” (it would be hard to know this connection without some research). Watch out for another shell called “PanOptis” because “Sony transfers over 100 US patents to NPE PanOptis,” IAM notes, linking to its article which in turn links PanOptis to other trolls, such as Avanci (mentioned here more recently again). To quote: “Recent USPTO records show that Sony has transferred a portfolio of over one hundred US patents to an affiliate of NPE PanOptis, a part of the Marconi Group. The Japanese company already participates in the Avanci and Velos patent pools, and its link-up with PanOptis underlines Marconi’s diverse offering. Sony assigned 135 US patent rights to Plano-based Wi-Fi One LLC on 26th January, but the transaction was not recorded until last month. Wi-Fi One is just one of the vehicles controlled by PanOptis, the NPE founded by Leslie Ware which became part of the Marconi Group in February 2017.”

Wi-Fi One is another patent troll which we wrote many articles about (in recent months). Notice the trend; large companies like Sony, which shares investments with Microsoft in several patent cartels (e.g. Rockstar Consortium and Intellectual Ventures), spread patents to trolls. As for Avanci (Ericsson-connected, also part of Rockstar Consortium, along with Apple and BlackBerry), IAM says that its “auto royalty fee [on many Linux-powered systems] will be $3 to $15 per vehicle no matter how many patent owners sign up to our auto platform, the firm confirms to IAM.”

The underlying article (not behind paywall for a change) says more:

There will be no changes to the $3 to $15 per car royalty fees licensees are asked to pay to access the patents that form the Avanci auto patent platform, the firm has told IAM. “As we add new patent owners to the Avanci platform, the price the licensees pay for a licence will not increase,” Luke McLeroy, vice president of business development, said. “In fact, after publishing our rates in December of 2017, Avanci added four patent owners to the platform and the price didn’t increase. This is the case even if all standard essential patent owners join the platform.”


Each of the manufacturers that Avanci is talking to, said McLeroy, “is on its own journey in determining how wireless can be implemented within their respective products”. He continued: “Within this journey, there are different stages of understanding on how the licensing process works in the telecommunications space vs the automotive industry and it takes time to find that common ground where a licence can be taken.”

These patents are all rather dodgy, but put together in a pool (like that of MPEG-LA) it’s far too expensive to challenge them all. A combination of many dubious patents in large numbers (quantity) is how Microsoft typically blackmails Android and GNU/Linux/ChromeOS OEMs. Sometimes it’s not even Microsoft doing the blackmail (not directly anyway). Microsoft can always rely on its special patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, to do the lawsuit or pass patents to one of its thousands of shells to do that. It’s one heck of a racket!

Mr. Gross has this new update about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) ruling on litigation ‘ventures’ of Intellectual Ventures: “have no idea what IV patent attys were thinking appealing this patent case to PTAB; subject matter (“selling insurance policies,””funding at least one of purchase…””inducing water temperature changes”) just invites a beating with 101 stick over head: …”

He’s referring to Section 101 (Alice). It always gets them. Here’s one of Microsoft’s: “MSFT wins rare [Section] 101 case at PTAB for utterance clustering based on Mcro: “process performed by human animators is not the same as that as the rules-based process recited in the claimed automation, as the human process is driven by subjective determinations” …”

Another PTAB case, Hakkani-Tur, speaks of “rejection of all twenty pending claims in U.S. Application No. 14/846,486, for which the real party in interest is Microsoft. [...] The claims had been rejected under 35 U.S.C. § 101…”

Here’s the relevant bunch of passages:

In a decision issued earlier this month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board reversed the final rejection of all twenty pending claims in U.S. Application No. 14/846,486, for which the real party in interest is Microsoft. The claims at issue are directed to a system that trains a spoken language understanding (SLU) classifier based on user intent gleaned from user utterances (i.e., spoken natural language sentences and phrases, such as “send Mom an email”). In particular, the claimed invention involves collecting a variety of user utterances and semantically parsing the utterances (i.e., mapping the utterances into machine-understandable representations of their respective meanings) to generate a single graph that represents all the utterances in the form of nodes. The claimed invention then involves clustering (i.e., grouping) the utterances by similar user intent, and using the resulting groups to train the SLU classifier.


But the Board disagreed with the Examiner on all three points. The Board was quick to note that, although the portions of App. No. 14/846,486 cited by the Examiner might describe mathematical calculations, they do not discuss an SLU classifier, but rather discuss a method of developing the graph used to train the SLU classifier. In addition, the Board stated that the last two steps of claim 1 are more than just field of use limitations.

Does this mean that PTAB can impact Microsoft’s (patent) war on GNU/Linux?

Mr. Gross goes on and on with Section 101. He wrote: “PTAB says Bilski ONLY applies to process claims: MOT test “applies to claimed processes-a category of subject matter under § 101 that is distinct from the dynamic messaging system recited in claim 1 that falls within the apparatus category in that statute” …” and then this:

PTAB invents new standard for §101 implying that “something more than the abstract idea” Alice part 2 test cat be met UNLESS there is an improvement to “the technical field of computers, communications, networking, or otherwise.” … NO SUCH PRECEDENT EXISTS!

Mr. Gross has long attacked PTAB and wrote for Web sites of patent trolls. An online buddy of his said: “The PTAB Reversed the Examiner’s 101/Mayo and 103 Rejections of Claims in a Medtronic Patent Application Directed to Improving Bladder Function: …”

This is very rare a thing. This is why it’s being pointed out. It’s like all those times the patent maximalists name-drop Berkheimer as if it’s the only court decision that matters. Berkheimer was overhyped nonsense from the patent microcosm, which merely hoped that by 'pulling a Berkheimer' 24/7 there would be renewed interest in software patents. Here goes Mr. Gross again: “PTAB already skirting most of CAFC Berkheimer ruling: “Appellants’ Specification teaches …that the processes, and steps of the invention, may be realized” using hardware that “may include a general purpose computer and/or dedicated computing device” …”

They’re leaving Berkheimer behind, unlike Mr. Iancu.

Lawrence Ashery of Caesar, Rivise, Bernstein, Cohen & Pokotilow has meanwhile published this long piece in support of software patents, relying solely on Berkheimer and a muchly-mesmerised (by it) Iancu. Media of law firms basically pretends that the goal should be to allow software patenting and it also overplays Berkheimer, as expected (marketing, lobbying, not advice). To quote some bits:

Then, an interesting court opinion was published in February (Berkheimer v. HP, 17-1437 (Fed. Cir. 2018)). Steven Berkheimer had sued Hewlett-Packard (HP) for infringing his patent for digitally processing and archiving files. The district court ruled that Berkheimer’s patent was invalid, because it was directed to patent-ineligible subject matter. Specifically, the court stated that Berkheimer’s inventive concept failed the second step of the Alice test because his invention related to “steps that employ only well understood, routine, and conventional computer functions.” On appeal, Berkheimer argued that whether an invention is “well understood, routine and conventional is an underlying fact question for which HP offered no evidence.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed with Berkheimer, and remanded the case to the district court so that the necessary factual determination could be made.

Berkheimer v HP was also brought up by the PTAB-hostile Anticipat 5 days ago. “Expect the Berkheimer-driven patent-eligibility pendulum to swing at the PTAB,” said the headline, but no, not really. Months down the line nothing has really changed. Here is what Anticipat wrote:

The past few months have seen huge developments in patent-eligibility at the USPTO. In three and a half years after Alice, the most effective way to argue against patent-eligibility for software applications was to focus on Step 1–that the claims are not directed to an abstract idea. But based on these recent developments, Step 2–that additional elements of the claims transform the judicial exception into something more–looks to be the more powerful way. The only problem is that the PTAB has not yet caught on. It will.

These huge developments have taken place in the form of Federal Circuit decisions deciding patent-eligibility favorably to the patentee, especially Berkheimer v. HP Inc., 881 F.3d 1360, 1369 (Fed. Cir. 2018). Such a clear articulation of the need for factual findings for Step 2 should usher in big change in how the Alice/Mayo framework is applied.

Anticipat uses the phrase “huge developments” twice, but Berkheimer was hardly that. Oil States was. Then again, what can be expected from a firm whose sole goal and business model is PTAB-bashing?

Supreme Court Justices and 35 U.S.C. § 101 Are Fixing the USPTO, Voiding ‘Fake Patents’

Monday 28th of May 2018 02:09:03 PM

The patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) focuses on the few and rare ‘success stories’ of patent litigation

“If you muscht ask…” (they don’t even say how much they got paid!)

Summary: With the demise of the Eastern District of Texas (as litigation venue) and the demise of software patents we’re starting to see the USPTO going back to the original purpose of patent systems

THE PATENT news is still awash with/dominated by Apple news (the Samsung verdict). It’s about design patents, which are notorious for all sorts of reasons.

There’s some good news, however… it’s not some breaking/overnight news but part of a long, arduous process. Patent scope is being narrowed in the US, owing to a large degree to the Justices at SCOTUS. They may be doing some terrible things to civil rights, copyright law and so on. When it comes to patents, however, we couldn’t ask for more. They typically just ‘get’ it these days…

The patent maximalist Richard Lloyd (IAM) keeps whining about it. His blog posts are typically rants about the US patent system/courts and he lobbies Iancu. A few days ago, for a change, Lloyd wrote about a patent settlement. It’s about a ‘fossil’ of a company, Sonos, which resorted to patent aggression a while back (like many other dying companies, this one being private with only one store left). Lloyd wrote:

Sonos, the connected speaker company, announced last week that it had reached a settlement with Denon, so drawing a line under almost four years of litigation. Although the terms of the agreement remained confidential, it’s fair to say that the run of things in court has largely gone Sonos’s way since it sued D&M Holdings (an investment company that owned Denon) in US district court for alleged infringement of at least four of its patents. Late last year Sonos scored a key victory in a jury trial which ruled that three of its patents in suit were valid

So after “almost four years of litigation,” which must have cost a fortune, one small company compelled another small company to pay (maybe zero). It did not even win the case! The patents weren’t upheld. It’s merely a settlement. One can bet that the biggest winner in this whole affair was the legal team (i.e. lawyers). No wonder “the agreement remained confidential”; the numbers are probably laughable and pathetic, so we expect Sonos to use this secrecy to go after other companies, demanding ‘protection’ money based on imaginary assertions/claims. Apple and other companies have been doing the same thing for nearly a decade.

Nice ‘success story’ you got there, Mr. Lloyd!

Moving on, a PTAB case was covered yesterday by Watchtroll. It’s actually an appeal to the Federal Circuit and as a bit of background, “Mallinckrodt owns the ’112 patent, which is directed to methods of distributing nitric oxide cylinders for pharmaceutical operations. Praxair petitioned for inter partes review of claims 1-19 of the ’112 patent, which the Board instituted. The Board held that claims 1-8 and 10-19 would have been obvious over four prior art references. However, claim 9 survived. Praxair appealed from the Board’s decision regarding claim 9, and Mallinckrodt cross-appealed regarding claims 1-8 and 10-11.”

This ought to have been enough to undermine the patent as a whole.

“The Board also found “compelling” Mallinckrodt’s evidence of secondary considerations that “patients were not excluded” from an INOT22 study,” Watchtroll continued, “despite the known relationship between the nitric oxide treatment and pulmonary edema for patients with LVD. However, because the Court concluded that claim 9 requires administering nitric oxide to patients with LVD, Mallinckrodt’s evidence of secondary considerations regarding the failure of researchers to exclude such patients from the INOT22 study lacked sufficient nexus to the claim. Both the Board’s findings regarding the differences between the prior art and claim 9 and its findings on secondary considerations depended on an incorrect interpretation of that claim. Thus, the Court reversed the Board’s decision that claim 9 is not unpatentable as obvious.”

Notice double negation there (“not unpatentable”); this is never helpful and the Supreme Court recently did this also (it got called out on it). Speaking of the Supreme Court and style, several prominent people have complained about the English of the Trump-appointed (and nominated) Neil Gorsuch. He became a Justice last year, he has served for quite some time since, and Dennis Crouch still cannot spell his surname correctly; he wrote “Gorsach” a few days ago. We find it funny because Crouch ought to know better; we guess that after all this time he still doesn’t know who runs the highest court. The post is about 35 U.S.C. § 101, which pertains to many things including software patents. To quote:

The petition asks the following questions:

Does 35 U.S.C. § 282 allow for challenges to a patent’s validity based on patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101?

In addition, and in close alignment with the first question, is it proper to find patents invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 after full examination before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in response to 12(b)(6) challenges when they are presumed valid under 35 U.S.C. § 282?

Is it proper to grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss when the record contains unrebutted factual evidence that the invention is patent-eligible under § 101?

Don’t expect the Supreme Court to bother with 35 U.S.C. § 101; it has had many opportunities since Alice and it always turns these down. Three days ago Marc J. Rachman and Devin A. Kothari (Davis & Gilbert) wrote about patents and the Supreme Court, asserting that the “Supreme Court Seeks To Curb The Worst Abuses Of The Patent System,” notably in litigation. To quote:

Congress, commentators and a wide variety of industry leaders have long noted that the patent system was broken. Besieged by a tide of weak patents and baseless patent troll litigations, these stakeholders argued that the current patent climate incentivized the weaponization of patent rights, thereby raising operational and legal costs and stifling innovation.

In 2017, the Supreme Court responded by taking aim at some of the worst abuses of the patent system in two landmark cases. The first, TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods, addressed the issue of venue. Hoping to limit the aggressive forum shopping of plaintiffs – which often led to an outsized number of cases in plaintiff-friendly places like the Eastern District of Texas – the Supreme Court held that venue is only proper in a patent case in the state where the defendant is incorporated or where it has a regular and established place of business. In narrowing the proper avenues for bringing suit, the Court reduced any home-field advantage for patent trolls.

In Impression Products v. Lexmark Int’l, the Supreme Court rejected Lexmark’s efforts to prohibit purchasers of printer ink cartridges from refilling and reselling them. The Supreme Court found these restrictions to be a violation of the “first sale” doctrine, which protects downstream users of a product by exhausting a patent owner’s rights in a product after it is first sold, thereby narrowing the field of legitimate patent defendants, and giving peace of mind to retailers and consumers.

On the subject of Alice, see what Donald Zuhn wrote about Genetic Veterinary Sciences, Inc. v LABOklin GmbH (Eastern District of Virginia) the other day. It’s yet another one of those many cases where Alice works its magic because “claims 1-3 of U.S. Patent No. 9,157,114, which is assigned to Defendant University of Bern, are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

To quote some relevant bits:

Earlier this month, in Genetic Veterinary Sciences, Inc. v. LABOklin GmbH, Senior District Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted a motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure filed by Plaintiff Genetic Veterinary Sciences, Inc. (doing business as Paw Prints Genetics) that claims 1-3 of U.S. Patent No. 9,157,114, which is assigned to Defendant University of Bern, are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Genetic Veterinary Sciences (“GVS”) had initiated the dispute between the parties by filing a complaint for declaratory judgment of invalidity and noninfringement of the ’114 patent.


In assessing the patent eligibility of claims 1-3 of the ’114 patent, the District Court noted that the analysis follows the two-step framework set forth by the Supreme Court in Alice Corp. Ptv. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l (2014). Pursuant to that framework, courts first determine whether the claims at issue are directed to a patent-ineligible concept, and if so, then consider the elements of each claim both individually and as an ordered combination to determine whether the additional elements transform the claim into a patent-eligible application. The District Court noted that this second step “represents a ‘search for an ‘inventive concept”—i.e., an element or combination of elements that is ‘sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon the [ineligible concept] itself.’”

This is a district court; these tend to be even less strict than the Federal Circuit, so this is noteworthy. Also from a district court there’s this update on Magna Electronics, Inc. v Valeo, Inc. et al, stating that “[t]he court granted defendant’s motion to compel further interrogatory responses regarding conception and reduction to practice.”

We certainly hope that, over time at least (the long run), courts as low as these and even the patent office will sympathise with defendants (merely being accused) rather than self-acclaimed ‘inventors’; many patent applicants are charlatans or people who overestimate the importance of their ideas, seeking a monopoly on these ideas while relying on examiners’ benefit of the doubt and/or profit motive.

Companies Now Have the Incentive to Remove/Move All Operations Out of the Eastern District of Texas (If Not Texas in General)

Monday 28th of May 2018 01:13:18 PM

Deviation from the law can lead to that

Summary: The ‘karma’ of the Eastern District of Texas’ aggressive policy is a diaspora or mass exodus of businesses, for any presence in the area may prove costly after TC Heartland (a year-old SCOTUS decision)

THE POOR patent trolls…

Earlier this morning we saw one such troll (Texas-based, obviously!) celebrating the USPTO‘s new chief, adding a cowboy hat to it. Such is their level of maturity and mentality; this particular troll and his boss, as we noted before, refuse to act like grownups.

“Cases continue to pile up regarding litigation venue.”But there’s a reason for their reliance on Mr. Iancu (USPTO Director appointed by Trump after he had worked for Trump). They just aren’t getting their way and some have gone out of business; many are about to. Texas court cases (regarding patents) are running low; the dockets dry up.

Cases continue to pile up regarding litigation venue. The Federal Circuit, for instance, at the middle of May delivered a couple of key rulings which we covered here before. Watchtroll wrote about the first one nearly a fortnight late. It is about the Eastern District of Texas and in a nutshell:

After the case was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, ZTE filed a motion to transfer the case to the Northern District of Texas under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) and filed a motion to dismiss for improper venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1406 and § 1400(b). The district court ruled that the Eastern District of Texas was a proper venue. Relying on Fifth Circuit law, the district court denied ZTE’s motion to dismiss, finding that ZTE “failed to meet its burden to show that it does not have a regular and established place of business in the District.” ZTE filed a petition for a writ of mandamus alleging that the district court improperly placed the burden of proof on the defendant.

The subject of litigation venue trended more than a week ago; here’s another one covered at the time and belatedly by Watchtroll:

The Court found that a corporation resides only in one judicial district, not all dsitricts within the state where it is incorporated. First, the plain reading of “the judicial district” indicated that Congress had in mind one particular judicial district where the defendant had committed acts of infringement and had a regular and established place of business. Additionally, other venue rules promulgated near the same time as § 1400(b) included a clear statement that venue could lie in multiple districts when Congress intended that result. Although Fourco established that incorporation within the state is necessary for venue purposes and sufficient for venue in single-district cases, it did not imply that venue was proper in every district within the state.

This comes almost exactly a year after TC Heartland.

How about when the venue is Dallas (also Texas)? Watch this new article labeled “Dallas Invents”. This isn’t “Dallas Invents” but “Dallas attracts patent trolls by ruling in their favour in nearby towns” (so that these trolls become Texas-based). The article says: “Patents granted include Nuvectra Corporation’s paired communication between an implanted medical device and an external control device; Toyota’s “cloaking” apparatus and method for making an object appear transparent; and NewVoiceMedia’s workflow triggering that uses real-time analytics for intelligent sales engagement.”

“One might joke that James Rodney Gilstrap, who boasted that he was helping his town, actually accomplished the exact opposite thing. He has become a death knell to job opportunities in the whole region.”It’s just one of those ‘shopping list’ articles and it has little or nothing to do with Dallas. Some of these companies aren’t even American, let alone Texan.

Meanwhile we learn that the University of Texas still goes after companies where they aren’t really based! See this update on Board of Regents, The University of Texas System et al v. Medtronic, Inc. et al:

The court denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ patent infringement action for improper venue because defendant had a regular and established place of business in the district by ratifying its subsidiary’s manufacturing and research facility as its own place of business.

As readers may recall, courts in Texas grossly misused their power last year. The “reprehensible” [1, 2] Judge Gilstrap, for example, got reprimanded for ignoring the Rule of Law (or courts above him) to keep lawsuits in an improper venue (his own). Behaviour such as this is only likely to discourage companies from opening branches in Texas; moreover, it might encourage them to leave or shut down existing branches. They’re making an error by making the “selling point” of this place patent litigation; they temporarily attract many patent trolls and defendants (accused parties) and in the long run they lose both, as well as actual businesses. One might joke that James Rodney Gilstrap, who boasted that he was helping his town, actually accomplished the exact opposite thing. He has become a death knell to job opportunities in the whole region.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Patent Reform (AIA) Generally Too Popular to Stop, But Patent Law Firms Helped by Andrei Iancu Keep Trying

Monday 28th of May 2018 12:19:51 PM

Patent maximalists’ Office takeover isn’t a court/s takeover

Summary: The patent microcosm together with Andrei Iancu (who himself came from the patent microcosm) is frustrated to have come to grips with quality control; low-quality patents continue to be rejected by courts

WHETHER it likes it or not, the leadership of the USPTO will need to adapt to court rulings, not selectively but properly. Otherwise people will lose confidence in US patents and will no longer pursue these.

There’s this thing we recently dubbed “Cult of Patents”; they’re patent maximalists who insist that innovation cannot happen without patents, that patents are a “property”, and that patents are justified for thoughts, nature etc. In short, they’re pretty badly deluded.

“There’s this thing we recently dubbed “Cult of Patents”; they’re patent maximalists who insist that innovation cannot happen without patents, that patents are a “property”, and that patents are justified for thoughts, nature etc.”Mohamed Salem Abou El Farag from Qatar University’s College of Law said in his paper dated May 5th (2018): “Intellectual property (IP) is the branch of law that protects innovations and creations…”

But no, it is a propaganda term rather than a law and sometimes — if misused/overused — it actually damages innovation and creation. This has been demonstrated empirically in the past. Why are some people still saying things like these? They can just stop saying “IP” altogether. It’s a misleading propaganda term. If they mean patents, then they should say “patents”, not “IP”. How about this one (titled “Intellectual Property”)? “There are four general areas of IP,” it said some days ago, “patents, trade secrets, copyrights and trademarks. It’s important to understand the four types and how they differ.”

“They can just stop saying “IP” altogether. It’s a misleading propaganda term. If they mean patents, then they should say “patents”, not “IP”.”Why say IP or “Intellectual Property” at all? By the article’s own admission, there are “patents, trade secrets, copyrights and trademarks.”

They’re completely different laws; they work differently.

Another new article of note speaks of patents “in connection with 3D printing technology” — the sorts of patents which famously held back 3D printing for a number of decades (the same goes for drones). To quote:

An increase in attempts to obtain patent protection in connection with 3D printing technology means the patent space in this area has become very crowded, likely an indication that additive manufacturing is overtaking traditional manufacturing processes.

Not only 3D printers themselves but also certain mechanical parts for computing and manufacturing might be subject to patent protection. Of course, software used for 3D printing (like all software) enjoys copyright protection in most jurisdictions. But software can also be eligible for patent protection in some countries (such as the US).

Thus, new entrants must be careful not to infringe others’ patent rights. When trying to safeguard their own additive manufacturing’s critical IP, businesses should analyse their options under patent law and consider securing IP through trade secret protection, copyright and design laws.

In the case of 3D printing we have a classic example of patents actually slowing down and preventing innovation. This does not quite apply to trademarks or even to copyrights, as similar ideas can be expressed under different brands and using different words.

Speaking of “different words”, many people nowadays try to patent old things by using buzzwords and new/different words, e.g. “cloud” for server or “AI” for some clever algorithm. Here is an example of ‘cloudwashing’ in a press release from a few days ago:

The patent for invention 9,973,499 is issued for technology that extends greater endpoint trust, through identity verification and policy enforcement, for secure network-to-network and network-to-cloud connections.

This is, by the sound of it, a software patent. But the wording doesn’t say anything remotely like that. Over at Watchtroll, Samuel Hayim and Kate Gaudry admit what many patent lawyers prefer to deny in order to attract/lure gullible businesses into software patent pursuits (in vain). “Eligibility Rejections are Appearing in Greater Frequency Across all Computer Related Technology Centers,” says their headline and here are some bits:

Four years after the Alice decision…


The frequency of any particular rejection type may be influenced by seminal Federal Circuit and Supreme Court cases. Judicial decisions are interpreted into policy decisions by the United States Patent Office (USPTO) and distributed to patent examiners in the form of examination guidance memoranda and other training materials. At least initially, major changes in jurisprudence are more likely to burden applications in the technological art analyzed by the court than applications in other arts as the USPTO will extend the courts analysis to those applications pending in that technological art. Yet, as the dust settles, the full impact of these decisions may be seen across all technology centers (TCs) of the USPTO.


Examiners have not been the only obstacle to securing patents for business-method technologies. For example, we recently analyzed Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ex parte appeal decisions having had Appeal Briefs filed after the Alice decision. We reviewed PTAB decisions from computer related technology centers, including TCs 2100, 2400, 2600 and the business method portion of TC 3600. Nearly all eligibility rejections at issue stemmed from the business-method art units[5], and a mere 7% of those appeals were successful (i.e. reversed).[6] Thus, the Alice decision had a significant impact on the applications from business method art units.

Patent maximalists have meanwhile gone so insane or incredibly selfish that they nowadays bash their own country, notably the US, using sheer lies while glamouring China not because it’s good but because patents are out of control there, software patents included. We wrote about that twice over the weekend.

Adding insult to injury (to the system), some patent lawyers have gone as far as plotting patent “scams” wherein patents are being passed to tribes to avoid justice. That just wouldn’t fly however (at many levels, including Congress/Senate, courts, PTAB and public forums). Here’s the latest of that:

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court released their decision in Upper Skagit Indian Tribe v. Lundgren. The opinion effectively held that the simple fact of in rem jurisdiction does not always bar claims of tribal sovereign immunity.

In rem jurisdiction is one argument that might bar the new practice of renting tribal sovereign immunity to a patent owner in order to shield the patent from inter partes review (IPR). That argument, among others, is now being reviewed by the Federal Circuit in the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Allergan case. (CCIA joined an amicus brief in front of the Federal Circuit.)


At first glance, it’s not obvious why the immovable property exception is relevant to patents. Patents are public franchises, not land. And patents are intangible property, not land tightly bound to a particular physical location.

But patents are a form of property, as Oil States made sure to emphasize. And patents have territorial limits, the scope of which are being decided in the WesternGeco case right now.

That second statement is important. Patents share an important characteristic with land—they are both geographically limited forms of property, and those geographical limits are fixed and immovable. Land has boundaries; United States patents apply only within the United States. While you can transfer ownership of a patent to a foreign entity, just like you can sell land, the patent itself will still only apply within the United States and the rights associated with the land will only apply within the deeded boundaries.

That means that, like land, patents are (at least in a sense) immovable property permanently situated within the United States. And any decision which allows the application of sovereign immunity to patents thus creates an offense to the sovereignty of the United States in the same way that applying sovereign immunity to prevent a state from determining the status of its own land offends the sovereignty of that state.

Unified Patents has declared (6 days ago) that a patent “asserted in more than 50 district court cases” will no longer bother the world, owing to a PTAB IPR:

On May 18, 2018, Anuwave LLC (an IP Edge entity) and Unified Patents Inc. filed a joint request to terminate IPR2018-00223 prior to institution pursuant to settlement. U.S. Patent 8,295,862, the subject of the IPR petition, relates to banking through SMS and has been asserted in more than 50 district court cases.

Therein lies the power of PTAB. But an ideal situation would have been invalidation.

The bottom line is, the USPTO granted far too many dubious patents whose potential is to harm rather than to foster innovation. That ought to change. Patents are supposed to advance the public interest.

Guest Series: Système Lamy and Système Battistelli at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Monday 28th of May 2018 06:44:18 AM

Summary: The close political symbiosis between Battistelli and Emmanuel Lamy investigated further

To celebrate the impending depature of the EPO “Sun-King”, a new series of articles examining the close political symbiosis between Battistelli and his fellow ENArque, Emmanuel Lamy, has been prepared for the edification and entertainment of Techrights readers.

The Way Things Are Going in the Eastern District of Texas and Other US District Courts, South Korean Companies Might as Well Exit the US Like They Exit China

Sunday 27th of May 2018 07:44:06 PM

Patents on designs (controversially granted by the USPTO) are self-discrediting anyway

Summary: Apple and Samsung conclude another major patent battle (after 7 years of chaos, taking up a lot of Judge Lucy Koh’s time), but many patent battles remain, which means that lawyers at both companies receive salaries which otherwise engineers would have gotten

THE Apple and Samsung patent battles are so long and boring that we’ve almost entirely quit covering them. When Apple started attacking Android with patents (Apple v HTC) we still wrote a lot about it.

Just because it’s Apple, the firm which champions hype and fantasy, the media in the US is sickly obsessed with it and it has been covering the case like it’s the only one that really matters. We’re assuming that our readers already saw the news elsewhere. If not, here are some articles [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. “Samsung argued it should pay only $28 million for infringement,” one article notes, rather than have the patents questioned (this trial wasn’t about the patents but the “damages” — a bizarre misnomer but an official/formal legal term).

“The fact is that Samsung won the smartphone wars back in 2012,” IAM claimed in “The smartphone wars were a triumph for Samsung, a defeat for Apple, but everybody won” (the editor published this a few hours ago).

Notice how even some pro-Apple news sites thought that Apple would lose. Ben Lovejoy wrote in 9 to 5 Mac:

The Apple versus Samsung patent trial that began in 2011 returned to court last week. Closing arguments were made on Friday, and it’s now up to a jury to decide whether the damages awarded to Apple will be increased, decreased or remain unchanged.

My expectation is that Apple will lose the case – and I’ll define ‘lose’ in a moment – and that, actually, that would be the right result …

But no, not really… because only lawyers won. It’s more like an internal fight within the companies rather than between them. The legal team is trying to make itself relevant and help itself expand. At whose expense? Likely the technical workers, who would rather add features than remove features to avert potential infringement.

This truly sickening, wasteful battle (7 years of court battles with judges and lawyers involved) should serve as a reminder; two companies wrestle themselves to death and only the lawyers enjoy the duel (they profit from it regardless of who wins which motion/s).

Three days ago, i.e. shortly after the decision, USA Today wrote: “Samsung must pay about $533.3 million for infringing on design patents. The jury said Samsung owes Apple an additional $5.3 million for infringing on utility patents.”

Florian Müller, who had followed this super-closely, stayed up until very late at night (or woke up as early as summer’s dark hours) to write about the outcome and these design patents. To quote some bits:

A cartoon showing Homer Simpson using an iPhone may indeed have had an impact on a high-profile smartphone patent dispute as the screen design patent it relates to apparently accounts for approximately half a billion dollars in design patent damages. After three days and a half of deliberation, the re-retrial jury in the first Apple v. Samsung case in the Northern District of California awarded Apple a total of approximately $538.6 million in damages from Samsung (related to some old phones–mostly the first two generations of the Galaxy S), $533.3 million of which relate to design patents and $5.3 million to utility (i.e., technical) patents. Here’s the verdict form (this post continues below the document)…


The jury had asked two questions, and both questions showed they were really struggling with determining the relevant article of manufacture (AoM). If the jury had determined that the design patents in question covered only certain components (casing and screen), the amount would have been in the tens–not hundreds–of millions of dollars, but given that Apple was seeking more than $1 billion, the jury would probably have been inclined (in that hypothetical scenario) to award substantially more than the amount Samsung described as reasonable (less than $30 million). At the same time, given that juries often come down somewhere in the middle, a billion-dollar award was a possibility, but far less probable than the combination of agreeing with Apple on the AoM but with Samsung on most or all of its deductions.


According to media reports, Apple reiterated how much value it attaches to design, and Samsung is now going to consider its options. Those options are post-trial motions and, possibly, another appeal.

When patent trials are done or decided by juries the impact is catastrophic. As CCIA put it the next day:

Yesterday, after almost four days of deliberation, the Apple v. Samsung jury decided Samsung owed Apple over $500 million of Samsung’s profits.

Faced with an artificial and unsound test, the jurors struggled to understand just what they were supposed to do.

Ultimately, the jurors awarded Apple profits on the entire Samsung device for Apple’s icon grid patent. One juror is reported to have explained that the article of manufacture for the icon grid patent “was the whole phone because you need the phone to see it.” If Microsoft Solitaire (with cards originally designed by Apple’s own expert witness) had an infringing design, all of a sudden the entire computer is at risk—without a processor, display, memory, and hard drive, there’s no way to display the cards. That logic creates real risks for the computing industry and for new industries like smart home and IoT products.

What a mess. So even the mere design of something can have someone — anyone — liable for infringement of patents. Even a mere part of something.

Is Apple happy about the precedent here? It would be damaging to everyone.

Going back nearly a month ago, Watchtroll suddenly recalls that old case against Siri — a case brought forth by an “Israeli camera startup” that becomes a serial litigator. Many news outlet reported on it at the start of this month (because it’s about Apple). “One of the patents added was not even granted until January 2018,” says one of those reports.

Guess whose side Watchtroll takes:

On April 30th, Tel Aviv, Israel-based camera tech developer Corephotonics filed a complaint alleging patent infringement against Cupertino, CA-based consumer tech giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the Northern District of California. This lawsuit comes months after Corephotonics filed a patent infringement suit against Apple last November, also in Northern California, with both suits alleging that Apple copied Corephotonics’ patented technology after Apple had allegedly expressed interest in a business relationship with the Israeli tech startup.

This sounds similar to the i4i v Microsoft situation (going about a decade back).

Samsung too is on the receiving end of such ‘nuisance’ lawsuits. Even in Texas. Apple’s arch-rival is being sued in the Eastern District of Texas, home of patent trolls. Who by? The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). There’s no escaping Korean patent aggressors then, not even in the US. Docket Navigator wrote about the latest twist in Kaist IP US LLC v Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al as follows:

The court granted plaintiff’s motion to exclude the testimony of defendants’ technical expert regarding defendants’ enablement and written description theories as irrelevant.

Docket Navigator also wrote about Plastic Omnium Advanced Innovation and Research v Donghee America, Inc. et al, but this one is less relevant to us albeit a similar new example because a motion to exclude. To quote: “The court denied defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of plaintiff’s damages expert regarding a reasonable royalty rate because his reliance on an unaccepted proposal was sufficiently reliable.”

KAIST is a curious case of Korean patent aggression, which is rare. We wrote quite a lot about it in recent years and IAM wrote about it as recently as a few days ago. To quote the summary:

An affiliate of a top South Korean tech university, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), is currently locked in a US patent litigation battle with Qualcomm, GlobalFoundries and Samsung. A recent flap over the ownership of the underlying right reveals the missed opportunities that led to KAIST monetising the right, and underlines why universities in the country are changing their approach to patenting. KAIST IP US LLC, a university monetisation vehicle, filed the lawsuit in late 2016 accusing the three global chipmakers of infringing a single patent. The case was accompanied by a parallel complaint in South Korea.

KAIST is the exception rather than the norm in South Korea. Korean companies generally do not sue much; they do get sued, usually abroad, e.g. in China and in the US (this led LG to even withdrawing from the Chinese market). If Apple keeps suing like it does (always in the US), will it even be worth it for Samsung to still operate there? For the time being, owing to Samsung’s relatively high market share, the answer is probably yes, but for how long? Quite a few Chinese firms have begun moving out of the US, either because of US policies or lack of demand (partly the fault of the media).

The Patent Extremists Resort to Trump-Styled China-Baiting in an Effort to Destroy US Patent Policy

Sunday 27th of May 2018 06:47:44 PM

Fear of the dragon can lead to irrational reactions

Summary: The patent microcosm, in its non-ending pursuit of patent maximalism, uses China’s truly misguided patent policy to alarm US lawmakers (based on false assumptions and deliberate misinformation)

EARLIER today we explained that Chinese patent law is nowadays a mess because of software patents. Patent trolls are surging in China and many patents are of highly questionable legitimacy (few of them or a minuscule proportion of them get ‘exported’ to other countries). China has come to account for the lion’s share of patents counted by WIPO, which could not care less about patent quality (it just wishes to see the number of monopolies rising and rising). Earlier today we saw this article (re)titled “Chinese Universities are patenting everyones research from AI journals” (it had a title totally unconnected to China beforehand). Suffice to say, such patents would be invalid based on prior art; they’re plagiarism. Never mind the fact that AI is software and thus invalid in the form of patents (almost everywhere except China).

“Sadly, we continue to see the “China!” phobia being used to steer or at least attempt to steer US patent policy.”Over at Watchtroll, a couple of days ago Anthony de Andrade and Venkatesh Viswanath wrote about pursuing patents in BRICS (“C” for China) economies. Among BRICS China is the only one that’s in IP5. The IP5 Offices are the European Patent Office (EPO), Japan Patent Office (JPO), Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A lot of companies come from these countries (or continents in the EPO’s case, albeit EPO goes beyond Europe and beyond the EU). Take for example Apple from the US and Samsung from Korea. We’ll write about their legal disputes in a later article.

Sadly, we continue to see the “China!” phobia being used to steer or at least attempt to steer US patent policy. Iancu, being rather clueless in the fields of science, is totally (maybe willfully) falling for it, repeating all the same propaganda we habitually see in sites like Watchtroll.

4 days ago Watchtroll himself (Gene Quinn) published “Navigating the Patent Landscape in China” (full of nonsense!) in which he said:

While the United States continues to struggle with what is patent eligible, and just yesterday USPTO Director Andrei Iancu told the House Judiciary Committee during an Oversight Hearing that in many technology areas what is patent eligible is unclear, and is depressing innovation, the Chinese are taking a different path. In April 2017, China provided revised guidelines relating to the patentability of both software and business methods.

How is that a good thing?

“It often seems like fear of China helps the ‘patent nuts’ (along the same lines of ‘gun nuts’) guide patent policy, almost in the same way that fear of Russia helps the war-mongers and hawks guide foreign policy in the US.”And why is Iancu falling for this propaganda, including the latest from the Chamber of Commerce?

It often seems like fear of China helps the ‘patent nuts’ (along the same lines of ‘gun nuts’) guide patent policy, almost in the same way that fear of Russia helps the war-mongers and hawks guide foreign policy in the US.

Looking at the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, a few days ago it published a sponsored ‘article’ from Sofia Willquist (AWA AB, Sweden), which says that JPO “invalidation rate has dropped from around 45% to around 20% (ie, once a patent is granted it seems difficult to invalidate it).”

That may simply mean that examination itself improved. Here’s what Willquist wrote with additional context:

As for appeals, the success rate is astoundingly high, at around 80%. Further, the invalidation rate has dropped from around 45% to around 20% (ie, once a patent is granted it seems difficult to invalidate it).

This is believed to be a deliberate strategy by the Japanese authorities to attract more companies to conduct business in Japan. With strong competition against other Asian markets, such as China and South Korea, Japan is showing a more lenient attitude towards patent applicants and the inventions they want to protect. According to Japanese patent attorneys, the main difference is in the approach to the assessment of inventive step, which makes it easier for applicants to argue in favour of their inventions.

This actually contradicts what we have been reading elsewhere because Japanese courts have become tougher and even software patents appear to have lost their footing in Japan. Might there be more to these statistics? The raw data is likely in Nippon/Japanese (日本語), so it would be hard to independently verify claims.

“This is about German patent law, which risks being overridden by the farce that’s the UPC (a Trojan horse for software patents). Thankfully, however, the UPC looks like it’s dead for good. The Germany constitution stands in its way.”Meanwhile, over here in Europe we carry on battling software patents, which the EPO under Battistelli tries to make 'normal' using buzzwords like 4IR. Three days ago a German case was recalled, noting that the “FCJ [had] held that when assessing inventive step the claim should be interpreted so that the disclosed embodiments are taken into account.”

This is about German patent law, which risks being overridden by the farce that’s the UPC (a Trojan horse for software patents). Thankfully, however, the UPC looks like it’s dead for good. The Germany constitution stands in its way.

Letting the USPTO Decide on Fees Would Lead to a ‘Battistelli Scenario’

Sunday 27th of May 2018 06:02:35 PM

Don’t let Iancu become the ‘American Battistelli’

Summary: The US patent office, which ultimately profits from patent maximalism, is being given too much power/leverage over the laws/policy which govern its operations, enabling the Trump-connected new chief to implement rollbacks which would harm patent quality and empower patent trolls

THERE are several concurrent and ongoing efforts to sabotage the US patent system’s reform. This is part of the lobbying campaign for the litigation ‘industry’ (or pipeline) and a lot of the lobbying targets the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Thankfully, they haven’t been able to stop PTAB or even slow it down (not considerably anyway).

Several months ago we saw the USPTO‘s fee-setting authority misused/abused to make PTAB IPRs more expensive*, courtesy of Mr. Matal, who had helped bring AIA into full swing more than half a decade earlier.

Senator Coons has just shown up again. He’s far from a scientist, having studied Arts and then pursued a Master’s Degree in Ethics, according to Wikipedia. Why does he obsess so much over the patent system, which he clearly does not understand? He and his staff keep showing up in patent maximalists’ lobbying events. The patent trolls’ lobby has also just mentioned him as follows:

New USPTO fee setting powers could be approved by September, predicts Senator Coons

USPTO Director Andrei Iancu was back on Capitol Hill earlier this week for an appearance before the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee. With the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Institute, the proposed change to the claim construction standard in post-issuance proceedings and ongoing concern around uncertainty in the law on what constitutes patent eligible subject matter, there was certainly plenty for the members of Congress to grill him on. It was notable therefore that in his opening statement the first issue that Iancu addressed was the USPTO’s fee-setting authority.

The USPTO probably should not be in a position like that. There should be further separation of authority and power because the USPTO strives to make as much money as possible, which sometimes means granting as many patents as possible and revoking almost none (as that might discourage applicants, or so-called ‘repeat/regular clients’).

The CCIA recalls the dying anti-PTAB bill of Coons and then speaks of a “Fee-Setting Reauthorization Bill”. The CCIA’s Josh Landau writes:

As I wrote back in March, fee-setting authority is critical to USPTO operations and it expires this September. This authority ensures that the Office is properly funded, and helps ensure that the Office isn’t financially incentivized to grant patents that would not otherwise have been granted. The Chabot-Johnson companion bill would renew this authority, providing the Office with the ability to continue to recover the costs of examination. Without their bill, PTO operations will be less efficient and we’ll likely see more bad patents issue.

These “bad patents” are what we worry about; there need to be affordable appeal mechanisms such as PTAB. Affordability is key. Don’t allow Iancu to price it out of reach.

Watchtroll, the patent extremists’ voice, has mentioned politicians like Lofgren and Issa (pro-patent reform) in relation to this. Quoting:

On Tuesday, May 22nd, the House Judiciary Committee convened a hearing regarding oversight of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Appearing before the committee to testify on the agency’s actions was USPTO Director Andrei Iancu. Among the major topics discussed by members of the committee were the agency’s authority to set fees collected from users, the potential diversion of those fees to other agencies within the Commerce Department, as well as recent changes proposed by Director Iancu to bring aspects of patent validity trials conducted by the Office into alignment with standards practiced in Article III district courts.

Several questions are hanging on the balance right now, including patent scope (because Iancu is 'pulling a Berkheimer'), PTAB procedures (because of SAS Institute v Iancu) and the cost of various ‘products’ (or services). Based on what we have seen so far (a few months), Iancu is a foe of patent reform (AIA) and more or less an extension of the patent microcosm, albeit he’s bound by courts’ decisions. He should not be the one to determine law/rules, including the costs of associated services. Just look no further than what happened to the EPO, where Battistelli started telling his bosses (the Administrative Council) what to do rather seek advice (or formal proposals) from them. They became ‘rubber stampers’.
* The EPO‘s Battistelli did something similar to PTAB’s equivalent (BoA) at Europe’s largest patent office. He did this repeatedly even; maybe because it helps hide the decline in patent quality.

Another Week of Federal Circuit Supporting PTAB and Acting Tough for Patent Quality in the United States

Sunday 27th of May 2018 05:14:14 PM

The patent elimination ‘pipeline’

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) maintain a productive cycle of patent elimination, except when the patents do have merit (e.g. when they’re on physical inventions and not nature or code)

THE Federal Circuit under its current chief has been doing a good job, encouraging — shall we say for the most part — the USPTO to evolve/improve patent policy. Sure, there are some exceptions which we shall cover separately, but generally speaking the judges grasp the Supreme Court’s views or interpretation of the law. They’re undoing decades of unbridled patent maximalism. One decision at a time they narrow down patent scope and litigation scope. This is good. It will help scientists at the expense of lawyers. It’s about time, too.

The other day XY, LLC v Trans Ova Genetics, L.C. was brought up by a patent maximalists’ site, which mentioned a “split decision [that] reveals an important dispute between Federal Circuit judges over the impact of AIA trials on pending litigation. In this case, XY’s six patents in suit relate to the sorting of semen by gender (used for farm animal breeding). My discussion below focuses on only one of the patents that was first enforced by the district court but later cancelled by a PTAB action.”

“One decision at a time they narrow down patent scope and litigation scope. This is good.”The author is a foe of PTAB and would like to see AIA trials phased out/replaced by something else. But he has not been getting his way. That’s an understatement actually; his whole world crumbles around him and his readers. They’ve tried everything to undermine PTAB and nothing seems to work. We shall cover that separately in a later post.

The underlying patents in this case aren’t on software but arguably on life (animal breeding). As is widely known by now, some companies like Monsanto have been attempting to patent nature/life everywhere in the world (it’s a lot harder in India, owing to the Supreme Court’s recent judgment). It’s not just about breeding processes or genetic manipulation; later on some companies patent the resultant animals, too! Crazy world we live in, eh?

“It’s pretty clear here that this patent maximalists’ site cherry-picks cases with the agenda of undermining Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board which these fall under.”The author explains “that the final paragraph is somewhat confusing because it appears to state two separate principles – (1) that affirmance of an invalidity finding [by the Federal Circuit] creates collateral estoppel on the issue of validity and also (2) that a final decision of patent invalidity moots pending district court findings of no invalidity. This begs the question of what would be the proper result if this case had been decided after the IPR decision cancelling the claims but before deciding the outcome of this appeal. When the court recognizes the potential issue – I expect that in most situations it would coordinate the appeals.”

It’s pretty clear here that this patent maximalists’ site cherry-picks cases with the agenda of undermining Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board which these fall under. This isn’t new. This has gone on for years and Oil States was the latest blow to such agenda. Later on we shall show how patent “scams” too have failed to undermine IPRs.

The same site also picked another Federal Circuit case, D Three Enterprises v SunModo Corp., which was about claim construction. This patent is at least on something physical. To quote:

D-Three’s patents in suit are directed to roof-mount sealing assemblies for solar panel installation. U.S. Patent Nos. 8,689,517; 9,068,339; and 8,707,655. The district court found the asserted claims invalid as obvious or anticipated. The basic central dispute, however, was whether the claims could rely upon a 2009 provisional application filing date. Although the formalities of the priority chain was met — the district court found a substantive problem. In particular, the court ruled that the 2009 provisional did not sufficiently disclose the inventions as claimed — i.e., failure of written description. Going one layer deeper, it seems that the real dispute is about claim construction — do the claimed assemblies require a “washerless” approach? The courts found that the claims recite a washerless assembly but that the limitation was not disclosed by the provisional application — so no priority.

Kluwer Patent Blog has meanwhile delved into another patent case where PTAB and the Federal Circuit dealt with a patent on something physical. “In an interference proceeding,” it said, “the Patent Trial and Appeal Board correctly determined that claims 65-67 of applicant General Hospital Corporation’s (GHC’s) U.S. Patent Application No. 13/789,575 for methods of removing hair by using nanoparticles to damage hair follicles lacked sufficient written description under § 112 of the Patent Act, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled.”

“…what we continued to see this past week was a strong and consistent record of patents-sceptic Federal Circuit which fully supports PTAB.”PTAB was defended for this, as usual. Watchtroll — being the most anti-PTAB site out there — chose to deal with this Federal Circuit case wherein PTAB had dismissed a challenge (and was later defended by the court). To quote:

Gilead produces and sells several products containing an antiviral agent used in the treatment of AIDS, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (“AHF”) buys these products to provide care to persons afflicted with AIDS. AHF filed suit requesting declaratory judgment of invalidity for five patents purportedly covering the antiviral agent and associated products, hoping to “clear out the invalid patents” such that AHF could partner with generic makers and purchase generic versions of the antiviral agent as soon as it could become available on expiration of the five-year New Chemical Entity exclusivity provided by FDA approval of the antiviral agent. The district court dismissed, ruling that AHF’s status as a mere consumer and its interest in purchasing such products did not create a case of actual controversy.

On appeal, AHF argued that it is an indirect infringer of the patents because it requested potential producers to provide the patented products, Gilead’s non-response to AHF’s request for a covenant not to sue created a present controversy, and public policy favors invalidation of invalid patents.

It is strange to say that “public policy favors invalidation of invalid patents.” Obviously if patents are invalid, then they are invalid, no matter what policy might say. Either way, what we continued to see this past week was a strong and consistent record of patents-sceptic Federal Circuit which fully supports PTAB. Had it not been the case, patent maximalists would make a huge deal out of it and herald that everything changes (like they nowadays do with Berkheimer v HP).

The Irish Knowledge Development Box (KDB) is Just Another Tax Evasion Ploy

Sunday 27th of May 2018 04:30:09 PM

Nothing to show for it…

Summary: Ireland — like several other nations across the world — opens to business by basically giving tax breaks to large companies under the guise of ‘innovation’ (as measured superficially by quantity of patents etc.)

What are “patent boxes”? As we explained before, it’s tax evasion ploys, constructed by and for those who have an ‘allergy’ for paying taxes and also have legions of lobbyists with access to lawmakers [1, 2].

“To suggest that SMEs have something to gain from this “Knowledge Development Box” nonsense is like suggesting that SMEs want or would benefit from the Unified Patent Court (UPC).”“The Knowledge Development Box [KDB] allows companies to access a lower rate of corporate tax,” Irish media has just explained. As expected and predicted all along, however, these “boxes” (which involve patents) are just being used for tax evasion under the guise of being deserved as a reward for “innovation” (variant of the “job creator” myth). In practice, suffice to say, only by massive/foreign corporations get these tax reliefs, i.e. at the expense of local SMEs (the latter would have to pay higher taxes to compensate for the formers’ tax cuts or suffer national deficits).

As the Irish media put it:

The government says it included features in the KDB to specifically encourage small and medium businesses (SMEs) to make claims.

One such feature was that smaller companies may be able to claim relief on assets which are patentable, but not patented. As opposed to larger companies that may only claim relief in respect of searched and examined patents or copyrighted software.

In order to make a claim, companies need to apply to for certification that the assets are eligible. The Knowledge Development Box KDB Certification of Inventions Act was passed last year.

However, the Minister for Finance has admitted that so far no SMEs have applied for the KDB certificate.

Don’t expect them to, either. To suggest that SMEs have something to gain from this “Knowledge Development Box” nonsense is like suggesting that SMEs want or would benefit from the Unified Patent Court (UPC). They would only suffer.

Software Patents Advocacy and UPC Lies Go Hand in Hand

Sunday 27th of May 2018 12:23:56 PM

Summary: The push for UPC, which accompanies the lobby for software patents in Europe, is still based on a large pile of lies and false projections of commencement

Has crooked Benoît Battistelli corrupted enough European/French media at the expense of EPO users (stakeholders, applicants) for this media to ignore his serious abuses of the law if not overt corruption? In a new article from AFP (France), mentioning Battistelli and António Campinos (the two Frenchmen who are friends), we are seeing little more than classic talking points and even lies. “Brevet unitaire européen: l’OEB est prêt, assure son président” is the headline and is has been cross-posted by various French-speaking sites, e.g. [1, 2].

“Where are the European authorities/authoritarians? Where are all the French politicians? When will they understand that the EPO under Battistelli has become an enormous liability for their reputation?”The EPO has become a loose monster, totally out of control and without anything that resembles accountability, let alone oversight. The EPO has long misused its budget to corrupt/pay/bribe the media, to corrupt academia, to pay for illegal spying and to hire several law firms to bully yours truly among other critics.

Where are the European authorities/authoritarians? Where are all the French politicians? When will they understand that the EPO under Battistelli has become an enormous liability for their reputation? The UPC is an EU thing, unlike the EPO. It cannot go on like this; it’s highly damaging to Europe. A couple of days ago published this programme from the Competitiveness Council (due to start tomorrow). See the part which says:

Any other business: (not in public session)
- Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court

Is the EU hiding the fact that it promotes a ruinous conspiracy of law firms eager to shatter the European industry for the sake of legal bills? Will they listen to/learn why Spain, one of the largest EU economies, refuses to participate in UPC?

Apparently not…

“Will they listen to/learn why Spain, one of the largest EU economies, refuses to participate in UPC?”Going a little further back in time, we’re seeing Team UPC publicly promoting the lie that the UK is ready to participate (it cannot!) and articles that we missed at the time include this one from Roger Green (Watermark Intellectual Property), another one from WilmerHale (also published in the same lawyers’ sites at the time), and even this from ElectronicsWeekly (odd place to find such a thing). “Unitary Patents almost a reality,” says one headline. That’s untrue.

An article by Tim Wilson of Dehns (part of Team UPC) was published a couple of days ago under the title “The Value Of Patenting Software Innovation” (the overlap between UPC boosters and software patents lobbyists has been noted here for over half a decade). To quote Wilson:

Software is a relative new-comer to the patent arena. Over the last few decades, government patent offices have struggled to decide how to deal with software patents. There is a widely-held view that software simply can’t be patented, particularly in Europe. Fortunately, this is not at all correct: the right type of software innovation can most certainly be patented in all the world’s major patent offices.

Dehns Partner, Tim Wilson, recently hosted a seminar on this topic and provided strategies for maximising the prospects of getting a software patent successfully granted. Below is a summary of key points from the seminar, as well as examples of a few questions that came up.

“Yetserday IP Kat‘s Tian Lu promoted the lobbying event of patent extremists under the wing of the leading software patents lobbyist, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO).”Also a couple of days ago there was this article by Charles Bond and John Coldham (Gowling WLG) about the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which Team UPC often relates to UPC, pretending that Brexit is somehow — miraculously enough — still compatible with UPC (it’s not).

Yetserday IP Kat‘s Tian Lu promoted the lobbying event of patent extremists under the wing of the leading software patents lobbyist, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). IPO’s 2018 European Practice Committee Conference, based on this first part of two, is a total farce. It’s also farcical based on who’s attending. No balance at all. They’re lobbying on 35 U.S.C. § 101, against PTAB, for software patents etc. Does Lu realise what (or whose) agenda she’s promoting?

“It cannot be stressed strongly enough that UPC would be a Trojan horse by which to bypass national laws forbidding software patents; Team UPC knows that and it’s one among many reasons it lobbies so hard for the UPC, oftentimes making up false statements in the process.”“On May 3rd,” she wrote, “the 2018 European Practice Committee Conference organized by IPO’s European Practice Committee took place at InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, the much-loved landmark on the Amstel River banks with more than 150 years of elegance.”

A couple of days ago we also found this new “Newsletter” about Italy. “Software is not patentable in and of itself,” it says, but then it names the EPO’s tricks for bypassing the rule:

Software is not patentable in and of itself, as under Article 45 of the Industrial Property Code (and the corresponding Article 52 of the European Patent Convention) it belongs to a group of innovations that “are not considered as inventions”. As a result, a piece of software’s source code and its external appearance on a computer screen, rather than the ideas behind them, can be protected by copyright. However, Article 45 of the Industrial Property Code specifies that this scenario applies only if the software is “considered as such”. If the software is used in a new and inventive way to solve a technical problem that goes beyond the mere operation of the computer on which it is installed or in particular, is used to operate a machine or a system external to the computer (eg, a lighting system), it becomes patentable.

Further, when an invention consists of a concrete (and not purely abstract) scheme of links that allows a computer system to operate, this scheme becomes patentable. The European Patent Office guidelines state that:

“if the claim specifies computers, computer networks or other conventional programmable apparatus, a program therefor, or a storage medium carrying the program, for executing at least some steps of a scheme, it may comprise a mix of technical and non-technical features, with the technical features directed to a computer or a comparable programmed device. In these cases, the claim is to be examined as a ‘computer-implemented invention.”

Such a scheme is patentable under the usual conditions for all inventions – namely, where it is new, inventive, lawful, susceptible to industrial application and described in a way that allows an expert in the field to implement it. Italian case law has long recognised the validity of computer-implemented inventions. The landmark case in this regard is a 2004 decision regarding an online system for the rental of holiday homes by means of special software.

It cannot be stressed strongly enough that UPC would be a Trojan horse by which to bypass national laws forbidding software patents; Team UPC knows that and it’s one among many reasons it lobbies so hard for the UPC, oftentimes making up false statements in the process. Why is the media so silent about that? We have a rough idea.

IAM Warns That China is Outpacing the United States at Granting Rubbish, Unproductive Patents on Abstract Things

Sunday 27th of May 2018 11:34:08 AM

Protectionist measures taken to the extreme are self-harming and commercially-insulating

Summary: Sites that speak for patent maximalists tell us that we should envy if not fear or mimic China’s self-defeating patent scope, which basically welcomes patents on just about anything under the Sun

TECHRIGHTS wrote many articles about how words like “AI” and “blockchain” get (mis)used to patent software. Some of these words are just acronyms whose expansion is a load of rubbish, e.g. “4IR” at the EPO or “IoT” at the USPTO. With words like “revolution” or “things” (yes, literally that!) in the acronym you just know you’ve exited the realms of science and are now grappling with a bunch of clueless marketing people.

“With words like “revolution” or “things” (yes, literally that!) in the acronym you just know you’ve exited the realms of science and are now grappling with a bunch of clueless marketing people.”IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, has long been ‘envious’ of China because of its wholehearted embrace of patent maximalism — a subject we shall revisit later this weekend in relation to Watchtroll and others (they bash the US and make China sound like a miracle which it isn’t just to advance their patent agenda). Here’s what IAM wrote just before the weekend:

More patents related to artificial intelligence and blockchain technology were filed in China than in any other country in 2017, it has been revealed. With much of this growth being linked to a booming start-up scene, it looks like the playing field for these technologies is slowly but surely shifting east. China’s start-up scene has rapidly caught up the US’s, according to a recently released Global Start-up Ecosystem report by Oakland-based firm Startup Genome. A comparison has found that over the last six years, the share of start-up funding into Asia-Pacific countries has grown – especially in China…

Don’t actually ask IAM authors to explain artificial intelligence and blockchain. The authors there lack a background in science; all they know is, they need to keep repeating the lies from patent trolls and litigious firms that fund them. It’s rather grotesque at times. For just over a year now a routine talking point was “China!” or “China is coming!” (we wrote many rebuttals to these dramatising lies).

“A lot of buzzwords have changed (or got phased in). Many things that used to be called servers now get labeled “cloud” and many things with databases in them (that’s a lot!) get called “blockchain”. Algorithms are becoming something like “AI”.”A few days ago James G. Gatto (Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton) wrote about framing software parents as “blockchain” patents (just to get patents on software, never mind if courts reject these anyway; courts would be harder to fool than examiners). Under “Recent Blockchain Patents Of Note” he wrote: “As we have previously reported, the number of blockchain patents being filed and granted is continuing to increase. According to a Thomson Reuters report, 225 out of the 406 blockchain patents (55.4%) filed in 2017 came from China, followed by 91 (22.4%) from the U.S. and 13 (3.2%) from Australia. The following is a brief summary of a few such patents that have been recently filed or granted in the U.S.”

This is utter rubbish. A lot of buzzwords have changed (or got phased in). Many things that used to be called servers now get labeled “cloud” and many things with databases in them (that’s a lot!) get called “blockchain”. Algorithms are becoming something like “AI”.

“…we may continue to see software patents landing inside the belly of the Patent Office, peppered and seasoned with buzzwords and acronyms like “AI” and “IoT”.”Notice the obligatory mention of “China” again. This is their method of choice. Maybe if they keep expounding and insisting with “China China China China!” the officials/lawmakers will panic enough to make patent laws more lenient. We shall write about that later this weekend. We shall also write about software patents in the US in light of news or press releases like this new one. “The technology could be used to enable devices without specific authentication hardware or software to leverage the capabilities of nearby devices, or send data to an authentication service,” it says. Classic software patent? Why was it granted? Will the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) even give it a closer look and the Federal Circuit reaffirm the judgment? Not likely. At this current pace of patent grants (in the US at least) and the far lower pace of IPRs (maybe about 1% apply to applications rather than granted patents, i.e. only 1 in 100 examiners’ decisions reach PTAB) we may continue to see software patents landing inside the belly of the Patent Office, peppered and seasoned with buzzwords and acronyms like “AI” and “IoT”. That’s a problem.

On Ethics of Patent Lawyers

Sunday 27th of May 2018 10:55:10 AM

The simple rule: be honest, be good.

Summary: Ethics in the legal community, including the practice of patent attorneys/lawyers, are paramount; they need to live up to the notions of law and justice, not greed and extortion

I DO NOT dislike lawyers. I think many lawyers do an important job. Many do it pro bono, too (some have done that for us). We always try to distinguish between what we call patent microcosm/maximalists, for example, and ordinary people who offer honest advice. Some patent lawyers are good people and not all patents are bad. Some patent lawyers have in fact become the Nemesis of EPO management simply because they say the blunt truth, e.g. regarding UPC.

“Many of them are good people. Many are scientists, especially those dealing with examination (more so than administrators).”We’ve always encouraged patent lawyers, whether European or American, to remember that their goal ought to be advancing science and technology, not excessive litigation, injunctions etc. The same goes for examiners, either European or USPTO clerks. Many of them are good people. Many are scientists, especially those dealing with examination (more so than administrators). One writer at Patently-O (David), a former patent court clerk, writes a lot about ethics in patents and practice surrounding patents.

Just before the weekend the Docket Navigator highlighted a new case wherein a patent lawyer’s alleged conflict of interest was revisited in Rio Brands, LLC v GCI Outdoor, Inc. To quote:

The court denied plaintiff’s motion to disqualify defense counsel who had previously represented plaintiff for 20 years on intellectual property matters and concurrently represented plaintiff in patent prosecution matters during seven months of the instant case because counsel’s misconduct did not taint the underlying trial.

Many scholars regularly speak for ethics and for patent reform. We should also note that some CCIA staff comes from the legal profession (sometimes with spousal connections at the USPTO) and still objects to patent maximalism. Does that make these people “anti-patent”? Of course not. Only extremist sites like Watchtroll would accuse anyone who isn’t equally extreme of being “anti-patent”? Watchtroll even calls courts and judges that — a subject we shall revisit later in this Bank Holiday (long) weekend.

“Our world needs innovation fostered by few (and strong) patents, not litigation fostered by plenty of rubbish patents.”There’s a profound issue when it comes to already-underfunded and already-understaffed media; many articles are nowadays composed either directly or indirectly (e.g. extensively quoting) by patent law firms, which means they dominate the debate about patents. Engineers, developers etc. are rarely even being asked about their views, let alone given “media space”. Just the other day we saw this typical sales pitch from the patent microcosm (“Patent 101: Patent Process FAQs for Inventors”) wherein Ward and Smith serveed some new examples which showed overselling of prospects (patenting, litigation) just to bill for utterly wasteful bureaucracy. Please stop doing that. If your law firm lacks ‘demand’ (or ‘business’), then maybe it’s time to change profession and not resort to media distortion. Our world needs innovation fostered by few (and strong) patents, not litigation fostered by plenty of rubbish patents.

Techrights at 24,000

Sunday 27th of May 2018 10:22:09 AM

Summary: Techrights has nearly reached 24k blog posts (just a couple of days away), marking the latest milestone in a long history of relentless activism/journalism

TWELVE YEARS, 24,000 blog posts, i.e. about 2,000 per year, on average. I was in my early 20s when I started and here we are still dealing with the same (or similar) subject, notably software patents. Before focusing on EPO we focused a lot on the US patent system (mostly patent scope, not scandals) and prior to that Microsoft and Novell, primarily their notorious patent deal. There’s hopefully nothing that can prevent us from reaching 20 years and 40,000 posts; it looks like a lot of media lost its momentum/footing because of social [control] media, but we’re still doing fine and attracting as many readers as ever. Thanks to all those who have supported us since the very beginning in 2006.

Index for EPO and Saint-Germain’s Poisonous Legacy of “Toxic Loans” Series

Saturday 26th of May 2018 10:43:24 PM

Summary: A roundup or an index of this past week’s series about financial gambles at the EPO — Battistelli's own dubious idea

THE Frenchman (dual nationality) and former banker António Campinos will take Battistelli’s place at the EPO next month, whereupon Battistelli will lose his diplomatic immunity. Will he ever be held accountable for his actions? That remains to be seen. The facts, however, will be documented regardless shall anyone require access to them.

Here are the six parts of this series:

Remember that Battistelli and his protector (Jesper Kongstad) made Battistelli’s contract — and salary — a closely-guarded secret never to be known or shown to the public. Kongstad's own scandals were covered here two years ago and not too long afterwards we got told that he had, in effect, been fired by the Danish government (we never saw hard evidence of that). Is Battistelli next? Kongstad helped Battistelli get elected as President, so he is in many ways accountable for all that happened after 2010. In our view, these people have blood on their hands (not only chinchillas’). There was an institutional murder, suicides aside. The future of the EPO remains unclear; it’s now in the hands of speculators.

Saint-Germain’s Poisonous Legacy of “Toxic Loans”: Quo Vadis EPO?

Saturday 26th of May 2018 10:33:25 PM

Summary: In spite of the SIDRU “toxic loans” scandal in St. Germain-en-Laye, where Battistelli is Deputy Mayor, the EPO’s Administrative Council repeats similar mistakes with opposition only from one country — the only country that actually bothered to study the matter before voting on it

It is generally known that the soon-to-depart (to be replaced by António Campinos) EPO “Sun-King” Battistelli sat on the municipal council of St. Germain-en-Laye as Deputy Mayor for culture from 2008 to 2014.

From 2014 to 2017 he was a delegated councillor in charge of the Théâtre Alexandre Dumas.

In October 2017 he reassumed his former position as Deputy Mayor for culture.

Given his close involvement with the political life of St. Germain-en-Laye it’s almost impossible to believe that he is not fully aware of the poisonous legacy of SIDRU’s “toxic loans” which his political mentor the late Emmanuel Lamy bequeathed to the citizenry of the urban agglomerations of Grand Paris Seine et Oise and Saint Germain Boucles de Seine.

“From 2014 to 2017 he was a delegated councillor in charge of the Théâtre Alexandre Dumas.”Battistelli’s official EPO profile (see CV [PDF]) also emphasises that he plays “an active role in public and community life” in France. So it would also be surprising if he was not au fait with the more general problems caused by “toxic loans” in his home country and the risks of speculative gambling with public money in the global casino of the international financial markets.

Against this backdrop it remains a mystery as to why Battistelli in his role as EPO President has been so keen to push for the inclusion of exotic and speculative “financial products”, such as derivative instruments, asset-backed securities (ABS), mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and Credit Default Swaps (CDS), in the provisions of the EPO’s New Investment Guidelines.

It is also something of an enigma as to why the Administrative Council was so quick to rubber-stamp these questionable proposals and to subsequently approve the allocation of the EPO’s whopping cash surplus of around € 2.3 billion to the newly established “treasury investment fund”.

According to EPO insiders the sole dissenting voice on the Administrative Council was that of the German delegation which seems to have been the only one of the 38 national delegations to have done its homework properly.

“Against this backdrop it remains a mystery as to why Battistelli in his role as EPO President has been so keen to push for the inclusion of exotic and speculative “financial products”, such as derivative instruments, asset-backed securities (ABS), mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and Credit Default Swaps (CDS), in the provisions of the EPO’s New Investment Guidelines.”One might have expected more prudence and “due diligence” from the governing body of such an economically significant pan-European intergovernmental organisation.

However, when we recall that this is basically the same Administrative Council which agreed to the abolition of its own independent Audit Committee at the behest of Battistelli in 2011, then perhaps current events surrounding the New Investment Guidelines and the “treasury investment fund” are not really so surprising.

Defenders of the New Investment Guidelines will undoubtedly point out that the inclusion of exotic and speculative “financial instruments” is limited to 15% of the total investment portfolio.

But to argue like this is to miss the point.

Even if only a subset of the investments within this 15% speculative slice were to turn “toxic” the fallout could be catastrophic. A few “bad apples” have the potential to significantly reduce or even obliterate the return from other more conservative investments. In a worst case scenario if some of the speculative investments were to go “pear-shaped” this could lead to an erosion of the fund’s capital.

“According to EPO insiders the sole dissenting voice on the Administrative Council was that of the German delegation which seems to have been the only one of the 38 national delegations to have done its homework properly.”Those who try to dismiss such “horror scenarios” by saying that they are unlikely to materialise need look no further than the débacle of SIDRU’s “structured debt products” and the myriad other cases of “toxic loans” which continue to plague municipal councils throughout France.

Another as yet unsolved riddle relating to the EPO’s new “treasury investment fund” concerns its management.

From the comments made by Dr. Thorsten Bausch on the Kluwer Patent Blog in March of this year it seems that the general idea is to have “a diversified portfolio managed by external experts”.

Information from EPO sources indicates that a decision has already been approved by the Administrative Council’s Budget and Finance Committee to allocate the EPO’s surplus of around € 2.3 billion to the new fund.

“Information from EPO sources indicates that a decision has already been approved by the Administrative Council’s Budget and Finance Committee to allocate the EPO’s surplus of around € 2.3 billion to the new fund.”However, it has not yet been revealed which “external experts” will be entrusted with the management of this impressive cash pile and how their “compensation package” is going to be structured.

Presumably these details will be revealed in due course.

In the meantime let us hope for the sake of all concerned that the persons selected for this task will not be “experts” from the POTT school of investment management who operate according to the motto: “Prends l’oseille et tire-toi!” – “Take the money and run!”

Links 26/5/2018: Wine 3.9, KStars 2.9.6, Bodhi 3.8.0, FreeBSD 11.2 Beta 3

Saturday 26th of May 2018 10:25:57 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Dell has a new Developer Edition mobile workstation with Ubuntu, 3 more on way

      If you’re looking for a new mobile workstation based on Linux, Dell has introduced four new Precision Developer Edition models. The Precision 3530 version is available now while the 5530, 7530, and 7730 models are listed as “coming soon.” All four are based on Intel processors and discrete mobile professional graphics provided by AMD and Nvidia.

      With a starting price of $942, the base Precision 3530 configuration defaults to the Intel Core i5-8400H four-core processor, but there are four other options up to the Xeon E-2176M six-core chip. You can also choose to stick with integrated graphics, or Nvidia’s Quadro P600 discrete chip with 4GB of dedicated video memory.

    • Dell introduces 2018 Precision Developer Edition laptops with Ubuntu Linux

      Dell introduced a new line of Precision mobile workstations last month, featuring high-power specs in (relatively) portable packages. Now the company is introducing “developer edition” versions that have the same feature set, but which ship with Ubuntu Linux instead of Windows 10 software.

      The Dell Precision 3530 Mobile Workstation is already available as a developer-edition computer for about $900 and up, and the Precision 5530, 7530, and 7730 will be available in developer editions soon as well.

    • Dell Rolls Out New Precision Developer Laptops With Ubuntu Linux

      If the latest Dell XPS 13 developer edition laptop pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux doesn’t match your needs, Dell has now rolled out several Precision laptop developer editions that also come loaded with Ubuntu LTS.

      The fourth-generation Precision Developer Editions laptops are out with the 3530, 5530, 7530, and 7730 models. These laptops come preloaded with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and are also Red Hat Enterprise Linux certified. Right, for now they are just Ubuntu 16.04 and not the recently introduced Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

  • Server
    • Cumulus Networks Continues to Build on Linux to Enable Next Generation Networking

      Now in 2018, Cumulus’ model of enabling white box networking with a Linux based distribution has increasingly become the norm and along with that shift, Cumulus has become increasingly successful. Cumulus has raised a total of $129 million in funding, including a $43 million Series D round that was announced on Jan. 23.

      In a video interview with EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet at the 2018 OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, Rivers outlines how the company has evolved in recent years and where it is going next.

      “We have help to change the world around with the concept of buying switching hardware and software separately,” Rivers said.


      Since the company was created, Linux and specifically Debian Linux has been at the core of the Cumulus Networks, Cumulus Linux networking operating system.

      “One of the benefits of taking that path is you get a whole set of applications that work natively on the platform that people can just pick up and it also keeps us honest,” Rivers said. It’s really easy in this world to take an open-source component hack it up and make it your own, so it forces us to work upstream.”

  • Kernel Space
    • There’s real reasons for Linux to replace ifconfig, netstat, et al

      One of the ongoing system administration controversies in Linux is that there is an ongoing effort to obsolete the old, cross-Unix standard network administration and diagnosis commands of ifconfig, netstat and the like and replace them with fresh new Linux specific things like ss and the ip suite. Old sysadmins are generally grumpy about this; they consider it yet another sign of Linux’s ‘not invented here’ attitude that sees Linux breaking from well-established Unix norms to go its own way. Although I’m an old sysadmin myself, I don’t have this reaction. Instead, I think that it might be both sensible and honest for Linux to go off in this direction. There are two reasons for this, one ostensible and one subtle.

      The ostensible surface issue is that the current code for netstat, ifconfig, and so on operates in an inefficient way. Per various people, netstat et al operate by reading various files in /proc, and doing this is not the most efficient thing in the world (either on the kernel side or on netstat’s side). You won’t notice this on a small system, but apparently there are real impacts on large ones. Modern commands like ss and ip use Linux’s netlink sockets, which are much more efficient. In theory netstat, ifconfig, and company could be rewritten to use netlink too; in practice this doesn’t seem to have happened and there may be political issues involving different groups of developers with different opinions on which way to go.

    • Linux 4.16.12
    • Linux 4.14.44
    • Linux 4.9.103
    • Linux 4.4.133
    • Linux 3.18.110
    • Graphics Stack
      • Igalia Continues Working On Wayland & Accelerated Media Decode In Chromium On Linux

        Months ago we had reported on Igalia’s efforts for improving hardware video/media acceleration on the Chromium browser stack for Linux and getting Chromium ready for Wayland but it’s been relatively quiet since then with no status updates. Fortunately, a Phoronix reader pointed to a fresh round of ongoing work in this space.

        Igalia is working on supporting the V4L2 VDA (Video Decode Acceleration) on the Linux desktop for video/image decode of H.264, VP8, VP9, etc. Up to now the V4L2 VDA support was just used on ARM and under Chrome OS. This is part of the consulting firm’s work on delivering first-rate Wayland support for Chromium — it’s a task they have been working on for quite some time.

      • Radeon GPU Profiler 1.2 Released With RenderDoc Interoperability

        AMD’s GPUOpen group has announced the release of Radeon GPU Profiler 1.2, it’s open-source GPU performance profiler. What’s significant about this release is initial interoperability with the popular RenderDoc debugger.

        Beginning with Radeon GPU Profiler 1.2, there is beta support for allowing a profile be triggered from RenderDoc and for displaying data across the opposite tool along with synchronization between the two utilities.

      • Mir Is Running On Arch Linux; Mir Also Progressing With EGLStreams Support

        Prominent Mir developer Alan Griffiths of Canonical has published his latest weekly update on the status of this Linux display server that continues working on supporting Wayland clients.

        First up, via the UBports community, Mir is now working on Arch Linux after some basic changes and packaging work. So similar to Ubuntu and Fedora and others, it’s now easy to run Mir on Arch Linux if so desired.

      • VK9 – Direct3D 9 Over Vulkan – Hits 26th Milestone

        It’s been a wild week for the various Direct3D-over-Vulkan projects with VKD3D 1.0 being released for the initial Direct3D 12 over Vulkan bits from the ongoing work in the Wine project to DXVK continuing to get better at its D3D11-over-VLK support. There’s also an update on the VK9 front.

  • Applications
    • MX Tools – A year later, the toolbox got better

      Roughly fourteen full phases of the moon ago, I wrote an article on MX Tools, a unique and useful bunch of dedicated utilities packaged with the MX Linux distribution. This toolbox offered the ordinary (or new) MX Linux user a chance to perform some common configuration tasks with easy and elegance.

      In general, MX-16 was a great player, and the recent MX-17 is even better – and at a first glance, so is the new version of MX Tools bundled with the system. Good stuff. So I set about testing, to see what has changed, and in what way this set of utilities has improved, if at all. But I’m positive. Let us commence.


      MX Tools turned out to be a predictable gem, just as I’d expected. Well, I’m cheating, because I wrote this article after some rather thorough testing. But then, if you look across the wider spectrum of Linux home distributions, there aren’t that many unique players with distinctive features. Quite often, it’s the rehash of old and familiar with some extra color, polish and rebranding. MX Linux goes the extra mile (or kilometer, if you will) in making the newbie experience meaningfully different.

      Future improvements could potentially include an interactive walkthrough – so users will be actively prompted and helped along in their tasks. Then of course, there’s the matter of visual appearance, in the UI itself. But in general, MX Tools TNG is better than we had before. More elegant, more streamlined, better looking, and most importantly, more practical. This is a good and useful toolbox, and it makes a solid distro even more appealing. Well worth testing. So do it. And take care.

    • Proprietary
      • Opera 54 Browser Enters Beta with News on the Speed Dial, Update & Recovery Menu

        Opera has promoted its upcoming Opera 54 web browser to the beta channel, giving us a glimpse of what to expect from the final version, due for release sometime next month.

        Based on the open-source Chromium 67.0.3396.18 web browser, Opera 54 recently entered beta stages of development with a plethora of new features and improvements, among which we can mention a new Update & Recovery Opera menu page that makes it easier for users to update the web browser and reset it to its default state, including the ability to clear temporary data, such as cookies.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Wine or Emulation
      • Wine Announcement

        The Wine development release 3.9 is now available.

      • Wine 3.9 Defaults To OpenGL Core Contexts For D3D, Plumbing For VKD3D

        Wine 3.9 is out as the project’s latest bi-weekly development release. This latest build is certainly on the interesting side of the 3.x series.

        Two days ago marked VKD3D 1.0 being released as the initial version of Wine’s Direct3D 12 over Vulkan translation layer for getting their D3D12 support efforts going. With today’s Wine 3.9 release there is some of the initial plumbing for being able to support VKD3D.

      • Wine 3.9 released adding in the start of Direct 3D 12 over Vulkan support with vkd3d

        Wine 3.9 is now officially out and it’s actually quite an exciting release, especially as it pulls in the recently release vkd3d for Direct 3D 12 with Vulkan.

      • Wine-Staging 3.9 Fixes D3D 10/11 Gaming Performance Regressions

        One day after the exciting Wine 3.9 update with VKD3D work and more, the Wine-Staging code has been updated against this latest development release.

        While since the revival of Wine-Staging earlier this year there has been more than 900 out-of-tree/experimental patches against this Wine branch, with Wine-Staging 3.9 that patch count comes in at 895 patches. It’s great to see with more of the changes working their way into upstream Wine after being vetted while other patches are no longer relevant. Also decided this week is that Wine-Staging developers will rely upon the WineHQ bug infrastructure for handling the submission of new Wine-Staging patches so that the work is much easier to track by users/developers in seeing the status and background on proposed patches for the staging tree.

    • Games
      • The Humble Monthly Bundle just added two great Linux games

        For those that are interested, you can secure a copy of two great Linux games in the current Humble Monthly Bundle.

        Just added today are:

        Get Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!
        Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth

      • SC-Controller 0.4.3 Released, Support Steam Controller & Sony DS4 Over Bluetooth

        For those looking to manage your Steam Controller and other supported Linux gaming peripheral input devices outside of Steam, there is a new release of the independently-developed SC-Controller Linux user-space software.

        While Linux 4.18 is bringing the Steam Controller kernel driver, for those looking for a Steam Controller solution right now to enjoy this excellent gaming controller for now outside of Steam, SC-Controller fills that void.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KStars 2.9.6 is Released!

        I’m glad to announce the release of KStars 2.9.6 for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. This is a minor bugfix release.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME Foundation to Receive $1M from Anonymous Donor over Next Two Years

        It’s a great day to be a GNOME developer as someone just pledged to donate $1,000,000 over the next two years to the non-profit GNOME Foundation, the driving force behind the widely-used GNOME desktop environment.

        The donation was made by an anonymous person, though the money will be received by the GNOME Foundation over the next couple of years. Honored by this gesture, the team pledges to use the money to hire more developers and streamline their operations to improve the GNOME desktop environment.

        “We are honored by the trust given to us and will work hard to justify that trust. This particular donation will enable us to support the GNOME project more widely, and tackle key challenges that the free software community faces,” said Neil McGovern, Executive Director of GNOME Foundation.

  • Distributions
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Eudora saved thanks to open sourcing

    It took the organisation some five years of wrangling with the Eudora’s IP owner Qualcomm, but eventually the once much-loved Mac then more software got given the open source greenlight.

    Eudora was created in 1988 by Steve Dorner while he was working at the University of Illinois. As email started to get big in the world of computing so too did Eudora in the mid-1990s. Qualcomm licensed the software from the University of Illinois and hired Dorner.

  • Top 10 Weirdest Names for Open Source Projects

    In the early stages of developing a new open source project, most developers rarely take the time to think about their future branding strategy. After all, a great idea, top notch code, and a passionate following are the winning formula when you’re getting a project underway.

    However the name you choose for your project can play a role in picking up a loyal following and attracting the curious.

    Names have power. They indicate tone and the intent. They can, if chosen well, inspire and unify action. They’re an important part of a project’s brand and tone of voice.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Katran

    While engineers are likely to implement hardware-based solutions for handling network load balance, Facebook’s scale of operation far outweighed the practicality of hardware load balancing, instead requiring the development of a lightweight software solution. The current result of Facebook’s efforts is its latest open-source release, scalable network load balancer Katran.

  • How Far Is Far Enough?

    Now, a new project from the Memento team holds out the promise of similar optimizations for more generic Web sites. The concept for Memento Tracer is to crowd-source a database of crawls of complex Web sites in a form that can be analyzed to generate abstract templates similar to the platform templates on which LOCKSS plugins are mostly based. [...]

  • Finance
    • American Express Integrates Blockchain To Its Membership Rewards Program

      Financial services corporation American Express (AmEx) has announced a blockchain application to its Membership Rewards program in partnership with online merchant Boxed, Associated Press reported May 23.

      AmEx announced that it is integrating blockchain technology developed by Hyperledger, an open source blockchain project under the Linux Foundation, to let merchants design customized offers for AmEx cardholders in order to increase customer engagement.

    • Interview: Riccardo Spagni co-founder of a new open source blockchain

      South African cryptocurrency expert and lead maintainer of the Monero project Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni has co-founded a new open source blockchain protocol named Tari.

      Tari is being built as a blockchain protocol for managing, transferring, and using digital assets, and is stewarded by a team based in Johannesburg.

      The Johannesburg-based team will work on building a blockchain protocol as a second-layer solution on top of Monero, leveraging the existing cryptocurrency’s security while offering a scalable and dynamic platform for digital assets.

    • CheapAir Ditches BitPay For Open-Source Bitcoin Payments

      Travel and accommodation website has appeared to choose self-hosted payment processor BTCPay for its Bitcoin payments, shunning industry stalwart BitPay.


      Coinbase revealed it was retiring its merchant processing function in April, a move which the cryptocurrency industry condemned for its disruptive consequences.

      BitPay, a processor which along with Coinbase continues to be arguably the best-known option for Bitcoin payments, appeared to miss out on wooing CheapAir, meanwhile, which has offered Bitcoin since 2014 and was the first ever travel agency world-wide to accept bitcoin.

    • Ontology (ONT) Develops its Open-source Triones Consensus System economic model

      The Ontology (ONT) team uses the blockchain technology and the Internet to explore in-depth levels of the information industry. The team’s plans include developing an open-source distributed trust ecosystem called Triones Consensus System that’s based on the Ontology chain network.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Testing GNU FreeDink in your browser

        This is a first version that can be polished further but it works quite well.
        This is the original C/C++/SDL2 code with a few tweaks, cross-compiled to WebAssembly (and an alternate version in asm.js) with emscripten.
        Nothing brand new I know, but things are getting smoother, and WebAssembly is definitely a performance boost.

        I like distributed and autonomous tools, so I’m generally not inclined to web-based solutions.
        In this case however, this is a local version of the game. There’s no server side. Savegames are in your browser local storage. Even importing D-Mods (game add-ons) is performed purely locally in the in-memory virtual FS with a custom .tar.bz2 extractor cross-compiled to WebAssembly.

      • Welcome Punam to the Test pilot team!

        A couple months ago Punam transferred from another team at Mozilla to join the Test Pilot team. Below she answers some questions about her experience and what she’s looking forward to. Welcome, Punam!


        Before Mozilla I have worked with SonicWall, eBay and Symantec doing web development.

      • This week in Mixed Reality: Issue 7

        Missed us last week? Our team met in Chicago for a work week. If you had the chance to come and meet us at the CHIVR / AR Chicago meetup, thanks for swinging by. We strategized our short and long term plans and we’re really excited to share what we’re unfolding in the coming weeks.

      • Why bootstrap?

        Over the next few quarters, I’m going to focus my attention on Mozilla’s experimentation platform. One of the first questions we need to answer is how we’re going to calculate and report the necessary measures of variance. Any experimentation platform needs to be able to compare metrics between two groups.

        For example, say we’re looking at retention for a control and experiment group. Control shows a retention of 88.45% and experiment shows a retention of 90.11%. Did the experimental treatment cause a real increase in retention or did the experiment branch just get lucky when we assigned users? We need to calculate some measure of variance to be able to decide.

        The two most common methods to do this calculation are the frequentist’s two-sample t-test or some form of the bootstrap.

        In ye olden days, we’d be forced to use the two-sample t-test. The bootstrap requires a lot of compute power that just wasn’t available until recently. As you can imagine, the bootstrap is all the rage in the Data Science world. Of course it is. We get to replace statistics with raw compute power! That’s the dream!

  • SaaS/Back End
    • OpenStack at a Crossroads

      The OpenStack of a few years ago is dead, however. What has emerged from the hype cycle is a materially different foundation, mission and software stack, with a great deal of change still ahead of it.

    • The OpenStack Foundation grows beyond OpenStack

      The OpenStack Foundation has made a considerable change to its development process and governance structure by introducing two open source projects that are not part of the OpenStack cloud platform.

      This week, the organization launched version 1.0 of Kata Containers – a runtime system with an emphasis on speed and security, enabling users to boot a VM in as little as five seconds – and introduced a brand new project called Zuul, spinning out the software development and integration platform that has been used by the OpenStack community internally since 2012.

  • Databases
    • Oracle nemesis MariaDB tries to lure enterprise folk with TX 3.0

      Open-source database biz MariaDB has upped the ante in its war against Oracle, promising enterprise customers better compatibility with – and easier migration from – Big Red.

      The Finnish firm’s latest offering, MariaDB TX 3.0, released for GA today, extends the number of use cases to include temporal processing and advanced data protection for sensitive and personally identifiable information, as well as Oracle compatibility.

      The broad aim is to tap into customers’ grumbles over legacy vendor lock-in, while convincing the bigger customers that they can move to an open-source database without compromising performance.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • Open source networking startup Lumina Networks raises $10 million Series A round from Verizon Ventures

      Open source networking company, Lumina Networks, announced it has raised $10 million Series A funding. The current financing round is led by Verizon Ventures with participation from new investors including AT&T and Rahi Systems. The company plans to use the funding to support the development of new products and innovative solutions using the Lumina SDN Controller powered by OpenDaylight™ and for expansion of business in Europe and Japan.

  • BSD
    • FreeBSD 11.2 Beta 3 Brings LLVM Updates, Various Fixes

      For those of you with some extra time over this US holiday weekend due to Memorial Day, FreeBSD 11.2 Beta 3 is now available for testing.

      This third weekly beta release of FreeBSD 11.2 comes with various updates to the LLVM compiler stack, support for setting service types for outgoing RDMA connections via the KRPING utility, fixing a SPARC64 boot issue, and a variety of other bug fixes.

    • FreeBSD 11.2-BETA3 Now Available
    • Success for net neutrality, success for free software

      We’ve had great success with the United States Senate voting in support of net neutrality! Congratulations and thank you to everyone in the US for contacting your congresspeople, and all of you who helped spread the word.

      However, it’s not over yet. Here are more actions you can take if you’re in the United States.

      Now that the (CRA) has passed the Senate, it moves to the House of Representatives. Just as we asked you to call your senators, now it’s time to call your House representatives. Find their contact info here and use the script below to ask them to support the reinstatement of net neutrality protections.

      The timing hasn’t been set for future votes and hearings yet, but that’s no reason to wait: make sure your representatives know how you feel.

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 18 new GNU releases!


    • Customize GuixSD: Use Stock SSH Agent Everywhere!

      On GuixSD, I like to use the GNOME desktop environment. GNOME is just one of the various desktop environments that GuixSD supports. By default, the GNOME desktop environment on GuixSD comes with a lot of goodies, including the GNOME Keyring, which is GNOME’s integrated solution for securely storing secrets, passwords, keys, and certificates.

      The GNOME Keyring has many useful features. One of those is its SSH Agent feature. This feature allows you to use the GNOME Keyring as an SSH agent. This means that when you invoke a command like ssh-add, it will add the private key identities to the GNOME Keyring. Usually this is quite convenient, since it means that GNOME users basically get an SSH agent for free!

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Open-Source Licensing: Mitigate Your Risk

      Large software companies actively police their rights with license audits and true-up demands. Non-compliance is frequently found, and getting caught flat-footed on a software audit can be a million-dollar-plus problem. Even seemingly unrelated events, like moving to a cloud-based solution, can have a cascade effect on existing software licenses, and not proactively recognizing that creates unnecessary risk. Similarly, the free open-source software tools and applications used to efficiently create new products may need to be re-licensed on paid commercial terms when transitioning to a distribution or SaaS deployment phase.

    • Why should we care about cutting and pasting open source code?

      It’s common for developers to want to give credit where credit is due. The problem with how this is commonly done is that often the original copyright and licence aren’t brought along with the snippet, and the developer may give credit in a flippant way using language such as “code stolen from xyz” or “shamelessly lifted from the Foo project”. While this language is taken badly by the legal team, it’s often a sign of the developer trying to carve out attribution for this copied code. It’s important to provide clear guidance on how to properly bring in code snippets for licensing and security review purposes. Preserving or adding the proper copyright and license information is important to remain in compliance. It’s also invaluable for future readers of the source code to understand who wrote what.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Tesla’s GPL compliance, a new open source AI from Tencent, and more
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • An Ultrasound Driver With Open Source FPGAs

        Ultrasound imaging has been around for decades, but Open Source ultrasound has not. While there are a ton of projects out there attempting to create open ultrasound devices, most of this is concentrated on the image-processing side of things, and not the exceptionally difficult problem of pinging a sensor at millions of times a second, listening for the echo, and running that through a very high speed ADC.

        For his entry into the Hackaday Prize, [kelu124] is doing just that. He’s building an ultrasound board that’s built around Open Hardware, a fancy Open Source FPGA, and a lot of very difficult signal processing. It also uses some Rick and Morty references, so you know this is going to be popular with the Internet peanut gallery.

        The design of the ultrasound system is based around an iCE40 FPGA, the only FPGA with an Open Source toolchain. Along with this, there are a ton of ADCs, a DAC, pulsers, and a high voltage section to drive the off-the-shelf ultrasound head. If you’re wondering how this ultrasound board interfaces with the outside world, there’s a header for a Raspberry Pi on there, too, so this project has the requisite amount of blog cred.

  • Programming/Development
    • 11 Best Programming Fonts

      There are many posts and sites comparing fonts for programming and they are all amazing articles. So why I repeated the same subject here? Since I always found myself lost in dozens of fonts and could not finger out which one was best for me. So today I tried many fonts and picked up the following fonts for you. These fonts are pretty popular and easy to get. And most importantly, all these fonts are FREE!

    • New open-source web apps available for students and faculty

      Jupyter is an open source web environment for writing code and visualizing data. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly popular across a wide range of academic disciplines.


      JupyterHub is a variation of the Jupyter project, which adds support for user account management and enterprise authentication. The TLT instance allows students and faculty to log in with their credentials for full access to their own Jupyter environment and provides direct access to their Penn State Access Account Storage Space (PASS). Using PASS for storage provided a large persistent storage space that students and faculty were already familiar with and was easily accessible from the local lab systems or their personal devices.

  • 5 questions for… the Mellel word processor
  • Yelp’s Newest Campaign: Asking Google To Do The Right Thing

    Back in 2014, we wrote about a campaign by Yelp which it called “Focus on the User,” in which it made a very compelling argument that Google was treating Yelp (and TripAdvisor) content unfairly. Without going into all of the details, Yelp’s main complaint was that while Google uses its famed relevance algorithm to determine which content to point you to in its main search results, when it came to the top “One Box” on Google’s site, it only used Google’s own content. Four years ago, the Focus on the User site presented compelling evidence that users of Google actually had a better overall experience if the answers for things like local content (such as retailer/restaurant reviews) in the One Box were ranked according to Google’s algorithm, rather than just using Google’s own “Local” content (or whatever they call it these days).


    That said, while Yelp has shifted the focus of that particular site, it certainly has not not given up on asking the government to punish Google. Just as it was relaunching the site, it was also filing a new antitrust complaint in the EU and again, I’m still concerned about this approach. It’s one thing to argue that Google should handle aspects of how its website works in a better way. It’s another to have the government force the company to do it that way. The latter approach creates all sorts of potential consequences — intended or unintended — that could have far reaching reverberations on the internet, perhaps even the kind that would boomerang around and hurt Yelp as well.

    Yelp makes a strong argument for why Google’s approach to the One Box is bad and not the best overall results for its users. I’m glad that it’s repurposed its site to appeal to Google employees, and am disappointed that Google hasn’t made this entire issue go away by actually revamping how the One Box works. But calling on the government to step in and determine how Google should design its site is still a worrisome approach.

  • Science
    • A New History of Arabia, Written in Stone


      Not all of them will be pleased by the way that new research rewrites old understandings. In traditional historiography and common lore, southern Arabia is believed to be the primeval homeland of the Arabs and the source of the purest Arabic. In this telling, Arabic was born deep in the peninsula and spread with the Islamic conquests; as it made contact with other languages, it gradually devolved into the many Arabic dialects spoken today. Classical Arabic remains the preëminent symbol of a unified Arab culture, and the ultimate marker of eloquence and learning. To Al-Jallad, the Safaitic inscriptions indicate that various ancient forms of Arabic were present many centuries before the rise of classical Arabic, in places such as Syria and Jordan. He argues that the language may have originated there and then migrated south—suggesting that the “corrupt” forms of Arabic spoken around the region may, in fact, have lineages older than classical Arabic. Macdonald told me, “His theory will inevitably meet a lot of opposition, mainly for non-academic reasons. But it’s becoming more and more convincing.”

    • Arizona Moves to Alter Wording About Evolution in Education

      Proposed changes to the state’s school science standards would emphasize that parts of the theory are “not proven.”

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Ingredients For WHO Roadmap On Access To Medicines At Civil Society Side Event

      On the side of this week’s World Health Assembly and hours before the Assembly agreed on preparing a roadmap on access to medicines, two civil society groups held an event on the same subject. The Brazilian ambassador, a senior official from the Netherlands, and a WHO assistant director general among others delivered their thoughts on the issue and the way forward. Key words were high prices, transparency, and trade flexibilities.

    • WHA Agrees On Recommendations To Reinvigorate Plan Of Action To Boost R&D, Access

      Ten years after the adoption of a World Health Organization plan of action meant to stimulate innovation for diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries, and with very little to show for it since, delegates at the World Health Assembly this week agreed to a number of recommendations to reinvigorate the effort. How to finance the implementation of those recommendations, however, is unclear.

    • Stay of injunction in public interest: Edwards Lifesciences v Boston

      In recent years, there have been several examples of patentees in the UK Courts opting not to enforce an injunction where the infringing product constitutes a potentially life-saving treatment.


      Back in 2015, Edwards Lifesciences issued a revocation action for Boston’s EP (UK) 2 249 254 patent (the ’254). Boston counterclaimed for infringement of the ’254, and EP(UK) 2 926 766 patents, through dealings in a transcatheter heart valve (THV) called the Sapien 3 which had been launched by Edwards in Jan 2014.
      Expert and factual evidence showed that there are currently 7 THVs approved for use in the UK, and that the Sapien 3 represents about 60% of the market. For certain patient groups, the Sapien 3 is the only treatment option.

      The ’254 was found invalid in the High Court [2017] EWHC 755 (Pat), but the ’766 was held to be valid and infringed. Boston sought an injunction in the usual way, and Edwards resisted the grant of an injunction on the ground that there was a public interest in patients continuing to receive the Sapien 3.

      The Court at first instance granted an unqualified injunction but stayed the injunction pending appeal (for which permission was granted on both sides). An order was also made for the provision of disclosure to assist Boston in making its election regarding an account of profits or a damages enquiry. On 10 May 2018, Boston elected for an account of profits, and those issues are likely to be heard in June to July 2019.

    • WHA Agrees On Drafting Of Roadmap For Access To Medicines And Vaccines; US Blasts Compulsory Licences

      The World Health Assembly yesterday agreed on a roadmap to be designed by the World Health Organization in consultation with member states to facilitate access to medicines and vaccines, including actions and activities for the period 2019-2023. If everyone agrees access to medicines and vaccines is indispensable for universal health coverage, views are still divided when it comes to intellectual property rights. The ranks of strong proponents of IP resulting in high prices are however thinning. The United States remains unshakeable, criticising compulsory licences used by countries to ensure affordable medicines are available.

    • AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Inc. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2018)

      The District Court dismissed AFH’s declaratory judgment complaint on these grounds, that “encouraging others to produce generic TAF products in the future, and Healthcare’s interest in purchasing such products,” did not satisfy the “case or controversy” requirements for declaratory judgment relief. This appealed followed.

      The Federal Circuit affirmed, in a precedential opinion by Judge Newman joined by Judges Dyk and Stoll. The opinion notes at the outset the jurisdictional implications of AHF’s complaint, and that a court is without authority to render a judgment unless the jurisdictional requirements are satisfied (which is complainant’s burden to carry). The facts comprising this burden are that there is “injury-in-fact, [a] connection between the challenged conduct and the injury, and redressability by the requested remedy,” citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env’t, 523 U.S. 83, 103–04 (1998). The mere existence of a patent is not enough, without more, to establish these grounds.


      The entirety of the Federal Circuit’s opinion reinforces the focus since MedImmune on the totality of the circumstances (rather than some bright line formula) as the proper measure of whether a declaratory judgment plaintiff has alleged sufficiently for a court to find declaratory judgment jurisdiction has been established. Using this approach, while lacking the consistency of a bright line rule appears robust enough to prevent expansion of declaratory judgment jurisdiction into the realm of permitting public or patient interest groups interested in promoting their agendas onto the patent and regulatory frameworks for innovator and generic drugs, regardless of any purported societal benefits these groups may assert in support of their efforts.

  • Security
    • « The Microsoft Cyber Attack » : a German Documentary from the ARD on Relations Between Microsoft and Public Administration Now Available in English

      On February 19th, 2018, the German public broadcaster (ARD) aired a documentary on Microsoft relations with public administrations. Part of the inquiry is about the Open Bar agreement between Microsoft and the French ministry of Defense, including interviews of French Senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, Leïla Miñano, a journalist, and Étienne Gonnu of April.

      The documentary is now available in English thanks to Deutsche Welle (DW), the German public international broadcaster, on its Youtube channel dedicated to documentaries : The Microsoft Cyber Attack. It should be noted that April considers itself as a Free software advocate, rather than open source, as the voice-over suggests.

    • Compliance is Not Synonymous With Security

      While the upcoming GDPR compliance deadline will mark an unprecedented milestone in security, it should also serve as a crucial reminder that compliance does not equal security. Along with the clear benefits to be gained from upholding the standards enforced by GDPR, PCI DSS, HIPAA, and other regulatory bodies often comes a shift toward a more compliance-centric security approach. But regardless of industry or regulatory body, achieving and maintaining compliance should never be the end goal of any security program. Here’s why:

    • Dialing up security for Docker containers

      Docker containers are a convenient way to run almost any service, but admins need to be aware of the need to address some important security issues.

      Container systems like Docker are a powerful tool for system administrators, but Docker poses some security issues you won’t face with a conventional virtual machine (VM) environment. For example, containers have direct access to directories such as /proc, /dev, or /sys, which increases the risk of intrusion. This article offers some tips on how you can enhance the security of your Docker environment.

    • VPNFilter UNIX Trojan – How to Remove It and Protect Your Network

      This article has been created to explain what exactly is the VPNFilter malware and how to secure your network against this massive infection by protecting your router as well as protecting your computers.

      A new malware, going by the name of VPNFilter has reportedly infected over 500 thousand router devices across most widely used brands such as Linksys, MikroTik, NETGEAR as well as TP-Link, mostly used in homes and offices. The cyber-sec researchers at Cisco Talos have reported that the threat is real and it is live, even thought the infected devices are under investigation at the moment. The malware reportedly has something to do with the BlackEnergy malware, which targeted multiple devices in Ukraine and Industrial Control Systems in the U.S.. If you want to learn more about the VPNFilter malware and learn how you can remove it from your network plus protect your network, we advise that you read this article.

    • FBI: Reboot Your Router Now To Fight Malware That Affected 500,000 Routers
    • FBI says Russians hacked [sic] hundreds of thousands of home and office routers

      The warning followed a court order Wednesday that allowed the FBI to seize a website that the hackers [sic] planned to use to give instructions to the routers. Though that cut off malicious communications, it still left the routers infected, and Friday’s warning was aimed at cleaning up those machines.

    • FBI tells router users to reboot now to kill malware infecting 500k devices

      Researchers from Cisco’s Talos security team first disclosed the existence of the malware on Wednesday. The detailed report said the malware infected more than 500,000 devices made by Linksys, Mikrotik, Netgear, QNAP, and TP-Link. Known as VPNFilter, the malware allowed attackers to collect communications, launch attacks on others, and permanently destroy the devices with a single command. The report said the malware was developed by hackers [sic] working for an advanced nation, possibly Russia, and advised users of affected router models to perform a factory reset, or at a minimum to reboot.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Thoughts on the Saudi-Israeli Connection

      Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his grand tour of the United States last month publicly declared in an interview with the Atlantic magazine that the Israelis “have a right to live in their own land just like the Palestinians.” It is a problematic assumption, given that the Israelis’ “own land” is the land they took away from the Palestinians. This, and much else, has been either forgotten or ignored by the Saudi crown prince.

      Seventy-three years ago Saudi Arabia’s first king, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, expressed a very different position in a series of letters to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. For instance in a letter of November 1938 Ibn Saud had wrote “The [European] Jews have no right to Palestine and their claim is an act of injustice unprecedented in the history of the human race.” Sadly, there was in fact plenty of precedent when it came to colonial injustice, but Ibn Saud’s declaration certainly demonstrated the King’s depth of feeling. Other letters followed, predicting that Palestine was bound to become a “hotbed of disturbances and troubles” if the Zionists got their way.


      Now Crown Prince bin Salman shows us that a lot has changed in the intervening years. Zionist Israel has become an established “fact on the ground” and thus settler colonialism is well rooted in Palestine. Saudi Arabia has, perhaps begrudgingly, accepted this change – and it is not hard to see why.

      The Saudis have built their security around an alliance with Israel’s major backer, the United States. One price paid for that alliance has been a de facto acceptance of Israel’s existence. Thus, Saudi dislike of Israel has been largely rhetorical. However, it would seem that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has finally abandoned even that facade as well as abandoning the Palestinians. That is why during the prince’s recent trip to the U. S., he was found publicly rubbing shoulders with AIPAC.

    • Russian Military Supplied Missile That Shot Down Malaysian Jet, Prosecutors Say

      The missile belonged to an active duty unit in the Russian military, the 53rd Antiaircraft Brigade based in the city of Kursk, the prosecutors said. It was trucked from Russia to eastern Ukraine in July 2014, at a time when Russian-backed rebels were taking losses from Ukrainian airstrikes and artillery guided by airborne spotters.

    • South Korean President Moons Bolton

      Korea pretty much tell the story. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in drove into the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and Seoul quickly released a one-minute video of what, by all appearances, was an extremely warm encounter with Kim Jung-un. It amounted to a smiling, thumbing of two noses at Bolton and the rest of the “crazies” who follow his advice, such as Vice President Mike Pence who echoed Bolton’s insane evocation of the “Libya model” for North Korea, which caused Pyongyang to go ballistic. Their angry response was the reason Trump cited for cancelling the June 12 summit with Kim.

      But Trump almost immediately afterward began to waffle. At their meeting on Friday the two Korean leaders made it clear their main purpose was to make “the successful holding of the North Korea-U.S. Summit” happen. Moon is expected to announce the outcome of his talks with Kim Sunday morning (Korean time).

    • The Hit and Miss Record of U.S. Targeted Killing Programs

      The rationale behind the most controversial tactic in America’s global war on terrorism—targeted killing of “high value” individuals—goes back far in history, all the way to the Talmud: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.”

      Targeted killing has yet to be formally defined in international law, but the UN Security Council has proffered a sound definition: “The intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force, by states or their agents acting under color of law, or by an organized armed group in armed conflict, against a specific individual who is not in the physical custody of the perpetrator.”

      Only since the early 2000s has targeted killing (TK) emerged from the shadows of the “covert action” world to become a major policy issue for governments, human rights watch groups, international lawyers, and of course, the press. The first prominent TK operation in American history took place in 1943, when American fighter pilots took off from Guadalcanal with the express intention of shooting down an aircraft they knew to be transporting Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack. The mission was successful.


      In July 2016 the Obama administration released an executive order outlining policies to minimize civilian casualties in such strikes, as well as figures for drone strikes outside of the active war zones, i.e., in Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and the tribal region of Pakistan. Between 2009 and mid-2016, 273 strikes had killed between 2,272 and 2,581 combatants and between 64 and 116 civilians. The civilian casualty figures were greeted with widespread skepticism by human rights groups and the press.


      Even granting this distinction, many human rights groups and international law authorities see targeted killings as uncomfortably close to assassination, and they question the legality—and moral legitimacy—of the process by which the United States selects its targets. The lack of independent judicial oversight of a process managed exclusively by the executive branch, the DOD, and the CIA is a big problem for many critics. So is the lack of transparency about the process.

    • Bipartisan opposition nearly kills bill to allow police drone surveillance in Illinois
    • Cuban Exile & CIA Agent Luis Posada Carriles Dies a Free Man in U.S. Despite Years of Terrorism

      Former CIA operative and Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles died Wednesday just outside of Miami. He was 90 years old. Posada Carriles is best known as the suspected mastermind of the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airline jet. For decades, the U.S. refused to extradite Posada Carriles to face terrorism charges, despite demands by Cuba and Venezuela. Posada Carriles later publicly admitted ties to a series of hotel bombings in Cuba in 1997. In 2000, he was arrested in Panama City for plotting to blow up an auditorium where Fidel Castro would be speaking. Despite his record, Luis Posada Carriles died a free man in Florida. We get reaction from José Pertierra, a Cuban attorney based in Washington, D.C. He represented the Venezuelan government in its efforts to extradite Luis Posada Carriles, and also represented Elián González in 2000-2001.

    • Yemeni reprisal attacks: Drones target Saudi airport’ in Asir, flights canceled

      The Yemeni army says its military drones have bombarded a Saudi airport in the kingdom’s southwestern province of Asir for the second time in more than a month, forcing the authorities to suspend all flights to and from the regional airport.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Major Islamic financier singled out for deforestation in Indonesia

      In a recent report by climate coalition Chain Reaction Research, Lembaga Tabung Haji, whose publicly traded palm oil firm TH Plantations controls 32 estates in Indonesia and Malaysia spanning 1,600 square kilometers (620 square miles), was accused of actively clearing forest and peatland.

    • Greenpeace blasts palm oil industry deforestation in West Papua

      Satellite analysis suggests that around 4000ha of rainforest were cleared in PT Megakarya Jaya Raya concession between May 2015 and April 2017 – an area almost half the size of Paris.

    • This company promised to stop deforestation. But we caught them out.

      Here’s what we found: almost 8,000 ha of forest and peatland has been cleared in two concessions linked to APP and its parent company the Sinar Mas Group since 2013. We put these allegations to APP and Sinar Mas, but the group failed to provide a credible response or to take meaningful action.

    • NPS Report—Gasp!—Acknowledges Climate Change
    • After attempts at censorship, National Park Service finally releases climate change report

      Confederate cannon balls plunged into the brick walls of Fort Sumter at the outset of the Civil War, forcing Union troops to surrender. A century and a half later, surging storm waters are now the modern threat to the South Carolina national monument. Storm-swollen seas can flood the coastal garrison, at times forcing the National Park Service to shut it down.

      More than 100 National Park Service sites are located either on or near the coast. With global sea levels rising at an accelerating pace, spurred on by human-caused climate change, it’s more important than ever that the service understands how storm surges and rising seas will impact historical sites like Sumter.

      The conservation agency, however, lacked useful projections showing how these factors could inundate vulnerable lands, both in the near and distant future. So, when a visiting climate scientist, Maria Caffrey, proposed such a project, the Park Service accepted, and in 2013 the research began.

    • Uniti Electric Car Pre-Orders Reach $60 Million

      Uniti, the Swedish startup that is planning to build an all new electric car, claims pre-orders for the car have now reached $60 million. To all those auto industry executives out there who whine about people not wanting to buy EVs, Uniti is the wakeup call you have been dreading. People absolutely do want to buy electric cars, and if you don’t provide them with the vehicles they want, someone else will.

  • Finance
    • The trouble with charitable billionaires

      Meanwhile, inequality is growing, and both corporations and the wealthy find ways to avoid the taxes that the rest of us pay. In the name of generosity, we find a new form of corporate rule, refashioning another dimension of human endeavour in its own interests. Such is a society where CEOs are no longer content to do business; they must control public goods as well. In the end, while the Giving Pledge’s website may feature more and more smiling faces of smug-looking CEOs, the real story is of a world characterised by gross inequality that is getting worse year by year.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Musk, Media Stunts and Attention Economies That Don’t Give A Crap About The Egos Of Multi-Billionaires.

      Don’t get me wrong, I have no great love for the world’s crappy media ecosystems, which are almost unwaveringly — with a few notable exceptions — a shit-show, riddled with corruption, white old men in charge of editorial or ownership, vested interests, sneering hatred, malice, fakery, hot-takes, poor vetting, manipulation and click-bait egging on the next worst thing and the next and the next. And sure, from time to time, some over-worked under-paid journo pulls their finger out and publishes some real investigative journalism, but we’re seeing less and less of it these days. And most of the time, it’s behind paywalls.

      So what’s the point of Musk’s new venture into rating journalism anyway?

    • How You Help Trump

      Think about it: every time Trump issues a mean tweet or utters a shocking statement, millions of people begin to obsess over his words. Reporters make it the top headline. Cable TV panels talk about it for hours. Horrified Democrats and progressives share the stories online, making sure to repeat the nastiest statements in order to refute them. While this response is understandable, it works in favor of Trump.

    • Mueller probing Roger Stone’s finances: report

      Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating Roger Stone’s finances as part of the probe into alleged collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

      CNN reported Thursday that investigators have asked associates of Stone, an informal adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, about his finances, including Stone’s tax returns.

      Stone told CNN that investigators were apparently “combing through” his personal life, including business affairs, but claimed it was because they lacked evidence of collusion.

    • Senate panel advances Trump nominee who wouldn’t say if Brown v. Board of Education was decided correctly

      The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a judicial nominee who faced criticism for declining to say whether the Supreme Court correctly decided a landmark case that outlaw

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • EU censorship machines and link tax laws are nearing the finish line

      This week, people across the world are learning what they need to do to comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which will become applicable on Friday – and many are finding themselves wishing they had involved themselves in the debate when the law was decided more than two years ago. A wide public debate about its finer points is happening when it’s too late to make changes or ask for clarifications – a lost opportunity even for a law that I support.

      On the topic of copyright, you NOW have the chance to have an influence – a chance that will be long lost in two years, when we’ll all be “suddenly” faced with the challenge of having to implement upload filters and the “link tax” – or running into new limits on what we can do using the web services we rely on.

    • Georgian creative work ‘censorship bill’ comes under fire

      Georgia’s par­lia­ment is to discuss a con­tro­ver­sial bill which critics say will enable cen­sor­ship. The bill, initiated by MPs from the ruling Georgian Dream party, would allow the courts to ban the dis­tri­b­u­tion of creative works if they ‘violate others’ rights’. A number of local rights groups and the Public Defender have warned that law is too broad.

      The bill’s authors, Eka Beselia and Levan Gogichaishvili from parliament’s Legal Issues Committee said that the need for the leg­isla­tive amend­ments stems from the con­sti­tu­tion­al changes adopted earlier in the spring.

      An earlier version of the con­sti­tu­tion stated that pro­hibit­ing the dis­tri­b­u­tion of creative works was unlawful unless they ‘violated others’ rights’ but did not specify who could enforce this. The new amend­ments specified that such a ban could only be issued by the courts, which was widely seen as a positive change.


      On 24 May, the Public Defender’s Office issued a statement describ­ing the bill as ‘incom­pat­i­ble with the Georgian con­sti­tu­tion’ and ‘restric­tive of creative freedom’

    • Journalists say police union attacks are having chilling effect on press freedom

      This statement was originally published on on 23 May 2018. It is republished here under Creative Commons license CC-BY 3.0.

      In Tunisia, police are obligated to protect journalists not only because they are citizens, but also because attacks against journalists are a crime punishable by jail time. But when coverage has questioned the conduct of security institutions, law enforcement officials and their powerful unions have too often ignored duty and issued direct threats against media workers – both online and off.

      These attacks have largely gone unpunished. To further complicate the situation, a controversial draft law promoted by the interior ministry and the police unions would create a new layer of protection for security forces, shielding them from criticism and accountability mechanisms.

      “Some of these unions represent a serious threat to the rule of law, as they aim to establish a police supremacy over other citizens: full powers, complete freedom and total impunity,” journalist and radio commentator Haythem El Mekki told Global Voices in an email interview.

    • Twitter is treating Bulgarians tweeting in Cyrillic like Russian bots

      A week ago, Twitter announced it would become more aggressive in pursuing trolls on its service, a move which seems to have had some unforeseen consequences, judging by the present upheaval in the Bulgarian Twitter community. An increasingly large and unhappy number of people have had their Twitter accounts suspended and messages filtered out of conversations, apparently for the offense of merely tweeting in Cyrillic.

      Though the trigger for an account to be suspended hasn’t been specifically established, the prevailing hypothesis — based on users’ experience — appears to be that mentioning @YouTube or any other major account in Cyrillic will get one in trouble. Perversely, even if the initial tweeter isn’t affected, the chances of being suspended for anyone replying to such a tweet in Cyrillic are even higher. This problem has afflicted people with accounts dating all the way back to 2009, some of which have multiple thousands of followers. While I’ve been able to verify the experience primarily of Bulgarian users, this blight on Cyrillic Twitter use definitely appears to extend beyond just that community.

    • Spotify To Restore XXXTentacion Onto Playlists After Kendrick Lamar Threatened To Pull Music Amid Censorship
    • Spotify Plans to Change XXXTentacion Policy After Outcry
    • Artists Strike Back At Spotify After Its Censorship Policy & The Streaming Service Is Backing Down
    • Kendrick Lamar Apparently Threatened To Pull Music From Spotify Following Censorship
    • Donald Trump Jr. Alleges Instagram’s Complicity in Conservative Censorship
    • ‘Are you fricken kidding me?’: Don Jr cries censorship on Instagram after his new follower numbers collapse
    • Donald Trump Jr. Calls Out Masters of the Universe, Claims Instagram Censorship
    • GOP Chair Slams Facebook and Twitter for Censoring Conservatives, They’re the “Silicon Valley Thought Police”
    • GOP Officials Demand Facebook And Twitter Respond To Content Censorship Allegations
    • RNC chair was asked to prove Facebook censors conservatives. It didn’t go well.

      During a Friday interview on Fox News, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel was asked to provide evidence that Facebook is censoring conservative voices. She made her case by citing a hoax.

      “Just for the audience — state the evidence as to why you think there is bias on these platforms,” host Bill Hemmer asked McDaniel, who this week co-authored a letter to social media companies claiming that “rampant political bias” has resulted in conservatives being censored.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Ad Blocker Ghostery Celebrates GDPR Day by Revealing Hundreds of User Email Addresses

      Ad-blocking tool Ghostery suffered from a pretty impressive, self-inflicted screwup Friday when the privacy-minded company accidentally CCed hundreds of its users in an email, revealing their addresses to all recipients.

      Fittingly, the inadvertent data exposure came in the form of an email updating Ghostery users about the company’s data collection policies. The ad blocker was sending out the message to affirm its commitment to user privacy as the European Union’s digital privacy law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), goes into effect.

      The email arrived in inboxes with the subject line “Happy GDPR Day — We’ve got you covered!” In the body of the email, the company informed users, “We at Ghostery hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to users’ privacy, and have implemented measures to reinforce security and ensure compliance with all aspects of this new legislation.”

      What Ghostery likely didn’t intend to do was immediately expose all of its users. CCed to the email were hundreds of other recipients, their emails all readily viewable to others receiving the message. Ghostery users took to social media to complain about the exposure.

    • The GDPR: Ghastly, Dumb, Paralyzing Regulation It’s Hard To Celebrate

      Happy GDPR day! At least if you can manage to be happy about a cumbersome, punitive, unprecedentedly extraterritorial legal regime that hijacks the resources of businesses everywhere without actually delivering privacy protection commensurate with the enormous toll attempts to comply with it extract. It’s a regulatory response due significant criticism, including for how it poorly advances the important policy goals purportedly prompting it.

      In terms of policy goals, there’s no quarrel that user privacy is important. And it’s not controversial to say that many providers of digital products and services to date may have been… let’s just say, insufficiently attentive to how those products and services handled user privacy. Data-handling is an important design consideration that should always be given serious attention. To the extent the GDPR encourages this sort of “privacy by design,” it is something to praise.

    • Did Michigan just block the NSA?

      Michigan has just passed a landmark law that prohibits passing residents’ personal information over to federal authorities without a warrant. The legislation has been interpreted as a protest against the National Security Agency and has effectively tried to ban NSA privacy invasions.


      As of June, Michigan may only provide personal data to federal agencies if they can present a warrant based upon probable cause, unless there is a legally recognized exception, if the target has given informed consent, and if it does not infringe on any reasonable expectation of privacy the person may have.

      Howrylak said in a statement that, “This reform safeguards the fundamental rights of all Michigan residents, who are guaranteed protection of their property and privacy rights by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” He continued:

    • Amazon confirms that Echo device secretly shared user’s private audio [Updated]

      Amazon did not explain how so many spoken Alexa prompts could have gone unnoticed by the Echo owner in question. Second update: The company did confirm to Ars that the above explanation was sourced from device logs.

    • US news outlets shut out European users amid new privacy laws
    • U.S. News Outlets Block European Readers Over New Privacy Rules

      American news outlets including The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and The Arizona Daily Star abruptly blocked access to their websites from Europe on Friday, choosing to black out readers rather than comply with a strict new data privacy law in the European Union that limits what information can be collected about people online.

    • GDPR finally comes into effect, applying fully to all businesses operating in EU

      GDPR replaces the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive, and it means all organisations operating in the EU have to abide by its new rules. Importantly, organisations outside the EU, like US-based companies that target consumers in the EU, monitor EU citizens or offer goods or services to EU consumers (even if for free), also have to comply.

    • Facebook and Google hit with $8.8 billion in lawsuits on day one of GDPR

      On the first day of GDPR enforcement, Facebook and Google have been hit with a raft of lawsuits accusing the companies of coercing users into sharing personal data. The lawsuits, which seek to fine Facebook 3.9 billion and Google 3.7 billion euro (roughly $8.8 billion in dollars), were filed by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, a longtime critic of the companies’ data collection practices.

    • Everything you need to know about GDPR

      The General Data Protection Regulation is a rule passed by the European Union in 2016, setting new rules for how companies manage and share personal data. In theory, the GDPR only applies to EU citizens’ data, but the global nature of the internet means that nearly every online service is affected, and the regulation has already resulted in significant changes for US users as companies scramble to adapt.

    • How to solve all your GDPR problems in one simple step

      To spare the blushes of its author I will say only that it was from an organisation offering reiki massage in a south London suburb. Despite the fact I have never had a reiki massage, never sought a reiki massage, and it is a suburb I have visited only twice in my entire life, once for a funeral and once to get drunk.

      I am pretty certain that on neither occasion did I hand my email address to anybody offering hands-on spiritual stress relief, not least because I think any activity described as “holistic” is total bollocks.

    • Former CIA analyst says New Zealand should be kicked out of Five Eyes alliance

      A United States Congress hearing has been told New Zealand politicians are receiving “major” donations from China, with one former CIA analyst suggesting we be kicked out of the Five Eyes alliance.

      Senator James Talent alleged at the hearing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has “gotten very close to or inside the political core” of both New Zealand and Australia. He claimed he’s heard allegations of “Beijing-linked political donors buying access and influence with party politicians” to incentivise the country to “parrot its line on issues it deems important”.

      “It’s important for the United States to consider that China may be testing methods of interference to probe for weaknesses in democracies in order to use the same techniques against Western countries in the future.”

    • Amazon Alexa Instantaneously Justifies Years Of Surveillance Paranoia

      I’ll admit that I traditionally haven’t been as paranoid as many people in regards to the surveillance powers of digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. Yes, putting an always-on microphone in your home likely provides a wonderful new target for intelligence agencies and intruders to spy on you. That said, it’s not like a universe of internet of broken things or smart TVs aren’t doing the same thing, before you even get to the problem with lax to nonexistent privacy standards governing the smartphone currently listening quietly in your pocket and tracking your every location.

      That said, nobody should ever labor under the false impression that good opsec involves leaving always on, internet-connected microphones sitting everywhere around your house.

    • Facebook suggests Europeans won’t be compensated for data fiasco

      This idea of royalty payouts for data use has floated around for a bit, given the billions that Facebook makes selling ads based on the data you provide via your profile and browsing history. When we asked a law school professor about how this type of payout would work, we were told, in so many words, it wouldn’t.

    • Pornhub has its own VPN now

      Pornhub is diversifying. The most popular site that no one you know will admit to frequenting, is launching its very own VPN service today, called, get this: VPNHub. The app, which is available on Android, iOS, MacOS and Windows, is primarily designed to offer “free and unlimited bandwidth,” according to its creators.

    • Pornhub made a VPN

      Pornhub’s parent, Mindgeek, does not have a great reputation for security. A 2012 breach of subsidiary sites YouPorn and Digital Playground exposed the details of more than 1.1 million users. In 2016, Brazzers’ forum was hacked, with 800,000 members being outed. In 2017, Pornhub unwittingly hosted a malvertising attack that was in operation for more than a year.

    • WhatsApp and Facebook are sharing user data after all and it’s legal

      In simple terms – although the companies can’t merge their databases, they can integrate products and if you choose to do that, information gets passed on. If it gets passed on, that data is bound by their security and privacy policies – and it’s not WhatsApp’s fault if they misuse it – after all – you’ve effectively given permission.

    • Instapaper is latest big name site to close (for now) over GDPR

      The company is shutting down EU access from today, but has pledged to return once it has had time to comply with the new arrangements. The news was broken last night by tech writer Owen Williams who tweeted:

    • Zuckerberg set up fraudulent scheme to ‘weaponise’ data, court case alleges

      A company suing Facebook in a California court claims the social network’s chief executive “weaponised” the ability to access data from any user’s network of friends – the feature at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

      A legal motion filed last week in the superior court of San Mateo draws upon extensive confidential emails and messages between Facebook senior executives including Mark Zuckerberg. He is named individually in the case and, it is claimed, had personal oversight of the scheme.

    • PornHub launches VPN to keep users’ browsing activity safe from prying eyes

      The Pornhub owned-and-operated VPN launched on Thursday and is said to keep your browsing activity free from the prying eyes of snoopers by offering “free and unlimited bandwidth” on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OS.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Uber wants to test driverless cars in Pittsburgh again—the mayor is pissed

      Uber announced on Wednesday that it was permanently shutting down self-driving car testing in Arizona, laying off hundreds of workers in the state. The decision comes two months after an Uber self-driving car killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in Tempe. But the company insisted that it wasn’t shutting down its self-driving car program as a whole. In an internal email obtained by Ars Technica, Uber said that it had a “goal of resuming operations in Pittsburgh this summer.”

      Hours later, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto released a press release blasting the plan.

    • Uber self-driving car ‘saw woman but didn’t brake before crash’
    • Uber’s Self-Driving Car Saw the Woman It Killed, Report Says

      The National Transportation Safety Board won’t determine the cause of the crash or issue safety recommendations to stop others from happening until it releases its final report, but this first look makes two things clear: Engineering a car that drives itself is very hard. And any self-driving car developer that is relying on a human operator to monitor its testing systems—to keep everyone on the road safe—should be extraordinarily careful about the design of that system.

    • Uber self-driving car ‘saw woman but didn’t brake before crash’

      An autonomous Uber car spotted a pedestrian about six seconds before fatally hitting her but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled, US federal investigators said.

    • Inside The “New” Starbucks: Blood-Spattered Walls, Workers Pricked By Needles And More

      According to foodservice research firm Tachomic Inc., bathroom cleanliness is among the top factors for consumers choosing whether or not to use a restaurant. In their most recent quarterly ranking of fast-food customers, Starbucks ranked 20th in terms of bathroom cleanliness. Let’s see how they rank next quarter.

    • Trump Nominates Anti-Immigrant Zealot to Run Department on Refugees

      Senators should question Mortensen about his extreme hostility towards immigrants before voting on his appointment.

      This week, President Trump announced that he has nominated Ronald Mortensen to be the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration, a move that further cements Trump’s extreme anti-immigrant agenda.

      Mortensen must be confirmed by the Senate to oversee the State Department’s bureau to protect refugees, victims of conflict, and some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

      Yet Mortensen’s record directly undermines the bureau’s core mission. Senators should be alarmed by Mortensen’s fiercely xenophobic rhetoric and long history of undermining the rights of refugees and immigrants.

      He founded the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration and serves as a senior fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which is notorious for peddling dubious research on the supposed harms caused by immigrants. The CIS has supported Trump’s attacks on refugees and said that the government should prioritize non-Muslim refugees. Trump adviser Stephen Miller even cited a discredited CIS study to defend the administration’s Muslim ban. One CIS official backed a plan resembling “modern-day slave labor” to make incarcerated people build Trump’s southern border wall.

    • The House Could Soon Give Jeff Sessions’ $50 Million to Wage the War on Drugs

      The continued congressional rubber-stamping of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program must stop, especially under Sessions.

      While the House was busy passing the divisive “empty gesture” known as the Protect and Serve Act during Police Week, the Senate took up a bill that Attorney General Jeff Sessions describes as “the centerpiece of our crime reduction strategy.” This bill, which the Senate unanimously passed and the House could take up in the next two weeks, authorizes the Project Safe Neighborhoods grant program. This program gives more federal dollars and resources for “a nationwide law enforcement program focused on the reduction of violent crime.”

      Project Safe Neighborhoods has been around since 2001, and in that time, about $2 billion has been spent encouraging federal-local partnerships around “reducing gun violence in the United States.” Some of those partnerships, like Boston’s Operation Ceasefire, have been characterized as holistic, using a law enforcement and social services approach to reduce violence. Others, like Richmond’s Project Exile, have been described as punitive and exclusively enforcement focused.

      In the almost two decades that PSN has been around, it has received little fanfare or question. PSN has been overwhelmingly supported by past administrations and congresses, but this continued rubber-stamping must end, especially with this attorney general, who is focused on making mass incarceration worse.

      “The war on crime and drugs did not fail. It was roaring success,” Sessions has said. So why is a Congress focused on bipartisan criminal justice reform fueling Session’s drug war?

    • Bipartisan opposition nearly kills bill to allow police drone surveillance in Illinois
    • James Clapper Just Lied Again About His Previous Lies About NSA Spying
    • Columnist’s justifications for CIA’s Haspel fall short
    • Ontario NDP candidate embroiled over blowing up ‘gun nuts’ comment

      Etobicoke Centre NDP candidate Erica Kelly, who posted that she would not be sad if “gun nuts” were blown up by a drone, has now apologized for the comment.

      “I know this is horrible to say… but I would not be sad to see these gun nuts threatening civil war have their asses blown to f–k with a drone,” Kelly said. “I mean, really, if only just to see their ‘tyranical government’ 2nd amendment argument blown to smithereens.”

    • Opinion: How America and Canada are diverging on the sad legacy of torture

      Canada recently apologized and gave $10 million to a Canadian tortured by Americans. Meanwhile, the United States just promoted someone who oversaw torture to the post of CIA director.

      The political contrast between the Canadian and American approaches is jarring. The differences owe a lot to stronger protections in Canadian law.

      In 2002, Gina Haspel ran a CIA black site in Thailand where at least one detainee was tortured with waterboarding, which is a way to make someone feel like they are drowning without killing them. In 2005, shortly after a Senate investigation into torture began, Haspel executed (and reportedly advocated for) an order to destroy recordings of the interrogations.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Nike Sues Puma for Alleged Infringement of Footwear Patents

      On Thursday, May 3rd, Beaverton, OR-based sneaker and athletic apparel maker Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKE) filed a suit alleging claims of patent infringement against German footwear maker Puma (ETR:PUM) in the District of Massachusetts. In its complaint, Nike accuses Puma of infringing upon patents held by Nike which cover elements of Nike’s Flyknit, Air and cleat assembly technologies.

    • Copyrights
      • EU Governments Reach Negotiating Stance On Copyright Reform

        European Union member states today reportedly agreed on their negotiating position on the proposed copyright directive, and early reactions are unenthusiastic.

      • Fully-Loaded Kodi Box Sellers Receive Hefty Jail Sentences

        A court in Wales has handed hefty jail sentences to former partners who ran a business selling fully-loaded Kodi boxes. Michael Jarman and Natalie Forber, who sold more than 1,000 devices over a two year period, pleaded guilty to operating a fraudulent business. Jarmain was jailed for 21 months while Forber, who had no previous convictions, was handed a 16-month suspended sentence.

      • Legal Blackmail: Zero Cases Brought Against Alleged Pirates in Sweden

        Since 2017, tens of thousands of alleged file-sharers in Sweden have received threatening letters demanding cash settlements to make a supposed lawsuit go away. Yet an investigation carried out by Sweden’s SVT has failed to unearth a single instance where a claim has resulted in a conviction for so-called copyright trolls. “Legal blackmail,” says a professor of law at Stockholm University.

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