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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 21 min ago

Thugs United: Francis Gurry Lecture, Courtesy of Benoît Battistelli

Sunday 8th of October 2017 11:08:52 AM

Law school featuring talks from (and in honour of) people who break the national law and then claim immunity

Summary: On the black comedy which is a lecture in a law school delivered by one who shows flagrant disregard for the law (and named after another)

What does it say about a law school when it invites and honours people who break the law? That certainly brings back memories of last month’s Harvard debacle.

The University of Melbourne Law School says that “Mr Benoît Battistelli will be presenting the Francis Gurry Lecture on Intellectual Property on Wednesday 18 October 2017 on the topic “The European Patent System: Serving the Global Economy”.”

“Do they know much about Battistelli? Have they researched his background before inviting him to a law school?”“In this year’s Lecture,” says another page, “the President of the EPO will explain these developments and explore their implications and benefits for Australian innovators.”

Do they know much about Battistelli? Have they researched his background before inviting him to a law school?

Both Battistelli and Gurry are governing like dictators who boast their utter disregard for the law and/or their immunity. For a law school to invite a person with such a terrible record when it comes to obeying the law is an utter disgrace. And to honour or name the lecture after another? Just because he’s Australian?

Patent Microcosm, Patent Media and Patent Office: “It’s a Big Club and You Ain’t in It”

Sunday 8th of October 2017 10:22:01 AM

To use the famous saying from George Carlin

Summary: When the national patent law is constructed behind closed doors by a cabal of lawyers and few opportunists who attempt to justify their own existence rather than represent the innovators who they claim to be “protecting”

THE world has plenty of conflicting interests. The war industry, for instance, has a tremendous leverage over foreign policy. This would probably surprise nobody, but the same is true at the USPTO and the patent ‘industry’. Just look at their echo chamber-type events. Nowadays, it’s almost an accident if an actual engineer has a say on the subjects debated (sometimes they let some lawyer of massive corporations have a say).

What about judges? Well, they too are typically former lawyers.

And watch how Dennis Crouch categorises them (just before the weekend): “Chief Judge Prost, Judge Taranto and Judge Hughes – would not be identified as overly pro-patentee.”

Well, as if they fall into a category. At least he didn’t use a term like “anti-patents” or “anti-innovation” as Watchtroll likely would. Watchtroll has already called for the firing of one of their colleagues. Here is what Crouch wrote:

On appeal, the Federal Circuit has vacated the injunction – holding that the district court made reversible errors with regard to written description and enablement. Before walking through the decision, I’ll note here that the Federal Circuit panel here – made up of Chief Judge Prost, Judge Taranto and Judge Hughes – would not be identified as overly pro-patentee.

The problem is that many people read sites like the above, as well as Watchtroll. They wrongly assume there’s insight there because of the profession, often forgetting that this profession attempts to perpetuate if not expand itself. So the bias is dyed in the wool.

Days ago Watchtroll was reposting that old press release that said “Bednarek began his career in the early 1980s as patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, examining some of the first software patents granted by the agency.”

He is moving from public to private, just like the crooked David Kappos. We wrote about it exactly a week ago. Nowadays software patents are no longer recognised by courts, but the USPTO continues to grant these. PTAB, which is run by David Ruschke, knows all about Alice, but he too will be lobbied in another echo chamber-type event of IAM, according to this blog post from a few days ago. Does he know who is funding IAM? Does he really want to be associated with that? Also in that event there will be the person behind the STRONGER Patents Act — a bill which strives to do the very opposite of making patents stronger. It could be renamed the Patent Trolling Act. To quote IAM: “Among the outstanding faculty members are: Senator Chris Coons, co-sponsor of the STRONGER Patents Act introduced into the Senate earlier this year; Joseph Matal, acting head of the US Patent and Trademark Office; and David Ruschke, chief judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. They will be joining a number of other high-profile figures from the US patent community…”

The term “US patent community” just means the patent microcosm.

As we said a long time ago, IAM is in the business of lobbying and we know who it’s lobbying for; just follow the money.

Herein lies the key point. The media that covers patents, the patent ‘industry’ and the branch of government that deals with patents are all in the same bed. Their goal — unlike courts’ goal — is to just throw patents at everything. It cannot go on like this. That’s like putting companies that manufacture bombs in charge of foreign policy; obviously they would initiate war at any opportunity.

This is a real problem that more people ought to be speaking about. Such an incestuous relationship reveals disturbing lack of separation, maybe even collusion.

The other day IAM spoke to some law firms about patent policy. Here is what one firm from Malaysia said about software patents:

To what extent can inventions covering software or computer-implemented inventions be patented?

It is possible to protect software-related inventions in Malaysia, provided that these meet the statutory definition of an ‘invention’ (ie, an idea that solves a technical problem). Data processing which involves no technical effect or advance does not constitute a patentable invention. Software inventions which are construed as business methods are not patentable, as business methods are excluded from patentability.

According to MyIPO’s patent examination guidelines, claims directed to a computer program per se or a computer program embodied on a carrier, regardless of its content, are not allowed. A computer program may be patentable if the claimed subject matter makes a technical contribution to the art (eg, program-controlled machines or program-controlled manufacturing processes).

According to this, the rules in Malaysia are somewhat similar to what happens in the EPO. The End Software Patents (ESP) campaign said (back in 2010) that “Malaysia Section 13(1)(a) of the Malaysian Patents Act 1983 excludes from patentable subject matter “discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods” and paragraph (c) excludes “schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or playing games”.”

As we showed many times before, national policies on patents (in various patent offices) are often put together by the patent ‘industry’ and are influenced by their lobbyists. As soon as public officials find out about public views (the stance of those impacted by these laws) they correct these laws, as Australia recently did.

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part VII: Quo Vadis EPO?

Sunday 8th of October 2017 09:19:49 AM

Summary: An analysis of a shift in the EPO and what motivates this shift, which likely dooms decades of EPO excellence and integrity

THIS seventh part of the series is probably the most important one.

The EPO‘s deal with Angola was mentioned in part 1, parts 2, 3 and 4 looked more closely at Angola and in parts 5 and 6 we looked again at Europe. Now it’s back to the EPO. We’ll wrap things up in the next (and final) part of this series.

At first glance, the revelations about Luso-Angolan and domestic Portuguese corruption networks may seem very remote from the EPO.

“Another point that should be kept in mind here is that the current master plan of “King” Battistelli aims at the installation of the “Dauphin” Campinos as his successor at the head of the EPO.”However, the lack of effective external oversight at the EPO means that bilateral “co-operation agreements” with countries such as Angola give rise to very real risks of a misuse of official funds.

The dubious dealings of WIPO’s Francis Gurry with North Korea and the general lack of accountability of international organisations provide an example that should set alarm bells ringing.

Another point that should be kept in mind here is that the current master plan of “King” Battistelli aims at the installation of the “Dauphin” Campinos as his successor at the head of the EPO.

The driving force behind this high-level political intrigue seems to be a Franco-Iberian axis led by the Corsican Battistelli, his faithful Spanish lieutenant Casado and a pair of Iberian “pet chinchillas” on the Administrative Council, namely the Director General of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (Ms Patricia García-Escudero Márquez) and the Director of the Portuguese National Institute of Industrial Property (Maria Leonor Mendes Da Trindade).

“The driving force behind this high-level political intrigue seems to be a Franco-Iberian axis led by the Corsican Battistelli, his faithful Spanish lieutenant Casado and a pair of Iberian “pet chinchillas” on the Administrative Council…”The Franco-Iberian axis is said to be supported by a group of smaller Southern European states, including Monaco and San Marino, as well as a number of relatively recent EPC member states from Eastern Europe.

The close collusion between Battistelli, Casado and Campinos is reflected by their heavy involvement with the Spanish private university Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP). They frequently turn up at UIMP events or feature as guest lecturers at seminars and conferences organised by the UIMP and Battistelli has even been awarded with an honorary doctorate from the UIMP.

By a curious coincidence in April 2016 both Casado and Campinos received awards from the Spanish government “for their dedication to the promotion and protection of IP rights”. On that occasion they appeared together for a photo-op with the Spanish PTO Director Mrs. García-Escudero Márquez. [Photo here showing Casado, Campinos as well as García-Escudero Márquez]

“The Franco-Iberian axis is said to be supported by a group of smaller Southern European states, including Monaco and San Marino, as well as a number of relatively recent EPC member states from Eastern Europe.”Casado who was Vice-President of the EU’s Intellectual Property Office in Alicante (formerly the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market – OHIM from 1994 to 2004 has recently been appointed as head of the new EPO Directorate-General Patent Granting Process.

Although he has largely remained in the shadows up until now, his new appointment as Willie Minnoye’s successor seems to confirm suspicions that Casado is a die-hard Battistelli loyalist who is destined to play a leading role during the last year of Battistelli’s presidency. It is speculated that one of his task is likely to be to prepare the EPO for the planned takeover of Campinos.

As far as Campinos is concerned it is worth noting that he is of Luso-Angolan ancestry. His father Jorge Campinos was born in Lobito in 1937 when Angola was still a Portuguese colony and it is a matter of historical record that Campinos Senior was involved with the Angolan MPLA during the colonial era in the 1960′s. Following Portuguese withdrawal from Angola in 1975, the MPLA became the dominant political party which has governed the country since independence. José Eduardo Dos Santos assumed the leadership of the MPLA in 1979.

“The close collusion between Battistelli, Casado and Campinos is reflected by their heavy involvement with the Spanish private university Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP).”Given this background it could be useful to investigate what connections, if any, Campinos Junior might have to the key players in the contemporary circles of the post‑colonial Angolan elite as well as the domestic Portuguese networks exposed by Operation Marquis.

Regardless of what such investigations might or might not reveal one thing seems certain.

Battistelli’s plan to install Campinos as his successor — if it proves successful — will be likely to produce a shift of the EPO’s political centre of gravity southwards away from the “founder states” of North and Central Europe (U.K., Benelux, Germany and Switzerland) and towards the Mediterranean region.

The appointment of the EPO’s “first Portuguese President” is likely to be accompanied by frantic efforts to gloss over his strong French connections and shouts of acclamation by his fan club about progress towards “a more diverse EPO” (to quote Battistelli).

Looking at the levels of systemic high-level political corruption uncovered by official investigations such as Operation Gürtel in Spain and Operation Marquis in Portugal, it is questionable as to whether such a triumph for the Franco-Iberian axis would really be a cause for celebration.

“The appointment of the EPO’s “first Portuguese President” is likely to be accompanied by frantic efforts to gloss over his strong French connections…”It is interesting to note that compared to other EU member states the countries at the forefront of Battistelli’s “Club Med” have relatively poor rankings in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) published by Transparency International. According to the CPI 2016 out of a total of 176 states surveyed France was ranked at position 23, Portugal at 29 and Spain at 41.

Spain’s position in the 2016 CPI plummeted sharply as a result of the recent prominent corruption probes implicating both of the major political parties, the governing conservative Partido Popular and its main opposition the Socialist Party.

It will be interesting to see whether the revelations emerging from “Operation Marquis” will have a similar effect on Portugal’s rating in next year’s CPI.

“This struggle is reported to be between a group of states which supports Battistelli’s “Club Med” and a counter-bloc whose core is formed by the main EPC founder states including Germany, Netherlands, UK and Switzerland.”At the EPO some insiders are already talking about a power struggle or a “clash of civilisations” within the Administrative Council which is predicted to intensify in the coming months.

This struggle is reported to be between a group of states which supports Battistelli’s “Club Med” and a counter-bloc whose core is formed by the main EPC founder states including Germany, Netherlands, UK and Switzerland.

The role of France in all this is shrouded in uncertainty. It is reported that the Corsican Battstelli who is considered by many of his compatriots to be an international embarrassment for France does not enjoy the support of the new government under Emmanuel Macron (in spite of the ENA connection). It is also rumoured that those responsible for IP matters at governmental level are at best “lukewarm” about the prospect of Campinos as the next EPO President. But the official position of the French government is not yet known.

“It is also rumoured that those responsible for IP matters at governmental level are at best “lukewarm” about the prospect of Campinos as the next EPO President.”Whatever happens over the coming months, the outcome of this power struggle within the EPO’s Administrative Council is likely to determine the direction in which the organisation moves in the post-Battistelli era.

It may well be that future historians will view Battistelli’s presidency as a watershed era during which the old “historical” EPO with the sense of mission based on the vision of its “founding fathers” to serve European interests, uphold patent quality and respect the rule of law was gradually and surreptitiously replaced by a new “modern” EPO designed to serve the hidden “corporate” and “global” agendas of European political elites and their “business partners” in developing world kleptocracies such as Angola.

Additional Complaints About the Unitary Patent (UPC) Pile Up in Germany, Here’s How to Submit More

Saturday 7th of October 2017 10:57:48 PM

Summary: More complaints against the UPC are on their way, assuring further delays and possibly the complete scuttling of the whole thing

THE Unitary Patent is doomed. As we expected, additional complaints are there (or on their way). There’s more than three weeks left for further submissions. The EPO and Team UPC will obviously intervene (in favour), but we’re aware of motions against the UPC for judges to consider.

For anyone who is interested in submission of further complaints, here are the conditions for the imposition of a constitutional complaint. It’s based on a PDF in German.

Merkblatt über die Verfassungsbeschwerde zum Bundesverfassungsgericht

I. Allgemeines

Jedermann kann Verfassungsbeschwerde zum Bundesverfassungsgericht erheben, wenn er sich durch die öffentliche Gewalt in einem seiner Grundrechte (vgl. Art. 1 bis 19 GG) oder bestimmten grundrechtsgleichen Rechten (Art. 20 Abs. 4, Art. 33, 38, 101, 103, 104 GG) verletzt glaubt.

Das Bundesverfassungsgericht kann die Verfassungswidrigkeit eines Aktes der öffentlichen Gewalt feststellen, ein Gesetz für nichtig erklären oder eine verfassungswidrige Entscheidung aufheben und die Sache an ein zuständiges Gericht zurückverweisen.

Andere Entscheidungen kann das Bundesverfassungsgericht auf eine Verfassungsbeschwerde hin nicht treffen. Es kann z.B. weder Schadensersatz zuerkennen noch Maßnahmen der Straf- verfolgung einleiten. Der einzelne Staatsbürger hat grundsätzlich auch keinen mit der Verfassungsbeschwerde verfolgbaren Anspruch auf ein bestimmtes Handeln des Gesetzgebers.

Verfassungsbeschwerden gegen gerichtliche Entscheidungen führen nicht zur Überprüfung im vollen Umfang, sondern nur zur Nachprüfung auf verfassungsrechtliche Verstöße. Selbst wenn die Gestaltung des Verfahrens, die Feststellung und Würdigung des Sachverhalts, die Auslegung eines Gesetzes oder seine Anwendung auf den einzelnen Fall Fehler aufweisen sollten, bedeutet dies für sich allein nicht schon eine Grundrechtsverletzung.

II. Form und Inhalt der Verfassungsbeschwerde

Die Verfassungsbeschwerde ist schriftlich einzureichen und zu begründen (§ 23 Abs. 1, § 92 BVerfGG). Die Begründung muss mindestens folgende Angaben enthalten:

1. Der Hoheitsakt (gerichtliche Entscheidung, Verwaltungsakt, Gesetz), gegen den sich die Verfassungsbeschwerde richtet, muss genau bezeichnet werden (bei gerichtlichen Entscheidungen und Verwaltungsakten sollen Datum, Aktenzeichen und Tag der Verkündung bzw. des Zugangs angegeben werden).

2. Das Grundrecht oder grundrechtsgleiche Recht, das durch den angegriffenen Hoheitsakt verletzt sein soll, muss benannt oder jedenfalls seinem Rechtsinhalt nach bezeichnet werden.

3. Es ist darzulegen, worin im Einzelnen die Grundrechtsverletzung erblickt wird. Hierzu sind auch die mit der Verfassungsbeschwerde angegriffenen Gerichtsentscheidungen (einschließlich in Bezug genommener Schreiben), Bescheide usw. in Ausfertigung, Abschrift oder Fotokopie vorzulegen. Zumindest muss ihr Inhalt einschließlich der Begründung aus der Beschwerdeschrift ersichtlich sein.

4. Neben den angegriffenen Entscheidungen müssen auch sonstige Unterlagen aus dem Ausgangsverfahren (z.B. einschlägige Schriftsätze, Anhörungsprotokolle, Gutachten) vorgelegt (wie unter 3.) oder inhaltlich wiedergegeben werden, ohne deren Kenntnis nicht beurteilt werden kann, ob die in der Verfassungsbeschwerde erhobenen Rügen berechtigt sind.

5. Richtet sich die Verfassungsbeschwerde gegen behördliche und/oder gerichtliche Entscheidungen, so muss aus der Begründung auch ersichtlich sein, mit welchen Rechtsbehelfen, Anträgen und Rügen der Beschwerdeführer sich im Verfahren vor den Fachgerichten um die Abwehr des behaupteten Grundrechtsverstoßes bemüht hat. Dazu müssen die im fachgerichtlichen Verfahren gestellten Anträge und sonstigen Schriftsätze beigefügt (wie unter 3.) oder inhaltlich wiedergegeben werden.

III. Weitere Zulässigkeitsvoraussetzungen

1. Beschwerdefrist

Die Verfassungsbeschwerde gegen Entscheidungen der Gerichte und Behörden ist nur innerhalb eines Monats zulässig (§ 93 Abs. 1 Satz 1 BVerfGG). Auch die vollständige Begründung muss innerhalb dieser Frist eingereicht werden (§ 93 Abs. 1 Satz 1 BVerfGG); werden Informationen, die zu den Mindestanforderungen an die Begründung der Verfassungsbeschwerde (s. oben II.) gehören, erst nach Fristablauf unterbreitet, so ist die Verfassungsbeschwerde unzulässig. Eine Verlängerung der Frist durch das Gericht ist ausgeschlossen.

Konnte der Beschwerdeführer die Frist ohne Verschulden nicht einhalten, so kann binnen zwei Wochen nach Wegfall des Hindernisses Wiedereinsetzung in den vorigen Stand beantragt und die Verfassungsbeschwerde nachgeholt werden. Die Tatsachen zur Begründung des Antrags sind glaubhaft zu machen. Das Verschulden eines Verfahrensbevollmächtigten beider Fristversäumung steht dem Verschulden des Beschwerdeführers gleich (§ 93 Abs. 2 BVerfGG).

2. Erschöpfung des Rechtswegs

a) Allgemeines

Die Anrufung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts ist grundsätzlich nur und erst dann zulässig, wenn der Beschwerdeführer zuvor den Rechtsweg erschöpft und darüber hinaus die ihm zur Verfügung stehenden weiteren Möglichkeiten ergriffen hat, um eine Korrektur der geltend gemachten Verfassungsverletzung zu erreichen oder diese zu verhindern. Die Verfassungsbeschwerde ist unzulässig, wenn und soweit eine anderweitige Möglichkeit besteht oder bestand, die Grundrechtsverletzung zu beseitigen oder ohne Inanspruchnahme des Bundesverfassungsgerichts im praktischen Ergebnis dasselbe zu erreichen.

Vor Erhebung der Verfassungsbeschwerde müssen daher alle verfügbaren Rechtsbehelfe (z.B. Berufung, Revision, Beschwerde, Nichtzulassungsbeschwerde) genutzt worden sein. Die Erhebung einer Verfassungsbeschwerde zum Landesverfassungsgericht wird dagegen für eine zulässige Verfassungsbeschwerde zum Bundesverfassungsgericht nicht vorausgesetzt. Zu den Möglichkeiten, den geltend gemachten Grundrechtsverstoß schon im Verfahren vor den Fachgerichten abzuwehren, gehören auch: ausreichende Darstellung des relevanten Sachverhalts, geeignete Beweisanträge, Wiedereinsetzungsanträge bei unverschuldeter Fristversäumung u.ä. Eine Verfassungsbeschwerde ist daher nicht zulässig, soweit solche Möglichkeiten im fachgerichtlichen Verfahren nicht genutzt wurden.

b) Besonderheiten bei Gehörsrügen

Wird die Nichtgewährung rechtlichen Gehörs (Art. 103 Abs. 1 GG) gerügt, so ist, wenn gegen die angegriffene Entscheidung ein anderer Rechtsbehelf nicht gegeben ist, die Verfassungsbeschwerde nur zulässig, wenn zuvor versucht wurde, durch Einlegung einer Anhörungsrüge (insbesondere § 321a ZPO, § 152a VwGO, § 178a SGG, § 78a ArbGG, § 44 FamFG, § 133a FGO, §§ 33a, 356a StPO) bei dem zuständigen Fachgericht Abhilfe zu erreichen. Die Unzulässigkeit der Verfassungsbeschwerde beschränkt sich in einem solchen Fall regelmäßig nicht auf die behauptete Verletzung des Anspruchs auf rechtliches Gehör, sondern erfasst auch alle sonstigen Rügen.

c) Rechtssatzverfassungsbeschwerde

Gesetze, Rechtsverordnungen oder Satzungen können mit der Verfassungsbeschwerde nur ausnahmsweise unmittelbar angegriffen werden, und zwar dann, wenn sie den Beschwerdeführer selbst, gegenwärtig und unmittelbar beschweren. Die Verfassungsbeschwerde muss in diesem Fall binnen eines Jahres seit dem Inkrafttreten der Rechtsvorschrift erhoben werden (§ 93 Abs. 3 BVerfGG).

In der Regel bedürfen Rechtsvorschriften jedoch des Vollzuges, d.h. der Anwendung im einzelnen Fall durch eine behördliche oder gerichtliche Entscheidung, gegen die der Betroffene den Rechtsweg vor den zuständigen Gerichten erschöpfen muss. In aller Regel ist die Verfassungsbeschwerde daher in solchen Fällen erst nach der Entscheidung des letztinstanzlichen Gerichts zulässig (§ 90 Abs. 2 BVerfGG).

IV. Vertretung

Der Beschwerdeführer kann die Verfassungsbeschwerde selbst erheben. Will er sich vertreten lassen, dann kann dies grundsätzlich nur durch einen Rechtsanwalt oder durch einen Rechtslehrer an einer staatlichen oder staatlich anerkannten Hochschule eines Mitgliedstaates der Europäischen Union, eines anderen Vertragsstaates des Abkommens über den Europäischen Wirtschaftsraum oder der Schweiz, der die Befähigung zum Richteramt besitzt, geschehen (§ 22 Abs. 1 Satz 1 BVerfGG). Eine andere Person lässt das Bundesverfassungsgericht als Beistand nur dann zu, wenn es dies ausnahmsweise für sachdienlich hält (§ 22 Abs. 1 Satz 4 BVerfGG). Die Vollmacht ist schriftlich zu erteilen und muss sich ausdrücklich auf das Verfahren vor dem Bundesverfassungsgericht beziehen (§ 22 Abs. 2 BVerfGG).

V. Annahmeverfahren

Die Verfassungsbeschwerde bedarf der Annahme zur Entscheidung (§ 93a Abs. 1 BVerfGG). Sie ist zur Entscheidung anzunehmen,

a) soweit ihr grundsätzliche verfassungsrechtliche Bedeutung zukommt,

b) wenn es zur Durchsetzung der in § 90 Abs. 1 BVerfGG genannten Rechte angezeigt ist; dies kann auch der Fall sein, wenn dem Beschwerdeführer durch die Versagung der Entscheidung zur Sache ein besonders schwerer Nachteil entsteht (§ 93a Abs. 2 BVerfGG).

Eine Verfassungsbeschwerde hat regelmäßig keine grundsätzliche verfassungsrechtliche Bedeutung, wenn die von ihr aufgeworfenen verfassungsrechtlichen Fragen in der Rechtsprechung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts bereits geklärt sind.

Zur Durchsetzung der Grundrechte kann die Annahme der Verfassungsbeschwerde – beispielsweise – angezeigt sein, wenn einer grundrechtswidrigen allgemeinen Praxis von Behörden und Gerichten entgegengewirkt werden soll oder wenn ein Verfassungsverstoß für den Beschwerdeführer besonders schwerwiegend ist.

Die Ablehnung der Annahme der Verfassungsbeschwerde kann durch einstimmigen Beschluss der aus drei Richtern bestehenden Kammer erfolgen. Der Beschluss bedarf keiner Begründung und ist nicht anfechtbar (§ 93d Abs. 1 BVerfGG).

VI. Gerichtskosten

Das Verfahren vor dem Bundesverfassungsgericht ist kostenfrei. Das Bundesverfassungsgericht kann jedoch dem Beschwerdeführer eine Gebühr bis zu 2.600 Euro auferlegen, wenn die Einlegung der Verfassungsbeschwerde einen Missbrauch darstellt (§ 34 Abs. 2 BVerfGG).

VII. Rücknahme von Anträgen

Bis zur Entscheidung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts ist grundsätzlich die Rücknahme einer Verfassungsbeschwerde insgesamt oder einzelner Rügen sowie die Rücknahme eines Antrags auf Erlass einer einstweiligen Anordnung jederzeit möglich. Eine Gebühr (vgl. VI) wird in diesem Fall nicht erhoben.

VIII. Allgemeines Register (AR)

Eingaben, mit denen der Absender weder einen bestimmten Antrag verfolgt noch ein Anliegen geltend macht, für das eine Zuständigkeit des Bundesverfassungsgerichts besteht, werden im Allgemeinen Register erfasst und als Justizverwaltungsangelegenheit bearbeitet.

Im Allgemeinen Register können auch Verfassungsbeschwerden registriert werden, bei denen eine Annahme zur Entscheidung (§ 93a BVerfGG) nicht in Betracht kommt, weil sie offensichtlich unzulässig sind oder unter Berücksichtigung der Rechtsprechung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts offensichtlich keinen Erfolg haben können (s. oben V.).

Begehrt der Einsender nach Unterrichtung über die Rechtslage eine richterliche Entscheidung, so wird die Verfassungsbeschwerde in das Verfahrensregister übertragen und weiterbehandelt (§ 64 Abs. 2 GOBVerfG).

GG = Grundgesetz für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland in der im Bundesgesetzblatt Teil III, Gliederungsnummer 100-1, veröffentlichten bereinigten Fassung, das zuletzt durch Artikel 1 des Gesetzes vom 23. Dezember 2014 (BGBl I S. 2438) geändert worden ist

BVerfGG = Bundesverfassungsgerichtsgesetz in der Fassung der Bekanntmachung vom 11. August 1993 (BGBl I S. 1473), das zuletzt durch Artikel 1 des Gesetzes vom 29. August 2013 (BGBl I S. 3463) geändert worden ist.

GOBVerfG = Geschäftsordnung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts vom 19. November 2014 (BGBl 2015 I S. 286).

(Stand: März 2015)

There is currently no English version.

Gains for PTAB Supporters and Excuses From PTAB Opponents (the Litigation/Trolling ‘Industry’)

Saturday 7th of October 2017 10:24:01 PM

Aqua Products case a disappointment to PTAB foes

Summary: The latest news updates about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), its proponents, and Aqua Products v Matal, which patent maximalists are attempting to spin in their favour because they’re not satisfied with the outcome

A COUPLE of days ago we noted that Cisco wholeheartedly supports PTAB, not only in terms of monetary means (for a pro-PTAB group) but also in words. The CCIA published a statement from Cisco. Well, the good news is that a former Cisco executive is now becoming Google’s chief patent personality. As IAM put it a few days ago:

Google has a new head of patents. Michael Lee, who joined the company from Cisco in January, has been appointed to the role following Allen Lo’s exit in August. Lee had been lead counsel for mobile at Google, having previously spent eight years at Cisco in a variety of roles including, most recently, as senior director IP strategy, marketplace and policy.

Lee’s appointment came to light via his LinkedIn profile which gives October 2017 as his start date. It’s not clear who Lee will be reporting into — he didn’t respond to a request for comment — but, according to one source Google, is in the midst of shaking up its IP function: an overall head is due to be appointed with the respective heads of patents, trademarks and copyright all reporting into whoever gets that job.


Prior to joining Cisco Lee was senior legal director for IP litigation and conflict management at Yahoo! and before that did stints in private practice with Shearman & Sterling and Fish & Neave.

The High Tech Inventors Alliance (HTIA), a pro-PTAB alliance, is supported by both Cisco and Google.

As we noted here just before the weekend, US politicians will probably have a closer look at — and possibly have immunity removed from — Native American tribes that help patent trolls dodge PTAB. This too has been noted by the patent microcosm. Another loophole to be closed soon? To quote Patently-O:

As discussed previously, Tribal Nation Sovereign Immunity is not Constitutionally protected and may be eliminated by particular acts of Congress. Thus, this Bill would seem to be effective to eliminate the ongoing concern regarding tribal immunity assertions. The proposal does lack an effective date and so the only missing element would be whether the Bill would retroactively veto pre-enactment claims of immunity.

Michael Loney, who is based New York and is watching PTAB pretty closely, has just spread some doubts about PTAB. Sites like Managing IP, proponents of patent trolls most of the time, seem to be rather upset that the Federal Circuit doesn’t stop PTAB. Loney wrote about the Aqua Products case and propagated the discreditisation, dubbing it “a wash out”:

The Federal Circuit’s en banc Aqua Products v Matal ruling has been described as “a complete non-event” and “a real mess” that “did little to resolve the big questions” surrounding the PTAB’s treatment of motions to amend. However, it did shift the burden of persuasion to the petitioner, while some believe the Chevron implications of the decision are most interesting

Not too shockingly, shortly after the typical PTAB bashing from IAM (site for patent trolls) came this post about the same case. It was composed by a patent trolls supporter and software patents pusher, Richard Lloyd. He’s one among several of those who try hard to eliminate PTAB by all means possible, in essence lobbying by twisting facts. Here’s an example:

In emails and conversations with a series of IPR specialists this week in the wake of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s (CAFC) decision in Aqua Products v Matal, “this is a mess!” was a common response.

They basically try to discredit the outcome. So did Alden Abbott, who says he is “deputy director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and the John, Barbara, and Victoria Rumpel Senior Legal Fellow.”

Yesterday he published this piece entitled “Erosion of Patent Rights Is a Threat to Innovation and American Prosperity” (there is no “Erosion of Patent Rights”, there’s improvement of patent quality and patents are not even a "right").

Watch who/what he leans on:

The Patent and Trademark Office, an agency within the Commerce Department, reviews patent applications and issues patents for inventions that meet patentability criteria.


As Gene Quinn, a leading patent lawyer, explains, these changes mean that today “there are many other parts of the world that have more expansive views of what can be patented, including Europe, Australia, and even China.”

If you are citing Watchtroll as an authority on patents, then you’re as about as extreme as a politician who promotes Breitbart. The usual "China!" line is there too, conflating trolls with “Innovation and American Prosperity”. And then comes the attack on PTAB, revealing that the author is more interested in trolls and low-quality patents, not “Innovation and American Prosperity”:

Patent experts note that this board has wreaked havoc, striking down the vast majority of patent claims it considers in a way that undermines fundamental due process rights of patent holders.

“Patent experts” just means patent microcosm, i.e. those who make a living from disputes.

Incidentally, speaking of China, Mark Kokes (the man who ruined BlackBerry and made it little more than a patent bully) did the usual deflection. Kokes wants us to focus on China again; the patent aggressors and trolls prefer China because it makes extortion easier, so watch what he was saying:

China gets a special mention – “We have had tremendous success at IT licensing there with the approach we have adopted.” – as does the US, though for less positive reasons: “The legal environment has changed dramatically. If you look at it from an asset perspective at a minimum you’d say that values are suppressed – even for high quality ones.” But overall Kokes is optimistic: “Innovation and having IP-centric economies is the right way to go. They are getting a lot more entrepreneurial in China and in parts of Europe, just as things are declining a little in the US.” But despite some head-winds his philosophy is very simple, he concludes: “If you are creative enough you can build your own markets.”

In other words, for litigation giants the US has become less attractive. Is that actually a bad thing? Well, for serial litigators it certainly is, but what have they ever given to society? PTAB and high patent quality (which IPRs entail) make the US a lot more competitive and productive. Less litigation, more development.

Patent Trolls to Watch Out For: ZiiLabs, VLSI Technology LLC, and AlphaCap Ventures

Saturday 7th of October 2017 09:17:49 PM

Eagles watching the circling vultures

Summary: Roundup of news about patent trolls which actively pursue ‘protection’ money and are already filing lawsuits in the US

IN an effort to keep abreast of broad and potentially complex networks of trolls we habitually document who does what and where (or who for). Many trolls simply act as proxies or satellites for another entity. Some change names. We strive to keep these things documented and sites that are friendly to trolls often drop hints about what goes on (because they try to promote or help the trolls, not expose them). One such site is IAM, which is close to Intellectual Ventures, a Microsoft-connected troll with literally thousands of proxies.

The other day IAM wrote about RPX and ZiiLabs, a trolling proxy of Creative. We mentioned it before, as far back as 5 years, then again last year and earlier this year. We also wrote many articles about Creative. Like other companies that thrived/peaked back in the 1990s and then faltered, their patents approach their expiry date so they try hard to make the most out of these, i.e. litigation.

Singapore continues to yield patent trolls such as Creative — a cause for concern in an otherwise strong economy. Here’s the latest:

Back in July, RPX announced a deal with ZiiLabs – a subsidiary of Singapore’s Creative Technology – which halted US patent infringement litigation against seven defendants, at least some of whom are members of the aggregation service. As part of the agreement, ZiiLabs assigned an unspecified number of patent rights to RPX.

At the time, this blog speculated on just what the bounds of the deal were, and how much room it would leave ZiiLabs to continue to monetise the patent portfolio it acquired as part of a 2002 buyout of chip designer 3DLabs. A new lawsuit filed in the district court in Delaware against Nvidia answers some of those questions. And it seems to suggest that ZiiLabs and parent Creative are set to remain Southeast Asia’s key patent player.

As we pointed out earlier this year, Creative is now targeting Android OEMs. It’s a real menace. Creative barely sells anything anymore and its patents have become nothing but a burden/yoke on society.

There’s another IAM blog post, this one about VLSI Technology LLC (which, as the name suggests, is likely just a troll). Fortress was mentioned here at the end of last month and it seems to be behind this troll. To quote:

Earlier this week a patent infringement lawsuit was filed against Intel in district court in Northern California by a company called VLSI Technology LLC. The chip giant stands accused of infringing eight VLSI patents which relate to semiconductor and microprocessor technology and all of which originated with NXP Semiconductors or Freescale Semiconductor (which was bought by NXP in 2015).

According to the court filing VLSI owns a portfolio of 160 US and foreign patents which cover “a wide variety of technologies, including integrated circuit technology”. It appears to take its name from a Silicon Valley business that was set up in the early 1980s and was ultimately acquired by Philips in 1999. A check of the USPTO assignment database shows that the company acquired the patents in a series of transactions dating back to August 2016.

So producing companies like Freescale or NXP end up looking like a Qualcomm and nothing good will come out of it. It’s just a bunch of trolls looking for a quick buck.

The EFF, in the meantime, ousts a new case study about Alice and patent trolls. The death of software patents is nowadays celebrated by the EFF and here they reveal another troll which relies on these. “Generic patents for “crowdfunding” invalidated,” it wrote, “and a startup saved, thanks to Alice v. CLS Bank.”

It turns out that this troll went after just about everyone conceivable:

David S. Rose is a serial entrepreneur turned angel investor. He’s the founder and CEO of Gust, a company that connects startups with investors around the world. David has been in crowdfunding circles for as long as crowdfunding has existed, so imagine his surprise when a company claiming to own patents on crowdfunding demanded payment from Gust in order to keep doing business.

“It was ridiculous,” David says. “They were trying to claim a patent on the concept of online equity funding.” AlphaCap Ventures’ suite of patents—Nos. 7,848,976, 7,908,208, and 8,433,630—cover routine ideas like a website having profile pages for each of its users, applied to the worlds of venture capital and crowdfunding. “They sued the ten leading players in the industry,” David says. “AngelList, Kickstarter, all of them.” AlphaCap sued in the notoriously patent-owner-friendly Eastern District of Texas, despite the fact that AlphaCap was based in California and Gust in New York. As is often the case with patent trolls, AlphaCap appeared most interested in getting defendants to settle as quickly as possible.

Up until now AlphaCap has managed to maintain a relatively low profile although we mentioned it at the start of the year after it had lost in the Eastern District of Texas.

Links 6/10/2017: Systemd 235, Cockpit 152, More Kirigami

Friday 6th of October 2017 09:51:41 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Amdocs launches open source-based software and services portfolio for carriers

    Amdocs has announced Amdocs Network Function Virtualization (NFV) powered by Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) – a portfolio featuring modular capabilities that accelerate service design, virtualization and operating capabilities on demand.

    As the communications and media industry moves from static appliance-based networks to software based, elastic networks, carriers will be increasingly capable of providing services and capacity on demand or based on predictive traffic patterns.

    Instead of building networks for high peak periods, carriers want to spin them up dynamically to provide better network services in the right locations at lower price points. Service providers using technologies developed in ONAP and its ecosystem of capabilities can provide enterprises the ability to design their own networks as part of a richer set of service features.

  • Tevora Releases Free, Open-Source Penetration Testing Tool, SecSmash

    SecSmash is available free of charge on GitHub. Its modular framework allows for integration with any available technology solutions.

  • Open source gaining momentum in Singapore

    If you live in Singapore and have started using the newly-minted app developed by the government to pay for street parking at public car parks, you may have noticed something in fine print in one corner of the app’s menu that says “built with open source software”.

  • Open Source Health IT App Development Cuts Back Costs

    Cloud Foundry Applications Runtime is an open source application development platform for cloud-native application. The platform is used and modified constantly to help organizations quickly gain access to the latest development technology.

    The tool has been a part of the Cloud Foundry Foundation for three years. It was originally created at VMware in 2010 and then moved to Pivotal in 2013 before it was donated to Cloud Foundry.

  • Large-Scale Governance – 10 Apache Lessons

    Even if one of these applies, you still might be smarter to join an existing “umbrella” like Software Freedom Conservancy in the US or Public Software in the UK. But if you do end up devising your own organization, you won’t go far wrong my starting with the Apache Software Foundation’s principles.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla extends, and ends, Firefox support for Windows XP and Vista

        Mozilla has announced it will end support for its Firefox browser on Windows XP and Windows Vista.

        The organisation offers Firefox Extended Support Releases (ESRs) that keep getting bug fixes for 54 weeks, even though nine new versions of Firefox should come along during that time. Mozilla offers ESR releases so that organisations with standard desktop environments can pick a version of Firefox and run it for a year, without the need to update their gold images.

        Enterprise software vendors also like this arrangement: Oracle only certifies its wares for ESRs because keeping up with a six-weekly release cycle is too much effort.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Who Won at OpenWorld? Oracle, or Amazon and Splunk?

      As this year’s Oracle OpenWorld 2017 draws to a close, I’m convinced that the best seat in the house to watch this one wasn’t anywhere near San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center, the event’s venue, but sitting in front of a computer in your home or office.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • How a university’s 3D-printed prosthetics club provides devices for amputees

        Last fall, one of the co-founders of Duke University eNable published an article describing our club’s beginnings and visions for the future. In the spring of 2016, we started out as six engineering students with a passion for innovation and design, supported by a small stipend from the Innovation Co-Lab and a grant from OSPRI (Open Source Pedagogy, Research and Innovation), a project supported by Red Hat.

        Since then we have established ourselves as a presence on campus, grown into a large interdisciplinary team, and connected with multiple recipients—including a young boy in Milot, Haiti. The resources offered through Duke and the sponsorship we’ve received allow us to continuously transform our ideas into things we can share with open source enthusiasts, makers, and dreamers alike.

  • Programming/Development
    • Double Your Development Velocity without Growing Your Team

      The Developer Experience team at SendGrid is a small, but mighty force of two. We attempt to tackle every problem that we can get our hands on. This often means that some items get left behind. At the outset, we surveyed everything that was going on in our open source libraries and we quickly realized that we needed to find a way to prioritize what we were going to work on. Luckily, our team lives, organizationally, on the Product Management team, and we had just received a gentle nudge and training on the RICE prioritization framework.

      On our company blog, I wrote an article about how employing this framework, using a spreadsheet, helped us double our velocity as a team within the first sprint. Our development velocity doubled because the most impactful things for the time spent are not always the biggest things, but the biggest things tend to attract the most attention due to their size.

    • Review by many eyes does not always prevent buggy code

      Writing code is hard. Writing secure code is harder—much harder. And before you get there, you need to think about design and architecture. When you’re writing code to implement security functionality, it’s often based on architectures and designs that have been pored over and examined in detail. They may even reflect standards that have gone through worldwide review processes and are generally considered perfect and unbreakable.*

      However good those designs and architectures are, though, there’s something about putting things into actual software that’s, well, special. With the exception of software proven to be mathematically correct,** being able to write software that accurately implements the functionality you’re trying to realize is somewhere between a science and an art. This is no surprise to anyone who’s actually written any software, tried to debug software, or divine software’s correctness by stepping through it; however, it’s not the key point of this article.

    • Java Moving Forward With Faster Pace Release Schedule, Modular System
    • Onwards to Valhalla: Java ain’t dead yet and it’s only getting bigger

      Scale was big at the JavaOne conference this week. Spotify lauded its success scaling with Java, and Oracle execs practically squealed as they reeled off adoption statistics. Big Red believes the next ten years belong to Java.

      “We want the next decade to be Java first, Java always,” vice president Mark Cavage said on stage.

      Of course Java is already big and among those on stage was Alibaba, one of the world’s largest Java users, which talked up its ability to run more than a million JVM instances at once.

  • Why the Internet is worried that Microsoft’s consumer services are doomed

    Today, Microsoft sells more to businesses and enterprises than it does to consumers. The emphasis today is on subscriptions and abstract services, rather than on shrinkwrapped products it can put on store shelves.

  • A Pre-History of Slashdot

    I registered the domain name ‘’ 20 years ago today. I really had no idea.

  • 20 Years of Stuff That Matters

    Today we’re marking Slashdot’s 20th birthday.

  • The U.S. Senate just took the next step to creating a national standard for testing and deploying self-driving cars

    The Senate Commerce Committee just took the next step in creating what could be the new national standard for the testing and deployment of self-driving cars. The committee unanimously agreed to send its bill, called AV Start, to the Senate floor on Wednesday.

    The bipartisan bill would establish nation-wide regulations for how companies like Uber, Tesla, Lyft, GM and others safely and legally test and then roll out their self-driving cars on public roads.

  • Science
    • Algorithm designer among those honored with the Chemistry Nobel

      The highest possible resolution we can get in a typical image is limited by the wavelength of the light we’re using. Although there are some clever ways around this limit, one alternative has been to use something with a smaller wavelength. That “something” turns out to be electrons, and the electron microscope has provided a glimpse of the details inside cells, showing us how their parts are ordered and structured.

      But this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to a group of individuals who pushed the electron microscope to its very limit, figuring out how to use it to determine the position of every single atom in large, complex molecules. The award goes partly to a researcher who successfully used electron microscopes to image proteins. But it also goes to two people who developed some of the techniques to make the whole thing work: figuring out how to freeze water quickly enough that it formed a glass and developing an algorithm that could take a large collection of random data and convert it into a coherent picture.

    • ‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

      Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet. Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks who worry the race for human attention has created a world of perpetual distraction that could ultimately end in disaster

    • Do smartphone alerts make you angry? There may actually be a scientific reason for that

      According to a paper published by a team of academics from Nottingham Trent University, digital alerts from smartphones and tablets can have a direct and immediate effect on mood.

    • Growing social media backlash among young people, survey shows

      Almost two-thirds of pupils say they would not care if the technology did not exist and talk of negative impact on wellbeing

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Trump Guts Requirement That Employer Health Plans Pay For Birth Control

      The Trump administration is rolling back the Obama-era requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies cover birth control methods at no cost to women.

      According to senior officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, the goal of the new rule is to allow any company or nonprofit group to exclude the coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.

      “This provides an exemption, and it’s a limited one,” said Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights. “We should have space for organizations to live out their religious identity and not face discrimination.”

  • Security
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Apple fixes Keychain vulnerability, but only in macOS High Sierra

      The zero-day vulnerability in macOS’s Keychain has been addressed by Apple, along with some other issues in High Sierra. But other recent versions of the operating system are still vulnerable.

    • macOS High Sierra bug exposes APFS passwords in plain text

      A Brazilian software developer has uncovered a bug in Apple’s macOS High Sierra software that exposes the passwords of encrypted Apple File System (APFS) volumes in plain text.

    • The September 2017 WordPress Attack Report

      This edition of the WordPress Attack Report is a continuation of the monthly series we’ve been publishing since December 2016. Reports from the previous months can be found here.

      This report contains the top 25 attacking IPs for September 2017 and their details. It also includes charts of brute force and complex attack activity for the same period, along with a new section revealing changes to the Wordfence real-time IP blacklist throughout the month. We also include the top themes and plugins that were attacked and which countries generated the most attacks for this period.

    • Step aside, Windows! Open source and Linux are IT’s new security headache [Ed: Microsoft propagandist Preston Gralla is back from the woods. The typical spin, lies. Deflection. Windows has back doors.]
    • Sex Toys Are Just As Poorly-Secured As The Rest Of The Internet of Broken Things

      At this point we’ve pretty well documented how the “internet of things” is a privacy and security dumpster fire. Whether it’s tea kettles that expose your WiFi credentials or smart fridges that leak your Gmail password, companies were so busy trying to make a buck by embedding network chipsets into everything, they couldn’t be bothered to adhere to even the most modest security and privacy guidelines. As a result, billions upon billions of devices are now being connected to the internet with little to no meaningful security and a total disregard to user privacy — posing a potentially fatal threat to us all.

  • Defence/Aggression
  • Finance
    • This ICO for an AI blockchain is the most tech-hype idea of the year
    • ‘Kleptocracy Tour’ Spotlights Nigerian Corrupt Money Funneled Through Britain

      Anti-corruption activists hoping to shine a light on the hundreds of millions of dollars funneled through London every year are organizing tours of properties allegedly bought with dishonest money.

    • Amazon Is Testing Its Own Delivery Service to Rival FedEx and UPS

      The service began two years ago in India, and Amazon has been slowly marketing it to U.S. merchants in preparation for a national expansion, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the U.S. pilot project is confidential. Amazon is calling the project Seller Flex, one person said. The service began on a trial basis this year in West Coast states with a broader rollout planned in 2018, the people said. Amazon declined to comment.

    • Average Fortune 500 CEO gets a pension of $253,088 every month until they die

      The average American worker has $95,000 in their 401(k), which will not even allow them to starve with dignity; this is a sharp contrast from earlier generations of American workers, whose employers provided defined-benefits pensions — but it also is quite a distance from the CEOs of the biggest US companies, whose average pension benefit is $253,088/month.

    • Average CEO has to make do with $253,088 in monthly pension payments

      Wiseman said it’s not much of a stretch to call this “collusion.”

    • Goldman Sachs is one step closer to making Frankfurt its new European home post-Brexit

      Goldman Sachs is pushing ahead with making Frankfurt, Germany, its key European base. This week, the Wall Street giant agreed to lease multiple floors for offices in a 38-storey building, as part of its Brexit contingency plans.

      The Marienturm tower is located in the heart of Frankfurt’s business district and Goldman is looking to take around the top eight floors, which is said to accommodate around 1,000 workers. “This expanded office space will allow us to grow our operations in Germany to serve our clients, as well as provide us with the space to execute on our Brexit contingency plan as needed,” said a Goldman Sachs spokesman to Bloomberg. Quartz also contacted Goldman for comment.

    • Brexit deadlock looms as European negotiators say they have lost faith in May

      Britain will refuse to tell Europe how much it is prepared to pay to settle the so-called “Brexit bill” when Brexit negotiations re-open in Brussels next week, the Telegraph can reveal, in a move that risks plunging the Brexit talks into fresh crisis.

      The British move comes as doubts emerged across Europe that Theresa May has the political clout to seal a Brexit deal following her disastrous party conference speech and public disagreements with Boris Johnson.

      Senior Whitehall sources said that negotiators will refuse to say which financial “commitments” Britain will honour, setting up a fresh showdown with Brussels.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Someone hacked [sic] the White House chief of staff’s personal phone

      Notably, the compromised phone was Kelly’s personal device, rather than the secure phone issued by the government. The White House told Politico that Kelly rarely used the device since joining the administration, although even occasional use could have exposed sensitive government information to attackers.

    • John Kelly’s personal cellphone was compromised, White House believes

      White House tech support discovered the suspected breach after Kelly turned his phone in to tech support staff this summer.

    • John Kelly’s phone was breached as early as December: report
    • Donald Trump’s passion for cruelty

      He revels in a public discourse that threatens, humiliates and bullies.

      He has used language as a weapon to humiliate women, a reporter with a disability, Pope Francis and any political opponent who criticizes him. He has publicly humiliated members of his own cabinet and party, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a terminally ill John McCain, not to mention the insults and lies he perpetrated against former FBI Director James Comey after firing him.

      Trump has humiliated world leaders with insulting and belittling language. He not only insulted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with the war-like moniker “Rocket Man,” he appeared before the United Nations and blithely threatened to address the nuclear standoff with North Korea by wiping out its 25 million inhabitants.

    • Suspending the Catalan Parliament, Spain Destroys the EU’s “Rule of Law” Figleaf.

      It takes a very special kind of chutzpah systematically to assault voters, and drag them from polling booths by their hair, and then say that a low turnout invalidates the vote. That is the shameless position being taken by the Europe wide political Establishment and its corporate media lackeys. This Guardian article illustrates a refinement to this already extreme act of intellectual dishonesty. It states voter turnout was 43%. That ignores the 770,000 votes which were cast but physically confiscated by the police so they could not be counted. They take voter turnout over 50%.

      That is an incredibly high turnout, given that 900 voters were brutalised so badly they needed formal medical treatment. The prospect of being smashed in the face by a club would naturally deter a number of people from voting. The physical closure of polling stations obviously stopped others from voting. It is quite incredible that in these circumstances, over 50% of the electorate did succeed in casting a vote.

    • Lobbyists Tied to Trump Cash In on Their Connections

      The day after the presidential election, the Washington lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck touted its Republican team’s “significant relationships … with those who will steer the incoming Trump administration.” It highlighted Marc Lampkin, managing partner of its Washington office and a Trump fundraiser.

      Such efforts are among the ways lobbyists advertise their connections and ability to influence. One posted a pre-inauguration photo with the president on his firm’s website; another maintained a former campaign title on Facebook; others made sure to stress the backgrounds of their connected staff members online or in press releases.

      Despite Donald Trump’s campaign vow to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists and special interests, Washington’s influence industry is alive and well — and growing. Former members of the Trump transition team, presidential campaign and administration, as well as friends have set up shop as lobbyists and cashed in on connections, according to a new report compiled by Public Citizen, a public interest group, and reviewed by The Associated Press.

      Records through Aug. 31 showed at least 44 registered federal lobbyists with ties to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence. These firms have collectively billed nearly $41.8 million to clients — seven of the 10 most lucrative being foreign interests, according to the analysis of federal lobbying disclosure filings.

    • Catalan parliament to defy Spanish ban on independence debate, official says

      Catalonia’s parliament will defy a Spanish court ban and go ahead on Monday with a debate that could lead to a declaration of independence, a regional government official said, as Spain’s worst political crisis in decades looked set to deepen.

      “Parliament will discuss, parliament will meet. It will be a debate, and this is important,” the Catalan government’s head of foreign affairs, Raul Romeva, told BBC radio on Friday.

      It was the pro-independence regional government’s first clear response to a Constitutional Court decision on Thursday to suspend Monday’s planned parliamentary session, and it raised the prospect of a tough response from the central government.

    • Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream

      In August, after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville ended in murder, Steve Bannon insisted that “there’s no room in American society” for neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and the KKK.

      But an explosive cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News proves that there was plenty of room for those voices on his website.

      During the 2016 presidential campaign, under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart courted the alt-right — the insurgent, racist right-wing movement that helped sweep Donald Trump to power. The former White House chief strategist famously remarked that he wanted Breitbart to be “the platform for the alt-right.”

    • The Rising of Britain’s ‘New Politics’

      Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance. The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAe Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft.

      It seemed a perfidious symbol of a party in which millions of Britons now invest their political hopes. Once the preserve of Tony Blair, it is now led by Jeremy Corbyn, whose career has been very different and is rare in British establishment politics.

      Addressing the conference, the campaigner Naomi Klein described the rise of Corbyn as “part of a global phenomenon. We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries, powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future.”

    • EU Official Warns War a Possibility in Catalonia

      The team captain of Spain’s storied football club Barcelona, which has become a focal point of secessionist Catalan sentiment, is urging politicians in Madrid and the Catalan capital to start negotiating about the future of Spain’s restive northeast province.

      “Before we do ourselves more damage, those in charge must open dialogue with each other. Do it for all of us. We deserve to live in peace,” Andrés Iniesta wrote on his Facebook page, apologizing at the same time for weighing in on “situations that are complex.”

      His appeal came as a top EU official Thursday warned that the separatist dispute, exacerbated by Catalan secessionists holding an illegal independence referendum Sunday, risks escalating into armed conflict.

    • Report: Facebook removed references to Russia from fake-news report

      Back in April, Facebook published a report called “Information Operations and Facebook” that detailed the company’s efforts to combat fake news and other misinformation campaigns on the site. The report was released in the midst of an uproar over potential Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. But the report doesn’t mention Russia by name, saying only that Facebook’s data “does not contradict” a January report by the Obama administration detailing Russian meddling in the election.

      On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the decision not to mention Russia was hotly debated inside Facebook. An earlier draft of the report discussed what Facebook knew at that time about Russian meddling, but that material was ultimately removed from the report before publication.

    • Obama, in Brazil, Offers Familiar Slogan to Corporate Audience
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • The Latest On Shiva Ayyadurai’s Failed Libel Suit Against Techdirt

      We have a quick update today on the defamation lawsuit that Shiva Ayyadurai filed against us earlier this year. Last month, Judge Dennis Saylor dismissed the lawsuit, pointing out that everything we said concerning Ayyadurai’s claim to have invented email (specifically us presenting lots and lots of evidence of email predating Shiva’s own work) was clearly protected speech under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, despite us being a California corporation, Judge Saylor did not grant our separate motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP law — which would have required Ayyadurai to pay our legal fees.

    • Harvey Weinstein to Sue N.Y. Times, Says His Attorney

      On the heels of The New York Times’ bombshell exposé published Thursday about “decades of harassment” on the part of Harvey Weinstein, the mogul’s attorney Charles Harder says he’s preparing a lawsuit against the paper.

      “The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” he writes in an email to The Hollywood Reporter. “It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”

      Harder is perhaps most famous as the lawyer who represented Hulk Hogan in the litigation that brought down Gawker. He also represented Melania Trump in a defamation action against the parent company of The Daily Mail. That case settled earlier this year. Harder also sent a cease-and-desist letter last year on behalf of Roger Ailes to New York Magazine, and in his career, he has represented many popular stars in entertainment including Reese Witherspoon and Sandra Bullock.

    • Decades of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein
    • Censorship Board warns ‘nude’ performers

      Responding to University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Ruby Magosvongwe’s concerns over the suitability of “semi-naked” Brazilian Samba girls performing at the Harare International Carnival, Chigwedere told a stakeholders meeting that his board would take corrective measures.

    • Dirty Chinese Restaurant mobile game canceled after racism criticism

      Developer Big-O-Tree games has halted development and promotion of a planned mobile game called Dirty Chinese Restaurant after the title drew negative attention from sources including a US Congresswoman for racist portrayals of Asian-Americans.

    • Return of the algorithm monster: YouTube auto-promoted conspiracy theory videos
    • Netizen Report: LGBTQ People Face Online Censorship and Threats in Egypt

      Egypt’s broadcast regulator, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, has banned all forms of support to the LGBTQ community, allegedly to “maintain public order.” The move came after a rainbow flag was raised at a concert of the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila in Cairo on Sept. 11. The band supports LGBTQ rights, and its lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is openly gay.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • That Flag-Burning NFL Photo Isn’t Fake News. It’s a Meme

      The photo was fake, but that didn’t seem to matter; within a day, it had racked up more than 10,000 shares, likes, and comments from furious people all over the country.

    • Trump Urges Supreme Court To Throw Out Prior Muslim Ban Rulings

      With a third version of the Muslim ban set to go into effect on October 18, President Donald Trump’s administration has asked the Supreme Court to vacate lower court rulings on previous versions of the ban.

      If allowed to stand, the lower courts’ decisions threaten to undermine the executive’s ability to deal with sensitive foreign policy issues in strategically important regions of the world,” Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco writes in a letter to Scott S. Harris, the clerk of the Supreme Court.

      Francisco adds, “The court should not permit that unnecessary consequence, especially when the rulings below are preliminary injunctions litigated on a highly expedited basis.”

      The letter celebrates supposed “time limits” on entry and refugee suspensions as features that were not part of any attempts to “evade judicial review.” They were “temporary measures to facilitate the government’s inter-agency review processes and to protect national security in the interim.”

    • Hundreds Of Cases Dismissed Thanks To Baltimore PD Misconduct

      After years of listening to tough-on-crime legislators and the tough-on-crime lawmen that love to hear them talk about filthy criminals beating the system by getting off on technicalities, it’s somewhat funny to discover lots of what’s complained about is nothing more than good old-fashioned due process and/or the collateral damage of crooked, inept, or lazy cops.

      We’ve seen a lot of en masse criminal case dismissals recently. Thousands of convictions and charges were dropped in Massachusetts as the result of a state crime lab tech’s years of faked drug tests. All over the nation, cops are letting perps walk rather than discuss law enforcement’s worst-kept secret: Stingray devices.

    • Baltimore prosecutor says more than 850 cases impacted by questionable police conduct
    • Miami Beach cops arrest man for Twitter parody of police spokesman

      A Miami Beach man is facing criminal charges after he created a parody account purporting to be Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department. The defendant, Ernesto Orsetti, is charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer, a third-degree felony, according to a press release posted by the Miami New Times.

      “Defendant falsely created and assumed the identity of the victim (active police officer/police information officer) via Twitter,” the police report says. “The Twitter account, @ernierodmb, had a marked Miami Beach police vehicle and a photo of the victim in uniform.”

    • John Kiriakou, CIA Officer in Torture Leak Case, Injured in Serious Traffic Accident

      John Kiriakou, a prominent ex-CIA officer, and among the first to reveal the agency’s torture program, was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident earlier this week in Washington, D.C., according to one of his attorneys.

      Kiriakou suffered broken ribs, a fractured clavicle and lumbar spine damage, according to Jesselyn Radack, one of the attorneys who represented him when he was charged in 2012 with leaking classified information about CIA waterboarding of an Al-Qaeda suspect at a secret site in Thailand. He eventually pleaded guilty to one count of leaking the identity of a fellow CIA officer to a reporter and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Anybody Claiming Net Neutrality Rules Killed Broadband Investment Is Lying To You

      In 2015 the FCC passed some fairly basic net neutrality rules designed to keep broadband duopolies from abusing a lack of broadband competition to hamstring internet competitors. Despite the endless pearl clutching from ISP lobbyists and allies, the rules were relatively modest, falling well short of the more comprehensive rules we’ve seen passed in places like Canada, Japan, and India. Still, ISPs have spent every day since trying to claim that the rules somehow utterly devastated broadband sector investment, despite the fact that independent economists and journalists have repeatedly proven that to be a lie.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Members Of Congress: Court Was Wrong To Say That Posting The Law Is Copyright Infringement

        Back in February, we wrote about a disturbing court decision that said that standards that are “incorporated by reference” into law, could still be copyright infringing if posted to the internet. In that earlier post I go into much more background, but the short version is this: lots of laws point to standards put together by private standards bodies, and say, effectively, “to be legal, you must meet this standard.” For example, fire codes may be required to meet certain standards put together by a private standards body. Carl Malamud has spent years trying to make the law more accessible, and he started posting such standards that are “incorporated by reference” into the law publicly. His reasoning: once the government incorporates the standard into the law, the standard must be publicly available. Otherwise, you have a ridiculous situation in which you can’t even know what the law is that governs you unless you pay (often a lot) to access it.

        Standards bodies weren’t happy about this — as some of them make a large chunk of money from selling access to the standards. But from a straight up “the law should be public” standpoint, the answer should be “too bad.” Unfortunately, the district court didn’t see it that way, and basically said it’s okay to have parts of our laws blocked by copyright. We thought that ruling had some serious problems, and Malamud and his organization Public.Resource.Org appealed. A bunch of amicus briefs have been filed in the case — which you can see at EFF’s case page on the lawsuit. There’s a good one from some law professors about how the lower court got it wrong, as well as a ton of library associations (and also other law professors and former gov’t officials). Public Citizen also filed a good brief on the importance of having access to the law. It’s worth reading them all.

      • Iran Cracks Down On Movie Pirates In The Most Inception-Esque Manner Possible

        For those of us that pay attention to copyright matters throughout the world, a story out of Iran has had us riding a strange sort of roller coaster. Late in September, the Iranian government arrested six people it says run the movie-streaming site TinyMoviez. That site is like many others on the web, focusing on the streaming of Hollywood movies in a manner that is pretty clear-cut piracy. Iran does have copyright laws on the books, which include punishments for “anyone who publishes, distributes or broadcasts another person’s work without permission,” ranging from imprisonment for a few months to three years for violating that law. There are, however, no agreements on copyright between American and Iran, for obvious reasons, so the application of Iranian copyright law tends to be focused on Iranian content. Many were left scratching their heads wondering why the arrest had been made.

Design Patents Should Not Exist, Trademarks and Copyrights Already Cover Designs

Friday 6th of October 2017 08:57:48 AM

Zach Snyder is listed as an “Inventor” of this:

Summary: The absurdity of broad patents on design ideas which are about as ludicrous as patents on paintings or sketch arts

WE have, for a long time, said that patents on designs should not exist. Trademark law already covers designs, sometimes copyright law covers these too.

This new book title irked us a little. Patently-O promoted it yesterday. The book’s name, “Design Rights”, is misleading. These are not “rights” per se. We often see words like assets, property, rights, protection etc. misused. Patently-O misuses these words too.

“The book walks through design protection available the various global regions,” Patently-O wrote, “US, Europe, Japan, China, India, S.America, etc – and is designed to help practitioners both understand the law and get started on strategy.”

It talks about “practitioners”, i.e. those who make a living not from designs but from telling designers that they need patents.

Design patents too often (more often than not) look like satirical ones. Patently-O gave this example the other day and even Crouch made fun/poked at it. To quote: [via]

Don’t stare too deeply into the pattern above – it embodies Columbia Sportswear’s U.S. Design Patent No. D657093 – covering “the ornamental design of a heat reflective material, as shown and described.” The recent $3 million jury verdict in Columbia Sportsware v. Seirus Innovative Accessories appears to be the first post-Samsung verdict on design patent damages.

Look at it. Ridiculous! How can that be monopolised? It’s almost outrageous.

The Samsung verdict Crouch alludes to is the Apple case, which revolves around a ridiculous design patent dispute. There’s an update on the case in this post from Florian Müller:

Just this week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the high-volume business Apple is doing with Samsung, a key supplier of components for various products including the new flagship iPhone, the iPhone X, on which Samsung will reportedly make $110 per unit. But as device makers, the two remain fierce competitors–and adversaries in court.

And on the design patents:

In the famous design patents case, the DoJ agreed with Samsung on the key legal question (article of manufacture). It additionally brought up a procedural question that could have enabled Apple to defend the original damages award. Now, with respect to the more recent petition relating to invalidity, injunctive relief, and infringement, the DoJ cautiously distances itself from the en banc opinion and indicates only between the lines that it may disagree, to some extent, from a policy perspective (“rigid rules for demonstrating obviousness” etc.). It would have been nice if the DoJ had been clearer about the implications of this for U.S. tech companies and for the work of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which is supposed to protect real technological progress, which is hard to do if even weak evidence of non-obviousness gets a lot of weight. The DoJ could have expressed more clearly a concern over what this means for patent quality, but unfortunately it didn’t.

Those who have actually seen some design patents (not registered designs) will know that it’s a bubble of bad patents. Patently-O recently showed the explosive growth of such patents at the USPTO.

What next for patent maximalists? The crooked EPO has already begun granting patents on life itself, rendering EPs a laughing stock.

China May be the World’s Last ‘Safe Haven’ of Software Patents

Friday 6th of October 2017 08:07:03 AM

The Eastern District of Texas has gone East

Summary: China’s tolerance of software patents is now the exception rather than the norm and the net effect is patent trolls flocking to China, just like they did in the Eastern District of Texas

THREE days ago we mentioned Quiptel and its bad strategy. To quote this new article: “Quiptel’s technology and software patents will aim to drive the company’s primary business focus” (even though software patents are toothless where it is).

We try hard to think of anywhere in the world where software patents still have legitimacy. Australia recently moved away from these, Japan is getting stricter, and the US has changed a lot since Alice. Last night Forbes published “Why It’s So Hard To Patent Computer Software” (it’s hard to get these patents and it’s even harder to enforce software patents in a court of law right now).

The new reality is, software patents have become a thing of the past (unless one goes to China or merely threatens with them, as trolls do). Nations seem to be coming to grips with the fact that software developers don’t want such patents; it’s a bunch of law firms that pursue such patents.

Now that china is moving towards software patents (while the rest of the world is abolishing software patents) the CCPIT Patent & Trademark Law Office publishes this new article which contains the following section about software.

In April 2017 the revised Guidelines for Patent Examination came into effect and the means for drafting software-related or computer-implemented claims have since become relaxed. According to the revised guidelines, computer-readable media carrying program instructions – which were previously excluded from patent protection – have become patent eligible. In addition, claims seeking to protect an apparatus comprising a memory in which computer-executable instructions are stored and a processor configured to perform actions on execution of the instructions are now acceptable.

We are very gratified to say that our focus may need to shift to China, in order for Chinese authorities to understand just how misguided and unproductive the policy would turn out to be. Already, many patent trolls and patent assertion activities move to China (which is increasingly favourable to the plaintiffs). This may be good for a bunch of law firms, but it’s destructive to China’s productive economy and raises uncertainty for companies operating (or producing) in China. We presume the change in policy was the result of heavy lobbying by the legal ‘industry’ in China.

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part VI: “When Corruption Rules” in Portugal – Operation Marquês

Friday 6th of October 2017 07:25:21 AM

Also see: Immunity of the Intellectual Property Office of the European Union Causes Outrage in Spanish Media

Summary: José Sócrates and his luxury lifestyle in Paris, one of many Portuguese scandals which may unfold further action next month

Today we continue our series that explores possible connections between Battistelli’s “validation agreements”, corruption in Angolan & Portuguese political affairs, and the ongoing efforts to parachute in Campinos as the head of the EPO with the assistance of Battistelli’s “Club Med”.

In part 1 and part 2 we focused a little more on the EPO, part 3 and part 4 looked at Angola, and part 5 looked at Portugal and its former colonies, primarily the corruption there. Today we focus on Portugal.

It would be unfair to blame all of Portugal’s current problems with corruption on the baneful influence of the nouveaux riche post-colonial ruling elite of its former colony. Portuguese politicians are no strangers to scandal in their own right and have managed to make headlines in this regard without any outside assistance.

“Portuguese politicians are no strangers to scandal in their own right and have managed to make headlines in this regard without any outside assistance.”As one commentator put it in an article with the headline “Portugal: When corruption rules”: “Cases of corruption emerge constantly, even in the so-called most developed and democratic of countries. Politicians embezzling money is nothing new, and Portugal is no exception. The difference is that in this country, those cases are following one another constantly, and the crisis is only making the situation worse. Irregularities can be found everywhere, even on some politicians’ résumés – as for example the former Portuguese Prime Minister Miguel Relvas, who obtained his degree illegally.”

Relvas, who was actually Deputy Prime Minister and a senior member of Pedro Passos Coelho’s government, resigned in disgrace in 2013 following a controversy about alleged irregularities in the degree he obtained from a private university (Universidade Lusófona).

“Relvas, who was actually Deputy Prime Minister and a senior member of Pedro Passos Coelho’s government, resigned in disgrace in 2013 following a controversy about alleged irregularities in the degree he obtained from a private university (Universidade Lusófona).”The Ministry of Education referred the matter to the Portugal’s Public Attorney’s Office which led to the revocation of Relvas’ degree by court decision in June 2016.

The affair surrounding Relvas’ degree is “peanuts” compared to the revelations emerging from “Operation Marquis” (a.k.a. “Operation Marquês” in Portuguese) which started off with an investigation into allegations of corruption against José Sócrates who was the Prime Minister of Portugal from 12 March 2005 to 21 June 2011.

In November 2014 Sócrates was arrested on suspicions of corruption and money-laundering after his luxury lifestyle abroad had come under investigation. It seems that after he departed from political life in Portugal in 2011, he lived the life of a millionaire in Paris with no visible source of serious income.

“In November 2014 Sócrates was arrested on suspicions of corruption and money-laundering after his luxury lifestyle abroad had come under investigation.”Initial investigations led to the discovery that a close friend was holding millions of euros for his benefit. Sócrates claimed that he merely borrowed from his friend, but there are no records of the amounts loaned. The funds were apparently used to finance his luxury lifestyle in Paris.

The subsequent investigations under “Operation Marquis” have led to the exposure of a whole network of corruption alleged to involve as much as € 22 million meticulously ‘laundered’ through sophisticated cloaking and masking mechanisms using intermediaries and offshore companies to conceal the final recipient (purportedly Sócrates).

Since the arrest of Sócrates in 2014 the list of defendants has grown to include his former wife, Sofia Fava; a former Director of Caixa Geral de Depósitos and former socialist minister, Armando Vara; his daughter Bárbara Vara; Luso-Angolan businessman, Hélder Bataglia, Carlos Santos Silva, the businessman and friend of the former Prime Minister; Joaquim Barroca of the Lena Group; João Perna, Sócrates’ former chauffeur; Paulo Lalanda de Castro from Octapharma; Henrique Granadeiro and Zeinal Bava, former directors of PT, Inês do Rosário who is Carlos Santos Silva’s mother; the lawyer Gonçalo Trindade Ferreira and the businessmen Diogo Gaspar Ferreira and Rui Mão de Ferro.

“The funds were apparently used to finance his luxury lifestyle in Paris.”One of the money trails reportedly led to a safety deposit box in a Swiss bank and this has caused some delay in the investigation as legal assistance had to be requested from the Swiss authorities. According to the latest press reports from Portugal the Attorney General’s Office in Lisbon has set a deadline of 20 November 2017 for the conclusion of the Operation Marquis investigation.

It will be interesting to see what further revelations emerge in this affair when the final indictment against Sócrates and his co-defendants is submitted by the public prosecutor and the proceedings are opened which is expected to happen towards the end of this year.

The European Patent Office’s New Relationship With Former Portuguese Colonies and the Connection to Battistelli’s Choice of Next President

Thursday 5th of October 2017 09:51:48 PM

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) continues its track record of highly dubious and politically-motivated deals while SUEPO, the staff union of the EPO, expresses concerns about the positions of Battistelli’s successor

THE European Patent Office continues to look like a third-world island in Bavarian territories. See what we wrote yesterday. Unlike some third-world countries, the EPO’s management enjoys immunity from within and from the outside. It can simply do almost anything it wants.

“Unlike some third-world countries, the EPO’s management enjoys immunity from within and from the outside. It can simply do almost anything it wants.”In Twitter, earlier today the EPO mentioned this new post ( link). It’s a factoid which we also mentioned yesterday; it’s ridiculous, as we noted last night, but this time it comes with the obligatory Benoît Battistelli photo op. To quote: “The EPO and Brazil have agreed to launch a joint Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programme to enable work-sharing and accelerate patent prosecution at both offices, with the aim of improving the global IP system, supporting applicants and encouraging innovation.”

We wrote about PPH this morning. It’s worrying enough when done near Russia, not where there are many corruption scandals at the moment (even arrests). It’s a very interesting timing for the EPO to connect with all sorts of Portuguese colonies (our series about Angola will resume soon) because Battistelli is rumoured to be grooming a Portuguese-French person to take over from him. We don’t expect anything to change for the better if that eventually happens. In fact, even SUEPO wrote today about its letter to Mr. Ernst, who took over from Jesper Kongstad last Saturday. This letter is dated Tuesday and SUEPO summarised it as follows (similar to the second paragraph in the letter): “We are in a transition phase: not only the chairmanship of the Administrative Council (AC) has changed, but we are also soon to welcome a new President of the Office. SUEPO has kindly asked Mr Ernst (AC Chair) to invite the candidates for President of the EPO to answer a few questions. The letter to Mr Ernst is available here.”

Here is the letter in full:


Zentraler Vorstand
Central Executive Committee
Bureau central

3 October 2017

Questions to the Candidates for President of the EPO

Dear Mr Ernst,

On behalf of the Staff Union of the EPO, we would like to extend our sincerest congratulations on your election as the new Chair of the Administrative Council.

We are in a transition phase: not only the chairmanship of the Council has changed, but we are also soon to welcome a new President of the Office. We are sure you are very keen to work towards a smooth transition and to lay healthy foundations for the new President’s future work. As a responsible social partner we will, of course, do our part.

The deadline of 14 September to apply to the position of EPO President has passed. The candidates who fulfil the criteria set up by the Administrative Council are now known. We respectfully ask you to invite the candidates to consider replying to the following questions we would like to ask them:

• What would be your first steps in re-establishing social peace and trust of EPO Staff in Management?

• What steps would you take to re-establish the rule of law at the EPO and make sure that the EPO legal bodies, e.g. Boards of Appeal, Appeals Committee and Disciplinary Committees are genuinely independent?

• Would you consider favourably working with the Staff Representation on an objective assessment of psychosocial risks at the EPO, and on ways to decrease them?

• Do you intend to look at the balance between quantity and quality of the service rendered by the EPO to its users?

We thank you for your kind attention, and remain,

Yours faithfully,
Joachim Michels
Chair SUEPO Central

Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO)

The examiners (or staff in general) have legitimate concerns. Battistelli has arranged succession that would barely promise change and probably be indebted to him (if the rumours are true about his ‘setup’).

“Battistelli has arranged succession that would barely promise change and probably be indebted to him (if the rumours are true about his ‘setup’).”To make matters even worse, the vision the EPO has had under Battistelli barely includes the EPO at all; it’s all about UPC, which would be a nightmare to European SMEs, contrary to today’s EPO lies about it (they do this every day now). The EPO is again spreading lies about SMEs in Europe, just as it was spreading lies about staff representatives (in order to have them dismissed). What’s more, it’s expected that many examiners will be rendered redundant soon. The EPO is trying to eliminate humans from the process (not just translations but searches and examinations too). Sure, in the process it is also driving away patent applicants, who realise they pay for very poor services. Take note of this EPO tweet from today. “Stephen Adams (Magister Ltd) will present the impact of technical change on the role of the human searcher,” it says.

It looks like there’s little or no future for the EPO as it exists at the moment. Battistelli demolishes it, perhaps consciously, while lobbying for a Paris-centric (among other locations) UPC.

Misuse of Tribal ‘Immunity’ for Patent Trolling Has Just Come Under a Congressional Probe

Thursday 5th of October 2017 09:00:45 PM

Fallen tactics?

Summary: Congressional scrutiny against a loophole at best or a “scam” at worst — a trick that is intended to shield dubious patents from a proper (re)assessment

TODAY we wrote about some prominent politicians coming out against patent trolls and in defense of PTAB, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

“Patent trolls [are] using Indian tribes proxy groups to fall under the “sovereign” shield,” Benjamin Henrion wrote, citing Slashdot, which in turn cites this report about Native Americans helping patent trolls for a quick buck. Last month we wrote two fairly long articles [1, 2] about the Mohawk people’s role in it and now comes a Congressional investigation:

Members of Congress want answers about a multinational drug company’s deal to save its patents by handing them off to a Native American tribe.

Last month, Allergan gave the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe six patents that protect Restasis, the company’s blockbuster eye drug. The goal is a sophisticated legal strategy to avoid having the US Patent Office proceed with a process called inter partes review, which is a kind of quasi-litigation in which opponents of a patent can try to have them revoked. Lawyers for Allergan are hoping that the principle of sovereign immunity, in which Native American tribes are treated as sovereign nations in certain ways, will protect their patents from government review.

From Slashdot’s summary of it:

But court cases have limited the scope of sovereign immunity (especially for commercial activity), and now Congress is investigating Allergan over the tactic that has Congress not only greatly concerned about competition in the drug industry (and exorbitant prices of pharmaceuticals), but also the questionable use of the sovereign immunity law. The four lawmakers who signed the letter to Allergan state: “The unconventional maneuver has received considerable criticism from the generic competitors challenging the drug’s patents under the process Congress created (IPR) to enable timelier review of such challenges (read: a fraction of the cost of a court trial).” The letter also notes that the key ingredient in the patent was set to expire in 2014 and that Allergan had filed more patents to extend patent protection to 2024, a signal that Congress is watching for exploitation of patent law to enable “perpetual patents” widely used by the pharmaceuticals.

Let’s hope that this “scam” (as some people have dubbed it) will be ended as soon as possible. Right now there are some copycats of it and this harms society at large.

Links 5/10/2017: Stable Kernels, X.Org Server 1.19.4, Qt 5.9.2, GNOME 3.26.1, PostgreSQL 10

Thursday 5th of October 2017 08:20:29 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Wide: Linux Foundation’s EdgeX Foundry Debuts Barcelona

    EdgeX Foundry, which launched its open source project and community focused on building a framework for simplifying interoperability for IoT ecosystem players, is demonstrating announcing “Barcelona,” its first major code release, at IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

  • EdgeX’s Barcelona Release Sets Path for Open Source IoT

    EdgeX Foundry, the Linux Foundation’s open source industrial Internet of Things (IoT) group, is making its first major code release, dubbed Barcelona, available later this month. The new release promises to help take the complexity out of IoT by supporting certain key APIs as well as industrial protocols like Bluetooth Low Energy, MQTT (a low-energy machine-to-machine protocol), and simple network management protocol (SNPP).

  • Google Cloud, Barefoot Networks create P4 Runtime open source project

    Google Cloud and Barefoot Networks have created an open source project under called P4 Runtime, an API for enabling communication between control plane and forwarding plane in a more flexible manner.

    Suitable for local or remote-control plane software, the P4 Runtime API is independent of the underlying forwarding plane type. It offers the ability to control a diversity of networking devices including fixed-function ASICs, FPGAs, NPUs, software switches, and Programmable ASICs.

  • The Faces of Open Source: Mike Dolan

    We’re pleased to present the eighth, but sadly, final episode of Shane Martin Coughlan’s, “The Faces of Open Source Law”, featuring Mike Dolan. We’d like to thank Shane for his great work in introducing the issues related to open source software and communities, as well as the people so deeply involved and committed to helping the movement succeed.


    Mike commented that our setup was just as ramshackle as the actual show. Despite this we recorded one of the longer and most content-filled interviews of the season, providing a perfect end point to an experiment in connecting personalities to well-known names in the open source legal sphere.

  • 4 open source alternatives to Gmail

    Gmail has enjoyed phenomenal success, and regardless of which study you choose to look at for exact numbers, there’s no doubt that Gmail is towards the top of the pack when it comes to market share. For certain circles, Gmail has become synonymous with email, or at least with webmail. Many appreciate its clean interface and the simple ability to access their inbox from anywhere.

    But Gmail is far from the only name in the game when it comes to web-based email clients. In fact, there are a number of open source alternatives available for those who want more freedom, and occasionally, a completely different approach to managing their email without relying on a desktop client.

  • VOLTHA Release Provides the Brain for AT&T’s XGS-PON Plans

    AT&T’s 10-gigabit symmetric passive optical network technology (XGS-PON) plans are set to receive some open source brains.

    The carrier today released the first version of its Virtual Optical Line Termination Hardware Abstraction (VOLTHA) software into the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). The platform provides a software framework – or “brain” – behind the XGS-PON access network in the cloud.

  • AT&T Releases Open-Source VOLTHA Software for XGS-PON

    In AT&T’s latest effort to virtualize the last mile of connectivity between its fiber network and customers’ homes or businesses, the operator released open-source software it calls the “brain” for XGS-PON access technology.

  • Say Hi to Subutai

    Subutai is an open-source project and platform that lets anyone share, barter or rent computer resources to create clouds from the edge rather than centralized locations. Available devices can attach to these clouds hovering on the edge. We started calling it Social Cloud Computing, but technically, Subutai is a dynamic p2p multi-cloud made possible thanks to Lightweight Linux Containers and software-defined networking. Think Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud, but running on your computers and the computers of social contacts who share their computer resources with you. Or, think AirBnB on computers for the people’s cloud.

  • Open-Source Tool Aims to Boost Confidence in Ice Sheet Models

    Massive ice sheets with layers built up over millions of years blanket most of Greenland and Antarctica. As a result of climate change, these ice sheets have begun to melt and shrink. Scientists believe this trend is likely to continue and will contribute to sea level rise for decades to come.

  • What are the advantages of open source software?

    Open source software attracts an ever-growing list of advocates. It can save organisations a lot of money while still providing a superior service to that available from proprietary vendors.

    Read on for a rundown of the key benefits open source software has over commercial products

  • Events
    • Open Jam, our open source game jam, kicks off this week

      Open Jam is all about open source games and open game development. Whereas some jams require participants to submit source code for their games, not all of them require that code to be open source licensed. Open Jam encourages you to use open source tools and assets and to link them in your submission. Once voting has concluded, the top three games will be featured at All Things Open.

    • Webinar: 10-step plan to rollout Cloud devops
    • The ARCS model of motivational design

      The ARCS model is an instructional design method developed by John Keller that focuses on motivation. ARCS is based on a research into best practices and successful teachers and gives you tactics on how to evaluate your lessons in order to build motivation right into them.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Patching Firefox

        For Firefox 57, mozilla decided to overhaul much of their browser. The changes are large and massive, and in some ways revolutionary. It’s no surprise, therefore, that some of the changes break compatibility with older things.

  • SaaS/Back End
  • Databases
    • PostgreSQL 10 Released

      The PostgreSQL Global Development Group today announced the release of PostgreSQL 10, the latest version of the world’s most advanced open source database.

      A critical feature of modern workloads is the ability to distribute data across many nodes for faster access, management, and analysis, which is also known as a “divide and conquer” strategy. The PostgreSQL 10 release includes significant enhancements to effectively implement the divide and conquer strategy, including native logical replication, declarative table partitioning, and improved query parallelism.

    • PostgreSQL 10.0 Officially Released
    • PostgreSQL 10 released

      Version 10 of the PostgreSQL database management system has been released.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • FreeBSD gains eMMC support so … errr … watch out, Android

      Version 10.4 of FreeBSD has landed, with the headline feature being support for eMMC.

      For those of you still short of your best after nocturnal chemical exertions, eMMC – aka Embedded Multimedia Card – packs some flash memory and a controller into a single package. That arrangement is handy for manufacturers of personal electronics.

    • LibertyBSD 6.1 Released As A “Deblobbed” Version Of OpenBSD

      LibertyBSD 6.1 is now available as a deblobbed version of OpenBSD.

      LibertyBSD is a downstream of OpenBSD that focuses on only distributing free software. OpenBSD ships with non-free, binary-only firmware like Linux, but LibertyBSD strips away those binary-only bits, similar to the Linux-libre downstream kernel.

    • OpenSSH 7.6 has just been released.
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • Node.js is Strong and Growing

      As we come into this year’s Node.js Interactive conference it’s a good time to reflect on the State of Node.js, and by any reasonable measure the state of Node.js is very strong. Every day there are more than 8.8 million Node instances online, that number has grown by 800,000 in the last nine months alone. Every week there are more than 3 billion downloads of npm packages. The number of Node.js contributors has grown from 1,100 contributors last year to more than 1,500 contributors today. To date there have been a total of 444 releases, and we have 39,672 stars on Github. This is an enviable position for any technology and a testament to the value of Node.js and the dedication of the Node.js community.

    • SUSE Developer Working On AMD Zen Tuning For GCC

      Veteran GCC contributor and SUSE developer Jan Hubicka has begun working on some Zen tuning within the GNU Compiler Collection for benefiting the Ryzen / Threadripper / Epyc processors.

      While GCC has already had the “znver1″ scheduler model and some tuning for this new CPU microarchitecture, tuning a complicated compiler stack is a virtually never-ending process, just as the LLVM/Clang znver1 support continues to be refined too. AMD has long partnered with SUSE for compiler engineering excellence from working on GCC HSA code to the initial x86_64 bring-up and much more over the years. Given Hubicka now working on Zen tuning, this looks to be the latest involvement.

    • PyPy v5.9 released
    • PyPy v5.9 Released, Now Supports Pandas, NumPy

      The PyPy team is proud to release both PyPy3.5 v5.9 (a beta-quality interpreter for Python 3.5 syntax) and PyPy2.7 v5.9 (an interpreter supporting Python 2.7 syntax).

    • PyPy 5.9 Released With Faster JSON Parser, Greater Compatibility

      PyPy, the self-hosting alternative Python interpreter, is up to version 5.9 for its Python 2 and Python 3 language support.

      PyPy 5.9 brings support for Numpy and Pandas with its Python 2.7 implementation, greater compatibility in conjunction with Cython 0.27.1, an optimized JSON parser, updated CFFI, improvements to the C API compatibility layer, and other updates.

    • Red Hat will provide PHP 7.1 for RHEL (and CentOS)
  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Quality Of Medicines A Key Focus Of Antimicrobial Resistance Fight

      Assuring the quality of medicines all the way to the consumer is a key component of the global antimicrobial resistance action plan now beginning to be implemented around the world, a panel of experts said during the recent United Nations General Assembly.

      There are a number of reasons why patients develop resistance to antimicrobials, said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director and senior fellow, Center for Disease Dynamics Economics & Policy (CDDEP), the moderator of the panel. Examples are that people do not take the full course of treatment, or that they buy substandard medicines over the counter from local shops.

    • WHO Official On AMR: Poor Quality Medicines Entering At “Last Mile” To Patient

      In the question and answer period, Inoue reported on WHO efforts, saying for instance that since WHO launched its global surveillance and monitoring system for substandard or falsified medicines in 2012, they have gathered more than 1,500 reports of such medicine from more than 100 countries. So there is now some data on clusters of medicines or categories of medicines most prone to such issues.

    • Police raid Merck pharmaceutical plant amid mysterious drug crisis

      In the six months since pharmaceutical giant Merck KGaA reformulated a thyroid hormone replacement drug distributed in France, patients there have filed dozens of lawsuits. Hundreds of thousands signed a petition to reverse the change, and around 9,000 reported illnesses and side-effects, some dramatic. They complain of hair loss, cramps, weight gain, extreme fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, dizziness, memory loss, and heart palpitations.

      The outcry has created a political and media blitz. Rumors and conspiracy theories have flown, including that Merck switched production of the drug to a plant in China to cut costs. (The drug, which has no competition in France, is produced in Europe.)

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • How 2nd Amendment Distortions Kill

      “Gun rights” advocates insist that pretty much any gun control violates the design of the Constitution’s Framers and thus can’t be enacted no matter how many innocent people die.

      Some on the Right, as well as some on the Left, even claim that the Founders, as revolutionaries themselves, wanted an armed population so the people could rebel against the Republic, which the U.S. Constitution created. But the Constitution’s Framers in 1787 and the authors of the Bill of Rights in the First Congress in 1789 had no such intent.

      Arguably other individuals disconnected from the drafting of those documents may have harbored such radical attitudes (at least rhetorically), but the authors didn’t. In fact, their intent was the opposite.

      The goal of the Second Amendment was to promote state militias for the maintenance of order at a time of political unrest, potential slave revolts and simmering hostilities with both European powers and Native Americans on the frontiers. Indeed, the amendment’s defined purpose was to achieve state “security” against disruptions to the country’s new republican form of government.

    • Pilger Criticizes Ken Burns’s ‘The Vietnam War’

      For decades, the U.S. mainstream media has shied away from a clear-eyed view of the Vietnam War, not wanting to offend the war’s apologists, a residue of which tainted the recent PBS series, as John Pilger told Dennis J Bernstein.

    • No, Bill O’Reilly, Bloody Las Vegas Massacre Is Not “Price of Freedom”

      After former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly—ousted from his nightly show earlier this year following allegations of sexual harassment—described the blood-soaked massacre at a Las Vegas music festival on Sunday night that left 59 people dead and hundreds wounded as “the price of freedom,” the good people of the nation had a simple response: No, you heartless and mindless idiot.

      “Once again,” O’Reilly wrote on his personal blog Monday, “the big downside of American freedom is on gruesome display.” Later, he argued that mass murder at the hands of people with automatic assault rifles is simply “the price of freedom” because “violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are.”

      Though a classic construction of right-wing demagoguery, that thinking is betrayed by serious academic research which shows that when strict gun control laws are put in place, these kinds of attacks are incredibly rare compared to what the United States—hostage as it is to the nation’s gun industry lobby and the NRA—has been forced to experience in recent decades.

    • A Mindset Shift Is Necessary to Defeat Gun Violence

      One night in 2013, I sat in my living room, gaze fixed on the television. A teenage girl the same age as my own daughter had been murdered. In our neighborhood (and the neighborhood of the then-president, too). So many questions ran through my head: “How, what, why?” Yes — lots and lots of “why?”

      Her mother sobbed and moaned uncontrollably on the TV. Her family crowded around to bring strength to her, but at that moment, nothing could. I knew this scene. I knew the sound of it. I knew what it meant and I was terrified of it.

    • Two Charts on the Gun Crisis: One Hopeful, One Hopeless

      This chart shows that there’s a fairly strong relationship between the rate of gun-related deaths (murders, suicides, accidents) and the percentage of households that own guns: the fewer households with guns, the fewer gun deaths. This is encouraging because it suggests that efforts to reduce the heavy toll of gun deaths could work: If the statistical correlation holds, you wouldn’t have to eliminate all guns—a probably impossible goal—you would just have to reduce their number in order to significantly reduce the carnage. In other words, if Kentucky reduced household gun ownership by about two-fifths (just eyeballing it), it might look more like Delaware, with roughly two-thirds the rate of gun deaths.

    • Trump plans to declare that Iran nuclear deal is not in the national interest
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Texas Official After Harvey: The ‘Red Cross Was Not There’

      The Red Cross’ anemic response to Hurricane Harvey left officials in several Texas counties seething, emails obtained by ProPublica show. In some cases, the Red Cross simply failed to show up as it promised it would.

      In DeWitt, a county of 20,000 where Harvey ripped apart the roof of a hotel, Emergency Management Coordinator Cyndi Smith upbraided a Red Cross official in a Sept. 9 email:

    • The Latest: Interior ordered to reinstate methane rule

      A federal judge has ordered the Interior Department to reinstate an Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands.

      The order by a judge in San Francisco comes as Interior is moving to delay the rule until 2019, saying it is too burdensome to industry. Interior tried earlier to postpone part of the rule set to take effect next year.

    • Demand for new cars declines in September as consumer and business confidence falls

      The UK new car market declined for a sixth consecutive month in September, with 426,170 new units registered, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Registrations fell by -9.3% in this key month, as economic and political uncertainty, and confusion over air quality plans led to a fall in consumer confidence.

    • The FBI’s Hunt for Two Missing Piglets Reveals the Federal Cover-Up of Barbaric Factory Farms

      FBI AGENTS ARE devoting substantial resources to a multistate hunt for two baby piglets that the bureau believes are named Lucy and Ethel. The two piglets were removed over the summer from the Circle Four Farm in Utah by animal rights activists who had entered the Smithfield Foods-owned factory farm to film the brutal, torturous conditions in which the pigs are bred in order to be slaughtered.

      While filming the conditions at the Smithfield facility, activists saw the two ailing baby piglets laying on the ground, visibly ill and near death, surrounded by the rotting corpses of dead piglets. “One was swollen and barely able to stand; the other had been trampled and was covered in blood,” said Wayne Hsiung of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), which filmed the facility and performed the rescue. Due to various illnesses, he said, the piglets were unable to eat or digest food and were thus a fraction of the normal weight for piglets their age.

  • Finance
    • Explaining the new cryptocurrency bubble—and why it might not be all bad

      You’re going to hear a lot about initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the coming months. As investors have poured more and more money into newly created virtual currencies, they have created a gold-rush mentality. In recent months, some ICOs have raised tens of millions of dollars, and in early October the cryptocurrency market as a whole was worth about $140 billion.

    • Before Maria, Forcing Puerto Rico to Pay Its Debt Was Odious. Now It’s Pure Cruelty.

      On Tuesday, Donald Trump followed up his sadistic attacks on the people of Puerto Rico with a comment out of the blue regarding the territory’s $73 billion debt: “… we’re going to have to wipe that out.” Whether or not Trump can be taken any more seriously on that than he can on any other issue, Hurricane Maria did reveal in the starkest possible way that forgiveness of Puerto Rico’s debt is a moral necessity.

      The economic vulnerability that set the island up for an unnatural disaster unprecedented in U.S. history was a hybrid between mainland hedge-fund managers’ greed and the island colony’s political powerlessness. Writing more than a year before Maria, legal scholar Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan argued,

    • Puerto Rico Is On Track for Historic Debt Forgiveness — Unless Wall Street Gets Its Way

      For bondholders sitting on Puerto Rican debt, Hurricane Maria may have come just when they needed it, just as a yearslong battle over the fate of the island’s financial future was beginning to turn against them. Or, depending on how the politics shake out, they could see their entire bet go south.

      Ahead of Maria, the federally appointed fiscal oversight board now in control of Puerto Rico’s finances had developed a plan that would wipe out 79 percent of the island’s annual debt payments, taking a massive chunk out of the payday hedge funds had been hoping to land from the island.

      In the wake of the storm, that fight could go one of two ways: Advocates for Puerto Rico are making the case that the devastation means that 79 percent should be ratcheted up all the way to a full debt cancellation. The hedge funds, meanwhile, see an opening to attack the oversight board and reclaim ownership of the process.

      While Congress focuses on the size and shape of the relief package, the battle over the much larger debt — at least $74 billion — is being overshadowed. As hedge funds attempt to undermine the board’s legitimacy in the courts, resentment toward the board from a different end of the political spectrum has made the body unpopular for entirely different reasons: It’s colonial and undemocratic. The difference between the two? The left wants debt relief for Puerto Ricans. Many bondholders want the opposite.

    • 13 Cost-Cutting Measures Companies Hope You Won’t Notice
    • Trump Tax Plan Is a Rocket for the Rich

      As President Trump begins a barn-storming tour to tout his tax plan, we’ve released a short video rebutting some of the most common Republican myths about corporate tax cuts.

      Trump has claimed that we’ll “see a rocket ship” once his tax plan is adopted — that’s just how much he wants us to believe the economy will take off.

      But as predicted, the plan he and congressional Republican leaders released on September 27 would primarily benefit the wealthy and big corporations. For the rest of us, it would be a dud.

    • Special Investigation: How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis—With Phony Mortgages!

      You know the old joke: How do you make a killing on Wall Street and never risk a loss? Easy—use other people’s money. Jamie Dimon and his underlings at JPMorgan Chase have perfected this dark art at America’s largest bank, which boasts a balance sheet one-eighth the size of the entire US economy.

      After JPMorgan’s deceitful activities in the housing market helped trigger the 2008 financial crash that cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes, and life savings, punishment was in order. Among a vast array of misconduct, JPMorgan engaged in the routine use of “robo-signing,” which allowed bank employees to automatically sign hundreds, even thousands, of foreclosure documents per day without verifying their contents. But in the United States, white-collar criminals rarely go to prison; instead, they negotiate settlements. Thus, on February 9, 2012, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced the National Mortgage Settlement, which fined JPMorgan Chase and four other mega-banks a total of $25 billion.

    • Why Apple could be slapped with a massive $15 billion Irish tax bill

      The European Commission on Wednesday stepped up its campaign to force big American technology companies to pay more taxes on Wednesday. It ruled that Luxembourg had violated EU rules by allowing the bulk of Amazon’s European profits to go untaxed, and it announced it was taking Ireland to court for failing to collect higher taxes from Apple, after Ireland ignored a similar ruling from the EC last year. If the EC wins the battle, Apple could owe €13 billion ($15 billion), while Amazon could owe an extra €250 million ($290 million).

      The EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, says that she’s just trying to create a level playing field by preventing big multinational companies from getting sweetheart deals not available to most companies. But critics say Vestager is meddling in the internal tax policy decisions of democratic nations—and some have also insinuated that she has been singling out American multinationals for extra scrutiny.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Exclusive: Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted Michigan and Wisconsin

      Facebook previously has acknowledged that about one quarter of the 3,000 Russian-bought ads were targeted to specific geographic locations, without detailing the locations. The company said of the ads that were geographically targeted “more ran in 2015 than 2016.” In all, Facebook estimates the entire Russian effort was seen by 10 million people.

    • Facebook Fought Rules That Could Have Exposed Fake Russian Ads

      Since 2011, Facebook has asked the Federal Election Commission for blanket exemptions from political advertising disclosure rules — transparency that could have helped it avoid the current crisis over Russian ad spending ahead of the 2016 U.S. election.

    • Baltimore’s ‘Kushnerville’ Tenants File Class Action Against Landlord

      Tenants of the Baltimore-area apartment complexes owned by Jared Kushner’s real-estate company have brought a class-action lawsuit against the firm’s property management arm over its aggressive pursuit of tenants for allegedly unpaid rent.

      The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Circuit Court for Baltimore City, alleges that the management company and related corporate entities have been improperly inflating payments owed by tenants by charging them late fees that are often unfounded and court fees that are not actually approved by any court. This, the lawsuit charges, sets in motion a vicious cycle in which tenants’ rent payments are partly assessed toward the fees instead of the actual rent owed, thus deeming the tenant once again “late” on his or her rent payment, leading to yet more late fees and court fees. Making matters worse, the 5 percent late fees are frequently assessed on principal that includes allegedly unpaid fees, not just the rent itself. Tenants are pressured to pay the snowballing bills with immediate threat of eviction, the suit alleges.

    • In the South, Bankruptcy is Different, Especially for Black Debtors

      For consumers, there are two main options under federal bankruptcy law: Chapter 7, which wipes away most debts, or Chapter 13, which usually requires five years of payments before debts are forgiven. In most of the country, people choose Chapter 7. But two overlapping groups — debtors in the South and black debtors — disproportionately file under Chapter 13. About half of Chapter 13 cases are dismissed, usually because debtors failed to make their payments. This can leave them worse off than before they filed because they’ve paid court costs and attorney fees while falling further behind on their debts. Detailed Findings | Related Story | Download the Data

    • How the Bankruptcy System Is Failing Black Americans

      Novasha Miller pushed through the revolving doors of the black glass tower on Jefferson Avenue last December and felt a rush of déjà vu. The building, conspicuous in Memphis’ modest skyline along the Mississippi River, looms over its neighbors. Then she remembered: Years ago, as a teenager, she’d accompanied her mother inside.

    • The U.S. Election System Remains Deeply Vulnerable, But States Would Rather Celebrate Fake Success

      When the Department of Homeland Security notified 21 states that Russian actors had targeted their elections systems in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, the impacted states rolled out a series of defiant statements. “Oregon’s security measures thwarted Russian government attempts to access the Secretary of State computer network during the 2016 general election,” chest-thumped Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.

      The Florida secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections, was triumphant: “Florida was unsuccessfully targeted by hackers last year.”

    • Calling Foul on Donald Trump

      A post-surgical convalescence has held me captive to the 24/7 news cycle more than usual so I’ve been far too immersed than is healthy in the concurrent sagas of Donald Trump versus the National Football League and the United States Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Hence a couple of thoughts about aspects of Trump’s life and worldview that may help connect some dots:

    • Protest in the Black Lives Matter movement: an interview with activist and lawyer Justin Hansford
    • Catalonia: Rajoy Moves Towards Extreme Measures

      Things have taken a much more sinister turn in Catalonia, without sufficient notice being paid internationally. The leader of the Catalan regional police force has been formally arraigned for sedition by the Spanish attorney general, for refusal to comply enthusiastically with the beating up of old women. That carries a minimum jail sentence of four years. It is the first step towards major imprisonment of Catalan leaders. It is also extremely significant that this first step is aimed at decapitating the only disciplined and armed force under some measure of Catalan government control. What does that tell you about Rajoy’s next move?

      This extreme action against Major Trapero is precisely in line with last night’s ultra hardline address by a man with the comic opera name of Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia. It is hard to take seriously anyone named after a whiskey, but we live in such a strange world that this unelected, far right and immensely corrupt, inbred buffoon could spout about democracy and accuse anyone who did not bow the knee to him of disloyalty and sedition. That precisely prefigures the legal action taken against Major Trapero. It can only be a precursor to a Spanish attempt to impose physical control on Catalonia and imprison its leaders. Having rejected both dialogue and mediation, I see no other direction Rajoy will take.

    • The EU Doubles Down on Backing For Rajoy

      Timmerman said “rule of law” an amazing 12 times during his brief closing statement, and said “human rights” or “fundamental rights” precisely zero times. At no stage did Timmermans acknowledge that the Spanish Guardia Civil had viciously attacked peaceful civilians of all ages.


      It was, in short, horrific. I am afraid to say that it left me in no doubt whatsoever that I have made the right choice in declining further to support membership of the EU.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Trump Wants to Censor the Media

      Frustrated with a set of damning reports about his relationship with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—including the nugget that Tillerson called him a “moron” (perhaps with an R-rated modifier)—the president offered a new suggestion on Twitter Thursday morning: Why not explore government censorship of the press?

    • Cloudflare Bans Sites For Using Cryptocurrency Miners

      Web-based cryptocurrency miners became a big thing recently when The Pirate Bay trialed one to generate extra revenue. Now, however, TorrentFreak has learned that Cloudflare has banned at least one torrent proxy site for deploying a miner on its platform. According to Cloudflare, unannounced miners are considered malware.

    • Amber Rudd: viewers of online terrorist material face 15 years in jail

      Asked by an audience member if she understood how end-to-end encryption actually worked, she said: “It’s so easy to be patronised in this business. We will do our best to understand it. We will take advice from other people. But I do feel that there is a sea of criticism for any of us who try and legislate in new areas, who will automatically be sneered at and laughed at for not getting it right. I don’t need to understand how encryption works to understand how it’s helping the criminals,” she went on. “I will engage with the security services to find the best way to combat that.”

    • Former Revenge Porn Site Operator Readies For Senate Run By Issuing Bogus Takedown Requests To YouTube

      He also had a history of mocking those who asked him to take down the nude photos that he had posted on his site. For example, this was posted to Brittain’s site, and preserved by Adam Steinbaugh (Craig took down this and other posts after Steinbaugh wrote about them). What you see below is Craig literally responding “lol” to people freaked out that their naked photos were posted to his site without their knowledge or consent (while the image says “admin,” Craig has publicly admitted he wrote and posted those responses).

    • Shouldn’t Federal Judges Understand That Congress Did Not Pass SOPA?

      We’ve discussed in the past the completely ridiculous attacks on Sci-Hub, a site that should be celebrated as an incredible repository of all the world’s academic knowledge. It’s an incredible and astounding achievement… and, instead of celebrating it, we have big publishers attacking it. Because copyright. And even though the purpose of copyright was supposedly to advance “learning” and Sci-Hub serves that purpose amazingly well, so many people have bought into the myth of copyrights must “exclude” usage, that we’re in a time where one of the most amazing libraries in the world is being attacked. Sci-Hub lost its big case earlier this year, and almost immediately others piled on. Specifically, back in June, the American Chemical Society (ACS) jumped in with a similar “us too!” lawsuit, knowing full well that Sci-Hub would likely ignore it.

    • Censorship board considers new name

      He said the idea to come up with a new name was informed by the negative connotations attracted by the current name.

    • Too much self-censorship

      It’s not just newspapers or internet giants like Twitter or Facebook; we are all in the communications business. We’re not the talking naked apes we once were. Now we are a species with interconnected tongues and brains, linked by clouds of computers and thinking machines. The same primate thumbs that enabled us to become toolmakers have now become our primary language devices. No thumbs means no phone, no communication.


      Here at this newspaper, we have inherited new jobs. Every week we are forced to chase down Facebook errors and Nextdoor rumors and try to set the record straight. Why can’t Facebook’s billionaire Mark Zuckerberg do his own job? Maybe because he’s already admitted he can’t control all his thinking machines. Google’s motto is “do no harm.” That sounds a lot like a tag line promoting last summer’s Planet of the Apes movie.

    • Iranian art: of culture, clerical censorship and western influence
    • Spring art in Tehran
    • Banned books: Garland Public library display draws attention to censorship issues
    • Ladd Celebrates Banned Books Week in Style
    • Worth reading
    • Blade’s Lessenberry to lecture on censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Journalist’s supporters can sue FBI over subpoena seeking names of defense fund donors: Judge

      Kevin Gallagher, the creator of “Free Barrett Brown,” sued the government in San Francisco federal court this past February after learning that the Dallas prosecutor’s office used a subpoena to quietly obtain the names and other personal information of individuals who made seemingly anonymous donations to the writer’s defense fund. Prosecutors investigating the criminal case against Mr. Brown said the subpoena was necessary to determine if the accused could afford to hire an attorney, but lawyers representing Mr. Gallagher and an anonymous donor argued that the government sought “completely irrelevant” information that was meant to intimidate and silence the journalist’s supporters.

    • The U.S. Voted Against a U.N. Resolution Condemning Death Penalty for LGBTQ People

      President Donald Trump’s administration is facing strong backlash from civil rights groups after voting against a U.N. resolution that condemns using death penalty to punish “consensual same-sex relations.”

      The U.N. Human Rights Council approved the measure on Friday with a 27-13 vote, with seven countries abstaining. The United States, led by Amb. Nikki Haley, voted for an amendment to the resolution that said the death penalty was not necessarily a human rights violation, and voted against amendments urging countries to stop using experimental drugs in executions.

    • Judge: Barrett Brown donors can sue government over subpoenaed records

      A federal judge in San Francisco has denied the FBI’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a local activist who raised money for Barrett Brown. Brown is a journalist who was released from prison last year.

      As Ars reported previously, in April 2014 Brown took a plea deal admitting guilt on three charges: “transmitting a threat in interstate commerce,” interfering with the execution of a search warrant, and being “accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer.” Brown was arrested in 2012 when he shared a link related to Anonymous’ hack of Stratfor.

      During Brown’s incarceration, activist Kevin Gallagher solicited over $40,000 in donations on the WePay website. However, he soon found that the FBI had successfully subpoenaed WePay to obtain information about the myriad donors whose identities Gallagher had pledged to keep secret.

    • Search of “Rocket” Madsen’s space lab finds footage of woman’s decapitation

      Copenhagen prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen announced in a court hearing Wednesday that “images” of the torture, decapitation, and burning of a woman were found on a computer hard drive at RML Spacelab, the organization devoted to building a manned suborbital rocket led by Danish aerospace engineer Peter Madsen. The BBC reports that the images, “which we presume to be real,” said Buch-Jepsen, were on a computer believed to belong to Madsen—the suspect in the death of journalist Kim Wall in an incident aboard his submarine the UC3 Nautilus.

      Madsen, for his part, claimed the video was not his and that the computer the video was on was a computer that everyone in the lab had access to. But other evidence presented in this latest hearing on his case has prompted the judge overseeing the case to order he be held in custody another four months, as Buch-Jepsen told the court of the video and other evidence that have “strengthened” the case against Madsen since his last hearing on September 5.

    • Supreme Court says live streaming would “adversely affect” oral arguments

      The Supreme Court is setting aside a request to live stream its oral arguments. The attorney for Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. told members of Congress that live streaming even the audio portion of its oral arguments might impact the outcome.

      “The Chief Justice appreciated and shares your ultimate goal of increasing public transparency and improving public understanding of the Supreme Court,” Roberts’ attorney, Jeffrey P. Minear, wrote (PDF) the four members of Congress seeking (PDF) to have the court’s gerrymandering case live streamed in audio. “I am sure you are, however, familiar with the Justices’ concerns surrounding the live broadcast or streaming of oral arguments, which could adversely affect the character and quality of the dialogue between the attorneys and Justices. Consequently, the Court is unable to accommodate your request.”

    • 3 Bills Gov. Jerry Brown Should Sign Right Now

      Each day, California Gov. Jerry Brown releases a list of 30-40 bills that he’s signed—and those that he’s vetoed. When all is said and done, California likely will add more than 800 new laws to the books this year.

      And each day, EFF refreshes and refreshes the governor’s press release page, watching for Brown to take action on the bills we fought to put on his desk. He has until Oct. 15 to sign, veto, or let bills pass without his signature.

      Will he sign S.B. 345, a police transparency bill that even law enforcement supports? Will he agree that at-risk youth in juvenile halls and foster homes deserve access to digital tools, as proposed by A.B. 811? Will he finish the job of reforming California’s gang databases and approve A.B. 90?

      He could act on these bills any time over the next 10 days. If you live in California, tell the governor that today is a great day to strengthen our digital rights.

    • Seattle’s Nazi tech-bros’ plan: infiltrate tech industry, hire white supremacists

      The Stranger’s David Lewis snuck into the Northwest Forum, a s00per s33kr1t Nazi gathering in Seattle, and attended the speeches, including the keynote by reclusive white supremacist leader Dr Greg Johnson.

      All in all, the Forum was a pretty dull affair, but Johnson did take the opportunity to describe his strategy for “secret agent” white nationalists to infiltrate the tech sector by paying “lip service to diversity,” moving up the corporate ladder, and hire other mediocre white men who believe in racial superiority to fill the companies’ vacancies.

    • Judge: Barrett Brown Donors Plausibly Allege FBI Violated Free Speech

      A magistrate judge dismissed multiple claims brought by supporters of journalist Barrett Brown against a former assistant United States attorney, former special FBI agent, and the U.S. government. But the judge did not entirely dismiss the lawsuit and left the door open for one donor to amend his claim arguing an FBI subpoena chilled his First Amendment activity.

      Brown was released from prison on November 29, 2016, after serving a prison sentence which stemmed from pleading guilty to threatening an FBI agent, obstructing justice, and being an accessory to a cyber attack. He spent two years in pretrial incarceration prior to his sentence in 2014.

      Cadina Heath was the assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Texas. Robert Smith was a special FBI agent in the Dallas office. They drafted and served WePay with a subpoena that directed WePay to produce records on the crowdfunding campaign to raise money for Brown’s legal defense. It exposed the identities of donors, their sensitive financial information, and the amounts of their donations, and allegedly targeted their political speech.

    • He Was Meant To Secure An Election — He Turned Up Dead

      Early in the morning on July 31, eight days before a highly contested election that would plunge the country into a crisis unlike any it had seen before, the man responsible for designing the electronic system to ensure a fair and accurate vote was found brutally murdered.

      Authorities found the body of Chris Msando, the deputy IT manager of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), on the side of the road in a town called Kikuyu, about 12 miles northwest of Nairobi. Police also found the body of a 21-year-old woman next to him; both of their clothes had been removed. Early reports indicated that Msando’s arm had been chopped off, but a pathologist later clarified that he had suffered several cuts to his arm and other signs of torture. Officials said the cause for his death was strangulation. Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations continues the probe into his killing.

    • Indiana Supreme Court: Sex with minors is OK, but it’s illegal to sext them

      In Indiana, it’s legal for adults to have consensual sex with minors aged 16 and 17. But it’s illegal to sext those same minors, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled this week. The decision reinstated sexting charges against an adult who texted nude images of himself to a girl he knew was 16.

      The state’s highest court, ruling 5-0, noted that the charges against 40-year-old defendant Sameer Thakar, a high school teacher who has been removed from his post, are “inconsistent” when balanced against the state’s laws on consensual sex. But state lawmakers, and not the Supreme Court, can rectify that if they want to, the court ruled.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Broadband Lobbyists Gush Over Re-Appointment Of Trump’s FCC Boss

      If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that Trump-appointed FCC boss Ajit Pai is viciously unpopular. There are dozens of reasons for this, ranging from his assault on net neutrality and broadband privacy rules, to his efforts to protect cable’s set top box monopoly while fiddling with data measurement to downplay a lack of competition in the space. Pai’s the type to gut broadband funding programs for the poor while professing to be a stalwart champion of bridging the digital divide — a man whose self-professed dedication to transparency is notably absent in his policy making.

    • Wall Street Predicts Apathetic Regulators And Limited Competition Will Let Comcast Double Broadband Prices

      Wall Street predicts that cable giants like Comcast will soon be cashing in on the one-two punch of rubber stamp regulators and an ongoing lack of competition in the broadband space. Under the Obama administration, regulators turned a blind eye to the fact that cable giants like Comcast were taking advantage of a lack of competition to impose arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees. Under the Trump administration that apathy has ballooned ten fold, with the looming assault on net neutrality only green lighting Comcast’s ability to use those fees to raise rates and hamstring streaming competitors.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Man who sued over Facebook childbirth livestream slapped with $120k in fees

        A father who livestreamed his son’s birth on Facebook and then sued various media outlets that used his clips has been ordered to pay $120,000 in attorneys fees after losing his case.

        US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in February that TV stations broadcasting clips of the 45-minute livestream, published online by Kali Kanongataa, qualified as fair use. NBC used 30 seconds of the video on one of its morning shows, while ABC and Yahoo used 22 seconds of the video for a segment that was broadcast on Good Morning America and a Yahoo site that hosts ABC content. The father also sued COED Media Group.

      • ‘Six Strikes’ May Be Dead, But ISPs Keep Threatening To Disconnect Accused Pirates Anyway

        Earlier this year, the entertainment and telecom industries’ “six strikes” anti-piracy initiative died a quiet death after years of hype from the RIAA and MPAA about how it would revolutionize copyright enforcement (it didn’t). The program involved ISPs using a rotating crop of “escalation measures” to temporarily block, throttle or otherwise harass accused pirates until they acknowledged receipt of laughably one-sided copyright educational materials. Offenders, accused entirely based on IP address as proof of guilt, were allowed to try and contest these accusations — if they paid a $35 fee.

      • MPAA Reports Pirate Sites, Hosts and Ad-Networks to US Government

        The MPAA has submitted a new list of “notorious websites” to the US Government. The list features a wide variety of pirate sites including The Pirate Bay, Gostream, and Rapidgator, and also mentions fully-loaded streaming boxes. For the first time, the overview also includes ad-networks, highlighting the Canadian company WWWPromoter as an example.

“Cloud”, “AI”, and “IoT” Among the Buzzwords Used to Bypass Limitations/Bans on Software Patents

Thursday 5th of October 2017 09:30:42 AM

Don’t fall for these tricks, which law firms advertise in the form of ‘drafting tips’

Don’t be a victim of buzzwords and the art of semantics

Summary: Now that ‘pure’ software patents are pretty much impossible to enforce (except in China) there are efforts by law firms to mislead clients into further pursuits, usually relying on misleading words to avoid an impression of abstractness

THE REALITY in 2017 is that software patents are practically dead in the US courts. Sure, examiners still grant some (even at the EPO), but courts say “No!” almost every time (the higher the court, the more likely the rejection). Law firms that promote software patents consciously waste people’s time and money; after all, what do/why should they care about the outcome? They make money from legal fees either way (no matter the outcome). Yesterday we saw this article titled “Drafting Software Patents Post-Alice: Lessons From Courts” (which ones, district courts?).

Much of the article is behind a paywall, but the introduction says: “Since the decision in Alice[1] three years ago, applicants, patent practitioners and even patent examiners are trying to sort out what is and is not an abstract idea in the software arts for patentability purposes. With no clear objective test, each new decision potentially provides guidance on what may be determined to be abstract, and also may provide clues on how to better structure claims and specifications to avoid or at least overcome Alice-related rejections.”

But given the repeated rejection of such patents, what’s the point? Changing the words might help fool examiners into granting software patents, but courts (with witnesses, expert testimonies etc.) will almost always reach the same conclusion. Don’t bother. Don’t try to pursue software patents anymore. Don’t believe these law firms. They just try to make money for themselves, not for clients.

Unfortunately, we continue to see the dodge or departure from conventional language and into the realm of buzzwords, such as “AI”*. Even this morning we saw this piece published by a firm connected to Microsoft. It’s about Uniloc, a patent troll which has received money from Microsoft. It tries to use buzzwords to leverage software patents against companies: this time the buzzword is “cloud” and the author uses the euphemism “NPE”, which just means patent troll. To quote:

As Cloud IPQ will continue to demonstrate, a growing but often overlooked trend of NPE patent litigations against cloud computing providers and users has emerged in recent years. While many NPEs target big technology companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft, Uniloc has cast a wider net that includes health service providers, gaming companies and software developers. In less than two years, Uniloc has filed 59 district court cases against 39 defendants in the cloud computing space. The patents asserted relate to cloud software and platforms capable of remote network access and management in fields ranging from business management, software and game security, identity management, critical infrastructure security, and IP rights management. The lawsuits target both cloud computing providers (e.g., Nexon, Blackboard, Netsuite, Nutanix, etc.) and users (e.g., Riot Games, AthenaHealth, H&R Block, etc.).

These are just software patents. Courts or even PTAB would reject these post-Alice. Judges who don’t grasp these buzzwords will likely rely on technical people to explain/deconstruct these. It’s all abstract.

Another new example of a buzzword is “IoT” — an example we last wrote about in the weekend. Audrey Lo from Lee and Li Attorneys at Law has just published this article about the ‘dressing up’ of software patents as “IoT”. Just because one refers to software patents by some buzzword (with “things”, like “devices” in them) does not make these any more valid; it’s just a Trojan horse to fool examiners. As even Lo admits, “IoT technology is closely related to software development.” Here are some portions:

It is clear from the above that Taiwanese corporations lag much behind their foreign competitors in developing IoT technology. Moreover, according to the IoT patent report published by the UKIPO in 2014 and that by LexInnova in 2016, Chinese corporations were among the top three IoT patent applicants. However, none of the top ten IoT patent applicants in Taiwan came from China.

IoT technology is closely related to software development. Whether a patent can be granted depends greatly how the claims are drafted. Since the regulations and standards for assessing the patentability of software-related inventions are slightly different in each country, one should consider those differences in order to ensure the patentability of his/her invention. All the possible scenarios that may occur during enforcement must also be considered in claim drafting; otherwise, even if a patent is granted, the patent holder may not be able to enforce his/her patent against others.

It is worth noting that China does allow software patents (it’s one of the few countries that allow that), though we’re not sure about Taiwan, which China tries to assert sovereignty over.

As always, most software patents are laughable. Even patent maximalists like Patently-O are sometimes willing to admit this and days ago it gave an example — only to receive a threatening E-mail from the so-called ‘inventor’ (whereupon the blog published the E-mail). What’s the point trying to defend a terrible software patent which is obviously bogus? It’s 2017. We’re in the post-software patents era now. Just stop calling these patents things they’re not (buzzwords).
* There was another example of this last night, in a press release which said “Element Data, Inc., a decision support software platform that harnesses artificial intelligence and machine learning has acquired the assets and patent of BehaviorMatrix, LLC” (this patent is totally worthless as it’s a software patent).

PTAB Will Reach New Highs/All-Time Record This Year, Cleaning Up the Patent System by Throwing Away Invalid Patents

Thursday 5th of October 2017 08:46:46 AM

Many of these are software patents which pose a threat

Even Cisco, which came under fire from PTAB, strongly supports PTAB

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is defying resistance from the patent trolls’ lobby and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) once again defends PTAB, in essence lifting a ban erroneous imposed by the United States International Trade Commission (ITC)

THE EPO is pushing away its appeal boards, but the USPTO does the exact opposite by sending more IPRs their way. IPRs are the procedure by which PTAB invalidates patents which should never have been granted in the first place.

Record year for PTAB IPRs (i.e. elimination of bad patents)? It certainly seems so. Even patent maximalists are willing to admit so, having crunched some numbers. But here’s the spin they put on it (as usual):

The third quarter had the fewest Patent Trial and Appeal Board petitions since the first quarter of 2016. In September, the Board designated one of its decisions as informative and also granted a rare rehearing in an IPR involving the Coalition for Affordable Drugs

Ignoring this kind of spin, which conveniently omits all the numbers from 2012-2015, the PTAB is set to break another new record this year. Thousands of bad patents are being looked at and many get invalidated.

The patent maximalists who try hard to crush PTAB, even by scandalising it, also wrote about Aqua Products v Matal yesterday. PTAB judges are being pressured to become more lenient. As one PTAB opponent put it:

The opinion package, is 148 pages in length and includes five separate opinions walking the question of deference to PTO Decisionmaking.

Michael Loney put it like this:

The long-awaited Aqua Products ruling is narrow – a result of different views on the judgment and the rationale that should be employed. The matter is remanded for the PTAB to consider the patentability of the proposed substitute claims without placing the burden of persuasion on the patent owner

That’s not a very profound difference. In fact, we very much doubt it will — in any shape or form — impact the numbers above. PTAB is generally very widely supported by industry. As we pointed out yesterday, all the PTAB opponents are connected to patent trolls and cranks.

As we noted yesterday, even Cisco openly supports PTAB. That’s in spite of the fact that, at least in the Arista case, PTAB was used against Cisco. The case was recalled yesterday (“Why Hewlett Packard Enterprise Is Backing Arista, Not Cisco”) and Jones Day wrote a long article about it. Here are some key bits:

The Federal Circuit has determined to partially stay an ITC exclusion order as it pertains to products redesigned after the remedial orders issued. We have previously posted about Certain Network Devices, Related Software and Components Thereof (II); Inv. No. 337-TA-745 and the ITC’s refusal to stay its remedial orders after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found the asserted patents unpatentable in an IPR proceeding. Respondent Arista has had better luck in the Federal Circuit obtaining a stay of the remedial orders for its redesigned products.


Shortly after the Commission’s final determination and issuance of the remedial orders, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued final written decisions finding the asserted claims of the ‘577 and ‘668 patents unpatentable. In view of the PTAB’s findings, Arista filed an emergency petition asking the ITC to rescind or suspend the remedial orders. The Commission denied Arista’s request, concluding that the PTAB’s final written determinations did not constitute changed circumstances warranting rescission of the LEO or CDO.


The Federal Circuit’s order highlights the value of redesigning accused products to avoid patent claims as a defense in ITC investigations. Ordinarily, it is best for a respondent to develop and introduce potential product redesigns early in the underlying investigation. By asking the ITC to consider the redesigned products in the underlying investigation, respondents can avoid having to defend their redesigned products in a later enforcement proceeding, and preclude sanctions in the event that the redesign still infringes. Here, Arista was able to obtain a rare stay at the Federal Circuit based on its redesign, but it remains unclear whether the CAFC would have ruled the way it did if Cisco had not relied on the redesigned products to rebut irreparable harm to Arista. Eventually, Cisco may be successful in excluding Arista’s redesigned product from importation. But for now, despite the ITC’s remedial orders, Arista can continue to import at least some of its products.

In short, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) quickly rectified the matter and the ban has been lifted. In some sense, CAFC stepped in to reaffirm PTAB’s judgment (subject also to a redesign).

It is utterly outrageous that the US ITC continues to pretend that invalid (invalidated by PTAB) patents still apply, as we said several times earlier this year (see 2017 articles in this wiki page).

Number of Patent Cases in the Eastern District of Texas Has Dropped by an Astounding Rate in Just a Few Months

Thursday 5th of October 2017 08:11:11 AM

The political system wants change as much as Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Justices do

Summary: The United States is moving closer to a post-trolls era, not just a post-software patents era, thanks in part to few outspoken politicians who can identify the issue with both

PATENT trolls are a big cause for concern in the US, more so than software patents (which about half a decade ago vanished from headlines).

The issues associated with patent trolls were mentioned in the latest post from Senator Orrin Hatch (we covered it on Wednesday and Patently-O published an outline of his points on the same day). Are patent trolls going to be a thing of the past any time soon? Maybe.

Following the SCOTUS intervention earlier this year (TC Heartland decision back in May), patent trolls based near the Eastern District of Texas are basically screwed, as many of us expected all along. The number of cases has “fallen to 16% post-TC Heartland from 34% before,” Managing IP wrote yesterday. Most of the article is behind paywall, as usual, but here is the key part:

The Eastern District of Texas’s share of US district court patent cases in 2017 has fallen to 16% post-TC Heartland from 34% before, while overall patent case filing is on course to fall 13% for the full year compared to 2016, reveals data from Unified Patents

Many of these cases are filed by trolls and many involve software patents. So this is a very big deal!

Yesterday, Josh Landau from the CCIA published a long article at Patent Progress in which he explained how PTAB (which Orrin Hatch also defends) has saved the world from a very nasty patent troll called MPHJ — one that uses a software patent, as usual. Here are some key portions:

MPHJ Threatens Basically Everyone

MPHJ had a very simple business model. If you were a business that used a scanner with a scan-to-email feature (which, these days, is just about any business copier/scanner), they would send you a letter. The letter would say “you need to pay us $1,000 per employee for use of our patent, or sign a letter swearing you don’t ever use scan-to-email, with a penalty of $1,000 per employee if you didn’t tell the truth.”

And MPHJ sent out more than 9,000 of these letters to small businesses. (According to the FTC, they specifically targeted businesses with 20-99 employees.)

The small businesses reacted in various ways. Some ignored the letters. Some paid up. But ultimately, it wasn’t reasonable for them to take on the burden of an expensive lawsuit or even a less expensive IPR, given that the amount at stake was always less than the cost of even filing an IPR. However, the way in which they operated did draw attention from the FTC and State Attorneys General, who successfully targeted the way in which MPHJ conducted their campaign. But simply targeting the enforcement approach wasn’t enough to shut down MPHJ.


MPHJ demanded around $1,000 per employee for a license. That means that the amount demanded from any given target was likely lower than the cost of an IPR, much less the cost of litigation, meaning that there was little incentive for any single MPHJ target to fight back. The companies that actually made the scanners that MPHJ claimed infringed might have had the financial incentive to fight back. But if IPR didn’t exist, those companies would have needed their customers to start fighting in court, at which point they could try to individually defend each of the 9,000 customers MPHJ sued. After several years of litigation, the manufacturer might be able to obtain a judgment of invalidity in a trial. Only at that point would other customers be safe.

Instead, they could file an IPR challenging the validity of the MPHJ patents. This enabled manufacturers to defend all small businesses using their products with a single action. IPR’s efficiency allowed the scanner makers to avoid duplication of litigation costs while also allowing them to protect their customers, the end users of the technology.

No one should have to worry that using a product they bought off the shelf at the office supply store in the way it’s designed to be used will result in a demand letter from a patent troll. IPR helps to prevent exactly that situation, allowing manufacturers to protect their end users.

In our next post we’ll deal with PTAB, for there’s a SCOTUS decision on the way about it. PTAB’s fate/future is probably safe, but we must keep abreast of what the trolls’ lobby is doing in an effort to undermine PTAB.

EPO Makes European SMEs More Vulnerable to Litigation From the Former Soviet Union

Thursday 5th of October 2017 07:48:48 AM

Scud man Battistelli

Summary: Battistelli sure knows what European SMEs need, apparently, e.g. more litigation from the former Soviet Union, including Russia

THE EPO lies to the public every day. Yesterday it repeated its own lies about SMEs, in a tweet that links to a so-called 'study' which misrepresents SMEs.

“IP landscaping can be used to provide input into an SME’s R&D strategy,” it said. “This case study shows how,” it added, linking to its own propaganda together with that hashtag, #IPforSMEs (which the patent maximalists lobby uses, along with “SMEmanifesto”).

“The EPO actively discriminates against SMEs. Lying about them or misrepresenting their stance is a step further — a step that the EPO was recently shameless enough to take.”Anyone who works for the EPO probably knows about PACE (we were first to publish these leaked documents). The EPO actively discriminates against SMEs. Lying about them or misrepresenting their stance is a step further — a step that the EPO was recently shameless enough to take. Previously, it was mostly Team UPC’s domain. It’s part of the UPC lobbying effort. It’s akin to “think about the children” (small businesses).

“Next round of patent information from the BRICS countries will focus on the Russian Federation,” the EPO wrote yesterday (Wednesday), just as it wrote about the EPO making itself more about litigation and less about patents, with hurried examination to help litigants, this time at the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO):

Inventors and businesses applying for patent protection at the EPO and the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO) are now able to benefit from fast-track patent examination at both offices, following the entry into force of the joint Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programme. The PPH also permits each participating patent office to share and re-use existing work results.


The EPO already has operational PPH pilot programmes with the IP5 offices (a grouping of the world’s five largest IP offices, made up of the EPO and the patent offices of China, Japan, Korea, and the US), as well as with the national patent offices of Australia, Canada, Colombia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia and Singapore.

PPH (similar to PACE) is, suffice to say, very dangerous because it lowers patent quality (work under greater pressure) and enables companies (even trolls) from other countries to target European firms. SMEs would suffer the most because legal fees (usually court fees) by far exceed the amount demanded for settlement.

Links 4/10/2017: OpenSSH 7.6, Mesa 17.2.2, FreeBSD 10.4

Wednesday 4th of October 2017 04:11:00 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Comcast: Open Source Program Success Depends on Business Strategy Alignment

    Comcast’s involvement in open source was a gradual process that evolved over time. The company eventually created two open source program offices, one for the NBC business and another for the cable side of the business, which is the subject of this profile.

  • How FinTech Company Europace Is Modeling Its Corporate Structure on Open Source Principles

    Concepts such as decentralizing strategy, delegating direction, and fierce transparency in communication are part of the backbone of successful open source projects. In my presentation at Open Source Summit EU in Prague, I will explore how these concepts are not only applicable to volunteer-run organizations but can also help growing corporations avoid some of the coordination overhead that often comes with growing teams and organizations.

    We’ll look at some of the key aspects of how project members collaborate at The Apache Software Foundation (ASF). After that, we’ll take a closer look at German FinTech company Europace AG, which decided to move toward self-organization two years ago. We’ll highlight parallels between Europace AG’s organizing approaches and those of open source projects.

  • Software Freedom Day observed

    As the city was in the midst of various programmes to mark Gandhi Jayanti on Monday, the district resource centre of the Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) at Jagathy was engaged in an unrelated, yet purposeful, venture.

    The office was buzzing with activity as many people turned up, armed with their laptops, to observe Software Freedom Day by resolving to switch over from proprietary software to free and open-source software (or FOSS). Officials of KITE (formerly IT@School project) also installed, free of cost, the GNU/Linux-based operating system Ubuntu, customised for the IT@School project, for those who attended the ‘free software install fest.’

    Among those who participated in the programme were students, researchers and government officials, each curious in discovering opportunities that existed beyond the clutches of proprietary software.

  • How an Open-Source Evangelist Started a Tech Company in Silicon Valley

    Since 2009, I have transitioned from being the founder of the world’s largest Hadoop user group in Japan to becoming the co-founder and CTO of a Treasure Data in the U.S. Along the way, I learned that other open-source champions – or really anyone – can build a successful tech company. Here’s how I found success in my journey.

  • Yahoo Search Code Released as Open Source

    Oath, Inc., the Verizon subsidiary that’s been the owner of record of Yahoo since June, has released some important Yahoo code as open source under the Apache 2.0 license. The project, called Vespa, was originally based on code Yahoo inherited with its acquisition of AlltheWeb in 2003. The software is used across all Yahoo websites, including Flickr, for everything from handling search queries to serving ads.

    “Over the last couple of years we have rewritten most of the engine from scratch to incorporate our experience onto a modern technology stack,” Jon Bratseth, an architect with Vespa said in a blog post. “Vespa is larger in scope and lines of code than any open source project we’ve ever released. Now that this has been battle-proven on Yahoo’s largest and most critical systems, we are pleased to release it to the world.”

  • Open Source Tools Provide Control Over HIT Multi-Cloud Environments

    More vendors are releasing tools using Kubernetes to increase interoperability among solutions and make it easier to manage HIT multi-cloud environments.

  • EFF Warns Against Abusive Lawsuits Targeting Kodi Add-on Repository

    The EFF is speaking out against abusive lawsuits from copyright holders that aim to expand copyright liability for neutral platforms, such as third-party Kodi add-on distributors. The digital rights group calls out two recent lawsuits against TVAddons where the operator of the service is being held accountable for offering downloads of open source add-ons.

  • EFF weighs in on Kodi piracy battles worldwide
  • EFF chimes in on Kodi debate
  • EFF says Kodi lawsuits ‘smear and discourage’ open source

    THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION (EFF) is concerned about legal activity around piracy-enabled Kodi boxes and wants to know where the line is being drawn between companies that sell innocent platforms, the vagabonds that install add-ons onto them and the people who share pirated material.

    Last week in the UK a man plead guilty to selling piracy-able boxes, but he wasn’t happy about being singled out.

    “These boxes are available from all over the place, not just me, but it’s the downloading of software to watch channels that is apparently causing the problem,” he said at the time.

  • JRC makes its ship-detection software open source

    The Joint Research Centre (JRC) has released the software of its SUMO maritime surveillance tool, which is helping to protect our oceans by detecting ships engaged in illicit activities.

    SUMO (Search for Unidentified Marine Objects) automatically scans large numbers of satellite images for the presence of ships. The results can be cross-checked with other maritime data to identify suspicious vessels.

  • Yahoo Reveals Its Search Secrets, Vespa Tool is Now Available as Open Source

    Oath Inc., the Verizon company that has owned Yahoo since June, announced that Vespa is now available as open source on GitHub. According to a company blog post, making the big data processing and serving engine open source is a step further in Oath’s commitment to opening up its big data infrastructure to developers.

  • Events
    • What You Missed at the Diversity Empowerment Summit
    • Open Jam, our open source game jam, kicks off this week

      Take note, indie game developers: We’re less than a week away from the start of the first-ever Open Jam, a 72-hour game jam dedicated to promoting open source games and game development tools. We’ll reveal the theme on our jam page this Friday morning, October 6, at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (4:01 a.m. UTC).

    • Open Jam For Open Source Games

      A three-day games jam with an emphasis on using open source game development tools and a requirement to open source the resulting games starts on October 6th.

    • Moby Summit Los Angeles recap

      Two weeks ago, member of the Docker team and Open Source community were in Los Angeles for a Moby Project Summit alongside Open Source Summit North America (previously known as LinuxCon). This was the 3rd Moby Summit edition since Solomon Hykes introduced the Moby Project: a new open-source project to advance the software containerization movement at DockerCon 2017 in Austin.

      This summit is for container users who are actively maintaining, contributing or generally involved in the design and development of the Moby Project and it’s components: runC, containerd, LinuxKit, Infrakit, SwarmKit, HyperKit, DataKit, VPNKit, Notary, libnetwork, etc.

    • GHM [GNU Hackers Meeting] 2017 videos online

      At last, the GHM 2017 video recordings are now online, along with presentation slides and abstracts.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Awards Over Half a Million to Open Source Projects

        At Mozilla we were born out of, and remain a part of, the open source and free software movement. Through the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) program, we recognize, celebrate, and support open source projects that contribute to our work and to the health of the Internet.

        Our major initiative in the past few months has been the launch of “Global Mission Partners: India”, a pilot scheme to bring the Mission Partners track of MOSS to particular regions of the globe which have strong open source communities. The initial application period has just closed, and our India committee will shortly begin the work of assessing the over a dozen applications we have received.

      • Mozilla funds open source projects with half a million in grants

        Mozilla has announced the latest recipients of its Open Source Support grants, totaling $539,000. The web tech company regularly helps out smaller projects, and this round in particular favored ones aimed at safety and security.

      • Mozilla awards $500,000 in funding to open source projects
  • SaaS/Back End
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • How OpenBSD and Linux Mitigate Security Bugs

      The talk will focus on two similar solutions implemented in Linux and OpenBSD kernels, designed to prevent a program from calling syscalls they should not call to improve security of software.

      In both kernels (Linux and OpenBSD), unwanted syscalls can be blocked and the offending program terminated, but there are some differences between Linux and OpenBSD’s solution of the problem.

      During my talk, I will analyze the differences between two similar techniques that are present in Linux and OpenBSD kernels that are used to mitigate security bugs (that could be used to attack software and escalate privileges on a machine).

    • FreeBSD 10.4 Released With Full Support For eMMC Storage

      The latest release in the FreeBSD 10 series is now available with some work backported from FreeBSD 11 and other improvements/fixes.

      FreeBSD 10.4 happens to be the operating system’s first release with full support for eMMC storage. FreeBSD 10.4 also has improvements to its AES-NI driver, better Intel Kabylake device support, em networking driver improvements, various Wake-On-LAN (WoL) improvements to different drivers, updated firmware/microcode files, and more.

    • FreeBSD Picks Up Support For ZFS ZCP: Carry Out Admin Tasks Via Lua Scripts

      FreeBSD 12.0 will have initial support for ZFS Channel Programs (ZCP) for running administrative tasks on the file-system via Lua.

    • FreeBSD 10.4-RELEASE Announcement
    • FreeBSD 10.4-RELEASE Announcement

      The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce availability of FreeBSD 10.4-RELEASE. This is the fifth release of the stable/10 branch, building upon the stability and reliability of 10.3-RELEASE and introducing new features.

    • Announce: OpenSSH 7.6 released

      OpenSSH 7.6 has just been released. It will be available from the
      mirrors listed at shortly.

  • FSF/Conservancy
    • Sponsor Software Freedom Conservancy

      I did an interview with the Software Freedom Conservancy to discuss why I try to contribute to the Conservancy whenever I can. Because I believe many more free software communities deserve to have a home for their project at the Conservancy.

      Please support the Software Freedom Conservancy by donating so they will be able to provide a home to many more communities. A donation of 10 US dollars a month will make you an official sponsor. Or donate directly to one of their many member projects.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Oracle Tells The White House: Stop Hiring Silicon Valley People & Ditch Open Source

      Even though Oracle is based in the heart of Silicon Valley (I can see its offices from my own office window as I type this), the company has become sort of anti-Silicon Valley. It tends to represent the opposite of nearly everything that is accepted wisdom around here. And its latest crusade is against open source technology being used by the federal government — and against the government hiring people out of Silicon Valley to help create more modern systems. Instead, Oracle would apparently prefer the government just give it lots of money.

      First, some background: over the past few years, one of the most positive things involving the federal government and technology has been the success of two similar (but also very different) organizations in the US government: US Digital Service (USDS) and 18F. If you’re completely unfamiliar with them there are plenty of articles describing both projects, but this one is a good overview. But the really short version is that both projects were an attempt to convince internet savvy engineers to help out in the federal government, and to bring a better understanding of modern technology into government. And it’s been a huge success in a variety of ways — such as creating federal government websites that are modern, secure and actually work. And even though both programs are associated with President Obama, the Trump administration has been adamant that it supports both organizations as well, and they’re important to continuing to modernize the federal government. The offices are not politicized, and they have been some of the best proof we’ve got that government done right involves smart, dedicated technologists.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) Hoping Open Source Bet Pays Off

        The graphics chipmaker, which was known for most of its existence as a maker of video cards for PC gaming, suddenly finds itself at the center of multiple technological revolutions, including self-driving cars, AI, VR, the internet of things, and more.

      • Tracking live brain activity with the new NeuBtracker open-source microscope

        NeuBtracker* is equipped with two cameras: One tracks the unrestrained behavior of the zebrafish larva while the other automatically remains pointed at the transparent head, and consequently the brain, to record fluorescence images. “This approach makes it possible to observe neuronal activity during unrestrained behavior. We can test the larvae in different environmental conditions and can immediately analyze the effects,” says Prof. Dr. Gil Westmeyer from the Institutes of Biological and Medical Imaging (IBMI) and Developmental Genetics (IDG) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München as well as the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Munich School of Bioengineering (MSB) at the Technical University of Munich (TUM).


        The new instrument is a so-called open-source microscope.

  • Programming/Development
    • Support For Myriad ma2x8x CPUs Added To LLVM

      The latest work hitting LLVM 6.0 is support for the Myriad ma2x8x class of processors and some other missing Myriad CPUs.

    • Under Eclipse, changes to Java EE begin

      For one, Oracle is making the Java EE technology compatibility kits (TCK), which ascertain if an implementation is compliant with Java, available via open source. Eclipse Executive Director Milinkovich called this “a very fundamental change to the dynamics of this ecosystem.”

    • Java 9 Debuts with Jigsaw Modular Approach at JavaOne

      The Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) version 9 is now generally available bringing with it a number of new features to help make Java more modular and efficient. At the JavaOne conference in San Francisco on Oct. 2, Mark Reinhold Chief Architect, Java Platform Group at Oracle outlined some of the new Java 9 enhancements and provided insight on what’s next.

      “Java 9 is here,” Reinhold said. “That means that Jigsaw is here.”

      Project Jigsaw is an effort that Oracle has been talking about since September 2010, just after the company completed its’ acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Jigsaw is an effort to turn Java into a more modular stack, including a module subsystem to help make the programming language more efficient.

    • Secure coding in Java: Bad online advice and confusing APIs

      For programmers and software developers, the Internet forums provide a great place to exchange knowledge and seek answers to concrete coding conundrums. Alas, they are not always the source of accurate information.

  • Google admits citing 4chan to spread fake Vegas shooter news

    Google News took the unusual step of confirming its use of the imageboard site 4chan as a news source on Monday. The admission followed Google News’ propagation of an incorrect name as a potential shooter in the tragic Las Vegas shooting on Sunday night.

    A reporter from tech-news site The Outline posted the full text of an e-mail he received from an unnamed Google representative. Reporter William Turton said that he had not discussed any “attribution terms” before receiving Google’s e-mail, which confirmed that the Google News service was bombed into automatically reposting a false shooter’s name.

  • Science
    • 60 years ago today, Russia launched Sputnik 1 – and the Space Age began

      On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched a small metal sphere into low Earth orbit. Equipped with four external radio antennas, Sputnik 1 not only revolutionised telecommunications, but helped to kick-start the space race. We take a look at local reactions to the news.

    • LIGO’s gravitational wave detection takes home a Nobel

      From almost the moment their discovery was announced, everyone agreed that the first sighting of gravitational waves was going to win a Nobel Prize. The only questions were when and who would receive the honor. Both of those questions have now been answered. When is now, and who turned out to be three individuals who contributed to the project in very different ways.

    • Nobel Prize goes to researchers who figured out how our cells tell time

      Today, the Nobel Prize committee has honored three US biologists for their role in unravelling one of biology’s earliest mysteries: how organisms tell time. Microbes, plants, and animals all run on a 24-hour cycle, one that’s flexible enough to gradually reset itself, although it can take a few days after transcontinental travel. The biological systems responsible for maintaining this circadian clock require a lot of proteins that undergo complex interactions, and the new laureates are being honored for their use of genetics to start unraveling this complexity.

  • Hardware
    • iPhone 8 Plus handset reportedly cracks open while charging

      iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models haven’t been available long, but a couple of users have reportedly experienced major problems. According to a 9to5Mac report, a Taiwanese iPhone 8 Plus owner claims her device split open while charging, and a Japanese owner of an iPhone 8 Plus claims the handset arrived already cracked open. The tech outlet ifeng includes images of the Taiwanese owner’s device in its report.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • State Audit Slams New York’s Oversight of Nurses

      An audit released late last week by the New York state comptroller’s office found the state’s Education Department, which regulates nursing, failed to investigate top-priority complaints against nurses in the time allowed by law.

      It also found nurses’ backgrounds were not adequately checked and that they were not properly monitored for criminal behavior after licensure.

      All of these findings confirm those in a ProPublica investigation into New York’s nursing regulations published in April of 2016.


      The recommendations include streamlining and more closely tracking investigations, strengthening controls over “moral character” requirements for nurses and researching the best practices of other states.

    • Canadian Universities Not Contributing Enough To Neglected Health Needs, UAEM Report Says

      The Universities Allied for Essential medicines (UAEM) evaluated 15 Canadian research-intensive universities on their contributions to biomedical research on neglected health needs, access to medicines, and education concerning access and innovation issues. The results show that for a number of those universities, this contribution is sub-optimal.

    • Fighting the Opioid Epidemic by Targeting Big Pharma’s Bottom Line

      Opioids now kill over 100 Americans every day. In a single year, opioids kill more Americans than died in the entire Vietnam and Iraq Wars. And while the underground drug trade is fueling this epidemic of medicalized self-destruction, the flow of black-market opioids is inseparable from its above-ground counterpart—the pharmaceutical companies that peddle the legal and FDA-approved pain killers like OxyContin and Vicodin. And now workers on the front lines of this crisis are challenging the nation’s biggest pushers to stop pumping deadly drugs into their neighborhoods.

    • WHO Names New Leadership Team

      The World Health Organization today announced the new leadership team for the UN agency, with a range of geographic representation and a majority of women in the top posts.

    • Cold War radiation testing in US widespread, author claims

      Three members of Congress are demanding answers after a St. Louis scholar’s new book revealed details of how the U.S. government sprayed, injected and fed radiation and other dangerous materials to countless people in secret Cold War-era testing.

      The health ramifications of the tests are unknown. Lisa Martino-Taylor, an associate professor of sociology at St. Louis who wrote “Behind the Fog: How the U.S. Cold War Radiological Weapons Program Exposed Innocent Americans,” acknowledged that tracing diseases like cancer to specific causes is difficult.

      But three congressmen who represent areas where testing occurred — Democrats William Lacy Clay of Missouri, Brad Sherman of California and Jim Cooper of Tennessee — said they were outraged by the revelations.

    • Human Rights Go Hand In Hand With IP In Making Health Systems Work, UN Forum Hears

      Innovation is vital for the development of medicines, but innovation without proper access to them is pointless, Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of World Trade Organization has said. Several other agency heads spoke at the same event, where World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of universal health coverage.

    • Trump’s pick for EPA pollution czar says kids are less sensitive to pollution than adults

      The Intercept’s Sharon Lerner is the best journalist on Trumpian science appointees going, and her piece on Michael Dourson, whom Trump wants confirmed as the EPA’s second most powerful executive as Director of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention is a scorcher.

      Even by Trumpian standards, Dourson is a piece of shit work. He currently runs the high-profile greenwashing consultancy Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA) whose clients are a rogue’s gallery of the country’s most lethal polluters: Dow Chemical, CropLife America, the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries and more.

      TERA’s stock in trade is manufactured sciencey numbers showing that pollution isn’t harmful. In that regard, TERA excels, routinely asserting the harmlessness of industrial waste products that every independent researcher considers dangerous and/or deadly.

    • Trump’s Clean Air Nominee Represents Air Polluters in Court

      Last week, attorney William Wehrum appeared before a federal court to argue against new standards meant to protect workers from airborne silica dust, which is so fine that particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause health problems, such as fatal lung disease and cancer.

      This week, Wehrum will appear before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee because President Trump has nominated him to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) clean air program, where he worked under the Bush administration a decade ago.

      The new silica rules cut the amount of cancerous dust allowed in the air at industrial facilities in half. Trade unions say standards should be even lower, and labor leaders lashed out at the Trump administration for putting workers’ lives on the line when officials delayed implementation of the rules earlier this year.

    • WHO’s response to Philip Morris’ new $80M research foundation: Shove it

      The World Health Organization (WHO) is fuming over Philip Morris International’s (PMI) efforts to go smokeless—and the second-hand moves it’s using to do it.

      As cigarette sales decline worldwide, the tobacco giant is scrambling to restructure and embrace potentially more profitable “smoke-free” products. The revamp involves setting up an $80 million foundation called the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. In the next 12 years, the foundation aims to rope in health and government organizations and “advance smoking cessation and harm-reduction science and technology.”

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Sniper Stephen Paddock Is a Terrorist According to Las Vegas Law

      In the wake of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, authorities remain reluctant to call shooter Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old real estate developer from Nevada, a terrorist. Shortly after 10 p.m. on Oct. 1, Paddock opened fire from his 32nd floor hotel room at Mandalay Bay and Casino in Las Vegas, killing 59 and wounding over 500 of the 22,000 gathered for the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival happening across the street.

      Police blew open Paddock’s hotel room door to find him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, as well as at least 10 suitcases filled with 23 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammo. A subsequent search of his home 80 miles away in Mesquite, Nev., turned up 19 more guns, but no motive. ISIS claimed credit for the attack, but investigators have found no evidence connecting the two.

    • After Las Vegas Massacre, Media Again Help ISIS Terrorize

      For all their faults, corporate media, by and large, do not usually report the unverified claims of random trolls—unless those trolls happen to be ISIS, or ISIS-linked media.

      In the emotionally and politically charged hours after terror attacks or other mass violence, when demagogues both in US right-wing media and within ISIS itself seek to blame Muslims to promote their shared “clash of civilizations” narrative, the media seem more than willing to play along and spread the specter of ISIS responsibility without any objective basis.

    • American Rape of Vietnamese Women was Considered “Standard Operating Procedure”

      Comparing testimony from Vietnamese women and American soldiers, Gina Marie Weaver, in her book Ideologies of Forgetting: Rape in The Vietnam War, finds that rape of Vietnamese women by American troops during the US invasion of Vietnam was a “widespread”, “everyday occurrence” that was essentially “condoned”, even encouraged, by the military, and had its foundation in military training and US culture. She explores why US rape in Vietnam was so common, and why this aspect of US behavior has been virtually “erased” from “narratives of the war”. She stresses the issue is also important as rape in the US military continues at a high level today, having been mostly transferred away from foreign populations and onto female American soldiers.

    • 26 Gun murders (equiv. 130) in England vs. *11,004* in US Annually

      There have been 1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days in the United States. You’ll note you don’t hear about mass shootings in Australia, Japan or for the most part the United Kingdom, or other civilized countries whose politicians have not been bought by 10 major gun manufacturers.

      The United States continues to be peculiar in handing out powerful magazine-fed firearms to almost anyone who wants one and not requiring background checks on private purchases even if these are made at gun shows or by persons with a history of mental illness. 80% of civilian-owned firearms world-wide are in the US, and only Yemen vaguely competes with us for rates of firearm ownership; Yemen is a violent mess with Shiite insurgencies, al-Qaeda taking over cities from time to time, tribal feuding, southern separatism and US drone strikes. And even it has fewer guns per person than the USA.

    • Guns and Profit – Why We’ll Do Absolutely Nothing New After This Las Vegas Shooting

      Wake up, America.

      We are not the land of the brave or the home of the free.

      We are the land of the gun and the home of the free market.

      Stephen Paddock’s killing spree last night in Las Vegas will not change anything – except the bottom line for numerous gun manufacturers.

      Ca-ching, people!

      Scores of American companies are going to clean up over this!

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • America Not Immune from Chaos

      Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas killed 59 and left more than 500 wounded. In previous weeks, American citizens have faced loss of life and massive property damage in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands from Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey.

      Of course, other places in the Caribbean suffered their own devastating blows from these major hurricanes: Cuba, Barbuda, Dominica, Antigua, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Island, St. Martin, Monserrat, Guadaloupe, St. Kitts and Nevis.

    • The Atlantic just finished its busiest hurricane month on record

      But this Category 4 hurricane was but a prelude for what was to come in September. Five hurricanes—Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, and Maria—would form. Four would become major hurricanes. Two of the storms, Irma and Maria, would reach Category 5 status and bring widespread devastation, especially in the Caribbean islands, and to a lesser extent in the mainland United States.

    • Vulture Capitalists Circle Above Puerto Rico Prey

      Puerto Rico is devastated. Two hurricanes plunged the island into darkness and despair. Crops perish in the fields. The landscape of ruined buildings and towns resemble Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped on it. Over three million people are desperate for food, water, electricity and shelter.

      After a slow start, the Trump Administration is now speeding up the flow of supplies to the island. A top US general has been given command of the relief efforts. And, like so many others, Yarimar Bonilla watches with a broken heart as her native Puerto Rico struggles. This noted social anthropologist—a scholar on Caribbean societies—says the hurricanes have made an already bad fiscal and economic crisis worse, and she sees darker times ahead unless major changes are made in the structure of power and in Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States.

      Last night on NBC, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz made a spontaneous statement expressing her frustration with insufficient relief efforts that went viral. Before you read my interview with Yarimar Bonilla please take two minutes to watch this video. You will understand even more clearly Ms. Bonilla’s explainer of what is happening in Puerto Rico.

    • At $50 a barrel, billions in tax breaks keep many oil projects profitable

      At $50 a barrel, the low price of crude oil has slowed some of the oil production in the US, especially in regions that are costly to develop, like the Arctic. But US oil producers aren’t bearing the whole brunt of low prices, because federal and state governments provide tax breaks that stimulate oil production despite low prices.

      The tax situation isn’t unique to the US—China, the EU, and India also offer a variety of flavors of tax breaks to fossil fuel producers, despite their recognition of the need to address climate change. Although the US has signaled its intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, tax breaks that fund more fossil fuel production don’t help the rest of the globe to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

  • Finance
    • ‘Green Brexit’? Not with this dirty Brexit brigade, Mr Gove

      Environment secretary Michael Gove yesterday told Conservative Party conference that an ‘exit from Brexit’ is not an option.

      The ‘there is no alternative’ line is no great surprise. The appointment of Michael Gove as Environment Secretary, with his long history of involvement with American and UK neoliberal think tanks, has heightened concerns that Brexit is a ‘shock doctrine’ event.

      Gove’s renewed claims yesterday that we can have a ‘green Brexit’ also stretch credulity.

      According to our analysis, removing, attacking and undermining environmental and labour rights regulations was a likely motive for many of those at the heart of the Leave campaign. A motive hidden in plain sight but rarely reported.

    • How Ivanka Trump And Donald Trump, Jr., Avoided a Criminal Indictment

      In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell. Despite the best efforts of the siblings’ defense team, the case had not gone away. An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included emails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers.

    • Britain risks creating a $22.7-billion trade hole with its flawed “hard Brexit” plan

      Hurtling towards a “hard Brexit,” Britain is likely to leave the European Union in March 2019 without tariff-free access to the bloc’s single market. And it looks like the UK is going to lose a lot if that happens, according to a study by global law firm Baker McKenzie and economic consultancy Oxford Economics.

    • To Make Trump’s Economy Look Good, It Helps to Not Look Very Hard

      We know the New York Times has to lower its standards for conservative columnists; otherwise, they would never have any on their opinion pages. But they might have gone too far with Bret Stephens. The guy apparently knows literally nothing about the economy, and is so ignorant he doesn’t even know how little he knows.

      In his latest column, he touts the good economic news under Donald Trump: “The Dow keeps hitting record highs, and the economy is finally growing above the 3 percent mark.”

    • Why the CDC Wants in on Blockchain

      If someone in your home state contracts hepatitis A, a dangerous disease that attacks the liver, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to know about it. Health departments in neighboring states probably need to know about it, too, since the person may have contracted the virus from contaminated food or water in one of those states. The CDC, state and local health departments, and other organizations must routinely share public health data like this so they can control the spread of a range of infectious diseases. As straightforward as this may sound, though, it’s a massively complicated data-management challenge.

    • WaPo Defends Boss Against Sanders’ Charge That He’s Extremely Wealthy

      So it’s noteworthy that in analyzing this remark about the boss, the Post‘s Nicole Lewis doesn’t say that Sanders is wrong, exactly. Instead, she says that “he has made a habit of relying on simplified statistics that are provocative but do little to illuminate the complexities of the US economic system.” Or as she says of a similar statement Sanders made about US (not global) wealth, “While technically correct, the condensed soundbite lacked nuance about wealth accumulation and debt in the United States.”

      If you’re going to be badmouthing the owner of the Washington Post, in other words, you better have plenty of nuance and illuminate those complexities.

    • We Can Finally Identify One Of The Largest Holders Of Puerto Rican Debt

      For years, the identity of the owner of one of the largest holdings of Puerto Rican debts has been a mystery.

      That mystery has finally been solved, with the help of the The Baupost Group, who unmasked themselves to The Intercept. The Baupost Group, a Boston-based hedge fund managed by billionaire Seth Klarman, owns nearly a billion dollars of Puerto Rican debt, purchased under a shell company subsidiary and hidden from public scrutiny. Baupost acquired the debt through an on-paper Delaware-based corporation named Decagon Holdings LLC, whose beneficial owner had been unknown until now.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • President Trump’s Response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico Confirms Second-Class Citizenship

      Over tweets this weekend, President Trump confirmed that his administration’s underwhelming response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico is a symptom of these American citizens’ second-class status. Trump resorted to the racial stereotype that people of color “want everything to be done for them.” But this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Boricuas on the island and the mainland have rallied to help each other in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

      My family and friends are giving back since they were one of the few lucky ones. They’re all safe. My parent’s house flooded, but there was no structural or heavy damage. They have enough food and power — for now — thanks to a generator (until the gas runs out).

    • Donald Trump’s Disgusting Remark On Puerto Rico Is More Revealing Than He Knows

      President Trump arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday and immediately began lauding himself and his administration for their response to Hurricane Maria. But mixed in with the self-congratulation were several references to how much relief efforts were costing.

      “Our country has really gone all out,” Trump said. “It’s not only dangerous, it’s expensive. But I consider it a great honor.”

      Trump then explained that Director of the Office of Management and Budget “Mick Mulvaney is here, and Mick is in charge of a thing called budget. I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you are throwing our budget out of whack. We spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine. We saved a lot of lives.”

      Beyond the gross inappropriateness of “joking” about the money the U.S. government is spending even as American citizens continue to die in Puerto Rico, Trump’s attitude is incredibly bad economics. Moreover, his administration, Mulvaney definitely included, knows this.

    • After Hurricane Maria, Trump’s tweeting dredges up an ugly history for Puerto Ricans

      Two days ago, eleven days into the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, a typically divisive tweet from Donald Trump struck a very sensitive cultural and political chord when, in response to the Mayor of San Juan’s plea for help, he said that islanders “want everything to be done for them [by the US] when it should be a community effort”. As we have come to expect, his words, which followed Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke’s injurious claim that this was “a good news story” because of a low number of reported deaths (so far), reproduced and inflamed historically racist tropes that have devalued Puerto Rican lives as second-class, undeserving, geopolitical waste.

    • Observations on Catalunya

      How can you ever possibly excuse violence against people peacefully and non-violently doing whatever they’re doing. Sure this referendum was considered illegal (and it may be legitimate to ignore the result, or legal prosecution of the initiators) but how can that ever possibly be an excuse for half a population peacefully doing whatever they are about to do?

    • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called President Trump a “moron”, wanted to quit

      Rex Tillerson wanted to quit as Secretary of State and openly called Trump a moron at a high-level meeting where the president was not in attendance. He was talked into staying on, according to reports, by other cabinet members including Vice President Mike Pence.

    • Noam Chomsky Diagnoses the Trump Era

      Much of this is being carried out stealthily, in closed sessions, with as little public notice as possible.

    • Russians took a page from corporate America by using Facebook tool to ID and influence voters
    • The Gross Dishonesty of the Mainstream Media on Catalonia

      Due to social media, the mainstream media can no longer hide what happens. But they can attempt to frame our perceptions of it. What happened yesterday in Catalonia is that paramilitary forces attacked voters who were trying to vote. The mainstream media has universally decided to call the voters “protestors” rather than voters. So next time you go to your polling station, apparently what you are doing is protesting. This kind of distortion through misuse of language is absolutely deliberate by professional mainstream journalists. In a situation where thousands of peaceful voters were brutalised, can anybody find a single headline in the mainstream media which attributes responsibility for the violence correctly?


      Sky News every half hour is repeating the mantra that the Catalan government claims a mandate for Independence “after a referendum marred by violence”, again without stating what caused the violence. In general however Sky’s coverage has been a great deal better than the BBC; Al Jazeera has been excellent.

      I strongly suspect that were it not for social media, UK mainstream media would have told us very little at all. This is an object lesson in how the mainstream media still seek to continue to push fake news on us in the age of citizen journalism. They no longer have a monopoly on the flow of raw information; what they can do is to attempt to distort perceptions of what people are seeing.

    • NSA Warned Trump Staffers Against Personal Email/Device Use; Were Ignored

      Blatant hypocrisy aside, the Trump Administration’s use of personal email accounts isn’t just a low-flying middle finger to public records laws. It’s also a stupidly insecure method for handling sensitive communications.

    • After Kushner’s private e-mail became known, it moved to Trump Org servers

      Days after recent revelations that Jared Kushner, a presidential advisor and the president’s son-in-law, had set up a personal e-mail account to conduct White House business, someone with access to that domain ( changed the domain’s mail exchange (MX) records so that they now point to a Trump Organization server.

    • “Pretty safe bet”: Former national security adviser warns Kushner compromised by foreign intel
    • Ted Lieu demands feds revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance: ‘Being stupid’ is a ‘danger to America’
    • Why American Democracy Has Descended Into Collective Hysteria
    • San Juan mayor barred from speaking on Trump’s Puerto Rico relief conference call

      Carmen Yulin Cruz is the outspoken mayor of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, who was publicly denounced by Donald Trump for pointing out the federal government’s inaction during the worst humanitarian disaster in modern US history. Trump went on to characterize Puerto Ricans — chest deep in sewage raw sewage with no fresh water, no homes, no power and no gasoline — as “wanting everything done for them.”

    • Tomgram: Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, A World in Peril

      Chomsky wrote “After Pinkville” — areas like Song My were then colored pink on American military maps — in 1969. Almost half a century later, the question is: Have things improved? After all, in Ken Burns’s new Vietnam extravaganza, his 18-hour documentary on that war, he seems to have captured the zeitgeist of the moment by carefully changing the word “murder” in the script for the My Lai episode to “killing.” “At lunch, Burns defended his change,” wrote the New Yorker’s Ian Parker,”on the ground that My Lai continues to have ‘a toxic, radioactive effect’ on opinion. ‘Killing’ was the better word, he said, ‘even though My Lai is murder.’” To be thoroughly upbeat, perhaps by 2067 Americans will finally be able to take “murder” straight on television when it comes to My Lai.

    • Well-Known Email Prankster Ends Up With Sensitive Document From Jared Kushner’s Lawyer

      Careless handling of sensitive emails isn’t just a problem for Trump’s top advisor, Jared Kushner. Having rolled into office on the echoing cries of “Lock her up!” Trump’s team nonetheless continued to use private email accounts for official correspondence. Kusher did this twice: using both a Republican National Committee account as well as another personal email address.

      It’s a security issue as well as a transparency issue. Personal email accounts — while convenient (and conveniently opaque) — are little more than attack vectors for cybercriminals and state-sponsored hacking. Making this security problem worse are Trump team legal reps, who can’t seem to stop communicating with staffer-spoofing accounts.

    • Russian Facebook ads featured anti-immigrant messages, puppies, women with rifles

      Monday, Facebook handed over some 3,000 ads, which it believes were bought by Russia, to congressional investigators. While they haven’t been made public, more information is coming out about the ads, accounts, and pages that were said to be controlled by a Russian “troll farm” called the Internet Research Agency.

      Many of the ads weren’t supporting specific candidates, but rather seem meant to stoke division around flash points in American society, particularly around immigration and race relations. 470 different pages and profiles were linked to the Internet Research Agency, according to Facebook.

    • Facebook Lies

      I followed the deletion procedure again and in 2 weeks (you can’t immediately request deletion apparently) I’ll check to see if the account is really gone. I’ve updated the password so at least the deletion process can’t be interrupted by whoever has that password (probably lots of people – it’ll be in a ton of dumps where databases have been hacked).

      If it’s still not gone, I hear you can just post obscene and offensive material until Facebook deletes you. I’d rather not have to take that route though.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Why the NSA Should Thank Edward Snowden
    • Europe’s Courts Decide: Does U.S. Spying Violate Europe’s Privacy?

      In a long-awaited decision on whether and how Europeans’ private data can be protected from the roving eyes of the NSA, the Irish Commercial High Court this morning declared that “standard contractual clauses” —the procedure that tech companies like Facebook use to try to satisfy European privacy laws—should be reviewed by the European Union’s top court, the Court of Justice (CJEU).

      The decision hands the court a key question that could affect millions of users and the business practices of Facebook and other tech giants: should tech companies be allowed to send the personal data of European customers across the Atlantic if they can’t guarantee that, once in U.S. data centers, the information won’t be vacuumed up by NSA surveillance?

    • White House wants to end Social Security numbers as a national ID

      Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity czar, said on Tuesday that the government should end using the Social Security number as a national identification method.

      “I believe the Social Security number has outlived its usefulness,” said Joyce, while speaking at The Washington Post’s Cybersecurity Summit. “Every time we use the Social Security number, you put it at risk.”

    • DOJ’s Facebook Warrants Target Thousands Of Users For Protesting Inauguration

      The ACLU is going to court to fight government warrants seeking info on thousands of Facebook users who interacted with a Facebook page related to Inauguration Day protests. The resulting arrests have generated several extremely broad search warrants seeking communications and other personal information from Facebook and the protest site’s hosting provider.

      For awhile, the targets of these warrants could only be guessed at, thanks to the gag order attached to the Facebook warrants. The gag order was finally lifted by the DOJ less than a day before it was due in court for oral arguments. It wasn’t Facebook securing a win so much as it was the government avoiding a loss — a possibly-precedential ruling on gag orders in Washington, DC courts.

    • DHS Should Stop the Social Media Surveillance of Immigrants

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last month issued a notice that it is storing social media information on immigrants, including lawful permanent residents and naturalized U.S. citizens, apparently indefinitely, in a government database that contains “Alien Files” (A-Files). This is an invasive new feature of DHS’s previously known programs on collecting social media information. DHS’s collection and storage of this sensitive information will chill and deter the free speech and association of immigrants to the United States, as well as the U.S. persons who communicate with them.

    • The UK home secretary still doesn’t know how encryption works, and she’s not ashamed

      Railing against the use of encryption by criminals has always been an exercise in futility, but it’s a great way to sound tough. What better way to assert your power as a law-enforcer than by demanding the impossible?

      The problem is, there’s a line between swagger and overt foolishness, and for some reason politicians are increasingly deciding to hurl themselves over it — witness, for example, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull declaring earlier this year that “the laws of mathematics are very commendable but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia.”

      The British home secretary, Amber Rudd, has now decided to follow the path of Turnbull by proudly announcing not only that she doesn’t understand how end-to-end encryption works, but that she does not need to understand it in order to fight it.

    • Another Disastrous Opinion on ePrivacy, Act Now!

      Yesterday, the ITRE (‘industry’) Committee of the European Parliament has adopted its Opinion on the ePrivacy Regulation. This Opinion is pretty much the same calamity that has been adopted last week by the IMCO (‘consumers protection’) Committee, calling for a general bypassing of users’ consent. Fortunately, these are just ‘opinions’ and will not bind the LIBE (‘civil liberties’) Committee voting on its final Report on 11 October. Still, these Opinions clearly reflect how some Members of the European Parliament are ready to sell out our privacy to big firms. Call them now to reverse this trend.

    • Let’s take back control of our data – it’s too precious to leave to the tech giants

      “Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us.” Thus, in 1996, John Perry Barlow laid out his manifesto, the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, in which he encapsulated a philosophy flowing through the heart of worldwide web. His was a vision that would come to dominate the internet today, a thread that went from Timothy Leary to Stewart Brand to Steve Jobs to our current tech giants.

      Such is the dominance of this philosophy that it has spawned a new creed, “dataism”. The central principle of this dogma is the free flow of data, unrestricted and unregulated. This libertarian view of information uniquely sought to attach freedom to a concept – the flow of information – rather than to a human liberty. It provided the ideological architecture for the internet that we know today – ubiquitous and pervasive, that leaves a data trail in its wake.

    • Book Review: The Fundamental Right to Data Protection

      The book focuses on surveillance, as a key counter-terrorism tool, and introduces the rather disturbing term, ‘dataveillance,’ which is defined as “the systematic monitoring of people’s actions or communications through the application of information technology.” The text discusses the definition of privacy as an important conceptual framework. Part I of the book sets out theoretical aspects and Part II focuses on four case studies of EU counter-terrorism data surveillance. As the author puts it, the book seeks to examine current theories and details three important limitations the fundamental right to data protection faces, “its interconnectivity with privacy, its linking with secondary legislation and the elusiveness of its content.”

    • How to Choose a Good VPN
    • Auto Location Tracking Company Leaves Customer Data Exposed Online

      What is it about companies (or their contractors) leaving consumer data publicly exposed on an Amazon cloud server? Verizon recently made headlines after one of its customer service vendors left the personal data of around 6 million consumers just sitting on an Amazon server without adequate password protection. A GOP data analytics firm was also recently soundly ridiculed after it left the personal data of around 198 million citizens (read: most of you) similarly just sitting on an Amazon server without protection. Time Warner Cable also recently left 4 million user records sitting in an openly-accessible Amazon bucket.

    • The London Underground thinks it can sell travelers’ attention and wifi data for £322m

      Since late 2016, the Transport for London has been running a pilot scheme, providing wifi to passengers while logging and retaining all the wifi traffic coming in and out of its access points, compiling a massive dossier on every tube-rider who had wifi turned on for their devices, whether or not they ever accessed the wifi service.

      In a document obtained under a Freedom of Information request, TfL plans to make £322m “over the next eight years by being able to quantify asset value based on the number of eyeballs/impressions and dynamically trade advertising space.”

      A TfL spokesperson also refused to rule out selling “aggregated customer data to third parties.” While the UK has some good data protection laws thanks to the EU, it also inherited the EU’s train-sized loophole, which is that companies that collect customer data can do anything they want with it, so long as they “de-identify” it first — though the EU Directive does not establish what it means to de-identify a data-set, nor do many computer scientists believe that this is possible (with very good reason).

    • EU is losing its patience with the US government over its failure to implement properly the Privacy Shield deal

      Since there seems little hope that the Trump administration will increase privacy protections for non-US citizens, or rein in the spying of the NSA, companies such as Google and Facebook may well need to keep all personal data regarding EU citizens entirely within the EU if they wish to operate there in the future. They will doubtless resist such a move, but the threats of new laws being imposed on them, not to mention more billion-dollar fines, show that the EU is in no mood to compromise when dealing with US Internet companies. The whole Safe Harbor and Privacy Shield saga is a reminder that, even though the US is the undisputed leader in many other areas of Internet policy, when it comes to privacy, it is the EU that sets the pace.

    • Turnbull to push for national facial recognition database

      Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to push the premiers of the country’s states and territories to agree to set up a national facial recognition database.

    • FOIA’ed Documents Show NSA Abuse Of Pen Register Statutes To Collect Content

      New FISA court documents have been handed over to the EFF as the result of its long-running FOIA lawsuit. The new pile of documents is, unfortunately, very heavily-redacted, forcing readers to extrapolate a lot from the missing data.

      One of the few released FISA court docs leaving anything legible concerns the NSA’s use of pen register/trap-and-trace orders to collect content, rather than just dialed phone numbers. The NSA (along with the FBI) has been admonished for its abuse of these orders before, thanks to its insistence any numbers dialed are fair game, even if they could be construed as partial contents of calls — i.e., communications.

      What the NSA liked to scoop up were “post cut through dialing digits” — any numbers dialed after the phone number itself. These numbers could contain such things as credit card numbers, menu selections for automated services, and other information that could not be considered a dialed phone number.

    • Privacy Experts Urge House to Reform NSA Spying ‘Loophole’

      Privacy experts and digital rights advocates want the House of Representatives to reform a loophole to National Security Agency surveillance authority set to expire in December that allows the intelligence community to collect and search data on U.S. citizens without a warrant.

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a Tuesday letter called on the House Judiciary Committee to close that loophole in legislation the committee is drafting to reauthorize Section 702 of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FISA). Section 702 lets the NSA surveil without a warrent foreign nationals communicating with U.S. persons. Critics say it sweeps up data on potentially tens of millions of Americans, which the intelligence community can search under the pretext of national security.

    • MAC Catching

      In the news recently was a report from TfL about their WiFi data collection. Sky News reported that TfL “plans to make £322m by collecting data from passengers’ mobiles”. TfL have later denied this but the fact remains that collecting this data is trivial.

    • The journey continues at Freedom of the Press Foundation

      More than a month back, the Supreme Court of India ruled that privacy is a fundamental right to every Indian citizen. It was a huge win for every privacy advocate, but it was one of the big battles in the whole fight for right to privacy. Even though governments are using public money to develop software infrastructure, almost none of them are Free Software. There is a current campaign happening for having publicly financed software developer for people to be Free Software. No one knows what is going on in the closed source infrastructure, and if people point out the issues, they are getting punished. If you never heard about Aadhaar project in India, feel free to visit this site to learn about how much destruction it is bringing in.

    • No Airport Biometric Surveillance

      Facial recognition, fingerprinting, and retina scans—all of these and more could be extracted from travelers by the government at checkpoints throughout domestic airports. Please join EFF in opposing the dangerous new bill, sponsored by Senator Thune (R-SD), which would authorize this expanded biometric surveillance.

      The TSA Modernization Act (S. 1872)would authorize the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to deploy “biometric technology to identify passengers” throughout our nation’s airports, including at “checkpoints, screening lanes, [and] bag drop and boarding areas.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Appeals Court Tells Seattle Cops New Use Of Force Policy Doesn’t Violate Their 2nd Amendment Rights

      When the Department of Justice handed down remedies for the Seattle Police Department’s excessive use of excessive force, it told officers they would need to dial back their penchant for deadliness. Just prior to the DOJ’s civil rights investigation, the PD was responsible for 20% of the city’s homicides. The DOJ recommended officers work on their de-escalation tactics, as well as partake in training meant to steer officers away from viewing anything strange (medical conditions, mental health issues, drug impairment, behavioral crises) as something to be shot at or beaten.

      Seattle PD officials adopted the DOJ recommendations and altered the department’s use of force policies. Rather than comply or quit, several police officers decided to file a federal lawsuit against the DOJ. The officers asserted a nonexistent right (the “right” to make it home alive) and hammered an existing right (the 2nd Amendment) to it in hopes of persuading a federal court that using less force less often somehow violated their right to keep and bear arms.

      The crowdfunded lawsuit didn’t get very far. The district court pointed out the 2nd Amendment does not create a “right” to defend yourself, much less attempt to guarantee officers’ personal safety. Gun ownership is regulated, not a free pass for cops to violate PD use of force policies as they see fit. It also tossed a variety of other rights violations claims, noting these were even more tenuously connected to the officers’ protest of the new use of force policy than the 2nd Amendment claims.

    • Supreme Court won’t hear Kim Dotcom’s civil forfeiture case

      Kim Dotcom’s civil forfeiture case will not be heard before the Supreme Court this term, America’s highest court ruled on Monday.

      The civil forfeiture case was brought 18 months after 2012 American criminal charges related to alleged copyright infringement against Dotcom and his now-shuttered company, Megaupload. In the forfeiture case, prosecutors specifically outlined why the New Zealand seizure of Dotcom’s assets on behalf of the American government was valid. Seized items include millions of dollars in various seized bank accounts in Hong Kong and New Zealand, the Dotcom mansion, several luxury cars, four jet skis, two 108-inch TVs, three 82-inch TVs, a $10,000 watch, and a photograph by Olaf Mueller worth over $100,000.

    • U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Kim Dotcom Case
    • Supreme Court declines to hear Megaupload case
    • Supreme Court Denies Kim Dotcom’s Petition Over Seized Millions

      The US Supreme Court has denied the petition of Kim Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues over millions of dollars in seized assets. While this means that all legal options in the US have been exhausted, Dotcom’s legal team now plans to take the issue to New Zealand and Hong Kong, where most funds are being held.

    • U.S. Supreme Court rejects New Zealand-based [I]nternet mogul’s appeal

      The justices left in place a lower court ruling that the U.S. government could seize up to $40 million in assets held outside the United States as part of a civil forfeiture action being pursued in parallel with criminal charges for alleged copyright violations and money laundering.

    • Supreme Court Won’t Review US Government Getting To Steal All Of Kim Dotcom’s Stuff

      While the “main event” in the never-ending case of the US Justice Department against Kim Dotcom continues to grind its way ever so slowly through the wheels of justice, one element has basically concluded. And this was the part that should concern you even if you think that Kim Dotcom was completely guilty of criminal copyright infringement. The issue here is that as part of the arrest of Dotcom and his colleagues, the US “seized” many of his assets. Now, when the government seizes assets, it’s a temporary thing. They have a certain period of time to hold onto it. Afterwards, they either need to give those assets back or file a separate case to attempt to “forfeit” those items (i.e., keep them forever). Here’s where things get a little bizarre. Because Dotcom was fighting extradition in New Zealand, the “deadline” for the US to continue holding the seized assets was approaching — so they filed the separate case against his stuff. Because it’s a civil asset forfeiture case, the case is literally against his stuff, and not against Kim Dotcom (and, yes, this is as weird and nonsensical as it sounds). But there was a twist: because Dotcom was still in New Zealand, the Justice Department said that he was a “fugitive” and thus couldn’t even protest the forfeiture of his stuff. Unfortunately, both the district court and the appeals court agreed.

    • Known Terrorists Under Witness Protection Roaming The Country Pretty Much Unattended

      The FBI loves its counterterrorism work. Loves it so much, it’s pretty much abandoned all pretense of being a law enforcement agency. It acts as though it’s somewhere between the NSA and the ATF: interested mostly in picking through surveillance dragnets and running sting operations that turn people who have trouble with basic skills like holding down jobs into national security threats.

      But it can’t score anti-terrorism goals on unguarded nets without a crew of informants. It works with immigration authorities to coerce visiting foreigners into providing the agency with intel. It goes further than that, though. It also operates a witness protection program for informants/witnesses actually involved in actual terrorist activity.

    • This Is What It Looks Like When the President Asks People to Snitch on Their Neighbors

      In April, the Trump Administration launched what it called the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) hotline, with a stated mission to “provide proactive, timely, adequate, and professional services to victims of crimes committed by removable aliens.” But internal logs of calls to VOICE obtained by Splinter show that hundreds of Americans seized on the hotline to lodge secret accusations against acquaintances, neighbors, or even their own family members, often to advance petty personal grievances.

      The logs—hundreds of which were available for download on the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement web site despite containing extremely sensitive personal information—call to mind the efforts of closed societies like East Germany or Cuba to cultivate vast networks of informants and an atmosphere of fear and suspicion.

    • White Hate, Black Hate and the Shades of Difference

      The rallying of white supremacist extremism in the US has caused fear and confusion for much of the general public. It’s clear that the ascension of Donald Trump and the mass mobilization of white supremacist movements are inextricably linked, and so, over the past year, the desire to “understand” white supremacist groups has been a pinned topic in the mainstream media. In a scramble to understand the now-emboldened (though by no means new) evils, many people are searching for resources. Centrist cable networks and news media sources have sought out nonprofits, such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), among others, to explain organizations that have been designated as “hate groups.”

      Unfortunately, the nonprofits that the media are turning to for answers are not without ideological complexities of their own. For example, the ADL in particular, positions itself as “liberal,” but is in many ways virulently right-wing, allying itself with powerful conservative forces in the US and Israel. The ACLU and SPLC, meanwhile, are largely dominated by white liberal politics, which often leads them to make misleading claims under the guise of faux humane objectivity.

    • I Am Obliged to Reconsider My Support for the European Union

      To my own astonishment, and after a full 36 hours of hard thinking to try and escape this conclusion, I am in intellectual honesty obliged to reconsider my lifelong support for the European Union, due to the unqualified backing of the EU Commission for the Spanish Government’s dreadful repression in Catalonia.

      This is very difficult for me. I still much favour open immigration policy, and the majority of Brexiteers are motivated at base by racist anti-immigrant sentiment. Certainly many Brexiteers share in the right wing support for Rajoy’s actions, across Europe. I have been simply stunned by the willingness of right wingers across the internet, including on this blog, to justify the violence of the Spanish state on “law and order” grounds. It is a stark warning of what we might face in Scotland in our next move towards Independence, which I have always believed may be made without the consent of Westminster.


      The European Commission is obliged to abide by this Charter by Article 51. Yet when the Spanish government committed the most egregious mass violation of human rights within the European Union for a great many years, the EU Commission deliberately chose to ignore completely its obligations under the European Charter of Fundamantal Rights in its response. The Commission’s actions shocked all of intellectual Europe, and represented a complete betrayal of the fundamental principles, obligations and basic documents of the European Union.

    • More Prisons Banning In-Person Visits, Adding To Securus Tech’s Pile Of Cash

      But this is something Securus has pushed for a long time. Back in 2015, Securus finally dropped a clause in its contracts that mandated correctional facilities using its equipment move to video-only visits. But that doesn’t mean jails aren’t still heavily encouraged to ban in-person visits. The pivot to video doesn’t just generate an absurd amount of income for the communications provider. It also pads the pockets of prisons.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Senate confirms Ajit Pai as FCC Chairman

      Ajit Pai has been confirmed by the Senate as the Chairman of the FCC in a 52-41 vote. He has technically only been acting Chairman this whole time, as the process of confirmation generally lags well behind the succession process at the agency; the former Chairman, Tom Wheeler, stepped down shortly before the new Presidential term began, marking Pai’s de facto promotion. The vote today is his de jure assumption of the role.


      The vote wasn’t strictly along party lines, which is a little surprising. Joseph Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Jon Tester (D-MT) all voted to confirm, despite Democratic leadership tending to condemn Pai’s actions against net neutrality and privacy. While these four Democrats gave ayes, no Republicans were to be found in the “nay” column.

    • Ajit Pai gets new term on FCC despite protest of anti-net neutrality plan

      The US Senate today gave Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai another term on the FCC.

      Pai would have had to leave the FCC at the end of 2017 if the Senate hadn’t approved President Donald Trump’s request to give Pai a new term. Pai, who has proposed deregulating broadband providers and eliminating net neutrality rules, received a new five-year term retroactive to July 1, 2016.

    • T-Mobile agrees to stop claiming its network is faster than Verizon’s [Updated]

      T-Mobile USA has agreed to stop claiming its 4G LTE network is faster than Verizon Wireless’, after the advertising industry’s self-regulation body agreed with Verizon that T-Mobile’s claim was unsupported.

      The National Advertising Division (NAD) “recommended T-Mobile discontinue claims that it has the fastest 4G LTE network” and “also recommended that T-Mobile discontinue claims that its LTE network is ‘newer’ than Verizon’s and that Verizon’s LTE network is ‘older,’” the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council said in an announcement Thursday.

    • Nearly 14 million Internet users in Australia: ABS stats

      Australia’s Bureau of Statistics has released its latest Internet and mobile figures for Australia, dated June 2017, but do the numbers tell the whole story?

    • Hoping The Third Time’s The Charm, ISPs Urge Supreme Court To Kill Net Neutrality

      We’ve noted how large ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are covering all their bases in their endless quest to kill popular (some would say necessary) net neutrality protections. They’ve successfully lobbied FCC boss Ajit Pai to vote to kill the existing rules later this year, despite the massive public opposition to that plan. But they’re also lobbying Congress to draft a new net neutrality law they publicly insist will solve everything, while privately hoping you’re too stupid to realize will be entirely written by their lawyers and lobbyists — ensuring it has so many loopholes as to be effectively useless.

      In case those first two options don’t work, large ISPs are also — for the third time in as many years — looking for the Supreme Court’s help. ISPs lost their first attempt to overturn the Title II net neutrality order last year when the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia shot down their complaints (which included insisting that net neutrality rules violated their First Amendment rights). ISPs lost again earlier this year when the courts shot down their en banc appeal.

    • European Governments Seek Greater Oligopolization of Telecom Infrastructures

      In March, more than 31 European Community Networks (CNs) wrote an open letter to EU policy-makers, stressing the need for an adaptation of the European legal framework aimed at helping these citizen-driven initiatives flourish, thus supporting alternative, democratic and sustainable ways to meet the goals of broadband policies. But rather than opening the door to a much-needed diversification of the telecom ecosystem, European governments only seek to reinforce the dominant positions of incumbent players. As the EU gets closer to a deal over the future of European telecom regulation, the EU Parliament must resist the pressure and reaffirm its commitment to the public interest.

    • Trump’s FCC Boss Blasts Apple For Refusing To ‘Turn On’ FM iPhone Chipsets That Don’t Actually Exist

      If you’ve seen current FCC Ajit Pai’s name in print so far this year, it’s probably for any number of his extremely anti-consumer, telecom industry friendly positions. Like his attempts to kill net neutrality, his support of gutting consumer broadband privacy protections, his efforts to protect the cable industry’s cable box monopoly from competition, efforts to dramatically reduce media consolidation rules, his defense of prison phone monopoly price gouging, or the way he’s making it harder for Americans to get affordable broadband.

      To obfuscate this arguably-lopsided agenda, Pai has been busy trying to portray himself as somebody notably other than the revolving door regulator he actually is.

      For example, Pai has repeatedly insisted that he’s a heroic advocate for closing the digital divide, even while simultaneously weakening broadband deployment standards and eroding all oversight of historically-despised mono/duopolists like Comcast. Similarly, Pai spent many of his first months in office insisting he’d be breathlessly dedicated to transparency, yet the FCC boss has already been sued for refusing to document his communications with incumbent ISPs regarding net neutrality, or to provide hard data on why his agency appears to have hallucinated a DDoS attack.

  • DRM
    • Denuvo Game Cracked In Mere Hours

      Denuvo DRM has graced our pages many times in the past year or so. The DRM once thought to be unbreakable and heralded as the end of piracy has taken a precipitous downward path in reputation. Games using the DRM slowly began being cracked in months, then weeks. The ability to crack Denuvo then sped up, with cracking times dropping to a week, five days, a couple of days. Through it all, Denuvo worked furiously to patch its software, all while proclaiming that a week or so’s protection is worth it to game developers as they protect their games during the all important initial release window.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • E-Commerce Regulation Needs Harmonisation, Labour Rules Should Be Part Of Trade Laws, Panellists Say

      The prediction now is e-commerce will be the normal way of conducting trade in the future, according to Lee-Makiyama. If intellectual property rights are sometime considered as a market entry barrier, in access to medicines for example, in copyright and trademarks, mostly used in e-commerce, IP is a market maker, he said. Without IP rights, “supply is not there,” he said, adding that it is the legal environment that allows products to exist.

    • Myanmar prepares for new IP laws

      The creation of a comprehensive IP regime is finally on the horizon in Myanmar. In July, draft bills on trade mark, copyright, patent and industrial design were sent to the legislative committee for deliberation. Implementing regulations are expected to come in later this year. Local lawyers believe that the trade mark law will have the most take up for brand owners. However, they share concerns of the judiciary’s lack of specialised IP experience

    • Copyrights
      • CopyCamp Conference Discusses Fallacies Of EU Copyright Reform Amid Ideas For Copy Change

        Bugs in the European Union copyright reform were discussed during the 6th edition of the annual Warsaw CopyCamp held last week. Liability of platforms and special intellectual property rights on snippets were the poster child for bad legislation. But the activists, academics and internet companies also expressed concerns over a general backlash on internet openness and internet freedom.

      • King’s College Football Coach Sued For Copyright Infringement For Retweeting A Book Page 2 Years Ago

        We cover many petty intellectual property lawsuits here at Techdirt. After a while, you kind of become somewhat numb to them and the only mildly ridiculous lawsuits seem sort of… meh. But every once in a while you run into a real doozy, the sort of lawsuit that really gets the anger juices flowing. The copyright infringement lawsuit brought by author Dr. Keith Bell against King’s College and its football coach, Jeff Knar, is one of those lawsuits.

        A timeline is required here, for reasons that will become readily apparent. In 1982, the year I happen to have been born (skypoint for myself), Bell published a 72 page book called Winning Isn’t Normal. The book is supposed to be of motivational nature, prodding the reader to win at sports, games and life, or something. Fast forward to 2015, when the Twitter account for Northeastern State University’s baseball team tweeted out an image of a single page from the book. Also in 2015, King’s College coach Knarr retweeted that tweet. Now fast forward to late 2017, when Knarr and the school are being sued by Bell for that retweet.

      • Hollywood Using Trump To Undermine The Internet In NAFTA Talks

        As you may be aware, the US, Canada and Mexico are “renegotiating NAFTA” for reasons that don’t entirely make sense, but we’ll leave that aside. Either way, opening up that process has created an opportunity for Hollywood to attack the internet, and they’ve rushed right in. And, despite promises to the contrary, it appears that Hollywood may have succeeded in getting the Trump administration’s US Trade Representative to back its dangerous plans.
        To fully explain this requires a bit of a history lesson. A few decades back, Hollywood realized that what it couldn’t get Congress to pass, it could force upon the US through “international trade agreements.” Much of the history of what happened is detailed in the excellent 2002 book, Information Feudalism by Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite. The very short version is this: international trade agreements have mostly been negotiated without much fanfare or attention, often in secret, with handshake deals in backrooms. And since “trade agreements” are about industry and commerce, trade negotiators often spend most of their time listening to industry representatives to figure out what they want, rather than looking at what’s best for everyone as a whole.

      • Judge Recommends ISP and Search Engine Blocking of Sci-Hub in the US

        Sci-Hub, which is regularly referred to as the “Pirate Bay of Science,” faces one of the strongest anti-piracy injunctions we have seen in the US to date. A magistrate judge in Virginia has recommended a broad order which would require search engines and Internet providers to block the site.

      • Porn Copyright Trolls Terrify 60-Year-Old But Age Shouldn’t Matter

        As people get used to the wave of copyright trolling that has flooded the Internet in recent years, fewer cases hit the headlines. Every now and again, however, a special case appears, such as the one in Canada where a 60-year-old woman has been accused of downloading porn several times. She’s reportedly terrified, but should age be the only defense against these scare tactics?

Nepotism at the EPO Has Reached Truly Toxic Levels

Wednesday 4th of October 2017 01:04:31 PM

One last ‘gift’ from Battistelli?

Summary: President Benoît Battistelli’s coup d’état at the EPO has left the institution looking like a sultanate or monarchy rife with corruption and immune from prosecution

THERE’S no level too low for the EPO to sink to. After many scandals and virtually no intervention from the outside Battistelli must be feeling invincible. He’s willing to even destroy the entire office, after about half a century of operation, just to promote UPC in Paris. Battistelli seems to be working to ensure that the next EPO President is also French and no doubt much of the management will remain French regardless. It’s quite a comprehensive coup. It’s imperialism with kangaroo courts and mafia tactics, not with swords and armour.

“Battistelli seems to be working to ensure that the next EPO President is also French and no doubt much of the management will remain French regardless.”The EPO’s validation agreement with Tunisia, a former French colony, is a Battistelli project. We mentioned it last month because after Tunisia we expect the same from Angola and the EPO has just published this “news” titled “Brevets européens en Tunisie : L’accord de validation entre l’OEB et la Tunisie entrera en vigueur le 1er décembre” with the obligatory photo op. “Sorry,” it says, “this page is currently not available in English.” So one needs to understand French to know what Battistelli is up to at the EPO.

“Is the EPO just a French institution now?”“EPO,” one reader joked to us about it, “a world IP player among his pairs.”

Well, even the tweet is not in English. Is the EPO just a French institution now? Well, not far from it. We may soon find out if 3 out of 4 consecutive EPO Presidents are French.

Today we also received the following message:


According to some sources:


Guess which city in France (yes FR again after Paris in 2015) is now awaiting to be confirmed as the likely host of the 2018 edition of the EIA (big waste of applicants’ money) :


Le hasard fait vraiment bien les choses: this is the city of which Battistelli was during years an elected City Council member (Maire Adjoint à la Culture).

Why are we not surprised?

Wait until we continue our series about Portugal and Angola. The EPO wrote today that “Portugal joins the Federated European Patent Register” and mentioned another former Portugese colony in this tweet. It said: “Register for the “Patent information from BRICS countries: Brazil” webinar. It’s free of charge & starts in 2 hrs…” (right about now)

“Anyone who looks at all this evidence will quickly realise that the EPO has been reduced to a laughing stock. It’s corrupt.”They have also just called for nominations. What for? Battistelli’s last lobbying event in his home town.

Anyone who looks at all this evidence will quickly realise that the EPO has been reduced to a laughing stock. It’s corrupt. The management is mostly French, many are former colleagues of Battistelli, some are even relatives. Battistelli holds professional EPO meetings in his home town in France while building himself quite an expensive ‘wine cellar’ at the top floors of the EPO (using secret budget, causing massive losses for Dutch contractors). Professional investigators are denied access to the EPO and bailiffs turned away by Battistelli's goons.

Momentum of PTAB is Growing and Political/Industrial Support is Growing Too

Wednesday 4th of October 2017 11:38:22 AM

Summary: Cisco, CCIA, EFF and Senator Orrin Hatch are among the many who support the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), whereas proponents of patent trolls try hard to destroy PTAB

THE role played by PTAB is growing. There’s no stopping or slowing down in spite of attempts to induce that.

PTAB has been good at stopping both software patents and patent trolls. It curtails abusive elements in the patent system.

A patent troll from Japan, according to IAM, is finally facing a challenge from PTAB. It typically uses the Eastern District of Texas to get money without doing anything productive, but now comes Intel (maybe PTAB too) and it could potentially put an end to all these shakedowns. To quote:

Japanese patent fund IP Bridge launched its fifth US patent assertion on Friday, filing a case against Intel in the Eastern District of Texas.


But despite the gauntlet of IPRs, IP Bridge has managed to secure a couple of settlements over the past four months that are very important validation for the company as it seeks to show that there is a place for patent monetisation entities in Japan’s relatively conservative IP business environment. In June, this blog reported the fund’s settlements with Broadcom and ARM – the latter of which did not stem from an infringement litigation. The company has around 700 semiconductor patents, and this Intel case suggests it will attempt to build on its deals with Broadcom and ARM to license the biggest players in the sector.

We expect and also hope that Intel will work towards invaliding these patents. IP Bridge, as we noted here before, is close to IAM; recall its cheering for it when it sued in the Eastern District of Texas.

We remind readers that IAM is little more than a megaphone of patent trolls. This new issue, for example, is full of puff pieces about trolls and full of attacks on PTAB. IAM is even publishing for a Koch-connected think tank which is against PTAB and for software patents. Adam Mossoff’s agenda has been documented here for years. Here is another new one from the latest issue. A better (corrected) headline would say “PTAB stops patent trolls…” (which is a great thing!)

But no, IAM is all about trolls and always against PTAB. It’s far from objective. Watchtroll too continues its daily attacks on PTAB (here is yesterday’s example, in essence lobbying for patent trolls, as usual).

What we are hoping to show here is the commonality among PTAB opponents. They’re not companies but trolls and publishers that they’re paying.

What about the real industry, i.e. companies that actually make things?

Well, Dan Lang, VP Intellectual Property at Cisco, speaks in support of PTAB (we mentioned him here earlier this year). Two days ago CCIA published this piece for him.

To quote:

The IPR procedure has been in operation for 5 years and has performed admirably with an affirmance rate of nearly 75% by the courts. The patent office collected broad input from stakeholders in setting the rules. The agency staffed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) with experienced technically trained litigators. Appellate review has given the PTAB important guidance in claim construction and validity analysis. The IPR procedure has become an indispensable mechanism for taking low quality patents out of circulation. Fewer than 4300 patents, out of 2.8 million in force, have been challenged, and of those the patent office has instituted proceedings on only 2400.


Whether or not to grant a stay of litigation after an appealable finding of invalidity by the PTAB is also a question of striking the right balance so that the system is fair. In a case Cisco is currently involved in, the ITC found intentional infringement by a direct competitor after a 10 ½ month procedural delay. The ITC considered and rejected our competitor’s contentions that the patents are invalid. In our court filings, we explained where and how we think the PTAB got it wrong and is likely to be corrected by appellate review. The Federal Circuit has now agreed with us that a stay is unwarranted. If a stay were to have been put in place, infringement would have continued and we as the innovators would have lost the benefit of temporary exclusivity that the patent system was designed to provide.

As strong supporters of the IPR system, we believe our appeal of the PTAB findings is exactly what a patent holder should do if the PTAB makes a ruling the patent holder disagrees with. At the same time, we view with alarm the increasingly shrill denunciations one hears today from interests that care less about patent quality than about preserving what they characterize as “quiet title” in an asset they never should have had in the first place. The IPR procedure is important and any needed adjustments are refinements rather than sweeping changes such as proposed in the STRONGER Act or abolition as requested by petitioners in Oil States on specious constitutional grounds.

We at Cisco have long advocated for a balanced patent system that helps innovation. We have encouraged all three branches of government to make sure that the patent system isn’t abused by opportunists and speculators who buy up patents and litigate for the purpose of extortion. But we shouldn’t lose sight of why America’s founders created the patent system in the first place – to encourage and reward innovation.

Cisco uses patents aggressively against smaller competitors, but it is also frequently targeted by trolls. Its support of PTAB is noteworthy, but oddly enough, Cisco now imposes an embargo on a competitor’s product in spite of PTAB invaliding the patent/s at hand. Even the CCIA spoke out against it last month.

The EFF decided to intervene too. Days after news about the Three Affiliated Tribes helping patents trolls and the Mohawk people doing something similar [1, 2] by shielding a corporation from PTAB the EFF complains above Native Americans helping patent trolls and generally impeding justice. To quote:

On September 8, 2017, the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company Allergan announced that it “sold” its patents relating to its eye drops “Restasis” to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. But this was not a usual “sale.” The Tribe doesn’t appear to have paid anything in exchange for becoming the legal owner of Allergan’s patents. Instead, Allergan paid the Tribe $13.75 million, and also agreed to pay the Tribe up to $15 million more each year in exclusive licensing fees.

In other words, Allergan just paid out millions to give its patents away, and will pay millions more to license them back.

Why would a company pay a Native American tribe to take ownership of patents? Simple: to make those patents harder to invalidate.

Yesterday we found out that even Senator Orrin Hatch decided to intervene. In his blog he speaks out against patent trolls. To quote:

Our nation’s patent system has been in need of serious reform for many years. So-called “patent trolls” — entities that don’t actually make or sell anything but that instead buy patent licenses merely to extort settlements — have become a serious drain on our economy. According to one study, patent trolls and their frivolous lawsuits cost our country nearly $80 billion per year.

Here is the part about his support for PTAB:

Under the IPR process, an accused infringer can seek a ruling from the PTO that the patent the party is alleged to have infringed is in fact invalid. IPR proceedings are narrower in scope than traditional trial court litigation and allow for much more limited discovery, with the result that they tend to be both faster and cheaper than traditional litigation. As one might expect, IPR proceedings have become increasingly popular with parties accused of patent infringement.

IPR supporters say the process cuts down the costs of patent litigation and enables patent troll victims to more cheaply rebut frivolous claims. Opponents respond that the standards for proving invalidity in IPR are too low and that the IPR process too often eradicates sound patents. In addition, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments this term that the entire IPR process itself is unconstitutional. Clearly, this is an issue that warrants Congress’s attention.

“And if software patents [...] are invalid,” Benjamin Henrion’s tweet quoted him as saying, “business software developers may turn their attention to other products…”

Here is the part about patent scope:

Finally, at today’s meeting we’ll be discussing what sorts of limits Congress should place on what can and cannot be patented. The traditional rule has been that “anything under the sun that is made by man” is patentable. But there are also exceptions. And in a line of cases over the last decade, the Supreme Court has applied those exceptions in a way that has caused considerable uncertainty for technology and life sciences companies.

In two of those cases, Mayo and Myriad Genetics, the Court cast doubt on the ability of life sciences companies to patent treatments that derive from natural processes. In Mayo, the Court invalidated a patent for determining the proper dosage of naturally occurring metabolites to treat autoimmune disorders. In Myriad Genetics, the Court invalidated a patent on a gene sequence that could be used to detect elevated risks of breast and ovarian cancer.

The third case, Alice, involved a patent on a computer system to manage risk in escrow arrangements. The Court struck down the patent on the ground that it was directed toward an unpatentable “abstract idea” — managing risk through third-party escrow — and that the act of implementing that idea through a computerized process did not transform the idea into patentable subject matter.

These cases have potentially significant consequences for drug and software patents. If treatments derived from natural processes cannot be patented, life sciences companies may find their intellectual property rights sharply curtailed. Already we’re seeing lower courts move in this direction, with a recent case out of California casting doubt on the ability of dietary supplement companies to patent any of their products. And if software patents for business methods like third-party escrow are wholesale invalid, business software developers may turn their attention to other products.

What is noteworthy here is that every single opponent of PTAB is also well known as a proponent of patent trolls. This itself should serve as a clue to SCOTUS Justices.

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