12.03.15

Impact of Software Patents and Excessive/Unregulated Profit Motives at USPTO: Now Even Common Encryption (i.e. Computer Security) Under Patent Attacks

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 7:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Legacy of the likes of IBM’s David Kappos and his predecessors

David Kappos
For mega-corporations, yes.

Summary: A roundup of patent news from the US and some relations between that and Europe, which risks repeating the mistakes of the patently-occupied (by large corporations’ interests) USPTO

NOT ONLY the EPO is resorting to dubious privatisation of public services. Its apparent role model, the USPTO, is doing so too. This week’s report from WIPR reminded us that: “Professionals from Serco will review patent applications and sort them into the appropriate classification. Serco has been contracted by the USPTO since 2006 to provide this service.”

“Software patents now do what even the British Prime Minister could not successfully do. They combat encryption itself, effectively banning it if not discouraging its use (for transactional security purposes).”This isn’t particularly surprising given that the USPTO is little more than a rubber-stamping warehouse, run by and for large corporations (see where its directors come from and who takes the lion's share of patents). It used to be IBM’s turf and now it’s Google’s. As Andrew Orlowski put it last week: “The nomination of former Google lawyer Michelle Lee to run the US Patent and Trademark Office has been hailed as a victory for Silicon Valley. In 2007 Lee said the patent system was “out-of-balance” and needed “to be remedied”. But does she still think that?”

Well, nothing has been done so far by Michelle Lee. Like Obama or Kappos before her, it was all Hope and Change, but nothing really happened. Kappos himself is now a patent maximalist (he profits from it), calling for software patents, which are not permitted in Europe (for good reasons).

As noted here a few days ago, patent trolls love software patents and this is starting to happen in Europe too. Software patents now do what even the British Prime Minister could not successfully do. They combat encryption itself, effectively banning it if not discouraging its use (for transactional security purposes). Who benefits here?

“If the US patent system did not permit patenting of software, none of this would have happened.”See Tim Cushing’s “Patent Troll Sues Everyone For Infringing On Encryption-Related Patent By Encrypting Their Websites” (the FSFE’s Matthias Kirschner took note of these events). An article by David Kravets says that, unsurprisingly, this happens in Texas again. “A Texas company,” he wrote, “is suing some of the biggest names in tech and retail, claiming their HTTPS websites infringe an encryption patent titled “Auto-Escrowable and Auto-Certifiable Cryptosystems.” CryptoPeak Solutions has filed about six dozen cases in all, and they began hitting the patent-troll friendly venue of the Eastern District of Texas in July.”

Here is a lawyers-centric report about it and a hackers-centric report that says: “Texas-based company CryptoPeak Solutions LLC has filed 66 lawsuits against many big businesses in the US, claiming they have illegally used its patented encryption method – Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) – on their HTTPS websites.

“Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) is a key exchange algorithm that is most widely used on websites secured with Transport Layer Security (TLS) to determine what symmetric keys are used during a session.”

If the US patent system did not permit patenting of software, none of this would have happened.

This one lawsuit (or large set of lawsuits) grabbed a lot of the media’s attention, but as Joe Mullin put it: “New patent lawsuits hit an all-time high in November, with many plaintiffs likely hoping to avoid new pleading rules that came into effect yesterday. A whopping 790 lawsuits were filed last month, with at least 212 filed on a single day: Monday, November 30.” Also see “Patent Lawsuits Set One-Day Record with 257 New Cases, Most Filed in Texas”, an article by rich people’s press. The article starts as follows: “Remember patent reform? Congress proposed laws earlier this year aimed at curbing haywire patent litigation, but it appears not everyone got the memo. On Monday, dozens of patent plaintiffs targeted firms ranging from Apple to Airbnb, and set a one-day record with 257 new cases filed, ensuring 2015 will go down as another bumper year for patent lawyers.”

A lot of these lawsuits boil down to software patents, which are under attack in the US, thanks to the Alice case. PatentBuddy, citing IAM’s article, says that “David Kappos Discusses the 101/Alice Rejection of the Lip Sync Patent, McRO v Sony” and Professor Mark Lemley says, linking to this PDF: “Patentable subject matter is here to stay — en banc Fed Cir denies review in Sequenom with only Newman dissenting.”

This shows that software patents themselves are still a subject of debate even in the US, where software patents originally came from.

“The management and the high-level staff at the EPO already permit patents on life, serving the likes of Monsanto.”We regret to learn that even some British software companies are basically ignoring the evidence and still deciding to pursue software patents (not just in the US). Sage Group, according to this new report, is becoming more like Trading Technologies. Instead of focusing on development of better software it is focused on acquiring patents on software. To quote the British media: “A number of its products, such as Sage Impact and Sage Live, have recently won innovation awards and an increased number of new patents will be coming from the firm.”

Why are these large proprietary software firms and their lobbying front groups in Europe so insistent on being granted software patents? Because they are software monopolists in their area and they want to limit or block competition using patent lawsuits. How does that ever improve innovation? It’s all about protectionism and in the field of software, owing to its inherent nature, workarounds are often not even possible.

The patent scope at the EPO is slipping out of control under the current management. “The European Patent Office (EPO) has quietly adopted,” according to this new article patents “relating to human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).”

What will they patent next? The management and the high-level staff at the EPO already permit patents on life, serving the likes of Monsanto. This has got to stop. patents like these aren’t for innovation; they’re all about protections from rivals, supporting and broadening existing near-monopolies.

“An unexciting truth may be eclipsed by a thrilling lie.”

Aldous Huxley

French Member of Parliament Reacts to EPO Management Amidst Ongoing Attacks on Staff Representatives and Facts-free Information War

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Responds to explosive leaks which show a massive new PR contract with an American company

Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ letter

Summary: The EPO’s information war (with a $80,000-per-month budget dedicated just to reputation laundering and spin) upsets French politician Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’

A FEW days ago we wrote about Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’. He was being informed by EPO staff representatives that the EPO‘s President, Frenchman Benoît Battistelli, was lying about them in private letters (written in French). This isn’t unusual for Battistelli; we already covered several similar examples. In the world of Team Battistelli, you can only be in one of two teams; either Battistelli’s team or the enemies’ team. It’s a lot like nations under autocratic regimes (such as North Korea’s). Dissent is neither normal nor tolerated. There is no sense of democracy or even of free speech. Moreover, there is hardly a rule of law; the President (or Dear Leader) is the law, with the President’s guards being the unaccountable enforcers. Internally, at the EPO, these are referred to as "the gestapo" because of their actions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

“Stuff keeps coming in,” told us a French-speaking person last night. “There is something new at the Web site of MP Le Borgn’.

“A strongly-worded letter signed “Les examinateurs exaspérés” ["The exasperated examiners" or "the fed up examiners"] reviews the profoundly toxic atmosphere at the EPO.

Techrights is mentioned prominently on page 2.

“I’m quite sure at this point that a translation will pop up quickly. I nevertheless include an OCR version in case you want to run it through a translator.

Here is the text of the letter [PDF], which is basically a scanned copy:

Munich, le 30 novembre 2015

ASSEMBLÉE NATIONALE FRANCAISE
A l’attention de Mr. Le Borgn’, Député
Rue de l’Université 126
75355 Paris 07 SP
France

Monsieur le Député,

Tout d’abord permettez-nous de vous exprimer notre reconnaissance pour vos prises de position courageuses et vos interventions en vue de rétablir la Justice et la moralité dans l’Office européen des Brevets.

A deux reprises déjà le conseil d’administration de l’Office a demandé au président Battistelli de reprendre le dialogue social. Sa réponse a été la mise à pied de toute évidence injustifiée de trois dirigeants élus de notre syndicat, la SUEPO. Des investigations ont été ouvertes contre eux. Les accusations de l’Office ne semblent pas du tout reposer sur des bases solides, et ont été formellement réfutées par des juristes allemands. Les sources juridiques qu’invoque l’Office sont actuellement inconnues et pour le moins douteuses. Aucune contre-argumentation crédible ne semble avoir été présentée qui mette en défaut les conclusions des avocats consultés par la SUEPO. A La Haye des membres de la SUEPO et de la Représentation du Personnel ont aussi été soumis à des interrogatoires où ils ont dû subir d’inacceptables pressions psychologiques. Dans le courrier qu’il vous a adressé, le président Battistelli déclare que ces séances auraient été enregistrées. Une question se pose d’emblée: quelle est la légalité de tels enregistrements? Les unités d’investigation à qui sont confiées ces enquêtes et ces interrogatoires disposent d’un pouvoir inquisitorial inacceptable totalement en dehors du cadre de l’éthique et de la sécurite juridique garanties à leurs citoyens par les democraties europeennes modernes.

A travers ces dirigeants de la SUEPO, ce sont 7000 fonctionnaires qui sont agressés par les agissements du président Battistelli. En deux heures s’est organisée une manifestation groupant 2000 personnes en face du bâtiment « Isar », siège de l’Office. Compte tenu du nombre d’employés à Munich, cela est énorme.., et constitue bien sûr ce que le président Battisteffi aura sans doute encore l’audace d’appeler « une minorité ». L’indignation et l’écoeurement sont à leur comble. Il est grand temps que soit mis un terme à cette culture du mépris du personnel et que le conseil d’administration de l’Office fasse enfin entendre sa voix en ce sens.

Nous en avons assez d’être traités comme le cheptel du président Battistelli. Nous avons tous étudié dans les écoles et universités les plus prestigieuses, et nombre de nos collègues sont détenteurs de diplômes de doctorat. La plupart d’entre nous sont issus de l’industrie, où ils ont occupé des postes à responsabilité ou des fonctions managériales. Ils pourraient avec certitude donner d’utiles leçons à la direction de l’Office et enfin lui apprendre les bonnes pratiques dans ce domaine.

Empreinte de crainte et de suspicion, l’ambiance de travail est des plus sinistres. Qui à l’Office a encore confiance dans son ordinateur ou dans les photocopieuses, parfois même dans ses collègues? Nous en sommes venus à nous méfier des téléphones mis à disposition dans nos bureaux à tel point que pour communiquer sur des sujets les plus anodins, nos collègues en viennent à ne plus utiliser que leurs. « Handys », non sans avoir jeté un regard circulaire autour d’eux pour s’assurer que leur conversation ne soit pas écoutée. La confiance a totalement disparu dans les relations entre employés et supérieurs hiérarchiques: à tort ou à raison, nous craignons constamment d’être victimes d’un coup fourré. Il ne faut donc pas s’étonner que dans cet environnement toxique les collègues désabusés réagissent de plus en plus nombreux par une « démission interne », certains ayant d’ailleurs déjà exprimé que le matin, c’est avec la haine de leur employeur qu’ils franchissent les portes de l’Office.

C’est encore avec la plus vive inquiétude que nous constatons que des mesures d’intimidation de journalistes ou de «bloggers » orchestrées par l’Office sont mentionnées sur le «net» voyez par exemple

http://techrights.org/2015/11/27/epo-reputation-laundering/
http://techrights.org/2015/11/27/epo-information-warfare/

Cette source, ainsi que des informations internes dignes de foi, semblent clairement indiquer que l’Office a maintenant débloqué un budget de l’ordre de 800 000 € pour des campagnes de presse. Comment et dans quels buts ces considérables montants d’argent public seront-ils utilisés? Cette question ne préoccupe apparemment pas le conseil d’administration. La direction de l’Office ne se gêne pas pour traîner dans la boue les membres du personnel qui osent exprimer une opinion dissidente, en particulier s’il s’agit des dirigeants syndicaux ou de la représentation du personnel. L’étape suivante sera-t-elle de museler la presse et de taire les critiques par des campagnes de diffamation et d’intimidation, ou d’abuser des cours de justice européennes pour parvenir à ces fins?

Nous voudrions bien signer cette lettre de nos vrais noms, mais voilà! Vous n’ignorez pas que l’Office s’est adjugé les services de l’inquiétante firme « Control Risks », apparemment impliquée dans un certain nombre de scandales concernant l’espionnage illégal de journalistes, de clients et d’employés de firmes en Allemagne. La crainte qu’étant connus nous puissions être victime d’une implacable vengeance reste donc fondée.

L’Office doit respecter la légalité et la justice telles qu’elles existent dans les démocraties européennes modernes. Nous ne voulons pas plus que le rétablissement de nos droits et le respect de notre honneur.
Vous exprimant notre confiance, nous vous prions, Monsieur le Député, d’agréer l’expression de nos sentiments respectueux.

Les Examinateurs exaspérés.

Any accurate translation of the above would be very much appreciated. I cannot speak or comprehend French myself.

“If they honestly believe that their target audience is going to be so gullible, then it says a lot about their dim views of the outside world.”As Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ appears to be a reader of Techrights now, we wish to point out that a lot of what the EPO’s management is going to tell him cannot be trusted. They have created a very warped version of reality, where staff dissent is compared to Nazism or terrorism (like what recently happened in Paris). We have many examples where the management was trying to play a connotation game so as to insinuate that if you sympathise with SUEPO (or with the suspended judge), then you are “with the terrorists” (famous words from George Bush) or with violent neo-Nazis. This sort of psychological war suggests to us that many in the EPO’s management (or PR department) don’t even act like grown-ups. If they honestly believe that their target audience is going to be so gullible, then it says a lot about their dim views of the outside world.

Incidentally, text circulating inside the EPO right now speaks of “Victimisation” and covers the projection tactics of the management. “It looks like some public sympathy for management is sought because “allegedly” they have been receiving threats (verbal and physical),” wrote a person, “both inside and outside the Office for their actions. A PD has been reported even mentioning police involvement yesterday… No such thing has come back to our well-informed ears and clearly, if any of these “events” were true (and we would welcome any feedback if this were the case), I and I am sure any staff and staff representatives would condemn such acts. Portraying what many perceive as perpetrators of institutional violence as victims reminds of the “pompiers pyromanes” (pyromaniac firefighters). In any case it is yet another step in today’s conflict logic with no way out. Can the public afford a conflict that never ends?”

“We have never heard of anything non-peaceful from EPO protesters.”We wrote about this at least thrice before. It seems like a totally bogus narrative. We have never heard of anything non-peaceful from EPO protesters. Perhaps it’s just an agent provocateur strategy — something which an aggressive media strategy backed by a $80,000-per-month budget (plus union busters like CRG) actually saw worthwhile.

If someone actually heard of physical threats, please speak out. The only time we hear of such things it’s done by the management to scapegoats among the staff, who are the “real victims,” to quote the above person. “On the fact side,” the person added, “as you know many staff representatives office-wide are being targeted by different forms of attacks including (but not limited to) threatening letters, disciplinary procedures and suspensions. In particular the big duty stations of The Hague & Munich are hit extremely hard: those that have resigned already (6 I think) or have been regularly sick are trying to compensate for the last wave of the last five 100% Staff Representatives that are either suspended or sick.”

Speaking of “exhaustion”, the person writes: “In other words, staff should not wonder why their remaining representatives are close to exhaustion…”

“They make an example out of several representatives and therefore intimidate the rest.”It’s a form of psychological war. They make an example out of several representatives and therefore intimidate the rest. Classic union-busting procedures. Coca-Cola went as far as actually assassinating some union leaders. Now, that’s how you create real, total fear.

“On the positive side,” wrote the above person, “this situation seems to be perceived by staff and an increasing number of feedback and offers to help is flowing in. This is also explaining the appearance of the latest spontaneous, sometime somewhat chaotic, actions, such as petition and call for strike… In this sense staff of the big duty stations seems to understand that sticking together, helping each-others and eventually stepping-in has unfortunately become the necessary way forward to keep staff voice heard.”

As we wrote in our previous article, there are record-breaking numbers right now. The efforts to malign, demonise and incite against staff representatives are obviously not working. They just serve to reinforce the management’s departure from truth. It’s an information war. It’s a high-budget information war.

“In war, truth is the first casualty.”

Aeschylus, Father of tragedy

EPO Staff Protest Statistics: Over 2,600 Signatures (So Far) in Petition, About 800 Staff in The Hague Protest, Much More to Come in Munich

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Dutch EPO protest (Tuesday, the 1st of December)

Dutch EPO protest

Summary: Coverage from The Hague’s EPO protest, with much larger protests expected near the Munich ‘branch’ on Friday, and also the pro-SUEPO petition which in some places got immediately signed by a majority of staff

“PEOPLE POWER” at the EPO seems to be working. The management is seeing a higher proportion of its staff drifting away and defecting — publicly even — to the side of the management’s biggest critics. The reputation laundering campaign (leaked here last week) is seemingly failing.

“The staff representatives, despite being thoroughly demonised by the management (Team Battistelli and personally by Battistelli himself), is refuting the illusion…”There is now a petition in circulation. How many people formally oppose the management right now? 2,600 would be nearly half of all EPO staff, potentially to reach half in the coming days (if people were brave enough to have put their names and protect those who protected them from the aggressive management). The names won’t be shown to Team Battistelli, just the overall number of petitioners/signatures.

Why is this important? The staff representatives, despite being thoroughly demonised by the management (Team Battistelli and personally by Battistelli himself), is refuting the illusion that staff is happy [1, 2, 3, 4] and that the current state of affairs should be accepted. Suicide statistics speak for themselves.

“A huge proportion decided to attend despite the growing danger of reprisal.”A few days ago we wrote about how the Team Battistelli tried to crush the protest in Holland (the Netherlands). Team Battistelli evidently failed — miserably based on past attendance — because despite the comparably small size of the staff there, a lot of people attended the protest. A huge proportion decided to attend despite the growing danger of reprisal.

“In The Hague,” said one eyewitness report, “a massive demonstration took place in front of the Dutch ministry of economy in The Hague. Despite the fact that all foreseen buses were full and that the remaining staff had to go by their own means to the location, an estimated 800 Staff members braved the extremely unpleasant weather (see pictures above) to demonstrate peacefully their support for the suspended colleagues.”

“The following week there will be another action.”Well done! All the buses were full, which means that the scale of the protest exceeded the expectations of organisers. This movement speeds up and it wouldn’t be unthinkable or far-fetched to expect 2,000 people to walk out on Friday in Munich. As WIPR put it a few days ago: “Certain staff members at the European Patent Office (EPO) will stage two demonstrations this week to protest against what the office’s union has called “persistent attacks” on staff representatives.

“A demo is taking place today, December 1, at the Ministry of Economic Affairs in The Hague. It was due to start at 12pm local time.

“A second protest will take place in Munich on Friday, December 4, outside the EPO’s Isar building at 12.30pm local time.”

“For now, considering immediate danger to anyone who dares to challenge the tyranny (especially in small enough numbers), it’s better to focus on this coming Friday and supersize everything.”SUEPO’s site says “Friday 04 December, starting at 12.30h in front of the Isar building in Munich.” No changes to this plan have been made since. In a potentially other (unspecified for now) location, on 10/12/2015, more protests will take place. Later today (Thursday), the text of the petition and “the number of petitioners (not their names) will be sent to Mr. Battistelli,” we have learned. The same goes for “Mr. Kongstad and the members of the board 28.”

Why Board 28?

Well, as a source revealed to us, “on that day an extraordinary Board 28 meeting will take place. A demo at the Isar building will be organised by SUEPO. Please attend in vast numbers!”

Sounds like a good plan. The following week there will be another action. Demonstrations will be taken to the Justizpalast, which Wikipedia describes as “two courthouses and administrative buildings in Munich.”

“Worth noting: in Berlin, within less than 24 hours, most of the staff of the EPO already signed the petition…”For now, considering immediate danger to anyone who dares to challenge the tyranny (especially in small enough numbers), it’s better to focus on this coming Friday and supersize everything. “In Munich,” as revealed to us another source, “SUEPO Munich invites all staff to a demonstration [...] in front of the ISAR building. On that day an extraordinary Board 28 meeting will take place. Please attend in vast numbers! The demonstration was approved by the Munich local authorities.”

Obviously Team Battistelli would never approve such a thing. In fact, nasty threats were made in the past by Battistelli and his right-hand man, leading to pro-active suppression of free expression.

“Friday seems likely to bring the biggest protest (yet) that the EPO ever saw.”The source says regarding the “[Patent] Office-wide Petition” that “despite the fact that this spontaneous initiative is not driven by any organs of the Staff representation, so far ca. 2600 signatures have been collected: In Berlin 135 signatures have been collected in 24 hours! (from ca. 260 Staff – including sick/vaca on&co) – now in total of 154 –in Mu[nich], over 1600 and over 700 in DH [The Hague]. Preliminary figures will be communicated to the Board 28 this Friday and the final certified count should be made available to the AC next week.”

Worth noting: in Berlin, within less than 24 hours, most of the staff of the EPO already signed the petition, without even proper organisation of the process (it has been mostly done in secret, for fear of the mighty and somewhat lunatic Team Battistelli).

Well done and good luck. Thursday (today) will be interesting because of the signatory number being handed out. Friday seems likely to bring the biggest protest (yet) that the EPO ever saw.

“I’m always happy when I’m protesting.”

Richard Stallman

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