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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 37 min ago

Patent Trolls Watch: Microsoft-Connected Intellectual Ventures, Finjan, and Rumour of Technicolor-InterDigital Buyout

Monday 19th of February 2018 05:22:17 AM

Related (last year):

Summary: Connections between various patent trolls and some patent troll statistics which have been circulated lately

THE patent trolls epidemic is no longer just a US-centric epidemic; China is feeling it too, having tactlessly embraced patent maximalism (in itself an epidemic of the mind) like the USPTO did.

It’s not hard to tell what a patent troll is; it’s usually obvious if some entity has some services/products. Entities that are practicing have things to show. They advertise these as they attempt to make sales, transactions etc.

Well, days (or even less than days) after this promotional piece of his, Dr. Mark Summerfield softened the image of patent trolls by citing and quoting the world’s largest troll, Intellectual Ventures. It’s pretty obvious that Intellectual Ventures never had any products; it was never the intention. It’s not even a broker as its main activity is suing, usually via plenty of proxies. Intellectual Ventures is as evil as can be. But Summerfield’s piece isn’t whitewashing the troll; instead, it sheds lights on some statistics from Lex Machina:

Lex Machina’s analysis shows that since the commencement of the US patent law reforms introduced by the America Invents Act (AIA), rates of patent litigation have been in steady decline in real terms. Furthermore, while the list of top plaintiffs remains dominated by non-practising entities (NPEs), in 2017 two pharmaceutical companies entered the top ten, with two more filling out the top 15. And while headlines tend to be captured by a small number of very high awards of damages against big infringers, the reality for most plaintiffs is sobering. Just 11% of all cases terminated since 2000 reached a final judgment, with around three-quarters settling. While patentees are victorious slightly more often than defendants (around 60/40), compensatory damages are awarded in less than half of the cases won by plaintiffs, and for those cases in which ‘reasonable royalty’ damages were awarded during the three years up until the end of 2017, the median amount was just US$4.4 million – perhaps barely enough to justify litigation in a jurisdiction where the usual rule is that each party must bear its own costs of the proceedings.

We have been writing about trolls and documenting their actions for a very long time. For over a decade we’ve been pointing out that Intellectual Ventures works for Microsoft and Finjan, another troll, is backed by Microsoft. It’s even publicly-traded, albeit its stock tanked over the years (yesterday, however, financial media took interest in the stock [1, 2, 3). According to IAM, another publicly-traded troll may soon purchase another. As IAM has just put it: “InterDigital due to release its FY17 results on 22nd February. Will it also announce Technicolor purchase? https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/01/30/1314295/0/en/InterDigital-Announces-Date-for-Fourth-Quarter-and-Full-Year-2017-Financial-Results.html [] Technicolor announced in December that it was in advanced stage of talks about a sale with an unnamed entity.”

We wrote a lot about both of these. Technicolor, unlike InterDigital, used to be an actual company rather than a troll. But now it seems like both of them are just trolls and one may soon collapse onto the other.

Software Patents Trickle in After § 101/Alice, But Courts Would Not Honour Them Anyway

Sunday 18th of February 2018 05:01:56 PM

Buzzwords are used to disguise patents on algorithms, but in-depth analysis would expose them for what they really are


Pendulum does not swing back; buzzwords just move back and forth

Summary: The dawn of § 101/Alice, which in principle eliminates almost every software patent, means that applicants find themselves having to utilise loopholes to fool examiners, but that’s unlikely to impress judges (if they ever come to assessing these patents)

THE USPTO will continue to grant software patents in the foreseeable future, but that does not mean that these patents will be able to cause much damage. Why not? As we shall show later today and tomorrow, PTAB smacks down many of these patents. It’s an invaluable mechanism of quality control, akin to oppositions and appeals at the EPO.

One might ask, “why are software patents granted after Alice?”

The answer is simple. There are tricks. The EPO and other patent offices too have tricks. Those are usually designed to bypass examiners’ guidelines — the sorts of guidelines that matter a lot less to courts which assess past court cases and underlying evidence, such as prior art and expert testimonies. Knowing that the courts are hostile towards software patents, many potential plaintiffs (patent holders) will not even bother suing. And that’s a good thing.

This post concerns few of the aforementioned tricks, which exploit loopholes. Many of them are nowadays buzzwords, which help dodge § 101/Alice (at least at a superficial level). At the EPO they like to use terms like “technical effect” or “device”, but in the USPTO it looks like “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) is currently one of the favourites because the corporate media resurrected that hype. Almost any algorithm can be framed as “AI” as it’s a rather nebulous concept. We previously wrote many articles about other buzzwords, such as “cloud”, not to mention the old “over the Internet”, “on a computer” and so on.

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP, a very large law firm, is still all about buzzwords in patents. Without even delving into the underlying granularities, the headline alone is rather telling: blah blah blah Artificial Intelligence blah blah.

Wow. Must be innovative because “AI” is supposedly “hot”! Granted! Yesterday Watchtroll wrote about passage of some patents in the “self-driving space,” arguing that it “delivers on Didi’s commitment to invest in artificial intelligence capacity.”

Whatever!

I already wrote some algorithms related to this (self-driving tools) and the only “AI” in it tends to be some classifier trained on an image set to help segment an unseen image (or long sequence thereof). That’s hardly innovative. It could be made to work several decades agp and in fact there were working implementations a long time ago; they just lacked sufficient computing power.

Here’s what Finnegan says in relation to “AI” and § 101:

In addition to § 101 concerns, AI in medicine raises questions of inventorship and ownership in patent law. The US patent system only recognizes individuals as inventors,38 not companies39 or machines.40 But with AI, it may be the machine that is taking the inventive leap, not the human programmer. Recently, both Google and Facebook have seen AI develop its own language to perform the assigned tasks, eschewing known languages in favor of a more efficient means of communication.41 As the use of AI grows in medicine and the life sciences, it is more and more likely that the AI will be the entity taking the inventive step, drawing new conclusions between the observed and the unknown. Indeed, current AI systems develop their own code as a result of the system’s training.42 If that is the case, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the courts will have to decide whether the current Patent Act encompasses computer-based inventors, and if not, who among the humans responsible for the AI should be considered an inventor.43 The list of possible human inventors includes the AI software and hardware developers, the medical professionals or experts who provided the data set with known values or otherwise provided input into the development of the AI, and/or those who reviewed the AI results and recognized that an invention had been made.

Examiners ought to be reminded that “AI” just means algorithms and patents on algorithms are annulled by § 101. Here’s an example of computer vision patents that have just been granted by the USPTO. This article says: “The last patent includes foreground motion detection in compressed video data with software that can tell the difference between background and foreground features in compressed video streams.”

That’s pure software. Surely they know these are worthless after Alice? Or maybe they delude themselves into thinking otherwise? In relation to an Olympian called Vincent Zhou there was coverage some days ago that said: “One is a 28-year-old from a blue-collar home in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The other is a 17-year-old son of Chinese immigrants, two computer scientists, who hails from California.”

“She owns numerous software patents,” it said further down. Well, too bad they’re worthless now, eh? Here’s another new example of patents on software, this time from LINE. Again, these patents are worthless after Alice. Why are they being granted? As we shall show in a separate article, few grants are even being challenged; those that do typically perish (PTAB overturning examiners’ determinations).

Here’s another software patent. “GBOX develops all software both inhouse and with international subsidiaries,” says the release, “and has been awarded 5 provisional patents for its technology.”

How many of them (if any) are even worth anything?

“With Valentine’s Day upon us, one would rightly suspect that there is already an abundance of patents and patent applications related to online dating software,” lawyers’ media said some days ago. But software patents are worthless now. They themselves call it “software”. Do they conveniently overlook the issue? Don’t they try to disguise it by calling it something like “technology”?

“Blockchain” is another term that we often see used in relation to software patents. That’s just a tired new loophole that software patents proponents love to exploit. It’s an algorithm. And watch the China envy:

China is leading the world in blockchain patents: incoPat published the 2017 Global Blockchain Patent Ranking (top 100) applications for invention-, utility- and design-patents. See: http://www.iprdaily.cn/news_18252.html pic.twitter.com/DZLTnkuXdw

Well, China — unlike the US — actually permits software patents, so there might be nothing wrong about this. There’s something wrong with the policy, sure, but not with the application thereof.

For the record, we’re not against patents that aren’t on algorithms. We’re very picky in selecting what to criticse. Here, for instance, is a press release about a new patent settlement over bar code readers (not software, no problem). It says:

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) today announced that it has reached a settlement with Code Corp., a company that manufactures bar code readers, to settle Honeywell’s claims that Code infringed certain Honeywell patents related to bar code scanning technology.

The scanning techniques tend to involve sensory aspects that are hardware-side, not software-side heuristics. The projection and reflection of infrared lights for instance.

Thankfully, as time goes by we see fewer software patents slipping through the sieve. Does that mean that the USPTO will stop granting software patents altogether one day? We doubt it. But the number of lawsuits over algorithms will decline sharply unless something radical happens (like PTAB getting squashed).

In Aatrix v Green Shades the Court is Not Tolerating Software Patents But Merely Inquires/Wonders Whether the Patents at Hand Are Abstract

Sunday 18th of February 2018 03:19:15 PM

Some bits of sensationalism, motivated by patent maximalism, leave Aatrix v Green Shades somewhat misrepresented (just like Berkheimer v HP Inc.)


Green Shades has not necessarily lost (decision vacated)

Summary: Aatrix alleges patent infringement by Green Shades, but whether the patents at hand are abstract or not remains to be seen; this is not what patent maximalists claim it to be (“A Valentine for Software Patent Owners” or “valentine for patentee”)

SEVERAL DAYS AGO, on Valentine’s Day to be precise, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled in a case [PDF] that law firms rushed to cover (Knobbe Martens). Adam Powell and Diana E. Wade from Knobbe Martens wrote the following with some background:

Aatrix sued Green Shades for infringement of two patents directed to systems and methods for designing, creating, and importing data into a viewable form on a computer. Green Shades moved to dismiss under § 101. The district court granted the motion and denied leave to file a proposed amended complaint. Aatrix appealed to the Federal Circuit.

The main question is, are these really software patents? Not every time Alice gets invoked will it work; it’s not a magic wand.

‘Early birds’ wrote about it in relation to 101/Alice, calling it “PRECEDENTIAL” and dubbing it “A Valentine for Software Patent Owners”.

Another one said: “Aatrix SW FedCir 2/14/18 valentine for patentee: Circuit vacates DCt’s R12b6 dismissal for no 101 eligible s/m; tangible computer system for creating forms; can dismiss on pleadings only if no factual allegn’s prevent resolving eligibility as legal q. No DCt claim constrn either. [] Reyna, J. dissent: disagrees with the majority’s broad statements on the role of factual evidence in § 101 inquiry. “Our precedent is clear that the § 101 inquiry is a legal question.” Majority tries to shoehorn significant fact component into Alice analysis. [Battle is joined!] [] I’m cautiously liking the Moore, J. approach on this. 101 eligibility must logically sometimes raise fact q’s, just like claim construction. If we’re stuck with a ridiculous test like Alice’s step 2 “transformative inventive concept,” at least we should look at underlying facts.”

“Question for en banc review of Aatrix,” added the former person. “Is a consideration whether various claim elements simply recite ‘well-understood, routine, conventionalactivit[ies] a question of Law or Fact?”

In recent days we saw some press coverage about it:

The Federal Circuit faulted a lower court Wednesday for invalidating data manipulation patents as abstract ideas on a motion to dismiss, the second time in days the court has held that a judge too quickly found that patents failed the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice test.

This is alluding to Berkheimer v HP Inc., which we covered thrice already [1, 2, 3]. One has to be careful not to take the patent microcosm at face value. They’re desperate for CAFC cases in favour of software patents; since they can barely find any they try to make some up.

An Indoctrinated Minority is Maintaining the Illusion That Patent Policy is to Blame for All or Most Problems of the United States

Sunday 18th of February 2018 01:03:24 PM

“China” is to the US patent ‘industry’ what “Russia” is to the US defense ‘industry’


Imagine if every nation blamed another for its own errors/shortcomings/failings/bad decisions

Summary: The zealots who want to patent everything under the Sun and sue everyone under the Sun blame nations in the east (where the Sun rises) for all their misfortunes; this has reached somewhat ludicrous levels

THE patent policy of a country (or continent in the case of the EPO) matters. But it doesn’t matter so profoundly that slight changes in patent policies will make or break countries. That’s just common sense as there’s so much more in this world than patents. The economy too is more than just patents.

“That’s just common sense as there’s so much more in this world than patents.”The USPTO loosened a little on litigation and tightened patent scope, following decisions that had been made by the US Supreme Court (for the most part). This is a good thing as it enables US science and technology firms to operate in the lab rather than the courtroom. This, once again, is common sense.

The “patents4life” blog (advocates just what it says in the name and by “life” it does not mean patent duration) seems to be upset again. Days ago it bemoaned “Weaknesses in IP Protection” (fancy words for “it’s harder to sue with patents”). So a strength in mental faculties and common sense is being framed as “weakness”? The article is actually a rant about Canada, India and Ecuador, three countries where public interest (the big majority) was put ahead of Big Pharma. Watch who the blog is citing; IPO is just a front group of patent extremists looking to patent everything on Earth. Who else can they rely on? The malicious lobby known as “Chamber of Commerce”, which is constantly attacking India* and is engaged in revisionism right now, calling “Father of American Innovation” a person who was not? He did not even innovate slave ownership (he ‘owned’ plenty of slaves).

“This is a good thing as it enables US science and technology firms to operate in the lab rather than the courtroom.”Quite frankly, we often conclude that these people are just delusional. How about this guy called Moskowitz? We mentioned him before. He claims that Big Tech’s or China’s rise is “Enabled by a weakened patent system.” (in the US)

I said he was “[s]till perpetuating the myth that the “patent system” is responsible for everything because this is what they do for a living” and his only response to me was something along the lines of me being an agent for China or whatever (even though I berate China for its own patent policies too — policies that mostly enrich oligarchs). Other people are attempting/pulling the “China” smears against me as well (as recently as last night; several times even).

Notice the theme here; just like the United States often blames Russia for just about anything the patent microcosm blames China for just about anything. Watch another emerging theme, which is shaming of technology firms. The patent microcosm is growingly vocal in its smearing of technology firms. It’s partly ironic because those are the firms that often bring money to lawyers.

“Notice the theme here; just like the United States often blames Russia for just about anything the patent microcosm blames China for just about anything.”The above claim (saying that “patent trolls” as a concept was made up by technology firms) is patently false. They used to be called “sharks” and other words. The graph that the person shows does not support what he says about it. It’s about one particular label, which is predated by other labels (for the same thing). But they carry on with this fiction, ignoring the growing concentration of patent trolls in the United States until some years ago (when the problem was belatedly being put under control).

Citing this new article about China (from The Economist, which blogged a chart), here we have another ‘genius’ who — seeing how the US continues its relative demise (e.g. compared to China) — blames it all on patents (not enough lawsuits?). China was actually making things while other nations got busy litigating and marketing. It spent decades regenerating itself for manufacturing. That’s why China is prospering now (in terms of measures that aren’t per capita).

“Look at this from the viewpoint of when patent reform (the PTAB specifically) really took hold,” the ‘genius’ said. “Correlation is not causation but the timing is hard to ignore.”

“China was actually making things while other nations got busy litigating and marketing.”No, he is just trying to superimpose what he does for a living over a chart that has virtually nothing to do with it. Another person might look at this same chart and blame “Obama” or “liberals” or “piracy” or “hacking”. Here is another slightly older tweet from the same ‘genius’. It links to an article, then ranting about patents and Google. But the article in question has nothing to do with patents, it has nothing to do with Google, and this obsession with patents and Google simply clouds the person’s judgment. These people blame everything (in their own trade, which revolves around lawsuits) on technology firms and they are constantly using China as a scapegoat. It’s just so easy when you cannot make an economic argument/excuse for your own failures. Russia is typically used as a scapegoat for military aspects, on- and off-line. Externalising blame. China is for economic aspects. The name of the ‘genius’ by the way is Gatlin McArthur and based on the Twitter activity it’s some sort of a patent lawyer or troll (it does not say).
___
* The Chamber of Commerce viciously attacked India’s reputation last year and IAM helped the Chamber of Commerce do this. A few days ago IAM again found a way to attack the credibility of the Indian patent office. IAM actually attacked that office about a dozen times last year alone and it’s not hard to see why. India repels software patents and law firms based in India still obsess over this matter “This case is a classic example where the Patent Office has interpreted the words “computer program per se” to include software programs,” said one firm in a days-old article which digs the archive and says:

This article focuses on the involvement of Section 3(k) in the process of patent application of Apple titled ‘a method for browsing data items with respect to a display screen associated with a computing device and an electronic device’. For reference to those unaware of this section, S 3 of the Indian Patents Act, 1970 bars patent eligibility of some inventions.

Berkheimer Decision is Still Being Spun by the Anti-Section 101/Alice Lobby

Sunday 18th of February 2018 11:23:20 AM

Spinning and twisting; herein lies their specialty

Summary: 12 days after Berkheimer v HP Inc. the patent maximalists continue to paint this decision as a game changer with regards to patent scope; the reality, however, is that this decision will soon be forgotten about and will have no substantial effect on either PTAB or Alice (because it’s about neither of these)

TECHRIGHTS has repeatedly written about Berkheimer, foreseeing a distortion and then rebutting it. Berkheimer does not change anything at the USPTO and it’s unlikely to change anything at the courts either (contrary to what patent maximalists are saying). The patent maximalists just cherry-pick sentences to bolster their bogus narrative that PTAB disregards facts or isn’t pursuing any facts.

“The patent maximalists just cherry-pick sentences to bolster their bogus narrative that PTAB disregards facts or isn’t pursuing any facts.”Finnegan, a very large lawyers’ firm, now joins the Berkheimer spin wave. Days ago it wrote:

In Berkheimer v. HP Inc. (Fed. Cir. Feb. 6, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding that certain claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,447,713—directed to digital processing and archiving in a digital asset management system—were indefinite, and affirmed-in-part and vacated-in-part the grant of summary judgment that other claims were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

It wasn’t a victory, it was not about Section 101, and it’s not the Supreme Court. It’s just one among thousands of decisions about patents at this level. So a lot of the headlines we’ve seen so far are extremely and perhaps intentionally misleading. “Berkheimer is waaaaaaay overhyped by the patent ‘industry’,” I told this Federal Circuit watcher after she had written: “Automated Tracking FedCir 2/16/18 NON-precedential; affirms DCt’s dismissal of case on pleadings bcz no eligible s/m; cites new Berkheimer decision but nothing here supports patentee’s contention of fact dispute re whether claims recite routine and conventional RFID components.”

“It wasn’t a victory, it was not about Section 101, and it’s not the Supreme Court.”So Berkheimer made no substantial difference here, just as we expected.

What also ought to be expected, at least for days if not weeks to come, is a misstatement about what Berkheimer really was about. Earlier today we found a couple more examples of patent maximalists misrepresenting this decision. Friends of a disgraced Federal Circuit judge said this:

The phrase “minimal redundancy” in a patent claim was indefinite under 35 USC § 112 where the patent specification inconsistently described levels of redundancy achieved by its system. Berkheimer v. HP, Inc., No. 2017-1437 (Fed. Cir. Feb 8, 2017) (precedential) (opinion by Judge Moore, joined by Judges Taranto and Stoll). Accordingly, the court affirmed a district court’s summary judgment that claim 10 of US Patent No. 7,447,713 was indefinite. The court also addressed the patent-eligibility of other claims of the ’713 patent; the patent-eligibility issues are dealt with in another post.

And later came this generalisation which made it seem like Berkheimer was a push against Alice itself. This refers to two decisions:

In a pair of interesting software-related cases, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit appears to push back on one of the supposed goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice v. CLS Bank International decision. In Alice, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified and restated the Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus decision’s test concerning patent eligible subject matter. In doing so, the Supreme Court started a new era of U.S. patent law which made patent eligible subject matter a very important inquiry with respect to the patentability of inventions, particulary those in the software space—although Alice’s impact is felt in other technological areas. Since Alice issued, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has clarified the Alice test and notably provided guidance to patent lawyers on how to “avoid” or “comply” with Alice.

Importantly, one of the purported benefits of Alice was to allow for the early dismissal of claims based on patent eligible subject matter. An alleged infringer could conceivably quickly raise patent eligible subject matter and get a claim dismissed on either a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim or a motion for summary judgment. In additional push-back to Alice, the Federal Circuit in Berkheimer v. HP (February 8, 2018) has recently held that even after claim construction a motion for summary judgment on patent eligible subject matter may be improper because of genuine issues of material fact.

Berkheimer v HP was not about Alice. So why even lump that in? And back we go to Finnegan, an integral part of the patent microcosm, which in this particular case scrapes deep down the barrel in an effort to bypass Alice and ‘sell’ software patents (services) to gullible clients. To quote:

Since the Supreme Court decided Alice v. CLS Bank in June 2014, the USPTO regularly issues new memoranda explaining its implementation of the § 101 framework. This includes some of the more notable memos for prosecutors: the memo on Enfish v. Microsoft from May 2016, the memo on McRO and BASCOM from November 2016, and dozens of eligibility examples. The USPTO also maintains a quick reference sheet on decisions holding claims eligible and identifying abstract ideas, and a chart of subject matter eligibility court decisions.

Pretty much all of these memos are from 2 years ago. Like we’ve said many times, in 2017 the Federal Circuit was quite unambiguous in its acceptance of Alice and lack of support for software patents. To suggest something has changed for the ‘better’ (of the microcosm) when the Supreme Court refuses to revisit the matter is misleading, but we know what they’re trying to sell and how they sell it.

Academic Patent Immunity is Laughable and Academics Are Influenced by Corporate Money (for Steering Patent Agenda)

Sunday 18th of February 2018 10:37:27 AM

Even some US colleges are funded by patent lobbies

Summary: Universities appear to have become battlegrounds in the war between practicing entities and a bunch of parasites who make a living out of litigation and patent bubbles

THE US has a problem of corporate influence in universities. Not only the US has this problem. As a former academic myself (I worked a few years as a postdoc), I’ve seen it from the inside and I still hear about it from friends or former colleagues. Corporations funnel money in exchange for things; even the EPO now pays scholars in the UK and in the US (in exchange for papers that help promote the UPC). Certainly the policy of the USPTO is impacted by this; a lot of academic papers should state openly which corporations fund the authors’ (or investigators’) department/s. There’s danger, however, that by insinuating such corruption of academia one leaves room for patent extremists to attack academics they dislike. So let’s just say that scholars are, in general, more credible than think tanks and front groups (like IPO); but they’re not impenetrable to outside influence or even soft bribes.

Why are we saying all this? Well, Scott McKeown, writing at Ropes & Gray’s site, has just written about an old subject which we covered here before, noting that a federal court will soon wrestle with the questions about “sovereign immunity” for academic institutions, specifically in relation to PTAB.

Why should universities that hold questionable patents be immune from the law and from scrutiny? That seems to make no sense at all, but never underestimate the power of lobbying. And what makes them a separate sovereignty to begin with? (sovereignty as in “sovereign immunity”)

State-affiliated entities enjoy immunity from suit in federal courts under the 11th amendment. To date, a handful of such entities have successfully leveraged the same immunity theory to avoid review of their patents before the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB). While still other Patent Owners have aligned themselves with Native American Tribes in an effort to benefit from their sovereign status in the hopes of avoiding PTAB review.

More recently, in Ericsson v. Regents of the University of Minnesota the PTAB has determined that sovereign immunity is waived where the sovereign entity files an infringement suit.

Another law firm wrote about this the other day, noting that the State, as per an infamous old law, enabled universities to abuse taxpayers’ money to collect patents and then give these to trolls (who soon attack these very same taxpayers). Why should they — the universities that nowadays incubate startups and privatise publicly-funded research — at the same time they pursue these patents also be immune from scrutiny?

Here’s more on the University of Minnesota:

The PTAB’s decision also did not state whether UMinn had any input in Toyota’s strategy to request adverse judgment. Thus, from the record, it is not clear whether Toyota adequately represented the interests of UMinn in this case.

Right now, owing to the above cases, Big Pharma is attempting to shelter its controversial patents using tribes (for tribal immunity). The situation has become quite unreal.

Meanwhile, judging by this new paper from Saurabh Vishnubhakat, he continues to feed the anti-PTAB (often pro-trolls) lobby. From his abstract: “The rise of administrative patent validity review since the America Invents Act has rested on an enormous expansion of Patent Office authority. A relatively little-known aspect of that authority is the agency’s statutory ability to intervene in Federal Circuit appeals from adversarial proceedings in its own Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The Patent Office has exercised this intervenor authority frequently and with specific apparent policy objectives, including where one of the adverse parties did not participate in the appeal. Moreover, until recently, there has been no constitutional inquiry into the Article III standing that the Patent Office must establish in order to intervene in this way.”

Patently-O (i.e. Crouch) continues to feed that same lobby too by publishing this guest post by Matthew J. Dowd and Jonathan Stroud, citing Vishnubhakat’s work. From their long post:

Professor Saurabh Vishnubhakat’s recent well-reasoned post and longer article add much to the discussion about standing to appeal from the PTAB. Standing has recently garnered significant interest from the Federal Circuit. Building on existing scholarship, we have written a concise synopsis of standing law as applied to PTAB appeals, forthcoming in Catholic University of America Law Review.

[...]

In our view, as a matter of standing alone, the PTO can participate as an intervenor in virtually all AIA appeals from the PTAB—and many reasons are consonant with the principles on which Professor Vishnubhakat bases his reasoning. We make no judgment here on the merits of the positions the PTO solicitor has or will adopt, or the frequency of intervention. While there is a valid debate about the policy choices and the frequency with which the PTO has intervened, that debate is distinct from the legal question of whether the PTO has, or must have, standing as an intervenor beyond their express statutory grant. Professor Vishnubhakat reasons correctly; he just goes a bridge too far.

We already know what they’re trying to accomplish because it’s well documented (for years). They hope to weaken if not abolish PTAB by comparing patents to “property” (a lie) or “rights”, then alluding to terms like “property rights” (which meant an entirely different thing when the term was conceived).

Last but not least, there’s this new paper from Jason Reinecke. It makes one wonder if Stanford University is now lobbying against software patents and — if so — who’s paying their School of Law for it (patent extremists will no doubt blame Google, for it’s closely connected to Stanford). Even though the title of the paper is a loaded question (“Is the Supreme Court’s Patentable Subject Matter Test Overly Ambiguous?), the conclusion seems to be an effort to debunk a myth promoted by patent extremists.

From the abstract (about abstract patents):

In four cases handed down between 2010 and 2014, the Supreme Court articulated a new two-step patent eligibility test that drastically reduced the scope of patent protection for software inventions. Scholars have described the test as “impossible to administer in a coherent, consistent way,” “a foggy standard,” “too philosophical and policy based to be administrable,” a “crisis of confusion,” “rife with indeterminacy,” and one that “forces lower courts to engage in mental gymnastics.”

This Article provides the first empirical test of these assertions. In particular, 231 patent attorneys predicted how courts would rule on the subject matter eligibility of litigated software patent claims, and the results were compared with the actual district court rulings. Among other findings, the results suggest that while the test is certainly not a beacon of absolute clarity, it is also not as amorphous as many commentators have suggested.

When lobbyists such as David Kappos say there’s lack of “clarity” regarding Alice they contribute to these myths. As we’ll show in our next post, the latest myth is that PTAB relies not on facts.

UPC Optimism Languishes Even Among Paid UPC Propagandists Such as IAM

Sunday 18th of February 2018 09:17:03 AM

The lie told by Bristows last week

Summary: Even voices which are attempting to give UPC momentum that it clearly lacks admit that things aren’t looking well; the UK is not ratifying and Germany make take years to look into constitutional barriers

JUST before the weekend we noted that the EPO had virtually stopped talking about the UPC. The acronym or the words “unified” and “unitary” recently escaped the EPO’s lexicon. It wasn’t always like that.

Even “UPCtracker”, a Twitter account dedicated to UPC jingoism, has just said that “if UPC complaint not on list this could simply mean that a) Chamber has not made up its mind as to whth case should be admitted or b) the Senate thinks the case will not be decided within the next year (but possibly later). Refusal to admit wd become known v quickly.”

“They’re also totally silent regarding the inaction some days ago in the British political scene (Bristows too chose to remain silent about it).”We mentioned the context to this before; “Indications so far mostly point to admissibility,” I told him, “including next week's debate in Bavaria” (it’s only a couple of days away).

What we found fascinating, however, was this new self-promotional piece from Joff Wild (IAM). A year ago IAM was pushing fake news about the UPC [1, 2, 3] (after the EPO’s PR firm had paid IAM). Now? Not so much optimism. They’re also totally silent regarding the inaction some days ago in the British political scene (Bristows too chose to remain silent about it).

To quote the portion about UPC:

Brexit and the UPC: Of course, no patent-related event in Europe these days is going to escape discussion of either Brexit or the potential impact of the Unified Patent Court – should it ever get up and running.

On the former, there was wide agreement that as things stand, no-one has much idea what is going to happen. Patents and patent owners are not directly affected by Brexit because there is no unitary patent system in Europe, but it was noted that over recent years there has been a trend for European patent judges to spend more time talking to each other, with courts in one country now prepared to give much more weight to judgments handed down in others when hearing similar cases. As England and Wales is perhaps Europe’s most important life sciences venue, there is no doubt that decisions reached by judges in the jurisdiction are currently looked at very closely by their peers elsewhere. Whether this will continue post-Brexit remains to be seen.

As for the UPC, there was widespread scepticism about it seeing the light of day pre-Brexit and around the UK’s participation in the system at any time. However, some at least are continuing to make preparations on the off chance that the UK does ratify the UPC Agreement and the case currently before the German constitutional court on the legality of Germany’s ratification goes nowhere quickly. One interesting point raised was whether the opting in and opting out regime might give rise to generic companies making accusations of patent owners gaming the system, with all the consequences that might have as they seek to enforce their rights. Like the UPC itself, it was an issue left hanging in the air. Perhaps one day, though, we might find out whether it has some legs.

Several days ago IAM responded to misinformation from Bristows, correctly noting (in a blog comment) that the most important item is in Germany, not the UK. Joff Wild left that comment.

We remain rather overwhelmed by the silence about what happened (or did not happen) in the UK some days ago, but this is what we predicted (in advance) would happen.

Bejin Bieneman Props Up the Disgraced Randall Rader for Litigation Agenda

Sunday 18th of February 2018 08:36:40 AM

Summary: Randall Rader keeps hanging out with the litigation ‘industry’ — the very same ‘industry’ which he served in a closeted fashion when he was Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit (and vocal proponent of software patents, patent trolls and so on)

ABOUT a month ago we wrote about Bejin Bieneman planning to give a platform to the man who is responsible — via the courts system — for a lot of patent trolls and out-of-control patent scope at the USPTO. He was pretty much forced to quit after he had been caught making a mockery of the court he headed (as Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit).

“He was pretty much forced to quit after he had been caught making a mockery of the court he headed (as Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit).”The patent trolls’ lobby loves him, no matter the scandals, and this propped-up-by-IAM person is still out there, lobbying and seeking more power in institutions including the USPTO. He’s getting all cozy with patent maximalists, as always, and days ago, as expected, they tweeted about it: “For those of you who missed yesterday’s webinar, Settlement Strategies, featuring Judge Randall R. Rader, Joseph Dunn, and Thomas Bejin, here is the YouTube recording…”

“Sadly, as we noted some days ago, the “revolving doors” culture is alive and well at the USPTO and US patent courts.”So Mr. Rader is not so ‘retired’ after all, he’s just ‘hibernating’ whilst lobbying. He’s looking for ways to get back into the system, even as Director of the USPTO.

Sadly, as we noted some days ago, the “revolving doors” culture is alive and well at the USPTO and US patent courts. We already mentioned David Kappos and Paul Michel four days ago.

There are other such ‘webinars’ which push an agenda and front groups. How about this upcoming one (2 days from now): “Attend our webinar on patent portfolio monetization on Feb 20, hosted by the Knowledge Group @Know_Group, with speakers from TechInsights, @KnobbeMartens and @Oblon_IP”

“All these echo chamber-type ‘webinars’ are nothing but marketing; for Rader to participate in these says a lot about Rader.”Those are prominent elements of patent maximalism. Don’t say patent trolls however; It’s nice(r) to say “patent portfolio monetization” (like giving patent for trolls to bully one’s competitors). How about terms such as “Asserting Patent Rights” from Watchtroll (the headline from Meredith Addy 3 days ago)? They keep coming up with all sorts of terms like “efficient infringers” and “death squads” (this one is Rader’s). Addy said: “While my patent litigation practice represents both patentees and defendants, I remain concerned about developments in our patent laws that undercut protections for innovators. I continue to believe that the playing field is unfairly tipped to accused infringers.”

Why does she care? Because she profits from litigation. The more litigation, the more money she makes (no matter if she represents a plaintiff or a defendant). All these echo chamber-type ‘webinars’ are nothing but marketing; for Rader to participate in these says a lot about Rader. This is why he’s kept away from his old job. He can go hang out with patent trolls all he wants, but not while he holds a key position in a high court.

With Stambler v Mastercard, Patent Maximalists Are Hoping to Prop Up Software Patents and Damage PTAB

Saturday 17th of February 2018 05:25:25 PM

“…patents for some technical sectors have been somewhat deprecatorily called by Mark Lemley and Carl Shapiro, a “lottery ticket”,” Neil Wilkof wrote before the weekend.


Summary: The patent ‘industry’ is hoping to persuade the highest US court to weaken the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), for PTAB is making patent lawsuits a lot harder and raises the threshold for patent eligibility

THE patent maximalists in the United States want us to believe that the more patents are granted and the more lawsuits are filed, the greater the “innovation” will be (they just can’t help misusing such buzzwords*). The USPTO uses similar claims to justify never-ending expansion (e.g. number of granted patents). Suffice to say, that’s just a bubble.

Found via several patent maximalists such as this one was this new post in which Dennis Crouch (part of the patent microcosm) said: “The case relates to Stambler’s U.S. Patent No. 5,793,302 (authentication system and method). The patent has been asserted in dozens of cases and upheld in several court decisions prior to the PTAB finding it invalid.”

Oil States is an anti-PTAB case which we expect to see ruled in favour of PTAB some time later this year.”This is about Stambler v Mastercard, a case which the patent maximalists will be trying to bring to the Justices. Why? Because it’s a potentially anti-PTAB case. Groups such as the EFF will hopefully submit oppositions if possible. From the petition: “The first question is substantially similar to that presented in Oil States Energy Servs., LLC v. Greene’s Energy Grp., LLC, No. 16-712 (June 12, 2017), which has been argued and is awaiting decision by the Court. The second question is identical to that presented by the Petition for writ of certiorari in Celgard, LLC v. Matal (No. 16-1526) (question #2, petition pending).”

Oil States is an anti-PTAB case which we expect to see ruled in favour of PTAB some time later this year. We’ll say a lot more about PTAB tomorrow and on Monday. Oppositions to PTAB continue to slow down (losing momentum); the patent microcosm may have given up trying.

“…the barrier for (court) entry has been raised, which is probably bad news for lawyers but good news for everybody else.”The gold rush for low-quality patents was a bubble in the making. IAM has just published a puff piece/ad for its partner Clarivate, which measures companies in terms of patents, but what sorts of patents? Nowadays we see a lot of these patents imploding; PTAB and the courts do this. Unified Patents said in its Web site yesterday that it wants to educate law students on PTAB practice. Unified Patents itself extensively utilises PTAB to eliminate software patents. As they put it yesterday:

Unified Patents recently launched its 2nd public law school project to curb patent abuse against SMEs. In conjunction with University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and Brooks Kushman, Unified is working to help educate students on PTAB practice.

PTAB is, in our view, like a cleanup mechanism within the USPTO itself. “IP Edge managing director Gautham Bodepudi,” as IAM described him yesterday, suggests that “plaintiffs in US patent cases who understand the odds of victory are almost always best off settling” (not direct quote). IAM even used the word “trolls” (in relation to patent trolls):

The vast majority of patent disputes in the US settle before they end up in court. One reason for this, it is claimed, is because scared defendants are worried into making suits go away by aggressive plaintiffs (trolls) who give them a choice of settlement at one price or fighting a suit at a higher price. And, undoubtedly, there is an element of that involved.

However, there is a lot more on top. For example, looking from the plaintiff’s perspective there are also significant disincentives to take a fight all the way – especially against deep pocket corporate opponents.

According to some recent figures, about two-thirds of patent aggression bouts go unnoticed because they never reach the courts and the public might therefore not find out about them (unless a press release is issued). One way to look at it is, the aggressors are scared of the courts (or PTAB); another is, the accused/defendant is scared of litigation. Either way, the barrier for (court) entry has been raised, which is probably bad news for lawyers but good news for everybody else.
_____
* The embrace of buzzwords can also be seen here. “AI” is an old hype wave resurrected (we presume by corporate marketing people along with gullible ‘journalists’ looking for popular key terms). It’s also propped up by the patent ‘industry’ in order to paint software patents as ‘novel’ (when they’re not).

Apple Discovers That Its Patent Disputes Are a Losing Battle Which Only Lawyers Win (Profit From)

Saturday 17th of February 2018 04:40:33 PM

Related: In Apple/Samsung Patent Lawsuits Over Android/Linux, Only Patent Lawyers Are Winning (Again)

Summary: By pouring a lot of money and energy into the ‘litigation card’ Apple lost focus and it’s also losing some key cases, as its patents are simply not strong enough

THE USPTO can grant however many patents it wants, but judges are under no obligation to honour these patents. As scholars recently noted, many patents are granted erroneously in order to inflate patent numbers (this became a problem at the EPO as well in recent years).

Yesterday we stumbled upon this new report from a reliable news site which said:

A federal judge handed a minor but significant legal defeat to Apple in its long-simmering patent dispute with Samsung on Thursday evening.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh agreed with Samsung that the South Korea smartphone manufacturer owes Apple about $6.4 million, but not the ongoing royalties to which Apple claimed it was entitled.

The order only settles a sliver of the overall patent fight, parts of which have climbed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is about software patents and the award is without a shadow of a doubt exceeded by the legal bills; things become a lot more expensive when these cases reach the US Supreme Court — something which may happen for design patents [1, 2]. As explained here yesterday, “patent experts [are] concerned about legal uncertainty surrounding design patent damages” in Apple v Samsung. Matt Levy, who used to write for CCIA, shows up again:

An Apple v. Samsung–far from the first, to put it that way–will be held in three months. The Engine panel discussion was not exactly a trial preview. The perspective was very high-level, including an outlook (by Matt Levy) as to what might happen after the trial. Mr. Levy believes the Federal Circuit will again take an exceedingly patentee-friendly position, and the Supreme Court will have to correct it again.

Nobody on the panel appeared to believe that the 19th-century unapportioned-disgorgement rule in 35 U.S.C. § 289 is appropriate with respect to today’s multifaceted technology products. However, the focus of the panel wasn’t on advocating new legislation, though the subject did come up. It was more about the high degree of uncertainty surrounding not just the Apple v. Samsung re-retrial but presenting an issue to the industry at large.

[...]

Mr. Duan explained that design patent litigation isn’t nearly as widespread as software patent litigation, but depending on what happens in Apple v. Samsung and other design patent damages cases, design patents could give rise to many lawsuits by patent trolls in the not too distant future.

Without a doubt, industry groups are concerned about the lack of legal certainty. One of the questions from the audience (toward the end of the YouTube video) came from the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

As we pointed out earlier this month, SIIA supports PTAB. The above people are interested in improved patent quality.

The Patent Microcosm Takes Berkheimer v HP Out of Context to Pretend PTAB Disregards Fact-Finding Process

Saturday 17th of February 2018 03:54:30 PM


The original decision

Summary: In view or in light of a recent decision (excerpt above), patent maximalists who are afraid of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) try to paint it as inherently unjust and uncaring for facts

EARLIER this month we wrote about Berkheimer, a decision that had been distorted somewhat by the patent microcosm (as usual).

This distortion continues unfortunately (but expectedly), with sites such as Watchtroll writing about it yesterday. Dennis Crouch too panders to patent extremists with their false allegations that PTAB ignores/overlooks facts. Here is what he wrote:

Following upon its February 8 decision in Berkheimer, the Federal Circuit has again sided with the Patentee on eligibility grounds – holding here that the lower court’s judgment on the pleadings failed to consider disputed issues of material fact. Prior to this pair of cases, it was unclear whether eligibility analysis involved factual questions. Although pair of cases indicate a precedential sea-change, both opinions were written by Judge Moore and joined by Judge Taranto (Berkheimer was also joined by Judge Stoll).

Like we said before, this isn’t necessarily about Section 101 and it does not imply what many patent extremists are trying to insinuate. Managing IP framed it as a Section 101 ‘thing’ and also called it a “blockbuster” (in the headline even). It’s only a blockbuster for those who want it to be. There was nothing fascinating about it. To quote the outline:

“Whether something is well-understood, routine, and conventional to a skilled artisan at the time of the patent is a factual determination,” writes Judge Moore. Observers have taken this as a sign of the pendulum swinging back towards patent owners on Section 101

“Observers”?

They mean the patent microcosm. Then again, consider whose megaphone sites like Watchtroll, Patently-O and Managing IP really are. We might need to do some more debunkings in the future when Berkheimer is brought up. We’ll give some examples of that tomorrow and on Monday as it has become somewhat of a theme/pattern.

Microsoft Has Left RPX, But RPX Now Pays a Microsoft Patent Troll, Intellectual Ventures

Saturday 17th of February 2018 02:48:54 PM

Summary: The patent/litigation arms race keeps getting a little more complicated, as the ‘arms’ are being passed around to new and old entities that do nothing but shake-downs

LAST month we wrote about RPX, which might soon be bought by trolls, paying extraordinary amounts of money to patent trolls, such as Acacia (Microsoft-connected troll).

“It bought a lot of patents from Intellectual Ventures, which is more or less a Microsoft proxy.”As it turns out, based on this blog post from yesterday, RPX also buys USPTO patents from Microsoft patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures. To quote:

RPX has acquired a tranche of patent assets from the Intellectual Ventures Invention Science Fund in what is the first such deal between the firms. So far two sets of rights have shown up on the USPTO assignment database — one for 35 granted patents and applications and another for 22 — and a spokesperson for RPX confirmed that 66 assets had changed hands in total.

[...]

RPX has done plenty of deals with NPEs such as Acacia and WiLAN in the past, but hasn’t bought any assets from IV. The pair did work together on the $525 million acquisition of the Kodak portfolio in 2012 which saw IV and a group of 12 licensees including Apple, Google and Samsung stump up much of the cash for the deal. Most of those patents are now held by Dominion Harbor and as more former IV assets end up in the courts we may see more acquisitions by RPX as it looks to mitigate patent risk for its clients.

Dominion Harbor is another troll to keep an eye on. It bought a lot of patents from Intellectual Ventures, which is more or less a Microsoft proxy. It’s like an arms trade.

UPC Has Done Nothing for Europe Except Destruction of the EPO and Imminent Layoffs Due to Lack of Applications and Lowered Value of European Patents

Saturday 17th of February 2018 02:14:40 PM

Lots of fake news lately from those who stand to benefit from UPC (at the expense of everybody else)

Summary: The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is merely a distant dream or a fantasy for litigators; to everyone else the UPC lobby has done nothing but damage, including potentially irreparable damage to the European Patent Office, which is declining very sharply

THE UPC is not going anywhere; except away. Maybe. The EPO barely mentions it any longer and Team UPC seems to have been reduced to just Bristows (almost nobody else mentions it anymore). Just before the weekend Mathieu Klos from JUVE wrote: “UPC challenge Germany I: According to constitutional court spokesman: as yet no date for oral hearing or judgement. If there were an oral hearing, press release to be published in advance. Next Wednesday (21.02.) the Court publishes list of cases it intends to decide in 2018.”

“No word about the UPC from Team UPC for at least two days now, so we can safely assume that the UK has — once again — said no to “unitary” nonsense (patent maximalism disguised as “unity”, “EU”, “harmony”, “community” and so on).”And later on this: “UPC challenge Germany II: According to constitutional court spokesman: Court received all amicus briefs, no further institution got deadline extension. All paperwork is done, now judges can read and decide.”

No word about the UPC from Team UPC for at least two days now, so we can safely assume that the UK has — once again — said no to “unitary” nonsense (patent maximalism disguised as “unity”, “EU”, “harmony”, “community” and so on). Waste of effort is all it boils down to; they should improve actual patent quality, but there’s no money in it for lawyers. In fact, it would render many of them redundant.

“Was the gamble on UPC (massive headache for European companies but boon to litigators worldwide) worth it?”And speaking of redundancies, it’s regretful and uncomfortable to say, but a lot of EPO workers can already envision themselves losing their jobs. See some of the latest comments here.

One reader of ours told us that the “EPO plans addition of Art 53(1)(f) in Service regulations: staff can be dismissed if the exigencies of the service require an abolition of a post or a reduction of staff. To be debated during next session of AC.”

Yes, well, that’s hardly a surprise. A Portuguese friend explained to me earlier today all sorts of things about the former employer (bank) of the upcoming President of the EPO. It seems as though we’ll have lots to say in July when layoffs become a big item on the agenda. Here’s one new comment that stands out (it’s about how backlog runs out, rendering many examiners redundant and many dubious applications enshrined as patents):

The reduction in training time has become a usual fashion since the full deployment of BEST around 2005, as BEST was allegedly increasing productivity/production by 30%, the training time for search and examination was reduced by 50%.

15% time gain for search and 15% time gain for examination makes 30% time gain in total! Yes this is the level at which such a decision was taken. The real gain in production given by BEST was much lower, but in order for the pill to pass the AC, the figure had to be enlightened. But still the training time was reduced by 50%.

It is not a joke. And this was long before the Office had to endure the present tenant of the 10th floor! He simply aggravated the situation, but was helped in this endeavour by the former VP1 Minnoye.

New examiners receive an initial training as how to churn out as many communications as possible in the first year. When the replies arrive, training has already been reduced drastically, and they are left on their own…

Training time is time in which neither the trainee nor the trainer produce. Training people is considered as an extra task not belonging to the core tasks. Core tasks have absolute priority. Language training might be given, but outside the working time, whether such training is considered necessary or not.

Training, especially when it comes for highly educated people like examiners, needs to be carefully conceived. While in the past it was within DG1/DG2 i.e. in direct contact with the people at the “coal front”, it is nowadays under HR, with the famous E.B! It is thus not at all surprising that training has developed in the way shown above.

Furthermore, in order to increase the output, not all examiners will deal with oppositions. On the face of it, it might look positive and more efficient. But not only does it create two classes of examiners, whereby those not dealing with oppositions will not have a chance to go to DG3 should they wish to do so, but it takes away from the “basic” examiner that what he is dealing with is not a mere piece of paper for which he gets points, but represents an asset which has either to be defended or pushed out of the way.

It is by dealing with oppositions that examiners realise that their work is not just playing with words (original Minnoye), but represents an economic value. To me, dealing with oppositions is part of the necessary general culture needed by an examiner in order to fully comprehend his job, and not just an adjustable variable useful in getting more production out.

That some directors instruct their people not to adapt the description is not a surprise. Just a waste of time. That afterwards in litigation before a national court, the proprietor can then try to pull wool over the eyes of a judge is a nice side effect. But one day those people will also sit on the other side.

Some directors go even as far as to say that it is not even necessary to read the description, just look at the claims and at the drawings if any. Even a long time ago, oral instructions were given that if the first examiner decides to grant, the two other members of the division had to shut up.

And with all those measures examiners are meant to be respected and feel happy at work. It makes me want to puke.

See some later comments in there about the USPTO compared to the EPO. The EPO is losing its advantage and it’s the USPTO that now enjoys a rise in applications (they’re on the decline in the EPO). The emerging theme right now is how easily the EPO will soon fire employees (traditionally it was very difficult, which meant work security). What will the ‘Campinos era’ bring? Based on what we’re told, he’s hardly any better than Battistelli; some people are a lot more negative about him than we are.

What will the ‘Campinos era’ mean for patent quality? More lies about quality? Watermark’s Christian Schieber has just written about ‘anti-PACE’ — basically a belated response to rushed examination that many applicats did not want at all. As Schieber put it:

The European Patent Office (EPO), following public consultation, intends introducing a new procedural option enabling applicants of European Patent (EP) applications to request postponement of the start of substantive examination, by up to 3 years.

Currently, applicants can speed up the grant procedure of an EP application, using the Programme for Accelerated Examination of European patent applications (PACE) or other mechanisms. However, no mechanism is currently available to defer commencement of examination. For EP applications filed directly with the EPO, examination has to be requested no later than 6 months from publication of the European search report. For EP applications originating in International (PCT) applications, examination is requested at the time of regional phase entry, ie latest by 31 months from the priority date of the PCT application.

So they can delay it by “up to 3 years” (i.e. until 2021). Will there even be an EPO as we know it in 3 years? SUEPO believes that mass layoffs can begin as early as this year.

The Lawyer’s Daily, a site whose name is self-explanatory, says that CIPO (Canada) assumes EPO will last another 3 years, never mind if there are many layoffs coming soon. To quote yesterday’s article:

As of January, the Patent Prosecution Highway pilot agreement between the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) has been extended for another three years.

According to a statement from CIPO, the Patent Prosecution Highway allows applicants at the CIPO and EPO to obtain corresponding patents quickly and efficiently. It also enables the two patent offices to benefit from work previously done by each other, which reduces examination workload and improves patent quality.

The above is not actually news. Not really (we mentioned it before). What’s news is all sorts of worthless deals Battistelli signs in countries like Cambodia (with zero European Patents) or distant nations like Argentina with only dozens of European Patents.

We worry that Europe is losing its competitiveness in terms of patents (which we’re not inherently against). How could anyone envision/consider the attacks on the EPC and the EPO as a good thing? Was the gamble on UPC (massive headache for European companies but boon to litigators worldwide) worth it?

Links 17/2/2018: Mesa 17.3.4, Wine 3.2, Go 1.10

Saturday 17th of February 2018 08:34:59 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Better Know a Blogger: SJVN on Linux, Microsoft, space roadsters, and more

    I have known Steven for more than a decade. Not only is he a top technology journalist and a consummate professional, he is a role model of mine.

    Steven, well known by his initials SJVN, stands out — not just because he’s a good journalist. He stands out because he’s a great explainer. When I want to understand a networking, operating systems, or Linux-related topic, I often turn to Steven or his articles.

  • Desktop
    • Samsung Launch ‘Linux on Galaxy’ Survey

      Samsung has launched a survey to find out what users want and expect from the Linux on Galaxy idea.

      The ‘Linux on Galaxy’ project allows a regular desktop Linux distro to run on select Samsung smartphones by sharing the same Linux kernel used in Android.

      Users can then connect their smartphone to a Samsung DeX dock to convert their Samsung smartphone in to a normal desktop PC with an external monitor, bluetooth keyboard, mouse and so on.

    • Open Source Blockchain Computer Theano

      TigoCTM CEO Cindy Zimmerman says “we are excited to begin manufacturing our secure, private and open source desktops at our factory in the Panama Pacifico special economic zone. This is the first step towards a full line of secure, blockchain-powered hardware including desktops, servers, laptops, tablets, teller machines, and smartphones.”

      [...]

      Every component of each TigoCTM device is exhaustively researched and selected for its security profile based especially on open source hardware, firmware, and software. In addition, devices will run the GuldOS operating system, and open source applications like the Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dash blockchains. This fully auditable stack is ideal for use in enterprise signing environments such as banks and investment funds.

  • Server
    • Enterprises identify 10 essential tools for DevOps [Ed: "Source code repository" and other old things co-opted to promote the stupid buzzword "devops"]

      Products branded with DevOps are everywhere, and the list of options grows every day, but the best DevOps tools are already well-known among enterprise IT pros.

    • The 4 Major Tenets of Kubernetes Security

      We look at security from the perspective of containers, Kubernetes deployment itself and network security. Such a holistic approach is needed to ensure that containers are deployed securely and that the attack surface is minimized. The best practices that arise from each of the above tenets apply to any Kubernetes deployment, whether you’re self-hosting a cluster or employing a managed service.

      We should note that there are related security controls outside of Kubernetes, such as the Secure Software Development Life Cycle (S-SDLC) or security monitoring, that can help reduce the likelihood of attacks and increase the defense posture. We strongly urge you to consider security across the entire application lifecycle rather than take a narrow focus on the deployment of containers with Kubernetes. However, for the sake of brevity, in this series, we will only cover security controls within the immediate Kubernetes environment.

    • GPUs on Google’s Kubernetes Engine are now available in open beta

      The Google Kubernetes Engine (previously known as the Google Container Engine and GKE) now allows all developers to attach Nvidia GPUs to their containers.

      GPUs on GKE (an acronym Google used to be quite fond of, but seems to be deemphasizing now) have been available in closed alpha for more than half a year. Now, however, this service is in beta and open to all developers who want to run machine learning applications or other workloads that could benefit from a GPU. As Google notes, the service offers access to both the Tesla P100 and K80 GPUs that are currently available on the Google Cloud Platform.

  • Kernel Space
    • The knitting printer and more art with open source

      For several years, linux.conf.au, a week-long conference (held this year from January 22-26), has held “miniconfs” offering space for tech community niche groups to share their inventions and ideas. In 2018, 12 miniconfs were held on the first two days of the conference, and the Art + Tech miniconf took the concept to the next level with an entire day of 11 talks about making art with tech, as well as an art exhibition head during the conference. This miniconf was organized by blue ribbon award-winning knitter Kris Howard.

      Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article contain mature content. As Kathy Reid, Linux Australia president, said: “Significant art is often contentious, because it challenges who we are and the notions we hold of ourselves. Our job here is to allow that art to be shown, while creating a safe environment for those who do—and do not—wish to view it.”

    • Linux Weather Forecast

      This page is an attempt to track ongoing developments in the Linux development community that have a good chance of appearing in a mainline kernel and/or major distributions sometime in the near future. Your “chief meteorologist” is Jonathan Corbet, Executive Editor at LWN.net. If you have suggestions on improving the forecast (and particularly if you have a project or patchset that you think should be tracked), please add your comments below.

    • diff -u: Automated Bug Reporting

      A variety of automated bug-hunters are roaming around reporting bugs. One of them is Syzbot, an open-source tool specifically designed to find bugs in Linux and report them. Dmitry Vyukov recently sent in a hand-crafted email asking for help from the community to make Syzbot even more effective.

      The main problems were how to track bugs after Syzbot had reported them and how to tell when a patch went into the kernel to address a given bug.

      It turned out that Andrey Ryabinin and Linus Torvalds got together to collaborate on an easy solution for Dmitry’s problem: Syzbot should include a unique identifier in its own email address. The idea is that anything after a “+” in an email address is completely ignored. So zbrown@gmail.com is exactly the same as zbrown+stoptrump@gmail.com. Andrey and Linus suggested that Syzbot use this technique to include a hash value associated with each bug report. Then, Linux developers would include that email address in the “Reported-By” portion of their patch submissions as part of the normal developer process.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Xen Project Contributor Spotlight: Kevin Tian

        The Xen Project is comprised of a diverse set of member companies and contributors that are committed to the growth and success of the Xen Project Hypervisor. The Xen Project Hypervisor is a staple technology for server and cloud vendors, and is gaining traction in the embedded, security and automotive space. This blog series highlights the companies contributing to the changes and growth being made to the Xen Project and how the Xen Project technology bolsters their business.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Mir 0.30 Released With Improved Wayland Support

        Canonical’s Mir team has released Mir v0.30 as the latest version of this display server that for the past year has been retooling itself with Wayland protocol support.

        With today’s Mir 0.30 release, they have continued on their Wayland conquest and are offering better support for Wayland protocols. Some of the Wayland changes in Mir 0.30 include a client connection change to allow Wayland clients to work on Unity 8, a keyboard state change to fix switching between clients, multiple crash fixes, and experimental support for the XDG-Shell v6 protocol.

      • NVIDIA Preparing Upstream Linux Kernel Support For The Tegra Xavier SoC

        NVIDIA has begun work on sending out patches for upstreaming Tegra194 “Xavier” SoC support within the Linux kernel.

        Xavier is NVIDIA’s successor to the Tegra P1 and will begin sampling this quarter. Xavier makes use of a custom ARMv8 eight-core CPU, Volta-based graphics with 512 CUDA cores, integration of the DLA tensor processing unit, and is manufactured on a 12nm FinFET process. Xavier should be a mighty powerful SoC for their self-driving car systems and other “edge computing” use-cases.

      • AMD May Have Accidentally Outed Vulkan 1.1

        AMD on Wednesday released the Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Edition 18.Q1 for Linux driver. It really isn’t noticeable for its official changes, but does claim to advertise Vulkan 1.1 support.

      • mesa 17.3.4

        Mesa 17.3.4 is now available.

      • Mesa 17.3.4 Released With 90+ Changes

        While Mesa 18.0 should be released in the days ahead as the latest feature release to Mesa 3D, backporting of fixes/improvements to Mesa 17.3 isn’t letting up. For those using this stable series from last quarter, Mesa 17.3.4 is out today with nearly 100 changes.

      • Khronos Adds Draco Geometry Compression To glTF 2.0

        Khronos’ glTF transmission format for 3D scenes and models continues getting better. This 3D format has seen adoption by countless applications and engines and even usage within Microsoft products. Khronos’ latest advancement to glTF 2.0 is a compression extension.

      • Intel Open-Sources LLVM Graphics Compiler, Compute Runtime With OpenCL 2.1+

        Now it’s clear why Intel hasn’t been working on the Beignet code-base in months as they have been quietly working on a new and better OpenCL stack and run-time! On open-source Intel OpenCL you can now have OpenCL 2.1 while OpenCL 2.2 support is on the way.

        Intel by way of their Open-Source Technology Center quietly open-sourced a new compute runtime as well as an LLVM-based graphics compiler. Thanks to a sharp-eyed Phoronix reader for spotting and pointing out to us this new Intel OpenCL stack that hasn’t really received any attention at all yet.

      • DRI3 v1.1 Updated by Collabora For Modifiers & Multi-Plane Support

        As a sign that DRI3 v1.1 is hopefully ready to go, Louis-Francis Ratté-Boulianne of Collabora on Friday sent out his latest set of patches adding modifiers and multi-plane support to the Direct Rendering Infrastructure.

        DRI3 v1.1 has been a long, ongoing project for this first major addition to the DRI3 infrastructure. Namely there is support for explicit format modifiers and pixmaps backed by multi-planar buffers. Collabora has also already been working on some experimental DRI3 v1.2 patches for DMA fences, which originally was part of the v1.1 patches, but then pushed back to their own series.

      • Initial Intel Icelake Support Lands In Mesa OpenGL Driver, Vulkan Support Started

        A few days back I reported on Intel Icelake patches for the i965 Mesa driver in bringing up the OpenGL support now that several kernel patch series have been published for enabling these “Gen 11″ graphics within the Direct Rendering Manager driver. This Icelake support has been quick to materialize even with Cannonlake hardware not yet being available.

      • LunarG’s Vulkan Layer Factory Aims To Make Writing Vulkan Layers Easier

        Introduced as part of LunarG’s recent Vulkan SDK update is the VLF, the Vulkan Layer Factory.

        The Vulkan Layer Factory aims to creating Vulkan layers easier by taking care of a lot of the boilerplate code for dealing with the initialization, etc. This framework also provides for “interceptor objects” for overriding functions pre/post API calls for Vulkan entry points of interest.

    • Benchmarks
      • AMD Raven Ridge Graphics On Linux vs. Lower-End NVIDIA / AMD GPUs

        This week we have delivered the first Linux benchmarks of the OpenGL/Vulkan graphics capabilities of AMD’s new Raven Ridge desktop APUs with the Vega 8 on the Ryzen 3 2200G an the Vega 11 on Ryzen 5 2400G. Those tests have included comparisons to the integrated graphics capabilities of Intel processors as well as older AMD Kaveri APUs. For those interested in seeing how the Raven Ridge Vega graphics compare to lower-end Radeon and GeForce discrete graphics cards, here are those first Linux benchmarks.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Plasma and Solus 4 Updates | The Roundup #4

        Welcome to The Roundup #4, your bytes of Solus news. In this roundup, we’re talking updates to Kernels, Plasma, various items for Solus 4, and more!

      • Solus 4 To Offer Experimental GNOME Wayland Session, MATE UI Refresh

        The Solus Linux distribution has offered up some new details this week on their upcoming Solus 4 release.

        First up, their integration of Snap package management (snapd) has been deferred so it’s no longer a release blocker. They will land the Snap support though still in the future when it’s ready.

      • KDE Amarok Music Player Receives Revived Port To Qt5 / KF5

        While Amarok was once KDE’s dominant music player, it hasn’t seen a new release now in about five years and has yet to see a release based on Qt5 and KDE Frameworks 5. But there’s hope that might still happen.

        In the absence of a modern Amarok release there have been plenty of other KDE media players coming about like Elisa and Babe, but coming out today is an updated patch for bringing Amarok to a Qt5/KF5 world.

      • Plasma – The road to perfection is paved with bugs

        There you go. Now, before you say “But Windows or Gnome also …” Wait. Stop. The purpose of this list is not to seek solace in failures or incomplete/imperfect implementations of desktop environment solutions that may exist out there. The purpose is to express my view, as an individual user, of the big and little things that do not seem to work well in Plasma. After all, the desktop is there to allow people to enjoy themselves, to have fun, to be productive, and whatnot. And every little papercut or inconsistency is detrimental to the experience.

        It would be a nice exercise to actually do the same thing with … other desktop environments. I believe that Plasma probably has the fewest issues, as odd as it may sound after you’ve just consumed this long j’accuse list. But it is still not perfect, it’s still not good enough to everyday use, and there are many things that need to be improved. Then again, no one said creating a splendid desktop environment was going to be easy or boring, right. Take care, and perhaps in your comments, you will come up with a few more niggles that I missed. Let’s hear your thoughts. Spill them out.

      • Plasma 5 perfection: call for development

        Igor Ljubuncic of Dedoimedo is at it again, and has just published a list of high-profile KDE Plasma bugs and papercuts. As a Plasma fan, his intention is to call attention rather than criticize, and I’ve put together a response for every issue he raised. For the full list, scroll down.

      • SFXR Qt noise buffer

        I was working on adding sounds to Pixel Wheels rescue helicopter, so I started SFXR Qt and after a few experiments I came up with a decent sound. Unfortunately it did not sound that good in the game. It was much more dull than in the app. Listening again to the sound in SFXR Qt I realized there were subtle variations between each plays, which made the sound more interesting.

      • Qt in Visual Studio: Improving Performance

        In the last post, we discussed a new approach to design time and build time integration of external tools in Visual Studio using MSBuild rules and targets. This will be included in the upcoming release of version 2.2 of the Qt VS Tools. In this post, we will discuss the performance improvements that are also included in this new version.

      • Cutelyst on TechEmpower benchmarks round 15

        Since this round took a long time and was scheduled to be release many times last year I decided not to update Cutelyst to avoid not having the chance to fix any issues and have broken results. Cutelyst 1.9.0 and Qt 5.9 were used, both had some performance improvements compared to round 14, and thus you can see better results on this round compared to 14, most notably the JSON tests went from 480K request/second to 611K req/s, also due this old Cutelyst release jemalloc was again not used due a bug we had in CMake files that didn’t link against it.

      • Usability & Productivity highlight: Spectacle

        Over the past few weeks, we’ve done a lot of Usability & Productivity work for Spectacle, KDE’s screenshot tool. I’d like to share the progress! But first, a screenshot. Here’s how spectacle looks now:

      • This week in Discover (and Kirigami!), part 6

        This is going to be a double-header: today we’re discussing Discover as well as Kirigami–KDE’s UI framework that facilitates writing convergent apps that look and feel good on both the desktop and a mobile device.

        …At least that’s the idea. The truth is, KDE users have voiced a lot of criticism for how well this works out in practice. An especially common complaint is that the desktop user experience gets short shrift, and Kirigami apps feel like big phone apps.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Weekend Website Experiment

        As you may know if you read this blog via Planet GNOME, the GNOME project is busy switching to GitLab for its code hosting and bug tracking. I like GitLab! It’s a large step up from Bugzilla, which was what GNOME used for the last 20 years. Compared to GitHub, GitLab is about equal, with a few nicer things and a few less nice things.

        The one thing that I miss from Bugzilla is a dashboard showing the overall status of the bugs for your project. I thought it would not be too hard to use the GitLab API to do some simple queries and plop them on a web page. So, last weekend I gave it a try. The final result is here. Click the button to log into GitLab, and you’ll be redirected back to the page where you’ll get the results of the queries.

      • LVFS will block old versions of fwupd for some firmware

        Although fwupd 0.8.0 was released over a year ago it seems people are still downloading firmware with older fwupd versions. 98% of the downloads from the LVFS are initiated from gnome-software, and 2% of people using the fwupdmgr command line or downloading the .cab file from the LVFS using a browser manually.

      • SRT in GStreamer

        Transmitting low delay, high quality video over the Internet is hard. The trade-off is normally between video quality and transmission delay (or latency). Internet video has up to now been segregated into two segments: video streaming and video calls. On the first side, streaming video has taken over the world of the video distribution using segmented streaming technologies such as HLS and DASH, allowing services like Netflix to flourish. On the second side, you have VoIP systems, which are generally targeted a relatively low bitrate using low latency technologies such as RTP and WebRTC, and they don’t result in a broadcast grade result. SRT bridges that gap by allowing the transfer of broadcast grade video at low latencies.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • MX Linux Review of MX-17 – For The Record

        MX Linux Review of MX-17. MX-17 is a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS Linux communities. It’s XFCE based, lightning fast, comes with both 32 and 64-bit CPU support…and the tools. Oh man, the tools available in this distro are both reminders of Mepis past and current tech found in modern distros.

    • New Releases
      • Q4OS Makes Linux Easy for Everyone

        Modern Linux distributions tend to target a variety of users. Some claim to offer a flavor of the open source platform that anyone can use. And, I’ve seen some such claims succeed with aplomb, while others fall flat. Q4OS is one of those odd distributions that doesn’t bother to make such a claim but pulls off the feat anyway.

        So, who is the primary market for Q4OS? According to its website, the distribution is a:

        “fast and powerful operating system based on the latest technologies while offering highly productive desktop environment. We focus on security, reliability, long-term stability and conservative integration of verified new features. System is distinguished by speed and very low hardware requirements, runs great on brand new machines as well as legacy computers. It is also very applicable for virtualization and cloud computing.”

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu wants to slurp PCs’ vital statistics – even location – with new desktop installs

            “We want to be able to focus our engineering efforts on the things that matter most to our users, and in order to do that we need to get some more data about sort of setups our users have and which software they are running on it,” explained Will Cooke, the director of Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical.

            To gather that information Cooke proposed adding a checkbox to the Ubuntu installer that says something like “Send diagnostics information to help improve Ubuntu”. “This would be checked by default” Cooke wrote.

          • Ubuntu Gets in the User Data Collection Business

            Canonical announced plans to roll out a user data and diagnostics collection system with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver). This new system will collect data on the user’s OS details, hardware setup, apps and OS settings.

            “We want to be able to focus our engineering efforts on the things that matter most to our users, and in order to do that we need to get some more data about sort of setups our users have and which software they are running on it,” said Will Cooke, Director of Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical.

          • Ubuntu Adds New “Minimal Installation” Option For Fewer Preinstalled Packages

            The development of the next Ubuntu LTS release, i.e., Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver, is going on in full swing. The desktop development team has decided to add a new option in the installation process that allows you to perform a lean installation of Ubuntu.

          • Unity 7.4.5 Released for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

            The Unity 7.4.5 update isn’t big on new features but it is big on bug fixes and general all-round improvements.

          • Snapcraft through the eyes of it’s biggest community contributor

            If you’ve spent any time in the Snapcraft forum, it’s quite likely you’ve come across Dan Llewellyn – a keen community advocate or self-proclaimed Snapcrafter. Dan has always had a passion for computing and is completely self-taught. Outside of the community, Dan is a freelance WordPress developer. After getting into the open source world around 1998, he has switched between various Linux distros including Suse, RedHat, Gentoo before settling on Ubuntu from the 5.04 release onwards. A longtime participant in the UK Ubuntu chatroom – where he met Canonical’s Alan Pope – Dan admits he was never that active before Snapcraft came along.

            It was spending time in the UK chatroom around 2016 that he discovered snaps which piqued his interest. “I saw the movement of changing Clicks to snaps and thought it was an interesting idea. It’s more widely focused than a mobile app delivery system and I’ve always liked things that also worked on the server, IoT and elsewhere” Dan comments. With a previous desire to get into mobile app development and seeing the move away from Ubuntu Touch, Dan was eager to see Snapcraft succeed and felt like it was something he could contribute to.

          • Canonical wants Ubuntu to collect your personal data

            This has gone down like a bucket of cold sick with Linux users. After all, this is the sort of thing that Microsoft does and is precisely the sort of thing that they hate about Windows 10.

          • 10 Amazing Years of Ubuntu and Canonical

            10 years ago today, I joined Canonical, on the very earliest version of the Ubuntu Server Team!

            And in the decade since, I’ve had the tremendous privilege to work with so many amazing people, and the opportunity to contribute so much open source software to the Ubuntu ecosystem.

          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • 5 Open Source Technology Trends for 2018

    Technology is evolving faster than the speed of light. Well, not quite, but you get the picture. Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, OpenStack, progressive web apps – they are all set to make an impact this year. You might be accustomed to navigating your forex trading platform or building a website in WordPress, but how familiar are you with the following?

  • Logstash 6.2.0 Release Improves Open Source Data Processing Pipeline

    The “L” in the ELK stack gets updated with new features including advanced security capabilities.

    Many modern enterprises have adopted the ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana) stack to collect, process, search and visualize data.

    At the core of the ELK stack is the open-source Logstash project which defines itself as a server-side data processing pipeline – basically it helps to collect logs and then send them to a users’ “stash” for searching, which in many cases is Elasticsearch.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • The False Teeth of Chrome’s Ad Filter.

        Today Google launched a new version of its Chrome browser with what they call an “ad filter”—which means that it sometimes blocks ads but is not an “ad blocker.” EFF welcomes the elimination of the worst ad formats. But Google’s approach here is a band-aid response to the crisis of trust in advertising that leaves massive user privacy issues unaddressed.

        Last year, a new industry organization, the Coalition for Better Ads, published user research investigating ad formats responsible for “bad ad experiences.” The Coalition examined 55 ad formats, of which 12 were deemed unacceptable. These included various full page takeovers (prestitial, postitial, rollover), autoplay videos with sound, pop-ups of all types, and ad density of more than 35% on mobile. Google is supposed to check sites for the forbidden formats and give offenders 30 days to reform or have all their ads blocked in Chrome. Censured sites can purge the offending ads and request reexamination.

        [...]

        Some commentators have interpreted ad blocking as the “biggest boycott in history” against the abusive and intrusive nature of online advertising. Now the Coalition aims to slow the adoption of blockers by enacting minimal reforms. Pagefair, an adtech company that monitors adblocker use, estimates 600 million active users of blockers. Some see no ads at all, but most users of the two largest blockers, AdBlock and Adblock Plus, see ads “whitelisted” under the Acceptable Ads program. These companies leverage their position as gatekeepers to the user’s eyeballs, obliging Google to buy back access to the “blocked” part of their user base through payments under Acceptable Ads. This is expensive (a German newspaper claims a figure as high as 25 million euros) and is viewed with disapproval by many advertisers and publishers.

    • Mozilla
      • Going Home
      • David Humphrey: Edge Cases
      • Experiments in productivity: the shared bug queue

        Over the next six months, Mozilla is planning to switch code review tools from mozreview/splinter to phabricator. Phabricator has more modern built-in tools like Herald that would have made setting up this shared queue a little easier, and that’s why I paused…briefly

      • Improving the web with small, composable tools

        Firefox Screenshots is the first Test Pilot experiment to graduate into Firefox, and it’s been surprisingly successful. You won’t see many people talking about it: it does what you expect, and it doesn’t cover new ground. Mozilla should do more of this.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0.1 Available To Install In Ubuntu/Linux Mint

      LibreOffice is the power-packed free, libre and open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer: the word processor, Calc: the spreadsheet application, Impress: the presentation engine, Draw: our drawing and flowcharting application, Base: our database and database frontend, and Math: for editing mathematics.

    • LibreOffice 6.0 scored close to 1 million downloads in just 14 days

      The LibreOffice 6.0 release at the end of January was met by enthusiasm from tech bloggers and open-source enthusiasts alike.

      And that enthusiasm translated into some very healthy download numbers.

    • HiFive, LibreOffice, Meltdown and Spectre and more

      We would like to congratulate the hard working folks behind the LibreOffice 6.0 application suite. Officially released on January 31, the site has counted almost 1 million downloads. An amazing accomplishment.

  • CMS
    • Alfresco Software acquired by Private Equity Firm

      Enterprise apps company taken private in a deal that won’t see a change in corporate direction.

      Alfresco has been developing its suite of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM) technology since the company was founded back in June of 2005.

      On Feb. 8, Alfresco announced that it was being acquired by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL). Financial terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Public Services/Government
    • Defense Department (Re)Launches Open Source Software Portal

      The Defense Department launched the Code.mil website on Tuesday, a new, streamlined portal for its similarly named Code.mil initiative, a collaborative approach to meeting the government’s open source policy.

      The new website was designed to give a more straightforward user experience. The site features a suite of new tools, including checklists that links to offer guidance, and represents “an evolution of the Code.mil project,” according to Ari Chivukula, policy wrangler for the Defense Digital Service.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • How to make sense of the Apache 2 patent license

      In essence, when a software developer contributes code to a project (i.e., the Work under the license), he or she becomes a Contributor. Under the above term, Contributors are granting permission to use any of their patents that may read on their contribution. This provides peace of mind to users since the Contributor would likely be prevented from pursuing patent royalties from any users of the software covering that contribution to the project.

      Complexities arise when the software developer contributes code that is not claimed by any of the Contributor’s patents by itself, but only when combined with the Apache 2.0 licensed open source program to which the contribution was made (i.e., the Work under the license). Thus, the Contributor owning such a patent could pursue patent royalties against a user of that revised Work. The authors of the Apache 2.0 license were forward thinking and account for this scenario. Section 3 states that the license applies to “patent claims licensable by such Contributor that are necessarily infringed… by a combination of their Contribution(s) with the Work to which such Contributions was submitted.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • Go 1.10 is released

      Happy Friday, happy weekend! Today the Go team is happy to announce the release of Go 1.10. You can get it from the download page.

      See the Go 1.10 release notes for all the details.

    • Golang 1.10 Offers Many Smaller Changes, Restores NetBSD Support

      Not only is there a new Rust release this week but the Google developers have put out the Go 1.10 update.

      Go 1.10 ships with many minor feature additions and improvements with no big overhauls. Among the changes with Go 1.10 are automatic caching of build and test results, many other go tooling improvements, minor enhancements to the Gofmt formatting utility, and compiler toolchain updates.

    • PHP version 7.1.15RC1 and 7.2.3RC1
  • Standards/Consortia
    • Waddawewant? Free video codecs! When do we… oh, look, the last MPEG-2 patent expired!

      It’s almost of historical interest only, but everywhere except the Philippines and Malaysia, the last MPEG-2 video encoder/decoder patents have expired.

      As *nixcraft noted, what it means is that there will never again be the risk of an MPEG-2 decoder being bombed in the libre operating system world.

      The company that had the patents wrapped up for licensing, MPEG LA, told the world the last US patent expired on 13 February here .

    • Race on to bring AV1 open source codec to market, as code freezes

      The long-heralded open source AV1 codec is now set for development of commercial product, with the code complete and ready to be frozen over the next few weeks. This has been confirmed by contributors to the standard such as Austrian transcoding software developer Bitmovin, which hopes to be among the first to bring out a product. That will happen once members of the Alliance for Open Media (AOM) that developed the codec sign off its performance.

Leftovers
  • How A Single Character “Text Bomb” Can Crash Your iPhone And Mac

    The most recent bug in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra allows one to send a specific character to crash the devices. Spotted by Italian publication Mobile World, this bug can crash iPhones and block your access to popular applications like WhatsApp, Gmail, Outlook, Messenger, etc.

  • Kudos To The Crock-Pot People For Handling The Online Fallout From ‘This Is Us’ So Well

    Corporate Twitter accounts typically range from the blandly uninspired to exhibiting unfortunate behavior. While you can occasionally get some good content out of these handles, they are far too often just…meh.

    And, yet, let’s see how the Crock-Pot brand of slow-cookers responded to a genuine freak-out on the internet that occurred after a recent episode of This Is Us. For those of you who watch the show, here’s your insipid little spoiler alert. A main character on the show died in a recent episode when a slow cooker malfunctioned and burned the house down. Cool. Well, apparently that’s when many viewers took to Twitter to announce that they were going to get these death machines out of their houses ASAP, with many mentioning Crock-Pots by name, even though there was no branding on the murderous slow-cooker in the show.

  • Apple’s Excellence in Design Leads to Employees Smacking Into Glass Walls

    And according to a new report from Bloomberg, the glass is so flawless and unobtrusive that employees keep walking into it.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Gilead Wins Sovaldi Domain Dispute Over Buyers’ Club Generic Sellers

      Pharmaceutical company Gilead has made headlines in recent years for offering an effective hepatitis C drug that has helped many patients. And for the fact that it came with an eye-popping price tag. Perhaps in a sign of the times, Gilead this month won an open-and-shut case against a squatter on the domain name “sovaldi.eu,” that was offering lower-priced generic versions of Sovaldi, including through links to “buyers’ clubs” organised to obtain medicines more affordably. The website was called, “SOVALDI. The life-saving cure for Hepatitis C which nobody can afford.” Was it a little act of rebellion, or just another internet opportunist?

    • WHO Finalises High-Profile Commission On Non-Communicable Diseases

      The World Health Organization today announced a new high-level commission of heads of state, ministers and other leaders in health and development to come up with “bold and innovative solutions” against non-communicable diseases such as heart and respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes. The chairs of the commission include the presidents of Uruguay, Sri Lanka, and Finland, the Russian health minister, and a former minister of Pakistan who was a candidate for director general of the WHO. They are joined by nearly two dozen others, including corporate public figures Michael Bloomberg and Jack Ma.

    • We’re Challenging Ohio Lawmakers’ Thinly Veiled Attempt to Push Abortion Out of Reach

      The Ohio law pretends to protect people with disabilities, but it’s really an attack on a woman’s reproductive rights.

      Ohio politicians have launched yet another attack on women’s health and reproductive rights, and to make matters worse, they are mounting their attack in the guise of a concern for individuals with disabilities.

      Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Preterm Cleveland and a number of other abortion care providers to challenge an unconstitutional abortion ban. The law, signed by Gov. John Kasich, would prevent a woman from ending a pregnancy because of a Down syndrome diagnosis. It does so by criminalizing any doctor who knowingly performs an abortion sought on that basis. The law, unless it is stopped by a court, would go into effect next month.

    • Indian Pharma Industry Disputes US Industry IP Index

      The United States Chamber of Commerce industry group recently issued its annual global IP index, analysing intellectual property protection in 50 countries, as a prelude to the annual US government list of countries seen as not adequately protection US companies’ IP rights. Now an Indian industry group has issued a counter-statement to the Chamber index, calling it a “tirade” and “self-serving”.

  • Security
    • Cryptocurrency Mining Company Coinhive Shocked To Learn Its Product Is Being Abused

      So if you haven’t noticed, the entire cryptocurrency mining thing has become a bit of an absurd stage play over the last few months. From gamers being unable to buy graphics cards thanks to miners hoping to cash in on soaring valuations, to hackers using malware to covertly infect websites with cryptocurrency miners that use visitors’ CPU cycles without their knowledge or consent. As an additional layer of intrigue, some websites have also begun using such miners as an alternative to traditional advertising, though several have already done so without apparently deeming it necessary to inform visitors.

      At the heart of a lot of this drama is crypotcurreny mining software company Coinhive, whose software is popping up in both malware-based and above board efforts to cash in on the cryptocurrency mining craze. Coinhive specifically focuses on using site visitor CPU cycles to help mine Monero. The company’s website insists that their product can help websites craft “an ad-free experience, in-game currency or whatever incentives you can come up with.” The company says its project has already resulted in the mining of several million dollars worth of Monero (depending on what Monero’s worth any given day).

    • Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

      The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penalties to HPC applications. Even as these patches are rolled out to current HPC platforms, it might be helpful to explore how future HPC systems could be better insulated from CPU or operating system security flaws that could cause massive disruptions. Surprisingly, most of the core concepts to build supercomputers that are resistant to a wide range of threats have already been invented and deployed in HPC systems over the past 20 years. Combining these technologies, concepts, and approaches not only would improve cybersecurity but also would have broader benefits for improving HPC performance, developing scientific software, adopting advanced hardware such as neuromorphic chips, and building easy-to-deploy data and analysis services. This new form of “Fluid HPC” would do more than solve current vulnerabilities. As an enabling technology, Fluid HPC would be transformative, dramatically improving extreme-scale code development in the same way that virtual machine and container technologies made cloud computing possible and built a new industry.

    • Raw sockets backdoor gives attackers complete control of some Linux servers [Ed: Here goes Dan Goodin again (sued for sensationalism), using the term "back door" in relation to Linux when actually referring to already-infected (compromised) machines]

      Once installed, Chaos allows malware operators anywhere in the world to gain complete control over the server via a reverse shell.

    • Meltdown-Spectre flaws: We’ve found new attack variants, say researchers

      Researchers have developed a tool to uncover new ways of attacking the Meltdown and Spectre CPU side-channel flaws, which may force chipmakers like Intel to re-examine already difficult hardware mitigations.

      The tool allowed the researchers to synthesize a software-attack based on a description of a CPU’s microarchitecture and an execution pattern that could be attacked.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • How ZeroFox Protects Enterprise Social Media From Cyber-Attackers

      Social media is widely used by individuals and enterprises today and is often also unfortunately widely used by cyber-attackers. How can organizations protect their social media assets? That’s a challenge that multiple vendors are now tackling, including ZeroFox.

    • Container security fundamentals: 5 things to know
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Christine Hong on North Korean Peace Threat, Lee Fang on Opioid Lobby

      This week on CounterSpin: What do you do with a press corps that pauses from raising alarms about North Korea’s warmongering to raise alarms about North Korea’s peacemongering? Signs of rapprochement between North and South Korea at the Pyongyang Olympics have led to media accounts warning Americans not to fall for peace-offensive “propaganda.” But: we are in favor of lowering tensions on the Korean peninsula, right? Right? We’ll talk about the prospects for war, and for peace, with North Korea with Christine Hong, associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute.

    • Russians Spooked by Nukes-Against-Cyber-Attack Policy

      New U.S. policy on nuclear retaliatory strikes for cyber-attacks is raising concerns, with Russia claiming that it’s already been blamed for a false-flag cyber-attack – namely the election hacking allegations of 2016, explain Ray McGovern and William Binney.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Borneo orangutans dying off as forests are lost: study

      The population of orangutans in Borneo has plummeted by more than half since 1999 — nearly 150,000 of the apes — largely due to chopping down forests for logging, paper, palm oil and mining, researchers said Thursday.

      Illegal hunting of the critically endangered apes is also a leading factor in their disappearance, said the study published in the journal Current Biology.

  • Finance
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Congressman Calls For Investigation Of Conservative Think Tank

      U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether a series of financial deals improperly benefited the leaders of the Illinois Policy Institute — the latest call for authorities to examine the influential conservative think tank.

      In an open letter to the head of the IRS, Lipinski — a Democrat who represents parts of Chicago and the western suburbs — wrote that institute chairman and CEO John Tillman may have violated federal tax laws by channeling money from his nonprofits to for-profit companies Tillman owned or co-owned.

    • NYT’s ‘Really Weird’ Russiagate Story

      That’s the takeaway from a strange front-page article that ran in last weekend’s New York Times, “U.S. Spies, Seeking to Retrieve Cyberweapons, Paid Russian Peddling Trump Secrets.” That’s not all the article said, but the rest was so convoluted and implausible that it can be safely discounted.

      Even Matthew Rosenberg, the Times reporter who wrote the story, described it as “a really weird one” in an interview with Slate. More than merely weird, however, the piece offers valuable insight into the parallel universe that is Russiagate, one in which logic is absent, neo-McCarthyism is rampant, and evidence means whatever the corporate press wants it to mean.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Is centralised education a stealthy censorship tool?

      In centralised education systems around the world, students are examined on fact memorisation and regurgitation in exams. Textbooks provide a one-way ticket to exam success, but critical thinking and creativity are left firmly at the station.

      First, in extreme cases, textbooks are criticised for omitting topics to propagate political or religious ideologies, as was the case in Turkey last year. Even in more liberal education systems, such as the United Kingdom, textbooks are written by an elite group who do not represent the experiences of the majority. At the very least, this will produce students with little to contribute to society.

    • Foreign Film Friday: The ‘Padmaavat’ Controversy Represents a Larger Censorship Pattern in Bollywood

      Padmaavat (2018), the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed Bollywood epic, has recently been at the heart of an enormous controversy. Based on the story of the Rajput queen Padmaavati, the film attracted the attention of several right-wing extremist groups…

    • Brown Stares Down the Censors

      Before conservative Guy Benson spoke at Brown University Tuesday night, there were the usual hallmarks of a free-speech fiasco. Posters advertising the event were defaced, and students signed a public statement asserting that they wouldn’t tolerate a speech that was “explicitly dangerous to the well-being and continued thriving of people of color and other marginalized people.”

    • Brown students thought censoring Guy Benson would protect free speech

      Conservative commentator Guy Benson faced backlash ahead of his speech at Brown University this week, puzzling observers who wondered how someone as reasonable as Benson could possibly be deemed a threat worthy of censorship.

      The backlash ultimately fizzled, amounting to just a small walkout protest that Benson didn’t even notice during his remarks.

    • Censorship Act review a priority

      One of the key priorities for the National Censorship Office this year is to ensure the review of the Classification of Publication Act 1989 is completed.

      While most of the work on the Review has been furnished, the Act needs final touches in terms of specifying the legal implementation role.

      Deputy Chief Censor, Jim Abani, says the Act is out dated in the sense that it is not up to date with the current trend.

    • Russia Threatens to Block YouTube and Instagram, After Complaints From an Oligarch

      Russia has threatened to block YouTube and Instagram if they do not take down videos and photos relating to Oleg V. Deripaska, an oligarch who was once close to President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

      A billionaire aluminum and mining magnate, Mr. Deripaska was the subject of an investigation published last Thursday on YouTube by the anticorruption activist and opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny.

    • Russia blocks Navalny’s website, after his inquiry into an oligarch

      The Russian authorities blocked the website of a prominent opposition leader Thursday after he refused a court order to remove a posted video accusing a high-ranking official of accepting a bribe from a rich businessman.

      The order against the opposition leader, Alexei A. Navalny, extended to US service providers Instagram and YouTube, with Instagram coming under criticism from Navalny after the posted video was deleted from its accounts.

    • Instagram criticised as it gives in to Russian censorship demands

      Instagram has been criticised by a Russian opposition leader for giving in to pressure to block posts relating to corruption claims in the country.

    • Alexei Navalny attacks Instagram for complying with Russian censors
    • Instagram yields to Russian censorship demands
    • ‘Reclassification of ‘Inxeba’ an act of homophobic censorship’
    • Inxeba reclassification angers Right2Know
    • Analysis: The Wounded push back against the movie Inxeba
    • Students, free speech advocates outraged over WCSD policy that would censor yearbooks

      A proposed Washoe County School District regulation that would censor what students can publish in yearbooks likely violates a recently passed Nevada law that protects students’ First Amendment rights, says Washoe County student journalists and student free speech experts.

      The new regulation, which is wrapped in a larger policy regarding club sports in the district, would bar student-run yearbooks from publishing the photos of club athletes — students who might be involved in a high school lacrosse team that isn’t sanctioned by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, for example.

      [...]

      Ranson advocated for the passage of a law last legislative session, commonly referred to as the New Voices legislation, that explicitly prohibits school district “restrictions on the publication of any content in a pupil publication.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Samsung patents a new way for smartwatches to measure blood pressure

      Once upon a time, we were fascinated by the fact that our new smartwatch could measure our heart rate. Over time more and more tech devices have this capability and the novelty is wearing off. Now, Samsung has filed a patent for a watch that can actually measure your blood pressure!

    • The FBI, CIA and NSA say American citizens shouldn’t use these phones
    • FBI, CIA, NSA bosses warn: don’t use Huawei, ZTE smartphones
    • Here’s The Chinese Phone The FBI, CIA, and NSA Don’t Want You to Use
    • EFF and MuckRock Are Filing a Thousand Public Records Requests About ALPR Data Sharing

      EFF and MuckRock have a launched a new public records campaign to reveal how much data law enforcement agencies have collected using automated license plate readers (ALPRs) and are sharing with each other.

      Over the next few weeks, the two organizations are filing approximately 1,000 public records requests with agencies that have deals with Vigilant Solutions, one of the nation’s largest vendors of ALPR surveillance technology and software services. We’re seeking documentation showing who’s sharing ALPR data with whom. We are also requesting information on how many plates each agency scanned in 2016 and 2017 and how many of those plates were on predetermined “hot lists” of vehicles suspected of being connected to crimes.

      You can see the full list of agencies and track the progress of each request through the Street-Level Surveillance: ALPR Campaign page on MuckRock.

    • Mozilla’s Open Letter To Expert Committee Drafting India’s First Data Protection Law Slams Aadhaar Biometric Identity System

      Techdirt has been covering India’s monster biometric database, Aadhaar, since 2015. Media in India, naturally, have been on the story longer, and continue to provide detailed coverage of its roll-out and application. But wider knowledge of the trailblazing identity project remains limited. One international organization that has been working to raise awareness is Mozilla, home of the Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client.

      Last May, an opinion piece entitled “Aadhaar isn’t progress — it’s dystopian and dangerous”, by Mozilla Executive Chairwoman and Lizard Wrangler Mitchell Baker and Mozilla community member Ankit Gadgil, appeared in India’s Business Standard newspaper. In July 2017, Mozilla released a statement on the Indian Supreme Court hearings on Aadhaar. A blog post in November pointed out that the Aadhaar system is increasingly being used by private companies for their services, something Techdirt covered earlier. Similarly, after it was revealed that anybody’s Aadhaar details could be bought for around $8 each, Mozilla issued a statement saying “this latest, egregious breach should be a giant red flag to all companies as well as to the UIDAI [Unique Identification Authority of India] and the [Indian] Government.”

    • Customs and Border Protection’s Biometric Data Snooping Goes Too Far

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Privacy Office, and Office of Field Operations recently invited privacy stakeholders—including EFF and the ACLU of Northern California—to participate in a briefing and update on how the CBP is implementing its Biometric Entry/Exit Program.

      As we’ve written before, biometrics systems are designed to identify or verify the identity of people by using their intrinsic physical or behavioral characteristics. Because biometric identifiers are by definition unique to an individual person, government collection and storage of this data poses unique threats to privacy and security of individual travelers.

    • The Revolution and Slack

      Two things that EFF tends to recommend for digital organizing are 1) using encryption as extensively as possible, and 2) self-hosting, so that a governmental authority has to get a warrant for your premises in order to access your information. The central thing to understand about Slack (and many other online services) is that it fulfills neither of these things. This means that if you use Slack as a central organizing tool, Slack stores and is able to read all of your communications, as well as identifying information for everyone in your workspace.

    • FBI Director Still Won’t Say Which Encryption Experts Are Advising Him On His Bizarre Approach To Encryption

      For the past few months, we’ve talked about how FBI Director Chris Wray has more or less picked up where his predecessor, James Comey, left off when it came to the question of encryption and backdoors. Using a contextless, meaningless count of encrypted seized phones, Wray insists that not being able to get into any phone the FBI wants to get into is an “urgent public safety issue.”

      Of course, as basically every security expert has noted, the reverse is true. Weakening encryption in the manner that Wray is suggesting would create a much, much, much bigger safety issue in making us all less safe. Hell, even the FBI used to recommend strong encryption as a method to protect public safety.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Poles abroad told to flag anti-Polish comments: report

      Poles living abroad have been instructed to report comments made by compatriots that could be “harmful” to Poland’s reputation, according to a report by German public broadcaster NDR.

      The report, released Wednesday night, cites a letter by Polish Senate Speaker Stanisław Karczewski, asking Poles to “document all anti-Polish comments, representations and opinions that could hurt [the country]” and report “any defamation” that could harm Poland’s reputation to embassies or consulates.

    • Take it from an exoneree, the Dallas County DA election is a big deal

      A county election might seem unimportant compared to the daily drama of national politics, but I know better than most the awesome power district attorneys wield. I also know how much damage they can do when they exercise that power corruptly or irresponsibly. Or when they measure their success not by their commitment to truth, justice and community, but by the number of convictions they secure.

      Because of one such district attorney, I spent 18-and-a-half years behind bars, with 16 of those years in solitary confinement and 12 on death row, all for a crime that I did not commit.

    • US ‘Stumbled Into Torture,’ Says NYT Reporter

      Two clauses stand out for their confident attribution of benevolent motives to US foreign policy. First, there’s the idea that “America stumbled into torture,” rather than planned, plotted and spent over 15 years carrying out a policy of torture. This pretends that the US’s massive global torture regime—which involved drownings, beatings, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation, among other techniques, along with “extraordinary rendition” to allied countries for less refined torture methods–was something other than a deliberate policy initiative.

      As FAIR (6/22/17) noted last year, corporate media routinely assert that the US “stumbles,” “slips” or is “dragged into” war and other forms of organized violence, rather than planning deliberate acts of aggression. For reporters in foreign policy circles, the US only does immoral things on accident—unlike Official Bad Countries, which do them for calculated gain when they aren’t motivated by sheer malice.

    • Appeals Court Declares Third Muslim Ban Unconstitutional

      Trump’s ban, says court, “strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on religious animosity.”

      Once again, an appeals court ruled that President Trump’s Muslim ban — now in its third iteration — violates the Constitution’s most basic guarantee of religious freedom.

      Earlier today, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stated that the ban’s purpose has always been and remains to “exclude Muslims from the United States.” The ruling comes at a crucial time, because the Supreme Court will issue its own decision on the ban this summer.

      Today’s decision confirms what has been clear since Trump first took office. Throughout his presidential campaign, he consistently promised to block Muslim immigration and even announced a specific plan for achieving that goal: a nationality-based travel ban against people from predominantly Muslim countries. As promised, one week into his presidency, without consulting any federal agencies, he issued an unprecedented ban against people from seven overwhelmingly Muslim countries.

    • Top ICE Lawyer Accused Of Identity Fraud Against Detained Immigrants

      For many, many years we’ve questioned the bizarre lawless nature of ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — going back to the days when it was illegally seizing blogs, based on false claims of copyright infringement. We questioned what ICE had to do with censoring blogs in the first place. Of course, in the last year, ICE has been getting a lot more negative attention for something that is clearly under its purview: enforcement of immigration laws. Specifically, ICE has been almost gleefully demonstrating how they are thuggish bullies who are eager to deport as many people as possible. It’s disgusting and inhumane — and if you’re going to be one of those people who pop up in our comments to say something ignorant about how if someone is here illegally they have no rights and should be booted as quickly as possible, go somewhere else to spout your nonsense. Also, seriously: take stock of your own priorities and look deeply at why you are so focused on destroying the lives of people who are almost certainly less well off and less privileged than you are, and who are seeking a better way of life.

    • County Gov’t Tries To Dodge Liability In Jailhouse Deaths By Intimidating The Journalist Who Exposed Them

      To keep itself from being held liable for inmate deaths, San Diego County (CA) has decided to target the journalist who exposed them. Kelly Davis, along with the EFF’s Dave Maass, used public records requests and investigative journalism to detail 60 deaths in the county’s five jails, which occurred over the course of five years. The death rate in San Diego jails was consistently higher than those of comparably-sized systems. In fact, the death rate was higher than that of the 10 largest jail systems in the country. Documents showed almost a third of those were preventable.

      But when a lawsuit was filed by the wife of an inmate who died in a San Diego County jail, the county argued there was no negligence. The presiding judge disagreed, citing Davis and Maass’ journalism.

    • Where Does #MeToo Start?

      How sex stereotypes in schools perpetuate sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond.

      Reckoning with the prevalence of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in the wake of #MeToo has prompted many to reexamine the conditions that have allowed harassment and violence to flourish. One place to start is our public schools, where young people develop critical understandings about gender starting at an early age.

      For over a decade, the ACLU has been raising alarms about teaching methods widely in use in public schools across the United States premised on the notion that there are fundamental, sex-based differences that determine how students learn and develop. Proponents of these methods frequently cast boys as active or dominant, and girls as passive or submissive — stereotypes that normalize the power dynamics that lead to abuse and harassment.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC Boss Being Investigated By His Own Agency For Being Too Cozy With The Industry He Regulates

      If you watched FCC boss Ajit Pai’s rushed repeal of net neutrality there really shouldn’t be any question about where Pai’s loyalties lie, and it certainly isn’t with smaller companies, healthy competition, transparency, openness, innovation, or American consumers. The agency head repeatedly lied about the justifications for the repeal, casually using fabricated data to justify what may just be the least popular policy decision in this history of modern technology. Pai’s fealty to giant monopolies runs so deep, his agency now just directs reporters to lobbying talking points when they question the flimsy logic propping up the repeal.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Arrest of senior Indian patent office officials on bribery rap raises serious questions about system’s integrity

      The top official in the Indian Patent Office’s Chennai branch was detained along with one colleague earlier this month on charges of graft. While digital technologies and transparency initiatives have generally made India’s IP granting authorities more accountable in recent years, the arrests suggest that corruption has not been fully stamped out of the patent office.

      The main official implicated was S P Subramaniyan, a deputy controller of patents and designs in the patent office at Chennai. The corruption branch of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also booked T V Madhusudhan, another deputy controller, in connection with the case. Chennai is the site of the second largest patent office branch after Delhi by headcount: 115 examiners of patents and designs work there under 34 assistant controllers and seven deputy controllers. So the arrested pair are both quite senior. In addition, this page on the website of India’s Controller General of Patents Designs & Trademarks seems to indicate that Subramaniyan was the top man in Chennai.

    • Argentina’s rule changes for patents, trade marks and designs explained

      A decree has changed the rules for intellectual property in Argentina, quite drastically in some instances. Iris V Quadrio, Martín Bensadon and Iván A Poli analyse the most important modifications

    • Scholastic Wants To Help Young Creators Showcase Their Works By Stripping Them Of Their IP Rights

      Scholastic’s participation terms aren’t unusual. But that doesn’t make them right. There’s nothing about this sort of contest that demands full control of submitted works. A limited non-exclusive license would allow Scholastic to display creations and use them in promotional material without fear of a participant lawsuit. Or, for that matter, a Creatve Commons license could be applied with the terms set by particpants rather than Scholastic. But Scholastic obviously feels it’s the creators who should give up their rights. The whole thing is ridiculous — especially since it’s standard operating procedure for entities seeking submissions from creators. It only serves to show creators copyright is a handy tool for bigger, more powerful entities but of little use to the creators themselves.

    • Copyrights
      • Terrible Copyright Ruling Over An Embedded Tweet Undermines Key Concept Of How The Internet Works

        Just earlier this week we noted that a judge easily laughed Playboy’s silly lawsuit out of court because merely linking to infringing content is not infringing itself. But a judge in New York, Judge Katherine Forrest, has ruled on a different case in a manner that is quite concerning, which goes against many other court rulings, and basically puts some fundamental concepts of how the internet works at risk. It’s pretty bad. In short, she has ruled that merely embedding content from another site can be deemed infringing even if the new site is not hosting the content at all. This is wrong legally and technically, and hopefully this ruling will get overturned on appeal. But let’s dig into the details.

        The case involved a photographer, Justin Goldman, who took a photograph of quarterback Tom Brady on Snapchat. Somehow that image made its way from Snapchat to Reddit to Twitter. The photo went a bit viral, and a bunch of news organizations used Twitter’s embed feature to show the tweet and the image. Goldman sued basically all the news publications that embedded the tweet — including Breitbart, Vox, Yahoo, Gannett, the Boston Globe, Time and more. Now, multiple different courts around the country have said why this should not be seen as infringing by these publications. It’s generally referred to as “the server test” — in which to be direct infringement, you have to host the image yourself. This makes sense at both a technical and legal level because “embedding” an image is no different technically than linking to an image. It is literally the same thing — you put in a piece of code that points the end user’s computer to an image. The server at no point hosts or displays the image — it is only the end user’s computer. In the 9th Circuit, the various Perfect 10 cases have established the server test, and other courts have adopted it or similar concepts. In the 7th Circuit there was the famous Flavaworks case, where Judge Posner seemed almost annoyed that anyone could think that merely embedding infringing content could be deemed infringing.

      • Linking under US copyright law: green light to its inclusion in the scope of public display right comes from New York
      • Copyright For Libraries Around The World In 2018

        Copyright laws around the world are constantly changing in an attempt to adapt – or react – to the digital world. These changes can have a major impact on how libraries function and on the public service they provide. While some reforms offer new possibilities and legal certainty, others look backwards and seek to use the law to restrict the ability of libraries to guarantee meaningful information access to their users.

        IFLA therefore follows the evolution of copyright reforms around the world, as well as bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that impact copyright regimes.

      • Federal Judge Says Embedding a Tweet Can Be Copyright Infringement

        Rejecting years of settled precedent, a federal court in New York has ruled [PDF] that you could infringe copyright simply by embedding a tweet in a web page. Even worse, the logic of the ruling applies to all in-line linking, not just embedding tweets. If adopted by other courts, this legally and technically misguided decision would threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability.

        This case began when Justin Goldman accused online publications, including Breitbart, Time, Yahoo, Vox Media, and the Boston Globe, of copyright infringement for publishing articles that linked to a photo of NFL star Tom Brady. Goldman took the photo, someone else tweeted it, and the news organizations embedded a link to the tweet in their coverage (the photo was newsworthy because it showed Brady in the Hamptons while the Celtics were trying to recruit Kevin Durant). Goldman said those stories infringe his copyright.

        Courts have long held that copyright liability rests with the entity that hosts the infringing content—not someone who simply links to it. The linker generally has no idea that it’s infringing, and isn’t ultimately in control of what content the server will provide when a browser contacts it. This “server test,” originally from a 2007 Ninth Circuit case called Perfect 10 v. Amazon, provides a clear and easy-to-administer rule. It has been a foundation of the modern Internet.

      • US Piracy Lawsuits Shoot Out Of The 2018 Gates As The Malibu Media ‘Coaching Tree’ Spreads Its Seeds

        For those of you not interested in professional sports, allow me to educate you on the concept of the “coaching tree.” This concept comes from the common decisions by losing teams to hire junior coaches out from under the head coaches of successful teams, hoping to siphon off some of the genius of more successful organizations. In football, for instance, you will often hear about the “Andy Reid coaching tree” as his assistants get head coaching jobs across the league after serving underneath him.

        Sadly, a much more sinister version of this appears to be occurring in the copyright trolling space, with Malibu Media serving as a launching point for legal minds joining other organizations and replicating what they’ve learned from their former employer. The result has been an explosion in copyright lawsuits for the early part of 2018, with most of them coming from the porn-trolling industry.

      • Court Shakes Off Dumb Copyright Lawsuit Against Taylor Swift

        For an industry that talks up how important copyright law is, it’s fairly astounding how frequently there are really dumb lawsuits filed between musicians. Lately, because of the ridiculous “Blurred Lines” verdict, there have been tons of lawsuits filed over “sounds like” songs, or even “inspired by” songs, as lawyers (and some musicians) see a chance to cash in on the actual success of others. But we’ve also seen a bunch of really dumb lawsuits filed over the use of similar phrases. A few years ago there was the case where Rick Ross sued LMFAO because they had the line “Everyday I’m shufflin’” in a song that he claimed was infringing his “Everyday I’m hustlin’.” The court was not impressed.

Patent Trolls Are Thwarted by Judges, But Patent Lawyers View Them as a ‘Business’ Opportunity

Friday 16th of February 2018 09:29:38 AM

Law firms in various states hope that the demise of the Eastern District of Texas will mean more lawsuits where they are

Summary: Patent lawyers are salivating over the idea that trolls may be coming to their state/s; owing to courts and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) other trolls’ software patents get invalidated

AS NOTED in the last post, patents granted by the USPTO are often passed to trolls sooner or later. The trolls would like to think of themselves as “monetisers”, but all they really do is tax the economy. That does not help innovation or creativity; it merely crushes both. TC Heartland, a Supreme Court decision from about 9 months ago, continues to worry firms that profit from patent trolls and aggressors. One of them, writing in lawyers’ media, expressed a common lawyers’ concern that patent litigation is declining (true story), then expressing optimism about trolls coming ‘home’ to Georgia:

Is patent litigation coming home to Georgia? Last year the U.S. Supreme Court holding in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands significantly affected the law of venue jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) for patent infringement cases. One result was to shift new patent complaint filings away from federal district courts that had been perceived to be plaintiff-friendly, such as the Eastern District of Texas, as I recently wrote in the Daily Report. TC Heartland only clarified one of the tests for patent venue in § 1400(b), holding that the provision “where the defendant resides” is limited to only the district where the defendant is incorporated.

[...]

The year 2018 will likely bring resolution to some of these issues – and more patent litigation to Georgia. I believe we can expect at least one, but perhaps two precedential Federal Circuit decisions further clarifying “where” a defendant committed an act of infringement, with one or both relating to software method and pharmaceutical patent infringement.

Watch their glee. They want lots and lots of lawsuits. That’s business to them. Never mind if the Eastern District of Texas was a cautionary tale and the Eastern District of Texas became synonymous with trolls, discouraging technical investment in the area (companies might think twice before opening a branch near there).

Georgia has some decent academic institutions (one very famous university, especially for its technical achievements), so we hope that Georgians will confront these legal opportunists.

Not too long ago in California Cloudflare spent a lot of time and money battling a patent troll. It took almost a year to win the case. SoylentNews mentioned that, as did TechDirt, writing about it with some background:

Last year, we wrote about how a relatively new patent trolling operation had pretty clearly picked the wrong target in suing internet infrastructure provider Cloudflare with a sketchy patent (US Patent 6,453,335 on “providing an internet third party data channel.”) Cloudflare decided not only to fight the case, but to fight all of Blackbird’s patents, crowdsourcing and funding searches into prior art on any patent held by Blackbird Technologies, and arguing that the company was engaging in questionable legal practices — acting both as a patent holding company and a law firm, while sometimes pretending not to be a law firm (despite employing mostly lawyers) to avoid some serious ethics questions.

We certainly hope that § 101 will carry on finishing off patent trolls. This was one such case. Ars Technica, which now lacks its main patent trolls expert (he moved to the EFF this month) wrote about it also. To quote:

A federal judge in San Francisco has unequivocally ruled against a non-practicing entity that had sued Cloudflare for patent infringement. The judicial order effectively ends the case that Blackbird—which Cloudflare had dubbed a “patent troll”—had brought against the well-known security firm and content delivery network.

“Abstract ideas are not patentable,” US District Judge Vincent Chhabria wrote in a Monday order.

Abstract ideas are a subject we’ll revisit this weekend.

Another patent troll which got mentioned the other day is Motivational Health Messaging. Unified Patents wrote about the status of the patent in question. The EFF’s role has been mentioned too:

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winners, Rohit Sood and Devarajan Govindaswamy, who split a cash prize of $2000 for their prior art submissions for U.S. Patent 9,069,648. The EFF previously named the ’648 patent as a ‘Stupid Patent of the Month’ noting that numerous small companies have been threatened with infringement allegations by Motivational Health Messaging, LLC (an NPE). To help the industry fight stupid patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

Another troll, Wordlogic, was mentioned by Unified Patents on the same day (lovers’ day). To quote:

On February 14, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 7,681,124 owned and asserted by Wordlogic Corporation, an NPE. The ’124 patent, directed to a user interface for predicting and presenting text completion candidates in response to a user’s partial text entry, has been asserted in multiple district court cases against such companies as Fleksy, Touchtype, Chicago Logic.

PTAB is great and we have plenty to write about it this weekend.

Microsoft’s Patent Moves: Dominion Harbor, Intellectual Ventures, Intellectual Discovery, NEC and Uber

Friday 16th of February 2018 08:55:51 AM

Summary: A look at some of the latest moves and twists, as patents change hands and there are still signs of Microsoft’s ‘hidden hand’

THE theme of “patent trolls” — entities that do nothing but lawsuits and threats of lawsuits — is still a ‘thing’. Yes, the USPTO is aware of the problem and even the US Supreme Court uses the term “trolls”. Here in Europe the press rarely mentions the problem, which is being exacerbated by the EPO. Patent trolls are on the rise in Germany and London too has become a “hot destination” for trolls. Most vulnerable to these are SMEs, which are less capable of affording justice (legal process) and have less money to shell out for ‘protection’.

“Patent trolls are on the rise in Germany and London too has become a “hot destination” for trolls.”Thankfully, some of the trolling ‘sector’ is drifting eastwards to China. It’s not a good thing for China, but it seems to be a side effect of a misguided patent policy which attracted low-quality patents in large numbers. When one has low-quality patents in large numbers one can simply use the sheer amount of them — irrespective of underlying quality — to threaten ruinous litigation and thus extort money for settlements. This seems to be the business model of Dominion Harbor, which is a malicious patent troll that strongly dislikes me, worships other trolls, and associates with rather unpleasant people. IAM wrote the other day that “[a]fter purchase of 4,000 former Kodak patents from IV last year, Dominion is building quite a portfolio.”

IV is Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll, which came from Microsoft. “Proud to announce our latest acquisition,” the troll said. “Dominion Harbor Acquires Leading NEC LCD Portfolio with more than 1,200 assets…”

“Patent ‘aggregators’ such as these are of no worth unless they become trolls or pass their so-called ‘assets’ to trolls. That’s how Intellectual Ventures came into existence (buying lots of patents from universities and failed companies).”One can expect them to shake down companies using these patents. They’re just a patent troll, like Intellectual Ventures that they’re connected to. One can guess where they are based. Intellectual Discovery (ID) in the meantime — not to be mistaken for IV — has been a miserable failure so far. It’s a total waste of South Korea’s money and although it is not a troll itself, industry insiders worry that it may feed patent trolls sooner or later, causing damage to the South Korean economy. According to IAM, ID is in somewhat of a disarray (symptoms include leadership shuffles like in RPX, which might be sold to a troll). There are analogous entities and worries in India right now. Patent ‘aggregators’ such as these are of no worth unless they become trolls or pass their so-called ‘assets’ to trolls. That’s how Intellectual Ventures came into existence (buying lots of patents from universities and failed companies).

Speaking of NEC patents (which the above troll just bought), a former IAM writer said: “There may be a Foxconn link to this. NEC transferred a whole bunch of mostly display-related patents to Gold Charm in 2012… [] Foxconn subsidiary Gold Charm bought the patents for $122m. Later asserted some against Funai, Mitsubishi, & Toshiba. Not heard much about them since…”

“Historically, many entities Microsoft passes patents to turn out to be attacking GNU/Linux.”As a bonus, mind this new report from the Microsoft-connected patent troll Acacia. It’s now resorting to buybacks, which is never a good sign. Are shareholders walking away? IV too has suffered a lot (lost many software patents, lawsuits and managers, not to mention the massive rounds of layoffs). Based on yesterday’s blog post from IAM, Microsoft now passes patents to Uber (just like it passes them to patent trolls quite a lot), which is itself suffering record losses. To quote the relevant paragraphs:

According to the USPTO assignment database, Uber has most recently picked up a package of 17 assets from Microsoft. That follows a 2015 deal between the two companies which saw Uber pick up some IP as part of a broader business agreement.

The acquisition from Microsoft followed another deal between Uber and AT&T for 13 assets – the third significant acquisition that the ride-sharing giant has made from the telecoms giant with the company picking up well over 100 assets.

Although as the 2015 Microsoft deal shows that Uber’s IP head John Mulgrew has been focused on bolstering the company’s patent position for a while, the focus on building up its portfolio in the secondary market has intensified since the hire of former Google and Motorola IP executive Kurt Brasch in September 2016. Mulgrew is understood to have led on the most recent deal with Microsoft along with Uber IP lawyer Rakesh Michael.

We are going to keep an eye on what happens next. Historically, many entities Microsoft passes patents to turn out to be attacking GNU/Linux. It’s shallow enough for us to notice, yet the corporate media altogether ignores this and carries on with PR (like “Microsoft loves Linux”).

Links 15/2/2018: GNOME 3.28 Beta, Rust 1.24

Thursday 15th of February 2018 11:18:12 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Open source project management: The art of herding cats

    Dave Page of EnterpriseDB talks about the challenges of organising the Postgres community and why Oracle’s cloud does not feature in his firm’s plans

  • We’re still learning from this failed blockchain experiment

    The past six months have seen cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum go from rounding errors in the global economy to center stage at mainstream banking conferences. Much of the current fervor concerns the skyrocketing valuations of cryptocurrencies and tokens, and using them as an investment. All this has an interesting backstory—one with roots in an open organization effort attempted two years ago: The DAO.

  • Events
    • A cyborg’s journey

      Karen Sandler has been giving conference talks about free software and open medical devices for the better part of a decade at this point. LWN briefly covered a 2010 LinuxCon talk and a 2012 linux.conf.au (LCA) talk; her talk at LCA 2012 was her first full-length keynote, she said. In this year’s edition, she reviewed her history (including her love for LCA based in part on that 2012 visit) and gave an update on the status of the source code for the device she has implanted on her heart.

      Sandler is the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC); she is also a lawyer, but “I do all of my legal work for good now”, she said with a chuckle. She does pro bono work for FSF and the GNOME Foundation, for example. She asked how many in the audience had attended LCA 2012 in Ballarat, which turned out to be around one-third (interestingly, the number of first-time attendees was nearly the same).

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox Performance Update #1

        In an attempt to fill the shoes of Ehsan’s excellent Quantum Flow Newsletters1, I’ve started to keep track of interesting performance bugs that have been tackled over the past little while.

        I don’t expect I’ll be able to put together such excellent essays on performance issues in Firefox, but I can certainly try to help to raise the profile of folks helping to make Firefox faster.

      • Welcome Marnie to the Test Pilot Team!

        Late last year, the Test Pilot team welcomed a new engineering program manager, Marnie Pasciuto-Wood. In this post, Marnie talks about what it’s been like joining Mozilla and what keeps her busy and inspired outside of work.

      • A Perspective: Firefox Quantum’s Tracking Protection Gives Users The Right To Be Curious

        In the physical world, we don’t wear our ID on our foreheads. This is convenient because we can walk around with a reasonable expectation of privacy and let our curiosity take us to interesting places. That shoe store you sauntered into because they had a pair that caught your eye has no idea who you are, where you live, or anything about you. More importantly, any attempt by that shoe store to have an employee follow you around would not only be impractical, but would be met with some serious side-eye from potential customers.

      • CSS Grid for UI Layouts

        CSS Grid is a great layout tool for content-driven websites that include long passages of text, and it has tremendous value for a variety of traditional UI layouts as well. In this article I’ll show you how to use CSS Grid to improve application layouts that need to respond and adapt to user interactions and changing conditions, and always have your panels scroll properly.

      • Firefox 59 Beta 10 Testday, February 16th

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, February 16th, we are organizing Firefox 59 Beta 10 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on Find Toolbar and Search Suggestions.

      • Firefox, Pocket and Sponsored Stories

        Well, well, remember when I told you – the more desperate Mozilla gets vis-a-vis its market share, the more aggressive they will get with pushing “quality” content onto its users? I did, I did. Well, the bonfires of the Mr. Robot fiasco have hardly cooled, and now there’s a new drama developing. Mozilla will start rolling a pilot that tests sponsored stories in the Pocket recommendations section on the New Tab page.

        Since I’m usually a blithely cheerful chap, I’m actively looking for stories to sour my mood, and so I was excited (this is sales lingo, we will get to that) to read this announcement. After all, writing about how everything is peachy and efficient and good in the tech world is boring, we need these little burdocks of greed to make things complicated. After me, pioneers.

        [...]

        Actually, it does not take a wizard to figure things out. Just look what happened in the past five years, ever since the mobile world exploded. For instance, thinking wildly about some rather common examples, Windows 7 to Windows 10, and the amount of pesky, online and telemetry stuff. Just compare Skype 7.40, the last classic version. and the toy factory moronity that is Skype 8. Windows Control Panel to Windows Settings. Gnome 2 to Gnome 3. Oh, Firefox 3.6 to Firefox whatever.

        What you see is that menus get deeper and deeper and deeper and more obfuscated, with focus on aesthetic minimalism (mobile) that goes directly against user intuition and efficiency. You need more and more actions and mouse clicks to achieve the same results you could half a decade before. Now imagine what will happen in five or even ten years. Consider yourself lucky you were there to witness the early days of the Internet, when it was still all naive and innocent and not just pure money.

        [...]

        Some people may assume that I have a personal problem with Mozilla and Firefox. Not really. It’s just I don’t like hypocrisy, and I do not like being herded toward the pen that reads IDIOTS. I fully understand that Mozilla needs quiche. Fine, state it upfront. Don’t veil it in bullshit. The words privacy, freedom and similar slogans mean nothing when you put them side by side with sponsored stories. You want money, start charging money for your browser. There’s nothing wrong with that. And I would gladly pay for a high-quality product – and when needed, I do.

        I also wish that we had alternatives – the more the merrier. Alas, the exact opposite is happening. As time goes by, it will become even more difficult to have (supposedly free) products that really cater to their users. The profit slope is a one-way direction. Once you make a margin, you need to make more margin and more margin and more margin. It never stops.

        Firefox is a completely different product than it was a decade ago. It’s now a big boy, trying to compete in the big arena. There’s no room for niceties anymore. The only thing you can do is try to prepare for the inevitable day when this salesy nonsense becomes too much, so when you do switch, you try to do it elegantly and smartly. I cannot guarantee there’s actually going to be a nice and peaceful browser for you out there when that moment comes, so if you want to sleep all relaxed, don’t. The old Internet is dying, and the future does not belong to you and me or anyone willing to read this entire article without skipping words. The best you can do is play the game, so at the very least, you will be a rich idealist one day rather than a poor user. Or better yet, a rich loser rather than a poor user.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 32
      • Reps On-boarding Team

        As you already know from our discourse topic, we have created an Onboarding Screening Team.

        The scope of this team is to help on evaluating the new applications to the Reps program by helping the Reps Council on this process.

      • Announcing Rust 1.24

        The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.24.0. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

      • Rust 1.24 Released With “rustfmt” Preview & Incremental Compilation By Default

        A fairly notable update to the Rust programming language compiler and its components is available today.

        With Rust 1.24 first up is a preview release of rustfmt, an official utility for formatting Rust code. Rustfmt applies a standard style of formatting to existing Rustlang code and is similar to the other LLVM-based code formatters.

  • SaaS/Back End
  • Databases
    • iRODS Consortium Carries Open Source Data Management Software Forward

      Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS) is used across the globe in industries ranging from the life and physical sciences to media and entertainment, but the software’s origins can be traced back over two decades to a team at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and a project known as the Storage Resource Broker (SRB).

    • ArangoDB Publishes Industry-Wide Open Source NoSQL Performance Benchmark

      ArangoDB, a leading provider of native multi-model NoSQL database solutions, today announced the latest findings of its open source NoSQL performance benchmark series. To enable vendors to respond to the results and contribute improvements, ArangoDB has published the necessary scripts required to repeat the benchmark. The goal of the benchmark is to measure the performance of each database system when there is no cache used. The benchmark is completely open source and therefore driven by community input.

    • Altibase goes open source, says it ‘directly challenges’ Microsoft, IBM and Oracle

      Following the recent announcement that the global software firm is open source, Altibase says it “directly challenges” the other companies by providing equal functionality at a much lower cost. Customers will save money by not having to buy in-memory and disk-resident databases separately, says Altibase. It can easily replace or supplement Oracle as well.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0: The stats so far

      On January 31, we released LibreOffice 6.0 (shortly followed up by 6.0.1). So what has happened in the last two weeks? Let’s look at some statistics…

  • Funding
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • I love Free Software Day 2018

      Today isn’t just Valentines day, but also I love Free Software Day! I’ve been using (and contributing) Free Software for years now and don’t want anything else. Even when I’ve given non-Free Software another chance, every time I was glad when I returned to Free Software.

      A big thank you goes out to all developers, sysadmins, network guru’s, translators, bugsquashers and all other contributors.

      A small selection of tools/libraries/projects/organizations I’m thankful for this year: debian, ubuntu, terminator, mate, vi(m), firefox, thunderbird, postgresql, apache, kvm, libvirt, bash, openssh, nextcloud, workrave, audacious, vlc, mtp (Media Transfer Protocol), ext2/ext3/ext4/btrfs, mdadm, postfix, the linux kernel, fosdem, fsfe, eff, bitsoffreedom, ccc and kodi.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Defense Digital Service revamps Code.mil with clearer, more accessible guidance

      When the Defense Digital Service team launched Code.mil in February 2017, the goal was to propel the Department of Defense into the open source software community.

      The team set up a repository on GitHub, got to work on a licensing agreement and by mid-March the first open-sourced project was posted.

      But where there was excitement among the DoD engineering community, there also was a slight problem — the guidance on how to release code as code open source just wasn’t very accessible or clear.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • FLOSS Weekly 471: ScanCode

      Simon was co-host of FLOSS Weekly 471, which featured the ScanCode Toolkit. ScanCode analyses a source package and lists what licenses are found in it. The toolkit can be used as part of a larger solution and together with the new AboutCode Manager provides open source compliance staff with an easy way to know what licenses they are actually dealing with.

    • A GPL-enforcement update
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open-source drug discovery

      An apparent linux.conf.au tradition is to dedicate a keynote slot to somebody who is applying open-source principles to make the world better in an area other than software development. LCA 2018 was no exception; professor Matthew Todd took the stage to present his work on open-source drug discovery. The market for pharmaceuticals has failed in a number of ways to come up with necessary drugs at reasonable prices; perhaps some of those failures can be addressed through a community effort.

      Todd started by noting that he must normally begin his talks by selling open source to a room that is hostile to the idea; that tends not to be a problem at LCA. The chemistry community, he said, is playing catch-up, trying to mimic some of the things that the open-source community has done. The first step was to apply these principles to basic research before moving on to drug discovery; the latter proved to be harder, since it’s typically a process that is shrouded in secrecy.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • First Open-Source RISC-V SoC for Linux Released

        Only months after debuting the Freedom U540, the world’s first Linux-compatible processor based on the open-source RISC-V chip architecture, RISC-V chipmaker SiFive has surprised the open-source community again by unveiling a full development board built around the ISA.

        Called the HiFive Unleashed, the new development board is built around SiFive’s Freedom U540, which is based on the company’s U54-MC Coreplex. The chip is a 64-bit, 4+1 multicore processor that fully supports Linux, as well as other operating systems such as FreeBSD and Unix. The development board itself features a 8GB of DDR4 with ECC, a gigabit ethernet port, 32 MB of quad SPI flash memory, a MicroSD card slot, and an FPGA mezzanine card (FMC) connector for allowing peripherals and other expansion devices to be attached to the board.

      • RISC-V plans to fulfill open-source architecture innovation dreams

        Digital transformation and the proliferation of big data are driving a renaissance in software development, requiring new advancements in hardware and processors. With a range of needs from a variety of users and platforms, standard instruction set architectures are no longer fulfilling all use cases as the demand for flexibility and improved performance increases.

        “The world is dominated by two instruction set architectures. … Both are great, but … they’re owned by their respective companies. RISC-V is a third entrant into this world … it’s completely open source,” said Martin Fink (pictured, right), chief technology officer of Western Digital Corp. Through the RISC-V initiative, Fink and Dave Tang (pictured, left), senior vice president of corporate marketing at Western Digital, are working to provide an instruction set that can be freely shared to encourage innovation.

      • Fedora/RISC-V: Runnable stage 4 disk images
  • Programming/Development
    • Jupyter: notebooks for education and collaboration

      The popular interpreted language Python shares a mode of interaction with many other languages, from Lisp to APL to Julia: the REPL (read-eval-print-loop) allows the user to experiment with and explore their code, while maintaining a workspace of global variables and functions. This is in contrast with languages such as Fortran and C, which must be compiled and run as complete programs (a mode of operation available to the REPL-enabled languages as well). But using a REPL is a solitary task; one can write a program to share based on their explorations, but the REPL session itself not easily shareable. So REPLs have gotten more sophisticated over time, evolving into shareable notebooks, such as what IPython, and its more recent descendant, Jupyter, have. Here we look at Jupyter: its history, notebooks, and how it enables better collaboration in languages well beyond its Python roots.

    • Who Killed The Junior Developer?

      I’m not sure what the industry-wide solution is. I’m not sure whether companies that lack junior devs are unbalanced or smart. The reality is that most software developers don’t stay one place very long, so maybe it doesn’t make sense to invest a lot in training someone? Or maybe the industry should ask itself why people keep hopping jobs? Maybe it’s because a lot of them suck, or for a lot of us it’s the only way to advance our salary. I can either wait for a stupid, meaningless yearly “performance review” to bump me up 1% or take my resume and interview elsewhere and get 10% or more.

      It’s not just a sign that an individual company is broken, it’s a sign the entire industry is broken.

  • Standards/Consortia
Leftovers
  • Should I call out my friends for using their phones while driving?

    I suspect you don’t need me to tell you that your nervousness is well-founded: the statistics on car accidents and phone use are incontrovertible. In 2015, approximately 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured, in car crashes caused by “distracted driving”.

  • Meet the company trying to break the taser monopoly

    Ever since 2003, when one of the two companies making tasers bought out the other, there has effectively been a taser monopoly. If you’ve ever seen a police officer carrying a taser, that taser was almost certainly manufactured by the publicly traded company formerly known as Taser International, now named Axon Enterprise, Inc.

  • Tech Luminary Peter Thiel Parts Ways With Silicon Valley

    Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is relocating his home and personal investment firms to Los Angeles from San Francisco and scaling back his involvement in the tech industry, people familiar with his thinking said, marking a rupture between Silicon Valley and its most prominent conservative.

  • Hey Microsoft, Stop Installing Apps On My PC Without Asking
  • Science
    • After more than a year, Trump still doesn’t have a science adviser

      “It’s mind-boggling,” said John Holdren, Obama’s science adviser for eight years who has since resumed his career as a professor of environmental policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “It’s vital for the president to get the best science advice, and right now, he isn’t getting that. His decisions are being made without the benefit of science.”

    • FinFETs Shimmy to 5G’s Frequencies

      Engineers at Purdue University and GlobalFoundries have gotten today’s most advanced transistors to vibrate at frequencies that could make 5G phones and other gadgets smaller and more energy efficient. The feat could also improve CPU clocks, make wearable radars, and one day form the basis of a new kind of computing. They presented their results today at the IEEE International Solid-States Circuits Conference, in San Francisco.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Court determines military burn pits caused lung disease in service members

      The thousands of U.S. military personnel and private contractors whose health was compromised by the dense black smoke of burn pits – and who were then denied proper treatment – may finally be vindicated by a recent court ruling.

      A judge under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office for Workers’ Compensation Programs decreed last month that open-air burn pits — where thousands of chemicals were released into the air after trash and other waste were incinerated at American military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan — are connected to lung disease, Fox News has learned.

      The decision marks a victory for the nearly 64,000 active service members and retirees who have put their names on a Burn Pit Registry created by the Veterans Administration, bringing them one step closer to getting adequate medical coverage, something that has never been guaranteed. Private contractors who were also exposed to the burn pit toxins also have been denied coverage.

  • Security
    • Critical Telegram flaw under attack disguised malware as benign images [Ed: Windows]

      The flaw, which resided in the Windows version of the messaging app, allowed attackers to disguise the names of attached files, researchers from security firm Kaspersky Lab said in a blog post. By using the text-formatting standard known as Unicode, attackers were able to cause characters in file names to appear from right to left, instead of the left-to-right order that’s normal for most Western languages.

    • Why children are now prime targets for identity theft [sic] [iophk: "the real name for this is "fraud" and there are already existing laws on it"]

      SSA believed this change would make it more difficult for thieves to “guess” someone’s SSN by looking at other public information available for that person. However, now that an SSN is not tied to additional data points, such as a location or year of birth, it becomes harder for financial institutions, health care providers, and others to verify that the person using the SSN is in fact the person to whom it was issued.

      In other words: Thieves now target SSNs issued after this change as they know your 6-year-old niece or your 4-year-old son will not have an established credit file.

    • Microsoft won’t plug a huge zero-day in Skype because it’d be too much work

      The bug in the automatic updater (turd polisher) for the Windows desktop app has a ruddy great hole in it that will let dodgy DLLs through.

    • ‘I Lived a Nightmare:’ SIM Hijacking Victims Share Their Stories

      The bug itself didn’t expose anything too sensitive. No passwords, social security numbers, or credit card data was exposed. But it did expose customers’ email addresses, their billing account numbers, and the phone’s IMSI numbers, standardized unique number that identifies subscribers. Just by knowing (or guessing) customer’s phone numbers, hackers could get their target’s data.

      Once they had that, they could impersonate them with T-Mobile’s customer support staff and steal their phone numbers. This is how it works: a criminal calls T-Mobile, pretends to be you, convinces the customer rep to issue a new SIM card for your number, the criminal activates it, and they take control of your number.

    • Salon to ad blockers: Can we use your browser to mine cryptocurrency?

      Salon explains what’s going on in a new FAQ. “How does Salon make money by using my processing power?” the FAQ says. “We intend to use a small percentage of your spare processing power to contribute to the advancement of technological discovery, evolution, and innovation. For our beta program, we’ll start by applying your processing power to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.”

    • Salon Offers To Remove Ads If Visitors Help Mine Cryptocurrency

      As we’ve been discussing, the rise of stealth cryptocurrency miners embedded on websites has become a notable problem. In some instances, websites are being hacked and embedded with stealth cryptocurrency miners that quickly gobble up visitors’ CPU cycles without their knowledge. That’s what happened to Showtime recently when two different domains were found to be utilizing the Coinhive miner to hijack visitor broswers without users being informed. Recent reports indicate that thousands of government websites have also been hijacked and repurposed in this fashion via malware.

      But numerous websites are also now exploring such miners voluntarily as an alternative revenue stream. One major problem however: many aren’t telling site visitors this is even happening. And since some implementations of such miners can hijack massive amounts of CPU processing power while sipping a non-insubstantial amount of electricity, that’s a problem.

    • Georgia Senate Thinks It Can Fix Its Election Security Issues By Criminalizing Password Sharing, Security Research

      When bad things happen, bad laws are sure to follow. The state of Georgia has been through some tumultuous times, electorally-speaking. After a presidential election plagued with hacking allegations, the Georgia Secretary of State plunged ahead with allegations of his own. He accused the DHS of performing ad hoc penetration testing on his office’s firewall. At no point was he informed the DHS might try to breach his system and the DHS, for its part, was less than responsive when questioned about its activities. It promised to get back to the Secretary of State but did not confirm or deny hacking attempts the state had previously opted out of.

      To make matter worse, there appeared to be evidence the state’s voting systems had been compromised. A misconfigured server left voter records exposed, resulting in a lawsuit against state election officials. Somehow, due to malice or stupidity, a server containing key evidence needed in the lawsuit was mysteriously wiped clean, just days after the lawsuit was filed.

    • Let’s Encrypt Hits 50 Million Active Certificates and Counting

      In yet another milestone on the path to encrypting the web, Let’s Encrypt has now issued over 50 million active certificates. Depending on your definition of “website,” this suggests that Let’s Encrypt is protecting between about 23 million and 66 million websites with HTTPS (more on that below). Whatever the number, it’s growing every day as more and more webmasters and hosting providers use Let’s Encrypt to provide HTTPS on their websites by default.

    • Linux systems can still be hacked via USB sticks

      Linux systems could be a risk from malware on USB memory sticks, according to security researchers.

      The bug affects users running the KDE Plasma desktop environment, which is widely used in GNU/Linux distributions. The issue was discovered in soliduiserver/deviceserviceaction.cpp in KDE Plasma Workspace before 5.12.0.

    • Spectre & KPTI Get More Fixes In Linux 4.16, Offsets Some KVM Performance Losses

      While we are past the Linux 4.16 merge window, more Spectre and Meltdown related improvements and changes are still being allowed into the kernel, similar to all the KPTI/Retpoline work that landed late in Linux 4.15. On Wednesday was another big batch of KPTI and Spectre work that has already been merged.

    • Kali Linux Ethical Hacking OS Getting Fix for Meltdown & Spectre with Linux 4.15
    • UK blames Russia for NotPetya cyber-attack last year
    • UK formally blames Russia for NotPetya cyber attack

      Britain has formally blamed Russia for the NotPetya ransomware attack in June last year, with Foreign Office Minister Lord Ahmad saying the decision “underlines the fact that the UK and its allies will not tolerate malicious cyber activity”.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • BuckHacker: This Search Engine Lets You Find Hackable Servers With Ease
    • Microsoft patches two nasty Outlook bugs in latest Patch Tuesday release

      “Outlook attempts to open the pre-configured message on receipt of the email. You read that right – not viewing, not previewing, but upon receipt. That means there’s a potential for an attacker to exploit this merely by sending an email.”

    • A potent botnet is exploiting a critical router bug that may never be fixed

      In recent days, Satori has started infecting routers manufactured by Dasan Networks of South Korea. The number of daily infected routers is about 13,700, with about 82 percent of them located in Vietnam, a researcher from China-based Netlab 360 told Ars. Queries on the Shodan search index of Internet-connected devices show there are a total of more than 40,000 routers made by Dasan. The company has yet to respond to an advisory published in December that documented the code-execution vulnerability Satori is exploiting, making it possible that most or all of the devices will eventually become part of the botnet.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Mass shootings are getting deadlier. And the latest ones all have something new in common: The AR-15
    • US Media Turn to ‘Superhero’ Pence to Combat Korean Olympic Peace Threat

      North Korea, like virtually every country on earth, is using the Olympics this week as an opportunity for political theater, and this has greatly upset many in US media. Ostensibly this is because North Korea, marching with South Korea in the opening ceremonies and sending a squadron of cheerleaders to the Winter Games, is getting a pass on human rights abuses. But if one scratches the surface of the widespread outrage, it’s clear the real objection is that North and South Korea are having bilateral peace talks without the permission of—much less the participation of—the United States.
      Atlantic: Can North Korea Be Stopped?

    • Regime Change Fails: Is A Military Coup or Invasion of Venezuela Next?

      Several signals point to a possible military strike on Venezuela, with high-ranking officials and influential politicians making clear that it is a distinct possibility.

      Speaking at his alma mater, the University of Texas, on February 1, Secretary of State Tillerson suggested a potential military coup in in the country. Tillerson then visited allied Latin American countries urging regime change and more economic sanctions on Venezuela. Tillerson is also reportedly considering banning the processing or sale of Venezuelan oil in the United States and is discouraging other countries from buying Venezuelan oil.

    • Honduras Nearing Ten Years of Stolen Elections, Neo-Colonial Rule

      For weeks following its stolen election, the corrupt right-wing, neo-fascist government of Juan Orlando Hernández’s in Honduras has been terrorizing its people. Street protests and spontaneous blockades have been met by extreme violence. Dozens have already died on the frontlines and many more have been arrested and brutalized in detention, while often being held incommunicado.

    • Korean Olympic Diplomacy Moves Forward Despite U.S. Intransigence

      By many accounts, the Koreans – North and South – have prevailed over the disruptive desires of the United States, coming together in a series of very public actions, clearly meant to turn down the political heat generated by President Donald Trump and the U.S. pressure for military action. This pressure can be seen as a continuation of President Barack Obama’s “Asia Pivot,” a policy that called for full U.S. dominance in the region, including by containing China and the new emerging regional powers through a set of expansive, coordinated, and aggressive military alliances with Japan and other Pacific Rim countries.

    • Vietnam’s Lessons and the U.S. Culture of Violence

      Back in October, 2016 I wrote an analysis entitled “Are Humans Natural-Born Killers?” It described and commented on research on the origins of human violence published in the science journal Nature. The conclusion offered in the article is that humans come from an evolutionary line that has the capability for violent behavior genetically built into it. It is a reasonable hypothesis. As just about every serious historian knows, the human propensity for lethal violence goes back as far as the evidence can take us — so far that there can be little doubt that this trait is inherited from our pre-human ancestors.

    • U.N. Envoy Says Syrian Civilians Killed on a “Horrific Scale”

      In Syria, U.S. airstrikes and artillery fire last week reportedly killed scores of Russian mercenaries who had joined a failed assault on a base held by U.S. and Kurdish forces in Deir ez-Zor. Bloomberg reports that more than 200 soldiers-for-hire fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad were killed in the fighting, including many Russians. Meanwhile, some of the fiercest fighting in the 7-year-old conflict continues to rage in the northern city of Afrin, the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta and other parts of Syria. The United Nations special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, warned Wednesday that civilians have been killed on a “horrific scale,” with more than 1,000 killed in the first week of February alone.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • 21 dolphins die after washing up on Mexico beach

      Twenty-one dolphins that were apparently attacked by another species of dolphin have died after washing up on a beach in northern Mexico, authorities said.

      Environmental activists launched a frantic operation to try to save the dolphins after a group of 54 washed up on a rocky beach in Bahia de la Paz, in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

      They managed to get 33 of the short-beaked common dolphins back in the water alive, but the rest died on the beach, the Mexican environmental protection authority, Profepa, said in a statement.

    • How Rubber Duckies Could Help Us Save the Planet

      Yes, it is going to making ten rubber duck colonies on the beaches of Port Willunga, Australia using several thousand rubber ducks, which the scientists counted first, obviously. Each colony had a different number of fake ducks.

    • Ants nurse wounded warriors back to health: study

      African Matabele ants dress the wounds of comrades injured during hunting raids and nurse them back to health, according to an “astonishing” discovery reported Wednesday.

      After collecting their wounded from the battlefield and carrying them back home, nestmates become medics, massing around patients for “intense licking” of open wounds, according to a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

      This behaviour reduces the fatality rate from about 80 percent of injured soldiers to a mere 10 percent, researchers observed.

  • Finance
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Facebook tells publishers to take it or leave it

      Facebook hired Campbell Brown as its head of news partnerships on January 6th, 2017. At the time, Brown wrote that she would “help news organizations and journalists work more closely and more effectively with Facebook.” In a post that is no longer public, she wrote: “I will be working directly with our partners to help them understand how Facebook can expand the reach of their journalism, and contribute value to their businesses.”

    • [Older] Freelancing abroad in a world obsessed with Trump

      According to a study by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Trump was the focus of 41 percent of American news coverage in his first 100 days in office. That’s three times the amount of coverage showered on previous presidents. This laser-eyed focus on Trump has left little room for other crucial stories.

    • With His Assault on PBS and NPR, Trump Seeks to Eliminate Real News

      Conservative Republicans have been angling for years to zero out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides federal support for local PBS and National Public Radio stations. Prodded years ago by conservative columnist George Will, who asked “What about the cultural institutions? Conservatives have considerable grievances against the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the national endowments for the arts and the humanities. What’s their future?” To which House Speaker Newt Gingrich replied: “I personally would privatize them all.”

    • Has Anyone Seen the President?

      Bannon seems to view the Democrats less as the opposition party than figures of fun. “The Democrats don’t matter,” he had said to me over our lunch. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”

    • Help us monitor political advertising on Facebook in your state

      ProPublica has developed a browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox that automatically collects ads when you are on Facebook and allows you to classify the ads collected as “political” or “not political”.

      The political ads are sent to ProPublica’s database, along with the ad-targeting information. The ad-targeting information categories are usually things such as an age bracket, gender, a general geographic location and interest in a topic. You can see the information Facebook is using to show you ads by looking at the “adverts” menu in the Facebook settings.

    • U.S. Intelligence Chiefs Claim Russia Planning to Meddle in 2018 Election

      The intelligence community’s warnings during Tuesday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearings contradict President Trump, who has repeatedly cast doubt on whether Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump is currently under investigation for allegedly colluding with Russia ahead of the presidential election.

    • Who Is Weev, and Why Did He Derail a Journalist’s Career?

      In the span of about six hours yesterday, The New York Times announced the hiring of Quinn Norton as a tech columnist and then apparently fired her. The Times claims that their decision to “go their separate ways” was guided by “new information,” revealed through a social-media maelstrom, about slurs Norton had used on Twitter and about her friendship with someone called weev.

    • Porn Star Ready to Talk After Trump’s Lawyer Admits Payment
    • Vox Sentences: Turns out the White House entrance is a revolving door
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • At least 15 journalists held arbitrarily in Saudi crackdown

      Harassment of journalists has increased since last June. Some journalists who were abroad have preferred to stay there. Some have been forced to resign from what are regarded as “enemy” media. Others, according to our information, have chosen to censor themselves or to withdraw altogether from what was the only space left for free speech – social networks.

    • RSF’s decries journalist’s expulsion from Indonesia’s Papua region

      Jakarta, Jubi/RSF – After the BBC’s Indonesia editor was expelled from the country’s easternmost Papua region last weekend over a tweet, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) again urges the Indonesian authorities to allow journalists to report freely in the troubled region, which continues to be an information black hole.

    • Cambodia: Legislating New Tools of Repression

      The National Assembly passed amendments to five articles of the Cambodian constitution that tighten restrictions on voting rights and freedom of association and require every Cambodian citizen to “respect the constitution” and “defend the motherland.” Article 34 was changed to allow new restrictions on the right to vote, while Article 42 now gives the government authority to take action against political parties if they do not “place the country and nation’s interest first,” an amendment designed to target opposition parties. Article 53, which now states that Cambodia cannot interfere in the internal affairs of other countries since it opposes foreign interference in its own affairs, also appears to target the CNRP, which regularly appealed to donors and the United Nations to put pressure on the Cambodian government to hold free and fair elections and impose sanctions.

    • Facebook loses appeal as court rules in favor of nudity

      The Parisian court thought that this policy was incredibly inconvenient for the billions of claimants who don’t happen to live in California, so it upheld the decision against Facebook, requiring the company to respect the earlier finding’s authority and pay up.

    • Germany: Flawed Social Media Law

      The new German law that compels social media companies to remove hate speech and other illegal content can lead to unaccountable, overbroad censorship and should be promptly reversed, Human Rights Watch said today. The law sets a dangerous precedent for other governments looking to restrict speech online by forcing companies to censor on the government’s behalf.

    • Home Secretary reveals tool to block extremist content from the [I]nternet

      The government spent £600,000 on the tool, which was trained by its designers, ASI Data Science to recognise content related to IS, which would then be flagged up to a human who would decide if it should pass or not.

    • EFF Urges US Copyright Office To Reject Proactive ‘Piracy’ Filters

      As entertainment companies and Internet services spar over the boundaries of copyright law, the EFF is urging the US Copyright Office to keep “copyright’s safe harbors safe.” In a petition just filed with the office, the EFF warns that innovation will be stymied if Congress goes ahead with a plan to introduce proactive ‘piracy’ filters at the expense of the DMCA’s current safe harbor provisions.

    • Facebook pledges extremism purge after Unilever boycott threat

      Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods maker of brands from Dove to Persil, on Monday threatened social media companies with an advertising boycott if they failed to tackle abusive content.

    • Germany’s ‘Hate Speech’ Law May Evolve Into Wide Censorship – Watchdog

      Germany’s NetzDG (Network Enforcement Act), which requires social media networks to remove offensive content, could result in extensive censorship and should, therefore, be reversed, an international rights watchdog said Wednesday.

    • Filmmaker Chronicles History of State-Sanctioned Censorship in New Documentary

      “They are how we make sense of our lives,” says the assistant teaching professor of filmmaking and associate director of the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University–Camden. “Stories help us organize our thoughts, and to document and hand down our history. They have the ability to move masses, to make real change.”

    • Corporate giant Unilever demands crackdown on oppositional Internet content

      The drive to censor the Internet took another step this week with a public statement by Keith Weed, the chief marketing officer for the London-based multinational Unilever, threatening to withdraw advertising from social media platforms if they fail to suppress “toxic content.”

      Weed reportedly told an annual leadership meeting of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in Palm Desert, California that the company “will not invest in platforms or environments” that “create divisions in society, and promote anger or hate.” He added, “We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.”

    • Instagram, YouTube Face Full Block In Russia After Billionaire Wins A Privacy Lawsuit Over Pictures With An Alleged Escort

      We’ve had ongoing discussions on this site about the ham-fisted website censorship policy that Russia has undertaken over the past few years. While the country was never one to embrace free and open speech and communication to the same degree as Western nations, recent times have seen a severe uptick in outright censorship with a variety of excuses rolled out for public consumption: copyright laws, stifling political opposition, and the protection of the privacy of public figures. The funnel point for all of this censorship is Russian agency Rozcomnadzor, itself the subject of corruption allegations, with a track record for racking up collateral damage numbers that would make any nation’s army blush.

      Through it all, there have been suggestions that entire sites with massive global followings would be blocked. YouTube and Twitter were previously found to be in the crosshairs of the Russian government, but nothing immediately came of the threat. Now, however, both YouTube and Instagram may face a very real choice: bow to the censorship demands of Rozcomnadzor or face full site-blocks in Russia. And, perhaps most strangely, this has all come to a head over a Russian billionaire’s win in court to block the publication of photos and videos showing him on a yacht with what is reportedly an escort.

    • Russia Blocks Critic’s Site, Warns Google About Billionaire Yacht Videos
    • YouTube and Instagram face Russian bans
    • Oligarch Oleg Deripaska uses “right to privacy” to censor Russian media
    • YouTube Accused of Censorship After Coming Under Russian Pressure
    • Instagram submits to Russia censor’s demands
    • Nominees to Federal Trade Commission vow to investigate TripAdvisor for deleting reviews

      After publicized accounts from dozens of tourists that the popular travel website TripAdvisor had deleted postings describing their harrowing experiences, nominees for the Federal Trade Commission vowed to investigate the company if they are confirmed in the coming weeks.

      Questioned this week by members of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), all four nominees — Republican and Democrat —- said if confirmed they would commit to looking into the impact that the conduct of TripAdvisor and other travel rating websites have on the traveling public.

    • Wikileaks cables are admissible in English court proceedings

      The Supreme Court has held that the Administrative Court was wrong to exclude a Wikileaks cable from evidence. The underlying judicial review proceedings in R (Bancoult No.3) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2018] UK SC 3 concerned a challenge by the Chagos Refugees Group (CRG) to the British Government’s decision to establish a marine protected area around the Chagos islands, preventing Chagossians from continuing their commercial fishing businesses in the region. However, the issues raised are of wider application.

      At the heart of the case was a leaked cable from the US Embassy in London to the US State Department in Washington summarising a conversation between British and US officials regarding the reasons for establishing the protected area. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) argued that the cable formed part of the US Embassy’s diplomatic archive, which was protected by the 1961 Vienna Convention, and was therefore inadmissible.

    • House shows broad agreement on censorship protection for student journalists
    • Student journalists would be shielded from censorship under this Missouri proposal
    • Proposal Would Shield Student Journalists From Censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Facebook Funded Most of the Experts Who Vetted Messenger Kids

      Equally notable are the experts Facebook did not consult. Although Facebook says it spent 18 months developing the app, Common Sense Media and Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, two large nonprofits in the field, say they weren’t informed about it until weeks or days before the app’s debut.

    • (No) privacy by default? German court finds Facebook in breach of data

      Facebook has suffered a setback in a court case between the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband – vzbv) and the social network.

      The District Court of Berlin ruledthat several of Facebook’s default settings violated users’ right to privacy due to a lack of consent by the users. Also, the court found that German users are not obliged to use their real names for their Facebook profiles. On the other hand, the judges permitted Facebook’s claim that the service is ‘free, and always will be’.

      VZBV asked the court to rule upon 26 asserted breaches of data protection, privacy, competition and civil law. 14 of the claims were granted and 12 denied. For the sake of brevity, this Kat will focus on the most interesting aspects of the 37 page judgment.

    • Anonymity & entitlements’ aadhaar in Supreme Court
    • Constitutional validity of Aadhaar: the arguments in Supreme Court so far

      This batch of cases is directed at the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, 2016; the Aadhaar project from 2009 to 2016; parts of the project which are not covered by the Act; authorities’ attempts to make Aadhaar compulsory when not defined by the law; the government’s push to link Aadhaar numbers with SIM cards, bank accounts and PANs; and the move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits and subsidies.

    • Accurate Navigation Without GPS

      The global positioning system can locate you within 5 to 10 meters anywhere on Earth—as long as your receiver is in the line of sight of multiple satellites. Getting location information indoors is tricky. A team at the University of Utah has now put the solution underfoot: A suite of sensors and circuits mounted to a boot can determine position with an accuracy of about 5 meters, indoors or out, without GPS.

      The navigation system, installed in a very hefty prototype boot, could help rescue workers navigate inside buildings, and show firefighters where their team members are. It might also be integrated with virtual or augmented reality games. The Utah researchers presented their GPS-free navigation system on Tuesday at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

    • Hua-no-wei! NSA, FBI, CIA bosses put Chinese mobe makers on blast
    • CIA, FBI, NSA: We don’t recommend Huawei or ZTE phones
    • The NSA and FBI don’t see the irony of boycotting phones with built-in government backdoors

      Remember that whole Apple vs. FBI fight from early 2016? The government wanted to force Apple to develop what’s essentially a backdoor into iOS that only Apple and/or government officials would control to get into the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino’s shooters.

      Fast forward to more modern times, and we have six top US intelligence chiefs saying they do not trust devices made by Chinese smartphone makers Huawei and ZTE because they could be used to spy on US citizens. In other words, they believe the Chinese government would hold backdoors into these devices that would allow them to quietly collect data from millions of people.

      [...]

      The thing with backdoors is that, if they exist, security researchers or hackers would eventually find them.

    • CIA, FBI and NSA officials warn US citizens not to buy Huawei smartphones
    • The FBI, CIA and NSA say American citizens shouldn’t use Huawei phones
    • Nakasone tapped to take over NSA and CyberCommand
    • Trump has chosen nominee to lead NSA, US Cyber Command
    • White House official: Paul Nakasone nominated for NSA Director
    • Trump taps Army cyber chief as next NSA head
    • Trump Chooses Nominee To Lead NSA, U.S. Cyber Command
    • Facebook’s Protect iOS feature effectively installs spyware on iPhones and iPads

      So essentially the app is providing a form of non-malicious [sic] spyware that feeds Facebook’s already bulging data coffers. Not something many users of VPNs would expect or want.

    • Facebook is suggesting mobile users ‘Protect’ themselves…by downloading a Facebook-owned app that tracks their mobile usage

      Yet the Onavo app also tracks data that it shares with Facebook and others, “including the applications installed on your device, your use of those applications, the websites you visit and the amount of data you use,” according to its own privacy policies.

    • Tinder says it’ll eventually let women prevent men from messaging them first
    • What is the best online dating site and the best way to use it?

      Experian is basically a private spy agency. Their website boasts about how they can:

      Know who your customers are regardless of channel or device
      Know where and how to reach your customers with optimal messages
      Create and deliver exceptional experiences every time

      Is that third objective, an “exceptional experience”, what you were hoping for with their dating site honey trap? You are out of luck: you are not the customer, you are the product.

    • Online Dating Cannot Work Well

      Daniel Pocock (via planet.debian.org) points out what tracking services online dating services expose you to. This certainly is an issue, and of course to be expected by a free service (you are the product – advertisers are the customer). Oh, and in case you forgot already: some sites employ fake profiles to retain you as long as possible on their site… But I’d like to point out how deeply flawed online dating is. It is surprising that some people meet successfully there; and I am not surprised that so many dates turn out to not work: they earn money if you remain single, and waste time on their site, not if you are successful.

      I am clearly not an expert on online dating, because I am happily married. I met my wife in a very classic setting: offline, in my extended social circle. The motivation for this post is that I am concerned about seeing people waste their time. If you want to improve your life, eliminate apps and websites that are just distraction! And these days, we see more online/app distraction than ever. Smartphone zombie apocalpyse.

      [...]

      And you can find many more reports on “Generation Tinder” and its hard time to find partners because of inflated expectations. It is also because these apps and online services make you unhappy, and that makes you unattractive.

      Instead, I suggest you extend your offline social circle.

      For example, I used to go dancing a lot. Not the “drunken, and too loud music to talk” kind, but ballroom. Not only this can drastically improve your social and communication skills (in particular, non-verbal communication, but also just being natural rather than nervous), but it also provides great opportunities to meet new people with a shared interest. And quite a lot of my friends in dancing got married to a partner they first met at a dance.

    • What is it like to live in the world’s biggest experiment in biometric identity?
    • Irresistible bargains: Navigating the surveillance society

      Agents in contemporary societies are faced continually with choices regarding engagement with technological artifacts. They can choose to engage or decline engagement after considering the costs and benefits in each case. However, certain aspects of the surveillance society may be irresistible in a number of ways, so that refusal to engage with them is not a realistic option. The proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), particularly as embedded in “smart city” initiatives, helps to make surveillance technologies potentially irresistible. After laying the conceptual groundwork for discussing irresistible bargains, this essay offers a two-part normative critique, focusing on the asymmetrical power relations engendered by smart cities as well as harms inflicted on the self.

    • Mum faces €10,000 fine if she shares pictures of her son on Facebook

      The court in Rome ruled in the youngster’s favour, telling his mother she would be fined if she continued posting pictures of him. She will also face a financial penalty if she fails to remove historic news, videos and images of him.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Notable testimony from the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force corruption trial
    • ‘TERF’ isn’t just a slur, it’s hate speech

      But because the term itself is politically dishonest and misrepresentative, and because its intent is to vilify, disparage, and intimidate, as well as to incite and justify violence against women, it is dangerous and indeed qualifies as a form of hate speech. While women have tried to point out that this would be the end result of “TERF” before, they were, as usual, dismissed. We now have undeniable proof that painting women with this brush leads to real, physical violence. If you didn’t believe us before, you now have no excuse.

    • Social activism: Engaging millennials in social causes

      [...] unclear is the extent to which social media and social interactions influence millennials willingness to engage both online and in-person. Even so, the results of this study indicate millennials are open to using social media for social causes, and perhaps increasing engagement off-line too.

    • Dissidents are getting destroyed by information attacks and tech isn’t doing enough to help

      A pair of researchers from Toronto’s storied Citizen Lab (previously) have written an eye-opening editorial and call to action on the ways that repressive states have used the internet to attack dissidents, human rights advocates and political oppositions — and how the information security community and tech companies have left these people vulnerable.

    • Dissidents Have Been Abandoned and Besieged Online

      For several years, we have conducted research on targeted attacks against civil society and activists in Iran and elsewhere. From these experiences, one lesson in particular stands outs: human rights defenders and journalists are a canary in the coal mine for the attacks used to steal military secrets, coerce perceived foreign adversaries, and undermine critical infrastructure. Despite this chilling predicament, those at-risk populations are afforded substantially less opportunities to protect themselves and are often relegated to the margins of conversations about cyber security. This inequity is to the detriment of everyone, and must change if we want to improve the Internet for all communities.`

    • Kept out: How banks block people of color from homeownership

      Fifty years after the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in lending, African Americans and Latinos continue to be routinely denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts.

      This modern-day redlining persisted in 61 metro areas even when controlling for applicants’ income, loan amount and neighborhood, according to millions of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act records analyzed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

      The yearlong analysis, based on 31 million records, relied on techniques used by leading academics, the Federal Reserve and Department of Justice to identify lending disparities.

      It found a pattern of troubling denials for people of color across the country, including in major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Antonio. African Americans faced the most resistance in Southern cities – Mobile, Alabama; Greenville, North Carolina; and Gainesville, Florida – and Latinos in Iowa City, Iowa.

    • ICE Pressures Detained Immigrant To Recant Sexual Abuse Claims

      An incarcerated immigrant woman, who alleged sexual harassment and assault by a corrections officer, said she was thrown in solitary confinement for 60 hours and was told she would not be released until she publicly recanted her accusations.

      Laura Monterrosa is a 23 year old immigrant from El Salvador detained at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a private prison operated by CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America).

      Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based immigrant rights group advocating on behalf of Monterrosa, said she was isolated between 11:00 PM on Friday, February 9, and 11:00 AM on Monday, February 12. She was threatened with more isolation if she didn’t publicly state she was not sexually abused by staff.

      “This should not be happening in America,” said Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership. “Here you have a woman who came forward to report rampant sexual abuse inside of a federal facility. Instead of protecting her and ensuring the abuse stops, ICE is now putting Laura in solitary confinement with the expressed intent of tearing her down so she will do as they say.”

    • FBI says Chinese operatives active at scores of U.S. universities [Ed: It gives ammo to bigots who will now have excuses to harass Chinese-looking people in the US]

      Amid heightened concern about Russian election meddling, the FBI on Tuesday warned U.S. universities about Chinese intelligence operatives active on their campuses, adding that many academics display “a level of naiveté” about the level of infiltration.

      FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate intelligence committee that China has aggressively placed operatives at universities, “whether its professors, scientists, students,” and the bureau must monitor them from its 56 field offices across the nation.

    • Activist Sues ICE For Its Unconstitutional Targeting Of Immigrants’ First Amendment-Protected Activities

      ICE has been instructed to make the nation safer by deporting the “worst of the worst.” The nation will be made secure again, said the DHS, pointing to its report declaring three-quarters of those convicted for terrorism offenses were “foreign-born.” Of course, to reach this ratio, the DHS had to count people the US government had extradited to the US to face trial for terrorism attacks committed in foreign countries, but whatever. The point is: foreigners are dangerous and ICE is going to remove them. An ongoing “challenge” for ICE has been finding enough dangerous immigrants to deport, so it’s had to change its strategy a bit.

      So, if we’re trying to root out would-be terrorists and MS-13 gang members and undocumented immigrants with long domestic criminal rap sheets, why is ICE targeting people for their First Amendment activities? That’s what one rights activist wants to know, and he’s taking ICE to court to force it to explain itself. Kevin Gosztola of ShadowProof has more details.

    • ICE Keeps Challenging Federal Courts’ Authority — And Losing.

      In national assault on immigrants’ rights, ICE believes no population is off the table. U.S. law and courts say otherwise.

      In a recent span of 10 days, four courts issued decisions that could literally save lives.

      Our clients live across the United States, but all have been swept up in ICE’s aggressive new campaign to target communities previously considered low-priority for immigration enforcement, with ICE attempting to deport them as quickly as possible. Since July 2017, we have challenged this bully tactic in federal district courts across the country, filing cases on behalf of communities of Iraqis in Michigan, Indonesians in New Hampshire, Somalis in Florida, Cambodians in Southern California, and Indonesians in New Jersey.

      Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 2, judges across the country temporarily blocked the deportations of the four latter cases. The Iraqis, whose case was the first to be filed in June 2017, have already received a nationwide stay. For varying reasons, all these communities previously enjoyed a reprieve from deportation, in some cases for decades. However, with the change in administration, a target was placed on their backs. As Thomas Homan, ICE’s acting director, declared at a December press conference, “The president has made it clear in his executive orders: There’s no population off the table.”

    • Law Enforcement Use of Face Recognition Systems Threatens Civil Liberties, Disproportionately Affects People of Color: EFF Report

      San Francisco, California—Face recognition—fast becoming law enforcement’s surveillance tool of choice—is being implemented with little oversight or privacy protections, leading to faulty systems that will disproportionately impact people of color and may implicate innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit, says an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report released today.

      Face recognition is rapidly creeping into modern life, and face recognition systems will one day be capable of capturing the faces of people, often without their knowledge, walking down the street, entering stores, standing in line at the airport, attending sporting events, driving their cars, and utilizing public spaces. Researchers at the Georgetown Law School estimated that one in every two American adults—117 million people—are already in law enforcement face recognition systems.

      This kind of surveillance will have a chilling effect on Americans’ willingness to exercise their rights to speak out and be politically engaged, the report says. Law enforcement has already used face recognition at political protests, and may soon use face recognition with body-worn cameras, to identify people in the dark, and to project what someone might look like from a police sketch or even a small sample of DNA.

    • What Are The Ethical Issues Of Google — Or Anyone Else — Conducting AI Research In China?

      As the Macro Polo article notes, Google is unlikely to allow any of its AI products or technologies to be sold directly to the authorities for surveillance purposes. But there are plenty of other ways in which advances in AI produced at Google’s new lab could end up making life for Chinese dissidents, and for ordinary citizens in Xinjiang and Tibet, much, much worse. For example, the fierce competition for AI experts is likely to see Google’s Beijing engineers headhunted by local Chinese companies, where knowledge can and will flow unimpeded to government departments. Although arguably Chinese researchers elsewhere — in the US or Europe, for example — might also return home, taking their expertise with them, there’s no doubt that the barriers to doing so are higher in that case.

      So does that mean that Google is wrong to open up a lab in Beijing, when it could simply have expanded its existing AI teams elsewhere? Is this another step toward re-entering China after it shut down operations there in 2010 over the authorities’ insistence that it should censor its search results — which, to its credit, Google refused to do? “AI first” is all very well, but where does “Don’t be evil” fit into that?

    • Online Dating Made This Woman a Pawn in a Global Crime Plot

      The criminals who flipped Elrod from victim to accomplice, by contrast, have vanished. Ramseyer says he is unaware of any efforts to catch the scammers in Warri, and Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which did not respond to repeated inquiries, has posted no news of any arrests.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Mozilla refiles FCC lawsuit against net neutrality ruling

      Originally filed last month, the suit was initially dismissed on a technicality over the date of filing, a technicality which according to Mozilla is based on a concern that they had already flagged to the FCC as being problematic.

      This does give Mozilla a quandary, if the FCC decides to dawdle, as it cannot refile until there is the official publication of the repealed original.

    • Verisign Ends 2017 with 131.9 Million .com Domain Registrations

      Year-after-year, the dot com domain name base has continued to grow. Verisign, which manages the dot com and dot net registries, reported its fourth quarter financial results on Feb. 8, alongside its’ latest data on the number of registered domains.

    • FCC to review rules on children’s programming
    • Greens say net neutrality inquiry needed in Australia

      Greens digital rights spokesman Senator Jordon Steele-John (below, right) made the claim on Tuesday after the Opposition joined the Coalition Government to vote against a Greens motion seeking an inquiry into such protections because of public interest.

    • Mesh Networks

      At Offline Camp Oregon I had the pleasure of joining with many others to discuss a future of the web that devolves power and control over the physical networks that connect us, and grants it to the communities that these systems serve. With nation-states having become net neutrality’s last line of defense, and with many of those states in regulatory capture by telecoms, it becomes clearer every day that a libre web will require that we establish redundant, alternative physical infrastructure to support it. As long as the telcos own the wires, our traffic is subject to their whims.

    • The quantum internet has arrived (and it hasn’t)

      Before she became a theoretical physicist, Stephanie Wehner was a hacker. Like most people in that arena, she taught herself from an early age. At 15, she spent her savings on her first dial-up modem, to use at her parents’ home in Würzburg, Germany. And by 20, she had gained enough street cred to land a job in Amsterdam, at a Dutch Internet provider started by fellow hackers.

    • F.C.C. Watchdog Looks Into Changes That Benefited Sinclair
    • Congress Pressures FCC Boss Over His Total Failure To Police Net Neutrality Comment Fraud

      By now it’s pretty apparent that the FCC doesn’t much want to talk about who was behind the numerous bogus comments that flooded the agency’s net neutrality repeal proceeding. When I asked the FCC for help after someone lifted my identity to support repealing the rules, the FCC responded with the policy equivalent of a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Similarly, when New York Attorney General Eric Shneiderman approached the FCC looking for help identifying the culprit (9 requests over 5 months, he said in an open letter), the FCC blocked the investigation.

      Most analysts believe the effort was a ham-fisted attempt to erode trust in the public comment proceeding in order to downplay massive public opposition to the FCC’s plan (a tactic that has mysteriously plagued other government proceedings over the last year). The FCC could pretty quickly clear this all up by providing access to server logs and API key usage details to law enforcement. It’s consistent refusal to do so quickly dismantles agency boss Ajit Pai’s continued, breathless claims that he’s a massive fan of transparency and would run a more transparent operation than his predecessor.

  • DRM
    • HDCP Content Protection Support Called For Integration In DRM-Next / Linux 4.17

      In November of last year is when we reported on a Google developer proposing HDCP patches for Intel’s DRM Linux driver. In this case, DRM as in the Direct Rendering Manager but HDCP as in the controversial High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. HDCP is the digital copy protection for DP/DVI/HDMI for preventing HDCP-encrypted content from being played on unauthorized devices.

    • Verizon Begins Locking Down Its Phones Again, Purportedly To ‘Stop Theft’

      If you’ve been around a while, you probably know that Verizon has an adversarial relationship with openness and competition. The company’s history is rife with attempts to stifle competing emerging technologies that challenged Verizon’s own business interests, from its early attempts to block GPS and tethering apps so users would have to subscribe to inferior and expensive Verizon services, to its attempts to block competing mobile payment services to force users (again) onto Verizon’s own, inferior products. And that’s before you get to Verizon’s attempts to kill net neutrality and keep the broadband industry uncompetitive.

      In the earlier years, Verizon had a horrible tendency to lock down its devices to a crippling and comical degree. But with the rise of net neutrality, competition from carriers like T-Mobile, and open access conditions affixed to certain spectrum purchased by Verizon, the company slowly-but-surely loosened its iron grip on mobile devices. But let’s be clear: the company had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the new, more open future we all currently enjoy, where (by and large) you can install whatever apps you like on your device, and attach most mainstream devices (with some caveats) to Verizon’s network.

      That’s why more than a few eyebrows were raised after Verizon gave CNET the early exclusive news (apparently in the hopes that they’d frame it generously, which they did) that the company will soon be locking down its smartphones as part of a purported effort to “combat theft.” Carriers have been justly criticized (and sued) for doing too little to prevent theft, in part because they profit on both sides of the equation — both when a customer comes crying to Verizon to buy a new phone, and when the user with the stolen phone heads to Verizon to re-activate it on a new line.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Over 50 Libraries, Educators, Researchers Call On EU Parliament For Better Copyright

        More than 50 organisations representing a range of teachers, students, trainers, researchers, scientists, librarians and others have joined together to call on the European Parliament to improve European copyright reform for education.

      • EU Council Clears Way For Ratification Of Marrakesh Treaty For Visually Impaired By Summer

        The European Union Council of Ministers today adopted a decision that enables the EU to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty on access to published works for blind and visually impaired readers starting in summer. The copyright exceptions treaty negotiated at the World Intellectual Property Organization and adopted in 2013, went into effect in September 2016 but has been held up in Europe.

      • Will Canada Be the New Testing Ground for SOPA-lite? Canadian Media Companies Hope So

        A consortium of media and distribution companies calling itself “FairPlay Canada” is lobbying for Canada to implement a fast-track, extrajudicial website blocking regime in the name of preventing unlawful downloads of copyrighted works. It is currently being considered by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), an agency roughly analogous to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the U.S.

        The proposal is misguided and flawed. We’re still analyzing it, but below are some preliminary thoughts.

      • Judge Dismisses Playboy’s Dumb Copyright Lawsuit Against BoingBoing

        Well, that was incredibly quick. The district court judge hearing the case that Playboy filed against BoingBoing back in November has already dismissed it, though without prejudice, leaving it open for Playboy to try again. The judge noted that, given the facts before the court so far, it wasn’t even necessary to hold a hearing, since BoingBoing was so clearly in the right and Playboy so clearly had no case.

      • Anti-Piracy Video Masquerades As Anti-Malware Education And Is Filled With Lies

        As some of you may be aware, Safer Internet Day just passed. Started in the EU, the day is supposed to be used to educate the masses on some dangers that are tangentially or directly connected to the internet, such as malware awareness, cyberbullying, or abuses on social media sites. It’s also heavily supported by the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, which is a UK entertainment industry group that chiefly looks to “educate” the public on how super-awesome copyright is in every respect and how piracy and copyright infringement are the work of Satan.

        In a video titled… and I can’t believe I’m going to actually type this… Meet the Malwares, viewers in Australia are “educated” on exactly zero specific malware threats, but they are told that filesharing sites should be avoided completely. And if you’re thinking that there are a ton of other parts of the internet that are far riskier, rest assured that the video insists it’s all about file sharing sites.

      • Smart Meter Company Landis+Gyr Now Using Copyright To Try To Hide Public Records

        Back in 2016 we wrote about how Landis+Gyr, a large multinational company owned by Toshiba, completely freaked out when it discovered that documents about its smart energy meters, which the city of Seattle had contracted to use, were subject to a FOIA request. As we noted, Landis+Gyr went legal and did so in perhaps the nuttiest way possible. First it demanded the documents be taken down from Muckrock — the platform that makes it easy for journalists and others to file FOIA requests. Then it demanded that Muckrock reveal the details of anyone who might have seen the documents in question. It then sued Muckrock and somehow got a court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Muckrock for posting these public records.

      • Court Dismisses Playboy’s Lawsuit Against Boing Boing (For Now)

        In a win for free expression, a court has dismissed a copyright lawsuit against Happy Mutants, LLC, the company behind acclaimed website Boing Boing. The court ruled [PDF] that Playboy’s complaint—which accused Boing Boing of copyright infringement for linking to a collection of centerfolds—had not sufficiently established its copyright claim. Although the decision allows Playboy to try again with a new complaint, it is still a good result for supporters of online journalism and sensible copyright.

        Playboy Entertainment’s lawsuit accused Boing Boing of copyright infringement for reporting on a historical collection of Playboy centerfolds and linking to a third-party site. In a February 2016 post, Boing Boing told its readers that someone had uploaded scans of the photos, noting they were “an amazing collection” reflecting changing standards of what is considered sexy. The post contained links to an imgur.com page and YouTube video—neither of which were created by Boing Boing.

        EFF, together with co-counsel Durie Tangri, filed a motion to dismiss [PDF] on behalf of Boing Boing. We explained that Boing Boing did not contribute to the infringement of any Playboy copyrights by including a link to illustrate its commentary. The motion noted that another judge in the same district had recently dismissed a case where Quentin Tarantino accused Gawker of copyright infringement for linking to a leaked script in its reporting.

      • Judge Tosses Playboy’s Lawsuit Over Links to Centerfold Photos

        Playboy in November sued Happy Mutants, claiming the company’s site Boing Boing infringed its rights by linking to “Every Playboy Playmate Centerfold Ever.”

        “Some wonderful person uploaded scans of every Playboy Playmate centerfold to imgur,” states the Feb. 29, 2016, post on Boing Boing. “It’s an amazing collection, whether your interests are prurient or lofty. Kind of amazing to see how our standards of hotness, and the art of commercial erotic photography, have changed over time.”

        Boing Boing then linked to the imgur collection and a YouTube video, both of which appear to have since been removed.

        U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin on Wednesday dismissed Playboy’s complaint with leave to amend, asking the magazine to carefully evaluate the contentions made in Happy Mutants’ motion to dismiss before drafting a second amended complaint.

        In short, the website owner argues that there is no evidence that Boing Boing copied or displayed the centerfold photos or that any of its users downloaded the images instead of viewing them.

Bavarian State Parliament Has Upcoming Debate About Issues Which Can Thwart UPC for Good

Thursday 15th of February 2018 09:25:05 PM

Bavarian State Parliament due to debate motion about the EPO Boards of Appeal

Summary: An upcoming debate about Battistelli’s attacks on the EPO Boards of Appeal will open an old can of worms, which serves to show why UPC is a non-starter

A preliminary discussion is scheduled to take place at the next sitting of the EU Affairs Committee of the Bavarian State Parliament at 12:30 on Tuesday 20 February 2018.

It is expected that the motion will then be forwarded for a debate before a plenary session of the Parliament some time within the next couple of weeks.

An image of the motion (in German) is shown above along with an English translation below.

Bavarian State Parliament

17th Parliamentary Term 06.02.2018 Printed matter 17/20577

Motion

Dr. Hubert Aiwanger, Florian Streibl, Prof. (Univ. Lima) Dr. Peter Bauer, Dr. Hans Jürgen Fahn, Thorsten Glauber, Eva Gottstein, Joachim Hanisch, Johann Häusler, Dr.. Leopold Herz, Nikolaus Kraus, Peter Meyer, Prof. Dr. Michael Piazolo, Bernhard Pohl, Gabi Schmidt, Dr. Karl Vetter, Jutta Widmann, Benno Zierer and parliamentary group (FREIE WÄHLER)

Safeguard the independence of the Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Office

The State Parliament wishes to adopt the following resolution:

The State Government [of Bavaria] is called upon to advocate at federal and European level the adoption of measures within the European Patent Office to safeguard the independence of the Boards of Appeal and thus to ensure effective legal protection.

Explanatory statement:

A number of documented incidents, as set out below, raise serious doubts about the independence of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO). The apparent loss of legal certainty requires action as soon as possible.

1. On 6 December 2017, the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation (ILOAT) ruled that a judge of the Boards of Appeal who had been unlawfully suspended was to be immediately reinstated in his official position, that the house ban imposed on him was to be lifted and that compensation for damages was to be paid (Judgments Nos. 3958 and 3960). In doing so, the ILOAT confirmed that the involvement of the EPO President was detrimental to the independence of the Boards of Appeal, because he had acted as both party and advisor to the Disciplinary Body for the EPO judges in internal disciplinary proceedings. This gives rise to the criticism that insufficient attention was paid to the separation of powers in this regard. After all a suspension by the Administrative Council can only be formally take place if the Enlarged Board of Appeal makes a proposal to that effect. At the time in question, however, after the Office Administration had made a written intervention in the ongoing proceedings, the judicial body refused to do so due to this interference and terminated the proceedings without a proposal. Even after the Geneva judgement of December 2017, the Administration initially refused the unlawfully suspended judge access to the EPO premises. Only after some delay did the President of the Boards of Appeal grant the right of entry but his competence was limited to announcing this for the premises in Haar. Ultimately, the unjustly suspended judge was prevented from exercising his – intrinsically independent – judicial position until the end of his term of office.

2. Leading lawyers, such as the former Federal Constitutional Court judge Prof. Dr. Siegfried Broß, have long questioned the independence of the Boards of Appeal. For example, in an interview with the specialist journal JUVE on 29 October 2015, he pointed out that the Boards of Appeal could not be recognised as having the character of a court of law quality, given that there was an obvious overlap in terms of staffing between the President of the Office and the supervision of the Boards of Appeal. In the meantime, a reform of the Boards of Appeal was initiated by the summer of 2016 which resulted in the spatial separation of the Boards of Appeal by moving to Haar at the end of 2017. However, there was no fundamental change to the administrative structure: the President remains the head of both the administration and the Boards of Appeal. In this way, he continues to have influence both in terms of staffing and resources.

3. At least partly due to this background, there are a number of constitutional complaints against decisions of the EPO pending before the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) in which the legal structure of the proceedings before the Boards of Appeal is alleged to be unconstitutional (see the BVerfG’s Annual Preview 2017): Az. 2 BvR 2480/10, Az. 2 BvR 421/13, Az. 2 BvR 756/16, Az. 2 BvR 786/16). Without trying to anticipate a final court decision at this juncture, it at least deserves to be noted that, for diverse reasons, several complainants have had serious reservations from a constitutional perspective about the rule-of-law conformity of the proceedings and have thus felt compelled to submit their concerns to the Federal Constitutional Court. Accordingly, this development provides additional confirmation of the findings set forth under 1 and 2. A particular highlight in this regard is the recent request by the Federal Constitutional Court to the German President not to sign off the implementing laws for the European Unitary Patent. This occurred against the background of a successful application for a temporary injunction (Case No. 2 BvR 739/17), which is likely to raise concerns about the rule of law in proceedings before the EPO. Finally, the question of the independence of the Boards of Appeal will also have a significant impact on the proposed Unitary Patent should the EPO be entrusted with the issuing of patents with unitary effect despite the existing deficiencies in the system of legal protection.

The aforementioned shortcomings in this area clearly create considerable uncertainty because, it is feared that both definitively rejected patent applications and finally revoked patents can no longer be examined by independent judges. Hence, important fundamental questions arise about the constitutional conformity of the appeal structures in the EPO. This is why the state government must take appropriate action at federal and European level so that the existing deficiencies in the system of legal protection are redressed and the prestige of this international organisation is not subject to further damage.

They hopefully understand the importance and urgency of this matter.

The EPO is Being Destroyed and There’s Nothing Left to Replace It Except National Patent Offices

Thursday 15th of February 2018 08:51:23 PM

A bonfire of what was supposed to be promising, lifelong careers (justifying relocation of entire families — children included — to a foreign country). Where’s ILO when one needs it?


Reference: International Labour Organization

Summary: It looks like Battistelli is setting up the European Patent Office (EPO) for mass layoffs; in fact, it looks as though he is so certain that the UPC will materialise that he obsesses over “validation” for mass litigation worldwide, departing from a “model office” that used to lead the world in terms of patent quality and workers’ welfare/conditions

THE goal of EPO management seems to be the destruction of the EPO and driving away its most valuable assets: the examiners. National Patent Offices (NPOs) are the only fallback (except USPTO and other ‘IP5′ offices), for the UPC is falling flat on its face and patent applications at the EPO decline in number. In fact, applications impending examination too are running out (maybe will have run out by this year’s end).

EPO workers are very smart people. They know what’s going on. The impending mass layoffs (possibly the new job of the ex-banker, Campinos) aren’t hard to envision.

“EPO wants in a soon future to be able to get rid of staff as it see fit,” Anonymous said this afternoon, linking to a new article about a letter which we published yesterday. SUEPO too has cited this article (some time around the afternoon). To quote bits from it:

The latest version of a proposal to scrap permanent employment contracts at the European Patent Office (EPO) for the “modernisation” of its employment framework has come under fire.

According to a letter from the EPO’s Central Staff Committee (CSC), addressed to members and heads of the office’s administrative council, the new version of the framework “does not answer nor address any of the demands and objections of the CSC concerning the previous [version]”.

The original proposal for the removal of permanent employment contracts for all new staff in favour of renewable five-year fixed-term contracts was revealed in November last year.

The change was aimed at the “modernisation of the employment framework of the EPO” and would ensure the office’s “long-term sustainability” and allow for a more “flexible management of the EPO’s workforce”

Put two and two together. It’s not hard to see what’s happening. I don’t want to say it out loud too often, but SUEPO habitually says it anyway… there’s plenty of layoffs on the way (e.g. termination of employment contract by virtue of it not being renewed/extended). It’s a modus operandi ILO has publications about. Are German politicians OK with that? Are they thoroughly intoxicated by the UPC, which is unconstitutional and not happening anyway? Earlier today SUEPO posted this PDF (in German). Is Bavaria/Germany getting its act together? It might already be too late. The value of European Patents (EPs) is in a freefall. So is the quality of EPs. The EPO just retweets buzzwords such as this one from today (as Battistelli and IAM recently admitted, it is just a mask for software patents and those patents are clearly against the rules and thus likely invalid).

“In 2016 alone,” it said, “there were more than 5,000 patent applications for autonomous related inventions!! #Industry40 #IoT #AI” (that’s 4 buzzwords for software patents in just one tweet!)

Suffice to say, most “autonomous” things just mean software. I know, having come from that area of research and developed some programs for several domains (autonomous car navigation, medical analysis etc.).

French Connection?

Betting on a French UPC President (Battistelli is alleged to be after this job, which is said to be reserved for a French person)? How about today’s EPO puff piece, published in a former French colony with no EPs? From a human rights perspective, Battistelli might fit in just fine over there (see what HRW has just published). When reading this remember that Cambodia has no EPs: “Cambodia will soon become a validation state in the European patent system, allowing the 38 members of the European Patent Organisation to apply to validate their patents within the Kingdom. According to an agreement struck between the EPO and Cambodian Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts last month, EPO members will be able to validate their patents in Cambodia beginning March 1.”

Wow. What an accomplishment for Battistelli. Unfortunately for him, his career may be over because having spoken to some IP lawyers, it seems like nothing happened in the UK today. What does Bristows say? Nothing. France already ratified, so obsessing over UPC in relation to France (as Bristows did today, shifting focus away from the UK) is a lousy little decoy. IAM is meanwhile crossposting UPC stuff (pressuring Germany over the complaint) for increased reach because that’s where the main question lies. From what we heard today (again, from IP lawyers), some of them now embrace a baseless conspiracy theory that someone is secretly funding the complaint and the complainant. Evidence for that? None. But then again, what can be expected from people who label UPC opponents “idiots” and “trolls”?

IBM is Getting Desperate and Now Suing Microsoft Over Lost Staff, Not Just Suing Everyone Using Patents

Thursday 15th of February 2018 07:32:24 PM

Recent: Famed Journalist Dan Gillmor Calls IBM the Inventor of Patent Trolling

Summary: IBM’s policy when it comes to patents, not to mention its alignment with patent extremists, gives room for thought if not deep concern; the company rapidly becomes more and more like a troll

THE DAYS of IBM as a friend of developers are long gone. About a decade ago we were supportive of IBM for all sorts of reasons, including OpenDocument Format (ODF). But nowadays IBM is a patent bully which lobbies for software patents, just like Microsoft. Simply because IBM is “not Microsoft” (the same goes for Apple) does not imply that it’s benign or even desirable.

“…nowadays IBM is a patent bully which lobbies for software patents, just like Microsoft.”Our previous post was about Microsoft's patent bullying. It’s something it has in common with IBM and its battles over software patents (albeit on the defensive side) are being brought up this week (quotes from Enfish, LLC v Microsoft, a decision which was used a lot last year as an argument for software patents).

From one lobbyist of software patents (and patent thug) to another jumps Ms McIntyre. According to this report from this week: “In a motion filed today, McIntyre says IBM has no evidence she has or will misappropriate any IBM information and that the company is covered by an ongoing NDA. She also says she informed IBM of the Microsoft job offer in January, which was when she was terminated.”

“He’s linking to Watchtroll, as usual, and when he speaks of “improving the US patent system” he means facilitating patent blackmail by the likes of IBM.”IBM just shows how desperate it has become. How long before IBM has more lawyers than actual engineers?

What has IBM been reduced to? Watch this tweet from IBM’s Manny Schecter (the patent chief). It’s embarrassing. He’s linking to Watchtroll, as usual, and when he speaks of “improving the US patent system” he means facilitating patent blackmail by the likes of IBM. How convenient. He said: “Former Patent Commish Stoll describes tough sledding ahead for new Director Iancu in improving the US #patent system: What should USPTO Director Andrei Iancu do first?”

IBM is already lobbying through Mr. Kappos, a former IBM employee whom we wrote about last night. Iancu should watch out because Watchtroll and Schecter are trying to manipulate him rather than help him. So does Stoll, who was supposed to ‘retire’ 7 years ago.

“IBM is already lobbying through Mr. Kappos, a former IBM employee whom we wrote about last night. Iancu should watch out because Watchtroll and Schecter are trying to manipulate him rather than help him.”Schecter seems to be feeling some heat. He has just said: “Must be doing something right when both extreme pro-patent pundits and extreme anti-patent pundits are concerned about my views…”

“Patent policies of companies (or people who manage these policies) matter depending on the context,” I told him. The very fact is, IBM’s patent policies come to a large degree from him and his association with “extreme pro-patent pundits” (his words) like Watchtroll does him no favour.

Watch this reply which insinuates Schecter is doing “something wrong.”

“To intelligent people,” he said, “labeling and demonizing critics is a red flag that the merits of one’s ideology are questionable. Stick to the merits.”

“We worry that sooner or later there will be nothing left of IBM other than a pile of patents and a long list of pending lawsuits.”Earlier this week, IBM’s friends at Watchtroll (extremists like Paul Morinville) did their usual shaming of patent reform and more of that China bashing (never mind if IBM sells a lot of its business to Chinese firms such as Lenovo).

We worry that sooner or later there will be nothing left of IBM other than a pile of patents and a long list of pending lawsuits. It’s then that IBM formally becomes a patent troll.

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