10.30.15

The International Labour Organisation Highlights Problems of Broader Dimensions at EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO complaints of unprecedented proportions

International Labour Organisation on EPO

Summary: The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is raising serious concerns about the situation at the EPO, where labour or workers’ rights are being gradually abolished and the number of complaints has gone through the roof

“The International Labour Organisation in Geneva,” told us a source, “considers that “a governance problem of broader dimensions” exists at the EPO.” We have looked at the report, which we decided to host locally in case it becomes unavailable [PDF]. Our readers are probably well aware of the many abuses at the EPO, but this report look at a particular type of abuse and singles out EPO as an exceptional case study. As our source succinctly put it:

In a recent report, the International Labour Organisation in Geneva considers that the EPO suffers from “a governance problem of broader dimensions” and expresses concern that the number of staff complaints being filed by EPO staff with the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO “represent a challenge to its effective functioning”.

“It is the number of complaints filed against a single organization, the EPO, rather than the rise in the overall number of organizations having accepted its jurisdiction, that represents the main challenge for its effective functioning. The Tribunal further considers that all its efforts are being compromised by the continuing increasing trend of EPO-generated cases and also indicates that the complexity of the problem may require the attention of the Governing Body.”

The Governing Body plans to request the Director-General of the ILO “to initiate without delay discussions with the European Patent Organization (EPO), in consultation with the Tribunal as required, in order to identify a solution to the difficulties caused by the number of complaints generated within the EPO and which threaten the ability of the Tribunal to serve all other member organizations, and to report to the Governing Body at its next session”.

Paging through the report, the EPO isn’t mentioned until page 4, but in page 4 the report focuses on the EPO and singles it out. About a quarter of this whole report is a polite rant about the EPO. To quote:

3. The European Patent Organization (EPO) – A case apart

10. The largest member organization, employing approximately 8,800 staff, accepted the Tribunal’s jurisdiction in 1978. The EPO’s membership has always been marked by significant level of litigation. EPO-related complaints have generated, on average, 21 judgments per year, the lowest number being ten judgments in 1998 and the highest being 69 judgments in 2015. In its 37 years of Tribunal membership, the EPO has been concerned by 761 judgments out of a total of 3,560 judgments delivered by the Tribunal since its creation. By way of comparison, the Tribunal’s second oldest member organization – the World Health Organization – with similar staff numbers has been concerned by 447 judgments in 66 years of membership, that is an average of seven judgments per year (see the table below). In the last five years, whereas the EPO’s staff represents less than 16 per cent of all officials covered by the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, the number of cases filed annually against the EPO represented on average more than 30 per cent of all the cases received by the Tribunal, with peaks above 40 per cent of the overall annual Tribunal workload. This persisting pattern stretches the Tribunal’s resources and inevitably impacts on the processing time of complaints, including those filed against all other international organizations that have recognized its jurisdiction.

11. Despite the written exchanges between the ILO Director-General and the President of the EPO on this matter, and the measures taken internally by the EPO in recent years with a view to improve its internal remedies and reduce litigation, no progress has been registered so far to contain the number of labour disputes which give rise to cases referred to the Tribunal. In this regard, it should be noted that out of the 193 cases filed with the Tribunal from 1 January to 18 September 2015, 112 (or 56 per cent) originated from EPO officials, while the remaining 81 complaints were filed by officials of 23 different international organizations. In addition, following important reforms introduced in the EPO in the past two years, the number of internal individual grievances has grown exponentially, a situation that may reasonably be expected to give rise to an even larger number of EPO-related complaints with the Tribunal in the very near future.

International Labour Organisation rulings

4. Causes of increased caseload – The views of stakeholders

12. In order to present a balanced overview of the underlying reasons for the increase in the Tribunal’s caseload, the Office undertook broad consultations with the principal stakeholders, including the judges of the Tribunal as well as the administration and staff representatives of organizations having accepted the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.

4.1. The Tribunal’s assessment

13. According to the written reply provided by the Tribunal, the increase in the number of organizations is not a problem in itself as statistical data show that the organizations which recognized the Tribunal’s competence in the last ten years did not significantly increase the Tribunal’s workload4. It is the number of complaints filed against a single organization, the EPO, rather than the rise in the overall number of organizations having accepted its jurisdiction, that represents the main challenge for its effective functioning. The Tribunal further considers that all its efforts are being compromised by the continuing increasing trend of EPO-generated cases and also indicates that the complexity of the problem may require the attention of the Governing Body.

14. The Tribunal has made it clear that it has reached its limits in terms of output and that it could not be expected to increase it any further without compromising the quality of its services. This is probably also connected with the fact that the judges do no work for the Tribunal on a full-time basis, but usually sit only twice a year for three to four weeks each time, and that some of them have extremely busy schedules as they are still serving in the supreme courts of their respective countries.

15. The Tribunal also drew attention to the fact that administrative tribunals of much narrower coverage – geographical or other – have gradually come into existence which raises legitimate questions as to whether it can still be considered to be the “natural judge” to hear complaints against organizations operating, for instance, within the administrative framework of the Council of Europe or the European Union. While there is nothing in the Tribunal’s Statute to restrict admission on the basis of an organization’s coverage, it should be remembered that the original intention was to open up the Tribunal’s jurisdiction to truly global organizations which would be otherwise deprived from access to any international administrative jurisdiction.

16. Finally, the great diversity of staff rules of organizations under the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, the lack of internal means of redress in some organizations, the frequent challenges to normative acts of general application, especially by staff representatives, and the lack of employment stability of the Registry staff, were also identified as additional factors contributing to the Tribunal’s increasing caseload.

4.2. The views of member organizations

17. Based on written replies provided by seven organizations and the views expressed by representatives of 29 organizations during a one-day consultation meeting, it is generally recognized that the admission of small international organizations in recent years is neither at the origin of the rising backlog of the Tribunal nor likely to impact on the Tribunal’s caseload in any significant manner in the near future. However, the resulting diversity of legal frameworks governing employment relations of staff under the Tribunal’s jurisdiction may occasionally generate delays.

18. Member organizations expressed serious concern about the volume of complaints against the EPO, and most importantly about the fact that problems around the “litigation culture” and social dialogue in that organization are not conjunctural but are most likely to persist unabated for many years. The general sense is that, based on available information, the current situation is not sustainable and that measures such as the increase of the number of judges or the number of sessions will not have a lasting effect on, much less resolve, the current flow of complaints filed by EPO officials. While noting the explanations of EPO administration officials about their genuine efforts to improve the situation, member organizations agreed that this was a governance problem of broader dimensions which called for urgent action in the interest of preserving the Tribunal’s operation.

______
4 According to these data, 15 organizations have recognized the competence of the Tribunal since 2005 and have generated 65 complaints out of a total of 1,863 complaints; among those organizations, six have not so far been the object of any complaint, four organizations have each generated one complaint, and one organization has been the object of two.

Put briefly and in very simple terms, the International Labour Organisation recognises that there is something uniquely rogue in the EPO that causes a massive number of complaints to come from workers. There are so many complaints in fact that the International Labour Organisation finds itself drowning in them. The real issue here seems to be the EPO’s governance (or administration, or management). They make recommendations accordingly.

Skipping quickly to page 7, the EPO is revisited as follows:

Part II. Analysis of the situation and possible way forward

1. Principal findings and proposed course of action

24. On the basis of the information presented in Part I above, and following the broad consultations undertaken by the Office of the Legal Adviser over the past three months, three main conclusions seem to emerge: firstly, it is difficult to see how the Tribunal could continue under its current configuration and arrangements to cope with both its accumulated backlog and increasing workload. Secondly, the recognition of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction by new international organizations does not affect in any significant manner the capacity of the Tribunal even though the diversity of legal rules and regulations may at times prove challenging. Thirdly, the introduction of further changes to those undertaken by the Tribunal to increase its capacity to deal effectively with the workload may well result in efficiency gains in specific areas of the Tribunal’s functioning but will not be sufficient for the Tribunal to cope with the growing volume of complaints filed against one single organization (the EPO).

25. Faced with such reality, the Office could explore three strands of action in order to find long-lasting solutions to address the current situation. Firstly, an urgent, practicable and time-bound solution needs to be found regarding the facilitation of the speedy adjudication of all EPO complaints in a manner that permits the Tribunal to fulfil its mandate and effectively serve all other organizations, which have recognized its jurisdiction.

The following part ensures that thugs who have run the EPO won’t have a pleasant weekend. They should expect the Tribunal to apply pressure:

Draft decision

33. The Governing Body requests the Director-General:

(a) to initiate without delay discussions with the European Patent Organization (EPO), in consultation with the Tribunal as required, in order to identify a solution to the difficulties caused by the number of complaints generated within the EPO and which threaten the ability of the Tribunal to serve all other member organizations, and to report to the Governing Body at its next session;

It sure looks like the management of the EPO stepped in a scandal of its own making. It will be interesting to see what develops of this in the coming weeks, months, or even a year (justice is notoriously slow at these high levels).

IBM Bemoans the Collapse of Software Patents in the US and Wants US Congress to Intervene for ‘Certainty’

Posted in America, Apple, Europe, Patents at 4:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reza SarbakhshPhoto source (Sarbakhsh): “IP Monetization”, New York (2015)

Summary: The bizarre ‘friend’ of Free/Open Source software (FOSS), IBM, is still trying to ensure patentability of software whereas Apple and SAP, based on new stories, surprisingly enough serve to crush or at least weaken some

THE IMPACT of the Alice case has been great. Everyone is happy about it. Unless one is a patent lawyer or a software monopolist…

The American Intellectual Property Law Association (with its dodgy Microsoft Windows site) is an echo chamber that has just regathered and congregated many stakeholders, excluding people who actually invent and create things. The audience profits from patents, so it’s not an unbiased event that’s open to the wider public or at least offers the public speaking opportunities.

Just like the UPC Forum Munich, which lobbies regarding courts and litigation (money to be made by lawyers), the American Intellectual Property Law Association thinks in a narrow-minded way.

Now, let’s talk about IBM, which is actively spreading (or trying to spread) software patents to even more countries. People who made a career out of cataloging the patent monopolies of massive corporations (that’s where the big money is) are pursuing as many of them as possible, even 50,000 for just one company. Small business with an infinitesimal number of patents hardly every become a bleep on the radar and lawyers who work for them do nothing but drive them closer to bankruptcy, without any obvious benefits. Remember that the EPO also discriminately deals with applicants, prioritising large corporations even when these are not European (prominent patent practitioners — to use a euphemism — are still discussing the impact of this).

According to this new report from LES 2015, the “lead IP attorney” at IBM (whatever that actually means) isn’t happy about Alice. Here are some quotes:

Legislation will ultimately be required to address the uncertainty created by the Alice Corp v CLS Bank ruling, a lawyer from IBM told the LES 2015 Annual Meeting.

Reza Sarbakhsh, who is lead IP attorney at the company, said the decision has provided little guidance on what is patentable in the computer software space.

“As with any other business, uncertainty is the enemy,” he said, asking whether legislation should be required.

While he admitted that “I don’t know if we can convince Congress to address problems from our perspective” in the short term, “eventually legislation is the answer”.

Sarbakhsh was speaking during a lively discussion on the impact of the US Supreme Court’s ruling from last June. The court said computer-implemented inventions are not eligible for patent protection.

Sarbakhsh does not explicitly say it, but knowing that he works for IBM, a booster and lobbyist for software patents, by clarity he means advocacy. To quote the author’s paraphrasing: “Sarbakhsh said some large corporations are still pursuing software patents because the costs of getting them issued and the subsequent maintenance fees have not increased, even if patent value might be lower.”

“It’s not a business, it’s protectionism. It ensures money continues to flow from the powerless to the powerful.”Sarbakhsh said (direct quote): “Simply because one or two patents have been invalidated doesn’t mean we’re getting out of the patent business.”

It’s not a business, it’s protectionism. It ensures money continues to flow from the powerless to the powerful.

The overall tone of this lawyers-led event is similarly saddening. Then see the article (paywalled) titled “AIPLA 2015: Don’t dump portfolios due to section 101, patentees told”. To quote the excerpt: “Software patent owners should not jettison their portfolios despite worries over the impact of Alice Corporation v CLS Bank and its application of section 101, an industry conference heard.”

Why not? Because it harms the profits of patent lawyers?

Alice is a very big deal.

Apple is trying to invalidate software patents using Alice, whereupon “Ericsson says Apple’s Alice motion against wireless patents threatens to swallow all of patent law,” to quote Florian Müller.

Well, if it swallows all of patent law, or software patents in this particular case, then all the better.

One person wrote to us, “so if Apple succeeds then that may be troublesome for many other patent holders on wireless communication.”

Separately, in Twitter and in his blog, Müller says that “Google-SAP cross-license agreement announced: is SAP once again critical of software patents?”

As we showed earlier this week, SAP is still trying to patent software in Europe, so we very much doubt a change of policy is in the making. However, with this cross-license pseudo-’peace’, one might assume that SAP won’t take any legal action against Android, and perhaps by extension GNU/Linux.

We’re living in interesting times as we are at the crossroad when it comes to software patents. Lose it, as IBM wishes, and software patents may expand to the entire world. If we win this battle, then maybe we can still contain this injustice, even put an end to it worldwide. Patent lawyers won’t give up and sit idly until everything, including life itself, becomes patentable (i.e. profitable to them).

Not an Accident: Microsoft’s Monopoly is Dead, So Microsoft Plans to Maliciously Force Everyone to Move to Vista 10

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 10, Windows at 3:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Do what Microsoft says, or else…

Violence

Summary: Microsoft’s force-feeding of spyware is not an accident as Microsoft tried to frame it but probably a test run, ahead of Microsoft’s effort to impose installation of this spyware on everyone

“MICROSOFT IS ABOUT TO INCUR the wrath of loyal users once again,” The Inquirer wrote about yet another dead product (among many more), “after confirming that the company is to merge its popular Sunrise calendar app into Outlook, discontinuing the standalone version “down the line”.”

“Users are upset about it, but Microsoft doesn’t care what users think or feel. Computers are effectively being hijacked.”Microsoft is in a bad state, so no wonder many products get canceled, including some versions of Windows (especially for devices or mobile). What does Microsoft do? The usual: dirty tricks. It already annoys a lot of so-called 'customers' by forcing them to get Vista 10 and this new puff piece says that “Microsoft is planning to get a lot more aggressive about upgrading existing machines.” The puff piece repeats lies and fake figures from Microsoft, then quotes Microsoft spinners. They try market this unacceptable force-feeding (which Microsoft was trying to spin as an 'accident') as a good thing by saying things like “Microsoft is also making some changes designed to entice software pirates to upgrade.”

It even gets more like a marketing placement with statements like these: “This change in approach is all part of Microsoft’s overall effort to get 1 billion devices running Windows 10 within two or three years of its release. As long as Microsoft avoids nagging people to upgrade more than once, or forcibly updating Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, then this latest change won’t trigger a backlash.”

Nonsense.

They already downloads it without consent, turning computers into the world’s worst spying devices and turning users into ‘products’. Users are upset about it, but Microsoft doesn’t care what users think or feel. Computers are effectively being hijacked. It’s all about what Microsoft wants and it simply commandeers its botnet to impose use of Vista 10, fulfilling a false prophecy of Vista 10 ‘success’. How much more of this abuse are people willing to tolerate?

Microsoft-Connected Xamarin Demolishes the Freedom of Android

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, GPL at 2:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s war on Android surely a benefactor here

Tamarin

Summary: An essential Android tool, RoboVM, turns into proprietary software just shortly after Xamarin, which is financially assisted by Microsoft veterans, takes over it; time to fork?

LAST WEEK we wrote about Xamarin‘s disturbing takeover of RoboVM [1, 2], which was a threat to Microsoft’s monopoly and domination of APIs (especially on the desktop). Xamarin, for the uninitiated, creates proprietary software that strives to spread Microsoft’s .NET to mobile (including Android) devices.

“Following RoboVM’s acquisition by Xamarin, the company has raised the price of their offering and has closed the source code.”
      –Abel Avram
It has only been less than a week and now we learn from Abel Avram that “RoboVM Is No Longer Open Source”.

“Following RoboVM’s acquisition by Xamarin,” explains Avram, “the company has raised the price of their offering and has closed the source code.”

“The community has wondered what would happen to RoboVM now that they have been acquired by Xamarin,” Avram noted. Well, now we know. Bye bye, community.

To quote further: “RoboVM is no longer providing the source code except to enterprise customers. [...] Several RoboVM components used to be made available under the Apache 2.0 license while the compiler was open sourced under the GPL license.”

It has gotten so bad that RoboVM might be forked. To quote Avram, “some developers consider that closing down the source code has to do with Xamarin’s acquisition. And some are discussing forking the project, perhaps starting with the sources v. 1.8 which will be pushed to GitHub this week, according to Zechner. It remains to see how successful they are in their endeavor considering that RoboVM is not a trivial piece of software.”

Xamarin and Mono were never about Free software and GNU/Linux; they were just a parasite trying to exploit Free software and GNU/Linux to spread .NET and now they serve to convert Free software into proprietary. Microsoft must love what Miguel de Icaza has been up to recently.

“At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it inmediately [sic].”

Miguel de Icaza

EPO Press Spokesperson and Obvious Conflicts of Interest With Supposed Anti-Corruption Group Transparency International

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Welcome to the dark side…

Jana Mittermaier

Summary: Further research into the EPO’s Press Spokesperson reveals that she had worked for one ethical employer but later embarked on a top brass career with bribery villains and then Team Battistelli, helping to put a positive face on a thuggish, oppressive (against the press even) operation

OUR recent article about Control Risks Group (CRG) and Transparency International (TI) led to yet more research. We believe that the following information may be of interest because it shows a conflict of interest and direct overlap between the EPO and Transparency International, which last year was asked to investigate the scandalous EPO.

“Referring to the recent article about CRG and Transparency International,” wrote a source, “Battistelli’s newly-recruited Director of External Communications and EPO Press Spokesperson is Jana Mittermaier. Doing some research about Ms. Mittermaier turns up the following interesting pieces of information.” [PDF]

“She started her professional career as Democratization Officer heading an OSCE field office in Zenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina [PDF]. Incidentally, Bosnia is where the current EPO Vice-President Željko Topić comes from – he was born in Banja Luka. She subsequently joined TI and became the head of TI’s Brussels office and a member of TI’s Expert Group on Corruption.” Here she is speaking about her work:

Instead of joining the EPO she could do her job actually investigating the EPO, as Transparency International ought to have done. Transparency International was even asked to.

“In February 2013,” said our source, “she was one of the “contributing experts” to a Workshop on “Better Avoidance of Conflict of Interest” [PDF] organised by the EU Directorate General for Internal Policies [PDF].” We decided to share the following slide for hypocrisy’s value:

Jana Mittermaier slide

It sounds like her career’s goals match what it takes to probe the EPO, not join the EPO as its official mouthpiece. Misleading the media and interfering with journalists’ job isn’t ethical at all.

Our source continued with some juicy details: “In September 2013 she left TI to move to Siemens where she was the director of “collective action” in the Siemens legal and compliance department. Her move from TI to Siemens was reported on in “Transparency International Siemens Revolving Door Spins, Money Pipeline Flows”.

I’m all too familiar with what Siemens did as I wrote a lot about this at the time. Has someone just crossed over to the “dark side”? To quote this article (with our emphasis added):

After Siemens plead guilty in 2008 in one of the largest corporate bribery cases in history, Transparency International, the world’s largest anti-bribery organization, distanced itself from the company.

Before the guilty plea, Siemens financially supported Transparency International chapters and had a close working relationship with the TI headquarters and its chapters.

After the guilty plea, not.

But time, apparently, heals all wounds.

Now, six years after the Siemens guilty plea, the revolving door has begun to spin again, and the money has begun to flow again, between Siemens and Transparency International chapters.

Siemens sees its renewed affiliation with Transparency International as a way to greenwash its tattered reputation.

Transparency International sees Siemens as a piggy bank to replenish its diminished treasury, having lost millions after being cut off recently by state funding agencies.

On the revolving door front, in September 2013, Jana Mittermaier, the head of TI’s Brussels office, left to join Siemens Integrity Initiative — which was established under a settlement with the World Bank in July 2009.

According to Siemens, the initiative “supports organizations and projects around the world that fight corruption and fraud through collective action, education and training.”

Mittermaier is the director of “collective action” in the Siemens legal and compliance department.

[...]

Transparency International Berlin and Siemens did not return calls seeking comment.

She joined the EPO in 2015, only some time after the mysterious departure of Vincent Bénard, which was reported on by Techrights.

There’s not much money in fighting for justice or working for ethical companies; experience suggests that the world’s most corrupt corporations or organisations (like surveillance and military apparatuses) can offer much better compensation (salaries) for workers; the same goes for illegal operations like drug-dealing or dubious activities like granting unbounded protectionism to monopolists. It takes perseverance to fight the good fight — clearly not what Ms. Mittermaier eventually chose to do. It’s a sad loss of potential.

“The European Patent Office is a Corrupt, Malicious Organisation Which Should Not Exist”

Richard Stallman

10.28.15

Battistelli’s EPO Loses ‘Customers’ Because It Plays ‘Favourites’ With Large Corporations

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A joke about EPO policy
“Patent attorney cracks joke on LinkedIn,” Florian Müller wrote earlier today, because of the “EPO preferred applicants policy. Has a point.”

Summary: The management of the European Patent Office (EPO) feels the squeeze because its short-term goals that compromise the hard-earned reputation of the Office compromise the entire organisation

It is not hard to see why the EPO’s scandalous management is so stressed (we were told this by people close to them). They suffer anxiety because their staff is walking away permanently or just temporarily to protest and “customers” (that’s how they view applicants) are very much upset and may therefore no longer pursue patents at the EPO. Blatterstelli (as Müller calls him) has become an embarrassment not just for the EPO but for Europe as a whole. Secret deals like these have no room in a developed country, not without a resignation, firing, or perhaps even prosecution. This isn’t a public service from public servants; it’s a distortion of the very core values and role of a patent office anywhere in the entire world. One would expect this from a third world country, not an establishment that European taxpayers help subsidise against their will (there was no vote on the matter and no elections).

“This isn’t a public service from public servants; it’s a distortion of the very core values and role of a patent office anywhere in the entire world.”Since the President of the EPO has decided to take and respond to these issues personally, we too can respond personally.

I have a lot of evidence that helps justify the Blatterstelli analogy; there are serious issues inside the EPO and I blame a lot of this personally on Battistelli, as I know some things that have not yet been published and Battistelli would never want me to publish. Guess who signed the Control Risks contract. Our source say it was Battistelli, so it goes all the way to the top. Blatterstelli brought back to Europe (and Munich, no less!) the morals of the Soviet Union, the functions of the Stasi (I.U.) and mass surveillance with hidden cameras and keyloggers. Why did Battistelli sign the Control Risks contract? Simple. It was designed to help fight against truth-tellers inside and outside the organisation. Blatterstelli brought the military industry right into the very heart of his office, not just the I.U. ‘cells’. How does EPO staff feel about this? Frankly, the gloves are off and people should speak openly about what Battistelli turned the EPO into; it’s more of a laughing stock than anything, and even patent applicants (and patent lawyers, as above) recognise this. They poke fun at the policies.

“The EPO is a very secretive operation, hence its fragility. If only the European public knew what really goes on at the highest floors of EPO buildings…”The EPO’s patent examiners are very talented people. It shouldn’t be surprising given Europe’s very high standards in education. But Battistelli brings almost nothing into the office other than misguided management strategies, which he probably brought from the spoiled rich brats’ college he studied at. Given his poor performance as a manager, he must not have paid close enough attention at the classes, either. He may think that he is a very important man, but deep inside he is a very insecure person who bullies everyone who ‘dares’ not to inflate his massive ego. Just go to epo.org and see Battistelli’s mug shown right there in the front page. Megalomania (or contrariwise inferiority complex)? Check. It links to his personal blog which is actually quite a gold mine because it helps reveal personal biases and relationships with all sorts of entities, including Battistelli’s friends from China (where human rights are almost as appalling as in Battistelli’s workplace). “Ensuring Transparency,” Battistelli is boasting in one of his latest blog posts. Time for Battistelli to be transparent about his censorship and threats against reporters, no? We suppose that selective transparency is what Battistelli meant by “Ensuring Transparency”. The EPO is a very secretive operation, hence its fragility. If only the European public knew what really goes on at the highest floors of EPO buildings…

Watch Battistelli personally promoting UPC (the unitary patent), which effectively can extend the scope of European patents to software. Watch Battistelli propping up the patent maximalists from Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) because they rubbed his back (congratulated his performance). Remember that it was only they (maybe WIPR to a lesser degree) who carried talking points for the EPO after the favouritism scandal had broken out. This is coming from the management that paid for self-censoring French media and self-promotional placements (also known as “puff pieces”) inside leading worldwide magazines (the New Scientist usefully enough disclosed what had happened).

“Patent examiners should fight for the integrity of the European system. It’s this that will protect their job (and pension) in the long term.”The EPO is heading in a very wrong direction of patent maximalism, human rights abuses, and even dubious relationships with foreign mega-corporations. The EPO could end up even worse off than the USPTO.

We recently wrote about the situation in Australia, where lobbyists were trying to promote something called the “Innovation Patent System”, mirroring some of the efforts we see these days in Europe. Patent maximisation (in the scope sense) efforts by patent lawyers in Australia can still be seen (here is a recent article titled “IP in depth: status update on Australian business method and software patent applications”); they are working to expand patent scope and make things like a ‘banana republic’ patent office (e.g. USPTO and China’s SIPO), where the goal is just to maximise the overall number of patents, never mind their quality. They misleadingly equate quantity with innovation.

Patent examiners should fight for the integrity of the European system. It’s this that will protect their job (and pension) in the long term. Greed will bear fruit only in the short term; in the long term it will repel applicants and discourage them from ever returning. What Battistelli does at the moment is squeezing the goose (those who are not familiar with the parable should definitely read the Wikipedia article). Battistelli repeats the epic mistakes of Robert Mugabe; by issuing far too much of his currency (patents) he devalues them and this hyperinflation will inevitably result in patent bubbles and implosion (collapse in value).

The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs

“The European Patent Office is an executive organisation, it deals especially with patent applicants, as such, its view of the world may be biased. As an executive organisation, its interpretative powers are very limited. The European Patent Convention excludes computer programs, it is outside the EPO’s power to change this.”

Ante Wessels, FFII

Links 28/10/2015: Xiaomi’s GNU/Linux Laptops and OpenStack’s Massive Expansion

Posted in News Roundup at 5:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Iconic Linux debate sparks an open source career

    In 1997 I left Tandem (Compaq) and found an ISP. Two years later, I was heading the IT department of Univates, a university center in the South of Brasil. There we developed several free software systems, such as SAGU (an academic ERP) and GNUteca (a library loan and administrative system). In 2003, I helped found Solis, the first free software co-op in the world. I told the Solis story in Linux Journal in 2004, and the co-op is still very active and has generated several spin-offs.

  • Mycroft AI Already Working on Linux Desktops, Integration Has Started

    The Mycroft developers have been working to adapt the speech recognition system for the Linux desktop, and they have already taken the first steps.

  • Desktop

    • Confirmed: Two Xiaomi Linux Laptops All Set For Mass Production In 2016

      According to a press release by Inventec, it is currently collaborating with Xiaomi to produce two laptops, which would be introduced under the Xiaomi brand. The laptops are reportedly scheduled for an early 2016 release.

    • Xiaomi preps Linux laptops for the post Christmas sales rush

      Pumped up by a (claimed) $1bn in profit in 2015, Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi will start selling Linux laptops early next year, according to a report.

      DigiTimes suggests that two models will be built by contract manufacturers, Inventec and Compal, and feature 12.5 inch and 13.3 inch displays.

      According to the trade paper, Xiaomi has been tapping up Lenovo executives “aggressively” to manage the new laptop venture.

    • Old iMac Ubuntu Studio Installation

      I definitely think you’re on the right path for getting more life out of the old Mac. I recently did some testing with a 2010 Macbook Pro (6,2 version) and Ubuntu MATE. It’s more involved than simply installing Linux onto a PC, but it’s totally possible. Unlike Macbook Pro laptops however, the process should be a bit easier with the iMac.

  • Server

    • Poof! You’re also a Linux administrator. Now what?

      Running Linux in the enterprise often meant little more than an experiment that was sequestered in a lab environment, far away from the production side. But this former interloper is now inching across networks, as it has matured and has become more accepted due to its prominence in established cloud platforms and emerging container technologies. Even Microsoft has dropped its campaign against the open source operating system and has gone so far as to develop its own version of Linux to run part of the Azure cloud platform.

    • HP Creates Open Source Network Operating System

      The digital nature of our world has created a need for more adaptable network operating systems (NOS’s). Networks handle large amounts of data every day, which has created a need for on-demand scalability. As such, HP has teamed up with a variety of supporters, including Arista, Broadcom and Intel, to address this problem and create OpenSwitch, an open source NOS. With OpenSwitch, developers can now collaborate, test new theories and innovate to develop higher-quality networks for organizations. Furthermore, these networks can be customized to accommodate specific business needs.

    • A day in the life of a cloud architect

      OpenStack can be an enigma. We have open source purists who profess by the virtues of OpenStack, even as a multitude of enterprise aficionados wonder if OpenStack is right for them. Fortunately we have cloud practice leader Vijay Chebolu and cloud architect Vinny Valdez to cut the clutter. In their roles at Red Hat Cloud Innovation Practice, Vijay and Vinny deliver Open Stack solutions to customers.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Cinnamon 2.8 Gets Its First Point Release, Several Bugs Were Fixed

      We reported a few days ago on the Cinnamon 2.8 desktop environment and the massive amount of features it includes, but it looks like the first point release is already available for download.

    • The Beauty of the i3 Tiling Window Manager

      If you don’t have much need for a full desktop environment, i3 is a great option. And the beauty of Linux is that if I do need something more robust, desktop-wise, Unity is just a login session a way. But aside from going into it for screenshots and for some odd trackpad configurations I couldn’t figure out in i3 (I’ve since discovered the joy of gsynaptics, which works just fine from i3), it’s really been a pleasure to use.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Chakra GNU/Linux to Use KDE Plasma 5 as Default Desktop Environment

      Neofytos Kolokotronis was more than happy to announce that his Arch Linux-based Chakra GNU/Linux distribution will finally make the switch from the old-school KDE4 desktop environment to KDE Plasma 5.

    • Reviews

      • Xfce Smooth: the smooth variations

        Xfce Smooth is an interesting distribution. It shows you what you can do yourself using the [very] good distribution as a start and playing with themes, icon sets and fonts. You can change your system’s look very much to your own taste.

        The question is still whether you need to download a distribution that someone has already created for you, or start it yourself from scratch. The benefit of using of Xfce Smooth in this case is that it already has a lot of icon sets, fonts, themes to choose from. You do not need to search, download and install them. Just start playing with your selection!

        In terms of performance, I had almost no issues with Xfce Smooth at all. It felt very snappy, fast, responsive and… really smooth! The only small issue was with the Keyring password request that appeared several times.

        Would I use this distribution myself? Probably not. I am not a fancier of different fonts, icon and mouse pointer styles to play with them. I would rather stick to something more classic.

      • First Look at Ubuntu Gnome 15.10

        Okay, so that wasn’t the final note. While I doubt any of my three readers work for major laptop vendors, I really want to see a push for physical kill switches on things like the camera and the microphone, such as on the Librem 15. I considered getting one of those but they are a little sketchy on what “PureOS” actually is, and so I’ll wait to see what others think of it first.

      • Linux cousins Part 2: Reviewing ReactOS, the Open Source version of Windows [Ed: not Linux]

        ReactOS is built with the primary purpose of providing full binary compatibility with applications (and device drivers) written for Windows Server 2003. That means you can literally take a piece of software built for Windows and run it on ReactOS, without too much trouble

    • New Releases

      • Black Lab NEXT 2015.10 RC4 Released

        Today we are releasing RC4. Release Candidate 4 is a major bug and application fix that plagued users of the RC2 and RC3 series. With that we also have some changes that came along and landed in RC4. Some visual changes and some application changes.

      • IPFire 2.17 – Core Update 94 released

        This is the official release announcement for IPFire 2.17 – Core Update 94 which is a release with smaller security fixes and a maintenance release in general.

      • IPFire 2.17 Open-Source Firewall Gets Internal Mail Agent

        Michael Tremer, one of the developers for the ipfire.org team, has just announced that IPFire 2.17 Core 94, a new build of the popular Linux-based firewall distribution, is now available for download.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva Forums

        I also gave the OpenMandriva Games page a try and found the proposal interesting despite that the games there are not the ones I play. I guess it would be great to be able to play Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation again, but Steam is doing a wonderful job to satisfy my occasional gaming needs.

    • Ballnux/SUSE

      • SUSE: Rolling Awesome of the Day

        If you’re a Tumbleweed and KDE aficionado, this is a good day. You’ll see some major updates:

        Plasma 5.4.2
        Frameworks 5.15
        Applications 15.08.2
        Qt 5.5.1

        Now, yes, that’s all minor versions but stability is a big deal!

      • OpenSUSE Tumbleweed Lands Many KDE-Related Updates

        The rolling-release openSUSE Tumblewed distribution has landed a number of significant KDE package updates.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat opens up Ceph storage to other cloud leaders

        Red Hat’s Ceph is a popular software-defined object and file cloud storage stack. While the code is open source, Red Hat has directed the project’s strategic direction. Until now. At the Toyko OpenStack Summit, Red Hat announced Ceph’s overall direction will be put into the hands of the newly formed Ceph Advisory Board.

      • Red Hat CIO: Business advice on IT value

        To be truly successful as an IT organization, you must bring new ideas to drive revenue or reduce cost for the business as a whole. If you don’t, they’ll do it without you where there is a critical need and they have a budget. Then, you’ll end up with a non-integrated set of solutions and potentially security exposures.

      • Darcy on the future of storage

        We’ve been at this dance before with Linux. People have been asking if Red Hat was going to be like Microsoft, and I told everyone: nope. We’re transfering the wealth that the proprietary lock-in vendors were collecting back to the users. That was the whole idea. In the process, we’re collecting less – a more reasonable amount, necessary to put stuff together and make it run. Therefore, we’re not going to be as wealthy off users’ backs. But the society as a whole benefits.

      • Analysts Anticipate Red Hat to Announce $0.31 Earnings Per Share (NYSE:RHT)

        Wall Street brokerages predict that Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) will report earnings per share (EPS) of $0.31 for the current fiscal quarter, according to Zacks. Nine analysts have provided estimates for Red Hat’s earnings, with the lowest EPS estimate coming in at $0.30 and the highest estimate coming in at $0.32. Red Hat reported earnings per share of $0.30 during the same quarter last year, which indicates a positive year over year growth rate of 3.3%. The business is expected to issue its next earnings results on Thursday, December 17th.

      • Red Hat Incorporated (NYSE:RHT) rated: Will Analysts Continue to rate Red Hat Incorporated a 1.59 on ratings scale?

        The overall rating for the company is 1.59. The rating is an average of the various different ratings given by analysts and brokers to Red Hat Incorporated, and then averaged into one rating by a team of analysts at Zacks in Chicago, Illinois.

      • Short Interest Update on Red Hat, Inc.
      • Lenovo and Red Hat Expand Trusted Portfolio of Cloud Offerings

        Lenovo on October 27 announced an extended strategic collaboration with Red Hat to deliver powerful IT infrastructure, automation and management capabilities including Red Hat Enterprise Linux Openstack Platform and CloudForms.

      • Citrix collaborates with Red Hat
      • College partners with Dell and Red Hat — embraces open source and Linux solutions

        While not all open source solutions are better than the closed source alternatives, opting for the former for underlying infrastructure is generally a good idea. This will provide a business with flexibility and stability while sometimes saving money too.

        A Singapore school, the Yale-NUS College, had some needs revolving around the cloud, so it wisely chose two open source friendly companies to help — Dell and Red Hat. The OpenStack cloud solution, a product that was co-created by the two aforementioned companies, has been a huge success for the college.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora summer 2016 internships.

          There are three USA internship positions open at Red Hat on the Fedora Engineering team. These internships are all available this coming summer (2016).

        • Is that the right mailing list? Is that the right audience?

          All too often, I see people opting to go for the least-public list when opening discussions. Part of this, I think, is just human laziness. You get into a routine, and stick with it. This is doubly hard to overcome when an initiative starts “behind the firewall” and then moves into the public.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • 7 things to do after installing Ubuntu

            The Ubuntu project recently announced the release of Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) and its official flavors such as Kubuntu, Ubuntu Mate, etc. Different ‘Ubuntus’ come with different desktop environments that have different sets of applications pre-packaged. But there are certain things that any Ubuntu user should do to get most out of the distro, regardless of the flavor. Here are a few of things I recommend you do after installing Ubuntu… any Ubuntu, for that matter.

          • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Daily Builds Now Available for Download

            With Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) out the door, the Ubuntu developers are not wasting any time, and they’ve already started to work on the upcoming Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus).

          • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Will Be Released on April 21, 2016
          • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) to Be Powered Soon by Linux Kernel 4.3 RC7

            The development of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) has started, and we even know the launch date for it. We can now begin to track the Linux kernels that will be implemented in the daily builds.

          • Ubuntu Touch to Get the Major OTA-8 Update in Two Weeks, Feature Freeze in Effect

            Ubuntu developers have been busy with the next OTA update that is planned for Ubuntu Touch, and it looks like they are now clearing the way for the next release. A feature freeze is now in effect for the new OTA update.

          • Ubuntu in talks to make handsets in India

            The government’s open source policy has given a tremendous push to Microsoft Windows alternatives. Canonical, maker of popular Linux-based operating system Ubuntu, has been piggybacking on this opportunity to penetrate into the government and education sector in the country.

            Ubuntu is now eyeing the mobile and Internet of Things markets in India as its next growth driver. The company recently launched its two smartphones in India through Snapdeal. The two handsets, which are available globally, are manufactured by Spanish manufacturer Aquaris. However, Ubuntu is in talks with local handset makers for possible ‘Make in India’ deal.

          • Canonical Announces OpenStack Cloud App Store for Ubuntu Linux

            Canonical is launching yet another app store for Ubuntu Linux. Unlike its great, late desktop-oriented predecessor, however, this one is focused on the OpenStack cloud, with apps delivered via Juju.

            Ubuntu founder and former CEO Mark Shuttleworth announced the new app store at the OpenStack Summit this week in Tokyo. The platform will provide a way for people running Ubuntu-based OpenStack clouds to install cloud applications via Juju and Horizon, the web-based management interface for OpenStack.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • New Opera, Chakra Plasma 5, Riddell Responds

              A new Opera Web browser has landed for Linux users bring new features and improved multimedia support. Jonathan Riddell posted a short response to Ubuntu’s statement on the community councils and a couple of reviews deserve mentioning. For Chakra users, a switch to Plasma 5 was announced.

            • Kubuntu’s founder resigns, accuses Canonical of defrauding donors and violating copyright

              Jonathan Riddell—who founded Kubuntu a decade ago—has stepped down as release manager and will be headed upstream to KDE. This comes after a lengthy period of spats between Riddell and the Ubuntu Community Council. On Reddit, Riddell punctuated his resignation by once again accusing Canonical—the company behind Ubuntu—of defrauding donors and violating copyrights.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • France and Germany to promote eInvoicing

    France and Germany are to encourage companies to use eInvoicing an the two countries will continue to work together on the development of common technical standards to facilitate this, according to a joint statement made at the “Accelerate the digital transformation of our economies” conference in Paris on 27 October.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Cutting Sugar Improves Children’s Health in Just 10 Days

      Obese children who cut back on their sugar intake see improvements in their blood pressure, cholesterol readings and other markers of health after just 10 days, a rigorous new study found.

      The new research may help shed light on a question scientists have long debated: Is sugar itself harming health, or is the weight gain that comes from consuming sugary drinks and foods mainly what contributes to illness over the long term?

    • Will Everyone Please Eat Gluten? Please? Because You Are Literally Killing Me, Kind Of

      A new study by the NPD group shows that 29% of Americans are now trying to cut gluten out of their diets, most of them just cause. Every time another person makes this foolish decision, my life gets harder.

    • Buckraking on the Food Beat: When Is It a Conflict of Interest?

      In an age of shrinking newspaper budgets, it’s common for editors to rely on freelance writers–and for freelancers to add to their incomes with side projects. But is it a conflict of interest for a columnist who covers food and agriculture to take money from agrichemical industry interest groups?

  • Security

    • Mac OS X applications are leading the PC vulnerability war

      GENTLEMEN ADJUST YOUR PC threat league tables. Apple has usurped Oracle as the top blight, according to security firm Secunia.

      The picture is bleak across the board, and the firm found that a huge whack of PCs are are running old, beleaguered, unpatched and end-of-life versions of software. This presents a problem to the user and computers in general.

    • U.S. military cyber security fails to make the grade

      The United States Department of Defense is still issuing SHA-1 signed certificates for use by military agencies, despite this practice being banned by NIST for security reasons nearly two years ago. These certificates are used to protect sensitive communication across the public internet, keeping the transmitted information secret from eavesdroppers and impersonators. The security level provided by these DoD certificates is now below the standard Google considers acceptable for consumer use on the web.

      The Missile Defense Agency, the eventual successor to the “Star Wars” programme, uses one of these SHA-1 certificates on a Juniper Networks remote access device. The SHA-1 certificate was issued by the Department of Defense in February 2015, long after NIST declared this practice to be unacceptable.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • MEP: Transparency negotiations on trade agreements must be a priority

      Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) wants furthering transparency around trade negotiations to be a priority for the EU. Today the European Parliament voted in favour of a proposal by Schaake to make more money available to make information about EU trade policy more accessible and to bring it to the attention of people, the proposal would cover 300,000 euros. Schaake: “I am glad that the Parliament has supported this initiative, even if it concerns a relatively small amount of money. It is clear that people increasingly want more explanation about EU trade policy, in the first place in the context of negotiations with the United States, but also more broadly. I want to make sure that the Commission does not only put texts online, which is already being done, but also actively engages with citizens and stakeholders, for example by organising meetings and information sharing events, European member states and the Trade ministers must play a much larger role here, too.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Climate Activists Want A Public Editor For Murdoch-Owned National Geographic

      Climate activists are calling on National Geographic to hire a public editor to keep tabs on its editorial approach following the magazine’s purchase by a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Murdoch has repeatedly made scientifically inaccurate comments about climate change, and recently lamented “alarmist nonsense” on the issue.

      The National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox announced last month an expansion of their current partnership to include National Geographic’s cable channels, its flagship magazine, and other digital and social media.

      As National Geographic explained, “Under the $725-million deal, Fox, which currently holds a majority stake in National Geographic’s cable channels, will own 73 percent of the new media company, called National Geographic Partners. The National Geographic Society will own 27 percent.”

      “We will now have the scale and reach to fulfill our mission long into the future,” National Geographic Society CEO Gary E. Knell said at the time. “The Society’s work will be the engine that feeds our content creation efforts, enabling us to share that work with even larger audiences and achieve more impact. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The Fake News Food Chain

      It’s a problem when presidential candidates from a major political party are getting their information about the world from a news outlet that evidently can’t tell the difference between a sub-Onion hoax site and actual news. It’s an even bigger problem when those candidates bring those bogus claims onto supposedly reputable network TV—and the real journalists aren’t able to recognize that the politicians they’re interviewing are parroting garbage factoids from Fox‘s land of make-believe.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Apple unlock: Judge compares request to execution order
    • Tech Companies and Civil Liberties Groups Force Obama To Weigh In On Encryption Debate

      President Obama will now be forced to publicly describe the extent of his commitment to protecting strong encryption, after nearly 50 major technology companies, human rights groups, and civil liberties collectives—including Twitter, the ACLU, and Reddit — succeeded in getting over 100,000 signatures on a White House petition on Tuesday.

      The government’s “We the People” platform, created in 2011, was designed as “a clear and easy way for the American people to petition their government.” Once a petition gains 100,000 signatures, it is guaranteed a response.

      The savecrypto.org petition demands that Obama “publicly affirm your support for strong encryption” and “reject any law, policy, or mandate that would undermine our security.”

    • CISA data-sharing bill passes Senate with no privacy protections

      CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (S. 754), will allow private companies to share cyber-threat data with the federal government, including personal user data, in an effort to prevent cyberattacks, such as those on the scale of Target, Home Depot, and Sony. Companies that share data with federal agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA), will be given legal and liability protections from lawsuits relating to data sharing.

    • Senate passes controversial cybersecurity bill Cisa 74 to 21

      The US Senate overwhelmingly passed a controversial cybersecurity bill critics say will allow the government to collect sensitive personal data unchecked, over the objections of civil liberties groups and many of the biggest names in the tech sector.

      The vote on Tuesday was 74 to 21 in support of the legislation. Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders voted against the bill. None of the Republican presidential candidates (except Lindsey Graham, who voted in favor) were present to cast a vote, including Rand Paul, who has made privacy from surveillance a major plank of his campaign platform.

      Ahead of the vote a group of university professors specializing in tech law, many from the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy, sent an open letter to the Senate, urging them not to pass the bill. The bill, they wrote, would fatally undermine the Freedom of Information Act (Foia).

    • Senate Passes CISA, The Surveillance Bill Masquerading As A Cybersecurity Bill; Here’s Who Sold Out Your Privacy

      After rejecting all the good privacy amendments to CISA, the Senate has now officially passed the legislation by a 74 to 21 vote. About the only “good” news is that the vote is lower than the 83 Senators who voted for cloture on it last week. Either way, the Senate basically just passed a bill that will almost certainly be used mainly for warrantless domestic surveillance, rather than any actual cybersecurity concern.

    • Will New Cybersecurity Bill Lock Down Security or Invade Our Privacy?

      The problem, of course, is that with immunity protection, companies may feel no qualms about revealing far more personal information about customers and partners than they ever did before. Immunity has powerful consequences.

    • EFF Disappointed as CISA Passes Senate

      CISA passed the Senate today in a 74-21 vote. The bill is fundamentally flawed due to its broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying authorities. The bill now moves to a conference committee despite its inability to address problems that caused recent highly publicized computer data breaches, like unencrypted files, poor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links.

      The conference committee between the House of Representatives and the Senate will determine the bill’s final language. But no amount of changes in conference could fix the fact that CISA doesn’t address the real cybersecurity problems that caused computer data breaches like Target and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

    • Oracle now keeps all EU data within EU borders to avoid Safe Harbour problems

      Oracle has revealed that it is now keeping all data regarding EU citizens within the European Union. This allows it to comply in a straightforward way with the ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that is likely to result in EU-US data transfers made using the Safe Harbour framework being deemed illegal.

      According to The Irish Times, Thomas Kurian, president of product development at Oracle, said at Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference in San Francisco: “All of our data centres in Europe have European operators. They have local production and, within the same European legislative region, disaster recovery. No data is sent across the geographical boundaries to any other legislative boundary.” As a result, Kurian added: “we are very comfortable with where we are with our cloud offerings and the new regulatory framework around data governance.”

    • Call 911 If You See This Huge-Ass Blimp on the Loose Today

      Here’s a metaphor: a remote-controlled, tremendously expensive, basically useless JLENS aerial surveillance blimp has detached from its tether at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. If you see it, call the authorities. Do NOT try to get it down yourself.

    • Open Source Center (OSC) Becomes Open Source Enterprise (OSE)

      The DNI Open Source Center has been redesignated the Open Source Enterprise and incorporated in CIA’s new Directorate of Digital Innovation.

      The Open Source Center, established in 2005, was tasked to collect and analyze open source information of intelligence value across all media – – print, broadcast and online. The OSC was the successor to the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), which gathered and translated world news coverage and other open source information for half a century.

    • The IRS Has Stingrays … But We Knew Stingrays Have Been Used to Chase Tax Fraud

      Indeed, much of what we know about Stingrays comes from Rigmaiden’s years-long effort to demand details of how they used the Stingray to find him, and since he got released for time served, he has continued his efforts to uncover how they’ve been used.

      What’s interesting about the Guardian report, then, is that the IRS itself owned a Stingray, which they were updating in 2009 and 2012, even as the government was being exposed for improperly using Stingrays without a warrant to prosecute tax fraud. Reports on Rigmaiden had suggested an FBI Stingray was used to catch him — and that may well be the case — but we now learn that they owned one before 2009 (so early enough to capture him with, presumably).

      In Rigmaiden’s case, IRS was clearly partnering with FBI, so could have (and may have) used their Stingray. That would seem to be the case for all proper uses of the technology. So, among all the other things we should demand on Stingray use, one of them should be to limit their use to the FBI, which will increase the likelihood they’ll get properly noticed in any prosecution.

    • IRS possessed Stingray cellphone surveillance gear, documents reveal

      The Internal Revenue Service is the latest in a growing list of US federal agencies known to have possessed the sophisticated cellphone dragnet equipment known as Stingray, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.

      Invoices obtained following a request under the Freedom of Information Act show purchases made in 2009 and 2012 by the federal tax agency with Harris Corporation, one of a number of companies that manufacture the devices. Privacy advocates said the revelation “shows the wide proliferation of this very invasive surveillance technology”.

    • Surveillance law: France carefully listening to the world! (at last…)

      French Senate has approved last night the bill on international surveillance (fr), legalising mass surveillance beyond French borders, incidentally affecting numerous French people. La Quadrature Du Net salutes French consistency in terms of serious violations of Human Rights.

  • Civil Rights

    • Obama Finds Unlikely Policy Allies At Police Gathering

      In highly anticipated remarks Tuesday, President Barack Obama took his push for gun control and criminal justice overhauls to a room full of the country’s top police brass — who enthusiastically backed his calls for comprehensive background checks, assault weapons bans, and reductions in the incarceration rate.

    • Senior Defense Dept. officials decry Guantánamo judge’s female guard ban

      Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, criticized the ban in response to a question from New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. Ayotte and two other GOP senators visited the prison Friday, and said they met with female guards upset by the restriction.

    • Is investor-state dispute settlement legal? A plea for EU judges to check

      Last month, the European Commission proposed reforms to the controversial investor-state dispute mechanism (ISDS), part of the EU-US trade deal known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). ISDS mechanisms, including the Commission’s ‘reformed’ ISDS proposal, let foreign investors sue the EU and Member State governments. These cases take place in front of specialised courts only open to foreign investors, where claims for compensation can run to billions of euros.

      ISDS has important implications for the daily lives of people in the EU. ISDS, for example, can be used by foreign investors to challenge the revocation of a fracking permit following protests and new environmental studies. This is a disconcerting development, especially because a US trade agreement containing ISDS would expose Europe to law suits from the country that uses ISDS the most.

    • Fox’s Mark Fuhrman Defends The Actions Of School Officer Who Dragged And Threw A Student Across The Floor
    • Defense lawyer to Guantánamo judge: Secret program may be depriving 9/11 defendant of sleep

      An attorney for the accused 9/11 plotter who has complained about strange overnight noises and vibrations in his prison cell for years told a military judge Sunday that the problem was back, and that it may be caused by a covert Pentagon program disclosed to the court just last week.

    • The Most Controversial Hacking Cases of the Past Decade

      The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the law that’s been at the heart of almost every controversial hacking case of the past decade, is in the news again this month.

      Prosecutors recently used the law to convict journalist Matthew Keys on felony hacking charges, drawing rounds of condemnation on the web. Edward Snowden, for one, derided the harsh penalty Keys now faces—a maximum possible sentence of 25 years.

      But charging Keys with felonies for his role in a crime that critics say should have been considered a misdemeanor—the minor defacement of a Los Angeles Times article—is not an anomaly for the feds. It’s just one among a growing list of contentious cases that critics say illustrate how prosecutors have been overstepping in their use of the CFAA.

    • Race and Discipline in Spotlight After South Carolina Officer Drags Student

      Videos of a white sheriff’s deputy throwing a black high school girl to the floor of a classroom thrust this community into an unsettling national discussion Tuesday about whether black students are disproportionately punished.

    • Obama Calls for Less Prison in Overhauling Sentencing Laws

      President Obama made his case on Tuesday for an overhaul of the nation’s sentencing laws, telling a gathering of top law enforcement officials here that putting large numbers of nonviolent drug offenders in prison was neither fair nor an effective way of combating crime.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • US government says it’s now okay to jailbreak your tablet and smart TV

      The US Library of Congress today issued a set of exemptions to an infamous provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), establishing a victory for consumers who like to tinker with devices without running afoul of copyright law. The exemptions were far-reaching, extending from movie and television files used in an educational context for criticism to installing third-party software — in other words jailbreaking — tablets and smart TVs.They will however only last for three years.

    • Free At Last: New DMCA Rules Might Make the Web a Better Place

      Another positive from the change is that smartphone users will be able to jailbreak their phone and finally enjoy running operating systems and applications from any source, not just those approved by the manufacturer.

    • Victory for Users: Librarian of Congress Renews and Expands Protections for Fair Uses

      The new rules for exemptions to copyright’s DRM-circumvention laws were issued today, and the Librarian of Congress has granted much of what EFF asked for over the course of months of extensive briefs and hearings. The exemptions we requested—ripping DVDs and Blurays for making fair use remixes and analysis; preserving video games and running multiplayer servers after publishers have abandoned them; jailbreaking cell phones, tablets, and other portable computing devices to run third party software; and security research and modification and repairs on cars—have each been accepted, subject to some important caveats.

Apple Makes Use of Alice v. CLS Bank (Alice/§101) to Invalidate Software Patents, But ITC Pretends Nothing Happened

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Suddenly software patents don’t suit even Apple’s agenda all that much…

Apple

Summary: Another blow for software patents in the United States (US) as even a company that notoriously exploited them to impose embargoes on Linux (Android) devices is finally finding these patents unsuitable

THE USPTO has been thoroughly impacted by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS), for a ruling from last summer meant that a lot of patent applications, especially ones that pertain to software, are no longer eligible and should thus be rejected/discarded. Techrights believes that Alice v. CLS Bank can gradually pave the way to a world free from software patents and that without this case, software patents would only gradually expand and become universally acceptable.

Techrights believes that Alice v. CLS Bank can gradually pave the way to a world free from software patents and that without this case, software patents would only gradually expand and become universally acceptable.”The Alice case, which continues to squash a lot of software patents (those that are being tested in a court of law), changed the game and even Apple, a leading foe of Linux and Free/libre Open Source software, is now using Alice in order to squash software patents (those which are asserted against Apple). According to this article from Florian Müller: “The Apple v. Ericsson docket in the Northern District of California was worth taking another look (after quite a while): two weeks ago, Apple brought a motion for summary judgment of invalidity of two patents asserted by Ericsson in its counterclaims to Apple’s declaratory judgment complaint, and the motion is entirely based on 35. U.S.C. § 101 in light of last year’s famous (or infamous in the eyes of patent attorneys) Alice ruling by the Supreme Court on patent-ineligible subject matter…”

Patent Buddy took note of these patents [1, 2] and we wish to remind readers of our recent post about patent trolls in Europe and Ericsson's troll, Unwired Planet.

“Maybe the folks at the ITC think they’re above the law, even above the Supreme Court.”The fascinating thing here is that even Apple, which is attacking users with software patents (embargoes, feature removal, price hikes) and maliciously spying on users, is making use of the Alice case. But perhaps the most interesting article today concerns the United States ‘International’ Trade Commission (it’s not really international, it’s nationalistic and biased; it’s often used by Microsoft and Apple to ban Android devices), which according to patent lawyers remains reluctant to take account of the Alice case. Maybe the folks at the ITC think they’re above the law, even above the Supreme Court.

“Outside of the ITC,” wrote the author, “defendants have been increasingly successful in challenging the patentability of asserted claims under Section 101. Recent decisions by the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit have clarified, and arguably narrowed, the scope of patentable subject matter, and have repeatedly urged district courts to resolve any Section 101 defenses as soon as possible. At the ITC, however, this defense has rarely been asserted, and has only once been successful since Bilski. Nevertheless, ITC practitioners should expect to see more of these defenses in the near future, and there are interesting, open questions surrounding how the ITC will interpret and implement the Supreme Court’s decisions on this issue.”

“The injunctions are so biased that it’s just too hard to ignore.”We have been vocal critics of the ITC and its dubious practices since the Bilski days, so this one is yet another example for our list. It often seems like all that the can ITC offer is protectionism for US (mega)corporations, not justice. The injunctions are so biased that it’s just too hard to ignore.

“Software patents have been nothing but trouble for innovation. We the software engineers know this, yet we actually have full-blown posters in our break-room showcasing the individual engineers who came up with something we were able to push through the USPTO. Individually, we pretty much all consider the software-patent showcase poster to be a colossal joke.” —Kelledin, PLI: State Street Overruled… PERIOD

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