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Links 2/9/2015: Chromebooks and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 Beta

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

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Rackspace developer advocate on getting started with open source

    There are several reasons. If you have an idea for a utility or framework or whatever, and you would like the support of an entire community of developers, open source is a great way to go. If you want your code “out there” so it can be reviewed and critiqued (which will improve your skills), open source is a good solution. If you are just out of school and want to establish yourself and show off your coding skills, start an open source project. Finally, if you’re altruistic and just want to help the software community at large, yes, please, start an open source project.

  • Open Source Router Makes Production Debut

    Version 2.0 of CloudRouter , an open source router designed for the cloud, is actually two versions, one based on CentOS Linux, for network operators looking for a stable version with long support cycle, and another based on Fedora for rapid iteration of new features, Jay Turner, CloudRouter project lead and senior director of DevOps at IIX , tells Light Reading.

  • CloudRouter Project Brings SDN Services to the Cloud
  • CloudRouter 2.0 now generally available for the enterprise
  • Open Source CloudRouter Goes to Production
  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack: Open source transparency among the clouds

      Being a company with a core value to “Embrace Open Source,” when it came to launching a public cloud service it made sense to want that offering grounded upon powerful, versatile open source software that could deliver scalability, resiliency, and security. Because of that, it was an easy choice to base it upon OpenStack’s open source platform – and here’s why.

    • Hadoop economics is driving big data push into the enterprise, says WANdisco CEO

      More businesses may be trialling Hadoop within their organisations to gain insight into unstructured data, but it is the ability to cut storage costs that will drive mainstream enterprise adoption, according to WANdisco’s CEO.

      David Richards, the chief exec of the company which is co-headquartered between Silicon Valley and Sheffield, says that fast-growing data demands mean that those who do not adopt open source tools such as Hadoop are at a competitive disadvantage.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.0.1 Open-Source Productivity Suite at a Glance

      Ever since the LibreOffice open-source office suite was forked from the Oracle OpenOffice suite in 2010, its community of developers has been working to improve it. The latest evolution of LibreOffice, version 5.0.1, came out Aug. 27 and provides users with new features and improved performance. LibreOffice bundles multiple components as part of the suite, including the Writer Document, Calc Spreadsheet, Impress Presentation, Draw, Math Formula and Base Database applications. Being able to import and export in multiple formats has always been an important element of LibreOffice’s interoperability capabilities. In LibreOffice 5.0.1, Writer now has improved Apple Pages document import capabilities. For PDF export, the ability to time-stamp a document is now enabled. Manipulating images is now improved across the suite, with the ability to crop an image with a mouse. The Calc spreadsheet now benefits from improved formula handling as well as new conditional formatting capabilities. LibreOffice is typically available as the default office suite in many Linux distributions and is also freely available for Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows applications. Here, eWEEK takes a look at key features of LibreOffice 5.0.1.

  • Education

    • Linux Format 202 – Coding Academy
    • Open Source Learning

      So for this issue that coincides with pupils around the country heading back to school, we’re supplying our own guide to help you and your children get a head start with coding in Python, using the Pi at school, choosing the best languages for the jobs you want to do and taking a first step into developing web applications.

  • Funding

    • How to make money from open source software

      Last month we looked at the argument that the open source business model is flawed because selling maintenance and support subscriptions doesn’t provide companies with enough revenue to differentiate their products from the underlying open source software or to compete with the sales and marketing efforts of proprietary software companies. The argument was advanced by Peter Levine, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz.

    • Community Versus Funding: What Open Source Needs Most

      At the recent Open Daylight Summit, Margaret Chiosi, the Distinguished Network Architect said, “We don’t need money. We need participants. We need people to work on use cases and bust things out.” In other words, the open source community is at a point where it needs involvement more than dollars.

      Open source increasingly depends on end-users who will create code, contribute documentation, and innovate to make open source projects relevant and useful. In order for open source to continue its upwards trajectory, fully engaged end-users that together create a vibrant and active community are necessary.

  • BSD

    • LLVM 3.7.0 Officially Released

      LLVM 3.7 along with sub-projects like Clang 3.7.0 have been officially released this afternoon.

      Hans Wennborg announced 3.7.0 a few minutes ago on the mailing list. “This release contains the work of the LLVM community over the past six months: full OpenMP 3.1 support (behind a flag), the On Request Compilation (ORC) JIT API, a new backend for Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF), Control Flow Integrity checking, as well as improved optimizations, new Clang warnings, many bug fixes, and more.”

  • Programming

    • Bloke clicks GitHub ‘commit’ button in Visual Studio, gets slapped with $6,500 AWS bill

      A web developer from South Africa said a bug in a tool for using Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE with code-sharing site GitHub inadvertently exposed his sensitive data – and the error cost him more than $6,500 (£4,250) in just a few hours.

      Carlo van Wyk of Cape Town–based Humankode said he used the GitHub Extension for Visual Studio 2015 to commit one of his local Git code repositories to a private repository on GitHub.

      Unfortunately, however – and unknown to van Wyk at the time – a bug in the extension caused his code to be committed to a public GitHub repository, rather than a private one as he intended.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Science

    • Blood moon has some expecting end of the world

      There will be blood in September — literally, according to the Internet postings of end-times believers.

      The night of September 27-28 will bring a “blood moon.” To skywatchers, it simply refers to the copper color the moon takes on during an eclipse, but to some Christian ministers, the fourth and final eclipse in a tetrad — four consecutive total lunar eclipses, each separated by six lunar months — fulfills biblical prophecy of the apocalypse. (The first three in the series took place April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; and April 4, 2015.)

      In promotion for his 2013 book “Four Blood Moons,” Christian minister John Hagee claimed that the tetrad was a sign of the end.

      “The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015,” he said.

    • 65 per cent of Europe’s electronic waste is stolen or mismanaged

      Something stinks about Europe’s trash. A two-year investigation into Europe’s electronic waste found that most of it is stolen, mismanaged, illegally traded, or just plain thrown away.

      The European Union has guidelines on how to correctly dispose of unwanted electronics, like IT equipment, household appliances, or medical devices. But, according to a report published Sunday by the United Nations University and INTERPOL, only 35 per cent of electronic waste was disposed of correctly in 2012.

  • Security

    • Sick of memorizing passwords? A Turing Award winner came up with this algorithmic trick

      Manuel Blum, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who won the Turing Award in 1995, has been working on what he calls “human computable” passwords that are not only relatively secure but also don’t require us to memorize a different one for each site. Instead, we learn ahead of time an algorithm and a personal, private key, and we use them with the website’s name to create and re-create our own unique passwords on the fly for any website at any time.

    • Car thieves use ‘mystery device’ to break into vehicles

      A car manufacturer recalled more than a million cars following security concerns about car hacking, as the National Insurance Crime Bureau issued an alert about a “mystery device” being used to break into vehicles by defeating the electronic locking system of later-model cars.

      So-called connected car “convenience technology” could put consumers at risk.

      “Right now, what has happened is the digital key fob has become a way for someone to steal your car,” NICB investigator James “Herb” Price said.

    • Security Considerations When Moving from VMs to Containers

      We recently ran a sponsored series from Fox Technologies on Linux.com. We want to thank the company for its support and for sharing useful information for SysAdmins and developers alike. Fox Technologies is continuing the conversation with a free webinar September 17 that will address security considerations in moving from VMs to containers. More information about this webinar is below.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Man convicted of baking dog in oven back in jail

      A man convicted of a gruesome crime involving a dog is back in jail Tuesday morning.

      Joel Clark was convicted of torturing or mutilating an animal, for baking a dog in an oven.

      Just last week, a judge sentenced him to home detention at Good News Ministries and community service with an animal rescue. Clark was not allowed to have direct contact with the animals.

    • Why wind — and soon solar — are already cheaper than fossil fuels

      Citigroup has published an analysis of the costs of various energy sources called “Energy Darwinism II.” It concludes that if all the costs of generation are included (known as the levelized cost of energy), renewables turn out to be cheaper than fossil fuels and a “benefit rather than a cost to society,” RenewEconomy reports.

      “Capital costs are often cited by the promoters of fossil fuels as evidence that coal and gas are, and will, remain cheaper than renewable energy sources such as wind and gas. But this focuses on the short-term only — a trap repeated by opponents of climate action and clean energy, who focus on the upfront costs of policies.

      Actually, fuel costs can “account for 80 per cent of the cost of gas-fired generation, and more than half the cost of coal,” RenewEconomy says.

    • Experts call for immediate halt to £7,000-per-badger cull

      Three senior scientists who collectively produced two decades of government research on controlling badgers to reduce bovine TB are among a group of eminent experts to call for an immediate halt to the badger cull. The intervention comes as figures reveal the government has spent nearly £7,000 killing each badger so far.

      Professor Lord Krebs, Professor John Bourne and Professor Ranald Munro write of their disappointment that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has extended the controversial cull to Dorset and called on it to immediately reconsider its decision to continue culling badgers.

    • US Leads World in Credulous Reports of ‘Lagging Behind’ Russia

      On Sunday, the New York Times maintained a long, proud tradition of uncritically repeating official claims that the US—despite having twice the population, eight times the military budget and a nominal economy almost ten times as large—is “lagging behind” Russia on a key military strategic objective…


      So here we have it: Pro-NATO think tanks and military brass feed a narrative to the Times, the Times prints it with little skepticism, then these very same forces turn around and use this reporting to justify its military buildup. The crucial question as to whether or not America is objectively “lagging behind” is never really approached critically.

      More importantly, the normative question as to whether the US has any intrinsic obligation or right to maintain parity with Russia in the Arctic is never brought up. The assumption is just taken for granted, and once it is, US military officials and their friendly establishment press are off to the races debating how—not if—they can amass more military brass in another corner of the globe.


      This is nothing new, of course. Ominous warnings about “gaps” with the Russians are a decades-long tradition in US and Western media. Over the past few years alone, the US has “lagged behind” the dreaded Russians in the following departments:

      Cyber security

      Online and traditional propaganda

      Space race

      “Military tactics”

      Nuclear technology

      Now let’s remember: Russia’s military budget is one-eighth the size of the US’s—and 1/14th as large as NATO’s cumulative $1 trillion in annual military spending. But we’ve been here before. During the Cold War, the public was constantly told the US was “lagging behind” Russia in developing enough nuclear weapons.

    • WTO Ruling Against India’s Solar Push Threatens Climate, Clean Energy

      The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Wednesday ruled against India over its national solar energy program in a case brought by the U.S. government, sparking outrage from labor and environmental advocates.

      As power demands grow in India, the country’s government put forth a plan to create 100,000 megawatts of energy from solar cells and modules, and included incentives to domestic manufacturers to use locally-developed equipment.

  • Finance

    • Putin says dump dollar

      Russian President Vladimir Putin has drafted a bill that aims to eliminate the US dollar and the euro from trade between CIS countries.

      This means the creation of a single financial market between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and other countries of the former Soviet Union.

    • The Washington Post and the Federal Reserve Cult

      It’s always dangerous when followers of an insular cult gain positions of power. Unfortunately, that appears to be the case with the Washington Post editorial board and the Federal Reserve Board cultists.

      The Federal Reserve Board cultists adhere to a bizarre belief that the 19 members (12 voting) of the Federal Reserve Board’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) live in a rarified space where the narrow economic concerns of specific interest groups don’t impinge on their thinking. According to the cultists, when the Fed sits down to decide on its interest rate policy, they are acting solely for the good of the country.

      Those of us who live in the reality-based community know that the Fed is hugely responsive to the interests of the financial sector. There are many reasons for this. First, the 12 Fed district banks are largely controlled by the banks within the district, which directly appoint one-third of the bank’s directors. The presidents of these banks occupy 12 of the 19 seats (five of the voting seats) on the FOMC.

  • Censorship

    • Finnish news sites rein in unruly comment sections

      Editors point to a spike in hate speech and insults in recent weeks, particularly related to immigration and asylum-seeker issues.


      Two of Finland’s largest media sites on Tuesday decided to curtail or
      halt public comment on their websites.

    • Lawyer: Turkey Arrested Journalists to Deter Foreign Media

      A lawyer representing two Vice News journalists and their assistant on Tuesday denounced a Turkish court’s decision to arrest them on terror-related charges, calling it a government attempt to deter foreign media from reporting on the conflict with Kurdish rebels.

      The arrests have prompted strong protests from media rights advocates, the U.S. and the European Union.

  • Privacy

    • What Can you Learn from Metadata?

      An Australian reporter for the ABC, Will Ockenden published a bunch of his metadata, and asked people to derive various elements of his life. They did pretty well, even though they were amateurs, which should give you some idea what professionals can do.

    • How your phone tracks your every move

      In the digital age, how much of your life is actually private? To find out, ABC reporter Will Ockenden got access to his metadata. This is what that data looks like.

    • What reporter Will Ockenden’s metadata reveals about his life
    • Wall Street Journal Scores Very Limited Win In Fight With DOJ Over Sealed Surveillance Documents

      Yes, the WSJ has a right to see these files… but not until the DOJ decides these investigations are really and truly over — a determination that has yet to be reached for files zooming past the half-decade mark.

      The oral arguments delivered in June provide a little more insight into the DOJ’s thought processes — mainly that it should be the sole arbiter of document releases. The DOJ went past the constraints of its earlier argument — that “open” investigations are not subject to “common law access” — by claiming that documents used in the course of investigations, even closed ones, are not public records.

    • Ashley Madison Code Shows More Women, and More Bots

      After searching through the Ashley Madison database and private email last week, I reported that there might be roughly 12,000 real women active on Ashley Madison. Now, after looking at the company’s source code, it’s clear that I arrived at that low number based in part on a misunderstanding of the evidence. Equally clear is new evidence that Ashley Madison created more than 70,000 female bots to send male users millions of fake messages, hoping to create the illusion of a vast playland of available women.

  • Civil Rights

    • Hungary Shuts Down Budapest Train Station To Curb Migrant Travel

      The closure of the station appeared prompted in part by pressure from other European Union nations trying to cope with the influx of thousands of migrants flowing through Hungary. Europe has been overwhelmed by a surge of migrants, with over 332,000 arriving so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

    • Massive Right to Water Protest in Dublin as Political Policing of Activists Continues

      Over 100,000 Irish Water protesters turned up on Saturday for another massive show of opposition towards the unfair second tax on the nation’s water supply. The high numbers were a definite message to the unpopular Fine Gael and Labour government. The movement which is made up of many parts, will not be going anywhere until they end their plan to continue with a tax that is one too many under the austerity policy.

    • Former US Secret Service special agent admits Silk Road bitcoin theft

      A FORMER US SECRET SERVICE AGENT HAD ADMITTED to charges relating to the theft of digital currency collected during the investigations into the Silk Road and its criminal activities.

      The Silk Road is, or was, an online bazaar for the sort of things that can be bought in the real world. It was smashed apart by hard working agents in a successful effort that was later revealed to be tarnished.

      Unfortunately two lone, former secret service workers have put their hands up to the theft of bitcoins gathered during the raids, and admitted that this was the wrong thing to do.

    • West Point Prof Who Called For Killing Of Academics Opposed To US Terror War Resigns

      Over the weekend, Spencer Ackerman published a fairly incredible story about a newly appointed West Point professor, William Bradford, who had written a paper, published in the National Security Law Journal, entitled Trahison Des Professeurs, in which he argues (among other things) that US academics who oppose current US anti-terror policy should themselves be targets for killing as a “fifth column.”

    • Fox’s Katie Pavlich Says BLM Is A “Movement That Promotes The Execution Of Police Officers”
    • Criminology Professor Explains To Bill O’Reilly Why It’s Wrong To Link BLM To Murders Of Police Officers

      Dr. Peter Moskos: “There’s Not A Result Of Cops Getting Killed From Black Lives Matter … There Are Fewer Cops Shot This Year Than Last Year. Are You Willing To Give Black Lives Matter Credit For That?”

    • 7 Moments In History When The UK Welcomed Refugees

      The government is coming under increasing pressure to take in more refugees from the war in Syria, with former foreign secretary David Miliband saying on Wednesday that not welcoming more refugees would be “an abandonment of the UK’s humanitarian traditions” of the 1930s and ’40s.

      However, David Cameron has said there is little point taking in “more and more” refugees, adding that it’s more important to bring “peace and stability” to the areas refugees are coming from. So far, 216 people have been accepted under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, with a further 2,000 asylum applications from Syrians in the 12 months before June.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • TPP Could Block Copyright Fair Use

        The recent leak of the intellectual property chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, currently entering its 7th year of negotiation, shows that New Zealand’s negotiators are doing a good job holding the line against more restrictive copyright laws. Things like allowing righsholders to veto parallel imports, mandatory statutory damages and requiring consent for transient automatic copying of files as they transfer across the internet, which would have taken an axe to our copyright law, now all appear to be off the table. Unfortunately, longer copyright terms and criminalisation of technological protection measures are still there, so not all is won.

        I’ve written before though about some of the things that aren’t even in TPP and which are needed to level the playing field, particularly with the US. One of those things is fair use, a US law defence, which creates a broad and flexible exception to the exclusive rights a rightsholder would otherwise have. So, for example, US cases have held 2 Live Crew’s parody of Roy Orbison’s Oh, Pretty Woman, even though it was for commercial gain, was fair use. Links and thumbnails created by search engines have also been held to be fair use. Google also claims that its scanning of tens of millions of books without permission, is fair use. Timeshifting TV programmes for later viewing is fair use. The US Supreme Court has sent Google and Oracle back to the Federal Court in San Francisco to decide if Google’s use of Oracle owned java APIs is fair use. The list goes on. Of course, for a rightsholder, a successful fair use defence can put a big hole in its exclusive rights – that’s why Oracle is fighting so hard in its API case.

      • Why Shouldn’t Copyright Be Infinite?

        Australia National University’s Dr. George Barker suggested that New Zealand could do well by strengthening its copyright legislation. He warned against the fair dealing exceptions that have crept into the law and asked, “Why not have copyright law like property law—i.e. it lasts forever?”

        That is a good question. And it is an important one as New Zealand and other countries consider extending the term of copyright under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Current New Zealand law maintains copyright in written and artistic works for 50 years after the death of the writer. Copyright in film and sound recordings is shorter, lasting 50 years from the works being first made available. While the text of the TPP is not yet public, it appears that the agreement would extend copyright’s duration to 70 years from the death of the creator.

      • US Govt. Denies Responsibility for Megaupload’s Servers

        The U.S. Government says it’s in no way responsible for the fate of Megaupload’s servers, which were raided and seized as part of the criminal proceedings against the file-sharing site. The authorities reject the proposal that they should buy the servers to preserve user data and other evidence.

Software Patent From Troll Called ‘Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations’ a Symptom of a Rotten Patent System

Posted in Patents at 1:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yet another “over the Internet” patent gets flagged

Salford Quays

Summary: Another example of patent trolls and software patents as gatekeepers and parasites, denying access to very trivial ideas or implementations

“Stupid Patent Of The Month” this month was mentioned by the EFF on the last day of August, giving us another glimpse at “over the Internet” patents — so-called ‘innovations’ that basically involve just connecting an existing thing to the Internet. It’s a sham and an embarrassment to the USPTO. Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations is just a litigation apparatus, which makes it a classic patent troll, not just holder of an ugly patent.

The EFF’s rant (composed by Daniel Nazer) was reprinted in TechDirt, as usual, stating: “Imagine if the inventor of the Segway claimed to own “any thing that moves in response to human commands.” Or if the inventor of the telegraph applied for a patent covering any use of electric current for communication. Absurdly overbroad claims like these would not be allowed, right? Unfortunately, the Patent Office does not do a good job of policing overly broad claims. August’s Stupid Patent of the Month, U.S. Patent No. 8,788,090, is a stark example of how these claims promote patent trolling.

“A patent troll called Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations, LLC (“RCDI”) owns a family of patents on a system of customizing products. Each of these patents stems from the same 2006 application. The idea is simple: connect some kind of product mixer to the Internet and allow users to make custom orders. The application suggests using the system to make beverages or shampoo.”

This is basically a software patent and it ought to be thrown out along with many other patents that are equally ridiculous. Watch Apple‘s latest ludicrous patent to have made headlines. Putting smoke detection “over the Internet” or “on a phone” is now deemed patentable too? Were the patent examiners drunk?

“The problem is not just various particular companies but the system itself. Until or unless it correct itself this abuse will carry on.”“Patents need to be questioned,” wrote IP Kat today, “questioning whether we have that balance right.” Alluding to the recent articles from The Economist (almost a month later), the author “notes the magazine’s support for the abolition of the UK patent system in the 19th century. The Economist is not immune to flip-flopping (e.g. flip-flops on African economies). TechDirt finds flip-flops on patents in the last five years. In 2015, The Economist is arguing in favour of patent policy reform with higher thresholds for patentability and shorter terms in what they call a “rough-and-ready” system.”

It is clear that the aforementioned RCDI patent is not just some rotten apple. Many other patents are equally ridiculous if not even more ridiculous. The problem is not just various particular companies but the system itself. Until or unless it correct itself this abuse will carry on.

When Even Patent Lawyers’ Blogs Acknowledge the Rapid Demise of Software Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 12:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Manchester studies

Summary: Voices for patents are accepting the new order wherein software patents are hardly potent at all (and increasingly difficult to acquire)

TECHRIGHTS has chronicled the post-Alice aftermath and the demise of software patents in the United States for well over a year. We wrote about the subject dozens of times and gave examples of cases that demonstrate change, both at the courts (rulings against patents) and at the patent office (examination guidelines being tightened).

The USPTO‘s evolving guidelines for examiners are very much instructed by courts’ decisions. Each time a court invalidates a patent granted by the USPTO it serves to discredit the USPTO and decrease confidence in (or perceived worth of) USPTO patents. According to this interesting new post from a pro-patents blog, the “USPTO provides the following data on petitions challenging examiner decisions:

– the average decision time on petitions challenging a final Restriction Requirement is 91 days, with a 47% grant rate.

– the average decision time on petitions challenging the finality of a rejection is 46 days, with a 39% grant rate.

There are many more statistics there, based on petitioners’ data. Even more interesting, however, was this other pro-patents blog. Usually patent lawyers are denying the magnitude and weight of the Alice case, but this one admits the harsh reality (for patent lawyers):

Courts Everywhere are Finding Software Patents Invalid, So What Next?


The Supreme Court’s June 2014 ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank calls into question the eligibility for patent protection of these issued utility patents on computer software, and is a barrier to future applications on computer software. Alice and its progeny compel software developers to look beyond patents to protect their intellectual property. What are these alternatives? When and how can they be used?

In Alice, the Supreme Court found that an issued patent protecting high frequency trading software was invalid because it was directed to patent ineligible subject matter. Unfortunately, the Court provided little or no direction as to how to determine patent ineligibility. The Court said that a “patent-ineligible concept” is “an abstract idea.” So the natural next question must be: What is an abstract idea? The Court defined “an abstract idea” as “[a]n idea of itself,” or one that is “a fundamental truth.”

With the issued patent challenged in Alice, the Court used this definition to deem them directed to an “abstract idea” and therefore patent ineligible. But the Court did not explain how the patented claims were “drawn to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement” in the high frequency trading software realm. The Court did not pinpoint what fundamental truth the patents purported to protect such that they were ineligible.

We are gratified to see that people no other than the pro-patents crowd are coming to grips with the demise of software patents, even in the United States.

The threat of software patents in Europe persists, however, due to gross abuse by EPO management and other autocrats. “Software [is] not patentable in France,” wrote the President of the FFII today, “but French courts will be replaced by biased Unitary patent courts” (as covered here before).

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