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12.16.15

Battistelli Wants to Make “Lobbying in the Field of European and Unitary Patent” a “Prohibited Activity” for All Except Himself

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Totally drunk on power, Battistelli is now trying to ban more people from speaking

Wine
Battistelli’s alleged infatuation with the French wine industry (to be covered at a later date) gone too far?

Summary: Benoît Battistelli’s globalist/internationalist ambitions (in practice a servitude to large multinational corporations) defended or shielded using the widely-discredited roadmap in CA/98/15

THE MANAGEMENT of the EPO — and Benoît Battistelli in particular — loses faith even among its ‘customers’, or representatives such as AIPPI and EPI. It means that the management is left with almost no allies, only foes or perceived enemies (a consequence of the management trying to brutally crush its critics, even reporters).

A reader who is intimately familiar with the EPO sent us a detailed explanation of the current situation. This relates to what we previously showed (with very extensive proof) about suppression of free speech or diversity of opinions inside the EPO. “Some observations about CA/98/15″ is what our reader called it, alluding to the document responded to by AIPPI and EPI (we posted their letters earlier this evening). Here is what our reader wrote:

The document CA/98/15 has been discussed a lot recently in IP circles.

For example:

http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2015/12/boards-of-appeal-tell-ac-we-were-never.html

A copy of the document itself can be found here:

http://eplaw.org/document/epo-ca9815/

It’s Battistelli’s proposed “roadmap” for the planned reform of the Boards of Appeal.

Section IV.C deals with the topic of “conflict of interest” situations and refers to “the need to avoid real or apparent conflict of interest situations, including in post-service employment”.

Amongst other things, it contains a proposal for a “cooling-off period” with restrictions in post-service employment for staff who leave the EPO.

Paragraphs 38 and 39 deal with “prohibited activities”.

According to paragraph 38 “the scope of prohibited activities should be so defined as to ensure that knowledge gained while in service may not be used to the advantage of private interests, considering notably the risk of impairing equality among users of the public service rendered by the Office”.

Paragraph 39 states that “the activities covered by the cooling-off period would be thus primarily those closely related to the Organisation’s core mandate, e.g. patent granting activities or lobbying in the field of European and Unitary Patent”.

This is very interesting because here the President is basically telling the Administrative Council that “the Organisation’s core mandate” includes not only patent granting activities but also “lobbying in the field of European and Unitary Patent”.

This seems to be complete nonsense because Article 4(3) of the European Patent Convention states the following:

“The task of the Organisation shall be to grant European patents. This shall be carried out by the European Patent Office supervised by the Administrative Council.”

http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2013/e/ar4.html

The “core mandate” of the EPO is the granting of European patents – full stop.

There is nothing in Article 4 or anywhere else in the EPC about “lobbying in the field of European and Unitary Patent”.

So – apart from perhaps unintentionally revealing Battistelli’s own internal mindset about these matters – what is the rationale behind the attempt to present “lobbying in the field of European and Unitary Patent” as part of the “core mandate” of the EPO?

I did some research and found out the following:

A former Vice-President of the EPO was a gentleman by the name of Manuel Desantes Real who is a Spanish professor of law at the University of Alicante:

http://www.ir-facility.org/manuel-desantes

http://www.asipicartagena2015.com/en/users/manuel-desantes

Prof. Desantes was the Vice-President of Directorate-General 5 (Legal and International Affairs) of the EPO between 2001 and 2008.

Since leaving the EPO in 2008, Prof. Desantes has been quite active lecturing and publishing articles and commentaries about Intellectual Property matters.

One of his favorite topics is the Unitary Patent.

http://conflictuslegum.blogspot.com.es/2013/04/manuel-desantes-el-tribunal-de-justicia.html

https://www2.uni-hamburg.de/fachbereiche-einrichtungen/fg_ta_med//aktuell_is/esf/desantes_manuel_esf_hh2014.pdf

http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-eu-patent-package-dangerous.html

http://sms.cam.ac.uk/media/1906853

Not only has he lectured and published on this topic, he was also involved in the legal challenges mounted by Spain before the CJEU.

“Professor Manuel Desantes (University of Alicante, Spain) presented Spain’s second legal challenge before the CJEU after the Opinion of the Advocate General Mr. Ives Bot in Case C-146/13 Spain v Parliament and Council. Professor Desantes underlined the inconsistency of the Opinion and noted that, although both a Unified Patent Court (UPC) and a European patent with unitary effect are certainly needed, it should be done on the foundations of a robust system. The unitary patent protection system is not robust enough in its current state, Desantes argued.

In his view, the shortcomings are: the mix of EU and International Law procedures, the vague concept of “enhanced cooperation” in the Unitary Patent Regulation and the presupposition of economical aspects.

https://qmjip.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/preparing-for-the-unitary-patent-package-event-review/

Now, as can be seen from the above, Prof. Desantes is not an opponent of the general idea of a Unitary Patent. He takes the position that “a Unified Patent Court (UPC) and a European patent with unitary effect are certainly needed” but he sees some shortcomings in the current proposals.

So he takes what could reasonably be called “a critical stance” and tries to stimulate an informed public debate about what he sees as the defects in the current proposals. That sounds reasonable enough and it’s hard to see how anybody could object to that.

However, from what I have heard, it seems that Prof. Desantes’ “post-service” activities since leaving the EPO have greatly irritated Battistelli.

He seems to consider such activities as trespassing on what he incorrectly claims to be a “core mandate” of the EPO: “lobbying in the field of European and Unitary Patent”.

It seems that Battistelli is keen to claim his own personal monopoly on such activities and would like to find a way to muzzle critical “insiders” like Desantes when they leave the EPO. He apparently objects to anybody who makes efforts to express “critical views” and/or stimulate informed public debate about these matters.

As far as I can work out, this seems to be one of the key motivating factors behind the proposed restrictions in post-service employment which are discussed in CA/98/15.

We hope that more of our sceptics may, in due course, realise why we have been worried about the Unitary Patent all along (even in previous incarnations when it was given other catchy titles). Its only big fan is Battistelli and Battistelli has virtually no fans; there are only many people who are afraid of Battistelli, who now acts like a lunatic dictator and throws a fit at any opposing view. We will continue to write about the Unitary Patent/UP/UPC in conjunction with coverage about systematic gagging of Battistelli’s critics. There is a class war going on at the EPO and it’s clear whose class Battistelli belongs to (it’s certainly not the European SMEs’ class).

European Patent Institute (EPI) Not Happy With the EPO’s Terrible Treatment of the Boards of Appeal

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPI letter

Summary: The European Patent Institute, or epi (all lowercase) as it prefers to refer to itself, opposes many of the suggestions made by the EPO, which effectively weakens the boards and wants them sent to exile

Not only AIPPI is upset at the EPO‘s attacks on the independent boards. Another letter, formally sent several days ago, expresses similar concerns but does so a lot more gently and politely (starts with positives, followed by negatives). Here it is in full. We have highlighted some key sentences in larger fonts.

epi

European Patent Institute • Bayerstrasse 83 • 80335 Munich • Germany

Administrative Council of the EPO
Bob-van-Benthem-Platz 1
80469 Munich

11th December, 2015

epi comments on CA/98/15 – Orientations for the Structural Reform of the EPO Boards of Appeal

Dear Members of the Administrative Council,

“We are disappointed to see that CA/98/15 does not address the urgent issue of the unfilled posts in the BoA.”epi has had an opportunity to study CA/98/15 as part of its continuing effort to assist the Administrative Council (AC) in considering the status of the Boards of Appeal (BoA) at the EPO. epi provided a detailed response to the consultation from the Office and wishes to continue to contribute to the process. This is of particular importance to epi’s members as the vast majority of representatives who appear before the BoA are epi members.

Unfilled Posts in the BoA

We are disappointed to see that CA/98/15 does not address the urgent issue of the unfilled posts in the BoA. epi is aware that according to the Business Distribution Scheme for 2016, there are 30 unfilled posts, 23 for technical members and 7 for legal members, and that this is affecting both the timeliness and quality of the decisions of the BoA. Some of the BoA have had to issue communications indicating that they are unable to process some appeals because they lack technical members with appropriate technical skills. The general length of appeal proceedings is rising because of the shortage of staff, epi therefore considers that the AC should take immediate action to fill the unfilled posts as soon as possible.

“In particular, epi considers that the Office should not be involved in appointing or re-appointing members of the BoA or the EBoA.”There may be a belief that there will be less need for the BoA once the UPC comes into force. However, epi considers that this belief is misplaced, certainly in the short term and even in the long term for appeals relating to applications. As appointments to the BoA are only for 5 years, it would be possible to reduce the number of appointments and/or re-appointments if the UPC does draw work away from the BoA.

General Comments on CA/98/15

epi was sent and has had access to many of the responses to the EPO’s consultation and, from studying these, it appears that the degree of acceptance of the original proposals in CA/16/15 may have been overstated. For instance, epi agreed that reform of the BoA was welcomed and that CA/16/15 was a good basis for further work. However, epi, and many others, did not agree that CA/16/15 was a sound proposal. Rather, epi, and others, suggested that the proposal needed changes before it would become “sound”. It is suggested that the members of the AC should study all the responses and come to their own conclusions.


Legal Basis

It is clear that the Office has seen that there may be legal problems with its proposal, epi appreciates the fact that the Office has asked for independent legal advice from an expert on the potential legal problems. However, epi considers that it is essential for the members of the AC and interested parties to see not just the advice but the instructions on the basis of which the advice was prepared. If you do not know the question, you cannot tell whether the answer is useful.

“The BoA and the EBoA will be making decisions regarding the operation of the Office or on references from the President of the Office.”As epi noted in its response to the consultation, it is essential for there to be a proper legal basis for “attributing” the powers for dealing with the BoA to the proposed new President of the BoA. It is clear that, at present, in many of the functions performed by the AC in connection with the BoA, the EPC specifies that the AC must consult the President of the Office. However, if the BoA are to be truly independent of the Office, then the requirement for consulting with the President of the Office should no longer apply, epi would favour any solution to this problem which does not require amendment of the EPC.

It appears that consideration should be given not only to the “attribution” of the powers of the President of the Office but also to the effect of Articles 6 and 7 EPC and the Protocol on Centralisation (see below).

External Members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal

epi supports the proposal that there should be external members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) when the EBoA is considering petitions under Article 112a EPC. These external members should be present in both 3- and 5-membered panels.

Unit Headed bv the President of the BoA

epi considers that the creation of a President of the BoA and the removal of the office of Vice-President of DG3 is a positive move. However, epi does not see the need for a completely new “unit” as epi considers that the existing Presidium of the BoA, with suitable alterations in composition, would function effectively, epi suggests that the Presidium should include external members of the EBoA and observers.

Transfer of Powers

epi also supports the “attribution” of powers from the President of the Office to the President of the BoA. However, epi considers that, for this to be effective, the Office should not be involved in matters related to the BoA at any level below the level of the AC.

In particular, epi considers that the Office should not be involved in appointing or re-appointing members of the BoA or the EBoA. The BoA and the EBoA will be making decisions regarding the operation of the Office or on references from the President of the Office. If the Office is involved in the appointment and re­appointment of members, then there will remain a perception that the BoA are not independent of the Office. It is for this reason that epi suggested that there should be a Judiciary Committee (see below).


Boards of Appeal Committee

Although epi is in principle in favour of a Boards of Appeal Committee (BoAC), epi considers that the structure for the BoAC proposed in CA/98/15 is not properly balanced. In particular, the only person on the BoAC from the BoA is the President of the BoA (without a voting right), epi considers that there should be more members of the BoA on the BoAC. As explained in epi’s response to the consultation, epi considers that there should be less representation from the AC and a chair who is not a member of the AC. Also, for the reasons explained above, epi considers that the Office should not be represented at meetings of the BoAC. The AC will still have overall decision-making power as any proposal from the BoAC must be decided on by the AC.

“Also, for the reasons explained above, epi considers that the Office should not be represented at meetings of the BoAC.”epi still considers that there should be a Judiciary Committee, as explained in epi’s response to the consultation, as well as the BoAC. The Judiciary Committee should be responsible for appointments and re­appointments to the BoA.

epi considers that the composition of the BoAC is especially important if, contrary to epi’s suggestion, the BoAC is solely responsible for providing recommendations to the AC regarding appointments and re­appointments. epi considers that it is essential for the appearance of independence that the appointments and re-appointments are made on objective grounds of competence and having independent members and BoA members on the BoAC will ensure that it is seen that such competence is independently assessed.

“epi considers that it is essential for the appearance of independence that the appointments and re-appointments are made on objective grounds of competence and having independent members and BoA members on the BoAC will ensure that it is seen that such competence is independently assessed.”Paragraph 13 of CA/98/15 refers to the BoAC working on a “general level”, epi agrees that this should be the case but considers that it will be necessary for there to be clear terms of reference for the BoAC to ensure that it only works at the “general” level.

epi appreciates the proposal that there should be observers from Business Europe and epi on the BoAC.

Rules of Procedure

epi also agrees that the BoAC, in a suitable composition, could be responsible for drafting the Rules of Procedure (RoP) for the BoA and the EBoA. However, epi considers that proposals for the RoP should not be made by the Office, contrary to the suggestion in paragraph 17 of CA/98/15. Since the BoA and the EBoA decide on the actions of the Office, any involvement of the Office in providing the RoP would be seen as significantly reducing the independence of the BoA.

“Since the BoA and the EBoA decide on the actions of the Office, any involvement of the Office in providing the RoP would be seen as significantly reducing the independence of the BoA.”It is epi’s view that the BoAC should consult widely about any proposed amendments to the RoP and, in particular, should consult the Presidium and users before any amendment is presented to the AC for approval.

The second half of paragraph 15 of CA/98/15 indicates that users would like to see a change in the RoP to ensure better predictability and consistency of proceedings, epi agrees that measures should be taken to ensure better predictability and consistency of proceedings. However, epi considers that this does not require only an amendment to the RoP. Predictability and consistency also depends on the attitudes to the individual Boards, not on the RoP.

Human Resources

epi considers that it will be essential to have appropriate contractual arrangements for the BoA but, apart from the following, has no comment on the present proposals. The only comment relates to the point in paragraph 26 of CA/98/15 about “budgetary constraints”. Again, in order to ensure the independence from the Office, epi considers that any budgetary constraints should be determined solely by the AC. It will be necessary for the AC to instruct the Office to make appropriate contributions from the Office’s revenues to the BoA as the level of the appeal fee will not cover the operational costs of the BoA.


Conflict of Interest

“The location of the BoA will have no impact on the perception of independence.”epi is concerned that CA/98/15 appears to be arguing for overly onerous rules on conflicts of interest. If such rules are too onerous, they will deter people from outside the Office applying for positions in the BoA, especially if there are onerous restrictions on what such a person can do after leaving the BoA. epi is therefore in favour of a principles-based code of conduct rather than a prescriptive set of rules.

Premises

It appears to epi that the discussion of moving the BoA to different premises should be treated separately from any discussion on institutional reform. The location of the BoA will have no impact on the perception of independence. CA/98/15 refers in paragraph 58 to the perception of independence being lower if the BoA remain in Munich. However, there does not seem to be any problem with having the DPMA and the Bundespatentgericht in Munich or the Dutch Patent Office and the Dutch Courts in The Hague. The UK Intellectual Property Office was not moved to Newport because of any perceived lack of independence of the UK Court. Also, the branch of the Office in The Hague is physically remote from the seat of the Office in Munich but there is no perception that the branch at The Hague is independent of the seat in Munich. It is the institutional legal arrangements which will make the BoA independent of the Office, not any possible physical separation.

“It is the institutional legal arrangements which will make the BoA independent of the Office, not any possible physical separation.”Before a decision is taken on premises, as noted above, epi would also suggest that the AC should have a sound view on the legal basis for moving the BoA to a different location, without the need to change either Articles 6 and 7 EPC or the Protocol on Centralisation, epi notes that CA/98/15 does not give any cost estimate for the option of not moving the BoA at all.

Summary

epi continues to support the AC and the Office in their considerations of the structural reform of the BoA and considers that CA/98/15 is a helpful contribution. However, as noted above, epi considers that there are still areas where further detailed analysis is needed, epi looks forward to contributing further to the analysis at the forthcoming AC meeting.

epi repeats that, in the medium term, the way to improve the situation of the BoA is to fill the unfilled posts so that the BoA have the appropriate technical skills to decide on the large backlog of cases it already has.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Tangena

President

Will the EPO and its AC buddies (often acting more like the President’s lapdogs) take this letter seriously or will they continue to disregard input even from the stakeholders who pay the EPO? This is getting serious and rapidly becoming too much to be bearable.

AIPPI Sends Angry Letter to the Administrative Council Regarding the EPO’s Attacks on the Boards and Staff Unions, Saying it Damages the EPO’s Function and Reputation

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

AIPPI letter

Summary: Patent practitioners and their representatives are upset at the European Patent Office and specifically at Benoît Battistelli; they demand action by Jesper Kongstad, Chairman of the Administrative Council

EARLIER today the EPO‘s management probably felt a little nervous knowing that the Administrative Council (part of the European Patent Organisation that has the power to sack Benoît Battistelli) had gathered with delegates and received lot of input from peripheral stakeholders. Here is what AIPPI, a widely respected body, wrote and sent earlier today (emphaisis with large fonts is ours):

AIPPI

Vereniging voor Intellectuele Eigendom

Nederlandse groep van de Association Internationale
pour la Protection de la Propriété Intellectuelle (AIPPI)

European Patent Organisation
Administrative Council
C/o Mr. Jesper Kongstad, Chairman
Bob-van-Benthem-Platz 1
80469 Munich
Germany

Also by e-mail:
jko@dkpto.dk
council@epo.org
council_secretary@epo.org

The Hague, 16 December 2015

Dear Mr. Kongstad,

We are writing to you in your capacity as Chairman of the EPO Administrative Council. The Vereniging voor Intellectuele Eigendom, the Dutch group of the Association Internationale pour la Protection de la Propriété Intellectuelle (AIPPI), is highly concerned about recent developments at the European Patent Office and requests that you bring this letter to the attention of the entire Administrative Council.

“Even patent judges from across Europe have expressed criticism in this regard.”For some time now there has been a debate about the independency of the EPO Boards of Appeal. These Boards have a final judicial say on the validity of European Patents in the sense that there is no further legal recourse if a patent is revoked by a Board of Appeal. Patents are valuable intellectual property rights and essential for a good climate for innovation in Europe. They enjoy the protection of a fundamental right under Article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights). As such, applicants for patent protection and patent proprietors are entitled to an adjudication by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The independence and impartiality of the EPO Boards of Appeal from the EPO executive, including the President of the EPO, is therefore crucial and does not allow for any compromise. Currently there are insufficient guarantees for the independence, which may also cause concern with regard to the impartiality. This has already been found by the Enlarged Board of Appeal itself and there is consensus among the interested circles that this needs to be improved. Even patent judges from across Europe have expressed criticism in this regard.

“Moreover, it seems that the President has misinformed the EPO Administrative Council on the involvement of the Boards of Appeal themselves in the development of this proposal.”It is very worrying that the process towards more independence seems to be dominated by the President of the EPO who does not appear to take into account input from for instance the Boards of Appeal themselves. On 4 December 2015 the President of the EPO presented an updated proposal for the reform of the Boards of Appeal to Board 28. This proposal does not contain sufficient guarantees for the independence and impartiality of the Boards of Appeal, since the EPO executive and the President still have a role of oversight and managerial control in the new setting. Any control of the executive over the judiciary could be considered a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the underlying principle of the separation of powers, and is therefore unacceptable because there should be no doubt at all that the EPO Boards of Appeal are independent and impartial.

Moreover, it seems that the President has misinformed the EPO Administrative Council on the involvement of the Boards of Appeal themselves in the development of this proposal. That at least is the position taken by the Presidium of the Boards of Appeal in a letter to the Administrative Council of

Secretariaat AIPPI Nederland
Lodewijk de Vromestraat 25,3962 VG Wijk bij Duurstede, The Netherlands
tel. +31 343 575 397 – Fax +31 343 594 566 – e-mail: secretariaat@aippi.nl – www.aippi.nl
ING rekening NL72INGB06616.09.340 – KvK 40413308


[page 2]

1 December 2015. The fact alone that the Presidium felt it necessary to send such a letter is highly unusual and very alarming indeed.

The ultimate consequence of these developments could be that national courts, and the future Unified Patent Court, do not consider themselves bound by decisions from the Boards of Appeal or even discard them as not constituting relevant case law. This would create a legal uncertainty which is highly undesirable.

“The damage that has been done to the EPO and its reputation, and to the interests of the European industry, can unfortunately be seen as a result of the conduct of the President of the EPO…”Additionally, an immediate effect is that the reputation of the EPO as an organisation which safeguards the interests of patent applicants and proprietors and of their competitors is at risk. We have noticed an increasing flow of negative publicity on these issues in the media, including high quality newspapers. The damage that has been done to the EPO and its reputation, and to the interests of the European industry, can unfortunately be seen as a result of the conduct of the President of the EPO, who seems to be unable so far to approach the issue in a balanced way with proper respect for the separation of powers.

Unfortunately, the public image that currently exists of the EPO is further damaged by another issue: the conflict on employment conditions, efficiency and “social democracy” at the EPO. We have no doubts that reforms are needed at the EPO. The Administrative Council has elected the President in full support of his roadmap and we do not question that roadmap as such.

“In fact, it appears that the right of EPO employees to organize themselves in unions is not recognized. Instead, it seems that union officials are investigated and even interrogated by an investigation unit and then suspended. These suspensions are accompanied by cuts in their salaries.”However, in the execution of these reforms an increasing number of conflicts has arisen. As we understand from media coverage, but also from information obtained from persons who are directly involved, these conflicts are not handled in a way that enhances the probability of achieving workable results. Instead, the approach of the President towards these issues and conflicts tends to aggravate them without any necessity. The number and nature of the conflicts that we hear and read about appears to clearly exceed the limit of isolated incidents.

As we understand, there is no normal dialogue with the workers unions. In fact, it appears that the right of EPO employees to organize themselves in unions is not recognized. Instead, it seems that union officials are investigated and even interrogated by an investigation unit and then suspended. These suspensions are accompanied by cuts in their salaries. In our view, it is impossible to achieve any result in this way. There are also reports of numerous conflicts with other members of staff. An increasing number of repressive rules and regulations appear to have been introduced which do not seem to fit in at all with a modem professional organisation. All of this has led to an increasing number of staff demonstrations.

The way these issues are being handled by the President distracts the attention from the necessary reforms as such and instead leads all attention to the repressive approach chosen by the President. Again, this is leading to grave and maybe irreparable damage to the reputation of the EPO in Europe and abroad.

“Again, this is leading to grave and maybe irreparable damage to the reputation of the EPO in Europe and abroad.”Because of these two issues, i) the endangering of the independence of the Boards of Appeal and ii) the way of handling of conflicts on employment conditions, which are both characterized by an intolerant approach by the President of the EPO so far, at least in the eye of the majority of the media, the position of the EPO itself has come at risk.

Regardless of which solutions should be adopted to guarantee the independent position of the Boards of Appeal and to resolve the social unrest at the EPO, it is imperative that the Administrative Council takes immediate action to terminate the destructive approach chosen by the President of the EPO.

We therefore urge and beg the Administrative Council to take control of the situation and prevent that further damage is done to the EPO.

Yours sincerely,
On behalf of the Vereniging voor Intellectuele Eigendom,

Koen Bijank
President

Wouter Pors
Secretary

NB: to avoid a potential conflict of interest, we did not consult our board-members D.J. de Groot and T.H. Tanja-van den Broek

Kongstad recently did nothing when he had to chance to. If he fails to take action in spite of growing anger all around Europe, then maybe it’s time to remove Kongstad too. He seems to be figuratively in bed with Benoît Battistelli.

New WIPO Figures Reinforce Reality Where More Patents Needn’t Imply More Innovation, Just Lower Standards

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 5:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unless China is truly the king of innovation whereas Europe as a collective whole just a distant fifth (behind Japan and Korea), the number of patents granted is mostly indicative of the ease of being granted patents in different parts of the world

China

Summary: Response to data from WIPO and interpretation by Managing Intellectual Property (MIP), where the number of patents granted is conveniently treated as proportional to (or surrogate of) level of innovation

THE latest WIPO data is out and it’s interesting because it shows that, as MIP put it, “China also received the highest number of patent applications” (utter junk patents, with little or no quality).

The USPTO with its notoriously low standards (acceptance rate is at around 92%) is second. Is this something to be proud of? We think not. In the US, 92% of patent applications are (eventually) considered a “success”, but what kind of success is this? That’s just the de facto definition or example of “rubber-stamping” organisation (like ISO), which is what China’s patent office effectively became when the bubble started off. Notice how friendly Benoît Battistelli is with China these days, his imitation of human rights abuses aside.

“The USPTO with its notoriously low standards (acceptance rate is at around 92%) is second.”China and the US are said to be at the “top” (at sites like MIP, the more, the merrier), then it’s Japan, Korea, and Benoît Battistelli’s EPO only at 5th. Remember when Microsoft threatened to turn to the Korean patent office at the expense of EPO because the EPO wasn’t granting enough patents (in bulk)? Well, the Battistelli-led EPO responded by becoming a lapdog of Microsoft. Measuring the quality of any patent office in terms of number of patents granted is patently misguided. It’s usually indicative no legitimate quality control, neither at prior art search nor triviality thresholds (some US patents are ‘sophisticated’ enough for a toddler to come up with).

“China also received the highest number of patent applications,” MIP wrote, 928,1777 out of a worldwide total of 2.7 million. This represented growth of 12.5% from 2013 to 2014.”

How many of those (nearly) million patents are actually true innovations and how many are just a waste of paper?

“Does it mean that Japan became less innovative? Probably not. Maybe it prioritises development over paperwork.”“It was followed by the offices in the United States, Japan, Korea and the EPO,” MIP wrote. “The top 20 office with the largest percentage growth was that of Iran (18.5%). Japan was the only major office to see a decline in patent filings.”

Does it mean that Japan became less innovative? Probably not. Maybe it prioritises development over paperwork. Other factors to consider are the scope of coverage, the cost of application, the cost of renewal, backlog size, patent lifespan etc. but these don’t vary all that much and are usually proportional to the size/breadth of the local economy so such factors average out.

This nicely ties into what we wrote this morning about EPO lobbying/promotion of the UPC (also noted earlier this week). Sifting through a lot of trolls and distraction in IP Kat comments (maybe a deliberate misdirection in these comments) we found the following informative comment:

all the rules for the UP were approved by the Select Committee today.

Another of this decisions behind closed doors?

Does anybody know if any objection raised during the discussion that occurred within this “selected” (by whom?) Committe will ever be made public?

For your information the “Select Committee” is a body formed pursuant to Article 145 EPC.
http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2013/e/ar145.html

It comprises the delegates from the EPC Contracting States that have signed up to the EU Unitary Patent, i.e. most of the EU Contracting States.

If you want to find out more about what its members are up to then try contacting one of your MEPs or making a freedom of information request to the competent ministry in your country.

Well, patent lawyers still want more litigation, injunctions etc. That’s why they bat for the UPC in lawyers’ Web sites and hail it as though it’s the best ‘innovation’ since sliced bread.

“There goes Battistelli’s rave about ‘productivity’ and ‘production’ (usually proportional to number of grants) down the drain…”We hope that patent maximalism in Europe (which UPC is all about) will be challenged politically. Looking at today’s EPO news we only found this press release titled “Intec Pharma (NTEC) Receives European Patent Covering Accordion Pill Zaleplon“. This is one among many drug monopolies (it’s not at all clear if such patents offer benefits to society). The press release says that “the Company has been informed by the European Patent Office (EPO) that a European patent will be granted December 23, 2015 on the Company’s European Patent Application for a “Zaleplon gastroretentive drug delivery system.””

Remember what Baxter (EPO-connected) has been trying to patent for a number of years at the EPO. It turned out to be an example of good patent examination and good work by the boards (a very thorough prior art search), which contributed to repeated rejection of the patent application (pertaining to software). There goes Battistelli’s rave about ‘productivity’ and ‘production’ (usually proportional to number of grants) down the drain…

Great News: Software Patents Stopped in India, For Now…

Posted in Asia, Law, Patents at 5:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Indian building

Summary: Activism and advocacy by groups including the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) in India helped stop the software patents lobby in this world-leading software giant (with a population exceeding one billion people)

TECHRIGHTS has been writing about software patents in India for nearly a decade and wrote a lot about the subject this autumn, due to a creeping threat that software patents were rearing their ugly head again.

“This comes to show that no matter how desperate and helpless one feels, it’s never too late to take action and achieve something.”Thankfully, based on this new article in English (not Hindi/Tamil), the revised guidelines for software patents have been put on hold. This is excellent news and credit goes to “start-ups and software product lobbies like iSpirt and Software Freedom Law Center” (to quote the summary).

This comes to show that no matter how desperate and helpless one feels, it’s never too late to take action and achieve something. Let’s see if this effort as a whole is put the rest, leaving India with its current (and relatively sane) patent law. Those who lobby for software patents in India are multinationals like IBM and their patent lawyers. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else. They want an impoverished India.

“Everyone in India — not just software developers — should work hard to avoid and actively prevent patenting of software.”Over in the US, patent lawyers 'magically' only notice patent cases when software “may” actually be found valid, for a change. Here is the latest example of this. Who’s behind it? CAFC of course, the biggest booster of software patents. To quote The Recorder: “The Federal Circuit’s newest member, Judge Kara Stoll, sounded ready to side with the owner of a patent on lip-syncing technology used by animators, suggesting a break, if not a reversal, of the rout.”

India (and incidentally also Europe, which is being harmed by Benoît Battistelli’s EPO) should learn from the mistakes of the US patent system, e.g. patent trolls infestation. Everyone in India — not just software developers — should work hard to avoid and actively prevent patenting of software. India is a software powerhouse whose income and commonwealth depend on liberal development atmosphere; letting companies like Microsoft and IBM amass thousands of software patents in India helps make India digitally dependent on foreign monopolists that India does not need anyway.

Spoiled Brat Microsoft is Already Becoming More Aggressive, Now Forcing People to ‘Choose’ Vista 10

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista 10 at 4:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Impatient Microsoft. It didn’t even wait until next year as it had previously stated.

Facial expressions

Summary: Microsoft treats adults like dumb children and resorts to ‘selling’ (or force-feeding) its malware using malware tactics, including misleading pop-ups that trick users into compromising their machines, rendering these universal keyloggers

THE utter disaster which is Vista 10 just keeps getting worse. According to this new and widely-cited report from The Register, Microsoft “steps up Windows 10 nagging”.

To quote a key part excluding the self-explanatory screenshot: “The large pop-up screen, which first appeared over the weekend, gives users the option of upgrading straight away or … that evening. Users can still opt out by clicking on the red ‘X’ in the top right corner of the window, but less savvy computer users (part of Redmond’s core market segments) might not figure that out.

“Microsoft is truly becoming pathetic here.”“This is not a new idea; it’s called the assumptive sell and has been in pop-up ads for years. But it’s not the kind of tactic you’d expect from a respectable firm like Microsoft – or at least, not until Windows 10 came along.”

The author adds that Microsoft’s motivation is ingeniously bizarre. Microsoft is truly becoming pathetic here. It is so desperate for attention and love that it now virtually FORCES people to ‘upgrade’ to Vista 10. Will they call it “popular” if people are literally forced to adopt it? The author says: “That’s something Microsoft will be praying for, especially since Windows 10 installations have been lagging of late.”

Microsoft has a conspiracy of silence on this embarrassing behaviour, which it can no longer just call or pretend to be an "accident". The author notes that “Microsoft had no comment on the new pop-up practices…”

Excellent!

“People will hopefully realise that Microsoft has nothing but disregard for users and then choose to move to Free/Open Source software — or software that respects its users.”So Microsoft admits that it doesn’t even have justification or defense for it. Microsoft is just intentionally malicious. If one silently — and without consent — places a keylogger (remotely even!) on another person’s PC one can be sentenced to prison. But not Microsoft. This monopolist has been getting away with almost everything and with quite a lot of serious abuses (e.g. existing for decades without paying tax, either).

Robert Pogson is one among many who commented on the report above, saying: “Now, it’s “Home invasion! Ready or not, here we come!”. The last time I saw such a message, I installed Debian GNU/Linux on the thing that same day.”

People will hopefully realise that Microsoft has nothing but disregard for users and then choose to move to Free/Open Source software — or software that respects its users. GNU/Linux will never do what Microsoft is seen doing here. GNU/Linux treats its users like grown-ups, whereas Microsoft treats them parentally, and in a highly patronising fashion.

Links 16/12/2015: Linux Foundation Expansion, Mesa 11.1

Posted in News Roundup at 3:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • “Open-Source Windows” ReactOS 0.4 Steps Closer With A Release Candidate

    ReactOS, the open-source operating system aiming for binary compatibility with Windows programs and drivers, is finally closer to its next big release: v0.4.

    ReactOS 0.4 has been talked about for more than a year and it’s been a while since the last big update, but now it looks like ReactOS 0.4 is on finals with the first release candidate having been pushed out hours ago. If you are anxious for ReactOS 0.4, you can download RC1 right away via SourceForge.

  • Another gaze into the crystal ball..this time, open source

    Open source.

    2015 was a fairly important year for open source technology. There was no doubting that Linux had made major inroads into enterprise computing. Android and Chrome OS continued their dominance, and plenty of other open source projects were gaining serious ground.

  • 9 Open Source Internet of Things Platforms
  • 16 Open Source Hardware Tools for the Internet of Things

    A survey of the open source hardware tools that are enabling the flexible, integrated design that so naturally fits with the Internet of Things.

  • 9 Open Source Operating Systems for the Internet of Things
  • 6 Open Source Middleware Tools for the Internet of Things

    Middleware tends to be the unsung hero of technical infrastructure. Middleware doesn’t prompt great debates, like Windows vs. Apple vs. Linux OS debates of years past, and there are no TV ads for middleware. Yet middleware – the software that sits between the OS and applications – is an essential element, especially for the Internet of Things. Among other tasks, middleware often provides messaging services so different apps can connect with one another. It also helps ease the work involved with the development of apps that get services from other apps. So the six open source middleware tools on the following pages may not stir a lot of argument, but they are highly important in enabling the vast, far-flung world of the Internet of Things.

  • 5 Advantages of Using Open Source Software

    Open source software (OSS) i accessible under a software authorization that enables individuals to access the source code and customize it according to their needs, thus providing the capability to tailor the software for different jobs. The program license keeps the right of the individual to modify and customize it in any way they desire.

  • The Golden Age Of Open Source Has Arrived

    Finally — the golden age of open source has arrived.

    Companies 20 years ago built monopolies on licensed software; today, free and open–source code fertilizes economic growth. The way to win at tech is no longer to own code, but to serve customers — and service has open source at its roots.

    Like cloud storage and hardware components, coding languages hold little value by themselves anymore. The services around the code are what differentiate commodity companies from those with market value in the billions. Tesla released all of its patents to the public in 2014, jump-starting a new ecosystem of electric vehicles without threatening its own dominance.

    Facebook’s entire data-center architecture is available via Open Compute, and its Apache Cassandra, released into the wild, has become a cornerstone of many an enterprise database. And that didn’t stop the social giant from reporting $12.46 billion in revenue last year.

  • Nine Reasons for Using Open Source Software

    For years, I’ve wondered why anyone still bothers with proprietary software. Around the turn of the millennium, they might not have found an open source alternative, but today, that situation is rare enough that it comes as a surprise.

    Force of habit is a likely explanation, but often users simply don’t know what they don’t know. In fact, thanks to obsolete rumors, sometimes what users believe about open source is the exact opposite of the truth.

  • BitPay Releases New Version Of Open Source Bitcoin Wallet

    BitPay, a global bitcoin payment service provider, on Tuesday rolled out version 1.6.1 of its open source bitcoin wallet Copay.

  • Cloud Foundry launches code certification effort, IBM, HPE, Pivotal on board

    The Cloud Foundry Foundation on Wednesday launched a certification program. The certification is the first aimed at ensuring portability across platform-as-a-service offerings across multiple vendors and clouds. The Cloud Foundry Foundation is collectively owned by 55 member companies.

  • Using Blender to prepare for orthopedic surgeries

    The planning of orthopedic surgeries is a difficult process. In a lot of ways, it’s like working while wearing a blindfold; a surgeon can’t see the bone that needs to be worked on until during the actual surgery, when time is most critical. Even with X-rays and CT scans, the raw data can be difficult to interpret correctly. Fortunately, open source software can (and does!) help reduce the guesswork.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Open source cloud tools offer risk, reward with AWS

      Logging AWS resources can be cumbersome, but is necessary to ensure nothing goes awry. Open source tools help aggregate and visualize AWS resource data.

    • OpenStack Security and Monitoring Solutions Spread Out

      There is news rolling in on the OpenStack front, especially for organizations interested in cloud monitoring and security. Mirantis and Palo Alto Networks, a company focused on security, have announced a joint partnership and the availability of Palo Alto Networks next-generation security as a virtual network function (VNF) within the Mirantis OpenStack distribution.

  • Databases

    • Google Revamps Cloud SQL Service with New Pricing, Higher Performance
    • Changes Coming For PostgreSQL 9.5

      The PostgreSQL 9.5 release change-log was recently updated in Git to reflect all of the latest changes for this next version of this database server due out in 2016.

      The changes in Git yesterday now provide an up-to-date look at the PostgreSQL 9.5 additions. Some of the PostgreSQL 9.5 features worth mentioning include row-level security control, addition of Block Range Indexes (BRIN), “substantial” performance improvements for sorting, “substantial” performance improvements for multi-CPU machines, and much more.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • ownCloud and Collabora Announce LibreOffice Online for ownCloud Server

      Today, December 15, ownCloud, Inc. and Collabora have just announced a partnership to bring a new tool for LibreOffice and ownCloud users, based on the LibreOffice Online project and the robust, open-source ownCloud Server self-hosting cloud storage solution.

    • Collabora + ownCloud Release CODE For LibreOffice Online

      CODE is a distribution of LibreOffice Online and OwnCloud Server, providing an easy way to let developers/enthusiasts run untested feature additions and updates. CODE is basically for research and development with new features and the pairing of ownCloud and LibreOffice Online. In 2016, the two companies plan to provide a commercial solution based on Collabora CloudSuite and ownCloud Server.

    • Collabora Online Developer Edition (CODE)

      Today we release an easy way to get stuck into playing with LibreOffice online alongside ownCloud – please do checkout the CODE page and have a play. The purpose of my blog here is to credit the people involved in the development so far: currently all of the core work is by Collabora – that’s something we hope that making it easier to get involved will improve.

    • LibreOffice user interface changes

      In our class, I asked students to do their own usability test as a final project, from capturing the Personas, documenting the use Scenarios, defining the Scenario Tasks, and moderating a usability test on their favorite open source software project. To get them ready for the final project, I had students moderate a “mini-project.” I selected the topic for the mini-project, based on what open source software everyone claimed some level of familiarity with.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • ARMv8.1 Support Added To GCC Compiler

      While the LLVM Clang compiler has been working on ARMv8.1 support since earlier this year, the developers focusing on GCC have been working on it still but the first bits have been committed to trunk this morning.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Licensing

    • Law schools lag behind on open source law

      Many organizations use at least some open source code within their programs. So it is surprising that recent graduates who work with companies using open source software are usually ill prepared (or not prepared at all) to deal with open source legal issues. However, it is not the attorneys’ fault.

      Open source legal training is not easy to find, and if available it is not cheap. In the Bay Area, some law schools support an “open movement” policy. For example, some of them create and promote their own commons, meaning that the journals’ articles are uploaded and distributed for free online. The schools’ open access policies allow attorneys to stay up-­to-­date on their education, without the stress of paying for a subscription. (See SCU commons and UC Hastings.)

    • Why I’m not using your open source project

      There’s a peculiar mix of altruism and egotism that goes into releasing an open source project. On the one hand, you might be solving a problem that others are struggling with, and sharing your solution will save them a lot of time. On the other, the near-fantastic rock star status of those who have created successful open source projects (think John Resig, Ryan Dahl, and Linus Torvalds) drives people to overshare in the hopes of also achieving such status. This has resulted in a glut of open source projects being released into the wild and their creators venturing out on marketing campaigns to attract users.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • 5 favorite 3D printing projects of 2015
      • FAQ: OpenRISC
      • Hands-on with Simblee, connecting things to the cloud through smartphones

        Arduino-compatible chip lets makers embed cloud-connected mobile apps right in their devices.

        Earlier this year, Ars Technica got a demonstration of a technology that seeks to change how we interact with embedded computing technology—tying together Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communications, Arduino-style microcontroller technology, and mobile Internet connectivity. The chip at the core of the technology, called Simblee, allows device developers to build and deploy their own mobile applications without having to write iOS or Android code or having to publish their applications through an app store. Eight months have passed, and Simblee Corporation’s eponymous chip is now shipping to pre-order customers and is for sale through electronics distributors.

  • Programming

    • The next generation of continuous integration

      This new approach to CI has been implemented at scale in the OpenStack project to manage the CI of all the different sub-projects. To give you an idea of the scale, every day OpenStack handles 1,000 proposed patch sets, 7,500 posted comments and votes on Gerrit, 16,000 test environments spawned, and 250 changes merged (source).

    • GCC 5.3 Optimization Level Tests From -O0 To -Ofast

      Here are some fresh tests of Fedora 23 with the GCC 5.3.1 compiler when running a series of benchmarks after the binaries were compiled each time with an assortment of optimization levels.

    • prpl Foundation Launches prpl.works to Mobilize Open Source Developers

      The prpl Foundation today revealed prpl.works, an online community by and for open source developers and users. Active for just a few weeks, the community has already reached over 40,000 developers from around the world.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Everything You Know About Latency Is Wrong

      Okay, maybe not everything you know about latency is wrong. But now that I have your attention, we can talk about why the tools and methodologies you use to measure and reason about latency are likely horribly flawed. In fact, they’re not just flawed, they’re probably lying to your face.

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Watch: Seth Meyers Explains Why Fox’s Coverage Of The Paris Climate Agreement Was A Joke
    • Indonesia to name firms linked to forest fires

      Indonesia is set to name the companies responsible for illegal fires that led to this year’s transboundary haze crisis. The firms, which mainly run plantations on concession land in Sumatra and Kalimantan, will also have their business licences suspended while a decision is made on whether to initiate legal proceedings against them for breaching environmental laws.

    • Falling Oil And Gasoline Prices Bring Back Memories Of Right-Wing Media Hypocrisy

      With global crude oil prices at their lowest point in seven years, and gasoline prices approaching their lowest point of President Obama’s term of office, Media Matters remembers Fox News’ hypocritical coverage of the relationship between presidential policy initiatives and fuel and energy markets.

    • Indonesia forest fires cost twice as much as tsunami clean-up, says World Bank

      Indonesia’s economy took a $16bn hit this year from forest fires that cloaked south-east Asia in haze, more than double the sum spent on rebuilding Aceh after the 2004 tsunami, according to the World Bank.

      The fires and resulting haze are an annual occurrence caused by slash-and-burn land clearance. But the blazes in 2015 were the worst for some years, causing air quality to worsen dramatically and many to fall ill across the region.

      In a quarterly update on the Indonesian economy, the World Bank said the fires had devastated 2.6 million hectares (6.4m acres) of forest and farmland across the archipelago from June to October.

    • Fires cost Indonesia US$16b, twice the tsunami bill: World Bank

      Indonesia’s economy took a US$16-billion hit this year from forest fires that cloaked Southeast Asia in haze, more than double the sum spent on rebuilding Aceh after the 2004 tsunami, the World Bank said Tuesday (Dec 15).

      The fires and resulting haze are an annual occurrence caused by slash-and-burn land clearance. But the blazes in 2015 were the worst for some years, causing air quality to worsen dramatically and many to fall ill across the region.

      In a quarterly update on the Indonesian economy, the World Bank said the fires had devastated 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million acres) of forest and farmland across the archipelago from June to October.

      The cost to Southeast Asia’s biggest economy is estimated at 221 trillion rupiah (US$16.1 billion), equivalent to 1.9 per cent of predicted GDP this year, it said.

      In contrast, it cost US$7 billion to rebuild Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh after it was engulfed 11 years ago by a quake-triggered tsunami, with the loss of tens of thousands of lives, the bank said.

      “The economic impact of the fires has been immense,” said World Bank Indonesia country director Rodrigo Chaves.

    • CNN Debate Ignores Climate Change, Does Not Ask GOP Candidates About Historic Paris Agreement

      Three days before CNN hosted the fifth Republican presidential debate, leaders from every country in the world struck a historic climate change agreement in Paris to reduce fossil fuel emissions and face up to one of the greatest threats facing our country and our planet. The Paris agreement was a front page story in newspapers throughout the U.S. and around the globe. So considering that the Pentagon says climate change “could impact national security” and experts have identified a relationship between global warming and the rise of ISIS, the issue clearly belonged in the December 15 CNN debate, which co-moderator Wolf Blitzer described as a “discussion about the security of this nation.”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • What Gets Asked at Debates–and Who Gets Asked It?

      The 536 questions asked in the first four Republican debates, four Republican undercard debates and two Democratic debates were divided into six categories: economic, social, international, immigration, environment and non-policy questions. If the same question was asked to multiple candidates, it was counted each time, but clarifying and follow-up questions to the same candidate were not counted.

      FAIR also studied the percentage of questions each candidate was asked. While moderators clearly took candidates’ positions in opinion polls into account when distributing questions, some seemed to get asked more—or less—based on media assumptions about who was and was not a serious contender.

    • Fox’s Sean Hannity To Sen. Rand Paul: “I’m Not So Sure If I Agree With All The Geneva Conventions”
    • Adding to CNN’s Sizeable Dossier of Misreporting on the TWA Flight 800 Crash

      With stunning regularity, CNN’s reporters and producers have, for the last twenty years, egregiously misreported on the evidence and eyewitness accounts pertaining to TWA Flight 800. More recent crashes, this time Metrojet’s demise, are regularly seized upon to craft news packages in which the TWA Flight 800 crash is mentioned at length. These mentions consist of repeating the same “official source” false narrative that CNN and other major news outlets have been promulgating for years, even though the public is now well aware that at least half a dozen key members of the official Flight 800 crash investigation have presented evidence showing that the official probable cause of the crash is untenable and that the physical evidence indicates that explosive ordnance caused Flight 800’s demise.

    • CNN’s John Avlon: “Broad Strokes” Of Marco Rubio’s ISIS “Plan Are Not That Different From Barack Obama”
  • Censorship

    • Senate Passes Bill Banning Non-Disparagement Clauses

      Despite it being transparently obvious that non-disparagement clauses hidden in fine print serve the singular purpose of deterring complaints about bad products and services, companies still deploy them with little fear of retribution. To date, only one state has actually banned the use of non-disparagement clauses: California.

      The issue appears to have finally reached the critical mass needed to propel it onto the national legislative radar. Back in May, multiple representatives started pushing for a federal ban on these clauses, prompted in part by the high-profile KlearGear debacle, in which a couple had their credit rating ruined by the online retailer in its pursuit of a BS $3,500 fee tied to its (nonexistent at the time of the negative review) non-disparagement clause.

  • Privacy

    • EFF confirms that the DEA has deleted its phone call database

      Earlier this year, it was revealed that the NSA’s massive surveillance program had a precursor: the Drug Enforcement Administration’s USTO, which monitored almost every international call American citizens made since the 1990′s. Now, the EFF has confirmed that the program was killed in 2013, and that most of the data it collected had already been purged. The non-profit was able to dig deeper into the situation, since it filed a case against the DEA earlier this year on behalf of Human Rights Watch, and a federal judge has recently ordered the agency to answer all of HRW’s questions about the program.

    • Carly Fiorina says government needs a way to ‘work around’ encryption

      Carly Fiorina wants the government to be able to “work around” encryption to aid intelligence agencies and law enforcement in thier investigations, she told Breitbart News on Monday.

      The Republican presidential candidate and former HP CEO shifted the focus of her campaign to national security two days before the last Republican debate of 2015.

      “One of the places we need help is to deal with all of these encrypted communications,” she said. “You can’t outlaw encryption. Encryption protects American consumers from identity theft, and all the rest of it. But we have to be able to work around it where necessary to give our investigators the information they need. I’d ask the private sector’s help in that.”

    • Congress Drops All Pretense: Quietly Turns CISA Into A Full On Surveillance Bill

      Remember CISA? The “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act”? It’s getting much, much worse, with Congress and the administration looking to ram it through — in the process, dropping any pretense that it’s not a surveillance bill.

    • Teens face social media ban in EU data protection shake-up

      New data protection rules being discussed on Tuesday mean that teenagers below the age of 16 will have to get permission from parents to access social media websites and apps.

    • Change is coming: are you prepared?

      Specific to the UK, the UK Data Protection Act requires every data controller, from the largest enterprise to a sole trader, to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (unless exempted). It ensures that organisations are not collecting or using data unduly, and that the data that is collected is protected and used only in a manner that complies with the articles within the Act.

    • NSA Propagandist John Schindler Suggests Boston Marathon Terrorist Attack Not “Major Jihadist Attack”

      NSA propagandist John Schindler has used the San Bernardino attack as an opportunity to blame Edward Snowden for the spy world’s diminished effectiveness, again.

      Perhaps the most interesting detail in his column is his claim that 80% of thwarted attacks come from an NSA SIGINT hit.

    • Fact-Checking the Debate on Encryption

      As politicians and counter-terrorism officials search for lessons from the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, senior officials have called for limits on technology that sends encrypted messages.

      It’s a debate that has repeatedly recurred for more than a decade.In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration directed technology companies to store copies of their encryption keys with the government. That would have given the government a “backdoor” to allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies easy access to encrypted communications. That idea was dropped after sharp criticism from technologists and civil liberties advocates.

      More recently, intelligence officials in Europe and the United States have asserted that encryption hampers their ability to detect plots and trace perpetrators. But many have questioned whether it would be practical or wise to allow governments widespread power to read encrypted messages.

    • Twitter Users Hit By ‘State-Sponsored’ Hackers

      It’s the type of message no Twitter user wants to receive: their account has been targeted by “state-sponsored actors” attempting to swipe their email address and phone number.

      But that’s exactly the news that an array of Twitter users, many who do privacy- and security-related jobs, began to get on Friday. Among those targeting: programmers working on Tor, a browser that helps users maintain anonymity online. While Twitter hasn’t revealed how many users were targeted, one public list includes 35 accounts belonging to security researchers, privacy activists, and developers.

    • Christie’s PAC Scoops Up Voter Data Across New Hampshire

      For months, a political action committee supporting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been scooping up data about New Hampshire voters who show up at other Republican candidates’ campaign events across the Granite State.

      While voters have been willingly turning over these data — their names, email addresses, zip codes and candidate preferences — it’s unclear whether they realized the information was benefiting Christie.

      The America Leads effort springs from a simple campaign reality: When people want to see political candidates in person, they usually need to show up early. “And then while they’re waiting, they’re on their mobile phones,” said Kurt Luidhardt, who runs digital operations for the America Leads PAC. “And a lot of them are on Facebook, looking at what their friends and other folks are saying on Facebook.”

    • Europe Finally Agrees Tough New Data Protection Rules

      Late yesterday European institutions finally agreed the text of new data protection rules (GDPR), more than three years after new regulation was proposed.
      The 28 Member States of the European Union will have two years to transpose the provisions of the GDPR into their national laws, with the regulation set to come into force from 2018.

  • Civil Rights

    • Saudi Arabia announces 34-state military alliance to fight terrorism

      Saudi Arabia has announced the formation of a 34-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, according to a statement published on the state news agency, SPA.

      “The countries here mentioned have decided on the formation of a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, with a joint operations centre based in Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations,” said the statement, which was released on Tuesday.

    • All LA schools shut down over message sent from 8chan’s e-mail host, cock.li

      The “credible” threat that caused the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to close all schools on Tuesday was sent from cock.li, the “meme” e-mail host that also provides e-mail services for 8chan, the 4chan splinter site.

      School officials in New York and Los Angeles reportedly both received threats from madbomber@cock.li but only LAUSD took it seriously. All 640,000 LAUSD students were unable to attend classes on Tuesday.

      Vincent Canfield, the founder of cock.li, posted a copy of the subpoena he received from a New York detective on his own website and included audio recordings of polite but brief conversations with two officials from the New York Police Department (NYPD) Intelligence Bureau.

    • Jack Straw Responds to Alex Salmond with Blatant Lie

      It has been a source of astonishment to me that journalists are prepared to continue to publish Straw’s denials of involvement in torture, when there is indisputable documentary proof that he is lying. I offered these documents to the Guardian years ago, but was not surprised when that Blairite rag refused to publish.

      I was however surprised by this. When Straw criticised Salmond on Monday, I immediately offered these documents to the National as proof that Straw was lying. The National too refused to publish. Firstly they said that they had to consult their lawyers about whether the government would sue them. Then they said they could not work out how to condense the information into a short article (which begs the question why it had to be short). They then said they were too busy.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Add Verizon To The Growing List Of Companies Tap Dancing Around Net Neutrality With Zero Rating

      That’s a lot of sponsoring. More simply, the technology lets you pay Verizon to get a leg up over your competitors, who may not be able to afford to pay Verizon for the same privilege. It’s an idea that’s been highly criticized for the fact that it puts smaller companies (and especially independents and nonprofits) at a distinct and immediate market disadvantage. And while some implementations of zero rating may seem better than others (like T-Mobile’s Binge On, which exempts all video from usage caps), the precedent of giving an ISP this kind of authority remains troubling to those intimate with the telecom industry’s long, long history of anti-competitive behavior.

  • DRM

    • Light Bulb DRM: Philips Locks Purchasers Out Of Third-Party Bulbs With Firmware Update

      The world of connected devices is upon us and things have never been better. Criminals can access your email account by breaking into your fridge. Your child’s toys and your television record your conversations and send them to manufacturers’ servers, where criminals are (again) able to access them. Your home thermostat goes HAL 9000 and attempts to set your house on fire. And, now, your light bulbs won’t do the one thing you expect them to do: produce light.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Unanimous Negative Opinion on the Proposal of Benoît Battistelli to Eliminate Basic Rights at EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Union busting high on the agenda at the EPO right now

Union busting

Summary: A look at the opinion letter of General Consultative Committee (GCC) members about the EPO’s latest effort to muzzle staff representatives, use financial sanctions against them (impacting legal defence), and ultimately sack them

THERE is a meeting today regarding Benoît Battistelli’s EPO and there is an opportunity to scrutinise it at the Council.

Just before it starts or ends we wish to post Annex 3 of an aforementioned letter because there are some bits there which merit comment (or emphasis in larger fonts):

ANNEX 3

Opinion of the GCC members elected by staff
on document GCC/DOC 15/2015 (CA/99/15)

Periodical Review of the Service Regulations
i) Amendments to Article 2 of the Service Regulations
ii) Amendments to Article 95 of the Service Regulations

“Under the trivialising title of “periodical review”, the President proposes radical cuts in the rights of staff and their representatives.”The members of the GCC elected by staff give a unanimous negative opinion on the proposal of the President to amend Articles 2 and 95 of the Service Regulations (ServRegs) for the following reasons.

Under the trivialising title of “periodical review”, the President proposes radical cuts in the rights of staff and their representatives. The Council would be ill-advised to approve such drastic proposals, which will bring into disrepute the Organisation, the Office, as well as the respective Contracting States. All the more so in a session where it has to decide on the further suspension of one of its appointees.

i) Amendments to Article 2 of the Service Regulations

“The Council would be ill-advised to approve such drastic proposals, which will bring into disrepute the Organisation, the Office, as well as the respective Contracting States.”The amendments allegedly aim to align the terms of office for appointments in statutory bodies (normally based on calendar years) with the terms of office of staff representatives (three years from the 1st of July to the 30 th of June). It also aims to improve stability, consistency and efficiency in the bodies concerned.

However, the amendments do not succeed in aligning the terms of office, because the extension will still be “within the limits of the terms of office of the Staff Committee members”, i.e. it will have to end on 30th of June and cannot be extended until the end of a calendar year. Furthermore, staff representation is already appointing in a stable and consistent way to the various bodies, not the least due to its scarce manpower and due to the need to gain experience, since external (i.e. not elected) experts cannot be appointed since the entry into force of “Social Democracy”. Thus the declared aims are not relevant.

The proposed Article 2(6) is so sloppily drafted that it encompasses the GCC itself (Article 2(1)(b) ServRegs) and the Appraisals Committee (Article 2(1)(g) ServRegs), which was until now not a joint committee. We are however ready to appoint to the latter Appraisals Committee as soon as Article 110a(3) ServRegs will be been amended accordingly.

“The proposed Article 2(6) is so sloppily drafted…”In actuality, the new regulation aims to avoid a new “call for volunteers” to sit in the Appeals Committee pursuant to paragraph 1(d) ServRegs, which was organised by the President of the Office regardless of any statutory provision in December 2014. By so doing, he intends to perpetuate a practice and a resulting composition of the Appeals Committee, which are regarded as illegal by the Staff Representation and is being challenged by appellants.

“By so doing, he intends to perpetuate a practice and a resulting composition of the Appeals Committee, which are regarded as illegal by the Staff Representation and is being challenged by appellants.”The amendments also conflict with Article 36(2)(a) ServRegs, which provides that the Central Staff Committee (CSC) alone shall be responsible for making appointments to the bodies under the Service Regulations. The President of the Office will resort to the proposed Article 2(6) to extend the mandate of staff representatives against the will of the CSC and/or to prevent the CSC from replacing staff representatives. It is also unclear whether the provision will prevent an appointee from stepping down from a statutory body on his own volition.

ii) Amendments to Article 95 of the Service Regulations

Pursuant to Article 95 ServRegs, the appointing authority may decide to suspend an employee if an alleged misconduct is so serious that it becomes incompatible with his/her continuing in service, for instance if continuation of service would be against the interests of the Office, would endanger the investigation process or even other employees. Suspension is not a disciplinary sanction: it is essentially an interim measure until the appointing authority decides on a disciplinary sanction following the completion of a statutory disciplinary procedure. Until then, the suspended employee is presumed to be innocent.

“A salary reduction is warranted if the foreseeable disciplinary measure would also have a financial effect, i.e. only in case of relegation in step, downgrading or dismissal.”The appointing authority may also decide to withhold part of the remuneration, up to half of the employee’s basic salary. A salary reduction is warranted if the foreseeable disciplinary measure would also have a financial effect, i.e. only in case of relegation in step, downgrading or dismissal.

Presently, Article 95(3) ServRegs is the only provision protecting employees against excessively slow investigation and disciplinary procedures: if no final decision is given within four months from the date of suspension, the employee shall again receive his/her full remuneration and the employee is entitled to reimbursement of the amount of remuneration withheld.

“It de facto negates the interim character of a suspension and turns a salary reduction into an illegal financial sanction and possibly a financial hardship for the employee.”Similar protecting provisions are included in the Service Regulations of other International Organisations, either in the form of a fixed duration for a suspension (e.g. non-extendable six months in the EU regulations), or in a more flexible form, with an advance written statement setting out and justifying its duration (UN and WHO). They aim to balance the interests of both parties in having speedy and expeditious investigative and disciplinary procedures.

After the abolition of Article 95(3) ServRegs the EPO would be the only international organisation that would have no provision in place for assessing the duration of a suspension, with or without salary reduction. Suspension (on a reduced salary) may go on for an unlimited, or disproportionately long, period of time, without the necessity for the appointing authority to justify it The amended Article will also have immediate effect on all suspensions ongoing on the date of its entry into force.

This is unacceptable because:

  • It tips the balance completely on the side of the appointing authority by removing any incentive for the President or the AC to investigate speedily the alleged misconduct and decide in a reasonable time.
  • It de facto negates the interim character of a suspension and turns a salary reduction into an illegal financial sanction and possibly a financial hardship for the employee. Such a disproportionate decision may in principle be challenged with the ILO-AT but the review is limited due to the discretionary nature of the decision and a judgment will be long to come.
  • The additional punishment resulting from a disproportionately long suspension is not foreseen in the exhaustive list of disciplinary measures pursuant to Article 93(2) ServRegs.
  • A disproportionately long suspension is against ILO-AT case law (e.g. Judgment No. 2698), which require a speedy procedure, and against Article 6(1) of the European Convention of Human Rights, which states that everyone is entitled to a fair trial within a reasonable time. It is a violation of the EPC, for much the same reason.
  • Applying it to ongoing suspensions makes it retroactive, thus contrary to recognised principles of law (ex post facto laws).
  • Extending the suspension until the date of re-appointment in the case of a member of the Boards of Appeal (most notably the member suspended by the Administrative Council in December 2014) will de facto amount to a removal from office and circumvent Article 23(1) EPC.
  • It may lead to court cases against Contracting States before the European Court of Human Rights.

According to the Office, the (investigative and disciplinary) procedure is presently normally completed with the time frame of four months. A more flexible time frame is thus desirable only in exceptional case. As a result, we recommend to maintain the time frame for suspension to a fixed period (e.g. the present four months) and make an extension possible only in exceptional cases, with the extension set and duly justified by the appointing authority in advance, as is the case in many international organisations (UN, WHO).

The GCC members elected by staff

Notice how much of the above is basically just devised in a timely fashion by Battistelli in order to crush the unions. Even one who is as blind as a mole can see it.

“Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.”

Samuel Adams

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