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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 17 min ago

The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO – Part III: More Details About Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Former Employer of Campinos

4 hours 17 min ago

Summary: The side of Campinos which he prefers to conceal, or rather his association with a rather notorious Portuguese bank

In part 1 and in part 2 we spoke about the next President of the EPO and his past as a banker (something which he does not advertise). Today we go deeper.

Further research into the recent economic events in Portugal and problems surrounding the state-owned bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos has uncovered a lot of interesting information which may help to explain why Mr. Campinos might not be too keen to publicise his earlier professional connections with this financial institution which has fallen into disrepute.

Portugal has not been as badly afflicted as Greece by the Eurozone financial crisis. Nevertheless it is known as one of the economically weaker members of the EU’s unitary currency system which led to it contributing the “P” to the derogatory “PIGS” acronym.

In 2011 Portugal joined the casualty list of Europe’s sovereign debtors after its prime minister, José Sócrates, requested a European Union bailout. See “Portugal’s PM calls on EU for bailout” (among similar article).

Although there were major problems festering below the surface in Portugal’s banks, these did not become publicly visible until some time later.

The first serious signs of a crisis in the financial sector came in May 2014 with a scathing audit issued by the Portuguese central bank which questioned the financial stability and transparency of the Banco Espirito Santo (BES) which at that time was the second largest private financial institution in Portugal in terms of net assets.

Soon afterwards BES collapsed under the weight of bad debts to companies held by the family-controlled Espirito Santo Group and had to be rescued by the Portuguese central bank’s Resolution Fund in a 4.9 billion-euro bailout on 3 August 2014.

From 4 August 2014: “Portugal in 4.9 billion euro rescue of Banco Espirito Santo”

The problems at BES were exacerbated by its involvement in shady dealings in Angola.

From 9 August 2014: “Banco Espírito Santo: The Angolan Story”

Following the collapse of BES, serious problems became apparent in 2016 in the case of Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) which holds nearly a third of all deposits in Portugal’s banking system.

CGD’s troubles were initially reported in May 2016 with fears that the deteriorating situation could lead to financial collapse in Portugal.

From 29 May 2016: “Caixa Geral’s €4 billion refinancing demand may trigger Portugal’s financial collapse”

By June 2016 CGD’s liabilities were estimated at €5 billion or higher.

From 23 June 2016: “CGD’s liabilities now pegged at €5 billion and rising”

In August 2016, a 5 billion euro recapitalization package for CGD was agreed between Portugal and the EU.

From 24 August 2016: “EU, Portugal agree on 5 billion euro recapitalization for ailing bank CGD”

From 25 August 2016: “Portugal to bail out its biggest bank”

The situation at CGD was referred to a parliamentary commission of inquiry and management practices at the bank also came under scrutiny from the public prosecutor with the opening of an investigation into what national tabloid Correio da Manhã called “suspicions of the crime of ruinous management”.

From 23 September 2016: “CGD’s “ruinous management” now officially under DCIAP investigation”

In July 2017 it was confirmed that the public prosecutor suspected that management practices at CGD had involved breaches of criminal law.

From 11 July 2017: “Prosecutor suspects harmful management crimes in CGD”

Meanwhile investigations into allegations of corruption surrounding the former Socialist prime minister, José Sócrates, which were conducted under the code-name of “Operation Marquês”, have led to findings which suggest that CGD played a key role in some of the financial irregularities in which Sócrates has been implicated.

Recently, on 11 October 2017, the public prosecutor finally released its accusations in the “Operation Marquês” case according to which Sócrates was accused of 31 separate crimes of corruption, involving the accumulation of €24 million in bank accounts in Switzerland.

From 11 October 2017: “Operation Marquês charges announced – Sócrates controlled €24 million in Swiss bank accounts”

Also from 11 October 2017: “Operação Marquês: Former PM Sócrates, Salgado and Bava charged with corruption”

Another one: “Sócrates accused of 31 crimes, “accumulating” €24 million in Switzerland”

According to the public prosecutor’s charge sheet, the role of Sócrates’ chief corruptor is the former Banco Espirito Santo patriarch Ricardo Salgado, accused of 21 crimes – one of active corruption of a holder of political office, two of active corruption, nine crimes of money-laundering, three of abuse of confidence, three of document falsification and a further three of qualified fiscal fraud.

A further key figure is Armando Vara (below), a Portuguese politician and member of the Portuguese Socialist Party, who was previously a senior executive at the Caixa Geral de Depósitos. Vara was already sentenced to five years in prison on corruption charges in 2014 in connection with the co-called “Face Oculta” case. This was a nationwide political corruption, money-laundering and corporate tax evasion scandal which originally came to light in October 2009 and resulted in charges being brought against 36 defendants: 34 people and two companies. 11 prison terms were handed out in September 2014.

From 5 September 2014: “Face Oculta sentences handed out – Godinho gets 17 years in prison”

According to the pending charges brought against Sócrates under “Operation Marquês”, he is alleged to have favored the company which controls the Algarve tourist resort Vale de Lobo by means of a government plan in collusion with Vara who at the time was a Director of CGD which was the bank responsible for financing the enterprise.

In all, CGD conceded loans to Vale do Lobo amounting to more than €200 million as well as buying a 25% share in Vale do Lobo’s capital. Sócrates and Vara are accused of having received “kickbacks” for their part in the deal. In the meantime, Vale de Lobo’s outstanding debt to CGD has been estimated at around €300 million including default penalties and interest.

From 23 March 2017: “Vara pulls ‘senior moment’ when grilled over “how many times he discussed CGD with Sócrates””

From 18 June 2015: “Vale do Lobo now a “key link” in Operation Marquês corruption investigation”

Article in Portuguese dated 9 February 2017: “Comissões de 200 mil recebidas por gestores envolvidos no caso Sócrates”

In the next part we shall look at links between CGD and the INPI.

UPC Looks Like More of a Distant Dream (or Nightmare) as Germany Adds Another Two Months’ Delay

7 hours 37 min ago

Summary: The likelihood that the UPC will be altogether scuttled is growing as delays keep piling up and more complaints are being filed by public interest groups (as opposed to Team UPC, which hoped to shove the UPCA down everyone's throats behind closed doors)

THE EPO has said nothing about the UPC for at least a week. Nothing!

Silence too means something.

“The delays keep piling up and the UPC is dead. It’s at least dying. Nothing is advancing.”One UPC booster has just cited a tweet about this short post from Bristows’ Richard Pinckney. He said: “The latest news in the challenge in the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) to the constitutionality of the German legislation enabling the ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC) is that the BVerfG has extended the deadline for comments from 31 October to 31 December 2017.”

The remark from the UPC booster was inane: “BVerfG has extended the deadline for comments on German UPC constitutional complaint to New Year’s Eve. Getting ready for the fireworks?!”

The deadline isn’t a deadline for a decision but only a deadline for comment. So it’s just in forever limbo. Another 2 months’ pushback. The delays keep piling up and the UPC is dead. It’s at least dying. Nothing is advancing.

There are no fireworks any time soon for Team UPC. They didn’t even envision this process taking so long — almost half a year just for comments.

Patent Trolls Roundup: BlackBerry, Dominion Harbor, IPNav, IP Bridge

8 hours 7 min ago

Summary: A quick review of recent news regarding patent trolls or entities which resemble (and sometimes feed) these

THE plague of patent trolls may be going away. We shall say more about it in the weekend.

BlackBerry is, quite unfortunately, becoming little more than a patent troll these days. That strategy isn’t even going too well anymore. The person behind it has left (maybe got fired). Having filed some lawsuits in Texas, BlackBerry may be affected by TC Heartland and this new report says it’s “At Risk Of Losing Its Recurring BLU Royalty” (covered here recently).

“It was not clear if that payment was included in that quarter’s earnings,” it says, “which beat analysts’ forecast on a jump in licensing fees that includes patent payouts and royalties on BlackBerry-branded devices and software sold by others.”

As we have been showing lately, BlackBerry’s income nosedived. It cannot survive by just suing and threatening to sue companies. Eventually, perhaps inevitably, BlackBerry will go bankrupt and its patents be sold to classic patent trolls like Dominion Harbor, which is connected to the world’s largest troll, having bought Kodak’s patents from it. What we did not know until yesterday is that Dominion Harbor, which publicly defames me, is also connected to IPNav in the following way. To quote IAM:

Korean sovereign patent fund Intellectual Discovery (ID) has continued its recent trend of selling assets to US licensing entities, with the disposal of a package of 15 US patents to a company called Compact Lens Technologies LLC. The transaction was recorded on the USPTO assignment database earlier this month.

The buyer appears to be controlled by IP Valuation Partners, a Texas-based IP advisory business led by a group of former IPNav and Dominion Harbor executives. Jonathan Szarzynski, whose name is listed on the assignment document is, according to this site, the manager of Compact Lens Technologies. The portfolio of assets relates to camera lens technology.

[...]

That has led to the emergence of companies like Dominion Harbor, which was formed in 2013 by a group of former IPNav execs and in February was involved in one of the biggest deals of the year so far when it acquired a portfolio of around 4000 former Kodak assets from Intellectual Ventures. With several large patent owners like ID and IV looking to dispose of assets the new breed of private NPEs are certainly not struggling for buying opportunities.

So basically, Koreans have collected a lot of patents in vain and now they just give these to patent trolls in the US. These patents will go to a very nasty blackmail and extortion firm.

Japan is meanwhile learning to recognise this profound issue with trolls (already a growing problem in China, as we shall explain in the weekend) and is tackling the SEP trap, which is basically a patent thicket that’s anticompetitive by design. IAM’s puff piece isn’t too happy about it (law firms in Japan), but it’s clear that such a move would benefit the economy and the interests of Japanese people.

IAM’s blog is meanwhile celebrating a patent bully from Japan which targets S.E.A. and notably Malaysia. They are pursuing a patent tax on "IoT" and other such things (software patents in disguise). To quote:

Japanese patent fund IP Bridge today announced plans to launch a $50 million “Intellectual property and innovation” fund with Malaysian partners. The new entity will invest in national and regional enterprises in Malaysia that are “IP rich or to-be-rich”, with a particular focus on technology areas including IoT. The fund’s goals echo those of another major investment vehicle founded in Singapore earlier this year, suggesting that we may yet see more money poured into the region’s IP ecosystem.

[...]

On the patent side of its business, IP Bridge recently announced a new assignment to its IP fund by an unnamed Japanese corporate. Recent USPTO assignment records show that the source of the patents – which are related to the H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC standards – was Seiko Epson, which transferred at least six granted US assets to IP Bridge in late August. Another recent recordal indicates that the fund received 10 US patents from Avago (now known as Broadcom), possibly as part of the two parties’ recent settlement after US and China assertions by the NPE.

“NPE” is just a euphemism for troll. The US is full of patent trolls and many are moving to or emerging in China these days. Japan is hopefully wise enough to combat this issue before it even surfaces.

Battistelli’s Destruction of the EPO is Bad for Everyone, Even Patent Attorneys

13 hours 54 min ago

Summary: The collapse of the European patent system, owing primarily to Battistelli’s totalitarian style and deemphasis on patent quality, means that “the war is lost,” as one professional puts it

THE FOLLOWING new comment (from earlier this morning) is worth quoting. It comes from someone who saw that now-infamous lecture from Christoph Ernst, the new boss of the EPO (supposed to be on top of Battistelli).

“Gentlemen,” it says, “I think it is time to realize that the war is lost” at the EPO. Here is the explanation (with highlights for those who want to read more quickly):

I was at the lecture given by Christoph Ernst at the Max Plank Institute. In effect, he explained to the assembled representative of German applicants and attorneys that he did not care about their concerns and that he will do nothing.

Mr. Campinos track record at EUIPO makes it crystal clear that he is in the same boat as Battistelli. Don’t expect any change in policy. Actually, expect the situation to become much worse.

In the administrative council, the following delegations have tried to oppose Battistelli’s system: France (voted against policies and tried to pressure Battistelli), Switzerland (initiated the open letter from the Council), Denmark (removed Kongstadt), Italy (presented another candidate), Netherlands (court cases and questions in the Hague). and a few I forgot (mainly in northern Europe, I think). Basically, all major Patent countries opposed Battistelli at some point, with the notable exception of the UK (Brexit did not help) and of course Germany. Correct me if I am wrong.

This achieved exactly nothing. The newly elected people are the same policy under a different name. The war is lost, there is no battle left to be fought.

What does this mean for the applicants? It means that for the same price as usual, you get a shoddy search and a language check. You get a piece of paper that is probably trivial to invalidate in court. And your only choice, is either this kind of patent or no patent at all. It may take a few years, but SMEs will start to realize that it is not worth the effort, so expect patent attorneys to feel a dearth of customers at that point. Unless they work for large applicants, maybe.

What this also means is that now, right at the center of Europe, we have a place where nobody needs to respect employment laws. People, including elected representatives and managers, can be harassed and fired at will without any consequences. Salaries can be halved, benefits can be cut and public holidays need not be granted. Independence of the judicial sends one next to a mad house, literally. Permanent contracts are revoked. Maybe demonstrating that this kind of “modernisation” of employment laws is possible right in the center of Europe was also part of the plan, I do not know.

The UPC, as we explained before, would make things even worse, especially for SMEs.

The UPC would be good for nobody except patent trolls, patent law firms, and maybe some massive multinational pharmaceutical companies. We mentioned this before, in yesterday's article about Bristows UPC brainwash and the European Commission’s stance on SPCs. Bristows is, as expected, trying to solicit lobbying for UPC again in light of these developments. These people just won’t give up as long as lying brings them business. This was covered by IP Watch and then in this blog post from Bristows. They wants the so-called ‘unitary SPC’:

On 12 October 2017, the European Commission launched a public consultation on supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) and patent research exemptions in the pharmaceutical sector (and other sectors with regulatory market authorisations). This consultation is within the framework of the Single Market Strategy (adopted in 2015), one aim of which is to improve the patent system in Europe for such sectors. Proposals include the creation of a European SPC title (a ‘unitary SPC’), an update of the EU patent research exemptions (e.g. the EU ‘Bolar’ exemption, whose implementation in national law is not consistent), and the introduction of an SPC ‘manufacturing waiver’ (to allow manufacture during SPC term for export to countries with no SPC protection).

We often wonder if, had it not been for Battistelli’s mad desire for the UPC, judges would not be abused in defiance of the EPC and patent examination would not be rushed to the point where European Patents (EPs) are so bad. If Battistelli and his French successor do nothing to correct this, there will be neither UPC nor a EPO.

Links 19/10/2017: Mesa 17.2.3, New Ubuntu Release, Samsung Flirts With GNU/Linux Desktops

Thursday 19th of October 2017 11:44:23 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • NVIDIA ups Competition Using Open Source Collaboration

    Let’s imagine that you are a company with a very successful if nuanced product. Graphics accelerator chips, for example.

    Hypothetically speaking, imagine that you find an interesting use for your chip in a rising market defined by a burgeoning technology. If you need an example, just use deep learning AI software.

    Now, let’s say this proves to be a massive windfall for your company, raising its stock prices tenfold in just three short years.

    What do you do with this fortunate turn of events?

    Do you start designing your own AI chips based on your original design and remain one of the top competitors in this new market, or do you go open source and give your chip architecture designs to the public?

  • Open Source Initiative Welcomes Cumulus Networks As Premium Sponsor

    The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the internationally recognized home of the open source software movement working to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, announced today the generous sponsorship of Cumulus Networks. Cumulus joins OSI’s growing community of corporations that recognize the importance of not only investing in open source software projects and development, but also building a diverse ecosystem that promotes collaboration, enables innovation, and ensures quality.

    Cumulus Networks has a strong tradition of internally-driven development of original open source software, including most notably, contributions to the Linux kernel that complete the data center feature set for Linux such as Virtual Routing and Forwarding (VRF), MPLS, MLAG infrastructure, multicast routing features, etc. Cumulus’ most recent open source effort is FRRouting, co-developed by a group of contributing companies in the open networking space, to enhance routing protocols. Cumulus Networks has also been a key driving member of the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) with contributions to the Open Compute Project, Prescriptive Topology Manager–which simplifies the deployment of large L3 networks–and ifupdown2, a rewrite of Debian’s tool for configuring networks that greatly simplifies large, complicated networking configurations.

  • Let’s dig into how open source could KO the Silicon Valley chat silos

    There’s never been a better opportunity for the world to start untangling itself from the giant Silicon Valley data harvesters than now. Last week, we revealed a plan to embed open-source chat into three quarters of the world’s IMAP servers.

    And this may be an important development. Maybe.

    Google, Yahoo!, Apple and Microsoft handle around half the world’s email, some 2.5 billion users, while open-source IMAP servers handle the rest, around 2.5-3 billion. Of these the Dovecot open-source server, part of the German business Open Xchange, is installed on 75 per cent of boxes. Quietly drop IM into the mix, and you’ve given the world a reason to leave WhatsApp.

  • Open source, agility powering enterprise IT

    Looking back over the past decade, history has certainly demonstrated that trying to predict the pace and nature of technology development is a near impossible task, writes Quentin Barnard, lead architect at redPanda Software.
    While analysts, business leaders and policymakers have certainly made wise predictions, businesses and individuals have to remain agile, responsive and open-minded to a wide possibility of outcomes and developments. It is also helpful, however, to reflect on key trends that have emerged in recent times — and to use this information to prepare for the years ahead.
    For software developers and development houses, several prominent themes emerged in 2017.

  • Events
  • Databases
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Copyleft is Dead. Long live Copyleft!

      As you may have noticed, we recently re-licensed mgmt from the AGPL (Affero General Public License) to the regular GPL. This is a post explaining the decision and which hopefully includes some insights at the intersection of technology and legal issues.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Crowdsourcing the way to a more flexible strategic plan

      Trust the community. Opening a feedback platform to anyone on campus seems risky, but in hindsight I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The responses we received were very constructive; in fact, I rarely received negative and unproductive remarks. When people learned about our honest efforts at improving the community, they responded with kindness and support. By giving the community a voice—by really democratizing the effort—we achieved a surprising amount of campus-wide buy-in in a short period of time.

      Transparency is best. By keeping as many of our efforts as public as possible, we demonstrated that we were truly listening to our customers and understanding the effects of the outdated technology policies and decisions that were keeping them from doing their best work. I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that everyone is an agent of innovation; we just needed a tool that allowed everyone to make suggestions.

      Iterate, iterate, iterate. Crowdsourcing our first-year IT initiatives helped us create the most flexible and customer-centric plan we possibly could. The pressure to move quickly and lay down a comprehensive strategic plan is very real; however, by delaying that work and focusing on the evolving set of data flowing from our community, we were actually able to better demonstrate our commitment to our customers. That helped us build critical reputational capital, which paid off when we did eventually present a long-term strategic plan—because people already knew we could achieve results. It also helped us recruit strong allies and learn who we could trust to advance more complicated initiatives.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • MakerBot Labs: new experimental 3D printing platform is MakerBot’s olive branch to open source community

        New York 3D printing company MakerBot has launched MakerBot Labs, an experimental platform with open APIs, custom print modes, and an online resource-sharing site. The platform purportedly allows users to “push the limits” of 3D printing.

      • MakerBot attempts to embrace the open-source community with its new Labs platform

        The topic of open source has been a touchy one for MakerBot over the past decade. The one-time 3D-printing darling was the subject of some serious smack talk among the maker community when it stopped disclosing machine design in 2012 — a departure from the company’s roots as in the open-source Rep-Rap community.

        Announced this week, MakerBot Labs doesn’t mark a full return to those roots, but it does find the company carving out a niche for the DIY community that was once a driving force in its rapid growth.

        “I understand the history,” CEO Nadav Goshen told TechCrunch during a phone call this week, “This is one step in the direction. It’s a step to understand that there are limitations to openness. Openness for us doesn’t mean we have to compromise on quality or ease of use. We’re trying to take responsibility for both.”

      • Reform is a DIY, modular, portable computer (work in progress)

        Want a fully functional laptop that works out of the box? There are plenty to choose from. Want a model that you can upgrade? That’s a bit tougher to find: some modern laptops don’t even let you replace the RAM.

        Then there’s the Reform. It’s a new DIY, modular laptop that’s designed to be easy to upgrade and modify. The CAD designs will even be available if you want to 3D print your own parts rather than buying a kit.

        You can’t buy a Reform computer yet. But developer Lukas Hartmann and designer Ana Dantes have developed a prototype and are soliciting feedback on the concept.

  • Programming/Development
    • New neural network teaches itself Go, spanks the pros

      While artificial intelligence software has made huge strides recently, in many cases, it has only been automating things that humans already do well. If you want an AI to identify the Higgs boson in a spray of particles, for example, you have to train it on collisions that humans have already identified as containing a Higgs. If you want it to identify pictures of cats, you have to train it on a database of photos in which the cats have already been identified.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • C-sections might be relaxing the evolutionary pressure against big babies

      Theoretical biologist Philipp Mitteröcker is intrigued by the puzzle of dangerous human childbirth. Unlike other species, human babies are often too big for the birth canal, leading to dangerous—and possibly fatal—obstructed labor. Last year, Mitteröcker and his colleagues published a mathematical model that showed how the mixture of evolutionary pressures acting on humans would inevitably lead to an ongoing risk of obstructed labor in our species.

      The model also suggested that C-sections are changing the rules of the game by increasing the likelihood that large babies and their mothers survive childbirth and pass on genes that promote this head/pelvis mismatch. The model predicted that we’d see an increasing risk of obstructed labor (and need for C-sections) over generations—but there was no real-world evidence of that happening.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • President Trump admits he’s trying to kill Obamacare. That’s illegal.

      Modern American history has never seen as full-scale an effort to sabotage a valid law as we have with President Trump and the Affordable Care Act — a law whose legality has been upheld twice by the US Supreme Court.

      The president has a legal obligation, under Article II of the US Constitution, to “take Care that the laws be faithfully executed.” That means he must make sure that our laws are implemented in good faith and that he uses his executive discretion reasonably toward that end.

    • Insects Are In Serious Trouble

      The bottles were getting emptier: That was the first sign that something awful was happening.

      Since 1989, scientists from the Entomological Society Krefeld had been collecting insects in the nature reserves and protected areas of western Germany. They set up malaise traps—large tents that funnel any incoming insect upward through a cone of fabric and into a bottle of alcohol. These traps are used by entomologists to collect specimens of local insects, for research or education. “But over the years, [the Krefeld team] realized that the bottles were getting emptier and emptier,” says Caspar Hallmann, from Radboud University.

      By analyzing the Krefeld data—1,503 traps, and 27 years of work—Hallmann and his colleagues have shown that most of the flying insects in this part of Germany are flying no more. Between 1989 and 2016, the average weight of insects that were caught between May and October fell by an astonishing 77 percent. Over the same period, the weight of insects caught in the height of summer, when these creatures should be at their buzziest, fell by 82 percent.

    • Herbal remedies embraced by naturopaths, alt med widely linked to liver cancers

      Naturopaths and other gurus of “alternative medicine” love to tout the benefits of traditional herbal medicines. For instance, Aviva Romm—a Yale-educated doctor who publicly defended Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site Goop then later called it a “caricature of everything alternative health for women”—sells her own line of unproven herbal remedies. Billionaire Susan Samueli—who donated $200 million dollars alongside her husband so the University of California, Irvine, could open an “integrative” medicine program—promotes homeopathy, naturopathy, and runs an active consulting practice versed in Chinese herbs.

      Herbal remedies are often seen as harmless, soothing treatments that tap into the ancient wisdom of traditional healing. While that may be the case for some, there are also those that cause cancer—and sometimes it’s nearly impossible to tell one from the other.

  • Security
    • Google and Apple yet to fix Wi-Fi hole in a billion devices

      The WPA2 security protocol has been a mandatory requirement for all devices using the Wi-Fi protocol since 2006, which translates into billions of laptops, mobiles and routers. The weakness identified by Mathy Vanhoef, a digital security researcher at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium, lies in the way devices running WPA2 encrypt information.

    • The Flawed System Behind the Krack Wi-Fi Meltdown

      No software is perfect. Bugs are inevitable now and then. But experts say that software standards that impact millions of devices are too often developed behind closed doors, making it difficult for the broader security community to assess potential flaws and vulnerabilities early on. They can lack full documentation even months or years after their release.

    • Factorization Flaw in TPM Chips Makes Attacks on RSA Private Keys Feasible

      Security experts say the bug has been present since 2012 and found specifically in the Infineon’s Trusted Platform Module used on a large number of business-class HP, Lenovo and Fijitsu computers, Google Chromebooks as well as routers and IoT devices.

    • ROCA: RSA encryption key flaw puts ‘millions’ of devices at risk

      This results in cyber criminals computing the private part of an RSA key and affects chips manufactured from 2012 onwards, which are now commonplace in the industry.

    • Infineon RSA Key Generation Issue

      Yubico estimates that approximately 2% of YubiKey customers utilize the functionality affected by this issue. We have addressed this issue in all shipments of YubiKey 4, YubiKey 4 Nano, and YubiKey 4C, since June 6, 2017.

    • Microsoft remains tight-lipped about 2013 internal database hack [sic]

      A secretive internal database used by Microsoft to track bugs in its software was compromised by hackers [sic] in 2013.

    • Exclusive: Microsoft responded quietly after detecting secret database hack in 2013

      Microsoft Corp’s secret internal database for tracking bugs in its own software was broken into by a highly sophisticated hacking [sic] group more than four years ago, according to five former employees, in only the second known breach of such a corporate database.

    • WPA2 flaw’s worst impact on Android, Linux devices

      The flaw in the WPA2 wireless protocol revealed recently has a critical impact on Android phones running version 6.0 of the mobile operating system and Linux devices, a security researcher says.

    • Why the Krack Wi-Fi Mess Will Take Decades to Clean Up

      But given the millions of routers and other IoT devices that will likely never see a fix, the true cost of Krack could play out for years.

    • ‘All wifi networks’ are vulnerable to hacking, security expert discovers

      WPA2 protocol used by vast majority of wifi connections has been broken by Belgian researchers, highlighting potential for internet traffic to be exposed

    • Kids’ smartwatches can be ‘easily’ hacked, says watchdog

      Smartwatches bought for children who do not necessarily need them can be hacked [sic], according to a warning out of Norway and its local Consumer Council (NCC).

    • John Lewis pulls children’s smartwatch from sale over spying fears

      The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) revealed that several brands of children’s smartwatch, have such poor security controls that hackers [sic] could easily follow their movements and eavesdrop on conversations.

    • Google’s ‘Advanced Protection’ Locks Down Accounts Like Never Before

      Google hasn’t shared the details of what that process entails. But the CDT’s Hall, whom Google briefed on the details, says it will include a “cooling-off” period that will lock the account for a period of time while the user proves his or her identity via several other factors. That slowed-down, intensive check is designed to make the account-recovery process a far less appealing backdoor into victims’ data.

    • NSA won’t say if it knew about KRACK, but don’t look to this leaked doc for answers

      Given how involved the NSA has been with remote and local exploitation of networks, systems, devices, and even individuals, many put two and two together and assumed the worst.

      What compounded the matter was that some were pointing to a 2010-dated top secret NSA document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, which detailed a hacking tool called BADDECISION, an “802.11 CNE tool” — essentially an exploit designed to target wireless networks by using a man-in-the-middle attack within range of the network. It then uses a frame injection technique to redirect targets to one of the NSA’s own servers, which acts as a “matchmaker” to supply the best malware for the target device to ensure it’s compromised for the long-term. The slide said the hacking tool “works for WPA/WPA2,” suggesting that BADDECISION could bypass the encryption.

      Cue the conspiracy theories. No wonder some thought the hacking tool was an early NSA-only version of KRACK.

    • You’re doing open source wrong, Microsoft tsk-tsk-tsks at Google: Chrome security fixes made public too early [Ed: Says the company that gives back doors to the NSA and attacks FOSS with patents, lobbying etc.]
    • Why Open Source Security Matters for Healthcare Orgs [Ed: marketing slant for firms that spread FUD]

      Open source software can help healthcare organizations remain flexible as they adopt new IT solutions, but if entities lack open source security measures it can lead to larger cybersecurity issues. A recent survey found that organizations in numerous industries might not be paying enough attention to potential open source risk factors.

      Half of all code used in commercial and Internet of Things (IoT) software products is open source, but only 37 percent of organizations have an open source acquisition or usage policy, according to a recent Flexera report.

      More than 400 commercial software suppliers and in-house software development teams were interviewed, with respondent roles including software developers, DevOps, IT, engineering, legal, and security.

    • Focusing on Healthcare Open Source Security Awareness [Ed: More Flexera marketing in the form of scare-mongering]
    • Adobe patches zero-day vulnerability used to plant gov’t spying software

      Adobe has patched a zero-day vulnerability used by the BlackOasis APT to plant surveillance software developed by Gamma International.

      On Monday, researchers from Kaspersky Lab revealed the new, previously unknown vulnerability, which has been actively used in the wild by advanced persistent threat (APT) group BlackOasis.

    • IoT Cybersecurity: What’s Plan B?

      In August, four US Senators introduced a bill designed to improve Internet of Things (IoT) security. The IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017 is a modest piece of legislation. It doesn’t regulate the IoT market. It doesn’t single out any industries for particular attention, or force any companies to do anything. It doesn’t even modify the liability laws for embedded software. Companies can continue to sell IoT devices with whatever lousy security they want.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Abuse of RESTEasy Default Providers in JBoss EAP

      Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) is a commonly used host for Restful webservices. A powerful but potentially dangerous feature of Restful webservices on JBoss EAP is the ability to accept any media type. If not configured to accept only a specific media type, JBoss EAP will dynamically process the request with the default provider matching the Content-Type HTTP Header which the client specifies. Some of the default providers where found to have vulnerabilities which have now been removed from JBoss EAP and it’s upstream Restful webservice project, RESTEasy.

    • “Security concerns” lead to LTE service shutdown on Chinese Apple Watches
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Saudi Airstrike Kills Entire Family In Yemen, Including Children

      The latest in a long line of disastrous airstrikes by Saudi warplanes across Yemen, officials reported an airstrike on Tuesday night in the northern Jawf Province, destroying a single civilian home, killing six civilians and critically wounded another.

      The civilians killed were an entire family. The slain included the parents and four of their daughters. The lone survivor, who was injured, was their only son. Saudi officials gave no indication why the house was destroyed.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Chinese Army Documents Leak Set To Embarrass Beijing

      For centuries, sinologists have struggled with the question of authentification of documents.

    • The death of a crusading journalist rocks Malta
    • Insider Threat Program Training and Trump’s War on Leaks: A Chilling Combination for Whistleblowers

      The Trump administration has declared a war on media leaks and called for the U.S. federal workforce and contractors to receive “anti-leak” training. The centerpiece of Trump’s anti-leak campaign, aside from early morning tweet-storms railing against leakers and media, is the National Insider Threat Taskforce.

      The Insider Threat Program is not Trump-era creation. In then-secret testimony to Congress in 2012, Directorate of National Intelligence official Robert Litt touted the original Insider Threat Program as a highlight in administrative efforts to “sanction and deter” leaks. In the past, Insider Threat Program training has improperly included “WANTED”-style images of whistleblowers pictured alongside actual spies and mass murderers.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Funding for War vs. Natural Disasters

      I have an aunt who lives in paradise – Paradise, California, that is. But in 2017 it has been anything but, as the communities surrounding Paradise have been evacuated on two separate occasions due to natural disasters and crumbling infrastructure. In February, torrential downpours caused the Oroville Dam to fail, washing out homes, businesses, memories and lives. And now they are dealing with devastating wildfires that have killed dozens, displaced thousands, and are being fought by firefighters, some of whom are only making minimum wage and working 70 straight hours.

      The fires in California are just the latest natural disaster to inflict suffering on Americans, as the people in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas can attest, following massive hurricanes over the summer.

    • Nearly 400,000 Gallons of Oil Spew Into Gulf of Mexico, Could Be Largest Spill Since Deepwater Horizon

      Last week, a pipe owned by offshore oil and gas operator LLOG Exploration Company, LLC spilled up to 393,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, reminding many observers of the Deepwater Horizon explosion seven years ago that spewed approximately 210 million gallons of crude into familiar territory.

      Now, a report from Bloomberg suggests that the LLOG spill could be the largest in the U.S. since the 2010 BP blowout, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

      While at a much smaller scale than the nation’s worst accidental oil spill, the Delta House floating production facility, located about 40 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, released between 7,950 to 9,350 barrels starting from Wednesday to Thursday due to a fractured pipeline.

    • First floating wind farm, built by offshore oil company, delivers electricity

      The 30MW installation, situated 25km (15.5mi) from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, will demonstrate that offshore wind energy can be harvested in deep waters, miles away from land, where installing giant turbines was once impractical or impossible. At peak capacity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 20,000 Scottish homes.

      The installation, called Hywind Scotland, is also interesting because it was built by Statoil, a Norwegian mega-corporation known for offshore oil drilling. Statoil has pursued offshore wind projects in recent years, using the company’s experience building and managing infrastructure in difficult open sea conditions to its advantage.

      Hywind Scotland began producing power in September, and today it starts delivering electricity to the Scottish grid. Now, all that’s left is for Statoil and its partner company Masdar to install a 1MWh lithium-ion battery, charmingly called “Batwind,” on shore. Batwind will help the offshore system regulate power delivery and optimize output.

  • Finance
    • Brexit might not happen and would leave us poorer and weaker, says ex-MI6 chief

      Brexit might not happen, Britain’s former spymaster has claimed.

      Ex-MI6 chief Sir John Sawers made the bombshell casual remark at a public meeting in Parliament.

      Brexit, he warned, could leave Britain “poorer and weaker” and cost us influence over sanctions on states like North Korea – “assuming it goes ahead”.

      Sir John, who as ‘C’ was the public face of MI6 from 2009 to 2014, told a House of Lords EU Committee: “The vehicle through which we have conducted sanctions regimes for the last 20 or so years has been the EU.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Ditch neoliberalism to win again, Jeremy Corbyn tells Europe’s centre-left parties

      Jeremy Corbyn has warned centre-left parties across Europe that they must follow his lead and abandon the neoliberal economics of the imagined “centre ground” if they want to start winning elections again.

      The Labour leader was given a hero’s welcome at the Europe Together conference of centre-left parties in Brussels, where he was introduced as “the new Prime Minister of Britain” and received two standing ovations from a packed auditorium.

      Continental centre-left leaders are looking to Mr Corbyn’s Labour as a model to reinvigorate their movement. Across Europe from France to Germany, Austria to Netherlands, and Spain to Greece, once powerful social-democratic parties have been reduced to a shadow of their former selves – with Labour a notable exception.

    • ‘Where hatred of the media can lead’ — Jonathan Freedland warns that Corbynistas could murder journalists

      Of course, when it comes to Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, we’ve come to expect nothing but stupid smears from Freedland. This is the man who has played a leading role in whipping up hysteria over the wave of antisemitism that has supposedly swept over the Labour Party since Corbyn’s election as leader. Freedland’s Guardian comment piece on last month’s party conference (“Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place”) was a typical exercise in political dishonesty which has been thoroughly demolished by Jamie Stern-Weiner (“Labour Conference or Nuremberg Rally?). Now, not content with slandering the left as Jew-haters, he wants to portray us as potential murderers too.

    • LEAKED MEMO REVEALS WHITE HOUSE WISH LIST

      Since federal courts first enjoined President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban, lawyers for his administration have been at pains to insist that anti-Muslim animus is not a driving force of policymaking in his government.

      But an internal White House document, obtained exclusively by Crooked Media, suggests that the reach of Islamophobia among Trump administration aides and advisers stretches far beyond the four corners of the travel ban, into the budget-writing process, where the White House’s full agenda comes together. The document also reflects the extent to which White House policymaking process, conducted in the shadow of the media circus around Trump himself—from family planning to federal hiring to nutritional assistance—is defined by ideological extremism, and tempered by incompetence.

      Policymakers in Trump’s White House argue that the U.S. should refrain from influencing curricula and “other touchier-feelier programs” at foreign institutions that receive federal funds to educate young girls—except in “muslim countries, where we need to do a check of the curricula at the schools we’re supporting to weed out jihadism.”

    • Republican fight against municipal broadband heats up in Michigan

      A state lawmaker in Michigan wants to prevent cities and towns from using any government funding to provide Internet service. Michigan Rep. Michele Hoitenga, a Republican from Manton, last week submitted a bill that says cities and towns “shall not use any federal, state, or local funds or loans to pay for the cost of providing qualified Internet service.”

    • Trump Just Graded His Response To Puerto Rico Disaster

      President Trump is on track to repeat some of the greatest scandals of his predecessors, but with far less tact and competence. The investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is looking more and more like a possible Watergate, the deaths of four American soldiers in Niger is increasingly being referred to as Trump’s Benghazi, and the damage inflicted on Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria and the president’s subsequent botched response is clearly his Hurricane Katrina.

      Trump failed to properly stock the island territory with adequate supplies and personnel and then dragged his feet sending more after the hurricane struck. He failed to immediately waive the Jones Act, causing a bottleneck that choked off relief to the island, because he was more worried about the business interests of shipping conglomerates than suffering Americans.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Incentivizing Better Speech, Rather Than Censoring ‘Bad’ Speech

      This has gone on for a while, but in the last year especially, the complaints about “bad” speech online have gotten louder and louder. While we have serious concerns with the idea so-called “hate speech” should be illegal — in large part because any such laws are almost inevitably used against those the government wishes to silence — that doesn’t mean that we condone and support speech designed to intimidate, harass or abuse people. We recognize that some speech can, indeed, create negative outcomes, and even chill the speech of others. However, we’re increasingly concerned that people think the only possible way to respond to such speech is through outright censorship (often to the point of requiring online services, like Facebook and Twitter to silence any speech that is deemed “bad”).

      As we’ve discussed before, we believe that there are alternatives. Sometimes that involves counterspeech — including a wide spectrum of ideas from making jokes, to community shaming, to simple point-for-point factual refutation. But that’s on the community side. On the platform side — for some reason — many people seem to think there are only two options: censorship or free for all. That’s simply not true, and focusing on just those two solutions (neither of which tend to be that effective) shows a real failure of imagination, and often leads to unproductive conversations.

    • UK Gov’t Considering Redefining Social Media Services As Publishers To Make It Easier To Control Them

      Like seemingly every other government on the planet, the UK government wants internet companies like Google and Facebook to do more. Everyone has an axe to grind, whether it’s not enough censorship, or the wrong kind of censorship, or the innate desire to hold companies accountable for the actions of their users. The voluntary moderation efforts made by these platforms always fall short of politicians’ ideals. These legislators believe — without evidence — that perfectly moderated services are just a couple of button pushes away.

      Because the things governments complain about are actually the words and deeds of users — rather than the companies themselves — pushes for “more” have limited effect. This doesn’t make governments happy. This is a “problem” that needs “solving,” apparently. And officials in the UK think they have an answer. They’ll just arbitrarily redefine services until they’re more easily pushed around.

    • Twitter further tightens abuse rules in attempt to prove it cares

      Company updates rules on hate speech, revenge porn and violent groups to counter perceptions social network is not doing enough to protect users

    • Engineer/hero/entrepreneur Limor “ladyada” Fried was kicked off Facebook and no one will tell her why

      Fried, who was the first woman engineer to appear on the cover of Wired Magazine, discovered that her account had been terminated when she tried to login and got a cryptic error message. After contacting the company and privately messaging Facebook’s CTO, Fried still has not been told why she was banned.

    • Facebook bans @adafruit ‘s Ladyada… @facebook @finkd

      Facebook banned our founder Ladyada. Nothing public, just trying to log in and manage our company page. We reached out to the people including the CTO, no reply, so that’s that.

    • Civility or censorship? Candidates bash Dayton schools’ request

      Eight candidates are running for four seats on Dayton’s seven-member school board.

      Dayton Public Schools is facing criticism for trying to steer tonight’s school board candidate forum away from “bashing” of Superintendent Rhonda Corr, current school board members or fellow candidates.

      DPS spokeswoman Marsha Bonhart sent an email Sunday night to the eight candidates running for four seats on the school board. It was a follow-up on earlier communications about the Dayton Education Council candidate forum scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. today at DPS’ Ponitz Career Technology Center.

    • Watercooler Wednesday: #MeToo, censorship in the classroom

      Plus, a Mississippi school will not longer require students to read the classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The book was recently pulled after complaints about the language, which includes racial slurs, but should it have been?

    • Millennials don’t fear censorship because they plan on doing all the censoring

      Matt Ridley’s fine recent Times column was hardly the first to raise the alarm about the pseudo-Soviet intolerance of the left emerging from university campuses. Yet he began with arresting statistics: ‘38 per cent of Britons and 70 per cent of Germans think the government should be able to prevent speech that is offensive to minorities.’ Given that any populace can be subdivided into a veritably infinite number of minorities, with equally infinite sensitivities, the perceived bruising of which we only encourage, pretty soon none of us may be allowed to say an ever-loving thing.

      We won’t rehash the whole trigger warning/safe spaces nonsense. But I am baffled by what seems a broad millennial distrust in, if not militant opposition to, freedom of speech — now disastrously disparaged as a dastardly ploy of the far right, which has happily co-opted the battle cry. Let’s not let Milo Yiannopoulos own it.

    • Privatix: Fighting Internet Censorship with a Fully Autonomous Network.

      Governments today are targeting our basic freedom of expression on the internet. It seems like the only way to squash civil unrest is by cutting off the country from internet access. Government censorship in China has prompted a sizeable number of the Chinese population to switch to Virtual Private Networks. It is unclear for how long this cat and mouse game will go on. The same can be said for cryptocurrencies. The Chinese government is tightening the screw on cryptocurrencies. The only way they will be allowed to operate in the Chinese mainland is through government regulations and licensing. Given the nature of a majority of cryptocurrencies today, it is no secret that a number will fail to meet the requirements to be licensed.

      It’s only a matter of time before other countries follow this Chinese trend, if they are not doing it already. Such a situation will influence people to migrate to VPN services and overcome government-imposed discipline and rein over the internet. Since the general public can’t tell whether a VPN service is made up of sub-standard encryption codes at face value, they are compelled to abide by government restrictions.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Wireless Carriers Again Busted Collecting, Selling User Data Without Consent Or Opt Out Tools

      A few years ago, Verizon and AT&T were busted for covertly modifying wireless user data packets in order to track users around the internet. Verizon used the technology to track browsing behavior for two years before the practice was even discovered by security researchers. It took another six months of public shaming before Verizon was even willing to offer opt out tools. And while the FCC ultimately gave Verizon a $1.3 million wrist slap, it highlighted how we don’t really understand the privacy implications of what mobile carriers are up to, much less have real standards in place to protect us from abuse in the modern mobile era.

      While notably different in scope and application, these same companies were again caught this week collecting and selling user information without user consent or working opt out tools.

    • Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Case Involving US Demands For Emails Stored Overseas

      The Supreme Court has granted the government’s request for review of Second Circuit Appeals Court’s decision finding Microsoft did not have to turn over communications stored overseas in response to US-issued warrants.

    • Canada’s ‘super secret spy agency’ is releasing a malware-fighting tool to the public [Ed: let's pretend that crackers are actually defenders -- a classic reversal of narratives]

      The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) rarely goes into detail about its activities — both offensive and defensive — and much of what is known about the agency’s activities have come from leaked documents obtained by U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and published in recent years.

    • The government is snooping into our lives more than we thought, making privacy hard to come by
    • UK spy agencies share social media data with foreign governments, say critics
    • Safeguards permit GCHQ to share huge databases on public, court hears
    • On Butter and Triangulation

      At the end of May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in Europe. It creates a whole set of new responsibilities that are causing concern for businesses across the EU. It has effects outside Europe as well, because it will control the way businesses located in Europe can share data across borders, both within their company and with other companies.

      While businesses are complaining about the new bureaucratic burden the Regulation creates, some privacy activists think it offers an absolute minimum level of protection in the emerging meshed society. This is not necessarily because of the way obviously confidential information is stored and used.

      It seems obvious why we should be concerned about big chunks of personal data, but why should we care about protecting small details such as our date of birth, parents’ names, postal code and so on? Why does it matter when we’re asked for them by someone with no need to know them?

    • Are you sharing the same IP address as a criminal? Law enforcement call for the end of Carrier Grade NAT (CGN) to increase accountability online

      On 13 October 2017, the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU and Europol held a workshop attended by 35 EU policy-makers and law enforcement officials, to address the increasing problem of non-crime attribution associated with the widespread use of Carrier Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) technologies by companies that provide access to the internet. The workshop was supported by experts from Europol’s partners: Proximus, CISCO, ISOC, the IPv6 Company, and the European Commission.

    • Powerful and pervasive artificial intelligence is coming: now is the time to talk about its impact on privacy

      An exception is work from Privacy International (PI), in the form of a response to an inquiry about AI carried out by a specialist group within the UK’s Parliament. Although the word “privacy” occurs nine times in the 77-page document published by the committee, the references are depressingly superficial, and there is no attempt to explore the complex privacy issues that AI raises. Privacy International’s submission is more concrete. It singles out four specific problems for privacy that the widespread use of AI will bring: [...]

    • It Takes Just $1,000 to Track Someone’s Location With Mobile Ads

      A team of security-focused researchers from the University of Washington has demonstrated just how deeply even someone with modest resources can exploit mobile advertising networks. An advertising-savvy spy, they’ve shown, can spend just a grand to track a target’s location with disturbing precision, learn details [...]

    • How to stop your mobile phone number and location from being sold

      Smartphone users are becoming aware that their phone number and location isn’t private when they use the internet on their data plans thanks to the selling of your mobile advertising id (MAID). According to Wired’s Andy Greenberg, it only costs $1,000 to track someone online. When you visit a website on your smartphone, both the site itself and advertisers on the site can view your mobile IP address which they can then tie to your mobike advertising id. Since the IP address is given by your telecom from the cell tower, your IP address when you’re using 4G or 3G will always be tied back to your billing information. [...]

    • In Facebook We Antitrust
    • WhatsApp now lets you stalk your friends in real-time
    • Opinion : In Quest of Privacy in the Digital Age
    • EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: First review shows it works but implementation can be improved

      The report will be sent to the European Parliament, the Council, the Article 29 Working Party of Data Protection Authorities and to the U.S. authorities. The Commission will work with the U.S. authorities on the follow-up of its recommendations in the coming months. The Commission will continue to closely monitor the functioning of Privacy Shield framework, including the U.S. authorities’ compliance with their commitments.

    • First Annual Review of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield

      Officials from across the United States Government, the European Commission, and EU data protection authorities gathered in Washington D.C. to conduct the first annual review on 18 and 19 September 2017.

      The report reflects the Commission’s findings on the implementation and enforcement of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework in its first year of operation.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • USCIRF delegation pays visit to American pastor imprisoned in Turkey

      Two delegates from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) paid a visit to American Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey last week, almost a year to the day when he was detained by the authorities over allegations of terrorism and espionage.

      USCIRF Vice Chairwomen Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga went to Kiriklar Prison in Izmir, Turkey last week to visit Brunson, who has been imprisoned since Oct. 7, 2016 over his alleged links to the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is being blamed for organizing a 2016 attempt to overthrow the Turkish government.

      “The government of Turkey has fabricated charges against Pastor Brunson, largely based on purported ‘secret testimony.’ He should be released immediately.” Arriaga contended.

    • Overnight Tech: Senate bill expands disclosure rules for online political ads | Sex trafficking bill faces resistance from Silicon Valley | Twitter to crack down on harassment, abuse | Privacy shield passes annual review
    • Gabriel Fernandez: Mother’s boyfriend beat eight-year-old to death because he thought he was gay, court told

      An eight-year-old boy endured unimaginable abuse before his death including being forced to eat cat litter and being bound and gagged, a court heard.

      Gabriel Fernandez’s mother Pearl and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre allegedly tortured the child in the months leading up to his death in 2013.

      Gabriel was sprayed with pepper spray, forced to eat cat faeces and regularly gagged, bound and beaten, according to testimony from Gabriel’s older brother Ezequiel, who was 12 when his brother was killed.

    • These wealthy institutions are quietly financing white nationalism

      The connection between Breitbart, a far-right website, and the white nationalist movement was hardly a secret. Steve Bannon, who served as Executive Chairman of the publication before and after serving as Trump’s chief strategist, called Breitbart “the platform for the alt-right,” a euphemism for white nationalists and their sympathizers. These extreme, bigoted viewpoints are frequently reflected in the site’s writing, which has included anti-immigrant screeds, sensationalized reporting of “black crime,” and other fringe viewpoints and conspiracy theories.

      But a recent exposé published by BuzzFeed News revealed in stunning detail Breitbart’s deep connection and collaboration with white nationalists.

    • Use A Landline To Talk About Criminal Activity? The Government Can Seize The House Around It

      The Intercept has obtained a leaked asset forfeiture guide for seizures performed by ICE. (It has, unfortunately, chosen not to share the original document. Then again, the last non-Snowden leak it published appears to have helped out the document’s source.)

      For those familiar with the process of civil asset forfeiture, the contents of the guide are mostly unsurprising. Despite the document dating back to 2010, ICE did confirm the version seen by The Intercept is its most recent guidance. ICE is allowed to seize property without bringing charges or securing convictions — something still permitted by federal law (your state laws may vary) and greatly encouraged by the new head of the DOJ, Jeff Sessions.

    • Viral video of man being dragged from United flight gets officers fired

      Two aviation security officers involved in the April incident in which a 69-year-old doctor was violently removed from a United Airlines flight have been fired. The doctor, David Dao, suffered a broken nose, the loss of two teeth, and a concussion in an event that went viral on the Internet after it was captured by passengers’ mobile phones.

    • Judge shocked to learn NYPD’s cash forfeiture database has no backup

      As part of an ongoing legal battle to get the New York City Police Department to track money police have grabbed in cash forfeitures, an attorney for the city told a Manhattan judge on October 17 that part of the reason the NYPD can’t comply with such requests is that the department’s evidence database has no backup. If the database servers that power NYPD’s Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS)—designed and installed by Capgemini under a $25.5 million contract between 2009 and 2012—were to fail, all data on stored evidence would simply cease to exist.

    • Ex-workers: Supervisors at Tesla factory routinely called us the n-word

      In a new lawsuit, three former Tesla workers claim that they were routinely harassed and subjected to racial epithets during their time at the Fremont, California, factory.

      The men, who are all African-American, allege that shortly after they began work in 2015, their co-workers and superiors began taunting them and called them “n****r” on a regular basis.

    • The Muslim Ban Loses in Court Again

      Another day, another pair of court losses for President Trump’s outrageous and illegal Muslim Ban.

      Yesterday, federal courts in Maryland and Hawaii rejected the latest iteration of the ban the president promised as a candidate and has been trying to put in place ever since. Just like its predecessors, Muslim Ban 3.0 violates the Constitution, federal statutes, and our bedrock values of religious neutrality and tolerance.

    • Home Office issues visa to stranded Royal Navy pilot’s wife

      The Home Office has issued a visa and apologised to the wife of a Royal Navy pilot left stranded in the US while her husband serves in the UK.

      Marianne Rawlins, 34, has been granted a UK visa to join her husband, Lt Simon Rawlins, after the UK Visa and Immigration department initially ruled her application was not straightforward and required extra information.

      The American said she had been sleeping on friends’ couches and spent thousands of dollars on rental accommodation and business costs in the US after she packed up her life and belongings in the expectation of joining him.

      The Home Office announced on Thursday evening that it had approved her visa application and apologised for the disruption. Mrs Rawlins said: “I am pleased that our ordeal has come to an end and am hopeful this process will help other families in the future.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Big ISPs Lobby To Kill Attempts At More Accurate Broadband Mapping

      For years, the FCC’s “Form 477″ data collection program has required that ISPs provide data on where they provide broadband service. Said data then helps determine the pace of broadband deployment and level of competition in key markets, informing FCC policy and broadband subsidy application. Unfortunately, this data collection process relies heavily on census block data, which doesn’t always clarify which specific addresses in these large segments can actually get service. This has proven handy for ISPs looking to obfuscate their refusal to upgrade broadband networks in many areas.

    • FCC delays Sinclair-Tribune review to allow for more public input

      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is allowing more time for the public to weigh in on the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed takeover of Tribune Media.

    • The Cable Industry’s Ingenious ‘Solution’ To TV Cord Cutting? Raise Broadband Rates

      In a healthy, competitive market, cable providers would respond to the growing threat of streaming video competition by lowering prices, improving their historically awful customer service, and giving consumers more flexible cable bundles.

      But because these same cable operators enjoy a growing monopoly over the uncompetitive broadband market — they don’t have to do that. Instead, they’ve found that the easiest response to added competition on the TV front is to impose a relentless array of rate hikes on captive broadband customers. There’s a myriad of ways they accomplish this, ranging from misleading hidden fees that jack up the advertised price (something they’re being sued for), to usage caps and overage fees (which let them not only charge more money for the same service, but hamstring streaming competitors via tricks like zero rating).

    • Charter accuses its employees of cutting cables 125 times during strike

      Charter Communications last week sued a workers’ union, alleging that its members have repeatedly sabotaged Charter’s network in New York City during a strike that began in March.

      “On over 125 occasions, Charter cables, including both coaxial and fiber optic cables in both secured and unsecured locations at sites throughout New York City, have been deliberately cut or damaged, thereby denying thousands of subscribers access to cable, Internet, and voice service and interfering with their ability to contact emergency services, and forcing Charter to devote hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours to investigating and repairing its property,” Charter alleged in its complaint filed in the New York State Supreme Court.

  • DRM
    • Denuvo’s DRM now being cracked within hours of release

      When we last checked in on the state of Denuvo copy protection in PC games, the latest version of the best-in-class DRM provider had provided about a month’s worth of usable piracy prevention for survival-horror title 2Dark. Fast forward to the current holiday season, and major Denuvo releases are being publicly cracked within a day of their launch. We’re certainly a long way away from the days when major cracking groups were publicly musing that Denuvo-style DRM might soon become unbeatable.

      This week’s release of South Park: The Fractured but Whole is the latest to see its protections broken less than 24 hours after its release, but it’s not alone. Middle Earth: Shadow of War was broken within a day last week, and last month saw cracks for Total War: Warhammer 2 and FIFA 18 the very same day as their public release. Then there’s The Evil Within 2, which reportedly used Denuvo in prerelease review copies but then launched without that protection last week, effectively ceding the game to immediate potential piracy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Adidas Opposes Turner Broadcasting’s ELEAGUE Logo Trademark Because Of Lines

        eSports, the once fledgling video game competition industry, has undergone several milestones in rapid succession as it grows into a true entertainment player. Once relegated to online streaming broadcasts, mostly run out of a few Asian and Pacific Island countries, eSports is now regularly broadcast on American television, including by ESPN. From there, it was a fairly natural progression for universities to take notice and begin organizing school eSports teams, as well as offering scholarships for eAthletes.

    • Copyrights
      • New Copyright Trolling Operation Lowers The Settlement Demands And Calls Them Fines To Improve Conversion Rate

        As much more attention has been brought to copyright trolls and the unethical manner in which they operate, it was inevitable that the tactics of the trolls would begin to shift. For some of us, it was immediately obvious what a PR problem these trolling operations faced. It all comes down to the “settlements” offered in a copyright troll’s letters. The amounts, while designed to look small compared with the threat of a lawsuit, still tend to be quite high. Certainly the amounts make no sense when compared with the costs of simply viewing a movie or television show, which is the natural standard that lay person is likely to set. For that reason, some trolls, such as RightsCorp, have already started down the path of lowering settlement offers to levels that are more likely to cause the accused to simply pay up. Also, the fact that these letters, with all of their threatening language, even refer to the offers as “settlements” rings much closer to extra-judicial extortion than anything resembling justice.

        Well, it seems that one copyright troll is attempting to correct against both of these concerns. Rights Enforcement, contracted by the studio behind the movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard, is sending out letters to those it claims pirated the film with a much-reduced amount of money requested. And these requests are being called “fines” as opposed to “settlements.”

      • THE JUDGE’S CODE

        On May 18th, 2012, attorneys for Oracle and Google were battling over nine lines of code in a hearing before Judge William H. Alsup of the northern district of California. The first jury trial in Oracle v. Google, the fight over whether Google had hijacked code from Oracle for its Android system, was wrapping up.

      • Recommendation on measures to safeguard fundamental rights and the open internet in the framework of the EU copyright reform

        Together with a group of scholars active in copyright issues, Professor Martin Senftleben (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) has published a Recommendation on measures to safeguard fundamental rights and the open internet in the framework of the EU copyright reform.

      • Google Asked to Remove 3 Billion “Pirate” Search Results

        Copyright holders have now asked Google to remove more than 3,000,000,000 allegedly infringing links from its search engine results since it began publishing records. A new milestone for sure, but not one celebrated anywhere. While Google sees it as confirmation that the DMCA process is working, copyright holders still have plenty of work to do.

      • Movie industry orders Google to ‘delist’ piracy websites in France

        Google has been ordered to delist all of them them, while four ISPs have been told to block user access, like ISPs do in this country. Those ISPs are Free, Numericable, Bouygues Telecom, and Orange. While the Google name is thrown around casually, also-rans like Bing don’t get a look in.

      • Google Asked to Delist Pirate Movie Sites, ISPs Asked to Block Them

        Google and several French ISPs are being asked by the movie industry to take action against four ‘pirate’ sites. Among them is a massively successful clone of Zone-Telechargement, France’s largest pirate site before it was shut down in 2016. While the ISPs are being asked to block access to the platforms, Google is required to delist them from search results.

Some of the USPTO’s Most Ridiculous Patents Are Scrutinised by “Above the Law” While Dennis Crouch Attempts to Tarnish Alice

Thursday 19th of October 2017 11:20:04 PM

Whereas Charles Duan (below) compares patents to monopolies

Summary: Controversies over patent scope and level of novelty required for a patent; as usual, public interest groups try to restrict patent scope, whereas those who make money out of abundance of patents attempt to remove every barrier

THE declining quality of European Patents (EPs) is a real issue at the EPO. But that pales in comparison to some of the patents granted by the US patent office. USPTO patents include a method of swinging a swing, for example. Sideways. Yes, it’s a patent!

“Ever tried swinging from side to side on a swing instead of back & forth? Turns out, that method is patented,” United for Patent Reform wrote, linking to this article from earlier this month. It’s a pretty infamous patent which we mentioned here before.

“There’s also a patent for the “comb-over”,” one person reminded me today. This too we mentioned here a very long time ago.

From the article at “Above the Law”:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted some pretty ridiculous patents over the years. It makes me wonder about the quality of patents they’re not granting. If you’re interested in patent policy, you should really read the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) “Stupid Patent of the Month” column (EFF actually has the Mark Cuban Endowed Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents), which is exactly what it describes itself to be: an incredible collection of outrageous, low-quality, obvious claims that USPTO somehow deemed worthy of monopoly protection. While some of these have since been revoked or overturned, just remember that they were once granted. Note that the Supreme Court in recent years has—often unanimously—overturned several patents, clarifying patentability criteria, which should impact the number of stupid patents being granted. And, I note that the collection of ridiculous patents below does not include items that actually meet patentability thresholds, but are just crazy ideas; instead, they cover things that probably should never have been granted a patent to begin with.

How about the other picks from the EFF?

“Unfortunately, the negligent USPTO will issue patents to people like this. Here’s one on a mundane training regime,” the EFF’s Daniel Nazer wrote about this patent and there’s more in Twitter (in this thread, for context).

Why did the examiners at the USPTO accept these applications and how did that slip through the system without adequate safeguards? This is why things like PTAB (to be covered separately) are required.

Earlier today we also stumbled upon this truly ridiculous article from the National Law Review. It wants us to think of methods as objects and the headline is a loaded question: “Why Can’t A Method Be Sold, Just Like Any Other Invention?”

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office guidelines do not currently allow patentees to directly claim software inventions, thereby encouraging use of other claim types such as method claims. As a result, the patent office has issued many patents with method claims directed to software inventions. But patentees who rely on method claims to protect their software inventions — and indeed all patentees with method claims — face a significant obstacle that has been imposed by the Federal Circuit.

Specifically, the Federal Circuit has held for purposes of infringement that method inventions are not considered made or sold even if they are necessarily used by or embodied in products that are made or sold. This has the effective result of helping infringers to exploit patented method inventions by selling products that make use of the invention — even in ordinary and expected usage of the product — while evading legitimate attempts by the patentee to remedy the infringement. Below, we suggest that the Federal Circuit’s position is incorrect and unnecessarily hampers protection and enforcement of method inventions, disproportionately affecting software. The Federal Circuit should change course and clarify that methods can be sold just like any other invention in certain circumstances.

The first paragraph says “software inventions” three times. It’s obvious that people who never developed software can’t quite grasp that programming isn’t “invention”.

We assume that many law professors still deliberately misunderstand software development and incidentally, there’s this new article today about Judge William H. Alsup of the northern district of California learning how to code in order to better understand the Oracle v Google case (copyrights and patents).

Earlier today Dennis Crouch wrote about the Federal Circuit, claiming that on Alice the “Turnstile Keeps Spinning” even though nowadays (this year) the court almost always invalidates software patents. It’s becoming more consistent over time, but to lobbyists like Crouch (promoting patent maximalists’ and trolls’ agenda) it’s a “Turnstile”, apparently. To quote:

In a split opinion, the Federal Circuit has affirmed the district court’s judgment on the pleadings – R. 12(c) – that the asserted claims of SSI’s four patents are invalid under Section 101 for claiming an abstract idea. U.S. Patent Nos. 7,566,003, 7,568,617, 8,505,816, and 8,662,390. (Claim 14 of the ‘003 patent – covering a method for validating entry to a city bus or train – is reproduced below).

[...]

As the Supreme Court has done in its 101 analysis, Judge Linn linked his work back to cases such as Le Roy, Mackay, and Funk Bros. The language of those cases focus on “fundamental truths” and “hitherto unknown phenomenon of nature.” In Benson and Alice, the court also explained “Phenomena of nature, though just discovered, mental processes, and abstract intellectual concepts are not patentable, as they are the basic tools of scientific and technological work.”

For Judge Linn, a method of charging a bank-card at a bus-turnstile does not fit into those expansive definitions.

Judge Linn’s opinion recognizes that his concern directly stems from the Supreme Court’s approach in Alice and Mayo. He writes: “The problem with this test, however, is that it is indeterminate and often leads to arbitrary results.” His solution is that the two part test should not be “applied in a legal vacuum divorced from its genesis” and the three exceptions should be treated consistently. Patents should not be struck down simply because they “seemingly fail the Supreme Court’s test.” Rather, the focus should be on whether the patents “attempt to appropriate a basic building block of scientific or technological work.”

The solution for Judge Linn: Focus on the language of the claims and each limitation when determining whether a claim is directed to an abstract idea – “a basic building block of scientific or technological activity” or instead to a “tangible application” that serves a “new and useful end.”

Crouch is hoping to scandalise Alice like he does PTAB. Earlier this year it became ever more evident that Crouch is more like an activist (for trolls) than a scholar. He’s no longer good at concealing it. Earlier today he published a guest post by Charles Duan of Public Knowledge. This, for a change, gave an illusion of balance, comparing patents to monopolies:

Are Patents Monopolies? It Depends on the Relevant Century

The question of whether patents are monopolies is one of ongoing debate. But an important aspect of that debate is the correct meaning of the word “monopoly.” A change in the word’s meaning over the last few centuries can explain at least some of the differing opinions on the question.

Today, the word “monopoly” refers to a concentration of economic market power in a single firm or entity. But up through the early 19th century, that was not the accepted definition. In that time period, a monopoly was a government grant of an exclusive right, more akin to a franchise or government contract.

As we showed earlier this year, Crouch keeps misleading the readers about what patents are. He uses the language of patent maximalists.

Microsoft’s Software Patents Aggression in Court (Corel Again)

Thursday 19th of October 2017 10:38:17 PM

Summary: Microsoft’s tendency to not only abuse the competition but also to destroy it with patent lawsuits as seen in Corel’s case

THE Corel section of our site has not been updated for a very long time. The wiki page was last updated 8 years ago.

If the company is still around, then it’s certainly not doing much, but its legal case apparently persists and it’s not just about antitrust. Remember Microsoft’s abuses against Corel back in the 1990s and how Microsoft derailed Corel’s GNU/Linux business?

The patent case, as it turns out, is still going on. As usual, the lawyers get paid for this and it devours the company’s budget. Bonnie Eslinger has just published “Corel Says Microsoft Expert Overestimated Patent Damages” at Law360 (mostly behind paywall). To quote:

Corel Corp. asked a California federal judge Wednesday to nix some damages estimates proposed by Microsoft Corp. in its suit over infringement of nine software patents, saying one estimate overstates how much it would have cost Corel to design its home office software in a noninfringing way.

Wednesday’s decision comes as the tech rivals head toward a February trial date over damages related to infringement of Microsoft’s patents, which Corel admitted to in an amended answer to Microsoft’s complaint.

Remember that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer threatened Sun over OpenOffice, demanding payment per download (for patents). Microsoft has always been aggressive with patents, even well before the Novell deal. Do not think for a moment that Microsoft has profoundly changed.

The Spanish Supreme Court Rejects the EPO’s “Problem and Solution Approach” While Quality of European Patents Nosedives

Thursday 19th of October 2017 05:15:46 PM


Reference: Loose Patent Scope Becoming a Publicity Nightmare for the EPO and Battistelli Does a China Outreach (Worst/Most Notorious on Patent Quality)

Summary: European Patents (EPs) aren’t what they used to be and their credibility is being further eroded and even detected as such

EARLIER this year an EPO stakeholder said that s/he had received better service from the Spanish patent office than from the EPO. That comment became widely cited in the sense that several other people referred to it later. Spain is not exactly renowned for high patent quality or even an abundance of patents.

“SIPO is an atrocious patent office which unfortunately reaffirms the view/perception that China makes low-quality things.”In our view and our long-term assessment, the world’s worst patents are being issued in China (SIPO), where even software patents are explicitly and unequivocally allowed (unlike the USPTO where such patents were born).

SIPO is an atrocious patent office which unfortunately reaffirms the view/perception that China makes low-quality things. Earlier today the EPO said that “SIPO [had] changed how often and when it publishes its patents. Read here more about the change…”

“Battistelli aspires for what we called “SIPO Europe” just under a year ago.”As EPO workers ought to know, Battistelli is close to SIPO — to the point of inviting Chinese officials to his home town in France (for professional work). Battistelli aspires for what we called “SIPO Europe” just under a year ago.

According to this blog post from three days ago, the “Spanish Supreme Court clarifies that “problem & solution approach” is not legal doctrine” (which is a big deal).

To quote:

For many years, Spanish Courts have considered the “problem & solution approach” developed by the European Patent Office (“EPO”) to be a very useful tool for the purpose of trying to make an objective assessment of inventive activity. Unlike in other jurisdictions such as Germany, in Spain this method has become the natural instrument used by the Courts to examine inventive activity. Its use in judicial decisions, including those emanating from the Supreme Court, is so frequent that in a recent case, one of the parties alleged that it had become legal doctrine. In particular, that party, in an appeal filed before the Supreme Court, alleged that in its judgment of 29 December 2014, the Court of Appeal of Navarre had infringed this legal doctrine because it had failed to apply the “problem & solution approach.”

[...]

All in all, the main teaching of this judgment is that although the “problem & solution approach” is a very valuable method, other methodologies may be used.

The subject was incidentally brought up again in comments on a bunch of event (echo chamber) reports from Bristows. One comment spoke of “making a scapegoat out of the EPO’s “Problem and Solution Approach”.”

Thanks for that Report, which I read with a sinking feeling in my stomach, that panellists are creating unnecessary difficulties and misunderstandings and (as usual) making a scapegoat out of the EPO’s “Problem and Solution Approach”. Why is this ever the case, I wonder.

My point is that what disclosure you need to include in the original patent filing for Europe is not what the Panel Chair said it was.

The reaction from the USA, that such drafting imperatives (stating “the problem”) are incompatible with drafting for the USA, might be right. But, gentle readers, what if “stating the problem” is not actually required?

The way I see it, the EPO explores obviousness by toggling between the technical features recited in the claim and the technical effects they deliver. In his definitive book on drafting in Europe and the USA, Professor Paul Cole equates patentability with “A difference, that makes a difference”. If I may state it in other words “A new combination of technical features that delivers a technical effect”. What one needs in the original application, therefore, is not only a disclosure of the features but also of the effects delivered by that specific combination of technical features. No more than that.

Do the courts of the USA punish drafters and patent owners for saying in the application as filed what effects one gets with the claimed feature combination? I suspect not. But if they do, it is not helping to achieve the aims of the patents clause of the Constitution of the USA, to “promote the progress” of Useful Arts ie technology.

Amirite? Or do you disagree with me? Will other readers comment, please.

Watch the response:

Agreed re the “no more than that”. Also I thought a technical effect canhelp in the US too (Enfish) or did I misunderstand?

A US view of Paul Cole’s Fundamentals of Patent Drafting (I haven’t seen one?) and whether US practice has since moved on/changed would be helpful. I believe a copy of the book is still given by CIPA to students joining the patents profession in the UK.

CIPA is now instrumental in running IP Kat (which is why, we often assume, IP Kat no longer covers EPO scandals).

And again from the original commenter:

It occurs to me that some readers might retort, in reply to my posting above, that EPC Rule 42 “Content of the Description” makes it mandatory to recite “the problem” in the application as filed. I have two thoughts on that.

First, when was a patent application ever refused by the EPO, or an issued patent ever revoked, for the reason that the application as filed failed to disclose “the problem”?

Second, if you read the text of Rule 42, after reading my posting above, and with knowledge of the EPO’s Problem and Solution Approach to the analysis of obviousness, you can discern the beautiful clarity and simplicity of the EPC’s substantive law of patentability, how it optimises, in a First to File context, the promotion by the patent system of progress in the useful arts.

Sadly, the EPC is history. We have lost count of how many times Battistelli blatantly violated the EPC. It’s not even funny. It’s a very serious matter. Don’t expect Campinos to be much different or hold Battistelli accountable for it. He is, after all, not an Italian ICC judge.

Europe is Being Robbed by Team Battistelli and the UPC/PPH Would Make Things Worse

Thursday 19th of October 2017 04:49:19 PM


Battistelli and his French successor

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) has put litigation at the forefront, having implicitly decided to no longer bother with proper patent examination and instead issue lots of patents for judges and lawyers to argue about (at great expense to the public)

THE EPO has become a pariah organisation. All it cares about is money and patents’ legitimacy does not matter at all. As everyone from the inside (e.g. examiners) ought to know, patents don’t magically help money (or wealth) grow on trees. There are economic aspects to it and the general equation does not say that the greater the number of granted patents, the better off society will be. That’s just a dangerous mythology, typically perpetuated by the patent ‘industry’ (e.g. litigators, patent trolls, Team UPC).

“If trolls are described as “SMEs”, then sure… the EPO is their dream come true. They can run amok blackmailing real SMEs for ‘protection’ money, knowing these real SMEs cannot afford or justify a legal battle over crappy patents (invalidated only at enormous cost to the defendant).”Nowadays the EPO has a true fetish. It’s called “SMEs”. Those are probably the EPO’s biggest victims — biggest in terms of their suffering. If trolls are described as “SMEs”, then sure… the EPO is their dream come true. They can run amok blackmailing real SMEs for ‘protection’ money, knowing these real SMEs cannot afford or justify a legal battle over crappy patents (invalidated only at enormous cost to the defendant).

The EPO posted three tweets about these old lies regarding SMEs on Thursday morning and the night before (from another account). These three [1, 2, 3] have all appeared before midday today (we have not checked since). If one searches the Web for “EPO” and “SME” (we’ve tried this), the search results page will be dominated by EPO propaganda rather than leaks about how the EPO actively discriminates against (and directly harms) SMEs. That’s called “googlebombing”. They identify some kind of negative publicity and then do whatever they can to drown it out.

We generally assume that EPO insiders know all this. It seems to be common knowledge among examiners.

“The EPO has become just a cash cow for French men in suits and they externalise all the costs to the public (those who get sued using dubious EPs).”Earlier today the EPO also wrote that “Latin American PPH agreement enters into force.”

Without getting down/delving into all the technicalities, what it generally means is even more hastened patent examination. The EPO cares not about quality but about “prosecution” (the P in PPH).

The EPO has become just a cash cow for French men in suits and they externalise all the costs to the public (those who get sued using dubious EPs). There is already a lot of suffering inside the EPO; I occasionally hear from those who suffer outside the EPO due to patent trolls taunting them.

Does the EPO care? Does Team Battistelli care? Naaaa. It doesn’t even know what the word “care” means, judging by the way ordinary EPO staff gets treated by them (sometimes driven to suicide).

To ensure that patent quality remains low at the EPO (not detecting errors), Battistelli has already sent BoA (the appeal boards) to exile and watch what the EPO wrote a few hours ago: “The Boards of Appeal commenced operations at the new location. If you don’t know the details yet, have a look here…”

Don’t expect Ernst or Campinos to reverse this travesty. These boards are still grossly understaffed and skyrocketing costs have made appeals unaffordable to most (especially SMEs). They are being driven to extinction by inducing lower demand.

“As we argued at the start, the EPO has become a pariah organisation. Those who refuse to see it are either preoccupied with something else or are paid (possibly by the EPO) to turn a blind eye.”It sometimes looks like the EPO is now broken beyond repair. It has become a liability rather than an asset to Europe. Even the USPTO, according to some law firms, is more strict than the EPO these days (and that says a lot). As this one comment put things this morning: “The situation outline by “Still Examiner” is one which has been de facto situation in the USPTO. The difference is that in the US, the request for continued examination is available allowing applicant to continue the prosecution. It seems to me that the EPO MUST introduce such a procedure to compensate for the push for a streamlined examination.”

The more interesting comment comes after it and asks: “Firstly, where is all of the additional income going, especially within the EPO?”

Well, ask Battistelli. He’s wasting millions of “dark money” building himself a secret ‘bar’ at the top floor and he’s gifting Team Battistelli with all sorts of massive bonuses.

What else is happening to the money? Well, maybe ‘gifts’ (bribes) to buy delegates’ support and control the media, organise lobbying events and pay lawyers to intimidate bloggers like yours truly. That too is where some of the money goes. Maybe they also buy fake Twitter "followers"; we already know that they pay for journalists’ flight tickets (they told us), in order to cover EPO lobbying events that cost several millions of euros (for just one afternoon!). The ‘king’ likes a good show. He is always, by definition, the star of the show. He thinks he’s Alfred Nobel.

Anyway, here is the comment in full:

In the light of the comments on this thread (and on other blogs / sites that more directly address the issue of quality at the EPO), I find it interesting to mull over the following points.

EPO fees have certainly not been reduced in recent years (in fact, they have gone in the opposite direction). However, the level of service provided by the EPO in return for fees paid by applicants has, despite the valiant efforts of many examiners, pretty much fallen off a cliff.

With grants and “efficiency” (ie cases “disposed of” per year) driven up under the current EPO management, it is clear that the net income from fees (ie gross income minus the costs of conducting the tasks for which those fees were paid) will be significantly increased for both the EPO and the EPC Member States.

This raises a number of questions.

Firstly, where is all of the additional income going, especially within the EPO?

Secondly, for how long will applicants continue to accept having to pay premium level fees for bargain basement level service?

Thirdly, where is the voice of the professional associations in all of this? I would have thought that at least the epi ought to be complaining long and hard (and publicly!) about the all too obvious drop in quality. And if they are not doing this, then why not?

At the end of the day, it is clear that a majority of EPC Member States are addicted to the fee income, and so care more about maintaining that income than they do about maintaining standards at the EPO (whether standards on quality or on fundamental issues of human rights). There is nothing to suggest that the Member States will change this of their own free will. Not even being dragged before the European Court of Human Rights has shamed them into taking action. But they will listen to those that pay the fees upon which they rely.

As we argued at the start, the EPO has become a pariah organisation. Those who refuse to see it are either preoccupied with something else or are paid (possibly by the EPO) to turn a blind eye.

Team UPC Continues to Promote Illusion of UPC Progress Where There’s None

Thursday 19th of October 2017 04:00:06 PM

Related: Bristows LLP is Still Trying to Attach Wings to the UPC and Distract From Serious (Likely Fatal) Barriers to It

Summary: The core members of Team UPC in the UK spread obvious falsehoods in the media, probably in an effort to attract ‘business’ (consultation regarding something that does not exist)

WE HAVE not forgotten about UPC; it’s just that there’s nothing to say about it as nothing is happening. Even the EPO barely mentions it any longer. Marks & Clerk has long been absent and Bristows had not said anything in weeks! Until yesterday. If this is all they have to show, then they’re running out of material. It’s worth seeing the comments in the tweet about it. The UPC is dead.

“The Unitary Patent is a pipe dream. It probably won’t happen.”“Draft UPC legislation reaches final stage in Scottish parliamentary process,” Bristows wrote, which almost makes it sound (or feel) like there’s finalisation of some kind. The usual deception from Bristowsfor the purpose of money.

But towards the end Gemma Barrett from Bristows confesses that “[t]he Parliament is now in recess (from 7 October to 22 October inclusive),” reminding us that the latest push is just this illusion of UPC progress. Nothing is happening in England and Ireland has virtually given up even on a referendum on the subject.

The Unitary Patent is a pipe dream. It probably won’t happen. More complaints are being submitted this month in Germany and judging by this report from yesterday, the EU is no longer a friend of “Big Pharma” (which wanted the UPC in order to impose broad injuctions). To quote:

EU To Get Rid Of Big Pharma-Friendly SPCs

Extended monopoly protection by the Regulation EC 469/2009 concerning the supplementary protection certificate (SPC) mechanism for medicinal products has led to spiralling prices in Europe for lifesaving medicines, while exhausting the national budgets and depriving patients of fair access to treatments. The EU Commission should repeal the SPCs and put in practice the recommendations signed on 8 September 2017 by thirty-three civil society organisations, in alignment with the final report of the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines.

Having watched the UPC (and similar things which predate it) pretty closely for about a decade, we can honestly say that we’ve never really seen this much of a lull. Even recent events regarding patents say nothing about the UPC. The last we saw of it was in today’s marketing from Graham Burnett-Hall and Sarah Routledge (Marks & Clerk), who are spreading half-truths and lies about UPC at IAM. They have just published this FUD/advertisement in the form of an ‘article’/Q&A (scaring people to attract business).

It comes from IAM (EPO mouthpiece) and here is the part about UPC:

Q: Has your jurisdiction signed the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court? If so, when do you expect it to be ratified?

The United Kingdom has signed the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. [wrong] Ratification of the UPC Agreement and Protocol has been delayed by the 2017 General Election. [wrong] The Conservative Party, which was in government before the election, lost seats in the election, but remains the largest party in Parliament and has formed a minority government and is continuing the ratification process [wrong]. Ratification is most likely to take place in Autumn 2017 [wrong].

Q: Will your country play host to one or more divisions of the Unified Patent Court?

The United Kingdom will host both a local division of the UPC [wrong] and a branch of the central division [wrong], both of which will be located in London [wrong].

The London seat of the central division will [wrong], in particular, hear cases relating to pharmaceuticals, life sciences, chemicals, medical devices and agriculture/food.

For further information on the role and scope of the UPC, please click here [SPAM].

[...]

This article first appeared in Intellectual Asset Management Magazine. [Battistelli’s mouthpiece]

The number of false statements above (marked by us in bold) is truly extraordinary. It’s like they live in an alternate universe and look for readers gullible enough to call them (for business) to seek advice regarding a non-existent system. It disgraces the legal profession.

António Campinos: A True EPO Reformer or More of the Same?

Thursday 19th of October 2017 03:14:37 PM

…Will fit right in at Battistelli’s 'pub' at the top floor

Summary: More unfortunate reminders that Campinos and Battistelli don’t quite diverge on the big issues, they’re just more than two decades apart in age (but the same nationality)

THE stakeholders of the EPO would like to think that things will improve when António Campinos settles in next summer. But that’s too optimistic in our assessment.

Earlier today we shared this ritualistic old photo op of Campinos and Battistelli. “Another Campinos photo-op from the archives,” a reader told us, comes “[f]rom Croatia – check out the photo.”

“What kind of “social dialogue” can they hope for with the likes of Željko Topić in the mix?”We have shared this photo in this site before, but here is the page which says: “On the occasion of attending The Forty-Ninth Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of the World International Property Organization (WIPO) held in Geneva, the MoU concerning bilateral cooperation between the two Offices was signed on 27 September 2011, on behalf of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) by President Antonio Campinos and on behalf of the State Intellectual Property Office by Mr. Željko Topić, Director General of SIPO Croatia.”

SUEPO’s message to staff is rather different from the message to the media because it considers reservations to be rather “dangerous” for diplomatic purposes.

Earlier today SUEPO linked to this new article titled “SUEPO confirms position on Campinos election” and it says:

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) has confirmed that it’s “ready to embark on a road to fruitful cooperation” with new president of the European Patent Office (EPO) António Campinos.
Last week, a source close to SUEPO said that the staff union was willing to work with Campinos, provided there was a “respect by top management for the rule of law”.

In a letter from SUEPO, it states that the vacancy for the position listed “unprecedented requirements: to lead the EPO with modern management techniques and an outstanding ability to engage in social dialogue”.

“We believe this indicated the [Administrative Council’s] desire to re-establish harmonious working conditions and to dissipate the atmosphere generated over the past year.”

What kind of “social dialogue” can they hope for with the likes of Željko Topić in the mix? Years ago he said “SUEPO has no standing in this Office. SUEPO has no role to play in this Office.”

Juve Has Confirmed That António Campinos is French

Thursday 19th of October 2017 12:31:16 PM

And Kluwer Patent Blog found this photo from six years ago


Photo ops like these aren’t going to help either of them

Summary: The relationship between Campinos and Battistelli has a nationality aspect to it, not even taking into account the interpersonal connection which goes a long way back

THE EPO‘s focus right now is on the new Chairman and the upcoming (next) President. The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO – Part III will be published some time soon, maybe tomorrow or in the weekend. We’ll cover the INPI connection.

In the meantime, someone has just told us about this new article. Here are some key bits from it:

Heavy task lies ahead of Antonio Campinos as future EPO president

[...]

Apparently, EPO member states think the Portuguese Campinos is the right man to tackle the problems. A diplomatic source told Kluwer IP Law he is seen as a person ‘who will be able to improve social relations and enter into dialogue with workers and unions, after a period of very effective reforms by Benoit Battistelli, which have led to increased productivity.’ The German legal website JUVE quotes a Spanish trademark expert as saying Campinos (who was born in France and, according to JUVE, has the French as well as the Portuguese nationality) is ‘an experienced IP lawyer and a pleasant and passionate director, who is committed to the EUIPO staff.’

[...]

The Techrights blog, which has been reporting for years on the problems at the EPO, is not convinced at all that Antonio Campinos will be an improvement and has pointed at the close ties between the current and the new EPO president, who have known each other for a long time.

We did not notice (at the time) Juve reporting this. So what we did not have a “100%” confirmation for can now be ascertained. Campinos is French. Thus, out of 4 EPO Presidents (in a row) 3 are French. Quite a diversity, no? Might as well call the next President “Antoine”.

The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO – Part II: António Campinos at Banco Caixa Geral de Depósitos

Thursday 19th of October 2017 11:07:38 AM

Summary: A look at the largely-hidden banking career of the next President of the EPO and the career of the person who competed with him for this position

THE EPO will have a new President in just over 8 months from now. The 'Club Med' series was intended to help readers familiarise themselves with this man and today we continue the latest series, which is to some degree based on the official Campinos CV in Spanish. [PDF]

“First Angola, now Brazil. Any other former Portuguese colonies left in the pipeline?”In part 1 (published last night) we presented a very short introduction. Last night we also saw this new article about further rushed examination, as explained André Venturini from DANIEL Legal & IP Strategy, for a former Portuguese colony, this time Brazil. To quote: “A Rule setting forth the acceptability requirements of this PPH program is yet to be published, but the BRPTO has already anticipated that this will be a pilot program with a limit of 300 applications per year. Moreover, only those patent applications related to medical devices and general chemistry would be allowed to participate.”

First Angola, now Brazil. Any other former Portuguese colonies left in the pipeline? Either way, let’s proceed with part 2.

The Banco Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD), which was established in Lisbon in 1876, is a Portuguese state-owned banking corporation, and the second largest bank in Portugal.

CGD is Portugal’s largest public sector banking corporation and the largest Portuguese financial group with presence in 23 countries spanning four continents through branches, representative offices or direct equity interests in local financial institutions. As might be expected it is heavily involved in former Portuguese colonies.

“For some reason, Mr. Campinos does not appear to be particularly keen to advertise his previous career in banking.”During the time of the Angola civil war it appears to have been heavily involved in the financing of arms sales from Russia to Angola.

The “Angolagate” Trial by Paula Roque, an article from November 10th 2008, says: “The investigation revealed, amongst other things, how more than $21 million worth of illicit arms sales from Russia to Angola were transferred through Portuguese banks, in particular the state-run Caixa Geral de Depositos, and Banco Comercial Portugues.”

In more recent years CGD has been named in connection with financial shenanigans in Angola and Portugal involving the Dos Santos clan. See Investigation into Isabel dos Santos’ Portuguese investments (16th of October, 2015) and President Dos Santos Illegally Inflates Daughter’s Fortune (7th of December, 2015).

For some reason, Mr. Campinos does not appear to be particularly keen to advertise his previous career in banking. His carefully preened public image these days is that of an expert in IP matters, but his curriculum vitae indicates that his expertise in these matters is limited to the area of trademarks. He does not appear to have any particular experience in the area of patents.

Of course none of this disqualifies him as a potential President of the EPO, but it is interesting to note that the choir of cheerleaders supporting him were keen to stress his IP expertise and his experience of running an international organisation supposedly in contrast to his only competitor, the ICC judge Mr. Tarfusser.

“Maybe Tarfusser’s impressive professional record and his experience as a public prosecutor made some members of the EPO’s Administrative Council nervous that he might take his new job at the EPO too seriously and start asking awkward questions or poking his nose into things that are supposed to remain closed secrets.”This seems rather one-sided and unfair to Tarfusser who served at a senior level in the ICC which is an international organisation with 124 member states compared to the 38 member states of the EPO.

It is also known that during his time as Chief State Attorney in Bozen/Bolzano the working practices of the Office of the State Attorney in South Tyrol were radically restructured. In fact the organisational model developed under his guidance is now considered as the standard for the entire justice administration system throughout Italy. So Tarfusser was not just a “courtroom judge” lacking experience in managerial and administrative matters.

Throughout his career he appears to have been heavily involved in the managerial aspects of administrative and judicial bodies.

Tarfusser’s work as Public Prosecutor included a number of investigations and trials encompassing crimes against individuals; crimes against the state, including terrorism; crimes against public administration such as extortion and corruption; trafficking; smuggling and European Union fraud; and organised crime such as money laundering.

During his career he has lectured at a number of law faculties within Italy and has been appointed to a number of rogatory commissions in Europe, Belarus and the Dominican Republic.

In 2016 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Edge Hill University’s Department of Law and can be seen speaking on video here.

“Campinos seems to have been hand-picked by the Administrative Council as a “safe pair of hands” and as part of a carefully crafted plan to ensure that as much dirt as possible from the Battistelli era at the EPO is safely swept under the carpet and kept away from the prying eyes of public scrutiny.”Maybe Tarfusser’s impressive professional record and his experience as a public prosecutor made some members of the EPO’s Administrative Council nervous that he might take his new job at the EPO too seriously and start asking awkward questions or poking his nose into things that are supposed to remain closed secrets.

Campinos on the other hand is a long-standing member of the same “golden circle” as Battistelli composed of the directors of national IP Offices who see the EPO purely in terms of a money-making machine like the “gold-ass” from the tale of the Brothers Grimm and who do not seem to be particularly concerned with the wider societal aspects of patents.

Although he must ultimately be judged by his actions when he takes up the job as EPO President next year, Campinos gives the impression of being a typical EU Technocrat from much the same mould as Battistelli. Campinos seems to have been hand-picked by the Administrative Council as a “safe pair of hands” and as part of a carefully crafted plan to ensure that as much dirt as possible from the Battistelli era at the EPO is safely swept under the carpet and kept away from the prying eyes of public scrutiny.

SUEPO to the Media, Regarding Campinos: “No Comment, It’s Too Dangerous”

Thursday 19th of October 2017 10:07:33 AM

Summary: António Campinos (right), who is Benoît Battistelli’s (left) chosen successor at the EPO, as covered by German media earlier this month

LAST night we published SUEPO's internal message to staff regarding Campinos. It was fairly diplomatic and not too blunt.

Considering the many EPO scandals (we wrote nearly 2,000 articles about these), it’s hard to believe that Campinos can turn things around. Even if he ever “drained the swamp” so to speak (removing Battistelli’s cronies at top-level management), that would still leave largely complicit delegates in place. Battistelli basically destroyed the integrity of the entire system and even the media, which he threatened or passed bribes to. Battistelli is, in our view, one of the most dangerous people in Europe (but the media does not recognise this). His destruction will be mostly left in tact when he leaves. Businesses will be crushed (especially SMEs).

The other day the German media published this article from Thomas Magenheim-Hörmann, who had been covering EPO issues for a number of years. His article focused on Battistelli/Campinos and apparently sought comment from SUEPO (highlighted below in yellow towards the end). SUEPO has just published an English translation of this article and we’re highlighting important bits of it:

European Patent Office New Boss must be a Peacemaker

By Thomas Magenheim-Hörmann

11.10.17, 19:54

Following the controversial figure of Benoît Battistelli, the European Patent Office in Munich has elected Portuguese António Campinos as President.

Photo:

imago/argum

As of 1 July 2018, the European Patent Office in Munich is getting a new President, the Portuguese António Campinos. Nothing particularly surprising about that. The 47-year-old was already tipped as the hottest candidate. But it was unexpected that the 38 Member States of the international authority were able to agree so rapidly on a new supreme executive in the world of patent protection. Campinos was already enthroned in the first round of voting with the three-quarters majority needed, as an insider let slip. At the time when the departing President Benoît Battistelli was elected, a good 30 rounds of voting were needed. But because the 67-year old Frenchman is leaving his house in such disorder, this is not a change of office like the others. The 7,000 patent specialists who make up the staff in particular are viewing the move with hope and anxiety alike.

After all, Battistelli has been in office for seven years, and his reforms have indeed ensured that last year almost 100,000 patents were issued, around 40 percent more than even as recently as 2015. But his methods have brought large numbers of the workforce literally to the barricades. Among other things, he fired the entire executive of the in-house staff union Suepo, made strikes as good as impossible, and spied on the staff using spyware. Highly respected legal experts maintain that a lot of
what the Frenchman ordered done was incompatible with German labour law. But as an international body, the Office is not subject to German laws.

For the first time – a representative of Southern Europe at the top

To drive it home to the members of the Administrative Council just how badly the inner peace of the Office has been destroyed, on the day Campinos was elected the in-house union, driven to the edge of extinction by Battistelli, organized yet another demonstration before the glass façade of the Office. “That was a cry for help to the Administrative Council, to make sure they don’t send us someone like that again”, was how one long-serving patent examiner viewed the demo. He was not prepared to be named for fear of thrown out, which says a lot about the mood in the Office.

The Administrative Council is well aware that a peacemaker is needed to head up the Office. In the job description for the new chief executive of the Office, an explicit requirement was given as “clear ability to conduct social dialogue, negotiating skills, and a talent for communications and public relations.” “Our decision is a very important matter, and in Mr. Campinos we have found an excellent candidate”, was the diplomatically reticent comment on the election by Christoph Ernst, German head of the Administrative Council and himself only in office since the beginning of the month.

The technical expertise of the Portuguese, who as from mid-2018 will be leading the European Patent Office for at least five years, is beyond dispute. He is currently at the head of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in Alicante. Before that, as a trained jurist, he had been President of the Portuguese Patent Office, and for a number of years a member of the Administrative Council at the European patent authority in Munich. In other words, this is his business, which even Battistelli emphasises. “It is a victory for skill, competence, and impressive experience in the patent sector”, was his reaction to the election of his successor. With Campinos, for the first time a representative from Southern Europe has been made the President of the primary European patent authority.

But hopes are nevertheless fading for major change

Because for months everything has been pointing towards the 47-year old, staff representatives of the European Patent Office have already been finding out from colleagues in Alicante about the kind of person they were likely to have imposed on them. The answers raised doubts as to whether there really is going to be a new style of management forthcoming in Munich.

“He is said to be more skillful and more diplomatic than Battistelli, but otherwise he’s a chip from the same block”, is how one patent examiner summarised his research. He did not have a lot of hope, however, that things are about to change a great deal under Campinos.

Suepo representatives are not even prepared to make an anonymous comment about the election of Campinos. “No comment, it’s too dangerous”, is the response, completely repressed. At the beginning of the month the union sent a letter to the new leader of the Administrative Council Ernst, with the request that, in view of the tense situation in the Office, they might be permitted to put a few questions to the candidates for the post of the new chief executive.

The staff wanted to know, among other things, how a new Office President intended to restore social peace within the establishment. To date there has been no response. Campinos would probably be well advised to take up the offer of discussions soon, and not to set at risk the chance of making a new start.

A lot of the same management will still be in place, including Battistelli’s bulldog and further-promoted Battistelli cronies from France, so negotiations and mediation would not be vastly simpler. SUEPO’s statement to members is, in our view, understandably too optimistic. It’s all bureaucracy if not wishful thinking.

Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) Willing to Work With Campinos But Foresees Difficulties

Wednesday 18th of October 2017 11:59:47 PM

Summary: New message from SUEPO regarding Battistelli’s successor of choice (Campinos)

THE OTHER day there was a report citing someone close to SUEPO (but not SUEPO itself). It said that SUEPO was ready to work with Campinos to defuse the situation created by Battistelli. Earlier today the following message was circulated among EPO employees:

Dear Colleagues,

Mr Campinos will be our President from July 2018 onward. We congratulate him on his election.

We have noted that the vacancy notice listed unprecedented requirements: to lead the EPO with modern management techniques and an outstanding ability to engage in social dialogue. We believe this indicates the Council’s desire to re-establish harmonious working conditions and to dissipate the atmosphere generated over the past few years.

We want to express our wholehearted support for this endeavour. We are ready to embark on a road to fruitful cooperation with Mr Campinos – a road which we know to be steep and time-consuming, as a long list of tasks lies ahead of us.

Kind regards,

Your SUEPO Committee The Hague

This was accompanied by the following longer message:

18 October 2017

Mr Campinos will be the next President of the EPO

Dear SUEPO Members, dear Colleagues,

Mr Campinos will be our President from July 2018 onward. We congratulate him on his election.

While the previous election required many rounds of votes, he was promptly selected in a single vote and with a very comfortable margin. We believe this is a testament to his competence and to the trust which the Administrative Council puts in him.

We have noted that the vacancy notice listed unprecedented requirements: to lead the EPO with modern management techniques and an outstanding ability to engage in social dialogue. We believe this indicates the Council’s desire to re-establish harmonious working conditions and to dissipate the atmosphere generated over the past few years.

We want to express our wholehearted support for this endeavour. We are ready to embark on a road to fruitful cooperation with Mr Campinos – a road which we know to be steep and time-consuming, as a long list of tasks lies ahead of us.

Unfortunately, on taking up his post, the new President will inherit the following problematic legacy:

- violations of fundamental rights and an apparent systematic disregard for the rule of law;

- management by fear, isolation and punishment championed by the current higher management;

- a culture of arbitrariness and repression, targeting not only outspoken union leaders, but also the most vulnerable members of staff: the old and the sick. They are now branded by the appraisal system as “lazy” or “incompetent” and placed on a fast-track for dismissal;

- a code of silence that makes it is impossible to raise awareness of a problem (particularly if it is due to the actions of top managers) without the fear of reprisal. This same culture also emerges in the EPO’s unwillingness to investigate properly the six suicides that occurred during the current presidency. Fortunately, a potential seventh suicide was miraculously averted only two weeks ago

- a culture of repression and impunity worthy of the most autocratic of regimes and curiously reminiscent of the scandal currently afflicting WIPO.

We must re-establish a social dialogue that is shaped by trust and cooperation, and not by fear, isolation or punishment. This dialogue must be held between management, Council and staff. We assure Mr Campinos that SUEPO, as the largest staff union within the EPO, wishes to take part in this process with a constructive attitude if there is a willingness on his side to create propitious premises. We propose bringing in an external expert and moderator, who may help to leave the previous path of arbitrariness and repression.

We propose that the new President consider establishing a multilateral Working Group, charged to:

a) Engage in truth-finding with respect to the following topics and recommend concrete
- action where necessary:
- the respect of and compliance with the rule of law and fundamental rights
- the dignity of staff, protection of the vulnerable
- staff welfare
- the relationship between working conditions and psychosocial risks
- work pressure and its impact on work quality

b) Revisit Council resolution CA/26/16, including reversing the sanctions of all staff representatives and union leaders, which are widely perceived as having been politically motivated.

c) Without questioning the spirit and goals of the recent reforms, identify any legal lacunae or incompatibility, identify any problems with implementation practices, and recommend concrete remedies.

We are aware that it takes time and good will to solve the problems lying ahead. SUEPO would readily accept an invitation to participate in such a working group and would spare no effort in working towards the success of its mission.

We can offer considerable legal and technical expertise and are ready to help as needed. Mr Campinos will find that SUEPO is a very reliable and predictable social partner. We look forward to being able to work with him soon.

Your SUEPO Committee The Hague

We shall comment on it in the near future. We shall also continue our series regarding Campinos and his past.

Links 18/10/2017: GTK+ 3.92, Microsoft Bug Doors Leaked

Wednesday 18th of October 2017 11:23:11 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Blockchain and the Web Are Coming Together, Says Berners-Lee

    Sir Tim Berners-Lee is a famous computer scientist and academic who invented the World Wide Web in 1989—so when he talks about new technologies it’s worth paying attention.

    Today, one of the topics on his mind is blockchain, a revolutionary way of creating permanent, tamper-proof records across a disparate network of computers.

    Blockchain is most famously associated with the digital currency bitcoin but the technology is increasingly being used for record keeping by banks and retailers. It will also come to be used by more ordinary citizens in the near future, says Berners-Lee.

  • GMO Internet introduces open source KYC as blockchain project enters fifth phase
  • Eclipse Science Advances Open Source Technology for Scientific Research

    The Eclipse Science Working Group, a working group of the Eclipse Foundation, today announced the new releases of five open source projects used by the scientific research community to advance and simplify the software used by science projects, like genomic, astrophysics, nuclear simulations, etc. The new project releases are part of an annual release train that is managed by the Science WG.

  • Dmark East Africa to develop open source IT applications

    We have an operation around the region; in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda. And this has exposed us to different levels of talent across the region. As a result, we have come to a conclusion that Uganda has special talents in the area of information technology, specifically, product development or software engineering.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla brings Microsoft, Google, the W3C, Samsung together to create cross-browser documentation on MDN

        Community contributions are at the core of MDN’s success. Thousands of volunteers have helped build and refine MDN over the past 12 years. In this year alone, 8,021 users made 76,203 edits, greatly increasing the scope and quality of the content. Cross-browser documentation contributions include input from writers at Google and Microsoft; Microsoft writers have made more than 5,000 edits so far in 2017. This cross-browser collaboration adds valuable content on browser compatibility and new features of the web platform. Going forward, Microsoft writers will focus their Web API documentation efforts on MDN and will redirect relevant pages from Microsoft Developer Network to MDN.

      • A Week-Long Festival for Internet Health

        Says Mark Surman, Mozilla’s Executive Director: “The Internet is layered into our lives like we never could have imagined. Access is no longer a luxury — it’s a fundamental part of 21st century life. A virus is no longer a nuisance consigned to a single terminal — it’s an existential threat that can disrupt hospitals, governments and entire cities.”

        But much of the Internet’s best nature is flourishing, too. Each day, new communities form despite members being separated by whole continents. Start-ups and artists have access to a global stage. And open-source projects put innovation and inclusion ahead of profit.

  • SaaS/Back End
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0 Arrives Late January 2018, First Bug Hunting Session Starts Soon

      Now that the LibreOffice Conference 2017 event is over, it’s time for The Document Foundation to start the bug hunting sessions, and the first one was set for the end of the week, October 20, 2017, for the first Alpha release of the LibreOffice 6.0 office suite.

      Work on LibreOffice 6.0, the next big release of the popular open-source and cross-platform office suite for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows operating system, begun this week with a focus on revamping the user interface as well as various of its core components, including Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, Base, and Math.

    • Coming up on Friday: first Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 6.0 Alpha 1

      The LibreOffice community has returned from a great conference in Rome (more on that later this week), and we’re now working eagerly on LibreOffice 6.0, which is due to be released at the end of January 2018. This version will include a large number of new features – and those already implemented are summarised on the release notes page.

    • LibreOffice Is Getting New Look for KDE’s Plasma Desktop Thanks to LiMux Project

      During the LibreOffice Conference 2017 event that took place in Rome, Italy, from October 10 to October 13, there were talks about the status the Qt 5 port of LibreOffice’s VCL plugin for KDE Plasma.

      Every year, The Document Foundation plans and organizes a LibreOffice Conference event where developers, contributors, sponsors, users, and other members of the LibreOffice community can gather to talk about the future of the Open Souce office suite.

      And this year they planned the new features of the next major release of the cross-platform office suite, LibreOffice 6.0, which will arrive in late January 2018 with a new look for the KDE Plasma desktop environment, work that will be sponsored by the LiMux project.

  • CMS
  • Healthcare
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Eclipse Public License version 2.0 added to license list

      We recently updated our list of various licenses and comments about them to include the Eclipse Public License version 2.0 (EPL).

      In terms of GPL compatibility, the Eclipse Public License version 2.0 is essentially equivalent to version 1.0. The only change is that it explicitly offers the option of designating the GNU GPL version 2 or later as a “secondary license” for a certain piece of code.

    • Linux kernel community tries to castrate GPL copyright troll

      Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman and several other senior Linux figures have published a “Linux Kernel Community Enforcement Statement” to be included in future Linux documentation, in order to ensure contributions to the kernel don’t fall foul of copyright claims that have already seen a single developer win “at least a few million Euros.”

      In a post released on Monday, October 16th, Kroah-Hartman explained the Statement’s needed because not everyone who contributes to the kernel understands the obligations the GNU Public Licence 2.0 (GPL 2.0), and the licence has “ambiguities … that no one in our community has ever considered part of compliance.”

    • Fiduciary License Agreement 2.0

      After many years of working on it, it is with immense pleasure to see the FLA-2.0 – the full rewrite of the Fiduciary License Agreement – officially launch.

    • Control Or Consensus?

      In a recent conversation on the Apache Legal mailing list, a participant opined that “any license can be Open Source. OSI doesn’t ‘own’ the term.” He went on to explain “I could clone the Apache License and call it ‘Greg’s License’ and it would be an open source license.”

      As long as the only people involved in the conversation are the speaker and people who defer to his authority, this might be OK. But as soon as there are others involved, it’s not. For the vast majority of people, the term “open source license” is not a personal conclusion resulting from considered evaluation, but rather a term of art applied to the consensus of the community. Individuals are obviously free to use words however they wish, just like Humpty Dumpty. But the power of the open source movement over two decades has arisen from a different approach.

      The world before open source left every developer to make their own decision about whether software was under a license that delivers the liberty to use, improve and share code without seeking the permission of a rights holder. Inevitably that meant either uncertainty or seeking advice from a lawyer about the presence of software freedom. The introduction of the open source concept around the turn of the millennium solved that using the crystalisation of consensus to empower developers.

      By holding a public discussion of each license around the Open Source Definition, a consensus emerged that could then by crystalised by the OSI Board. Once crystalised into “OSI Approval”, the community then has no need to revisit the discussion and the individual developer has no need to guess (or to buy advice) on the compatibility of a given license with software freedom. That in turn means proceeding with innovation or deployment without delay.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • UK Startup Lifebit Builds on Popular Nextflow Open-Source Genomics Platform
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Makerbot Labs Is One Step Toward Open Source 3D Printing

        3D printing feels a bit stuck. At the dawn of the 2010s, the device seemed destined to reimagine the creative process, putting the power of additive manufacturing within anyone’s grasp. But trend has gone cold since reaching its popular zenith in 2013. While people continue to create amazing things with 3D printing, the “one in every household” promise has been put on temporary—or possibly permanent—hold.

        But the leader of the once great 3D printing revolution hasn’t gone away quietly. In fact, it’s done the opposite. Makerbot, the Brooklyn-based startup that sold its first printers back in 2009, is launching a brand new platform, Makerbot Labs, to help turn its 3D printing community into super-users, able to access parts of the printer that were otherwise inaccessible. Makerbot describes this new platform as a place, built for creators, who want to experiment with 3D printing but still have the bedrock of the platform to fall back on if need be.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • IEEE to develop standard for automotive Ethernet of over 1 Gbps

      Industry body IEEE and the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) announced the formation of a task force to develop IEEE P802.3ch—Standard for Ethernet physical layer specifications and management parameters for greater than 1 Gbps automotive Ethernet. The new standards development project aims to meet the demand for higher speed Ethernet in the automotive environment to support ongoing technological developments, such as connected cars, advanced driver assisted systems and infotainment systems.

Leftovers
  • Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody’s Counting
  • Meet Bill Pollock, founder of No Starch Press

    If you’re a geek, a do-it-yourselfer, a maker, or just plain curious, you need to get your hands on some reading material from No Starch Press, which bills itself as “The Finest in Geek Entertainment.” I have used its books as reference materials when teaching students about the Linux operating system and helping them learn to code.

    I recently chatted over email with Bill Pollock, owner of No Starch Press, which he founded in 1994. Bill didn’t set out to be a book publisher; he enrolled at Amherst College to study biology, with the goal of becoming a medical doctor, but became fascinated by his political science coursework and, in 1983, earned his bachelor’s degree in that discipline. Even so, he put his interest in medical science to use in his first editorial job, with Springer-Verlag Publishing, where he edited medical books for fun. While there, he tried (and sometimes failed) to teach others how to use the new personal computer in the office.

  • Science
    • The Supreme Court Is Allergic To Math

      For decades, the court has struggled with quantitative evidence of all kinds in a wide variety of cases. Sometimes justices ignore this evidence. Sometimes they misinterpret it. And sometimes they cast it aside in order to hold on to more traditional legal arguments. (And, yes, sometimes they also listen to the numbers.) Yet the world itself is becoming more computationally driven, and some of those computations will need to be adjudicated before long. Some major artificial intelligence case will likely come across the court’s desk in the next decade, for example. By voicing an unwillingness to engage with data-driven empiricism, justices — and thus the court — are at risk of making decisions without fully grappling with the evidence.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Trumpcare for Veterans? VA Outsourcing Will Create Healthcare Industry Bonanza

      In January President Trump delivered on his promise to shrink the federal government: he announced a hiring freeze, despite thousands of federal job vacancies.

      As a candidate, Trump campaigned as a great friend of veterans. He pledged to make big improvements in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) the arm of the Veterans Administration (VA) which operates the largest healthcare system in the country.

      Yet Trump’s hiring freeze deepened an already existing staffing crisis at VHA hospitals and clinics throughout the U.S where there are 49,000 vacant positions.

      Union activists believe that the resulting understaffing is designed to generate patient complaints and negative publicity that will cause veterans and their families to lose faith in VA-provided care.

    • A nurse’s aide plays video games while a Vietnam veteran dies at Bedford VA Medical Center
    • Honey tests reveal global contamination by bee-harming pesticides

      Honey from across the world is contaminated with potent pesticides known to harm bees, new research shows, clearly revealing the global exposure of vital pollinators for the first time.

      Almost 200 samples of honey were analysed for neonicotinoid insecticides and 75% contained the chemicals, with most contaminated with multiple types. Bees range over many kilometres to collect nectar and pollen, making the honey they produce an excellent indicator of the pesticide pollution across their local landscape.

      Bees and other pollinators are vital to three-quarters of the world’s food crops but have been in serious decline in recent decades. The destruction of wild habitats, disease and widespread pesticide use are all important factors. Scientists responding to the new work say a crackdown on the industrial-scale use of the nerve agents is urgently needed.

  • Security
    • Microsoft never disclosed 2013 hack of secret vulnerability database

      Hackers broke into Microsoft’s secret, internal bug-tracking database and stole information related to vulnerabilities that were exploited in later attacks. But the software developer never disclosed the breach, Reuters reported, citing former company employees.

      In an article published Tuesday, Reuters said Microsoft’s decision not to disclose details came after an internal review concluded the exploits used in later attacks could have been discovered elsewhere. That investigation relied, in part, on automated reports Microsoft receives when its software crashes. The problem with that approach, Reuters pointed out, is that advanced computer attacks are written so carefully they rarely cause crashes.

      Reuters said Microsoft discovered the database breach in early 2013, after a still-unknown hacking group broke into computers belonging to a raft of companies. Besides Microsoft, the affected companies included Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. As reported at the time, the hackers infected a website frequented by software developers with attack code that exploited a zero-day vulnerability in Oracle’s Java software framework. When employees of the targeted companies visited the site, they became infected, too.

    • Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and elementary OS All Patched Against WPA2 KRACK Bug

      As you are aware, there’s a major WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II) security vulnerability in the wild, affecting virtually any device or operating system that uses the security protocol, including all GNU/Linux distributions.

    • Fedora Dev Teaches Users How to Protect Their Wi-Fi Against WPA2 KRACK Bug

      Former Fedora Project leader Paul W. Frields talks today about how to protect your Fedora computers from the dangerous WPA2 KRACK security vulnerability that affects virtually any device using the security protocol to connect to the Internet.

    • WPA2 was kracked because it was based on a closed standard that you needed to pay to read

      How did a bug like krack fester in WPA2, the 13-year-old wifi standard whose flaws have rendered hundreds of millions of devices insecure, some of them permanently so?

      Thank the IEEE’s business model. The IEEE is the standards body that developed WPA2, and they fund their operations by charging hundreds of dollars to review the WPA2 standard, and hundreds more for each of the standards it builds upon, so that would-be auditors of the protocol have to shell out thousands just to start looking.

      It’s an issue that Carl Mamamud, Public Resource and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been fighting hard on for years, ensuring that the standards that undergird public safety and vital infrastructure are available for anyone to review, audit and criticize.

    • Patch Available for Linux Kernel Privilege Escalation

      The issue — tracked as CVE-2017-15265 — is a use-after-free memory corruption issue that affects ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture), a software framework included in the Linux kernel that provides an API for sound card drivers.

    • ​Linus Torvalds says targeted fuzzing is improving Linux security

      Announcing the fifth release candidate for the Linux kernel version 4.14, Linus Torvalds has revealed that fuzzing is producing a steady stream of security fixes.

      Fuzzing involves stress testing a system by generating random code to induce errors, which in turn may help identify potential security flaws. Fuzzing is helping software developers catch bugs before shipping software to users.

    • Devsecops: Add security to complete your devops process [Ed: more silly buzzwords]
    • Companies overlook risks in open source software [Ed: marketing disguised as "news" (and which is actually FUD)]
    • Q&A: Does blockchain alleviate security concerns or create new challenges?

      According to some, blockchain is one of the hottest and most intriguing technologies currently in the market. Similar to the rising of the internet, blockchain could potentially disrupt multiple industries, including financial services. This Thursday, October 19 at Sibos in Toronto, Hyperledger’s Security Maven Dave Huseby will be moderating a panel “Does Blockchain technology alleviate security concerns or create new challenges?” During this session, experts will explore whether the shared nature of blockchain helps or hinders security.

    • ACME Support in Apache HTTP Server Project

      We’re excited that support for getting and managing TLS certificates via the ACME protocol is coming to the Apache HTTP Server Project (httpd). ACME is the protocol used by Let’s Encrypt, and hopefully other Certificate Authorities in the future. We anticipate this feature will significantly aid the adoption of HTTPS for new and existing websites.

      We created Let’s Encrypt in order to make getting and managing TLS certificates as simple as possible. For Let’s Encrypt subscribers, this usually means obtaining an ACME client and executing some simple commands. Ultimately though, we’d like for most Let’s Encrypt subscribers to have ACME clients built in to their server software so that obtaining an additional piece of software is not necessary. The less work people have to do to deploy HTTPS the better!

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Google now offers special security program for high-risk users
    • Chrome 62 rolling out to Mac, Windows, and Linux w/ increased ‘Not secure’ HTTP warnings

      Chrome 62 is now rolling out to desktops in the stable channel with a number of new features for developers, as well as some changed security behaviors as Google continues to encourage HTTPS adoption.

    • DHS orders federal agencies to bolster cybersecurity with HTTPS, email authentication

      The US Department of Homeland Security will require federal agencies to use web and email encryption practices to enhance their security posture.

    • Adobe warns that hackers are exploiting its Flash software

      Adobe Systems Inc (ADBE.O) warned on Monday that hackers are exploiting vulnerabilities in its Flash multimedia software platform in web browsers, and the company urged users to quickly patch their systems to prevent such attacks.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Deadly Overconfidence: Trump Thinks Missile Defenses Work Against North Korea, and That Should Scare You

      Could a president’s overconfidence in U.S. defensive systems lead to deadly miscalculation and nuclear armageddon? Yes. Yes, it could. Last Wednesday, referring to potential American responses to North Korea’s missile and nuclear program, President Donald Trump told Sean Hannity “We have missiles that can knock out a missile in the air 97 percent of the time, and if you send two of them it’s gonna get knocked out.” If Trump believes — or is being told — that American missile defenses are that accurate, not only is he factually wrong, he is also very dangerously wrong. This misperception could be enough to lead the United States into a costly war with devastating consequences.

      Here’s why: If Trump believes U.S. missile defenses work this effectively, he might actually think a first strike attempt to disarm North Korea of its missile and nuclear forces would successfully spare U.S. cities from North Korean nuclear retaliation. They probably wouldn’t. Believing that each ground-based midcourse missile defense (GMD) interceptor can provide anything close to a 97 percent interception rate against retaliation raises the temptation to attempt a so-called “splendid first strike” based on the assumption that missile defenses can successfully intercept any leftover missiles North Korea could then fire at the United States.

    • Mogadishu Massacre: Hospitals Run Out of Blood, Antibiotics for Victims in Mass Bombing Killing 300+

      Rescue operations continue in Mogadishu, Somalia, after two massive truck bombs exploded Saturday, killing at least 300 in the country’s deadliest attack since the rise of the al-Shabab militant group a decade ago. The disaster is being referred to as the “Mogadishu massacre,” and some are calling it “the 9/11 of the Somali people.” The explosions came after the Trump administration stepped up a U.S. campaign against al-Shabab in Somalia. We speak with Somali scholar Abdi Samatar and journalist Amanda Sperber, who splits her time between Nairobi, Kenya, and Mogadishu, Somalia.

    • “Tell Me How This Ends?”

      It was March 2003, the invasion of Iraq was underway, and Major General David Petraeus was in command of the 101st Airborne Division heading for the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Rick Atkinson, Washington Post journalist and military historian, was accompanying him. Six days into a lightning campaign, his division suddenly found itself stopped 30 miles southwest of the city of Najaf by terrible weather, including a blinding dust storm, and the unexpectedly “fanatical” attacks of Iraqi irregulars. At that moment, Atkinson reported,

      [...]

      So as American air power in places like Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan is ramped up yet again, as the latest mini-surge of troops arrives in Afghanistan, as Niger enters the war, it’s time to put generals David Petraeus, James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, and John Kelly in context. It’s time to call them what they truly are: Nixon’s children.

    • The CIA Is Playing Coy About Trump’s First Raid In Yemen

      The CIA’s attempt to use Glomar to keep the public in the dark about its role in the Yemen raid is absurd.

      Just days after Donald Trump assumed the powers of the presidency, he convened a group of top intelligence and military officials for dinner at the White House. The group included Secretary of Defense James Mattis and CIA Director Michael Pompeo. Presumably they were not there for the steak.

      Instead, they were there to discuss and sign off on an intelligence-gathering raid in al Ghayil, Yemen — the first of its kind under the Trump presidency, though planning for it had commenced under his predecessor. Days later, Navy SEAL Team 6 carried out the raid, but early reports were that the raid went awry. One service member and multiple Yemeni civilians — the exact number remains disputed — were killed.

      Still, the White House defended the raid as a success. From the White House podium, then–Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained that “the goal of the raid was intelligence-gathering. And that’s what we received, and that’s what we got. That’s why we can deem it a success.”

      But criticism continued, and reports surfaced that prior to the raid, President Trump had exempted the area of Yemen in which the raid took place from rules governing the United States’ use of lethal force outside of war zones. Those rules were put in place by President Obama and were intended — however flawed they were — to limit civilian casualties.

    • Iran Doesn’t Have a Nuclear Weapons Program. Why Do Media Keep Saying It Does?

      The problem with all of these excerpts: Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. It has a civilian nuclear energy program, but not one designed to build weapons. Over 30 countries have civilian nuclear programs; only a handful—including, of course, the US and Israel—have nuclear weapons programs. One is used to power cities, one is used to level them.

      If you are skeptical, just refer to a 2007 assessment by all 16 US intelligences agencies (yes, those 16 US intelligence agencies), which found Iran had “halted” its nuclear weapons program. Or look at the same National Intelligence Estimate in 2012, which concluded again that there “is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.” Or we can listen to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, which concurred with the US intelligence assessment (Haaretz, 3/18/12).

      The “Iran Deal,” formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is built on curbing Iran’s civilian nuclear program, out of fear—fair or not—that it could one day morph into a nuclear weapons program. But at present, there is no evidence, much less a consensus, that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program. JCPOA cannot be used as per se evidence such a program exists today; indeed, it is specifically designed to prevent such a program from developing down the road.

    • In 3-1 vote, LA Police Commission approves drones for LAPD

      The Los Angeles Police Department, one of the nation’s largest municipal police forces, approved a one-year pilot program for drones—making it the largest city in the nation to undertake such an evaluation.

      According to the Los Angeles Times, the LA Police Commission approved a set of policies that limits “their use to a handful of tactical situations, searches or natural disasters.” Each drone flight must also be signed off by a “high-ranking officer on a case-by-case basis.” The drones are also not to be weaponized. The decision, which was announced Tuesday, was made despite vociferous protest.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Police sergeant suspended after Facebook comments celebrating Caruana Galizia murder

      A police sergeant who yesterday celebrated the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia has been suspended, with the Office of the Prime Minister describing his remarks on Facebook as ‘reprehensible’.
      He will be investigated by the Public Service Commission.
      The shadow minister for justice, Jason Azzopardi, the Malta Police Association and the Police Officers’ Union all condemned the comments.
      The post, by Ramon Mifsud, was uploaded yesterday.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Pentagon accidentally included reporter in Puerto Rico spin talks

      Officials at the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accidentally included a Bloomberg climate reporter on an internal email distribution list that included discussions on how to present Puerto Rico recovery efforts to the media.

      Bloomberg’s Christopher Flavelle said he repeatedly alerted officials at the Pentagon to the error but kept receiving emails for five days.

      “Those messages, each of which was marked ‘unclassified,’ offer a glimpse into the federal government’s struggle to convince the public that the response effort was going well. That struggle was compounded by the commander-in-chief, and eased only when public attention was pulled to a very different disaster,” writes Flavelle in a Bloomberg story published Friday.

    • NOAA Marks 45th Anniversary of the Coastal Zone Management Act

      The hurricanes of 2017 affected many coastal areas. Guided by the CZMA over the past 45 years, the coastal programs have gained the experience, scientific information, and policies needed to address reconstruction and recovery needs. As a result, coastal communities stand a better chance of weathering future storms and day-by-day challenges. Two examples illustrate this approach.

  • Finance
    • What is technical debt? And why does almost every startup have it?

      Technical debt is no different. It allows companies to create software faster, with the understanding that they will slow down software development in the future. Companies will eventually be forced to spend more time fixing the debt than the amount of time it took them to produce the best solution at the beginning.

    • Austerity, Macron-Style

      When French President Emmanuel Macron’s secured his sweeping majority of the Elysee Palace and parliament in May and June, it was said that only the unions had a chance of checking his power. So this week’s show of unity and strength by public sector unions – after months of squabbling – will have him worried.

      For the first time a decade all nine unions representing 5.4 million public workers protested in the streets of France on Tuesday. At issue are Macron’s plans to axe 120,000 public sector jobs, to reduce sick leave compensation and freeze public sector pay. Workers in health, education, local government, air traffic controllers and train drivers are among those who went on strike.

    • No-deal Brexit requires a general election, Carwyn Jones says

      Carwyn Jones has argued there would have to be a general election in 2019 if Theresa May failed to secure a Brexit deal by that deadline.
      Talks at securing a deal with the other 27 EU states on trade and on any remaining budget payments have stalled.
      Some MPs have backed a “no deal” Brexit while others warn of economic chaos.
      The first minister told S4C’s O’r Senedd programme the UK government had an unrealistic view of Britain’s influence in the world.

    • After five rounds of Brexit talks, David Davis runs out of bluster

      Same time, same place, same speech. The humiliation is now almost complete. Five times David Davis has come back to the Commons to report on the progress of his talks with Michel Barnier, and on each occasion the Brexit secretary has had little to say. In the early days, he used to claim that the lack of progress was a sign of how much progress had been made, but now he has lost the will to even bluster. The former SAS man has barely got the strength to fight his way out of a paper bag.

      Throughout his five-minute statement, Davis could barely bring himself to raise his eyes towards the opposition benches. The contempt he could have taken. But it was the pity that got him every time. Some important steps had been made, he said in a barely audible mumble. He couldn’t say exactly what they were but they had been made. The negotiations were being conducted in a good spirit. As in, no one had actually walked out yet. But he was reaching the limits of what was possible.

    • Verhofstadt condemns ‘witch hunt’ by David Davis against British MEPs

      The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, criticized David Davis for conducting a “witch hunt” against British MEPs who voted to delay trade talks.

      Davis has called for 18 Labour MEPs and one from the Liberal Democrats to be sacked “in the national interest” for supporting a European Parliament resolution critical of the British government’s approach to the negotiations.

    • Government rejects calls from OECD to reverse Brexit for the sake of the economy

      The Government has rejected calls to reverse Brexit after economic experts said a second referendum would have a significant, positive effect on the economy.

      The decision to leave the EU has “raised uncertainty and dented business investment” in the UK, a new report warned.

      Real wages are being stripped back amid soaring inflation despite low unemployment, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

      Its 140-page annual report outlines the state of Britain’s economy 16 months after last year’s EU Leave vote.

    • Reverse Brexit with second referendum to save your economy, OECD tells UK

      Economic experts have made an explosive suggestion of a further referendum to reverse Brexit, to avoid the crippling of the British economy.

      The influential Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said the deadlock in the exit talks now threatened a “disorderly Brexit”, with severe consequences.

      Its report controversially puts the case for a dramatic rethink on the agenda – suggesting halting EU withdrawal is a route to avoiding that fate.

    • Brexit poses an ‘extreme risk’ to Britain’s food security. Don’t ignore the warnings

      Global food security — its availability, affordability, quality and safety — is beginning to slip for the first time in half a decade. Britain, being far from self sufficient in its food production, is taking a massive risk in quitting the safety of the single market.

      In response to concerns about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food prices and the UK’s food security, Brexiteer Chris Grayling suggested recently that British farmers will just have to grow more food.

      Alongside this ‘Dig For Victory’ bravado was the suggestion that we should also increase imports from across the world: two diametrically opposed food and farming policies in one breath.

      Such ‘solutions’ come easily if you’ve never had to think deeply about where food comes from; if all it has ever meant is a stroll to the nearest supermarket.

    • Trapped in an immigration nightmare: How a single Home Office error threw a couple’s life into chaos

      Somewhere out there is the immigration officer who made the decision. As a result of what they did, my husband and I were locked in a legal ordeal for seven months, separated for four, lived in rural Sweden for three, and spent over £10,000. What we went through provides an instructive lesson in the failures and mean-spiritedness of the Home Office.

    • Who’s to blame for Brexit’s fantasy politics? The experts, of course

      Politics, runs the cliche, is the art of the possible. The compromise. The curbed expectation.

      Not any more. Not in the age of Brexit and Trump. In 2017, politics is the art of the impossible. Of writing blank cheques and scattering them to the wind. Of peddling fantasies and promising the voters they will be made flesh by tomorrow.

    • Report Reveals ‘Staggering’ Scale Of Foodbank Demand In Britain

      Growing numbers of foodbanks are distributing emergency parcels amid problems with the roll out of universal credit, a new report reveals.

      More than 2,000 foodbanks are now recorded as operating in Britain, with around 700 independent and 1,235 Trussell Trust centres, figures up slightly on earlier this year.

      The report highlights problems with the roll out of the welfare reform as a reason for recent “dramatic increases” in demand, the Press Association reported.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Trump gives his own performance a Trump-sized endorsement

      Friends say President Donald Trump has grown frustrated that his greatness is not widely understood, that his critics are fierce and on TV every morning, that his poll numbers are both low and “fake,” and that his White House is caricatured as adrift.

      So on Monday, the consummate salesman — who has spent his life selling his business acumen, golf courses, sexual prowess, luxury properties and, above all, his last name — gave the Trump White House a Trump-sized dose of brand enhancement.

      With both the Roosevelt Room and the Rose Garden as backdrops, he mixed facts and mirage, praise and perfidy in two head-spinning, sometimes contradictory performances designed to convince supporters and detractors alike that everything’s terrific, moving ahead of schedule and getting even better. His opponents were cast as misguided, deluded or even unpatriotic.

    • Trump’s alternative reality

      President Trump “goes there, on just about every topic imaginable,” as NBC’s Brian Williams put it, during a pair of Q&As, two hours apart yesterday — one in the Cabinet Room and one with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Rose Garden.

      Why it matters: It’s almost impossible for the media to cover these press conferences — or for Republicans to discern what he wants and how he plans to get it — because Trump spreads fake news while calling real news fake. This isn’t new. And, yes, 35% of voters don’t seem to care. But that doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

    • Trump Falsely Claims Obama Didn’t Contact Gold Star Families

      President Donald Trump broke his silence Monday over the deaths of four U.S. Army Green Berets who died in an ambush in Niger two weeks ago, saying he would contact the families of the soldiers—while falsely claiming that President Barack Obama did not reach out after U.S. troops were killed in combat. Trump’s comments came only after he was questioned over his silence by reporters during a press conference at the White House with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

    • Is the BBC hideously middle class?

      A panel at the Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge this year revealed a broad range of concerns regarding class in television. Ofcom released a report coincident with the Convention reporting on diversity and equal opportunities in television. While Ofcom focused on race, gender and disability, it also reported on broadcasters’ initiatives to promote social mobility. Ofcom added that it will explore what new information can be provided on social background.

      Broadcasters, including the BBC, have recently begun to address social class in terms of diversity. Undoubtedly, this has been aided by existing initiatives on diversity with reference principally to gender, race, disability, age and sexual orientation. Much of this engagement with class seems tentative and in development. Some commentators are concerned variously with ‘class’, ‘socioeconomic background’, or ‘social mobility’. Different variables are proposed to measure class. Proponents tend to rely exclusively on a metrics-based approach.

      At this stage, key issues must be addressed: what is the problem against which these initiatives are directed? Is ‘class’ a valid category for analysis and, if so, how might class be monitored? If class is insufficient as a category to address the diagnosed problem, what other categories and interventions might be warranted? I will explore these questions with particular reference to the BBC. I do so in part because the BBC is a public service broadcaster whose duties raise distinctive issues regarding class.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Q&A with Professor Xaioxing Xi, Victim of Unjust Surveillance
    • California Governor Signs Bill to Defend Against Religious Registries

      On the last day to act on legislation in 2017, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill creating a firewall between the state’s data and any attempt by the federal government to create lists, registries, or databases based on a person’s religion, nationality, or ethnicity.

      S.B. 31 was one of the earliest bills introduced by the legislature to oppose discriminatory policies floated by Pres. Donald Trump and his surrogates during the 2016 campaign. S.B. 31, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, was a direct response to Trump’s and his surrogates’ support of a so-called “Muslim Registry.” Although the bill places California at odds with the White House, both parties in the California Senate unanimously approved the bill, as did an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Assembly.

    • Risk & Repeat: Kaspersky antivirus scans implicated in NSA breach

      Kaspersky antivirus scans were further implicated in the NSA breach by reports last week from The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal; anonymous sources claimed Israeli intelligence officers hacked into Kaspersky’s network in 2015 and observed Russian hackers using the company’s antivirus software to search millions of computers around the world for classified government documents. The reports also claimed the U.S. government determined that Kaspersky antivirus scans were specifically designed to search for classified U.S. data.

    • Regressive group finally out of debate on our ePrivacy!
    • UK spies using social media data for mass surveillance
    • UK intelligence agencies ‘unlawfully’ sharing sensitive personal data, court hears
    • British spies are collecting and sharing datasets of people’s social media activities

      Well. The latest revelations from the UK’s crusading Privacy International show not only that the GCHQ spy agency has been assembling databases of people’s social media data by gaining access to private companies’ own troves of data, but also that the agencies shared their databases with foreign governments and their law enforcement agencies – without the knowledge of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, the supposed provider of oversight.

    • British intelligence agencies may have been collecting and sharing your social media data
    • UK spy agency GCHQ is monitoring social media accounts of millions of people
    • British intelligence allegedly using social media for mass surveillance
    • UK spy agencies are unlawfully collecting social media data on ‘millions’ of people
    • British government accused of spying on millions of social media accounts
    • UK spy agencies may be circumventing data-sharing law, tribunal told

      MI5 and MI6 may be circumventing legal safeguards when they share bulk datasets with foreign intelligence services and commercial partners, a court has been told.

      Most of the bulk personal datasets relate to UK citizens who are not of “legitimate intelligence interest”, the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) heard.

    • Internet giants contest proposed privacy laws

      Internet giants Comcast and Verizon have brought along some friends to their fight against three local towns considering adopting online privacy ordinances.

      Representatives of the two companies have partnered with four national lobbying groups to convince officials in Falls, Lower Makefield and Middletown not to pass laws that would prohibit internet service providers from sharing customers’ “personally identifiable information” with advertisers without the customers’ permission.

      The information could include web search activities, medical and financial information, and video viewing habits

    • Garmin teamed up with Amazon to make a tiny Echo Dot for your car [Ed: The scariest thing is, there are enough gullible people who will think it's "cool" to have listening device in car]
    • The Cyber World Is Falling Apart And The DOJ Is Calling For Weakened Encryption

      It seemed like the (mostly) one-man War on Encryption had reached a ceasefire agreement when “Going Dark” theorist James Comey was unceremoniously ejected from office for failing to pledge allegiance to the new king president. But it had barely had time to be relegated to the “Tired” heap before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resurrected it.

      Rosenstein has been going from cybersecurity conference to cybersecurity conference raising arguments for encryption before dismissing them entirely. His remarks have opened with the generally awful state of cybersecurity at both the public and private levels. He says encryption is important, especially when there are so many active security threats. Then he undermines his own arguments by calling for “responsible encryption” — a euphemism for weakened encryption that provides law enforcement access to locked devices and communications on secured platforms.

      Considering recent events, this isn’t the direction the DOJ should be pushing. Russian hackers used a popular antivirus software to liberate NSA exploits from a contractor’s computer. Equifax exposed the data of millions of US citizens who never asked to be tracked by the service in the first place. Yahoo just admitted everyone who ever signed up for its email service was affected by a years-old security breach. Ransomware based on NSA malware wreaked havoc all over the world. These are all issues Rosenstein has touched on during his remarks. But they’re swiftly forgotten by the Deputy Attorney General when his focus shifts to what he personally — representing US law enforcement — can’t access because of encryption.

    • Article 13 Open letter – Monitoring and Filtering of Internet Content is Unacceptable
    • How these librarians are changing how we think about digital privacy

      In August, New York University and the Library Freedom Project – an organization that trains librarians on using privacy tools to protect intellectual freedom – received a $250,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency. Its purpose: to train librarians to implement secure protocols on their own web services, and to teach members of the community to evade the prying eyes of governments, corporations, and criminal hackers. According to the Library Freedom Project’s website, the group aims to create what it calls “a privacy-centric paradigm shift in libraries and the communities they serve.”

    • ShadowBrokers’ Kiss of Death

      Forgive me for being an ingrate, but I’m trying to engage seriously on Section 702 reform. Surveillance boosters are already fighting this fight primarily by waging ad hominem attacks. Having TSB call me out really makes it easy for surveillance boosters to suggest I’m not operating in the good faith I’ve spent 10 years doing.

    • Details Emerge Of World’s Biggest Facial Recognition Surveillance System, Aiming To Identify Any Chinese Citizen In Three Seconds

      The article says that the system will use cloud computing facilities to process images from the millions of CCTV cameras located across the country. The company involved is Isvision, which has been using facial recognition with CCTV cameras since 2003. The earliest deployments were in the highly-sensitive Tiananmen Square area. Other hotspots where its technology has been installed are Tibet and Xinjiang, where surveillance has been at a high level for many years.

      However, the report also cautions that the project is encountering “many difficulties” due to the technical limits of facial recognition and the sheer size of the database involved. A Chinese researcher is quoted as saying that some totally unrelated people in China have faces so alike that even their parents cannot tell them apart. Another issue is managing the biometric data, which is around 13 terabytes for the facial information, and 90 terabytes for the full dataset, which includes additional personal details on everyone in China.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • ICE Now Calling Aiding Unaccompanied Minors ‘Human Trafficking’ To Bypass Sanctuary City Laws

      In the name of fighting sex trafficking, legislators are willing to make the internet mostly worthless. Punching a hole in Section 230 protections will encourage incumbents to limit user participation and prevent startups from ever making it off the ground. Proponents claim it’s narrowly-targeted and abuse-proof, but the language would allow any service provider to be held accountable for the criminal actions of users. If traffickers can’t use Facebook or Google thanks to heavier moderation, they’ll move onto other websites and services until those too are rendered useless by government action.

      Part of the problem with legislation like this is mission creep. It may start with sex trafficking, but it will inevitably be expanded to cover other illicit content. And sex trafficking itself is its own dodge. All the government has to do is claim something is trafficking and the hammer begins to fall.

      This is because the term leaves no room for intelligent conversations. Proponents know people aren’t likely to speak up against efforts to fight sex trafficking, especially when they point out this sometimes includes children. It becomes a governmental blank check for enforcement action — something that deters questioning of the government’s activities, much in the way the term “national security” has limited legislative and judicial discussion about surveillance overreach.

    • Wife of stroke victim who needs 24hr care must leave UK while he cares for children

      A British stroke victim who uses a wheelchair, requires 24-hour supervision to keep him alive and cannot speak, write or reliably understand what is said to him, has been told by the Home Office that he must become the sole carer for his two young British children while his wife travels to the Philippines to apply for a visa to care for the family.

      Simon Waterman was living with his Filipino wife, Leah, and their children Kimi and Bryce, aged 10 and seven, in the Philippines when he had a severe stroke in September 2015. The family moved back to Abergavenny in South Wales in December so Simon could be near his family. When they applied for a visa for Leah to remain in the country, however, they were told there were “no exceptional circumstances” preventing her following the conventional route of applying for her visa from outside the UK.

    • Whistleblower Protections in USA Liberty Act Not Enough

      The USA Liberty Act fails to safeguard whistleblowers—both as federal employees and contractors—because of a total lack of protection from criminal prosecution. These shortcomings—which exist in other whistleblower protection laws—shine a light on much-needed Espionage Act reform, a law that has been used to stifle anti-war speech and punish political dissent.

      Inside the recent House bill, which seeks reauthorization for a massive government surveillance tool, authors have extended whistleblower protections to contract employees, a group that, today, has no such protection.

      The Liberty Act attempts to bring parity between intelligence community employees and contract employees by amending Section 1104 of the National Security Act of 1947.

      According to the act, employees for the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office are protected from certain types of employer retaliation when reporting evidence of “a violation of any federal law, rule, or regulation,” or “mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.” Employees working at agencies the President deems have a “primary function” of conducting foreign intelligence or counterintelligence are also covered by these protections.

    • New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro Breaks the Law to Enforce It. We’re Holding Him Accountable.

      Cannizzaro and elected district attorneys like him must answer to the communities that elect them.

      Renata Singleton was the victim in a criminal case and served five days in jail. That’s right, the victim. And Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro is to blame.

      In the fall of 2014, Renata Singleton and her boyfriend got into an argument at her apartment. He took her phone and slammed it on her porch. She wanted him out of the house, so she called the police, and they took him away. A criminal case was brought against her boyfriend. After Singleton told the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office that she had resolved things with him and wanted to move on, Cannizzaro’s office didn’t listen. Instead, agents left two “subpoenas” at her door demanding she appear at its office for a private interview.

      Only they were not subpoenas at all.

    • As the Weinstein Scandal Sinks in, Where Do We Go From Here?

      Here’s how to start making workplace sexual misconduct and discrimination a thing of the past.

      In the wake of bombshell reports by the The New York Times and The New Yorker detailing three decades of sexual misconduct by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the revelations keep coming. So do the questions: How did such flagrant misconduct stay an “open secret” for so long? Just how many women were harmed? And how do we make sure that such an egregious abuse of power never happens again?

      Sexual harassment that is “severe or pervasive” was deemed by the Supreme Court to be illegal sex discrimination more than 30 years ago, when Mechelle Vinson, a bank employee in Washington, D.C., challenged her manager’s three-year campaign of abuse, including rape. And it’s been nearly a quarter-century since the court clarified that conduct becomes illegal harassment at the point that a “reasonable person” would find it abusive, even if it never gets physical.

    • Fired Cop’s Attorney Argues His Client Is Being Punished Unfairly Because The Public Got To See His Misconduct

      A little over a month ago, body cam footage of a police officer trying to bully a nurse into breaking the law went viral. Salt Lake City police detective Jeff Payne wrapped up his failed intimidation attempt by arresting nurse Alex Wubbels for following her hospital’s policy on blood draws. If there are no exigent circumstances and the person not suspected of criminal activity, police need a warrant to draw blood.

      None of those factors were present when Detective Payne demanded the hospital draw blood from an accident victim. The victim was, in fact, a reserve police officer from an Idaho law enforcement agency, who had been hit head-on by a fleeing suspect. This officer later died from his injuries. He was in a coma when Detective Payne began demanding the hospital hand over some blood, obviously in no condition to consent to the search.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • GAO Will Investigate The FCC’s Dubious DDoS Attack Claims

      You might recall that when HBO comedian John Oliver originally tackled net neutrality on his show in 2014, the FCC website crashed under the load of concerned consumers eager to support the creation of net neutrality rules. When Oliver revisited the topic last May to discuss FCC boss Ajit Pai’s myopic plan to kill those same rules, the FCC website crashed under the load a second time. That’s not particularly surprising; the FCC’s website has long been seen as an outdated relic from the wayback times of Netscape hit counters and awful MIDI music.

    • Six days later, FCC chair says Trump can’t order FCC to revoke TV licenses

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai initially resisted calls to tell President Trump that the FCC won’t revoke broadcast licenses from stations whose news coverage Trump dislikes.

      But today, six days after Trump first said that NBC and other networks should have their licenses challenged, Pai said the FCC won’t pull licenses based on the content of news reports.

    • FCC Chair Finally Says Agency Won’t Censor Trump’s Enemies

      Last Wednesday President Donald Trump took to Twitter to suggest the government should challenge broadcasting licenses for stations that air “fake news.”

    • AT&T Spent Hundreds Of Billions On Mergers And All It Got Was A Big Pile Of Cord Cutters

      Over the last few years AT&T and Verizon have been desperately trying to pivot from stodgy, protectionist old telcos — to sexy new Millennial media juggernauts. And while this pivot attempt has been notably expensive, the net result has been somewhat underwhelming. Verizon, for example, spent billions to gobble up AOL and Yahoo, but its lack of savvy in the space has so far culminated in a privacy scandal, a major hacking scandal, a quickly shuttered website where reporters couldn’t write about controversial subjects, and a fairly shitty Millennial streaming service even Verizon’s own media partners have called a “dud.”

      AT&T’s efforts have been notably more expensive, but just as underwhelming. The company first decided to shell out $70 billion for a satellite TV provider (DirecTV) on the eve of the cord cutting revolution. And the company’s putting the finishing touches on shelling out another $89 billion for Time Warner in a quest to gain broader media and advertising relevance. That was paired with the launch of a new streaming service, DirecTV Now, which the company hoped would help it beat back the tide of cord cutting.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Disney: The Only Fun Allowed At Children’s Birthday Parties Is Properly Licensed Fun

        For that reason, Characters For Hire is claiming that both the copyright and trademark claims from Disney aren’t valid. The characters are altered and renamed in an effort to gain protection from the idea/expression dichotomy, with those same changes and the disclaimer making it clear to the public that the company has no affiliation with the IP owners of the original characters from which these generics are inspired.
        That said… yeah, but no. The point made in the disclaimer that the likenesses are strictly coincidental is laughable at best. It’s very likely that the copyright portion of Disney’s claims will hold up in court. The trademark claims have less a chance of success, as it’s abundantly clear that these are not licensed characters or associated in any way with companies like Disney. But, still, the so-called generic characters of Characters For Hire appear to be more than merely “inspired” by the originals and are instead near identical characters with alterations made only to get around copyright law.
        But the larger point is: hey, Disney, why? Given that the copyright claims are the most substantive, there was nothing requiring Disney to take this action. Certainly it is laughable for Disney to claim any serious harm from a copyright perspective due to Characters For Hire’s actions. All this is really doing is keeping some fun, if unoriginal, characters from entertaining kids and people at birthdays and related events. Is giving up the stated aim to make children happy really worth smacking around a relatively small company that works these sorts of parties?

      • Digital Rights Groups Demand Deletion of Unlawful Filtering Mandate From Proposed EU Copyright Law

        The upload filtering mandate in Article 13 isn’t the only provision of the proposed Directive that concerns us. Another provision of concern, Article 11, would impose a new “link tax” payable to news publishers on websites that publish small snippets of news articles to contextualize links to those articles. Since we last wrote about this, an interesting new report has come out providing evidence that European publishers—who are the supposed beneficiaries of the link tax—actually oppose it.

      • Abandon Proactive Copyright Filters, Huge Coalition Tells EU Heavyweights

        Dozens of influential civil rights groups have called on EU decision-makers to abandon proposals for compulsory proactive copyright filters. Their open letter, addressed to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and colleagues, warns that monitoring citizens’ Internet traffic would restrict fundamental rights while running counter to the Electronic Commerce Directive.

      • Over 50 Academics Slam Censorship Filter & Join Calls to Stop © Madness

        On 17 October, 56 respected academics co-signed a recommendation on measures to safeguard fundamental rights and the Open Internet in the framework of the EU copyright reform. This effort is a reaction to the multiple questions regarding the legality of the so-called censorship filter (Article 13 and its Recitals) that were raised by seven Member States, including Germany (see here and here).

      • New ‘Coalition Against Piracy’ Will Crack Down on Pirate Streaming Boxes

        A newly announced coalition of major entertainment companies including Disney, Fox, HBO, NBCUniversal and BBC Worldwide has set its eye on pirate streaming boxes. The Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) will coordinate local enforcement efforts in Asia, hoping to disrupt the “criminal syndicates” behind these devices.

The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO – Part I: Introduction

Wednesday 18th of October 2017 06:54:44 PM


Picture showing the legendary “Dukatenesel” from the town square of Diekirch in Luxembourg

Summary: Some new details about Mr. Campinos, who is Battistelli’s successor at the EPO

Some interesting snippets of information about the earlier career of Mr. Campinos have emerged from a curriculum vitae in Spanish obtained from the website of the University of Alicante.

It turns out that after completion of his master’s studies at the Faculty of Law at the University of Montepellier in France in 1994, his professional career began as a legal advisor with the Portuguese bank Banco Caixa Geral de Depósitos, and its subsidiary Caixa Geral de Aposentações, where he worked from 1995 to 1998.

We shall soon start part 2 of this series. Stay tuned.

Confessions of EPO Insiders Reveal That European Patents (EPs) Have Lost Their Legitimacy/Value Due to Battistelli’s Policies

Wednesday 18th of October 2017 06:39:46 PM

Summary: A much-discussed topic at the EPO is now the ever-declining quality of granted patents, which make or break patent offices because quality justifies high costs (searches, applications, renewals and so on)

THE world used to think that EPO-granted patents (EPs) were the best. We thought so too, but when software patents started to creep in, even after the ban, we began to feel worried. Then came the infamous “as such” moment of Brimelow, the President who soon thereafter left her job for Battistelli to take.

We’re not in a good place right now. Europe’s position is at stake. EPs play an important role in competitiveness.

Yesterday, Patently-O presented another graph. It’s a graph which can be interpreted as a patent bubble building up provisionally in the US. SIPO in China is probably doing even worse, with over a million patent applications last year alone (and many terrible patents being granted all the time). “For the chart above shows the percentage of US-originated utility patents that claim priority to one or more provisional filings, grouped by year of issuance,” Patently-O wrote. So the gold rush continues.

This morning we found this new article titled “Patents as a Technology and Marketing Resource” (yes, marketing!).

So right from the horse’s mouth (the patent microcosm) we now have admission that many patents are for marketing, not for innovation. For some nations, especially China and the US, there’s some false sense of national pride in the number of patents, as if the greater the number of patents, the more innovative they have become. Anyone with a scientific background knows that this is utter nonsense. This accomplishes nothing but litigation chaos (which already spreads to China, sometimes at the expense of the US). It’s already happening in Germany too (number of patent cases is soaring). It’s good for nobody but the litigation ‘industry’, which makes up much of Team UPC.

The above article says: “Patents and published applications are readily accessible via the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and via the websites of other countries or jurisdictions, such as the European Patent Office (EPO). Patent information is also available via commercial sites, such as Google Patents.”

To them, the litigation people, this is a sort of catalogue for stemming potential lawsuits, i.e. profit opportunities. At whose expense? The public, obviously.

What we worry about most (since we started covering EPO about a decade ago) is patent quality. It was always our focus.

Earlier today an EPO insider told us: “Observed at the EPO by an experienced examiner: At the EPO inexperienced examiners (e.g. 2 years of service) have to reached 85% of the target of an (very) experienced examiner. How to they do this? They skip reading large parts (if not all) of the description and they concentrate mainly on independent claims.”

As one of our members put it, “rubberstamping is obviously enough [and] the patent racket must go on” (hurting potentially innocent small businesses, sometimes putting them out of business).

“EPs play an important role in competitiveness.”Stories about EPO patent quality have begun coming out, mostly at IP Kat comments. There are many other issues, such as nepotism. To quote one new comment:

Sorry guys but you seem to be very critical about the quality of work at the EPO and this is not fair.

Look this chart : https://www.suepo.org/documents/42912/54300.pdf

It speaks for itself. Contrary to your allegatioins, it shows how good the quality of work at EPO must be if so many Battistelli’s associates now work at EPO.

La Famiglia

Then there are the EPO’s human rights abuses:

Do not forget the extraordinary quality of the investigative unit and disciplinary committees !

They always find the culprits among staff reps and union officials at a 100% rate !

It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that EPO was supposed to be an examination office rather than facilities where staff gets tortured, commits suicide etc.

No doubt the patent world is, in general, worthy of some scrutiny. Two days ago we saw this article titled “And He Could Have Been the Father of 3D Printing” (whatever they mean by father).

It perpetuates the invention myths (like the “little guy”, or the “sole inventor”, or “eureka moment”) and the notion that some things come into being overnight by a single person rather than evolved on the “shoulders of giants”. Wrongly asserting that something is “invented” because a patent got filed (1984 on 3D-printing in this case) is clearly misguided. 3D-printing is like printing or sculpting. Nothing too innovative about it, except it’s done by robot, typically managed by software. The article says: “That concept became the genesis of a 3D-printing patent that Masters filed in 1984 — before some of the most celebrated pioneers in what has become a $6 billion industry filed their own 3D-printing patents. Masters subsequently filed additional patents as well, though few have heard of the now-67-year-old grandpa from South Carolina. For those who have, Masters is better known as a pioneer in a very different field.”

Getting back to the original subject, let’s remember what patents are and what they exist for. To assume that without patents there would be no innovation? That’s just insane. That’s the kind of insane ENA thugs like Battistelli are likely to be, having never experienced science firsthand.

“During the Battistelli era,” said the next comment, “I have noticed a very clear degradation of quality in three aspects.”

Here is the full, long comment:

Re. the quality of work at the EPO, here’s my two pennies’ worth:

I’m a former EPO examiner, currently working as a professional representative, prosecuting quite a lot of applications both in Europe and overseas, and both for domestic and overseas clients. Consequently, I believe to have a decent insight into the current and past situation, as well as some points of comparison with other patent offices. My evidence is of course purely anecdotal, but I believe it to be rather representative.

Examination quality at the EPO has historically had three strong points and one weak point: the strong points were quality of search, supervision of the primary examiners’ work thanks to the three sets of eyes’ system at the examination division, and consistency in the evaluation of inventive step thanks to the problem-solution approach and how it’s drilled into examiners’ heads during training. The historically weak point has always been bad training concerning clarity, which is related to the “once it’s granted, it isn’t our problem any longer” view of patents at the EPO, leading to a very formalistic, by-the-numbers examination of clarity at the EPO, without taking into account the actual purpose of the patent claims: determining whether there is infringement or not. There have of course always been outliers with respect to quality, individual examiners clearly unable and/or unwilling to do a proper work, and a clear lack of accountability of these examiners, but thankfully it has historically been a very small minority.

During the Battistelli era, I have noticed a very clear degradation of quality in three aspects. The first is quality of search: I more and more often see other patent offices (mostly USPTO and China’s SIPO, but even the New Zealand PO) come up with “killer” prior art for applications that passed the EPO’s search report with flying colours. This is of course intensely frustrating for my domestic clients, who choose to invest significant money in foreign filings based on the EPO’s search report to see the application then squashed abroad. The second issue is an increasing tendency by examiners to “push” applications to grant, with examiner amendments that are too restrictive (without consulting me first), unwittingly introduce added matter and/or are riddled with clerical and language errors. I’m losing count of the times I’ve had to file requests for correction of the text intended to grant due to an erroneous amendment by the examiner. The third issue is a worrying readiness to summon to oral proceedings as a means to pressure the representative to accept amendments proposed by the examiner. Requests to hold the OPs by videoconference are of course systematically denied without much reason, putting representatives not based in Munich or The Hague at a clear disadvantage.

Knowing the EPO’s internal production evaluation system, it is quite clear that every one of these problems has Battistelli’s productivity pressure at its source. Examiners pushed to churn out increasing numbers of “work products” (search reports and grants/refusals) at the end of the year cut corners in search first, and then in the exchanges with the representative during examination. This has, in many ways, negative effects on applicants and professional representatives as much as on third parties. It appears that I’m not the only person working “at the coal face” of patent prosecution to be aware of these problems, and that we should start making our complaints better heard at the level of the AC.

The next comment is good too:

So it was a “tactical” decision by the “rebel” AC delegations not to strongly resist the current President and his horrible policies? Hmmmn.

To quote John Stuart Mill: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing”. That applies pretty directly here, doesn’t it?

And, pray tell, what did the “rebel” AC delegations stand to lose by registering their dissent? They certainly would not have lost their standing or their vote, so what were they afraid of risking? As I see it, the only two possibilities are money and influence. The former is no excuse to look the other way whilst bad things happen under your watch. The latter is more complex but also, ultimately, no excuse. What is the point of biding your time in order to regain control when what you seek to control is being systematically dismembered in the meantime?

There is also another evil that is committed by the “rebel” AC delegations remaining silent. That is, is covers up the utterly dysfunctional nature of the AC, where the President (eg through judicious use of “cooperation” projects and budgets) appears to be able to “buy” the undying loyalty of certain AC delegates. Covering this up delays, or perhaps even prevents, reform of the governance of the EPO that is so obviously (and so urgently) required.

It may not be “diplomatic”, but sometimes it is essential to take a strong stand against evil – even if that risks provoking conflict. Why? Because sometimes those that we struggle against are either sociopaths or psychopaths who will stop at nothing to achieve their own, selfish aims. That would seem to apply pretty directly here as well, eh?

The next comment spoke of “[t]he election of Campinos, a man with a career riddled with scandals…”

We’ll soon start a series about that. Here is this comment in full:

I would like to inform “glad to be out of the mad house” of our internal regulations. We are not supposed to write more than one communication as “speed of procedure” has top priority. The number of extra communications is counted for our search report and I know of colleagues who were quietly suggested to retire because they were writing too many. Some directors did not apply this untold rule, but 60 or so directors are out of a job since last summer. Statistics on why these particular directors were sacked are not available. Part of their posts are still open.
So effectively, as an examiner, you cannot write extra communications. The only options are oral proceedings or grant with examiner written amendments. You can complain about it to your earth’s content, it will have no effect. Our management has as much contempt for the applicants as for the staff. And why wouldn’t they? They are effectively immune to everything. The election of Campinos, a man with a career riddled with scandals should prove it.

About searches: the new examiners are only trained in our new system called ansera. It finds prior art mostly automatically, you saw the results.

Citing something which we covered before (back in summer), someone recalled how Battistelli gets his way:

The current situation at the EPO is described in the Bijblad bij De Industriële Eigendom for April 2017.

https://www.rvo.nl/sites/default/files/octrooiportal/2017/04/Bijblad_2017_nr_2_april.pdf

“The Administrative Council (AC) of the European Patent Organization (EPO) held it most recent meeting on 15 and 16 March 2017.

To begin, the AC has now lost a lot of ground only a year after the AC itself gave very clearly defined tasks to the EPO President Battistelli with a unanimous resolution. Due to his evident influence over a large group of smaller states Battistelli does not have to worry about the smaller group of larger critical patent countries (CH, NL, DE FR, GB, SE). An unreal situation.”

As we’ve said many times before, IP Kat has become pretty useless for anything but the comments.

Patent Firms From the United States Try Hard to Push the Unitary Patent (UPC), Which Would Foment Litigation Wars in Europe

Wednesday 18th of October 2017 05:42:21 PM

Summary: The UPC push seems to be coming from firms which not only fail to represent public interests but are not even European

THE UPC is a dead or dying project, but Team UPC and Team Battistelli (a small bunch of hooligans at the EPO) refuse to let go.

We need to keep a close eye on these manoeuvres and we invite readers to send us more information because Team UPC always prefers secrecy (except when it lies to the public, whereupon it uses gullible journalists as couriers).

“The Empire strikes back,” a reader told us today. “After the recent turbulence at the MPI event in Munich on Friday the 13th (!), in which concerned Munich patent attorneys and representatives of industry rained on Mr. Ernst’s parade, it now seems that the pro-UPC forces are launching a counter offensive. This event is scheduled for 6 November at 15:00 in the Event Pavilion in Nymphenburgerstraße 3B in Munich.

“We need to keep a close eye on these manoeuvres and we invite readers to send us more information because Team UPC always prefers secrecy (except when it lies to the public, whereupon it uses gullible journalists as couriers).”“According to the press release: “ANAQUA initiates a Dialog about the Future of the European Patents”.

“The organisers of this event are ANAQUA Inc., a Boston-based (!) provider of intellectual asset management (IAM) and SaaS software and services.”

As a reminder to our readers, IAM organised a US-based event for UPC advocacy — an event which was funded by the US-based PR firm of the EPO and directly supported by the EPO.

“As a reminder to our readers, IAM organised a US-based event for UPC advocacy — an event which was funded by the US-based PR firm of the EPO and directly supported by the EPO.”“The speakers are Michael Fröhlich from the EPA,” our reader continued, “Philipp Nordmeyer from Munich-based patent law firm df-mp and Dr. Heiner Flocke who is the Chairman of the German industry association “Patentverein.de”. The discussion will be chaired by Wulf Höflich of the Munich-based patent law firm AKLAW.

“More details about the event can be found here (in German) and an English version of the press release about the ANAQUA event can be found here (“Anaqua Hosts Dialogue on the Future of European Patents”).

“Attendance requires registration before 27. October. The e-mail address for registration is: mklein@anaqua.com.”

In the Age of Alice and PTAB There is No Reason to Pursue Software Patents in the United States (Not Anymore)

Wednesday 18th of October 2017 11:36:08 AM

Summary: The appeal board in the US (PTAB) combined with a key decision of the Supreme Court may mean that even at a very low cost software patents can be invalidated upon demand (petition) and, failing that, the courts will invalidate these

Unwired Planet (formerly known as Openwave) is a patent troll that’s controlled by Ericsson. It is very malicious and it has already targeted the UK too. According to this (more reports from this event can be found at IP Kat), the troll was discussed in Australia and Ruschke from PTAB was there too. Here is the relevant section:

Arguing before a jury is second nature for experienced US patent trual lawyers. According to PTAB Chief Judge David Ruschke, that fact accounts for one of the biggest mistakes parties make in IPRs. Those same trial lawyers are still trying to figure out how best to argue at PTAB proceedings, Ruschke told a panel on post-grant procedures around the world. “You’re not talking to a jury, you’re talking to a panel of technology and law experts,” the judge reminded practitioners. “Some counsel try to tell a story like they would tell to a jury, but then can’t answer fundamental technical questions,” he observed. Ruschke said he was well aware that the PTAB has received what he called “challenging press” and assured attendees that he does not turn a blind eye to it. But he emphasised that the post-grant system is still very much in a transition period.

That’s almost the equivalent of the EPO‘s appeal board (albeit there are fundamental differences).

PTAB is a very important subject right now because it has managed to squash software patents a lot faster than courts, and at a vastly lower cost. No wonder the trolls’ lobby wants so badly to squash PTAB itself.

According to yesterday’s press release from StrikeForce, it managed to escape PTAB’s scrutiny. The funny thing is, this company actually paid money to brag that it had managed to dodge scrutiny of its crappy patents (which would probably have been trashed by PTAB, based on their description which invokes Alice).

“PTAB is a very important subject right now because it has managed to squash software patents a lot faster than courts, and at a vastly lower cost.”Also yesterday there was this press release from FatPipe Networks, which calls itself “the inventor and multiple patents holder of software-defined networks” (i.e. software patents).

Unless they can pretend that the software is somehow physical (an impossibility), these patents are likely worthless.

Eric Lavallee from Lavery de Billy LLP has just published this article, openly urging people to disguise software patents as something else like “AI” (a fashionable buzzword these days even though the concept is far from new). To quote:

The initial instinct of many entrepreneurs would be to patent their artificial intelligence processes. However, although in some instances such a course of action would be an effective method of protection, obtaining a patent is not necessarily the most appropriate form of protection for artificial intelligence or software technologies generally. Since the major Supreme Court of the United States decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, it is now acknowledged that applying abstract concepts in the IT environment will not suffice to transform such concepts into patentable items. For instance, in light of that decision, a patent that had been issued for an expert system (which is a form of artificial intelligence) was subsequently invalidated by a U.S. court.2

Law firms are just trying to ‘dress up’ software patents as “AI” to bypass the simple law that renders them worthless.

When will the wider public realise that software patents are virtually dead now? It’s very hard to actually enforce these in a court of law.

“When will the wider public realise that software patents are virtually dead now? It’s very hard to actually enforce these in a court of law.”“Software patents provided some limited protection,” yesterday’s article from Venturebeat said, “but feature wars rage on.”

Programs live or die based on their features, not based on patents that are basically dead now (no leverage to gain from them).

Let’s face the simple fact that Alice changed everything. Last night the EFF published yet another story about Alice, this time regarding blackmail by “My Health”. To quote some portions:

Alice Saves Medical Startup From Death By Telehealth Patent

[...]

When Justus received the demand letter, he was shocked. He read the patent, and it seemed incredibly mundane. It didn’t offer any of the technical detail that Justus knew went into building a complex product like the one offered by MyVitalz. It gave no explanation on how to accomplish any of the goals it claimed. Instead, it seemed to claim the idea of telehealth itself. Justus thought, “I put in four years of work to build my product, and this patent seems so basic.”

“It almost felt as though my business was being blackmailed,” Justus says. “Sure, I could make the threat go away with a payment that would be less than the cost of litigation. But I refused to pay just to be able to keep running my business which I’d devoted my life to building.”

Justus scoured the Internet for information that could help him with My Health’s demand. He tried to figure out how he could defend himself, knowing that to do so would likely mean selling his personal assets to afford a lawyer.

[...]

Thanks to Alice, Justus never heard from My Health again. He’s now back focusing on what matters most: helping people get better health care.

Patent filings at the USPTO are still growing, but legal actions have collapsed. In the coming years we can expect further reduction in the number of patent cases, bringing the system closer to its roots (and further away from extortionate litigation).

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