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11.18.12

Links 18/11/2012: Linux 3.7 RC6, FreeBSD.org Intrusion

Posted in News Roundup at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • LongTail Video Launches New Version Of Its Open Source Video Player, With Support For Apple HLS
  • Events

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD.org intrusion announced November 17th 2012

      On Sunday 11th of November, an intrusion was detected on two machines within the FreeBSD.org cluster. The affected machines were taken offline for analysis. Additionally, a large portion of the remaining infrastructure machines were also taken offline as a precaution.

    • DragonFlyBSD 3.2.1 vs. Ubuntu Linux Performance

      At the beginning of this month there was the release of DragonFlyBSD 3.2.1 that claimed a battle for speed against Linux with major improvements for the multi-threaded application performance against Linux. PostgreSQL was the only benchmark cited by the DragonFly camp with the new performance results, so a couple Phoronix tests were carried out.

      Being interested in seeing what changes DragonFlyBSD 3.2.1 has for performance against the earlier DragonFlyBSD 3.0 release and Linux distributions, I ran a couple quick and informal benchmarks. For the available hardware, an Intel Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition CPU was used, which has six physical cores plus Hyper Threading. Intel HT plus the individual cores can be easily toggled from the BIOS of the motherboard.

    • Hackers obtained access to FreeBSD servers

      The team behind the FreeBSD operating system reported that an intrusion into two of its servers was detected on 11 November. The security team says that the two affected servers were taken offline immediately and that investigations show that the first unauthorised access probably took place on 19 September. Apparently, the intruders didn’t exploit any security holes in FreeBSD; instead, they stole the SSH key of a developer with regular access privileges.

  • Project Releases

  • Programming

    • Clang Can Analyze Code Comments, Generate Docs

      Aside from why LLVM/Clang was ported to one of the fastest super computer’s in the world and using Clang to implement Microsoft’s C++ AMP, another interesting session at this month’s LLVM Developers’ Conference in San Jose was about using Clang to analyze code comments.

      By having Clang parse documentation comments, Clang could be enhanced to do additional semantic checking, ensure the code comments remain relevant to the actual code, and code completion APIs could take advantage of the documentation within the code. Ultimately, a Doxygen-like tool could be created based upon Clang for generating proper documentation out of the code itself and the associated comments. Further out, automatic comment re-factoring could be done to update names referenced within the inline code comments so that the resulting documentation is always up-to-date.

    • Pairing A C Compiler With QEMU’s Code Generator

      Earlier this week when writing about the state of the Tiny C Compiler, I learned more about QCC. QCC is a new initiative to pair a forked version of the Tiny C Compiler (TCC) with QEMU’s code generator.

      The QCC compiler is being worked on by Rob Landley, a developer with much compiler development experience that previously worked on early 64-bit TCC support. The QEMU CPU emulator has a code generator named TCG, which is short for Tiny Code Generator. The TCG generator translates code fragments from any target code supported by QEMU into a code representation that can be then executed on the host.

Leftovers

  • following in ethically-challenged footsteps of Scalia and Thomas

    Oops: They’re doing it again: Another Supreme Court Justice flouts ethical standards

  • Science

    • Why Cell Phones Went Dead After Hurricane Sandy

      After Hurricane Sandy, survivors needed, in addition to safety and power, the ability to communicate. Yet in parts of New York City, mobile communications services were knocked out for days.

      The problem? The companies that provide them had successfully resisted Federal Communications Commission calls to make emergency preparations, leaving New Yorkers to rely on the carriers’ voluntary efforts.

  • Security

    • What do we do about untrustworthy Certificate Authorities?

      OpenSSL maintainer and Google cryptographer Ben Laurie and I collaborated on an article for Nature magazine on technical systems for finding untrustworthy Certificate Authorities. We focused on Certificate Transparency, the solution that will shortly be integrated into Chrome, and also discuss Sovereign Keys, a related proposal from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Both make clever use of cryptographic hashes, arranged in Merkle trees, to produce “untrusted, provable logs.”

    • Anonymous attacks over 650 Israeli sites, wipes databases, leaks email addresses and passwords (updated)

      When the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) this week began taking military action in the Gaza strip against Hamas (as the IDF announced on Twitter), Anonymous declared its own war as part of #OpIsrael. Among the casualties are thousands of email addresses and passwords, hundreds of Israeli Web sites, government-owned as well as privately owned pages, as well as databases belonging to Bank Jerusalem and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • True Amount of BP Settlement Will Depend on Hidden Tax Giveaways

      Today, BP agreed to a $4.5 billion settlement to resolve felony and misdemeanor charges related to the Gulf oil spill, but taxpayers may end up indirectly covering up to 35 percent of that amount if the company is allowed to take the settlement as a tax write-off.

      “The judge shouldn’t approve this settlement if BP could pass off much of this settlement cost onto taxpayers,” said Phineas Baxandall, the Senior Tax and Budget Policy Analyst at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG). “Especially in the context of pressing budget shortfalls, every dollar BP writes off means an additional dollar Americans will pay in the form of higher taxes, budget cuts, or more national debt.”

    • Fukushima fish ‘may be inedible for a decade’

      Fish from the waters around the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan could be too radioactive to eat for a decade to come, as samples show that radioactivity levels remain elevated and show little sign of coming down, a marine scientist has warned.

    • How BP’s historic Deepwater Horizon fine will be paid by the US military

      An explosion Friday on a rig in the Gulf owned by Houston-based Black Elk Energy has reportedly injured several workers, with four missing, two possibly killed. This latest incident – just a day after the US department of justice’s historic settlement with BP over the Deepwater Horizon disaster – highlights the risks of offshore oil-drilling, and the need for tougher regulations on one of America’s most hazardous industries.

  • Finance

    • Economists: US Wages Stagnant for Over a Decade

      As wages remain stagnant since 2002, the past ten years have been effectively been a “lost decade for workers,” says writer Kevin G. Hall.

    • Slovenia Should Sell Assets to Lure Investors, Goldman Says

      Slovenia, the first post-communist nation to introduce the euro in 2007, is struggling to avoid the need for a bailout from international lenders as political gridlock grips the nation of 2 million people. The government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa is pushing ahead with an overhaul of the economy with some measures threatened by a possible referendum.

      Labor unions and opposition leaders have filed a motion for a people’s vote on government plans to recapitalize state-owned lenders like Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d. and the creation of a wealth fund.

    • Occupy hatches plot to destroy payday loan industry

      In today’s ever-perplexing world of personal finance, there’s no question consumers could benefit from a little clarity.

      Just don’t expect to find any in the pages of Occupy Wall Street’s new manifesto on consumer debt.

  • Censorship

    • Yelp Takes Down Review That Sparked Legal Threat

      Yesterday we had the story of how an 18-month-old Yelp review for Casey Movers in Massachusetts spurred the company to send a legal threat to the author, Kristen Buckley, leading her husband, Phil Buckley to do some research and uncover questionable “positive” reviews of the company, and to call the company out for its legal threat. That story has been getting a lot of attention from a variety of sources, and some have noticed that the original review is gone. Yes, gone. If you go there, you can now see Kristen’s followup comment about the legal threat, and Casey Movers’ response to the original review — but not the original review itself.

    • Christian wins case against employers over gay marriage comments

      A Christian who was demoted for posting his opposition to gay marriage on Facebook has won a legal case against his employer.

      Adrian Smith lost his managerial position, had his salary cut by 40%, and was given a final written warning by Trafford Housing Trust (THT) after posting in February last year that gay weddings in churches were “an equality too far”.

    • Victory: government backs down from “default” filtering?

      According to reports this Saturday in the Daily Mail and Telegraph, David Cameron will be asking ISPs to ask customers if they have children, and if so, help them install filtering technology.

      While the Daily Mail cite this as a “victory” for their campaign to switch porn off in every household, and allow people to “opt in to porn”, in fact it would be a humiliating climb down.

    • Restrictions to Internet free speech: Assange and Manning

      The US quite regularly rebukes Russia for putting a leash on the freedom of speech. This May, the US State Department focused on the Russian media in its annual human rights report.

    • What you can and can’t say on social networking sites

      The situation raises an interesting debate about the right to free speech and protecting people from unjustified attacks.

  • Privacy

    • UK government threatens firms over hidden customer data

      The UK government has repeated its threat to legislate if businesses do not voluntarily release data gathered on customers who ask to see it.

    • German police stop man with mobile office in car

      Forget texting while driving. German police say they nabbed a driver who had wired his Ford station wagon with an entire mobile office.

      Saarland state police said Friday the 35-year-old man was pulled over for doing 130 kph (80 mph) in a 100 kph zone while passing a truck Monday.

  • Civil Rights

    • Taliban Oops Reveals Mailing List IDs

      Somewhere out there, Mullah Omar must be shaking his head.

      In a Dilbert-esque faux pax, a Taliban spokesperson sent out a routine email last week with one notable difference.He publicly CC’d the names of everyone on his mailing list.

      The names were disclosed in an email by Qari Yousuf Ahmedi, an official Taliban spokesperson, on Saturday. The email was a press release he received from the account of Zabihullah Mujahid, another Taliban spokesperson. Ahmedi then forwarded Mujahid’s email to the full Taliban mailing list, but rather than using the BCC function, or blind carbon copy which keeps email addresses private, Ahmedi made the addresses public.

    • Leaders should be sacked for incompetence, not cheating

      US generals Petraeus and Allen had to bow to what feels close to mob rule. Is this how we do accountability now?

    • Why smart people do dumb things online

      Petraeus is smart: He graduated in the top 5% of his class at West Point and went on to earn a Ph.D.

      Petraeus has self-control: His self-discipline was “legendary,” according to Time Magazine.

      And Petraeus knows what he’s doing: During his time as a four-star general and as director of the CIA, he acquired an intimate knowledge of how easily email can be hacked.

      And that’s why it’s so incredible that even Petraeus did the dumbest thing imaginable when it came to his email: He trusted it with his secrets.

      Allegedly.

    • Trying to Keep Your E-Mails Secret When the C.I.A. Chief Couldn’t

      In the past, a spymaster might have placed a flower pot with a red flag on his balcony or drawn a mark on page 20 of his mistress’s newspaper. Instead, Mr. Petraeus used Gmail. And he got caught.

      Granted, most people don’t have the Federal Bureau of Investigation sifting through their personal e-mails, but privacy experts say people grossly underestimate how transparent their digital communications have become.

      [...]

      Google reported that United States law enforcement agencies requested data for 16,281 accounts from January to June of this year, and it complied in 90 percent of cases.

    • Website Calls Out Authors of Racist Anti-Obama Posts
    • In UK, Twitter, Facebook rants land some in jail

      One teenager made offensive comments about a murdered child on Twitter. Another young man wrote on Facebook that British soldiers should “go to hell.” A third posted a picture of a burning paper poppy, symbol of remembrance of war dead.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Ofcom: mobile blocking Skype but we don’t care

      ISPreview UK: “Ofcom used this report to keep a close eye (sic) on the issue of Net Neutrality and Traffic Management, although they found that “there are currently no substantive concerns in relation to the traffic management practices used by fixed ISPs“. The regulator noted some “concern” with how some mobile operators block Skype (VoIP) but not enough to take any action against.” The traffic management section starts on p49 and includes this choice example of how ISPs are largely ignoring Ofcom’s evidence-gathering:

    • Russia demands broad UN role in Net governance, leak reveals

      Leaked document from upcoming treaty negotiations reveals Russia wants transfer of authority over Net to national governments. The U.N.’s increasingly shrill denials are ringing ever more hollow.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • DuPont-Dow Corn Defeated by Armyworms in Florida: Study

      Fall armyworms in southern Florida survived a pesticide engineered into corn by Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) and DuPont Co., the second insect to show signs of resistance to genetically modified crops in the U.S., according to a study.
      Fall armyworms ate the leaves of corn engineered to produce an insecticidal protein and lived, according to 2012 field trial data presented Nov. 13 at a conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. The protein is marketed by Dow and DuPont as Herculex.

    • MEPs demand better evaluation of GMOs

      The study by the biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini (University of Caen), conducted over two years on rats fed diets containing genetically modified maize (NK603 variety), with and without the Roundup herbicide, as well as with Roundup alone, the results of which were published on September 19 in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, has reignited the debate about the possible risks associated with the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and the reliability of the 90-day toxicology studies previously used to justify their approval.

    • Copyrights

Apple’s Patent Case Against Samsung (Android) May be Destroyed

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Car on fire

Summary: Apple’s settlement can harm the Apple vs Samsung case

The Apple vs HTC case is over with a seemingly peaceful settlement. The speculations that HTC pays Apple seem to be pure fabrication. Tim Worstall, writing at Forbes, says that this might have some serious implications for the Samsung case (with billions of dollars at stake). To quote:

A little piece of legal finagling that could have some very interesting results. Apple has, as we know, settled with HTC over patents. And reached a general patent cross licensing agreement. Yet Apple, in the Samsung cases, seems to be saying that there are certain patents that it would never license. For getting mere money for them would never be enough. It’s on that that the potential Samsung product bans rest. For judges, if money’s a good enough compensation, prefer not to ban products.

Samsung asks the judge to see the settlement’s details:

Apple settled its patent disputes with HTC last Saturday, and lawyers from Samsung were paying attention. Papers filed in federal court Friday show that by Monday afternoon, Samsung was asking to get a look at that license agreement.

It isn’t exactly clear what patents are covered in the agreement, but at least two of the patents Apple was using against HTC were also being used against Samsung. If Apple licensed those patents, that wouldn’t be in accordance with how a key Apple witness described the company’s patent policies. At trial, Apple IP chief Boris Teksler said the company tended to not license its most “unique user patents” at all, especially to competitors, as Reuters noted today.

Here is what Reuters wrote:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – When Apple Inc and HTC Corp last week ended their worldwide legal battles with a 10-year patent licensing agreement, they declined to answer a critical question: whether all of Apple’s patents were covered by the deal.

The article says that “Apple co-founder Jobs promised to go “thermonuclear” on Android, and that threat has manifested in Apple’s repeated bids for court-imposed bans on the sale of its rivals’ phones.

“Cook, on the other hand, has said he prefers to settle rather than litigate, if the terms are reasonable. But prior to this month, Apple showed little willingness to license its patents to an Android maker.”

Is this the end of it then? The report says that: “Specific terms are unknown, though analysts have speculated that HTC will pay Apple somewhere between $5 and $10 per phone.”

That is pure speculation and most likely just FUD. Let’s hope that Apple is willing to withdraw its legal actions and start competing based on merit, not patents.

Groklaw Says Apple Cannot Sue Over Android as a Whole, Reuters Disagrees

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 9:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thorny Apple

Thorn

Summary: Updates on FRAND fight and other patent fights against Android

A COUPLE of Groklaw reporters attend a Linux/Android trial which has been stacked with lots of Microsoft boosters, including Janet Tu from a Bill Gates-funded newspaper. Some of the latest coverage from Groklaw [1, 2] is unlikely to have the same reach as that of newspapers. As Pamela Jones put it: “Our reporters were in the courtroom again Friday at the Microsoft v. Motorola trial in US District Court in Seattle, trying to figure out what Microsoft should pay Motorola for its FRAND patents. ”

Why was Seattle chosen? It’s a biased court setting. It’s like those Apple cases that take place near Apple’s headquarters, e.g. this case. If the legal system is designed to be objective and to avoid popular bias, then why are trolls allowed to pull defendants to Texas while Apple and Microsoft file for aggressive action in their home turf? This leads to systemic trial misconduct.

Jones continues to cover the Microsoft and Apple cases against Android. It is about FRAND, also known as flat rate patent tax. Here is somewhat of an overview:

We had two reporters in the courtroom today once again at the Microsoft v. Motorola FRAND trial in Seattle. Their coverage is demonstrating, to me anyway, that the last place in the world you can determine a proper royalty for a standard-essential patent is in a courtroom. I don’t know which is worse, whoever came up with this bizarre FRAND legal strategy for Microsoft and Apple or the companies for following it. And I do see the wisdom of the two judges who threw out Apple’s FRAND claims, Judge Richard Posner in Illinois and Judge Barbara Crabb in Wisconsin. Judge Crabb has just filed an order explaining the dismissal, so after I show you our reports from the trial in Seattle, I’ll show it to you as text. Maybe this Seattle judge, Hon. James Robart, should read it, because Microsoft’s claims are very similar to Apple’s.

It is looking like this trial will be still going on next week, probably until Tuesday. So we need someone to step forward and volunteer to cover for us Monday and Tuesday, if possible, as neither of our reporters will be able to attend. One of them took vacation days to cover this week. Please email me if you can go as Groklaw’s eyes and ears. And I know you join me is thanking our volunteers for helping us to know for sure what was really going on in that courtroom this week.

The pro-patents Bloomberg says:

Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Motorola Mobility unit are talking about a way to resolve part of their dispute over patents related to critical smartphone technology, according to a court filing.

There are better reports on the subject, but Jones has another update from her site where it is said that Apple cannot extend the scope of litigation as much as it hoped:

Apple Can’t Add Jelly Bean to Apple v. Samsung 2 Trial, only Galaxy Nexus ~pj

The Magistrate Judge in Apple v. Samsung 2, the litigation still in the early pre-trial phase in California District Court, has ruled [PDF] on the parties’ motions to add products to the case.

Samsung’s motion to add iPhone 5 was granted. Apple’s motion [PDF] was partly granted and partly denied. It can add the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, the Samsung S III, and the Galaxy Nexus, which runs Android Jelly Bean. Apple cannot add Android Jelly Bean itself. That’s a huge block of what I’d call a sneaky move on Apple’s part, one that did not get past this judge.

Groklaw cites this report which actually seems to contradict the claims above:

A U.S. judge allowed Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to pursue claims the iPhone5 infringes its patents on Thursday, while also allowing Apple Inc to add claims that the Samsung Galaxy Note, Galaxy S III and the Jelly Bean operating system violate its patents.

We wrote about it last week. So who is right? The press or Pamela Jones? This is important because if Apple can sue Android as a whole — irrespective of distributor — there will be serious implications (we will cover those in a separate post). Muktware agrees with what Jones said:

Apple had filed a motion to add more products to its current lawsuits, so did Samsung. Apple wanted to sneak the entire Android 4.1 Jelly Bean in the court case. If the court allowed this addition every single device running Android Jelly Bean, whether or not it was made by Samsung would be affected by the outcome of the case.

For those who wish to see what ridiculous software patents Apple is gaining, watch some news [1, 2] about Apple’s new page turn animation patent and Mike Masnick’s response to it:

While design patents are a slightly different than other patents, it really is patents like this that get the public to respect the patent system less and less.

Apple too gets the public’s respect less and less. The decreasing share speaks for itself.

Both Microsoft and Apple are being eaten away by Linux, little by little; that’s why Microsoft and Apple conspired to harm Android and Linux. Antitrust complaints are needed!

Vista 8 is Not Selling, But Microsoft’s UEFI Scheme Blocks Linux Installations/Booting

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 8:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Plan B: block GNU/Linux

Empty shop

Summary: How protectionist plots help impede migrations to GNU and Linux distributions, especially now that Windows is a sordid mess

Since the major news about Sinofsky's departure we have been seeing a lot of bad news, including lawsuits over deceptive marketing:

None of this was enough for one guy, however, as Andrew Sokolowski is now suing Microsoft claiming that Microsoft is misrepresenting the device. While he’s seeking class action status, unlike many class action lawsuits that are all about money, it’s actually nice to see that he’s not seeking any money — just asking Microsoft to stop misrepresenting the product.

According to other news, Vista 8 sales are poor. Microsoft Paul, a booster of the company, says:

Windows 8 Sales Well Below Projections, Plenty of v to Go Around

Sales of Windows 8 PCs are well below Microsoft’s internal projections and have been described inside the company as disappointing. But here’s the catch: The software giant blames the slow start on lackluster PC maker designs and availability, further justifying its new Surface strategy. But Windows 8’s market acceptance can be blamed on many factors.

A PR mouthpiece, whom Microsoft bribes, blames everyone but Microsoft, shifting blame mostly to OEMs. So what do the OEMs say?

HP’s “Todd Bradley says the tablet tends to be slow, is expensive, and is getting more attention than it deserves,” says this report about the flagship product:

Hewlett-Packard isn’t overly impressed with Microsoft’s Surface tablet.

Speaking in an interview published yesterday with IDG Enterprise, HP PC business chief Todd Bradley said that his company could “hardly call Surface competition,” adding that the Microsoft-branded tablet is quite flawed.

“One, very limited distribution,” Bradley said, listing what he feels are the Surface’s greatest flaws. “It tends to be slow and a little kludgey as you use it….It’s expensive. Holistically, the press has made a bigger deal out of Surface than what the world has chosen to believe.”

This is Vista all over again. HP complained about it. Hewlett-Packard’s Chief Executive Mark Hurd said to Ballmer: “Steve, I’m sure you’re aware of this. Our call lines are being overrun.” [by Vista complaints]

Vista still is a mess for those who use it. To quote a new rant:

Installing Vista SP2 is like dousing a burning turd

All that Microsoft can really do now is block Linux, which it managed to do on some hardware. Red Hat should have complained, not played along with UEFI. Look where we are now:

This is, obviously, bizarre. A vendor appears to have actually written additional code to check whether an OS claims to be Windows before it’ll let it boot. Someone then presumably tested booting RHEL on it and discovered that it didn’t work. Rather than take out that check, they then addded another check to let RHEL boot as well. We haven’t yet verified whether this is an absolute string match or whether a prefix of “Red Hat Enterprise Linux” is sufficient, and further examination of the code may reveal further workarounds. For now, if you want to run Fedora[2] on these systems you’re probably best off changing the firmware to perform a legacy boot.

As Michael Larabel explains, Red Hat is doing something selfish like Novell once did, and here is where we end up:

It turns out that for at least one of Lenovo’s computer models, their UEFI implementation is explicitly checking for Windows or Red Hat Enterprise Linux and refusing to boot the UEFI-installed system if neither operating system is reported.

While initially it sounded like yet another SecureBoot issue with Linux, Matthew Garrett investigated and found that the UEFI on the Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p desktop was explicitly checking for the presence of “Windows Boot Manager” and “Red Hat Enterprise Linux” upon installing an UEFI-supported operating system. If the UEFI sees either string within the firmware’s descriptive string, the UEFI won’t let the system load.

Canonical and Red Hat should complain to antitrust authorities. They oughtn’t rely on fair play with UEFI. Vista 8 is failing very badly, but a lot of hardware is being built these days to only run Windows. This is an injustice that must not be tolerated. Microsoft also uses software patents to suppress GNU/Linux adoption.

Bogus Correlations for Disinformation on Software Patents

Posted in Deception, Patents at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Silicon Valley

Summary: A Silicon Valley patent office and some Silicon Valley-themed propaganda for software patent are explained

AS readers of this site may already know, I am active in the fight against patents on algorithms; Not as a politician or anything legally-oriented but as a software developer who is affected by them. Software developers do not want these patents, but lawyers run the political system. The other day I noticed someone struggling to rebut common propaganda for software patents. To quote the original message:

We’re putting together notes, talking points, and a media package to begin tackling the software patents side of the unitary patent issue here in Estonia.

However we’ve come across a very valid argument, which has left us stumped. Maybe someone can help?

Basically the argument goes along the lines of: “if the US has software patents and software patents are so bloody bad, then how come so many tech startups are founded in the US?” Or alternatively worded as: “Why is Silicon Valley in the US and not in Germany, France, or the UK?”

Any help in tackling this argument would be much appreciated!

Former Google lawyer Michelle K. Lee is to lead a Silicon Valley patent office, according to this new article:

In what could be a big shake-up for America’s much maligned patent system, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has reportedly named lawyer Michelle K. Lee as the first head of its new Silicon Valley patent office.

Kappos, from IBM, is the head of the USPTO. Those companies are not small players. They do not represent the interests of people; they are massive corporations. Here is Masnick poking fun at the USPTO:

USPTO: “If you think our examiners are not competent, please come and offer to train our examiners.”

This is hilarious because they are totally oblivious to the problem.

My reply the query above was as follows: Silicon Valley has flourished despite of — not because of — software patents. People whom you speak of can be shown several venture capitalists who openly complain about software patents. Some even took activist-type action against US patent laws. In fact, software patents are why they won’t invest.

What in my humble opinion motivated growth in Silicon Valley is the influx of bright individuals from all across the world. They didn’t come because of patents but because of the quality of universities and a great deal of VC that shrank in more recent years (another bubble). Another factor that played a role in Silicon Valley’s growth is the vast market which is the US. They just have a broader reach.

Ask yourself how many British and French companies can honestly argue that they struggle in the market because the government does not grant them software patents. As Stallman said, it’s actually an advantage for them (over US counterparts) to not have the burden, distraction, and cost overhead of software patents.

So anyway, the correlation here is not causal as a patents booster would wish to make it. Gun crime in the US, for example, is the not the result of having no national healthcare coverage, although one could try to portray it as such. You’re up against a bunk argument, and it’s trivial to show it.

Thomas Warwaris, another software person from Austria, quoted a famous saying from Bill Gates: “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.… The solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can.” Source: “Challenges and Strategy” (16 May 1991).

“By the way,” he adds, “For arguments with patent bullies, they will very often challenge your competence. Patent offices are a valuable source for good and entertaining arguments to overcome this: Their own patents.

“Getting hands on their Patents, so that they can be full text searched – can require some tricks – but can put you in a huge advantage, because you should find a *lot* of granted Patents, that are ridiculous, in a very entertaining way:

“In Austria they range from “the invention of applying a whinch” (no kidding!) to “relaxation of esoteric energy in house building material” (no kidding either, I’ve seen a patent on sort of a voodoo-machine!). It’s not that they are stupid: It is the system: They have to grant.

“With these patent numbers ready, you can easily thank your patent office for promoting the rediscovery of ancient mechanics and tell them that you have your tarot cards with you, to match their level of science.

“Don’t forget to love patent offices: They are so funny!”

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