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12.12.14

Links 12/12/2014: Linux++, KDE Frameworks 5.5.0, Calligra 2.8.7

Posted in News Roundup at 6:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Best Terminal Emulators for Linux

    If you’re a fan of Linux, you know the exact reason why it’s awesome – the command line. Though many outsiders view it as only a “hacker tool,” it’s actually one of the best tools available for any operating system. The Linux shell has the ability to install software, manage your operating system and basically everything else.

    To interact with the command line, you’ll need a terminal emulator. There are many terminal emulators available – perhaps too many. There are a lot of good ones and a lot of bad ones out there. It is because of this reason we’ve decided to create a list of five great terminal emulators available on Linux.

  • Why I rarely file bug reports

    “Any chance of a bug report?” a developer asked when I mentioned a problem with an application on social media. As a free software supporter, I felt an obligation to oblige, but in practice, the chance was slim. For those of us who don’t regularly file bugs, the process is usually too demanding, and too dependent on bureaucratic whim to seem worth the effort.

  • HP’s Big Slap-In-The-Face To Microsoft Will Show Up Next Year

    The operating system is called Linux++, and is part of HP’s ambitious project to reinvent the computer, reports MIT Technology Review’s Tom Simonite.

    Ultimately, HP hopes to replace Linux++ with something even more radical and homegrown, an operating system called Carbon, though it hasn’t talked about a timeline for that yet.

  • Has The Russian Government Moved To GNU/Linux As Planned?

    There is another plan which almost certainly will involve replacing Wintel PCs with GNU/Linux PCs gradually, by a million units per annum, the move to Baikal processors, a derivative of ARM. Recently, in response to sanctions over Ukraine, Russia will officially prefer home-grown “solutions” for IT. There are signs of a digital “cold” war emerging and the world’s IT is dependent on several components originating in Russia. Such pressures will surely accelerate migration to GNU/Linux in Russia. It’s a short cut to independence.

  • Linux Continues to Grow in the Cloud Computing and Implementation of Enterprise Applications

    The operating system of most famous open source is gaining ground in business particularly in cloud computing, according to a report from the Linux Foundation and Yeoman Technology Group.

    The Linux Foundation has published a study called “2014 Enterprise End User Trends Report” that shows the steady growth of Linux in the market for large companies, especially in recent years driven by factors such as the growth of cloud computing, in addition to its known qualities in terms of safety, capacity deployment, costs or virtualization.

  • Desktop

    • Must-have Linux desktop apps (Six Clicks)

      There’s nothing I can’t do on my Linux PCs that requires Windows. It’s really that simple.

      On my Linux Mint 17.1 desktop, I can run Windows games, thanks to Crossover, and run thousands of native games including many Steam-powered games. In addition, I don’t need to worry about anti-virus software since, despite all the FUD, there still hasn’t been a successful desktop Linux virus.

      Let’s get down to business: Here are the six applications I use every day to get my work done and keep in touch with my friends. Unless you have some particular program that’s Windows only, I think you’ll find these six programs may answer for all your daily needs as well.

  • Server

    • Containers, microservices, and orchestrating the whole symphony

      The microservices architecture is far from a new trend; it’s generally accepted as a better way to build apps these days. The common way to build apps was, until a few years ago, the monolithic approach—which was, if you look at it from a functional perspective, basically one deployment unit that does everything. Monolithic apps are good for small scale teams and projects, but when you need something that has a larger scale and involves many teams, it starts to become problematic. It’s much harder to make changes, as the code base becomes bigger and more people make changes to it.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux leader: Dependency on a platform is good for the platform

      Zemlin’s statement preceded the announcement Tuesday that the Cloud Foundry Foundation, representing the financial backing for open source projects, has been successfully spun off into an agency unto itself. It will remain intertwined with the Linux Foundation, however, in that Linux will become a contracting service provider to Cloud Foundry.

    • diff -u: What’s New in Kernel Development

      Containers are very tricky to implement. Trying to isolate sets of resources from each other completely, so that they resemble a discrete system, and doing it in a secure way, has to be addressed on a feature-by-feature basis, with many caveats and uncertainties. Over time, this makes the core kernel code more secure and robust, but each individual feature may have surprising issues.

      The whole namespace idea—corralling subsets of system resources like user IDs and group IDs, and performing on-the-fly translations between the resource names within the container and the corresponding names in the outer system—is tough to manage.

      Recently, Marian Marinov noticed that process counters in the outer system counted processes as being owned by the same user if his or her UIDs (user IDs) were the same inside two separate containers. The same was true for GIDs (group IDs). He didn’t like this, because the two containers represented two logically isolated systems, and in that context, the same UIDs could refer to different users entirely. They shouldn’t be counted together.

    • Linux 3.19 To Have Full Multi-Touch For More Logitech Devices

      Jiri Kosina has lined up his HID subsystem changes for the Linux 3.19 kernel that include more multi-touch device work and other input improvements.

    • XFS Has Improvements To Look Forward To With Linux 3.19

      One of the latest pull requests for the Linux 3.19 kernel is the XFS file-system changes.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Frameworks 5.5.0 Released
      • Release of KDE Frameworks 5.5.0

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • Calligra 2.8.7 is Out

        Packages for the release of KDE’s document suite Calligra 2.8.7 are available for Kubuntu 14.10. You can get it from the Kubuntu Updates PPA. They are also in our development version Vivid.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • 4MLinux Is So Lightweight It’s Anemic

        I worked with the all-in-one version of 4MLinux for several days, and I had a very frustrating experience trying to deal with the little distro that could not. The separate mini distros had a few usability issues too. I was disappointed by the minimalistic software inventory. Unless you install them to the hard drive, very few of the included apps actually run.

    • Screenshots

    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo Monthly Newsletter: November 2014

        The Gentoo Council addressed a few miscellaneous matters this month.

        The first concerned tinderbox reports to bugs. There was a bit of a back-and-forth in bugzilla with a dispute over whether bugs generated from tinderbox runs that contained logs attached as URLs instead of as files could be closed as INVALID. Normally the use of URLs is discouraged to improve the long-term usability of the bugs. Since efforts were already underway to try to automatically convert linked logs into attached logs it was felt that closing bugs as INVALID was counterproductive.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Beta is here

        Time, and operating system developments wait on no one. Only a few months ago Red Hat released Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 and now the RHEL 7.1 beta has landed on our doorsteps.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 21 Raves & DRM Happiness

          But the real reason behind Fedora 21’s success? It’s an odd-numbered release. Historically, the odd-numbered releases have always been better than the even-numbered ones. Don’t ask me why. There’s no documentation or detailed research to prove why it happens this way. It’s just a physical law of the universe.

        • Red Hat 7.1 Beta, Malware History, and Bug Reports

          In the Linux feeds this evening was the announcement of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Beta. In other news, Jon Gold takes us down Linux malware memory lane and Derrik Diener looks at some terminal emulators – one that was new to me. Elsewhere Bruce Byfield discusses why he don’t file bug reports and Jack Germain says 4MLinux is so lightweight it’s anemic.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Google releases Cardboard VR viewer specs and SDKs

          The Android SDK enables applications with features including lens distortion correction, head tracking, 3D calibration, and side-by-side rendering. Other features include stereo geometry configuration and user input event handling.

        • Sharing with Qt on Android

          We just release a new version of GiraffPanic – a logic mobile game written with Qt and QML. In the new version we give the users the possibility to share unlock codes with each other to unlock new levels. So we wanted to have a nice way to share the code between devices without any need to copy paste them (codes) into another application. After trying a lot of different approaches (that did not work), we found it is possible to invoke the native Android share menu from within our application. Using this method keeps our own code quite tidy and supports all the ways of sharing provided by the host device.

        • Game of Thrones adventure released for Android

          I’m a huge fan of the and . I’ve read through the books a number of times, and watched the show even more. There’s always some little angle or juicy tidbit to find in the books, you just can’t read them once to take it all in. No matter how attentive a reader you are, you’ll definitely miss things as George R.R. Martin puts little hints and foreshadowings all over the place.

        • BlueZ 5.26 Taks Aim At Bluetooth 4.2 & Android 5.0

          BlueZ, the Linux Bluetooth stack, boasts more features with today’s release of version 5.26.

          BlueZ 5.26 most notably adds support for Android 5.0 Bluetooth features and support for Bluetooth 4.2 commands and events. BlueZ 5.26 also supports the Low-Energy Secure Connections feature of Bluetooth, HID over GATT get and set report handling, and version 1.2 of the Phonebook Access Profile. BlueZ 5.26 also packs various fixes.

Free Software/Open Source

  • HubSpot Is Now Aiming to Solve DevOps with New Tool

    The company, traditionally focused on marketing software, is to eventually aiming to make the new product open source.

  • Cisco Announces Plan to Reinvent Snort 3 IPS

    The user friendliness is being enabled in part by way of a new command line shell that leverages the open-source Lua language.

    There is also a plan to have a simpler language for Snort rules. Roesch explained that the new rules language will be more streamlined than the existing language. The goal for the new rules language is for both humans and machines to be able to more easily read and write Snort policies.

    The most current stable open-source Snort release is version 2.9.7.0, but that doesn’t imply that the new Snort 3.0 release will be coming within the next three regular Snort release update cycles. Roesch said he doesn’t mind having a Snort 2.10.0 or an even higher number, emphasizing that the development of Snort 3 will take its due and proper course.

  • Events

    • How many LibrePlanet scholarships will we give?

      We’re excited to announce our first keynote speaker for LibrePlanet 2015: Karen Sandler, executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy and co-host of the “Free as in Freedom” podcast. Ms. Sandler’s closing keynotes have been a highlight at LibrePlanet, and we’re so excited to have her back. In other words, LibrePlanet 2015 is shaping up to be a really great event.

    • AnDevCon Highlights Embedded, Open-Source

      Application performance management tools, speakers, and giant green Android mascots abounded at the Android Developer Conference San Francisco Bay Area, held November 18 through 21 in Burlingame, Calif. The event, in its eighth year, was sponsored by Intel, Google, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Twitter, Sony, Epson, and Amazon, among others.

    • Call for Papers is open for the Embedded Linux Conference 2015

      Are you involved in Embedded Linux? Well there is a Embedded Linux Conference (ELC) taking place in San Jose, CA, March 23 – 25, 2015. This is the “premier vendor-neutral technical conference for companies and developers using Linux in embedded products”.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Dell Adds Midokura Open Network Virtualization Option for OpenStack

      Dell Computer is deepening its focus on the open cloud and OpenStack in particular. The company announced an expansion of its Open Networking initiative to include Midokura, a company focused on network virtualization, to complement Dell’s networking and server infrastructure. Their agreement includes a joint go-to-market program, validated reference architecture and global reseller agreement.

    • How to Easily Get Very In-Demand OpenStack Cloud Skills

      How in demand are cloud computing skills in the job market? Consider these notes from Forbes, based on a report from WANTED Analytics: “There are 3.9 million jobs in the U.S. affiliated with cloud computing today with 384,478 in IT alone. The median salary for IT professionals with cloud computing experience is $90,950 and the median salary for positions that pay over $100,000 a year is $116,950.”

    • OpenStack Is Huge In The Open-Source Cloud—But Maybe Not Huge Enough
  • Business

    • Semi-Open Source

      • IT should listen to users not just managers, says SugarCRM CEO

        Deliver the software users want and need (not just what management thinks is required), look for deployment flexibility, and beware of API charges. They are the messages from SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin.

        The proliferation of BYOA – bring your own applications – is putting pressure on IT departments to provide better tools, and to regard users as “constituents” rather than simply listening to management.

  • Public Services/Government

    • European Commission updates its open source policy

      The European Commission (EC) wants to make it easier for its software developers to submit patches and add new functionalities to open source projects. Contributing to open source communities will be made central to the EC’s new open source policy, expects Pierre Damas, Head of Sector at the Directorate General for IT (DIGIT). “We use a lot of open source components that we adapt and integrate, and it is time that we contribute back.”

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Security

    • A brief history of Linux malware
    • The Password? You Changed It, Right?

      As my Twitter followers may be aware, I spent the first part of this week at the Passwords14 conference in Trondheim, Norway. More about that later, suffice for now to say that the conference was an excellent one, and my own refreshed Hail Mary Cloud plus more recent history talk was fairly well received.

      [...]

      By this afternoon (2014-12-11), it seems that all told a little more than 700 machines have come looking for mostly what looks like various manufacturers’ names and a few other usual suspects. The data can be found here, with roughly the same file names as in earlier episodes. Full list of attempts on both hosts here, with the rather tedious root only sequences removed here, hosts sorted by number of attempts here, users sorted by number of attempts here, a CSV file with hosts by number of attempts with first seen and last seen dates and times, and finally hosts by number of attempts with listing of each host’s attempts. Expect updates to all of these at quasi-random intervals.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • ‘Excited Delirium’ and the Suspicious Death of Kenwin Garcia

      Kenwin Garcia was a 25-year-old African American man from Newark who died in 2008 on the side of a highway, after an altercation with state police. Christopher Baxter from NJ Advanced Media states that his death was claimed to be a result of “excited delirium.” The term is used to describe a lethal overdose of adrenaline that leads to heart or respiratory failure. But there is little medical evidence to support this official judgment in Garcia’s case, and there is wider controversy surrounding the interpretation of the symptoms that constitute the syndrome. In Garcia’s case specifically, an autopsy found he suffered severe internal injuries, including a broken breastbone and ribs, a torn kidney and extensive bleeding.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The New York Times Downplays The Influence Of Money In Politics

      The New York Times downplayed the impact of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and dismissed the influence of money in politics by ignoring record-breaking spending of outside groups, the role of large donor political contributions, and dark money in the 2014 midterm election.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Solidarity against online harassment

      One of our colleagues has been the target of a sustained campaign of harassment for the past several months. We have decided to publish this statement to publicly declare our support for her, for every member of our organization, and for every member of our community who experiences this harassment. She is not alone and her experience has catalyzed us to action. This statement is a start.

    • GOP rep attempted late bid to kill spy bill

      One of the biggest thorns in the side of the country’s intelligence agencies attempted to mount an eleventh hour bid to kill the spy agencies’ funding bill on Wednesday.

      Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) wrote on Facebook that the intelligence authorization bill that easily passed through the House contained “one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative.”

      “It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American,” explained Amash, who has a record of skepticism toward the National Security Agency and other agencies. Last year, he nearly succeeded in an attempt to end the NSA’s controversial phone records program.

    • Police can search cellphones in arrests without warrant, Supreme Court rules

      In a crime ruling that earned it rare praise from the federal government, the Supreme Court of Canada said police may search cellphones without a warrant when they make an arrest.

      Cellphones are the bread and butter of the drug trade, the majority said in a 4-3 ruling. It said police have been given the “extraordinary power” to do warrantless searches during an arrest, under common-law rules developed by judges over centuries, because of the importance of prompt police investigations. Until now, those searches typically included purses and briefcases. Civil liberties groups had urged the court to exempt cellphones.

    • European Commissioner For Human Rights And Key EU Privacy Committee Strongly Condemn Mass Surveillance And Bulk Data Retention

      As we wrote recently, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled that GCHQ surveillance doesn’t violate human rights. That’s hardly surprising, given IPT’s track record in approving pretty much everything that GCHQ does. But the global reach of the spying carried out by GCHQ and the NSA means that there are plenty of other bodies that are prepared to condemn what they have been doing. Here, for example, is an important report from the commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe, entitled “The Rule of Law on the Internet in the Wider Digital World”. It’s an extremely thorough exploration of this complex area, touching on key issues that have often been discussed here on Techdirt: privatized law enforcement, suspicionless mass data retention, cross-border exchange of data by law enforcement agencies, and global surveillance by national security agencies.

    • the long tail of MD5

      Everybody knows that MD5 is as terribly useless as ROT13 and you should have switched to SHA3-512 like twenty years ago. But lots of usage sticks around, and will continue to stick around for a long time to come, leading to the long tail of MD5. Why not simply convert to a better hash function? Maybe it’s not so simple.

    • Edward Snowden’s lawyer calls on Europeans to prosecute US torture architects

      A leading German human rights lawyer has called on prosecutors across Europe to “get active” and prepare to seize any CIA agents and US officials involved in torture who enter their territories.

  • Civil Rights

    • Stephen Colbert Mocks Fox News’ Raucous Support Of Torture
    • Mark Udall Wants To Release CIA Internal Review Of Torture Program

      Outgoing Senator Mark Udall has been a key player in trying to hold the intelligence community’s feet to the fire concerning their unconstitutional and illegal activities — and that includes both the NSA and CIA. He was a key player in making sure that the CIA torture report was actually released — and there was pressure on him, if the report wasn’t released, to read it into the record to force it out. Even with the release on Tuesday, some were asking for Udall to at least release an unredacted version or even more sections from the full ~7,000 page report, rather than just the 500 page exec summary. In fact, in Udall’s final floor speech on Wednesday (link to a video that is about 50 minutes), the Senator instead chose to reveal more information related to the so-called “Panetta Review” on the CIA’s torture program.

      [...]

      The CIA has done everything it can to try to bury the Panetta Report. But Udall actually discussed it in depth. A big chunk of his speech is actually discussing some of the details in the Panetta Review, going beyond the CIA torture report. Following his speech, Senator Richard Burr — who is a known buddy of the intelligence community, and soon to take over the Senate Intelligence Committee — ridiculously claimed that Udall disclosed a bunch of “very classified” material. What it actually shows, however is that the CIA’s response to the torture report is simply more lies from the CIA. As Udall noted in his speech, since the Panetta Review was supposed to be internal, it was a lot more open and honest, and it agreed with the Senate staffers. He first points out that the official CIA response to the terror report, from current Director John Brennan, shows the CIA’s “flippant” attitude towards oversight and the fact that it knows the Obama administration will let the CIA get away with anything. However, the Panetta Review shows the true story.

    • Stun Guns Used by Police 13 Times Causes Death

      The policy states that officers should not stun any handcuffed suspect.

    • How The CIA Got Conservative Author Ronald Kessler To Spin For Them On Torture

      The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture reveals that conservative author Ronald Kessler was “blessed” by the CIA, receiving background information from the agency which he used to push false claims about the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and publishing classified information without triggering a leak investigation.

    • Scalia: Constitution silent on torture

      Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is joining the debate over the Senate’s torture report by saying it’s hard to rule out the use of extreme measures to extract information if millions of lives were threatened.

      Scalia told a Swiss broadcast network that American and European liberals who say such tactics may never be used are being self-righteous.

    • Metaphysics

      Listening to the BBC and Sky, and reading The Guardian, all on the subject of whether the UK establishment knew about CIA torture or not, the realisation dawned on me that I had imagined my entire life story and in fact I had never actually existed. For a little while it was like being in a particularly scary Japanese film.

    • Rectal feeding is rape – but don’t expect the CIA to admit it

      Of all the revelations made about the “enhanced interrogation methods” used by the CIA on detainees in the aftermath of 9/11, the use of waterboarding and rectal feeding have garnered the most attention. In the case of the latter in particular, this was the first time many people had even heard of such a thing.

      Initially used in response to prisoner hunger strikes, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found this allegedly “necessary” and “legitimate” medical practice – also referred to as a “nutrient enema” – was also used by the CIA as a form of torture and control.

    • Guess Who Else Tortured People Like the CIA Did — Soviets and Nazis

      The Soviet Union was good at torture.

      But the Soviets excelled at torture because they understood its usefulness. “Our task is not only to destroy you physically,” a Stalinist interrogator explained to a prisoner in 1948. “But also to smash you morally before the eyes of the society.”

      History’s great agents of pain knew what the CIA pretends not to.

    • These American World War II Re-Enacters Dress Up Like Nazis for Fun

      That’s part of what drew her, as well as her friend and fellow photographer Marisha Camp, to photograph American re-enactors of Germans in World War II for her series “Targets Unknown.” Half out of necessity—those who attend the re-enactments are required to dress for the occasion—and half out of a desire to test the boundaries between subject and artist, Kranitz became an active member in the events she photographed.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • IsoHunt unofficially resurrects The Pirate Bay

        Torrent site isoHunt appears to have unofficially resurrected The Pirate Bay at oldpiratebay.org. At first glance, The Old Pirate Bay seems to be just a commemorative site for The Pirate Bay, which went down this week after police raided its data center in Sweden. Upon further inspection, however, it turns out the site is serving new content.

        Various mirror sites of The Pirate Bay have sprung up since the site’s disappearance, but this one is different. Some alternatives simply provide a copy of The Pirate Bay with no new content (many proxy sites have been doing this for years). Others, like thepiratebay.cr, go further and even provide fake content as if it was new and even attempt to charge users.

      • What chance a piracy consensus?

        The Government says rights holders and ISPs must develop an anti-piracy regimen themselves, or have one imposed on them. Early signs show this approach is working.

        The Government’s ultimatum to ISPs and content owners and distributors that they have three months to come up with a system for identifying and taking action against copyright infringers already appears to be bearing fruit.

      • MPAA Prepares to Bring Pirate Site Blocking to the U.S.

        The MPAA is in discussions with the major movie studios over ways to introduce site blocking to the United States. TorrentFreak has learned that the studios will try to achieve website blockades using principles available under existing law. Avoiding another SOPA-style backlash is high on the agenda.

      • Thanks To All Heroes Of Freedom Who Have Kept The Pirate Bay Running

        The file-sharing site The Pirate Bay is down following a raid by Swedish Police. The organization Rights Alliance, previously named the Anti-Pirate Bureau and representing the giant movie and record corporations, is behind the raid. It’s a dark day for freedoms online.

The USPTO is Broken: New Evidence Presented

Posted in America, Patents at 7:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Profit conflated with innovation

Summary: The scope of patents, as evidenced by some statistical figures and individual patents, shows that the USPTO is broken and must be reformed or dismantled

Kevin Drum from Mother Jones is a very good writer who covers a broad range of topics. Several weeks ago he wrote about patents, noting that “More Patents Does Not Equal More Innovation”. Well, more patents mean more business for the USPTO and patent lawyers, but they would rather just paint their profit as “innovation”. Here is what Mr. Drum writes, citing the corporate media:

Via James Pethokoukis, here’s a chart from a new CBO report on federal policies and innovation. Needless to say, you can’t read too much into it. It shows the growth since 1963 of total factor productivity (roughly speaking, the share of productivity growth due to technology improvements), and there are lots of possible reasons that TFP hasn’t changed much over the past five decades. At a minimum, though, the fact that patent activity has skyrocketed since 1983 with no associated growth in TFP suggests, as the CBO report says dryly, “that the large increase in patenting activity since 1983 may have made little contribution to innovation.”

We recently showed that almost every application for a patent is now successful, i.e. patent granted (proving that there no quality control at all and demonstrating laziness or greed, motivated by wrong yardsticks by which to assess patent examiners). This whole system has become a sham and people should do something about it, as the problem won’t go away on its own.

“This whole system has become a sham and people should do something about it, as the problem won’t go away on its own.”Might we ever see USPTO staff demonstrating in the streets of Washington, following the example set by EPO staff? The problem and the grievances (about scope and corruption) are similar.

The other week we saw the EFF highlighting yet another “Stupid Patent of the Month”. It is a software patent which is basically something that a child can come up with, or even an observer of what has been going on for centuries. To put it in the words of Ars Technica:

November’s “Stupid Patent of the Month,” brought to you by Penn State

Three months ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation inaugurated a monthly tradition in which they wrote about a “Stupid Patent of the Month.” The first patent they publicized was basically a description of a doctor’s “computer-secretary.” Since then, they’ve highlighted a vague software patent owned by a serial litigant, a patent on filming a yoga class, and a patent with a formula for curing cancer (a combination of “sesame seeds, green beans, coffee, meat, evening primrose seeds,” among other things.)

Here is the latest:

One of the items for sale is US Patent No. 8,442,839, entitled “Agent-based collaborative recognition-primed decision-making.” The lead inventors are PSU professors John Yen and Michael McNeese. The patent essentially describes different ways that people work together to solve a problem.

Steps include “receiving information regarding a current situation to be analyzed,” interacting to receive “assistance in the form of assumptions or expectancies about the situation,” and using “collected information to determine whether a decision about the situation is evolving in an anticipated direction.” A PSU news site describes the invention as using a framework called “Collaborative Agents for Simulating Teamwork.”

“The patent reads a little like what might result if you ate a dictionary filled with buzzwords and drank a bottle of tequila,” writes EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer. He notes the patent was originally rejected by the patent office. “Penn State responded by amending its claim to ‘include a team-oriented computer architecture that transforms subject matter.’ In other words, it took an abstract patent and said, ‘Do it on a computer.’”

A lot of software patents are like that. They merely add “over the Internet” or “on a computer” to some process that has existed for a very long time. There’s no innovation in it, except perhaps the innovation which is the Internet or the computer itself.

Anyone who still thinks that the patent system promotes innovation should take a look at a patent or two, setting aside the jargon and buzzwords. We covered other examples in the past and examined their lack of novelty. Some examples came from Nintendo and there is this new example where Nintendo patents something using the “in mobile devices” pseudo ‘novelty’. To quote AOL:

A new patent published by the USPTO yesterday details an invention by Nintendo that would allow it to emulate its mobile game consoles, including the Game Boy line of devices specifically, in other settings, including on seat-back displays in airplanes and trains, and on mobile devices including cell phones. The patent is an updated take on an older piece of IP, so it’s not an entirely new idea, but it’s still very interesting to consider that Nintendo could have renewed interest in the idea of running its own back catalogue on many different kinds of screens.

It is not an entirely new idea at all. In-flight entertainment, emulation and mobile devices are very old ideas and just combining them should not be enough to earn a patent. Then again, as USPTO eventually accepts (grants patents for) 92% of all applications, it seems to have become an illegitimate system of protectionism that puts the burden on innocence on victims, passes a lot of incentive to patent lawyers, and has small companies foot the legal bills.

US Patent Reform (on Trolls Only) More or Less Buried or Ineffective

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 6:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not much in terms of changes except the public face

Michelle Lee
Photo from Asian Pacific Fund

Summary: An update on efforts to reform the patent system in the United States, including the possibly imminent appointment of Michelle Lee to USPTO leadership role

OUR friends over at IP Troll Tracker argue with proponents of patent trolls, including those who try to classify the world’s biggest trolls (firms like Intellectual Ventures) as something else. Apparently, trying to say who qualifies as a patent troll is a controversial issue among those who are in this business and this is why there was hardly any substantial progress on eradication of patent trolls. The de facto definition of “troll” these days is “small actor that uses patents”. It’s about scale, not scope. If you are a massive corporation like IBM and Microsoft, then you somehow can’t qualify as “troll” even when you engage in the very same tactics on a much larger scale.

“If you are a massive corporation like IBM and Microsoft, then you somehow can’t qualify as “troll” even when you engage in the very same tactics on a much larger scale.”This new article from TechDirt speaks of the fight for patent reform by the likes of Newegg, correctly noting that “the company became a leader in fighting back against ridiculous patent lawsuits, going toe-to-toe with some of the biggest trolls around. The company’s Chief Legal Officer, Lee Cheng, has vowed to never settle with a patent troll, and so far has never lost an appeal on a patent claim.”

Another older article from TechDirt cites Professor Bessen and reminds us that Free software projects are directly being harmed and even eliminated by patent trolls (we gave some examples before). To quote the article, via James Bessen, “we [now] learn of how a patent trolling operation by StreamScale has resulted in an open source project completely shutting down, despite the fact that the patent in question (US Patent 8,683,296 for an “Accelerated erasure coding system and method”) is almost certainly ineligible for patent protection as an abstract idea, following the Supreme Court’s Alice ruling and plenty of prior art. Erasure codes are used regularly today in cloud computing data storage and are considered to be rather important. Not surprisingly, companies and lawyers are starting to pop out of the woodwork to claim patents on key pieces. I won’t pretend to understand the fundamental details of erasure codes, but the link above provides all the details. It goes through the specific claims in the patents, breaking down what they actually say (basically an erasure code on a computer using SIMD instructions), and how that’s clearly an abstract idea and thus not patent-eligible.”

See this page about the patent: “The Accelerated erasure coding system and method software patent was filed by StreamScale, a patent holding company, and granted by the US patent office in march 2014 (filed july 2013). It claims to own the idea to use SIMD instructions to speed up the computation of Erasure Code. It is a patent-ineligible abstract idea and can be ignored.”

Well, it may be a patent-ineligible abstract idea, but proving in in Court can be costly, especially for a Free software project.

It is being reported right now that Michelle Lee, formerly of Google, is en route to becoming the next head of the USPTO (the pro-software patents sites exploit this to try to promote stronger policy in favour of software patents). “There were no big surprises,” writes Patent Progress, “on Michelle Lee’s nomination as head of the USPTO. The Committee went fairly easy on her with their questions, with the possible exception of Senator Durbin, who admits that he knows nothing about patents or patent law, but seems convinced by his Illinois constituents that there is no patent troll problem.”

Durbin and the likes of him seem to be talking based on (mis)information from lobbyists and funders, not facts. It’s the big corporations talking. Either way, while it’s clear that there is a patent troll problem, there is also a patent scope problem and that’s what trolls tend to exploit. It’s not a surprise that a site like Patent Progress only focuses on patent trolls; see who funds the site by proxy (certain type of big corporations). Another new post from this site states that “Commissioner Brill’s main point was that we shouldn’t wait for the study to be concluded before pursuing legislation against PAEs. There’s no question that the PAE problem exists and is getting worse; she made clear that the new Congress should act immediately after taking office.”

PAE is just a euphemism for troll or shark.

As readers may recall, the Republicans (GOP) spoke about 'reform' on patents roughly one month ago, but nothing was really going to change. Mike Masnick from TechDirt recently published this update that says: “Back in May, we wrote about how, despite pretty much everyone agreeing on a (decent, if not amazing) patent reform bill in the Senate, the whole thing got shot down at the last minute. That was when the trial lawyers called Senator Harry Reid, asking him to kill the whole thing, which he did by telling Senator Patrick Leahy that he wouldn’t allow the bill to go to the floor for a vote. This came after months of detailed negotiations, getting nearly everyone into agreement on the bill, which would have made life at least somewhat more difficult for patent trolls. About a week after that, we pointed out that it seemed likely that the patent trolls had miscalculated badly, because it was widely expected that the Republicans would take control of the Senate in the fall (as they did), and they were more gungho on real patent reform and (obviously) not concerned with what trial lawyers think (mocking trial lawyers being a hobby of Republican politicians).”

To make a long story short, there is still no sign of reform on patents and even if there’s reform some time in the near future, it won’t actually address the problem of patent scope; it only targets “small trolls”, not “big trolls” like Microsoft and Apple, which still can use software patents to imitimate or extort Free software projects, including Android and Linux.

Software Patents in Canada Not Dead Yet

Posted in Site News at 6:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Canadian flag

Summary: Canada’s patent status quo increasingly like that of the United States and Canadian giants like BlackBerry now pose a threat to software developers

THE case of i4i was a reminder of the fact that Canada is not a software patents-free zone. There is actually evidence to the contrary and also a new article in patent lawyers-leaning press about the subject (see “Computer And Software Related Innovation – Is There A Rationale For Filing Software Patent Applications In Canada?”). It serves to show that Canada more or less follows the neighbours to the south (not the UK or France, which also have profound impact on Canadian politics), especially when it comes to patent practices. This includes patents on software, genetics, etc. These breeds of patents, which originate from rulings in the US, are spreading to other nations including Canada [via], despite the severe implications for practitioners, let alone public interests. To quote The Star:

Canadian courts have not yet ruled on whether genes can be patented. A lawsuit filed Monday over cardiac disorder Long QT aims to clear that up.

In recent years we became increasingly worried about a Canada-based company that had joined Rockstar (Apple- and Microsoft-backed, against Linux/Android) and it is now turning into a patent troll. We are talking about BlackBerry here as “the company also owns a stake in Rockstar – which may itself come up for sale in the near future, based on recent events.”

“Software patents are not only a threat to Free/libre software but to all software developers, except conglomerates that are essentially business entities.”BlackBerry’s transformation into patent troll has been covered here before and there is a chance that negative publicity will discourage it from attacking FOSS (as it already seems to be heading in that direction).

The bottom line is, Canada — like many Five Eyes nations — is silently a supporter of software patents. Our Canadian readers need to contact their politicians in an effort to change that. Software patents are not only a threat to Free/libre software but to all software developers, except conglomerates that are essentially business entities.

Dreaming of a Just Christmas: When a Third of EPO Walks Out to Revolt and European Judges Attack the EPO Over Abuses

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO scandals making it into the press now…

Window

Summary: Information about the abuses of Battistelli et al. at the EPO are finally receiving wider coverage and increasing the strain on Battistelli’s authoritarian reign

TECHRIGHTS forecasts that heads will roll at the EPO within weeks or months. Our community also expects the corporate media to increase its level of coverage of these issues. It’s already happening, so citizens are being informed in many languages.

“The responses from the management of the EPO are telling because they in no way refute what we have covered here for months.”Yesterday we found a good summary of recent events, aptly titled “Is the EPO in Crisis” (detailed article from Managing IP).

The article gives the accused an opportunity to respond, but Konstad refuses to respond to Managing IP, which is pro-patents (it’s not hostile). Staying silent was his implicit policy all along, perhaps realising that he needs to harbour and shelter a bunch of bullies. The report has some new points and it’s rather revealing. The responses from the management of the EPO are telling because they in no way refute what we have covered here for months. Managing IP says that on November 20th more than a third of the staff walked out and protested. SUEPO (the staff union representing and defending EPO staff) is mentioned as well.

There is another interest new report from IP Kat and it shows increased involvement from prominent figures:

Leading European IP Judges join the chorus of condemnation

[...]

A week ago today, a member of one of the EPO’s Boards of Appeal was escorted out of the building, and banned from the premises pending an investigation of alleged misconduct.

It is believed that the reason for the “house ban” or suspension was the alleged dissemination of defamatory material.

Widespread criticism ensued immediately both inside and outside the office, both on the grounds that this directly breached guarantees of judicial independence (Art. 23 EPC), and that this was a further instance (among many) of heavy-handed suppression of criticism, dissension and debate within the EPO.

The ultimate governing body of the EPO, the Adminstrative Council (AC), meets this week. It is this body alone that would be empowered to impose sanctions such as suspension or dismissal on a Board member.

On Monday, members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA), which is the highest judicial authority in the European Patent system took the unprecedented step of complaining about the conduct of the President, and of his interference in their judicial independence, directly to the AC delegates arriving for their meeting.

Simultaneously, another letter emerged from a Partner in Bardehle Pagenberg, exhorting the head of the German delegation to the AC to take the lead in rectifying the President’s actions.

Anonymous comments, many of which from EPO staff, can be seen at the bottom. It sure is becoming quite a huge thing and in France the politicians have taken an interest (our French-speaking audience may be interested in [1, 2, 3]). To sum up some recent developments in the words of a source, “the socialist Deputy Leborgn (for the French citizens living abroad) already was in touch with various Ministers (including foreign affairs : Fabius, Industry : Pellerin, economy : Moscovici) in April this year. However, he was told in substance “before Mr. Battistelli there was no legal system framing the right to strike so that it should be regarded as a progress. Presented with the fact that the new strike law was below French standard, the deputy was answered that the EPO is made of 38 countries so that compromises should be made. For the record, Fabius, Moscovici, Pellerin and now Marcon all come from the same school as Mr Battistelli: that is the ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration). ENA’s alumni is one of the most powerful French networks [and] may be even more powerful than freemasonry” (words of the source, not ours).

Now that this scandal’s coverage makes it into newspapers in German, French, English etc. we can rest assured that something big will happen. In the coming weeks we are going to cover corruption charges to add fuel to the fire.

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