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12.15.15

Very High Proportion of EPO Staff in Berlin Goes to the Streets to Protest and to Defend SUEPO From the Union Busters

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO Berlin for SUEPOSummary: Benoît Battistelli’s union-busting EPO is in a state of disarray as employees from all across Europe find the courage to openly demonstrate against Team Battistelli and in favour of SUEPO, the most popular staff union with many decades of operation behind it

THE EPO scandals keep piling up and staff is catching up. Earlier this month nearly half of all EPO staff took it to the streets and protested. How many members of staff? Over 2,000 in Munich, including Directors (see photos from the following week, when another protest attracted a similar number of staff), about 800 in the Netherlands, and now, according to this account, “Ca.150 SUEPO Colleagues in Berlin went also public today to show solidarity with the hunted union officials!” There is also a photograph there (copied above).

“The harder Team Battistelli attacks the unions, the more it discredits itself. Defaming the union leaders isn’t helping either.”150 is a lot considering the total number of EPO employees in Berlin (most of them are in Munich). Many of them also very quickly signed a petition in support of the suspended representatives, as we showed nearly a fortnight ago. It seems safe to say that almost a majority of EPO staff is now brave enough to openly and proudly (even in front of the employer) protest in favour of SUEPO. Everyone seems to be defecting away from Team Battistelli and loyalties are rapidly shifting. The harder Team Battistelli attacks the unions, the more it discredits itself. Defaming the union leaders isn’t helping either. It just serves to show the sheer hypocrisy of Team Battistelli, which used to allege “campaign of defamation” (meaning dissemination of truth) against itself.

Ahead of Tomorrow’s Administrative Council Meeting EPO Staff Representatives Warn Heads of Delegations About Union Busting and Other Abuses

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Union busters extraordinaire

Control Risks

Summary: Many staff representatives from the EPO, including a few who are suspended, complain to the delegates about union-busting actions from Battistelli and his ilk, which now includes outside help from Control Risks

IT IS beginning to seem abundantly clear to more and more people (or groups) that Benoît Battistelli’s EPO is dysfunctional. It continues to ‘function’ only because stressed examiners use their stamps sparingly, under direction from assertive and abusive bosses who try to meet misguided targets and approve applications in bulk for large applicants. In simpler terms, examiners are urged to play ball for international corporations rather than do their job properly and research things adequately/exhaustively. This isn’t quite a patent office or an examination centre; it’s becoming more like a rubber-stamping operation and it will hurt badly in the long term, e.g. after EPO patents get invalided with European courts' intervention.

” It continues to ‘function’ only because stressed examiners use their stamps sparingly, under direction from assertive and abusive bosses who try to meet misguided targets and approve applications in bulk for large applicants.”There are other issues inside the EPO (too many to list again, but see this short primer) and everyone seems eager to inform the delegations about these. Sent yesterday was the following polite (non-combative) message signed by a lot of EPO staff representatives (not a SUEPO thing). It deals with one specific attempt to change the rules so as to basically crush the EPO’s staff even further:

European Patent Office | 80298 MUNICH | GERMANY

To the
Heads of Delegations
of the Administrative Council
of the European Patent Organisation

centralSTCOM@epo.org
Reference: sc12715cl – 0.3.1./3.1
Date: 14.12.2015

Proposals for changes in the Service Regulations

Dear Madam,
Dear Sir,

You will attend the upcoming Administrative Council on 16 December 2015.

President Battistelli has tabled with document CA/99/15 a proposal for two further amendments to the Service Regulations.

1. Extension of disciplinary powers

Under the current disciplinary measures, the President can suspend an employee accused of a “sackable offense” for up to 4 months.

With the first amendment, the President now seeks from you the power to suspend employees for an undetermined period of time (with the option to reduce the salary by half). Such power has also retroactive effect, in that it will apply to suspensions already started. These would be unprecedented powers. No international organization has the power to keep an employee accused of misconduct suspended sine die. Approving this proposal will open the door to egregious abuse, and will introduce a provision manifestly contrary to fundamental rights.

2. Power to appoint staff representatives to statutory bodies

The Service Regulations give, and have always given, the Central Staff Committee the prerogative of appointing its chosen nominees to a number of statutory (consultative) bodies.

With the second amendment, the President wants the power to appoint his staff representative of choice to statutory bodies.

The background for his request is the following. At the end of 2014 the CSC refused to appoint any nominees to the Appeals Committee, pending resolution of severe problems that made the Appeals Committee dysfunctional and unworthy of the role of “quasi-judicial” body. In Annex 1 you will find the reasons. Instead of solving the problems, so that bona fide nominees could be appointed, the President pressured some staff representatives to volunteer and appointed them. The CSC has not appointed the current “staff representatives” in Appeals Committee; they do not enjoy any mandate from staff. The President seems to be satisfied with this situation, and wants the power to perpetuate it.

For the avoidance of doubt, the CSC is prepared to appoint nominees to the Appeals Committee as soon as the dysfunction of which it has complained is tackled satisfactorily. The Administrative Council may want to take this up in the context of the social study. The matter is important; the ILOAT is now openly complaining about the governance of EPO which causes major troubles to all parties involved (see parts 10 and 18 of Annex 2).

For more details, the members of the GCC elected by staff have given a unanimous negative opinion on the proposal (Annex 3)

Prohibition of further employment (for opinion) – forming part of CA/98/15

Hidden among the various provisions1 concerning the reform of DG3 is also a proposal that affects all staff: a “cooling-off” period, prohibiting unspecified activities, for unspecified periods of time, affecting unspecified groups of employees. Waivers can be granted “on a case by case” basis, all at the discretion of the President.

The text seems to suggest that this is commonplace in national systems. It is not. Cooling off periods of this kind are legitimate only in certain industries, for instance to prevent an employee leaving the firm from and join a competitor, and thereby potentially “poaching” customers or benefitting the new employer with knowhow from the old one. Even in those cases, the restriction is not only time-limited, but also geographically. Furthermore, the restrictions are typically well-defined and announced in advance (and not retroactive). None of this is clarified in the proposed text, and far too wide a discretion is left to the President. More importantly, it is difficult to see what disadvantage the Office may suffer if a staff members leaves and joins, for instance, a patent attorney firm – he cannot poach “customers” from the EPO, and the knowhow is not a problem since it is published in the Guidelines… The insertion of such a provision seems to suggest that the Office is preparing or expecting a massive exodus of examiners and or members of DG3. However, such a scenario has never been openly brought to the attention of staff. Should that be indeed the case, introducing such a provision will essentially hit examiners and DG3 members who are not yet in a pensionable age and are long enough working for the Office: they have lost their competitiveness to return to the industry on the one hand and should they be prevented from staying in the patent profession will further destroy any professional expertise which they have gained during their working period at the EPO. On the other hand, the Office does not seem to have the same scruples when employing overnight staff coming either from the industry or from the patent attorney profession. Once more, such practices are only demonstrating the hubris of our employer.

Such restrictions do not appear to serve any purpose other than “locking in” staff members and prevent them from earning a living when the leave the EPO. As such, these restrictions are not only unnecessary, but profoundly unjust and vexatious.

Tax adjustment – CA/93/15 Rev 1 + Add 1

Also on the table is a proposal to modify the tax adjustment regime. We take note with disbelief that the Office has not even considered consulting the Pensioners on this matter.

Our opinion on this is already with you, as is the opinion the Pensioners’ Association. The Staff Union has also commissioned a legal study by a reputed law firm with a view to providing the necessary legal support to pensioners from January 2016 should the proposal be adopted. It provides solid elements to invalidate the decision (Annex 4).

From the foregoing, it should be abundantly clear that, with the first three proposals mentioned above, the President is seeking further unfettered power for him to do as he pleases. The fourth seeks to disadvantage pensioners for unclear reasons.

The circumstances that have led you to approve the commissioning of a social study should be sufficient to convince you that the Council would be well advised to resist the proposals.

We urge you to reject the proposals in question.

Yours sincerely,

The Central Staff Committee

We confirm that the above letter was legitimately decided by the Central Staff Committee
_____________
1 CA/98/15, §34-37

What the above says, in very simple terms, is that Battistelli tightens the screws on already screwed people and also makes it easier to bust the unions, or put some more moles inside them (overriding the whole function of staff representation). We saw some of it done before, but there’s an effort to exacerbate/escalate.

Annex 2 was already covered here before. IP Kat wrote about it too. Annex 3 and Annex 4 can be shared some other day, but we deem Annex 1 important for the reasons to be stated at the bottom:

ANNEX 1

Zentraler Personalausschuss
Central Staff Committee
Le Comité central du Personnel

03.12.2014

sc14305cp – 0.2.1/5.2

Dysfunctions within the Internal Appeals Committee

Dear colleagues,

We have previously informed1 you that some serious problems have to be resolved before we can nominate staff representatives to the Internal Appeals Committee (IAC). This was the essential message in a letter we sent to the President on 3 October 2014.

Since then, some of you have asked us for more details so that you can better understand what our concerns are. Whilst normally we would have preferred to remain discrete, following the initiation of severe disciplinary procedures against our nominees, we now feel we have no option but to make full and frank disclosure of the root causes of this conflict.

The dysfunctions within the Internal Appeals Committee:

1. After having been defamed in public, the Staff Representation nominees Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund are now as individual staff members facing the prospect of severe disciplinary proceeding2 on disingenuous grounds. This is nothing but retaliation from the Administration, with the aim of further intimidating staff and their representatives to not carry out their special duties.

2. When the members of the IAC nominated by the Staff Representation indicated that they would not be available for a session of hearings, the sessions were held without them rather than either rescheduling them or calling on their nominated deputies. A later session in September was cancelled, even though the nominees were available and the CSC had indicated that new nominations, required through the introduction of “social democracy”, could not take place before the end of the session.

3. Under this new system, colleagues with considerable experience and legal expertise can no longer assist staff with their appeals unless they are also elected staff representatives. This means staff either have to contest their case alone against a whole team of lawyers defending the Office (clearly contrary to the principle of equality of arms), or staff representatives have to take over the task of assisting them. In this event, the elected staff representatives nominated to the IAC would be
_____________
1 Open letter to the President, “Nominees to the IAC”: http://www.epostaff.org/archive/sc14214cl.pdf
2 Public knowledge


confronted with a conflict of interest: being simultaneously “judge” and, even if not directly the appellant ́s counsel, one of this counsel’s close associates3.

4. In a very underhanded and disingenuous way, VP4 and VP5 have jointly attacked4 the integrity of our representatives in the IAC by alleging both a conflict of interest
and intent to sabotage the IAC. The President further supported these allegations in Communiqué 61.

5. In the (now extremely) rare cases where the IAC finds unanimously in favour of the claimant, the President simply ignores the recommendation and decides against5 the claimant without reason.

6. In at least one case, the Office submitted an additional brief after the IAC had already issued their opinion to the President. Nevertheless, the IAC Chairman decided to include it in the file6.

7. Previously, the IAC sent its recommendation to both the appellant and the President at the same time. This practice was abolished in January 2013 although the IAC at least informed the appellants that the recommendation had been dispatched to the President. With the new Rules of Procedure introduced in 2014, now even the provision of this procedural information has been abolished. Consequently, the appellant does not know when the clock starts counting so that he can calculate when the period to deem an implied final rejection will be completed and he can file a complaint to the ILO-AT. Appellants are left in the dark as to the fate of their appeal7.

8. Certain appeals are subjected to summary proceedings because they are found to be “manifestly irreceivable by … majority vote8”, based solely on the submissions of the
Defendant9, i.e. without even hearing the claimant.

9. In other cases that are not deemed to be manifestly irreceivable, the parties are heard only on the issues of receivability. An opinion is issued (systematically in favour of the Office) on this point alone, without considering the merits10 of the appeal itself.

10. Secretarial support is offered only to the “majority” to formulate their opinion. The minority must write its own divergent opinions, normally within very tight deadlines. If they miss this deadline, the President will receive only the majority opinion signed by the Chair and the other members of the majority. These opinions sometimes include
_____________
3 Public knowledge
4 VP4 and VP5 Communiqué of 30.09.2014:
http:/my.internal.epo.org/portal/private/epo/organisation/dg4/?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/epo/intranet/orga
nisation/dg4/vp4/announcements/2014/1412095173469_functioning_of_the_settlement_of_disputes_system
5 Public knowledge
6 See meeting of 11 August 2014 and relevant correspondence, all available from the IAC Chair’s public calendar.
7 Public knowledge
8 New (hard to find) Rules of Procedure
9 See meeting of 7 October 2014 and relevant correspondence, all available from the IAC Chair’s public calendar.
10 Reported to us by appellants


the majority’s perceptions of the minority opinion, thereby abusing our nominees by
name11.

11. In at least one case, the Appellant’s lawyer was surprised to receive only the majority opinion. When the lawyer enquired after the “missing” minority opinion, it transpired that although the minority opinion had been produced in good time, the IAC chair had not forwarded it to the President because it was “not in the appropriate form”. We can only interpret this to mean that it was too critical; there is no formal requirement of “appropriate form”12.

12. Similarly, the IAC annual report is now provided only to the President, although in the past it was always provided to both the President and the CSC. Since logically it should be provided to all parties who make up the IAC, i.e. both the Administration and the CSC who each nominate members, this can only be interpreted as another example of increasing partiality in the functioning of the IAC.

13. PD53 manages all the Office’s legal teams pleading against appellants (D532). The current IAC Chair previously worked for many years under PD43’s direct hierarchical line, but upon her nomination to the IAC, she was officially transferred to DG5 where she reports directly to VP5. Yet, when she also became Head of the IAC Secretariat (Dir. 0.4), it was PD53 who announced the appointment. Moreover, the IAC Chair’s public calendar reveals she has had numerous meetings with PD53 (and PD43), but never once met with the Staff Representation. Interestingly, one of the topics of these discussions were the IAC minority opinions13. Such behaviour suggests there may be serious grounds to believe that PD 5.3 is trying to maintain an undue and unnecessary degree of informal influence on the actions of the IAC Chair.

14. IAC rules of procedure (RoP) have been elaborated by the IAC chair in collaboration with DG514, but without either input or approval of the nominees of the staff representation (or of the Staff Representation itself). Moreover, these RoP are not to be readily found15 either on the intranet or in paper form, even though the IAC already relies on them to conduct their business.

It is beyond credibility that so many problems are just an unlucky coincidence, particularly when many have come about through changes to established practice greatly influenced by the introduction of “social democracy”.

We believe this degradation in staff protection demonstrates an orchestrated campaign by Management to destroy the last bastion of our so-called internal justice. With all these problems yet to be resolved, we hope you understand why it is impossible for the CSC to nominate representatives on the IAC.

_____________
11 This is a complaint we received from our nominees in the IAC.
12 Attorney’s name withheld for confidentiality reasons
13 See meeting of the Chair with PD53 on 16 June 2014
14 See the appointments between the chair of the IAC and PD53/staff of D532 on 29 April and 3 June 2014.
This information is available from the IAC Chair’s public calendar.
15 LSC The Hague publication of 4 November 2014:

http://main07.internal.epo.org/projects/babylon/acerep.nsf/0/BF58D43D60B94127C1257D8500455194/$FILE/Lost%20in%20the%20Net%20Change.pdf


To nominate representatives in the present circumstances would not only be an utter waste of time and precious resources, it would also risk exposing our new representatives to severe retaliation in the event that they would be strong enough to speak out against the same or similar machinations which Aurélien and Michael so valiantly opposed.

In other words: Staff may be better served by us exposing the charade than by trying to flog a dead horse. We ask for your understanding.

With regret and consternation,

The Central Staff Committee

To emphasise the closing words: “We believe this degradation in staff protection demonstrates an orchestrated campaign by Management to destroy the last bastion of our so-called internal justice.” The letter mostly deals with actions that constituted a gross attack on “the Staff Representation nominees Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund” who had “been defamed in public” (like Hardon and the suspended judge). See the pattern here? Even a year ago they rightly concluded with: “To nominate representatives in the present circumstances would not only be an utter waste of time and precious resources, it would also risk exposing our new representatives to severe retaliation in the event that they would be strong enough to speak out against the same or similar machinations which Aurélien and Michael so valiantly opposed.”

More Than Half of US Patent Lawsuits Filed in the Patent Trolls’ Docket, the Eastern District of Texas

Posted in America, Patents at 3:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The US market is being overrun by patent trolls that famously use software patents

United States District Court for the Eastern District of TexasSummary: The cautionary tale of the US patent system, where a lot of today’s legal ‘action’ involves firms that produce and invent nothing, preying on those that do

THE patent trolls' capital, better known as the Eastern District of Texas, is in the news again because of some new numbers from Lex Machina, which we cited here dozens of times before. WIPR says that “The number of patent complaints filed at Texas district courts reached a record level in November [...] total number of complaints filed was 851. [...] Lex Machina said the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas accounted for the majority of the complaints, with 467 being filed in the jurisdiction. Most of the filings were made between November 22 and 30.”

“More than half of the complaints, many of which from patent trolls without a doubt, were filed in the Eastern District of Texas.”Got that? More than half of the complaints, many of which from patent trolls without a doubt, were filed in the Eastern District of Texas. What does this tell us or remind us?

In other timely news, “High Quality Printing Inventions” (LLC, which suggests non-practicing) becomes the latest parasite to attack companies that basically print things. To quote this new article: “A recently-formed Delaware-based limited liability company called High Quality Printing Inventions, LLC, has been filing patent infringement cases in the U.S. District Courts in a litigation campaign against several printing companies using common web-to-print functionality. It appears that High Quality Printing Inventions is a non-practicing entity, a patent troll, formed for the sole purpose of seeking royalty payments.

“Well, as we warned here before, Benoît Battistelli’s EPO threatens to bring the same kind of ‘economy’ to Europe.”“The patent includes 20 claims covering web-enabled print systems that include product specification and design interfaces that utilize templated documents to create mass-customized business forms or brochures. The patent is US Patent 6012070:A Digital design station procedure. The claims describe common functionally of systems that many printing companies have offered in web-to-print storefronts, collateral management and e-commerce platforms for years.”

Well, as we warned here before, Benoît Battistelli’s EPO threatens to bring the same kind of ‘economy’ to Europe. To some degree, it is already happening.

Battistelli’s Vision of UPC is Closer Contract With Major Applicants (Abroad), Contrary to European Interests

Posted in Deception, Europe, Law, Patents at 3:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Who is this man kidding anyway?

Benoît Battistelli quote

Summary: Benoît Battistelli’s EPO is adopting an imperialistic approach that would allow foreign companies such as Microsoft and Apple to issue Europe-wide injunctions, claim more in ‘damages’, pressure for higher ‘royalties’, and so on (but it’s all for EU-based SMEs, honest!)

THE EPO does not surprise us when it openly lobbies for UPC. Just over an hour ago the EPO published this self-promotional (for management, not examiners or boards) nonsense. (warning: link to epo.org)

WIPR already has some coverage which says nothing special or new; it presents little except only one side’s views. Battistelli is parroted and views are also offered from “Graham Burnett-Hall, partner at Marks & Clerk, a firm of patent and trademark attorneys” (conspicuously absent is a public interest group or an outsider’s representative).

“What’s amazing here isn’t that the EPO lobbies for the UPC but that the public is kept totally in the dark and the EPO gets away with it.”As expected, patent maximalists and patent lawyers like IP Magazine are happy about the UPC (a tax on everything in Europe, including more lawsuits and injunctions). They call this “[a] ‘Hugely significant’ occasion for EU #patent system after preparations for the unitary patent completed” (UPC is a case of fast-tracking things before the public even gets the chance to vote).

UPC ties into ever broader things like TPP and TTIP. It’s a sort of globalism poorly implemented so as to punish the poor and benefit only those who are already rich and still getting richer, by redesign of laws to annul their tax, impede their competition, give their corporations sovereignty over government etc.

What’s truly amazing here isn’t that the EPO lobbies for the UPC (we have seen that for quite a while and reported it on occasions) but that the public is kept totally in the dark and the EPO gets away with it. It’s as though Europe is occupied and oppressed by a group of people. This isn’t a functioning democracy. ‘Patent’ offices that lobby aren’t really patent offices but an entirely different kind of monster. On social media I’ve joked earlier on: “What is this lobbying firm called EPO? Oh, wait, it’s not a lobbying firm per se. It’s the European Private Office. A 'public' service…”

We hope that even existing staff of the EPO can see why this is plainly unrest and morally wrong. The EPO isn’t supposed to decide how Europe is run; instead it should be the public deciding how Europe is run and how the EPO is run, under the control of European politicians; everything is in reverse right now, so the tail is effectively wagging the dog.

“Look what a mess has been left here. Battistelli fights everyone and everyone now fights back against him.”Earlier today we showed that even well-known European patent lawyers were getting fed up with Battistelli. Well, the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW), which previously expressed concerns about Benoît Battistelli’s EPO [1, 2] and even cited Techrights for support, now speaks of the “Structural Reform of the Boards of Appeal”. Guess whose side EPLAW it taking. The following statement is self explanatory: “Before the meeting of the AC in which the President’s proposal will be discussed in the course of this week, the Association of the Members of the Boards of Appeal (AMBA) raises its voice and makes even more critical comments. According to AMBA, the new proposals manifestly take no account of AMBA’s submissions, despite assurances that they would be reflected in any proposal. Furthermore, they take no account of the comments of the AC members in the Council meeting of March, or of the user survey results; rather it misrepresents them. All the changes are said to be detrimental to both actual and perceived independence. Instead they place considerably more power in the hands of the President of the Office.”

Look what a mess has been left here. Battistelli fights everyone and everyone now fights back against him. This is very poor leadership and any remnant of reputation that the EPO gained for several decades is being lost in just a couple of years. Earlier this evening the FFII’s Benjamin Henrion wrote: “Well EPO is not responsible in front of a court, so there is no procedure if the EPO does not work. That’s why it needs to be dissolved, or reintegrated in other democratic structures.”

Looking at Henrion’s old site, Digital Majority, we find this old news pick saying that the “EPO staff blame Admin Council for EPO woes”. To quote what was there at the time:

Last week a dramatic EPO document fell into our hands. “Governance of the EPO: a Staff Perspective” documents internal conflicts in the EPO, staff versus management, in which the Administrative Council (AC) and President have almost totally lost the confidence of the EPO staff. In 2004, just 8% of staff expressed trust in the AC, and 28% in the President. In 2006 this figure had fallen to 4% and 7%.

The report – written by staff representatives – avoids criticism of the President, and focuses its ire on the Administrative Council, citing the conflict between national and personal interests, and those of the EPO.

Looking at a related site for a submission of the EPO representative on the Commission’s ICT Task Force report we have:

Raise awareness of the patent system among SMEs: The EPO may develop a project which aims at increasing the understanding and the use of IP by SMEs. The main concept entitled “train the trainers” is to provide trainings for specific target groups in the field of protection and exploitation of IP and IP management, with the main focus given on patenting. The relay done by the staff already working in direct contact with SMEs will ensure multiplier effects of the training given and SMEs will be expected as final recipients.

Well, we now know, thanks to a large degree to leaks (from several simultaneous sources), that the EPO does not give a damn about European SMEs. It cares neither about Europe nor SMEs as it now gives priority to foreign giants (hence the correction of Battistelli’s new statements at the top). This is what happens when the EPO is operated outside democratic controls. A serious overhaul is well overdue; the UPC isn’t it. The UPC is further escalation in the wrong direction. We fear that some people inside the EPO still believe what the EPO's management tells them about the UPC (or what patent lawyers tell them). Does anyone still believe the EPO’s management?

When Europe’s Leading International Patent Litigators Get Fed Up With Benoît Battistelli and Want Him Sent to ‘Exile’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli’s disregard for the law takes its toll


Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow by Adolph Northen (1828–1876)

Summary: Battistelli has drawn the ire not only of politicians, journalists, bloggers, EPO employees and lawyers of these employees but also lawyers who profit from Battistelli’s EPO

Benoît Battistelli’s EPO is a disaster zone. Patent lawyers now realise that large applicants (as in large corporations) get to jump queues and they can also recognise that the EPO attacks its critics (those who show the nepotism for instance). What kind of a regime is this and how come it managed to survive another year? For potential answer stay tuned for part II of “Battistelli’s Furious Love Affair With French Power” (tomorrow).

“Based on what we are hearing from patent lawyers in Europe (some of them send us E-mails), they are definitely not happy. Some are so furious and fed up with Battistelli that they send us material about the EPO’s management.”The latest article from IP Kat speaks of the boards although it doesn’t delve deep into any scandals. The writer (not Merpel) says that “Decision T 942/12 is a very important and welcome decision on liability and renewal practice management for European patent attorneys. It addresses the onerous responsibilities that previous Boards have held are applicable to EP attorneys in cases where an applicant uses a third party service to pay renewal fees, and defines an exception to those onerous responsibilities. [...] An interesting point from the case file is that an informal survey was carried out and submitted to the EPO, where the EP attorneys polled 20 firms across several European countries asking what their practice was with regard to overdue renewal reminders from the EPO: while all 20 firms confirmed they would send the official overdue reminder on to their client, only 7 out of the 20 firms indicated that they would follow up, overwhelmingly because they could neither charge for such activity or expect to be paid for it when they were not responsible for renewals.”

Based on what we are hearing from patent lawyers in Europe (some of them send us E-mails), they are definitely not happy. Some are so furious and fed up with Battistelli that they send us material about the EPO’s management. The EPO conveniently blames everything on the whipping boy SUEPO, but of course it wouldn’t want to admit that the anger directed at EPO managers is very widespread. It would totally discredit the laughable narrative that the EPO is under attack by just one person with many pseudonyms or a small number of disgruntled workers.

“The EPO conveniently blamed everything on the whipping boy SUEPO, but of course it wouldn’t want to admit that the anger directed at EPO managers is very widespread.”The EPO is attacking not only staff representatives but also some of its own. Just see the utterly disrespectful treatment of a board’s judge. Team Battistelli is now trying to make oversight and independence even harder by separating (or at least trying to separate) the boards from Munich. It’s more about punishing and effectively firing staff (collectively changing job location), for merely ‘daring’ to stand up to abuse of power at the top floors of the EPO’s building in Munich.

Thankfully, some leading patent lawyers in Europe now get the courage to stand up to Battistelli and defend the EPO’s Boards of Appeal. This one blogger wrote yesterday:

Having apparently experienced too much resistance from the German government against moving the EPO Boards of Appeal to Berlin, President Battistelli, who is French (but unfortunately neither Love nor in love with the Boards of Appeal), now tries to exile them to Vienna. Indeed he has recently put such a request before the Administrative Council.

It is time to push back such ideas swiftly and forcefully. What the EPO and Europe need are truly independent, well-staffed Boards of Appeal who do their important job impartially and efficiently. In contrast thereto, the last thing the EPO needs is a President who seems to be almost obsessed by the idea that the Boards of Appeal must be pushed to leave Munich to some other place where he no longer has to see them when entering or leaving His Office, and who even seems to go as far as to refuse staffing the Boards of Appeal appropriately.

[...]

May I make a modest counterproposal? The EPO is currently building a fancy new office tower in Rijswijk. Why not move the President to a nice and brand new luxury suite on the top floor of this building and allow the Boards of Appeal some more rooms and, above all, significantly more staff members in the Isar building? Thereby independence of the Boards of Appeal could be secured (if it is at all supported by some physical distance between them and the President, as he seems to believe) and, most importantly, they can at least begin to reduce their backlog of cases. And if that is not enough and the President still needs rooms in Munich after his move to Rijswijk to exercise whatever official function, the EPO could probably also afford renting a nice small palais in Munich for a few years. For example, I could very well imagine that a few representative rooms are still to be had in Nymphenburg Castle. I would go for them, Mr. President, if there is no more sensible way to restore piece within the EPO (which I strongly advocate in the first place). But please don’t bother the Boards of Appeal! We need them doing their job in Munich. And we need motivated rather than intimidated or irritated examiners as well!

As noted in one of the comments in IP Kat, “you will find one of Europe’s leading international patent litigators giving (under his real name) his views on the way the EPO President is running the EPO (into the ground).

“It sure looks like, just ahead of Christmas (again!), the sloeber (Battistelli) comes under increased pressure to resign, as his buddies in the Administrative Council are too terrified (or in cahoots) to fire him.”“I find such heart-felt, well-informed and expert utterances, in one’s own real name) much more powerful than all the anonymous whingeing here on this blog. It takes a brave man to stick his head up above the parapet, even when his best career years are yet to come. Look. Read. He puts the interests of his clients (large and small, domestic and foreign, patent owners and accused infringers) above his own interests. Our clients need an EPO that works. If you think so too, say so.”

It sure looks like, just ahead of Christmas (again!), the sloeber (Battistelli) comes under increased pressure to resign, as his buddies in the Administrative Council are too terrified (or in cahoots) to fire him. It’s claimed that the sloeber was already close to resignation earlier this year.

Samsung Turns to SCOTUS (Killer of Many Software Patents) to Annul Mega-fine Induced by Apple’s Patent Aggression

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, Patents, Samsung at 11:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Koreans believe that a US court might actually rule against an influential US company

Korean dancers

Summary: Remarks about Apple’s relentless attacks on Free/Open Source software (FOSS), using dubious software patents and patents on vague/generic ‘designs’ that probably never ought to have been granted in the first place

THE USPTO-granted patents, especially after the SCOTUS ruling on Alice, are a lot more limited, primarily but not only when it comes to software. Does it mean that SCOTUS can offer redemption to Samsung, and by extension to Android? Well, only if the Apple-connected government actually allows the case to proceed to SCOTUS, which we very highly doubt (see Oracle v. Android [sic] with the government’s now-infamous denial [1, 2, 3]). SCOTUS should really be dealing with important human rights issues and landmark decisions pertaining to civil liberties, not Apple fanatics who almost religiously believe that Apple invented everything (even when the necro-worshiped leader publicly admits "stealing" ideas but still acts like a spoiled brat [1, 2]).

“Samsung may need to waste a lot of money on lawyers and also pursue rather silly patents because Apple is aggressive and is constantly attacking whoever sells the best of Android.”Nevertheless, as we have demonstrated here for a number of years, Apple was stockpiling a lot of software patents after it had struggled with the rise of Android, which is of course based on Linux and is Free/Open Source software (FOSS). Apple attacked Samsung after it had viciously attacked HTC (with a far smaller patent portfolio, hence an easier target). Samsung must now tread more carefully or at least wisely. It needs to be smart, not just pursuing justice at all costs (which can be enormous costs, as has been proven to be the case thus far), so “Samsung is on track to unseat IBM as the number one company when it comes to winning U.S. utility patents,” according to this new article. Another new article, titled “Apple Stealing the Show with New Patents”, says: “As we know Apple frequently steals the show with marvelous patents that it files with the passage of time prior to its new offerings. The number of patents under Apple’s belt is so exceptional and that is why Apple has been appreciated by millions across the globe. The new feather in Apple’s cap is the awe-inspiring patent that the company has filed with the Patent and Trademark Office.”

Samsung may need to waste a lot of money on lawyers and also pursue rather silly patents because Apple is aggressive and is constantly attacking whoever sells the best of Android. All these fees are passed down the customers; phones become more expensive and sometimes, despite market demand and free code already being available (FOSS), key features are removed for fear of litigation. Cui bono? That’s why we even called for a boycott of Apple nearly half a decade ago. It was all to do with patents and these shameless attacks on FOSS. Does Apple even have the humility to claim to be some kind of “Open Source” leader? What ever happened to dignity and adherence to truth? Brand worship won’t last forever if Apple is launching an assault on truth itself.

“Does Apple even have the humility to claim to be some kind of “Open Source” leader?”Anyway, the massive news last night was the latest important move from Samsung. it was covered bty the Wall Street (actually News Corp.) Journal and many other sites, in articles such as:

There are many more articles about this. Is this what ‘innovation’ is supposed to look like? It looks more like protectionism, for those who are affluent and infinitely greedy. What ever happened to the myths of patents as protectors of the ‘little guy’? Well, these were just myths intended to help ‘sell’ an unjust system to the wider public, ensuring consent that is based on misapprehension, misconceptions, and misinterpretations.

Rajesh Vallabh of Foley Hoag (patent lawyers, i.e. those who profit from patents at the expense of everyone else) now gives advice to startups regarding patents. We’re rather appalled that he can write this with a straight face; it was published only in a journal of patent lawyers (for the most part) and it says things like “Patents can be vitally important for protecting the innovations of a start-up company” (and he sounds like he’s actually serious).

Start-ups are massively overwhelmed by trolls (see what happens in the US these days) and also crushed by companies with far more patents, even broader ones. Empirical evidence serves to suggest that the real benefactors in today’s largest patent systems are companies such as Apple. These systems are used for monopolisation, occupation, etc.

“Empirical evidence serves to suggest that the real benefactors in today’s largest patent systems are companies such as Apple.”Nowadays, considering how the patent systems have devolved, patents primarily exist to benefit large multinationals. Just see how the EPO already works primarily for large multinationals and even discriminates in their favour. Those who point this out (hi!) are threatened with lawsuits. Saying this and providing evidence of this thus becomes the unsayable.

In a Case Involving Microsoft, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Originator of Software Patents) Squashes Software Patents

Posted in America, Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents at 10:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents are getting old and patently rusty

Metal

Summary: With Alice and with Bilski as prominently cited cases, a software patent of Allvoice gets thrown aside by the most software patents-friendly court in the United States

THIS afternoon we take a little break from Benoît Battistelli’s EPO. One longtime foe of ours has certainly been CAFC, which not only brought software patents into existence several decades ago (in spite of public opinion and public interest) but also continued to rule overzealously in favour of them, time and time again.

Patent Buddy wrote about Allvoice v. Microsoft, calling it “a 101/Alice case” in CAFC. We have made a copy of this decision [PDF] and found that both Bilski and Alice are mentioned in page 14, quoted as follows: “Section 101 thus specifies four independent categories of inventions or discoveries that are eligible for protection: processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter. ‘In choosing such expansive terms . . . modified by the comprehensive ‘any,’ Congress plainly contemplated that the patent laws would be given wide scope.”’ Bilski v. Kappos, 561 U.S. 593, 601 (2010) (quoting Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303, 308 (1980)). If a claim is drawn to subject matter that falls outside the four statutory categories of § 101, it is not patent eligible. In re Nuitjen, 500 F.3d 1346, 1354 (Fed. Cir. 2007). This is true without regard to whether it might otherwise be ineligible because it encompasses a law of nature, natural phenomenon, or abstract idea. See Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 124 S. Ct. 2347, 2354 (2014).”

“It’s good to see growing awareness of the fact that software patents are generally “stupid”.”And from the conclusion: “Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in enforcing the local patent rules, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement as to claims 28, 37–38, 49–51, 56–57, 71–74, and 77 with respect to the “link data” limitation. In light of this ruling, we need not reach Allvoice’s other arguments regarding infringement of these claims. Additionally, with respect to the validity of claims 60–68 of the ’273 Patent, Allvoice conceded that these claims were limited to software instructions without any hardware limitations. In the absence of such limitations, the claims as written fail to recite a manufacture, or any other statutorily recognized invention. Accordingly, we also affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment of invalidity of claims 60–68 of the ’273 Patent.”

We find such cases curious because they serve to reinforce the trend which Bilski Blog dubbed "Alicestorm", showing that ever since Alice very rarely can software patents endure or survive in a courtroom. It thus greatly devalues them and reduces the incentive to pursue them in the first place. No wonder the USPTO has formally altered its examination guidelines.

“Today’s US patent system is clearly becoming quite hostile towards software patents.”Mr. Nazer from the EFF, an activist against “bad” patents (who sometimes specifically names software patents) has just made it into the trend-setting media in the US, under the headline “The 4 worst patents of 2015″. Guess what? It’s about software patents, not just bad (or worse) patents. “In April,” to give one example, “the patent office approved US Patent No. 9,013,334, which covers “notification” systems that handle changes in the quantity of items being delivered or picked up by a customer. The “inventor” of this brainchild is not an entrepreneur but rather a patent lawyer clearly gaming the system. The holder filed a provisional claim in 2003, which he has used to shoehorn some 20 patents, all of them vague, broad and abstract.”

Also see Forbes with “Monday’s Must-Reads For Entrepreneurs: The Stupidest Patents Of The Year”. It’s good to see growing awareness of the fact that software patents are generally “stupid”. Contrast this with blogs of patent lawyers, where the priority seems to be amplifying the selective (biased by omission) claims of software patents viability and authors explain how to trick judges or examiners into allowing software patents. Today’s US patent system is clearly becoming quite hostile towards software patents. That’s great news. For patent systems to be worth something they need to be strict and demanding; they must carefully evaluate the wider (collective) impact of each patent granted and each domain that’s affected. Overpatenting became an epidemic in the US and more recently in China; Europe can hopefully still be rescued from the maximalists and monopolists.

Links 15/12/2015: CentOS Linux 7 1511, Enlightenment DR 0.20.1

Posted in News Roundup at 8:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Core Developer Jeff Garzik on the Similarities Between Bitcoin and Linux

    Before making any contributions to Bitcoin, Bloq Co-Founder and Bitcoin Core Developer Jeff Garzik was a longtime Linux developer who started working on the operating system in the early nineties — before the creation of Red Hat. As someone who was involved in the early development of both Linux and Bitcoin, Garzik has a unique perspective on the common themes found in the two respective development communities.

  • Person of Year, Podcasts, and Polls

    Today in Linux news, several reviews lead the pack today. Jesse Smith and Das U-Blogger Prashanth reviewed Chakra 2015.11, Swapnil Bhartiya tested newly released Mint 17.3, and a couple of quick openSUSE reports were posted. Elsewhere, Donald Stewart posted an update on Mageia Cauldron and Antonio Rojas said Arch is dropping KDE 4. A couple of interesting polls warrant a mention as well and more in tonight’s Linux news recap.

  • So you want a lean mean Linux machine?

    No matter what people say, efficiently utilising the resources of your computer is very important. Sure disk space is cheap they say, but one thing they never tell you is that no matter how big your hard disk is, a way will be found to fill it up. Especially for older machines, as operating systems are getting bigger and bigger, requiring more memory and disk space than ever before.

  • Desktop

    • Qubes OS will ship pre-installed on Purism’s security-focused Librem 13 laptop

      Qubes OS, the security-focused operating system that Edward Snowden said in November he was “really excited” about, announced this week that laptop maker Purism will ship their privacy-focused Librem 13 notebook with Qubes pre-installed.

    • Here a Chromebook, there a Chromebook, everywhere a Chromebook

      I used to carry ThinkPads, starting with the IBM models and then Lenovo’s versions, with me everywhere. They were, and still are, great laptops. Then I started using Chromebooks. I still have a couple of ThinkPads, but they never leave my office. Why? Because a Chromebook can do anything I want, typically deliver battery life that can see me through a whole day of work at a coffee shop, and are immune to almost all of Windows’ security woes. I’m not the only one who loves them.

    • Chromebookify Your Laptop Now!

      A few years ago there was a project designed to boot generic laptops so they functioned as Chromebooks. It was a cool project, but unfortunately, the compatibility wasn’t great, and it wasn’t reliable to use on a daily basis. Although Chromebooks are old news these days, it still would be quite useful to transform aging laptop computers into Chromebooks. Because they have such low system requirements, older laptops running the ChromeOS can become quite useful again.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • 7 Linux Podcasts You Need to Listen To

      If you’re a die-hard Linux user, or a command-line newbie, you’re going to find something worth listening to in this list of seven download-worthy Linux podcasts.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation Scholarship Recipient: Eduardo Mayorga Téllez

      Eduardo Mayorga Téllez, a Teens in Training scholarship recipient, is 17 and lives in Nicaragua. He plans to become a Linux kernel developer and use his knowledge of device drivers to help Linux support the most hardware possible. He says he often hears classmates and colleagues argue that Linux is not suitable for them because they cannot make the most of their hardware. Eduardo says he will change that.

    • Newest Linux Foundation Video Highlights Open Source In Space

      Linux in space is the subject of the Linux Foundation’s latest “World without Linux” video, which highlights how open source software helps power the world we live in — or, in this case, the things orbiting around it.

    • Dell and Red Hat Deliver Easier Firmware Updates for Linux Users

      Dell — the first big company to sell Linux computers — is catering to open source fans again by announcing plans to make user-friendly firmware upgrades possible on Linux.

      In a blog post, Richard Hughes, who works for Red Hat (RHT) and contributes to the GNOME project, writes that Red Hat and Dell have been collaborating on a system that will allow users of Dell hardware to update firmware from Linux. If that doesn’t seem significant to you, it’s probably because you either do not use Linux or have not spent enough of your life geeking out to know what firmware is.

    • Linux Kernel 4.3.3 Is Now the Most Advanced Stable Version Available

      The latest iteration of the stable Linux kernel, 4.3.3, has been released by Greg Kroah-Hartman, making this the latest and best version available right now.

      The 4.3 branch of the Linux kernel is a really popular one and it’s been adopted by many distros. From the looks of it, the maintainers will continue to provide support for it, but it’s not clear for how long. There is already a 4.1.15 version that has been declared long-term, so it’s difficult to say if another branch will be tagged LTS as well, after such a short time.

    • Microsoft offers its first-ever Linux certification on Azure
    • Microsoft offers MCSA qualification for IT workers using Linux on Azure
    • Microsoft wants you to train using its rival, Linux operating system
    • New Certification Announced for Linux on Azure Cloud
    • Technology Sector Trend Analysis Report: Microsoft (MSFT), Sunedison (SUNE), Cisco Systems (CSCO), Corning (GLW)

      Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) on December 9, 2015 announced the creation of a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Linux on Azure certification. Created in conjunction with the Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, this certification represents one more important step in broadening the technology integration between Microsoft and the open source community.

    • Files Are Hard

      I haven’t used a desktop email client in years. None of them could handle the volume of email I get without at least occasionally corrupting my mailbox. Pine, eudora, and outlook have all corrupted my inbox, forcing me to restore from backup. How is it that desktop mail clients are less reliable than gmail, even though my gmail account not only handles more email than I ever had on desktop clients, but also allows simultaneous access from multiple locations across the globe? Distributed systems have an unfair advantage, in that they can be robust against total disk failure in a way that desktop clients can’t, but none of the file corruption issues I’ve had have been from total disk failure. Why has my experience with desktop applications been so bad?

    • It’s okay, break your kernel

      The reality is much simpler: the kernel is a software project. There is nothing particularly special about being a kernel developer. Jumping into any code base is going to involve a learning curve. You don’t need to be the best programmer ever to make modifications. The core kernel is completely self-contained in one project which means fewer dependencies than a lot of userspace projects. (yes, there are modules out of tree but the most important parts are in a single project). The self-contained nature means that it’s easy to switch back to a stable kernel from an unstable one which makes testing easier.

    • The Nexus 4 & 7 Will Be Closer To Handling An Upstream Linux Kernel

      Rob Clark submitted his MSM-Next DRM driver changes today in preparation for the Linux 4.5 kernel cycle.

      He was quick to note that with this MSM DRM driver update from the Freedreno project there is now DSI support for Qualcomm’s MSM8960 and APQ8064 hardware. He explains the impact as, “should be helpful for getting an upstream kernel working on nexus7/nexus4/etc.” DSI is short for the Display Serial Interface and is a MIPI specification for communicating between the host and display device.

    • Exynos DRM In Linux 4.5 To Support Runtime Power Management
    • AppStream 0.9 Brings Many Changes, Breaks API/ABI

      Version 0.9 of AppStream is now available. As a refresher, AppStream is a FreeDesktop.org specification backed by multiple major Linux distributions as a cross-distribution effort of standardizing Linux component metadata.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • 7-Way Linux Laptop Comparison From Sandy Bridge To Broadwell

        For those curious about how Intel’s laptop/ultrabook CPUs have evolved over the past few generations and whether it’s worthwhile upgrading from one generation to the next, here’s a fresh Linux laptop comparison with seven different laptops being tested on Ubuntu 15.10 x86_64 and comparing these laptops from Sandy Bridge to Broadwell on a variety of workloads while also doing some performance-per-Watt measurements.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Enlightenment DR 0.20.1 Release

      This bugfix release improves on the 0.20.0 release and resolves a number of issues.

    • Enlightenment 0.20.1 Released With Fixes
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME: Shortcuts love

        Keyboard shortcuts can be a powerful feature, particularly for actions that are repeated often and are consistently available. In GNOME 2, shortcuts could be learned through menu bars, but we moved away from these with GNOME 3. There were a number of reasons why we did this, and it was a good thing, but it did leave users without an easy way to learn keyboard shortcuts. This is something that we’ve wanted to address for some time, and are now finally resolving.

      • Evolution Email and Calendar Client Updated for GNOME 3.20 with Over 40 Changes

        The GNOME 3.19.3 desktop environment is under heavy development these days, and many of its core components and applications are being updated by the hour.

      • GNOME Maps 3.20 Is Going to Be a Really Big Update

        GNOME Maps is one of the many components of the GNOME stack, and it looks like the upcoming 3.20 version will get some pretty cool features.

        Not all the packages get big improvements when they move from one version to another. In fact, for many packages in the GNOME stack, not a lot happens. GNOME Maps is not one of those apps, and it’s becoming more useful with each new release.

      • GNOME Maps App Now Lets Users Edit Locations in OpenStreetMap
      • Video Series

        I’m nearly a month down on a branch for Builder 3.20. It’s goal is to radically simplify the process of creating plugins, and prepare for external plugins. We really wanted to create a solid plugin story before doing that and things are progressing nicely.

  • Distributions

    • Best distro of 2015 poll

      Let’s do it again. Last year, in a first-of-its-kind Dedoimedo best distro vote poll, I asked you about your favorite operating system, and you responded in kind. With exactly 1,900 votes, you opined on the state of the Linux. It’s that time of the year once more.

      I am going to post an article reflecting my own view on how this year of distro testing went, but I would also very much like to hear from you. Like in 2014, I used the THP on Distrowatch and selected the top ten entries for the poll. But there’s also a free field for you to add any other distro you like, as well as comments. It ought to be interesting, and hopefully not too quiet. After me.

    • Reviews

      • Review: Chakra 2015.11 “Fermi”

        Not only has it been a while since I’ve done a Linux distribution review on this blog, but it has been an especially long time (over 2.5 years, in fact) since I’ve looked at Chakra. I figured that now that KDE 5 (technically incorrect terminology, I know, but please bear with me, as I’m using this for the sake of brevity) is being used in Chakra, it may be time to see how a distribution I’ve rather liked in the past has evolved. In case you don’t remember, Chakra was originally based on Arch Linux, but a few years ago, it branched off into its own independent distribution with its own repositories, though certain tools (like the package manager Pacman) are based on things found in Arch Linux. It focuses exclusively on KDE, and it uses a semi-rolling release model in which core system packages are updated less frequently in order to maintain stability, while front-end applications seen by users most often are updated more frequently to provide a competitive desktop experience.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Some news of what’s boiling in the Cauldron

        For those of you who are most familiar with Mageia and its development, you are starting to know the drill: Cauldron is the place where we break stuff by upgrading everything that we tried to keep stable during the previous release cycle, and then we work on making it stable again. We are now in this stabilization phase and we were aiming internally for a first development snapshot of Mageia 6 as a set of ISO images, but there are still a number of factors that make it difficult right now.

    • Arch Family

      • Dropping Plasma 4

        Since the KDE 4 desktop has been unmaintained for several months and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to support two versions of Plasma, we are removing it from our repositories. Plasma 5.5 has just been released and should be stable enough to replace it.

    • Ballnux/SUSE

      • OpenSUSE LEAP: A Great Free Linux Server Distribution

        So what exactly is LEAP? What’s it for? The easiest way to approach something like OpenSUSE LEAP is to think of it like a beefed-up, more stable Fedora-type thing. The main goal of this Linux distribution is to create an enterprise grade distribution designed for workstations and servers free of charge.

      • I accidentally openSUSE

        I am sorry for this silly article. But it is important. Just as important as my other failures over the years. They teach as much as image-rich guides and prosaic, finely worded reviews, albeit with much less beauty and style. The moral of the story is, as you may have guessed already, DON’T DO IT. Wait for openSUSE to gets its due major and minor version increment and come around with Plasma 5 natively and a suave, integrated Gecko or Chameleon theme, as it just recently did.

        At this point, thinking in retrospect, I probably should have used BTRFS, and this might have given me the necessary snapshot to go back in time and undo the damage. Maybe. Furthermore, I am disappointed with the SUSE team. They should protect their system a little more robustly from aesthetic escapades. All I did was install a bunch of packages and let the system remove some of the conflicting dependencies with the previously installed desktop environment. Not something we should let happen in 2015. Food for thought. As for Plasma on openSUSE, I owe you that one. Leap 42.1. Very soon. Take care.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Ordering mount points in Jessie (systemd < 220)

        In the previous post I had mentioned that I didn’t figure out how to add dependency on mount points so as to achieve correct ordering of mount points. After a lot of search today I finally figured it out thanks to the bug report and the patch which adds x-systemd.requires and other option to systemd.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, November 2015
      • Reproducible builds: week 33 in Stretch cycle

        Exchanges have started with F-Droid developers to better understand what would be required to test F-Droid applications. (h01ger)

      • Derivatives

        • Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 “Atticus” Gets Linux Kernel 4.1.13 LTS in Second Test Build

          Today, December 14, the Parsix GNU/Linux developers announced the release and immediate availability for download of the second TEST build of their upcoming Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 “Atticus” computer operating system.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Touch to Get FM Support for Aquaris e4.5 and E5 HD First

            A couple of developers have started to work on bringing FM support to the Ubuntu phones, and they already made some progress, but it’s more complicated than it sounds.

          • OnePlus One Ubuntu Touch Developer Is Helping Other Projects Do the Same

            The community is working on a OnePlus One Ubuntu Touch port, and the developer who’s doing the heavy lifting is also trying to help other people port the OS to their devices.

          • Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition Project Seems to Be Still Alive

            The Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition is the elephant in the room, and it looks like people don’t want to talk about it. It’s been pulled from sales, and it’s virtually invisible on social media, but all hope is not yet lost.

          • Mycroft Is Now an Official Ubuntu IoT Partner

            Mycroft is a home automation Linux-based device that promises to change the way we interact with our homes. The guys who are making this hardware decided to show us how it’s made.

          • Ubuntu Bugs That Won’t Go Away

            I grew up on a farm and ranch up until I was fourteen. It’s a tough life, best suited for tough people who can beat their environment into submission and produce the results needed to thrive. Should I ever have displayed the poor judgement to complain about something within earshot of my dad, I would get the same advice every time.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon Review

              Linux Mint is among the most popular GNU/Linux-based operating systems. Although DistroWatch is not a metric of popularity, Linux Mint has claimed the #1 ranking on the website, which means it’s the most sought after distro on the site.

            • Monthly News – November 2015

              Our apologies for posting these news so late. Since the website and forums went down, we’ve been hit by two new server issues. Two of our repository servers lost their hard drives. That’s a total of 3 servers going down in just a few weeks. This time around we had full backups though and we were able to minimize downtime (no downtime at all on the Mint and LMDE2 repositories, a few hours yesterday on the LMDE 1 repositories). We’re eager to resume work on Linux Mint but at the moment most of our focus is still on server administration, on recovery, on configuration but also on making sure we’re stronger and issues like these have less of an impact on us going forward.

            • Linux Mint 17.3 OEM images available

              Reminder: OEM images are for computer vendors and manufacturers. They allow Linux Mint to be “pre-installed” on a machine which is then used by another person than the one who performed the installation. After an OEM installation, the computer is set in such a way that the next reboot features a small setup screen where the new user/customer has the ability to choose his/her username, password, keyboard layout and locale.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Manchester City will be happy with draw but London clubs get rough ride

    For the three English clubs left in the Champions League there must be a sense of deja vu about the draw for the last 16 but not a great deal of satisfaction. Arsenal’s supporters could be forgiven for thinking the worst after drawing Barcelona, with the prospect of going out at this stage for the sixth year in a row. Manchester City, for the second season in succession, will not be allowed to take fans to a Champions League tie because of the racism of others and the bad news for travellers on the Paris Métro is that Chelsea are on their way back to the French capital.

  • Yahoo told: cut 9,000 of your 10,700 staff

    Yahoo is facing shareholder pressure to pursue other alternatives besides a complex spin-off of its internet operations while chief executive Marissa Mayer struggles to revive the company’s revenue growth.

  • Las Vegas Review-Journal Now Owned By… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    The last time we wrote about the Las Vegas Review-Journal — the largest newspaper in Nevada — it was owned by Stephens Media and was making headlines for using the LVRJ as a copyright troll, pretending to sell its copyrights to a company called Righthaven. That scam fell apart when it was discovered that Righthaven didn’t really own the copyrights it was suing over. Since then, the LVRJ has changed hands a couple times. Stephens Media sold the paper to New Media Investment Group earlier this year. And then, last week, it was announced that “New Media Investment Group” had sold the newspaper to News + Media Capital Group LLC, for $140 million. News + Media Capital Group LLC is a brand new Delaware-based company, and no one has the slightest clue who they are, including all the folks working for the LVRJ.

  • Practical guide for avoiding burnout and living a happier life

    As open source fans, we tend to spend a lot of time curled up in front of our computers. Many of us we work in front of computers during the day, and some of us even work on or with open source projects, too. If you are anything like me, spending an entire day in front of a screen and then spending most of the evening there, too, is not uncommon. Today is a good example: I started work at 8:00AM, and at 8:21PM I am starting to write this article…

  • Microsoft apologizes for riling OneDrive users, restores some free storage space on request

    Microsoft on Friday apologized for how it conveyed last month’s decision to slash OneDrive storage allotments, and restored the 15GB of free cloud storage space to current users who asked for it. But it did not back down from its determination to eliminate the unlimited allowance.

    “We are all genuinely sorry for the frustration this decision has caused and for the way it was communicated,” wrote Douglas Pearce, a group program manager for OneDrive, in a message that shut down a massive plea on Microsoft’s own website for the restoration of the allotments.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • United Nations agency gives EU a tobacco warning

      The United Nations public health agency in charge of tobacco control has warned EU policymakers to keep their distance from industry as they consider reforms to fight cigarette smuggling.

      The head of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control secretariat, Vera Da Costa e Silva, wrote senior European Commission officials earlier this month, saying the EU’s close working relationship with tobacco companies to fight cigarette smuggling may violate Europe’s international commitments.

    • ‘On the Back of a Cigarette Packet’ – Standardised Packaging Legislation and the Tobacco Industry’s Fundamental Right to (Intellectual) Property

      Standardised packaging (also known as plain packaging) legislation has recently been adopted in some states as a tobacco control measure. Under such laws, tobacco products must be sold in drab coloured packaging without branding other than a written indication of the name under which the product is sold. Its aim is to reduce the attraction of tobacco products, particularly to young smokers, and to prevent advertising imagery from interfering with prominent mandatory textual and visual health warnings. In March 2015, the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 received Parliamentary approval in the United Kingdom. The tobacco industry vigorously opposed their introduction. Amongst other objections, it claimed that the restrictions on branding introduced under the Regulations violate its fundamental right of property under Art 1 of the First Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights and Art. 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union because they deprive it of its ability to use marks, designs and inventions protected by intellectual property law. In this article, this argument is tested by reference to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU. It is demonstrated that the absolutist view of property rights promoted by the Industry is very different from that prevailing in European fundamental rights law and that, as a result, the Industry’s suggestion that the Regulations violate A1P1 and Art. 17 is seriously misleading.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Peter Dale Scott and David Talbot

      David Talbot’s latest book, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, examines the post-WWII U.S. intelligence sector and the power it wields, by following the career of Wall Street lawyer, diplomat and spymaster Allen Dulles. Talbot discussed his new book with fellow author Peter Dale Scott, in a public event at the Mechanics’ Institute Library in San Francisco on December 2, 2015. Talbot says he believes CIA assassins were responsible for the death of John F. Kennedy.

    • U.S. Visa Process Missed San Bernardino Wife’s Zealotry on Social Media

      Had the authorities found the posts years ago, they might have kept her out of the country. But immigration officials do not routinely review social media as part of their background checks, and there is a debate inside the Department of Homeland Security over whether it is even appropriate to do so.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Pumped beyond limits, many U.S. aquifers in decline

      Just before 3 a.m., Jay Garetson’s phone buzzed on the bedside table. He picked it up and read the text: “Low Pressure Alert.”

      He felt a jolt of stress and his chest tightened. He dreaded what that automated message probably meant: With the water table dropping, another well on his family’s farm was starting to suck air.

      The Garetson family has been farming in the plains of southwestern Kansas for four generations, since 1902. Now they face a hard reality. The groundwater they depend on is disappearing. Their fields could wither. Their farm might not survive for the next generation.

    • Rampant Indonesian fires causing havoc in Papua

      Greenpeace says the impact of rampant forest and peatland fires in Indonesia’s Papua region is having a devastating effect on West Papuan society.

      Fires from land clearance on drained peatland have caused rampant fires across the republic including in Papua, catapulting Indonesia to being one of the world’s largest emitter’s of greenhouse gasses.

      Greenpeace’s Indonesia forest campaigner Yuyun Indradi says the fires have belched carbon haze across the region which is a health hazard for many communities.

    • How Indonesian Fires Are Affecting Global Climate

      Raging fires in Indonesia’s forests and peat lands since July this year are precipitating a climate and public-health catastrophe with repercussions across local, regional and global levels, experts told IndiaSpend.

      Acrid smoke and haze have enveloped Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, and have reached Thailand, choking people, reducing visibility and spiking respiratory illnesses, according to Susan Minnemeyer, Mapping and Data Manager for Washington-based World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forest Watch Fires initiative.

    • North Carolina citizenry defeat pernicious Big Solar plan to suck up the Sun

      The citizens of Woodland, N.C. have spoken loud and clear: They don’t want none of them highfalutin solar panels in their good town. They scare off the kids. “All the young people are going to move out,” warned Bobby Mann, a local resident concerned about the future of his burg. Worse, Mann said, the solar panels would suck up all the energy from the Sun.

      Another resident—a retired science teacher, no less—expressed concern that a proposed solar farm would block photosynthesis, and prevent nearby plants from growing. Jane Mann then went on to add that there seemed to have been a lot of cancer deaths in the area, and that no one could tell her solar panels didn’t cause cancer. “I want information,” Mann said. “Enough is enough.”

      These comments were reported not in The Onion, but rather by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. They came during a Woodland Town Council meeting in which Strata Solar Company sought to rezone an area northeast of the town, off of US Highway 258, to build a solar farm. The council not only rejected the proposal, it went a step further, voting for a complete moratorium on solar farms.

    • [Satire] Koch Brothers Get Each Other Same Election For Christmas

      Chuckling and shaking their heads as they described their annual family gift exchange to reporters, Koch Industries executives Charles and David Koch confirmed Wednesday they had unwittingly gotten each other the same election for Christmas this year.

      The two brothers and energy industry magnates, who for decades have gathered to share a holiday meal and open presents next to the Christmas tree in Charles’ Wichita home, admitted they were a bit embarrassed to learn they had each given the other U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin’s congressional seat, but said they ultimately shrugged off the coincidence.

  • Finance

    • Poorest areas have low student debt, highest defaults

      The study comes as student loan debt continues to grow nationwide. Outstanding student loan balances increased by $13 billion to $1.2 trillion as of Sept. 30. That’s more overall debt than consumers owe on credit cards or auto loans. Nearly 12% of the money owed on student loans is 90 days or more delinquent in the third quarter of 2015.

      In the federal loan portfolio, which makes up $896 billion of the $1.2-trillion overall student loan debt, 20% of all borrowers, owing 13% of the debt, are in default, or more than 90 days late on a payment.

    • Prof. Wolff on The David Pakman Show: “Will Automation End “Full Employment?”

      Professor Wolff joins David Pakman to discuss the the future of employment in the context of automation and technological unemployment.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • NRA Uses The San Bernardino Mass Shooting To Compare Liberals To Terrorists

      A commentary video from the National Rifle Association labeled those who called for more than thoughts and prayers following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California the “Godless Left” and claimed that they “march hand-in-hand” with terrorists “toward the possible, purposeful destruction of us all.”

  • Censorship

    • UK ISPs Unleash 85+ New Blocks on ‘Pirate’ Domains

      Internet service providers in the UK have begun blocking around 85 new ‘pirate’ domains following demands from rightsholders. All six major ISPs will implement the ban which targets, among other things, various clones, proxies and mirrors associated with The Pirate Bay plus major torrent and MP3 download sites.

  • Privacy

    • Twitter Says Possible State Sponsored Hack

      There is no indication what “government” Twitter suspects is connected with the hack, but online news sources are speculating the usual suspects, China and North Korea. PCWorld reports that many of the account holders receiving the Twitter notices are “privacy advocates and security researchers, some of whom tweet under pseudonyms.” Reuters is also reporting that Google and Facebook have also started warning users of possible state-sponsored attacks, but offers no details.

    • Let’s encrypt — because we really ought to

      Last week, Let’s Encrypt came out of beta. Let’s Encrypt is a collaborative effort that provides free SSL/TLS certificates for use by anyone with a valid Internet domain. It’s also a trusted certificate authority, and it’s currently issuing 90-day certificates free of charge. The upside is free SSL/TLS certificates. The downside is that 90-day expiration, though there are methods to renew the certificates automatically as the expiration approaches.

      Further, the tools provided by Let’s Encrypt make it pretty much effortless to implement. The Let’s Encrypt Python tool available at GitHub runs on a Web server, requests a valid certificate, and even does the Apache configuration for you, all with a pretty ncurses UI. Basically, you run this on a host with a bunch of non-SSL domains, and when it’s done, they’re all secured with free valid certificates.

    • A Victory for Privacy and Transparency: HRW v. DEA

      In a victory for millions of people in the U.S. who have placed telephone calls to locations overseas, EFF and Human Rights Watch have confirmed that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s practice of collecting those records in bulk has stopped and that the only bulk database of those records has been destroyed.

  • Civil Rights

    • Blair and Straw face questions over complicity in Shaker Aamer’s treatment

      In his first interview since returning home to London in October after being detained without charge for 14 years in the US military facility in Cuba, British resident Aamer suggested the former prime minister and the former foreign secretary were aware that he was being tortured.

      “The not unreasonable allegation that Shaker Aamer makes is that both the [then] prime minister Tony Blair and … Jack Straw must have known not just about his illegal abduction, but also about his torture at the hands of the US authorities,” Salmond told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show.

      The SNP foreign affairs spokesman and former Scottish first minister said that “as with so many other things”, Blair and Straw had a great deal to answer for. “They have to be asked the straight question of how could they possibly not have known about the fate that had befallen a British citizen,” he said.

      “Governments have many responsibilities, but the primary responsibility of all governments is to keep their own citizens safe from harm, and governments aren’t meant to collaborate on the illegal abduction and the torture of one of their own citizens. So both the then prime minister and home secretary have to face up and tell us exactly what they knew and when they knew it.”

    • Teenagers under 16 face being banned from social media and email under EU laws

      Teenagers under the age of 16 could be banned from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and email if they don’t have parental permission, under last-minute changes to EU laws.

      The European Union is on the verge of pushing through new regulations that would raise the age of consent for websites to use personal data from 13 to 16.

      Officials quitely amended proposed data protection laws last week to increase the age and put the EU out of step with rules in other parts of the world.

    • Publicity hound, coward, liar: Whistleblowers are inevitably demonized by their enemies — Edward Snowden is no exception

      The most powerful gun in the damage-control arsenal isn’t truth. It is demonization—a vicious assault on the character of the whistleblower in order to destroy credibility and distract from the message. The damage controller’s bag of tricks is as old as Machiavelli.

      Find anything that borders on illegal behavior in the whistleblower’s past, such as court convictions, messy divorces, arrest reports, domestic violence complaints, a history of alcohol, child support issues, or drug abuse. Attack the whistleblower’s motive by alleging that he or she was driven by malice, revenge, deceit, greed, or hunger for publicity. Dig up colleagues, neighbors, and fellow workers who are willing to say, true or untrue, that the whistleblower is vindictive, sneaky, dishonest, prone to exaggerate, not a team player, disruptive in the workplace. Allege that the whistleblower is incompetent at his or her job, cannot be trusted with responsibility, or lacks leadership skills. Accuse the whistleblower of being a thief who stole proprietary documents, illegally revealed company secrets, broke a confidentiality agreement. Label the whistleblower mentally unstable.

      Edward Snowden—“the world’s most wanted man by the world’s most powerful government”—wasn’t surprised that his enemies tried to assassinate his character. He expected as much. As he told Greenwald and the Guardian, “I know the government will demonize me. They’ll say I violated the Espionage Act. That I committed grave crimes. That I aided America’s enemies. That I endangered national security. I’m sure they’ll grab every incident they can find from my past and probably will exaggerate or even fabricate some to demonize me as much as possible. . . . What keeps a person passive and compliant is fear of repercussions. . . . I decided a while ago that I can live with whatever they do to me. The only thing I can’t live with is knowing that I did nothing.”

    • Another Trustworthy Confidential Informant Allegedly Tied To Multiple Bogus Drug Arrests

      The only thing as trustworthy as a cop’s testimony are statements made by confidential informants. These are used to secure warrants and, occasionally, as supporting evidence in prosecutions. Never mind the fact that confidential informants are often career criminals who carry with them the innate desire to stay out of jail.

    • Supreme Court Again Makes It Clear: Companies Can Erode Your Legal Rights Via Mouse Print

      For years, AT&T worked tirelessly to erode its customers’ legal rights, using mouse print in its terms of service preventing consumers from participating in lawsuits against the company. Instead, customers were forced into binding arbitration, where arbitrators employed by the company unsurprisingly rule in their employer’s favor a huge percentage of the time. Initially, the lower courts derided this greasy behavior for what it was: an attempt by AT&T to eliminate customer legal rights and save a buck. And with AT&T’s massive history of fraud, you can imagine AT&T was looking to save quite a bit.

    • New U.S. FAA rule requires drone owners to register by Feb 19

      The Federal Aviation Administration, responding to heightened concerns about rogue drone flights near airports, unveiled a pre-Christmas rule on Monday requiring drone hobbyists as young as 13 years old to register their unmanned aircraft.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Grumpy Cat Sues Coffee Maker For Copyright Infringement

        Grumpy Cat is not happy. Her owners have filed a lawsuit at a California federal court, accusing a coffee maker of exploiting the cat’s copyrights and trademarks without permission. In addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, Grumpy Cat’s owners also want control of the coffee maker’s grumpycat.com domain name.

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