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Better Late Than Never: Bavarian Parliament Intervenes in EPO Affairs Amidst Abuses

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bavarian Parliament motion

Summary: A Bavarian Parliament motion with high urgency zooms in on abuses at the European Patent Office in Munich

Earlier this month, as regular readers surely know, Bavarian television covered the EPO abuses and only hours ago even British media caught up with it and covered it. To quote The Register‘s report:

Although the resolution falls short of what some had hoped for, it does mean that unless Battistelli can show significant improvements in his relationship with staff, he will face more serious consequences at the next administrative council meeting in a few months.

The trust gap between management and staff has been growing in recent weeks, with the staff voting to strike in protest at the management’s tactics. No fewer than 2,000 EPO staff protested outside the front of the EPO building in Munich as the council was deliberating.

And in a damning indictment, a staff survey this week – in which 40 per cent of EPO staff responded – gave Battistelli a zero per cent confidence rating.


In one heart-wrenching TV report, the brother of a former patent examiner explained that the pressure put on him was a major factor in his subsequent suicide. The report also claimed that EPO employees are scared to talk publicly about their mistreatment in case they are fired.

The investigative Bavarian report made waves which got the EPO's management rather nervous and eager to take action. Well, no wonder…

Emergency motion in the Bavarian parliament was filed later in the same month. To quote a reader of ours: “There was also an emergency motion in the Bavarian parliament tabled by the Freie Wähler party. (“Free electors”), who have 19 members out of 180 in the legislature. The party has centrist positions.

“The motion calls for the government of Bavaria to take measures for enforcing proper employment standards in the EPO.”

This means that it’s likely reactionary — a reaction to the Bavarian TV report.

Here is the whole thing as text (English translation would be greatly appreciated and helpful to all):


der Abgeordneten Hubert Aiwanger, Florian Streibl, Gabi Schmidt, Prof. (Univ. Lima) Dr. Peter Bauer, Dr. Hans Jürgen Fahn, Günther Felbinger, Thorsten Glauber, Eva Gottstein, Joachim Hanisch, Johann Häusler, Dr. Leopold Herz, Nikolaus Kraus, Peter Meyer, Alexander Muthmann, Prof. Dr. Michael Piazolo, Bernhard Pohl, Dr. Karl Vetter, Jutta Widmann, Benno Zierer und Fraktion (FREIE WÄHLER)

Bayerisches Niveau beim Arbeitnehmerschutz in ganz Bayern sichern: Europäisches Patentamt in die Pflicht nehmen!

Der Landtag wolle beschließen:

I. Der Landtag stellt fest,

1.dass in der Personalpolitik des in München ansässigen Europäischen Patentamts (EPA) offensichtlich erhebliche Defizite bestehen, was die arbeitsrechtliche Stellung der Bediensteten anbetrifft,

2. dass die gegenwärtige Situation der Bediensteten des EPA nicht hinnehmbar ist und Arbeitnehmerschutz auf bayerischem Niveau auf dem gesamten Territorium des Freistaats zur Anwendung kommen muss,

II. Die Staatsregierung wird aufgefordert, sich auf Bundes- und Europaebene einzusetzen, dass auf eine Erhöhung der Arbeitnehmerstandards auf unser bewährtes deutsches und bayerisches Niveau innerhalb des EPA hingearbeitet wird und insbesondere die von dessen Präsidenten erlassenen Richtlinien im Hinblick auf die umstrittenen internen Ermittlungsverfahren schnellstmöglich überarbeitet werden.


Annähernd 2.000 Demonstranten versammelten sich schon während der regelmäßigen Demonstrationen vor dem Europäischen Patentamt (EPA), um gegen die schlechten Arbeitsbedingungen zu demonstrieren. Kostensenkungen und die Bewältigung des jährlichen Anmeldewachstums von Patenten i.H.v. durchschnittlich vier Prozent bei gleichbleibendem Personalbestand führen offensichtlich zu nicht länger hinnehmbaren Gängelungen wie etwa Kontrollen im Krankheitsfall der Mitarbeiter. Der ehemalige Bundesverfassungsrichter Siegfried Broß attestiert „ganz erhebliche Defizite“ in der arbeitsrechtlichen Stellung der Bediensteten. Ein Einklang mit deutschen und bayerischen Arbeitsstandards ist nicht erkennbar. Das EPA ist zwar eine außerstaatliche Institution, so dass deutsches Arbeitsrecht nicht zur Anwendung kommt. Bayern darf als Sitzland aber dennoch nicht tatenlos zusehen, wenn es möglicherweise bereits um menschenrechtswidrige Behandlungen auf dem Territorium des Freistaats geht. Insbesondere ist die Durchführung der umstrittenen Ermittlungsverfahren, die vom Präsidenten des EPA in Richtlinien erlassen wurden, nicht hinnehmbar. Demnach zwingt eine interne Ermittlungseinheit des EPA Mitarbeiter zu Aussagen ohne ein Verweigerungsrecht. Die bisherigen Bemühungen des Bundesjustizministerium, und des Verwaltungsrats des EPA, auf Verbesserungen hinzuwirken, sollen durch aktives Vorgehen der Staatsregierung auf Bundes-und Europaebene flankiert werden.

There will be lots of additional material coming out tomorrow.

Insider’s Account (Not Face-Saving EPO Statement) Reveals That Even Battistelli’s Allies Turn Against Him, EPO ‘Results’ Not Believed by Some, and Munich Protests Break Records

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The ‘official’ narrative does not tell the full story, as usual…

Damage control

Summary: Once the thick blanket of PR and hogwash is removed, more optimism for EPO workers is found and more trouble for Battistelli et al becomes apparent

Media Coverage

A LOT is happening at the EPO this week and earlier this night/evening we wrote a quick response to the outcome of the Administrative Council's (AC) meeting. We have not lost track of mainstream media coverage, some of which got listed as follows at SUEPO’s site later in the afternoon. The following list isn’t complete and we hope that SUEPO will produce translations in the coming days (some of the articles below have already been translated for publications at Techrights):

It is worth noting that much of the above comes from Dutch and German media, as should probably be expected given the location of the offices. We should add to the above “Battistelli bleibt trotz Protesten im Amt”, which was published earlier today. If anyone can produce a translation or interpretation of new information, that would be appreciated.

“We already know, based on the reaction to a German TV program, that EPO management is very aggressive towards the media.”“Legal notice” has just been added by SUEPO, mirroring what its apparently new site (withdrawn since) contained. The text is exactly the same (see screenshot from February) as it says: “External links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by SUEPO of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual publishing the linked material. SUEPO bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.”

For those who don’t understand the purpose of this text, consider legal threats against SUEPO (half a year ago). We already know, based on the reaction to a German TV program [1, 2], that EPO management is very aggressive towards the media. It cannot tolerate opposing views and it’s stuck in a bubble of self righteousness.

EPO Saving Face

As we noted earlier today, the hogwash posted in the EPO’s Web site should be taken with a large barrel of salt because the EPO shamelessly lies to journalists nowadays. Here is the full statement with our comments in-line:

Munich, 17 March 2016

147th meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (Munich, 16 March 2016)

The Administrative Council held its 147th meeting in Munich on 16 March 2016, with Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent Office, in the chair.

After the Chairman’s activities report, covering in particular the last two meetings of the Board of the Administrative Council, the Council noted the activities report given by the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît Battistelli. The Council was pleased with the excellent results achieved by the Office in terms of production and productivity but expressed concern about the social climate and discussed quality.

Who measured the quality? Did they try independent quality assessment? By some indications, the EPO tortured statistics or even invented the results. As we are going to show later on, some people at the AC were rightly skeptical.

Following an in-depth discussion, the Council approved, in agreement with the President, a resolution on the social situation (see the document below).

The Council re-elected its chairman for a term of three years starting on 1 July 2016. It made two appointments to the Supervisory Board of the Academy and a number of appointments to the Boards of Appeal.

With Kongstad staying for another 3 years it may be hard to discover (or have divulged) Battistelli’s super-secret contract.

The Council noted information provided by the Office on the envisaged structural reform of the EPO Boards of Appeal.

The Council heard reports on the Select Committee 19th meeting (see separate report on this website) as well as on the unitary patent, the latter delivered by the Netherlands delegation representing the country holding the EU presidency in the first half of 2016.

Council Secretariat

The unitary patent is a project that can be hard to implement because of various sources of opposition. But the EPO, as usual, pretends it has no opposition whatsoever, just some “vocal minority” or something along those lines.

Now comes the next (non-introductory) part:


The AC,

in its capacity as supervisory organ of the EPOrg -

having repeatedly expressed its deep concerns about the social unrest within the EPOffice;

having repeatedly urged the EPOffice President and the trade unions to reach a consensus on an MOU which would establish a framework for negotiation between social partners;

noting that disciplinary sanctions and proceedings against staff or trade union representatives have, among other reasons, made it more difficult to reach such a consensus;

noting that these disciplinary sanctions and proceedings are widely being questioned in the public opinion;

recalling the importance and the urgency of the structural reform of the BOA;

recognizing the important institutional role of the AC and its dependence on a well-resourced and independent secretariat;

Calls on both parties to the social dialogue to recognize their responsibilities and to work diligently and in good faith to find a way forward, and:

Requests the EPOffice President -

to ensure that disciplinary sanctions and proceedings are not only fair but also seen to be so, and to consider the possibility of involvement of an external reviewer or of arbitration or mediation

pending the outcome of this process and before further decisions in disciplinary cases are taken, to inform the AC in appropriate detail and make proposals that enhance confidence in fair and reasonable proceedings and sanctions;

to submit to the AC a draft revision of the Staff Regulations which incorporates investigation guidelines (including the investigation unit) and disciplinary procedures which have been reviewed and amended;

to achieve, within the framework of the tripartite negotiations, an MOU simultaneously with both trade unions, which would have no pre-conditions or exclude any topics from future discussions;

to submit proposals to the AC at its June 2016 meeting, after discussion in B28, for immediate implementation of the structural reform of the BOA, on the lines of the 5 points agreed by the AC at its December 2015 meeting and of the legal advice given by Prof. Sarooshi, and taking into account comments from the Presidium of the BOA;

to submit proposals to the AC at its June 2016 meeting, after discussion in B28, for reinforcement of the AC secretariat and a clarification of its position in terms of governance.

Requests the staff representation and the Trade Unions -

to acknowledge the importance of firm and fair disciplinary procedures; and to respond constructively to the initiatives set out above, in particular to work rapidly to an agreement on Union recognition without preconditions.

This is the part which was probably most controversial because it puts a certain burden on SUEPO, it is too gently worded an opposition to Battistelli, and it does nothing whatsoever to actually give the staff representatives their jobs back (pending an external investigation). The AC is trying to save face and AC folks basically try to protect their own job.

Staff’s Response (or Reality Check)

3 sources independently sent us details regarding the latest developments. We don’t really need 3 copies, but it at least helps verify the authenticity of some given material. Here is the message in full:

This beginning of the week was by any standard short but intense.

So much in front: no “big bang”, nor “door slammed”, but clear impulses have been given that will decisive be decisive for the future of the EPO.

1- Biggest Demo so far: the voice of the majority of staff is clear and loud

As reported in the media already, the demo yesterday was the best attended event so far, with over 2000 participants (according to the police). It means that again (I lost count how many), over half of the Staff employed in the EPO (including managers and staff that are requested/sick/on leave…) was physically standing in front of EPO building expressing their discontent with the situation. In the light of such clear fact, it is a puzzle how our leaders can still claim that a “large majority stands behind” their reforms… “Tunnel vision” perhaps? (see pt 3 below)

Contrarily to somewhat depressive past events, it was reported that the mood yesterday was spirited and intense, suggesting that the last events have given Staff a more optimistic outlook on the future of the EPO. In any case Staff expectations are high.

2- Staff survey preliminary results: “Black zero!” and all indicators “in the red”

The 2016 Staff Survey is now been completed. The preliminary results are accessible and brought to the attention of the Delegations of the Administrative Council yesterday. The remarkable response rate of 76% with a global response rate of 39% of all EPO staff ensures that the results are statistically significant.

The results are coherent with the past 2 surveys and correspond unfortunately to the “subjective feel” of staff (see previous point). Even if the situation is well-known to those in the machine-room (and above now), to see such a consistent worsening of the situation in quantified manner is frightening:

– the “job strain” is sliding further down in the “red zone” while “job recognition”, confidence” and “quality” are consistently falling,

– worse: with a quantum leap from 2%, in 2016 11% of staff are experiencing a “psychological distress” (anxiety, depression, cognitive troubles, etc…)

– and while his predecessor still could claim a meager 7% support, today, Mr. Battistelli can claim ZERO % confidence! – the same applies to the MAC…

In good French, “c’est un zero pointé”!

It is hard to apprehend how one can live with the knowledge that at best a handful of individuals (office-wide) have declared their confidence in your leadership. And again, it is even a larger mystery how, in the light of all these facts, one can still pretend that “large majority stands behind” his reforms… “Tunnel vision”
perhaps? (see pt 3 below)

3- “Kurz und schmerzlos”: AC gives also a “Zéro pointé” for past performance and sets new “challenging targets”

The 147th session of the AC was closed after only one short but very intense day. The mandate of the AC Chair, Jesper Kongstad, was renewed for three years. According to the President’s report , it was all congratulations for the impressive results of the EPO and support for his policies…

3.1 the president’s perception is fairly different from that of the other participants.

To paraphrase the NL delegate: “The Office has come out of its “tunnel vision”, also as regards the perception of quality. The Office must work on his bad reputation” (sic!!)

First, the delegations in the AC have been very critical about the Office and in the first place about the social conflict.

But unexpectedly the Delegates also openly questioned the “impressive results for production and quality”, advanced by the EPO.

Here some attempts to paraphrase some delegation:

– NO: “The increase in productivity is impressive, but it’s actually quite unbelievable how this has come. I am confused about the extremely positive surge. Quality is very important.”

– DE: “The social climate must be addressed.”[…]. This part in your [very long] report a bit short […] two to three pages. To put it sarcastically, one could say that there is little progress to report upon. “

– NL: “the recognition of a trade union, which represents only 1% of Staff is somewhat strange… to say the least”

And that was in plenum; The confidential points which took the whole afternoon is reported to have been even more uncomfortable.

3.2 Regarding the disciplinary cases it seems to “requests” (!) the EPOffice President

According to informal information gathered here and there, the AC has taken an unanimous decision (with several abstentions) on a Resolution which was only slightly amended version from the confidential document CA/C 5/16. The latter orients itself closely the B28 document and was signed by 19 delegations (!). We can only presume that a public version of that document will circulate in short. But in the mean-time here is what could be gathered from the somewhat

– to ensure that disciplinary sanctions and proceedings are not only fair but also “to be seen” (!) to be so, and to consider the “possibility of the involvement” of an external party (reviewer/arbitrator/mediator)… It seems also that in the mean-time running proceedings (in DH) are asked to be suspended

– submit to AC revised SR including investigation guidelines

– achieve a MoU with “both” (!) unions

– submit a proposal for structural reforms of both DG3 and Council Secretariat for June 2016, “after discussion in B28” (!)

– also as an apparent attempt to look balanced, it also requests the “SR to acknowledge the importance of firm and fair disciplinary procedures”, and be “constructive” regarding the initiatives set out above.

for the call for a mediator to solve the general issue, it seems that the President is asked to consider the possibility” of using the service of a competent external party (such as arbitrators/mediators/conciliators).

In other words:

On a first reading this may look disappointing because of the lack of immediate effect regarding our fired and disciplined colleagues. But it could also hint at the following: it looks like the president has just had his “target setting talks” with his boss who has expressed clear measurable SMART goals.

To paraphrase the Swiss delegate, Mr. Grossenbacher: “Am Anfang war er [Präsident] gut. Jetzt ist er ins Stocken gekommen… Ein deutlich vom Verwaltungsrat gesetztes Ziel in dieser Hinsicht wird ganz klar nicht erreicht“. In the new EPO career language that may be a box 7 or 8?

In conclusion the AC and the staff both expect concrete and measurable results before the end of spring. At the coming June session it is probable that the delegates will take stock and…draw consequences.

This is not over yet!: until that happens, Staff will be forced to continue and express their claims clearly.

A lot of people must have seen the above by now. When 3 people send you the same thing within one hour (minutes apart) you know that the EPO has a big problem in its hands; insiders want change very badly and they are not afraid to communicate in a way that denigrates the management or criticises in a derogatory manner some of the top bosses. We are going to get another report tomorrow. It’s about the final outcome. A source told us explicitly that “there should be some details coming out tomorrow.”

“When 3 people send you the same thing within one hour (minutes apart) you know that the EPO has a big problem in its hands; insiders want change very badly and they are not afraid to communicate in a way that denigrates the management or criticises in a derogatory manner some of the top bosses.”As noted earlier today, the strikes are likely to go on since “obviously we are not pleased,” to quote one reader, as “the general expectation is that Battistelli should go [...] the strikes are going to continue.”

This will further demonstrate a state of crisis, as recognised by the Board. To quote one reader, “we´ve tried to see the positive side of it, i.e., maybe in the next meeting he will be removed, since one cannot expect him to agree to anything SUEPO proposes [...] at least now he has to carry out some steps imposed to him [...] if he leaves all the pieces of the domino will fall [...] all the French guys plus the incompetent vice-presidents [...] one can imagine that a lot of people expecting promotions to PD or VP are pissed of at Battistelli´s nepotism.”

While this may be true, Battistelli became an icon or a symbol of EPO abuses. If he stays in, it will only turn out to be a profound image and publicity disaster. The sooner the EPO gets rid of him (and his bunch), the less further damage the EPO as a whole will suffer. He cannot compromise with SUEPO, as he can barely accept/tolerate delegates or politicians who disagree with him. It increasingly looks like an issue of character.

“…one can imagine that a lot of people expecting promotions to PD or VP are pissed of at Battistelli´s nepotism.”
We previously took note of Grossenbacher’s proximity to Battistelli, but now it sure looks like even Grossenbacher hasn’t positive things to say about Battistelli. When even Grossenbacher is upset at or disappointed with Battistelli it means that there are barely any allies left. We asked around for more information about the quote above (“Am Anfang war er [Präsident] gut. Jetzt ist er ins Stocken gekommen… Ein deutlich vom Verwaltungsrat gesetztes Ziel in dieser Hinsicht wird ganz klar nicht erreicht“).

“My translation,” told us one reader is: “At the beginning he [the President] was good. Now he is faltering. An objective which was clearly set by the Administrative Council was very clearly not reached.”

“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans are suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they`re okay, then it`s you.”

Rita Mae Brown

Patents Roundup: EMC, Pure Storage, OpenTV, Apple, Segway, and Alice (Software Patents)

Posted in America, Apple, Patents at 3:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Segway claims ownership of hovering now


Summary: An outline of recent developments in the United States, where companies that are very large (not just patent trolls) utilise software patents to gain an edge over the competition… by simply suing the competition

EMC Patent Aggression

Almost every company that accumulates and amasses patents eventually becomes a software patents bully. Weaponisation of patents is like an insurance plan, a safety net or a Plan B for times when the company is struggling. Look at Apple, Microsoft and more recently Facebook and IBM. EMC isn’t doing particularly well and as yesterday’s and today’s news helps remind us [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], the company now uses patents to sue rivals. As The Register summarised it, we speak about:

Patent 6,915,475 – EMC dropped it from the suit.
Patent 8,375,187 – District court summarily ruled against EMC.
Patent 7,434,015 – District court found Pure did infringe aspects of it; jury trial said patent was valid, and awarded damages.
Patent 6,904,556 – Jury trial ruled Pure did not infringe.
Patent 7,373,464 – Jury trial ruled Pure did not infringe.

EMC will increasingly struggle against Free software and other disruptive strands of technology, so it will resort to more patent aggression for revenue. Be prepared. EMC owns VMware, which is run by people from Microsoft now.

OpenTV Shows Apple the Wrath of Software Patents… in Germany

“EMC will increasingly struggle against Free software and other disruptive strands of technology, so it will resort to more patent aggression for revenue.”Apple should join the fight against software patents rather than use them against Linux for lawyers' benefit. But Apple is too stubborn and too arrogant to admit its error. Based on this new report from Reuters, Apple has just lost another patent case, this time in Germany (which is notorious for being lenient on software patenting compared to the rest of Europe).

We stumbled upon over a dozen articles about this in the afternoon, not because it’s important but because it’s Apple. Corporate media works like that. 18 articles about this outcome (within about 8 hours) showed up [1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]. This can hopefully be discussed in the context of patent scope, just like the FBI case — a case that demonstrates Apple and media fascination. If it wasn’t involving Apple in any way, there would probably be not a single article about it. For-profit media writes about what can bring income/hits (profit as priority), hence it loves writing about Apple. Nevertheless, none of the articles we found questioned the existence of these patents, which are on streaming.

“Hoverboards” Killed by Patents

“Many people always wanted “hoverboards”; well, thanks to patents they may have to wait forever, or simply find them priced way out of reach.”Apple loves using the ITC to pressure companies it sues to just give up and pay up. This new article helps remind us of the role of embargoes in the market. Pieter Hintjens (former FFII President) put it sarcastically by saying: “Once again patents succeed in killing competition. Without patents, no-one will invent anything, right?”

Here is one article about it, from an opponent of patent trolls:

A patent complaint that Segway filed with the US International Trade Commission in 2014 has resulted in a wide-ranging order banning “personal transporters” that infringe some of its patents.

On Wednesday, the ITC issued a general exclusion order banning several types of the self-balancing devices, often called “hoverboards.” The case could affect the whole market, since a general exclusion order is the commission’s most powerful remedy and can affect even parties not involved in the investigation.

There’s also a limited exclusion order issued directly against the products of several Chinese companies sued by Segway. Only one of those companies responded and fought the case at all, while the others were in default.

Proponents of patent trolls (IAM is even funded by them) put it differently and put lipstick on the embargo pig:

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) this week wrapped up a Section 337 patent infringement investigation initiated by Segway, and its decision is set to have a big impact on a market for self-balancing personal transports that has come back to life over the past year. In a twist, Ninebot – one of the Chinese companies named as a respondent in the original complaint – is now set to become the key beneficiary of the ruling in Segway’s favour.

Many people always wanted “hoverboards”; well, thanks to patents they may have to wait forever, or simply find them priced way out of reach.

Section 101 (Software Patents Too Abstract)

“Is the EPO paying attention at all when a European company, Mercedes, becomes the victim of software patents?”Software patents are under severe pressure in the US right now. Some older articles from Bilski Blog speak of Section 101 rejections and give new examples of patents which are found invalid under that section. Here is the Vehicle Intelligence case which we recently wrote about quite a lot. They have taken on the giant, Mercedes-Benz, in an effort to extract money. “Vehicle Intelligence,” Bilski Blog writes, “involved U.S. Patent 7,394,392, written by a patent attorney, on the use of expert systems to determine whether an equipment operator–e.g., the driver of a car–was impaired from intoxication, fatigue, physical disability, or other factors. [...] Under the Alice test, if the abstract idea is really this general, then using an expert system is “significantly more.” An expert system is not a native component or functionality of a generic computer system, but a highly specific type of artificial intelligence–different in both design, architecture and application from other types of AI systems. And if the game of patent eligibility is played on the borderless field of analogy, it is easy to argue this claim is like the claim in Diamond v. Diehr, in that it involves continuously measuring a physical variable (screening the equipment operator here, measuring the temperature in the rubber mold in Diehr) and then performing a control action in response to the result (controlling operation of the equipment here, opening the rubber mold in Diehr). If Diehr was eligible so too is this.”

Notice the role of the Alice test. Is the EPO paying attention at all when a European company, Mercedes, becomes the victim of software patents?

Based on this latest outline from Dennis Crouch, Alice isn’t going to be challenged (at least in SCOTUS) any time soon.

On Bristows LLP and Other Self-Serving Non-Practising Voices for Software Patents and UPC Injustice

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 3:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

People who never wrote a single line of code are among the biggest proponents of software patents


Summary: Bristows LLP, also known as Bristows UPC, keeps pushing for UPC (and by extension software patents) in the United Kingdom

THE ONE thing we noticed while covering the EPO for almost a decade is that the same people who want (and sometimes lobby for) UPC or its predecessors (by other names) were also in favour of software patents in Europe. It’s not entirely a coincidence because the UPC would lead/pave the way for an open door to software patents (more so than right now, where loopholes are still required).

“The UPC isn’t even necessarily happening, but those who lobby for it want everyone to believe that it will definitely happen and the only remaining question is, will Britain be part of it?”It hasn’t been so hard to become familiar with firms that consistently lobbied for the above (not indirectly through hired lobbyists). Bristows LLP was always one of them (Bristows UPC after it was sort of renamed for marketing/strategic purposes) and here is a loaded, silly question from Bristows. To quote: “Question from the audience at Bristows seminar: If Brexit happens, will there be British judges in the #UPC? A: No.”

If Brexit happens, will Bristows lose money? A: Yes. Because it put its eggs in this one basket.

The UPC isn’t even necessarily happening, but those who lobby for it want everyone to believe that it will definitely happen and the only remaining questioning is, will Britain be part of it? These are self-fulfilling prophecies in action and they serve to highlight the dishonesty which exists among some patent lawyers. Other than Britain there is also Spain which stands in the UPC's way.

“The bottom line is, there is a conflict going on which is reducible to class war (the rich against the poor) and it involved patent scope.”The Bristows folks presently act, e.g. in their blogs, as though Bristows is now a ‘think tank’ (part of the conspiracy of patent lawyers who try hard to make the UK join the UPC). This is a scandalous sham given that the British public is never at all consulted; it’s a sort of collusion, a TTIP/TPP-like corporate heist (with ISDS), and an attack on British democracy (for profits of those who are already super-rich, obviously).

Speaking of lobbyists for software patents, recall the recent heated debate about software patents in India and watch how corporate media in India (Times of India in this case) lets an anonymous sort of lobbyist of software patents speak out unchallenged (no balancing voice/s there). “Startup India may be non-starter if patent office has its way,” says the headline. In case it’s not obvious, startups are the main sufferers from software patent and there’s nothing for them to gain, unlike Microsoft or IBM. These are the sorts of firms that lobby for software patents in India and they are not even Indian. We can only attempt to guess who’s behind this misleading article.

The bottom line is, there is a conflict going on which is reducible to class war (the rich against the poor) and it involved patent scope.

Institutional Failure and Dirty Tricks: Benoît Battistelli Seemingly Gets Support Like Microsoft Gets Support

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 1:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When all votes count as equal…

Arūnas Želvys, Director of the State Patent Bureau of the Republic of Lithuania, and EPO President Benoît Battistelli sign the agreement
Published only hours ago. Where next? Croatia?

Also see: Benoît Battistelli: “An Earthquake Would be Needed for the Administrative Council... Not to Support My Major Proposals.”

Summary: Today’s reminder that Battistelli is not at all monitored or ‘bossed’ by the Administrative Council, which he not only comes from but also offers incentives to (days after waving EPO money at Dutch politicians in an effort to influence them to place the EPO above the law)

BACK in the days — nearly a whole decade ago — we used to thoroughly cover Microsoft’s use of corruption to make Microsoft Office an ‘open’ ‘standard’. Given enough money, power, connections etc. one can conceivably achieve anything, especially in poor countries where even dental treatment is a massive treat. Remember that Microsoft offered financial incentives to entire countries (or politicians’ own cities) in an effort to buy their votes. Conversely, sometimes blackmail gets used (“do what we say, or else…”). We covered examples of that. Well, Microsoft still relies on bribes (to officials) to get business 'done'.

The EPO, which is especially close to Microsoft, is hardly any better. Rather than label itself a private or ‘public’ (in the shareholders sense) corporation it is an international body that acts like a corporation and enjoys exemptions from the law. It even calls itself “European”, even though the only European thing about it is the staff. The EPO is connected to some very powerful people from all over the world and therefore it guards powerful people, obviously at the expense of ordinary Europeans. Battistelli is a good example or a symptom of this, for reasons we covered here many times before. Battistelli often looks more and more (at least appears to outsiders) like he’s carrying out the orders or instructions of somebody else (or many somebodies). The way I personally look at it (yes, personally), Battistelli is the first domino piece to fall and serve as a deterrence against those who follow his footsteps and implement so-called ‘reforms’ that abolish human rights, commonwealth, etc. Next on the list might be Kongstad, e.g. for protecting Battistelli for many years and then hiding his contract. EPO workers need Kongstad to get Battistelli out, but they won’t see it any time soon because Battistelli is Kongstad’s predecessor and the latter now acts more like his guardian (we first pointed this out in 2014). In order to implement popular change (not corporate/billionaires’ change) at the EPO, the Administrative Council too needs to be tackled. They’re mostly lawyers from national patent offices, they’re not scientists or examiners. They too need to be shaken a bit. Then, staff may move on to other culprits (whose power if not reputation as well will be simpler to destroy based purely on their unethical actions, as they’re low-profile people compared to Battistelli and Kongstad).

“Well, Microsoft still relies on bribes (to officials) to get business ‘done’.”The EPO scandals will surely outlive Battistelli and Kongstad, so EPO staff should be prepared for a longer struggle before sanity is restored, the EPC is obeyed, human rights are respected and so on.

As one reader put it the other day: “It can be a course of events, but I am afraid the domino effect might not be as automatic as we wish. For sure active pressure, e.g. by media and union action, will be needed and still well organized. Laws in and about EPO are murky, so that no matter how unreasonable and indefensible some managers’ behaviour might be, they might still get away with it.

“Another key factor would be to get ever more examiners getting out of the dark when showing support and denouncing abuses. This could set the beginning of an end, so to say.

“Another key factor would be to get ever more examiners getting out of the dark when showing support and denouncing abuses.”
“If Battistelli’s and/or Kongstad’s ditching takes longer than this year, we might lose the momentum, with examiners retreating their heads in their necks and Union back in its self-referential playing of pretending to be Machiavellis they never were, and as if they have a hundred years to play about.”

Earlier today some people’s hearts sank because they came to realise that the Administrative Council is not on their side. Doctored results and fake union recognition at EPO apparently fooled those who wished to be fooled. This didn’t surprise us at all, but it’s only an expected step, probably to be followed by strikes.

In the mean time, as there is a personal aspect to my activism/reporting in this area (I am a software engineer worried about software patents), I decided to also take personal action and therefore contacted some delegates. I sent them the following message a few days ago:

I am writing to you as a concerned European and as a software professional based in the UK. As you may know, the management of the EPO is under heavy attack for its mistreatment of staff, which even led to an imminent Office-wide strike and resulted in staff suicides (see TV coverage from earlier this month in Germany). However, I am a lot more concerned at the moment about a parade of misinformation, intended to distract from this and also mislead delegates of your country, who shall soon be attending the Administrative Council meeting in Munich. I want to keep this short, so let me highlight two kinds of lies you may be told by the EPO. The first lie concerns so-called union recognition. There is no such thing at the EPO, except a quasi-staged signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with a tiny union that hardly represents even 1% of staff at the EPO (the real union represents about half of all staff). This is intended to lull delegates into the illusion that relationships between staff and management have improved. It’s far from the truth. In fact, over 91% of staff which voted on a strike last week voted in favour. EPO workers are unwilling to tolerate the abusive management, in spite of their salary and despite the risk of voting in favour of a strike (the ballot provides no real privacy). The second point I must stress is that when the EPO claims improved performance, efficiency, results etc. these claims must be regarded as dubious/questionable at best. Numerous people, professionals in the field in fact, have already demonstrated that the EPO uses misleading statistics in order to give an illusion of success. This, in their minds, is intended to distract from (or justify) the aforementioned abuses and consequent unrest.

Over the past few months I’ve covered examples where the EPO lies not only to staff but also to journalists. In a desperate effort to salvage their reputation they are now creating an alternate reality. Sceptical analysis of EPO claims thus becomes a survival skill.

I want to see the EPO repaired. I wish to see it serving the European people and European interests. Right now the EPO is merely being used by very few people to advance their personal interests and this is unsustainable. It will, over the long run, damage Europe’s science, technology, and reputation.

My sincere regards,

Roy Schestowitz

Judging based on the message from John Alty today (UK-IPO), whom I contacted a few days ago, there’s no pleasant surprise, just the expected complicity. “Just back from @EPOorg Council meeting,” he wrote. “Strong statement of Council’s expectations to encourage improved social engagement.”

“Amid abuses that are widely recognised both at the EPO and outside of it the ‘opposition’ sounds like not even a slap on the wrist (hardly even that).”It’s hardly a strong statement. Amid abuses that are widely recognised both at the EPO and outside of it the ‘opposition’ sounds like not even a slap on the wrist (hardly even that).

Earlier today one anonymous person sent us a stream of messages about the outcome of the Administrative Council meeting. Among them:

  • “Unfortunately hard measures against Battistelli are off the table! The AC welcomed the impressive results for production & quality.”
  • “In order to address the social issues, the AC and Battistelli jointly agreed to launch a programme of actions to be implemented in the coming months.”
  • “The revision of the investigation guidelines, which was launched by the office in January, and the revision of disciplinary proc.”
  • “of course they do however the supreme question here remains unanswered, that is… who is the axis of evil? BB of the AC?”
  • “That was the biggest mistake ever and I warned in the past. Clearly a conflict in interests.”
  • “well it isn’t over yet, we need to wait till the end of the day to get a real picture of the situation, let’s keep our fingers”
  • “that is in preparation and the next logical step. Sad to say that a few thousands of staff members will be downhearted today!”

“It was rather unlikely all along that Administrative Council folks would be the ones to take serious action against Battistelli; not therein lies redemption anyway (the Administrative Council is simply too self-absorbed to care about EPO staff).”My response to the above was, EPO workers should go on strike and denounce not only EPO management but also the Administrative Council for being supine, complicit, and disinterested. It was rather unlikely all along that Administrative Council folks would be the ones to take serious action against Battistelli; not therein lies redemption anyway (the Administrative Council is simply too self-absorbed to care about EPO staff). This one comment which we received earlier today put in context this EPO announcement (warning: epo.org link) that we had noticed hours earlier. There is also this post-meeting hogwash (warning: epo.org link) for those who believe what the EPO says to the media. The latest EPO propaganda now tries to paint the Office as poor-friendly/SME-friendly (a total lie amid PACE propaganda in Twitter today, as well as more from Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP) and also serves to highlight what may have happened behind the scenes. In the words of the commenter:

I see Mr. Battistelli has signed an agreement to subsidize searches carried out for Lithuanians as for “Cyprus and other member states”. Only a cynic would suggest that this is a mechanism to encourage these states to support him in the AC.

EPO link: http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2016/20160317.html

Some believed that Battistelli had "bribed" lower management for support (like Microsoft did for OOXML at ISO) and now again some interpret that as a bribe. This is not sufficient evidence, but still, it cannot count for nothing at all. There is at the very least a perception that Battistelli gave some gifts and got one back. Remember Battistelli’s money-waving strategy when dealing with Dutch politicians. It hardly works in rich countries.

There is already an article about this latest development. It comes from NRC. Human-corrected machine translation of this article was provided, as usual, by Petra Kramer, who put it as follows:

EPO Member States want fair sanctions

[Kramer: They changed the headline. First it was “After criticism EPO workers now getting fair sanctions”
see: http://drimble.nl/overige/business/34514479/na-kritiek-krijgen-werknemers-europees-octrooibureau-nu-eerlijke-sancties.html]

Majority votes for compromise over sanctions

The controversial punitive measures for employees of the European Patent Office, with among others an office in Rijswijk, are to be reviewed. With 12 abstentions 26 of the 38 Member States of the office Wednesday in Munich have voted in favour of fair sanctions, sources confirm.

The international organization (7,000 employees) accepts patent applications and grants European patents. The position of the President of the Agency, the Frenchman Benoît Battistelli (65) is under pressure because of his “authoritarian” management style. During a critical interview in early March with State Secretary Martijn van Dam (Economic Affairs, Labour Party) which Battistelli left in anger, this newspaper reported Wednesday.

The Governing Council, the highest body consists of the 38 member states, including the Netherlands, have great concern about the dismissal and demotion of three members of SUEPO trade union and the works council. So far Battistelli showed not to be very receptive to this criticism. In leaked minutes of February, the board of the Management Board described the situation as “a crisis.”

The council, which met Wednesday and Thursday in Munich, would rather an external investigation into the sanctions. In today’s resolution, which today is made public, that demand has been weakened. Battistelli must now consider an investigation or intervention through mediation or arbitration. The management board calls the patent office and the trade union to resume social dialogue and to reach an agreement. The president has embraced the content of the resolution, according to the patent office.

As an international organization the patent office claims not to be bound by national labour law. Battistelli does not recognize SUEPO union, which represents half of the total staff, either. The patent office has its own disciplinary procedures and an internal investigation service to screen workers. The method of this investigation service and the penalty rules are to be revised.

It is unclear what will happen to the trade unionists who are punished because of a “corruption campaign.” The Dutch Elizabeth Hardon, chairman of SUEPO in Munich, was fired and her pension was reduced. Her predecessor Ion Brumme was fired and the treasurer of the union, Malika Weaver was cut in her salary. Other members of the union have received official warnings.

Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld of the union calls Battistelli to undo the dismissals and demotion. “Battistelli abuse of his authority and power as he decides to expel the three union officials in Munich,” said Zegveld. “He is thus acting in blatant contradiction with the express wish of the Member States to improve social conditions and to protect the union.”

Notice that the above cites/quotes documents we leaked last night (at around 2 AM).

Is the EPO peaceful now? No.

“For the second day in a row in Twitter, the EPO lobbied for software patents (using the weasel word “ICT”) and will do the same tomorrow.”There will almost certainly be strikes soon.

Is the EPO’s propaganda over? No.

For the second day in a row over at Twitter, the EPO subtly lobbied for software patents (using the weasel word “ICT”) and will do the same tomorrow [1, 2]. The EPO arrogantly stomps on the EPC as nobody seems to be able to stop it. These liars keep citing their own bunk 'statistics' today [1, 2, 3], even when there are demonstrable issues with these. IAM ‘magazine’, which unwittingly uses a survey to give Battistelli his usual propaganda/ammunition, is now offering gifts in exchange for participating in the latest round of propaganda (maybe SUEPO's surveys scare Battistelli a little too much).

Links 17/3/2016: 3 Stable Linux Releases, Elive 2.6.18 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Slack smackback: There’s no IRC in team (software), say open-sourcers

    Open-source software is not possible without collaboration and collaboration is not possible without communication. Collaborative communication in open source projects typically means some form of distributed chat.

    In the past, and indeed the present for most projects, that has meant IRC. IRC has some disadvantages, though, and developers love a shiny new toy, which is part of the reason more than a few projects have moved to Slack, the startup attracting crazy amounts of venture investment and equally crazy valuations.


    There are ongoing efforts to improve IRC, notably the IRCv3 project, but if you’re looking for a solution right now, IRC comes up short.

    And there’s no question that Slack is a very well designed, easy to use chat system. But it’s closed source, which makes it a questionable choice for open-source projects. Still, if good old IRC really isn’t working any more – and I would suggest your project take some time to really evaluate that question before proceeding – there are open-source Slack imitators that can also solve some of the problems with IRC, but are self-hosted and FOSS licensed.

  • TP-Link blocks open-source router firmware to comply with new FCC rules

    If you’re a fan of third-party software that adds functionality to a Wi-Fi router, your options just got smaller. The Federal Communications Commission has new rules designed to make sure routers operate only within their licensed frequencies and power levels. TP-Link is complying by blocking open-source firmware like the Linux-based OpenWRT and DD-WRT from its routers. That’s the easiest way for router manufacturers to comply.

  • 4 projects for building an open source arcade

    You may have heard the news recently that the MAME project has been licensed under the GPL version 2.

    MAME, which originally stood for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, is probably the largest and most complete game emulation systems ever created, with the ability to emulate many original gaming systems, largely from the 80s and 90s. While primarily developed for Windows, MAME also compiles easily for Linux, and can be ported to other operating systems as well.

  • 4 open source tools for writing your next screenplay

    While I was putting together slides for my lightning talk at Great Wide Open (happening March 16-17), Not that Weird: Open Source Tools for Creatives, I remembered that in the last half of 2015 we had a bit of a loss from our open source creative toolbox. I think I was little late to the game in realizing this—after all, the last official stable release of Celtx (the open source, desktop version) was in 2012—but for folks paying attention, it’s been a long time coming.

  • Events

    • Open source is center stage at Open Networking Summit

      Open Networking Summit (ONS) kicked off in Santa Clara this week, the first event since becoming part of the Linux Foundation.

      Guru Parulkar, Nick McKeown and Dan Pitt started the Open Networking summit back in 2011. Yesterday, Parulkar said in his keynote that they started the summit as a small event to highlight the latest developments in software defined networking (SDN), and to accelerate SDN adoption by network operators and service providers.

      But as almost everything is become software defined and adoption is increasing, ONS became an important event for the industry and community. The immense adoption of open source led the team to increase focus on open source and open source platforms.

    • Great Wide Open Day One in Twitter Pics
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Thunderbird’s defective method of enabling anti-virus software to scan incoming POP3 e-mail messages

        Thunderbird’s method of enabling anti-virus software to scan incoming e-mail messages is explained in the mozillaZine article ‘Download each e-mail to a separate file before adding to Inbox‘ and in Mozilla bug report no. 116443 (the bug report that resulted in the functionality being implemented). It is my contention that the design is deficient and is actually not a solution. In this post I explain why I believe this to be the case. Although here I will discuss Thunderbird in Linux, I believe the deficiency applies to Thunderbird in all OSs.

      • User Security Relies on Encryption

        Security of users is paramount. Technology companies need to do everything in their power to ensure the security of their users and build products and services with strong security measures in place to do that.

        At Mozilla, it’s part of our mission to safeguard the Web and to take a stand on issues that threaten the health of the Internet. People need to understand and engage with encryption as a core technology that keeps our everyday transactions and conversations secure. That’s why, just days before the Apple story broke, we launched an awareness campaign to educate users on the importance of encryption.

  • Databases

    • Crate Built a Distributed SQL Database System To Run Within Containers

      Crate Technology has designed a database system for supporting Docker containers and microservices. The technology stresses ease of use, speed and scalability while retaining the ability to use SQL against very large data sets.

      Crate was built to run in ephemeral environments, said Christian Lutz, Crate CEO. It was the ninth official Docker image in the Docker Registry and has been downloaded more than 350,000 times in the past six months. It can be managed with Docker tools, or with Kubernetes or Mesos.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Tips for LibreOffice newbies

      Li Haoyi has written an excellent blog post entitled “Diving Into Other People’s Code” about diving into an unfamilar codebase (HN discussion here).

      I think this is really very helpful for anyone who wants to look at the LibreOffice source for the first time. Many of the things he mentions are directly relatable to LibreOffice – in particular getting your dev environment setup is particularly relatable.

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Share your Insights in the 2016 Future of Open Source Survey

      The interesting thing will be to see if the results continue to accelerate at the same rate or even faster. You can see results of last year’s survey here. Follow the 2016 Future of Open Source Survey on Twitter at #FutureOSS and @FutureOfOSS, and stay tuned to Linux.com for future updates and results.

  • BSD

    • AsiaBSDCon OpenBSD papers

      This year’s AsiaBSDCon has come to an end, with a number of OpenBSD-related talks being presented. Two developers were also invited to the smaller “bhyvecon” event to discuss vmm(4) and future plans.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Access/Content

      • Open Source Learning

        The U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen program is an initiative to use openly licensed educational resources in the classroom. Chesterfield schools have a national reputation as a pioneer in the use of these programs, and is one of six school districts nationwide to be named a #GoOpen Ambassador District, to mentor other school systems in implementing the program.

  • Programming

    • The Deep Roots of Javascript Fatigue

      When I was more active in the frontend community, the changes seemed minor. We’d occasionally make switches in packaging (RequireJS → Browserify), or frameworks (Backbone → Components). And sometimes we’d take advantage of new Node/v8 features. But for the most part, the updates were all incremental.


      On the other hand, Brendan Eich, now the Mozilla CTO, argued for the changes. In an open letter to Chris Wilson, he objected to the fact that Microsoft was just now withdrawing support for a spec which had been in the works for years.


  • Yankees’ Dumb Ticket Policy Turns Soccer Match At Yankee Stadium Into A Ghost Town

    You may recall that we discussed the New York Yankees’ bumbling attempt to institute a new ticket policy for Yankee Stadium that disallowed print-at-home tickets. Dressed up as a policy designed to combat fake tickets being sold by scalpers, the policy was actually designed to be a warm hug to the team’s partner Ticketmaster and a slap to Ticketmaster rival StubHub, as well as all of the other secondary market resellers out there. Still, some people probably shrugged, assuming that this would only have an effect on Yankees fans, a group that might find the soil of sympathy barren.

  • Science

    • Why Haven’t We Met Aliens Yet? Because They’ve Evolved into AI

      While traveling in Western Samoa many years ago, I met a young Harvard University graduate student researching ants. He invited me on a hike into the jungles to assist with his search for the tiny insect. He told me his goal was to discover a new species of ant, in hopes it might be named after him one day.

      Whenever I look up at the stars at night pondering the cosmos, I think of my ant collector friend, kneeling in the jungle with a magnifying glass, scouring the earth. I think of him, because I believe in aliens—and I’ve often wondered if aliens are doing the same to us.

    • Ben Goldacre on why a ban on researchers speaking to politicians and policymakers fails the taxpayers who fund them

      Last month it was quietly announced that anyone receiving research grants from the state will be banned from lobbying “government and Parliament” on either policy issues or funding. The rule is said to be aimed principally at charities, but who knows the truth: in any case it covers all government grants “related to research and development”, and that means academics like me.

    • Rather than banning “lobbying” by academics, UK government should encourage it

      The UK government has passed rules banning academics who receive public funding from “lobbying” ministers and MPs about their research, meaning that the people whom the government pays to acquire expertise in matters of public policy aren’t allowed to speak to policy-makers anymore.

      The problem, from the UK government’s perspective, is that it wants to do things that scientists understand to be stupid: impose austerity as a means of stimulating the economy, give tax breaks to the rich as a means of stimulating the economy, limit migration as a means of stimulating the economy, and, of course, deny climate change.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • What Americans Don’t Get About Nordic Countries

      When U.S. politicians talk about Scandinavian-style social welfare, they fail to explain the most important aspect of such policies: selfishness.

    • Another Big Turnout For Second Public Dialogue Of UN High-Level Panel On Medicines Access

      Today in Johannesburg, South Africa, the second of two public dialogues was held by the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, drawing another packed room and many ideas, experiences and suggestions for solutions.

      The archived livestream of the 17 March Johannesburg dialogue is available on the HLP website here. At press time, it appeared part of the webcast might be missing. The agenda of the event is available here [pdf]. Today’s public segment was preceded by a closed session yesterday.

  • Security

    • Big-name sites hit by rash of malicious ads spreading crypto ransomware [Updated]

      Mainstream websites, including those published by The New York Times, the BBC, MSN, and AOL, are falling victim to a new rash of malicious ads that attempt to surreptitiously install crypto ransomware and other malware on the computers of unsuspecting visitors, security firms warned.

      The tainted ads may have exposed tens of thousands of people over the past 24 hours alone, according to a blog post published Monday by Trend Micro. The new campaign started last week when “Angler,” a toolkit that sells exploits for Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and other widely used Internet software, started pushing laced banner ads through a compromised ad network.

      According to a separate blog post from Trustwave’s SpiderLabs group, one JSON-based file being served in the ads has more than 12,000 lines of heavily obfuscated code. When researchers deciphered the code, they discovered it enumerated a long list of security products and tools it avoided in an attempt to remain undetected.

    • VMware fixes XSS flaws in vRealize for Linux

      VMware patched two cross-site scripting issues in several editions of its vRealize cloud software. These flaws could be exploited in stored XSS attacks and could result in the user’s workstation being compromised.

    • VMware patches severe XSS flaws in vRealize software

      VMware has patched two serious vulnerabilities in the firm’s vRealize software which could lead to remote code execution and the compromise of business workstations.

      In a security advisory posted on Tuesday, the Palo Alto, California-based firm said the “important” vulnerabilities are found within the VMware vRealize Automation and VMware vRealize Business Advanced and Enterprise software platforms.

    • Get ready to patch Git servers, clients – nasty-looking bugs surface

      A chap who found two serious security bugs in Git servers and clients has urged people to patch their software.

      The flaws are present in Git including the 2.x, 1.9 and 1.7 branches, meaning the vulnerabilities have been lurking in the open-source version control tool for years.

      It is possible these two programming blunders can be potentially exploited to corrupt memory or execute malicious code on remote servers and clients. To do so, an attacker would have to craft a Git repository with a tree of files that have extremely long filenames, and then push the repo to a vulnerable server or let a vulnerable client clone it from the internet.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Drones, drugs and death

      The war on terror’s methods of mass surveillance and remote warfare are not unique. The US is also addicted to covert tools in its ‘war on drugs’, with disastrous consequences.

    • Russian Anti-Torture Activist Assaulted in Chechnya

      One of Russia’s leading human rights activists, Igor Kalyapin, was assaulted in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on Wednesday night by masked men who beat him and doused him in eggs, cakes and green paint.

      Kalyapin, whose nongovernmental group, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, is known for investigating abuses in the region, was in the city to meet a member of the Chechen Human Rights Council, Heda Saratova, and some journalists, according to his colleague Dmitriy Piskunov.

      The activist had just checked in to the Hotel Grozny City when “employees of the hotel, accompanied by armed police officers, forced Kalyapin out of his room and onto the street just outside of the hotel,” Piskunov wrote in an email to The Intercept.

    • Evidence Mounts That U.S. Airstrike on ISIS in Libya Killed Serbian Diplomats
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • TPPA at risk as the US political pendulum swings towards trade isolationism

      Whatever the outcome of the United States presidential primaries, let alone the presidential election later this year, there is no doubt that we are watching the strongest challenge to the 30-plus year consensus on the benefits of globalisation.

      That pendulum is swinging, embodied in the strength of the campaigns by two ‘outsider’ candidates – Donald Trump on the mercantilist right and Bernie Sanders on the protectionist left – in the US.

      From New Zealand’s perspective, their most significant impact may be their capacity to push the US back to the isolationist roots that characterised its engagement with the rest of the international community in the first half of the 20th century.

      That isolationism could take many forms, but its greatest appeal to a generation of American workers who feel left behind by globalisation is in its impact on trade policy.

      Both Sanders and Trump are, in their own way, wanting to pull up the drawbridge on the last 30 years of global trade liberalisation.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • When graded on tech issues, 2016 presidential candidates don’t do well

      On the same day that five key states voted in the presidential primaries, startup lobbying shop Engine took a close look at where the candidates stand on important tech issues like privacy, net neutrality, and patent reform. If your views on those issues align with Engine’s, you won’t find their 2016 Candidate Report Card an encouraging read.

      After taking a look at the candidates’ records in four policy areas, Democrat Hillary Clinton got the highest overall grade: a B+. Her challenger Bernie Sanders got a B, while Republican candidates ranked lower: C+ grades for Marco Rubio and John Kasich, a D for Ted Cruz, and straight F’s for Donald Trump.

    • The curse of “inevitability”: After Hillary Clinton’s big wins, the media is already ignoring Bernie Sanders

      Bernie Sanders is still in the Democratic presidential primary race, but Hillary Clinton did her best on Tuesday night to pretend that he isn’t.

      Clinton used her election night rally to bask in her blowout victories over Sanders in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, and ignore much closer races in Illinois and Missouri. She paid tribute to Sanders’s “vigorous campaign,” the kind of condescending line that translates into “I won and he lost.” She noted that she has won more votes than anybody from either party so far—a valiant, if not particularly successful, attempt to cast her campaign as the kind of mass movement currently mesmerizing both the Democratic and Republican grassroots. And she spent a lot of time going after Donald Trump, the night’s other big victor and the man who will be the Republican nominee if he can avoid being deposed at the GOP convention.

      “Our commander in chief has to be able to defend our country, not embarrass it,” she said. “When we have a candidate for president call for rounding up 12 million immigrants, banning all Muslims from entering the United States, when he embraces torture, that doesn’t make him strong, it makes him wrong.”


      Sanders has plenty of money and plenty of support. He has a real base within the Democratic Party. He will keep winning states. He has had a seismic impact on the 2016 race. But his biggest battle now will be to overcome the twin forces of establishment pressure on him to drop out and a loss of media interest in his candidacy. Both forces were in evidence on Tuesday. Sanders and his supporters will be told repeatedly that the time has come to unite behind Clinton, that the primary race is done. Trump is an exceedingly dangerous candidate on just about every level; the clamor to craft an opposing message to him as early as possible will get louder and louder. The lack of media attention will only grow. It will be a very high tide for Sanders to swim against.

    • Remembering Journalist & Media Critic Ben Bagdikian, Author of “The Media Monopoly”

      Journalist John Nichols pays tribute to the investigative journalist, media critic, editor and educator Ben Bagdikian, who has died at the age of 96. Bagdikian wrote the 1983 book “The Media Monopoly,” about how the consolidation of media outlets by a small number of corporate owners threatened free expression and independent journalism. In 1971, as an editor at The Washington Post, Bagdikian received the Pentagon Papers from whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and transferred them to Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, who entered them into the Congressional Record.

    • Adam Johnson in NYT Debate on ‘Sanders Taken Seriously Enough?’

      FAIR contributing analyst Adam Johnson was invited to write a piece for the New York Times‘ “Room for Debate” feature–on the topic “Has Sanders Not Been Taken Seriously Enough?”

    • Bernie Sanders Had to Overcome Media Consensus Around Hillary Clinton

      Who is and isn’t a “serious” candidate in our modern public relations-driven democracy is largely tautological. Whoever the news media say is important early on typically becomes the most important. This leads to a feedback loop that anoints the “frontrunner” in the “invisible primary,” where success is measured by name recognition, money raised, party insider support and a host of “serious” accomplishments, all before the most essential of feedback has been provided: actual voting.

      This dynamic helped create the artificial consensus around Hillary Clinton early on. According to one tally of nightly broadcast network news during the 2015 primary season, Sanders received a total of 20 minutes of coverage, compared to Clinton’s 121 minutes and Trump’s 327. This gap would narrow once Sanders began to gain parity in early primary states, a feat Sanders achieved not because of media coverage but despite it.

      That “frontrunner” status prejudices both viewer and pundit alike when news media presents delegate totals, often including the unearned “super delegates,” despite the fact that their declared preferences are not binding, and could only reverse the will of the voters at the risk of throwing the election. This makes it appear as if Clinton’s lead is more insuperable than it actually is — a vestige of the invisible primary that occurred months before anyone voted.

  • Censorship

    • The real reason all the big social networks have introduced filtered feeds

      First it was Facebook, with the filtered News Feed that shows you as few as one in three of the posts that your friends make.

      Then it was Pinterest, which — a year ago — began displaying pins by “relevance” instead of chronology.

      Just last month, Twitter provoked an outcry of its own when Buzzfeed reported that it too would introduce, though not compel, an algorithmically ordered feed.

    • Interview: Zhao Liang Talks Behemoth and Censorship

      Zhao Liang’s Behemoth blurs the lines between video art and documentary, visually exploring multiple open-pit coal mines in the sparse hinterlands of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The film, loosely inspired by Dante’s Inferno, forgoes the spoken word completely. It stylistically melds poetry and performance art to portray the lives of various coal miners and iron smelters as they struggle to produce raw material fast enough for China’s ever-growing economy. The largely plotless film draws one in through the sheer juxtaposition of its monstrous, inhuman-sized landscapes and the intimate close-ups of miners’ soot-covered faces. Though banned from being screened inside China, the film was shown to a packed house in an underground screening room on the outskirts of Beijing this past February. The next day, we sat down in Zhao’s Beijing art studio, where the filmmaker was as wry in his humor as he was cynical, discussing everything from his views on censorship to the relationship between art and activism.

    • Is there compromise to be had over film censorship?

      I still remember one of the first times I went to watch a movie after I moved back to the country. I went to see an independent film on a whim with friends. After barely an hour and a half in the theatre, we emerged with absolutely no idea what had happened. The actual runtime was supposed to be two hours. The evening left me feeling like I had wasted my time and money.

      My issue is not necessarily with the censorship itself, but rather with the inconsistency of it. For example, I have watched some movies where scenes have been cut for explicit language but heard that same language in other films. I understand that there are cultural sensibilities to be mindful of and I honestly have no problem when, for example, gratuitous nudity that doesn’t add to the plot is cut. But if part of the storyline or dialogue (even minor bits) is gone, it creates a break that is quiet jarring for the viewer.

      When I watched movies at the Abu Dhabi film festival, I noticed the movies were uncut. If it is acceptable for films to be screened in full during festivals, what changes when they go on to be released nationwide?

    • Headless board delays film censorship

      Censorship of as many as 10 films, including the trailer of Goutam Ghose’s ‘Sankhachil’ starring Prosenjit Chatterjee, has got stalled in absence of a regional officer at the Central Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) Kolkata office.

    • A professor in Iran came up with an ingenious method for criticizing the government without getting imprisoned

      In the final years before the 1979 Iranian revolution, political freedom in Iran was so restricted that professors caught criticizing the Shah’s regime risked imprisonment.

      The repressive environment forced one professor to come up with a very creative way to speak his mind.

      “You couldn’t criticize the regime directly – you had to be discreet about it,” Dr. Abbas Milani, a former assistant political science professor at the National University of Iran from 1975 to 1977, told Business Insider. Milani is now the director of Stanford University’s Iranian Studies program.

    • Minds in Malaysia, other Muslim countries ‘under yoke of censorship’, Turkish writer says

      urkish author Mustafa Akyol, whose book on Islamic liberalism was translated into Malay in Malaysia, has criticised censorship here and in other Muslim countries that he said are now languishing intellectually.

      Akyol, who was recently in Malaysia to promote the publication of the Malay edition of his book Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty, pointed out that Putrajaya has outlawed more than a thousand books translated into Malay, including Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species and Karen Armstrong’s Islam: A Short History.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Defense Department Agencies Have Been Operating Drones Domestically Without Cohesive Guidelines

      It’s amazing how much stuff government agencies “take seriously” and claim they’re handling in accordance to all sorts of secret, but presumably strict, guidelines… once their actions have been exposed.

    • Pentagon admits it has deployed military spy drones over the U.S.

      The Pentagon has deployed drones to spy over U.S. territory for non-military missions over the past decade, but the flights have been rare and lawful, according to a new report.

      The report by a Pentagon inspector general, made public under a Freedom of Information Act request, said spy drones on non-military missions have occurred fewer than 20 times between 2006 and 2015 and always in compliance with existing law.

    • The Great Certainty

      America will have a President who supports apartheid, land grab and the continual murder of children.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • How a former lobbyist became the broadband industry’s worst nightmare

      After all, Wheeler had been the top lobbyist for both the cable and cell phone industries, having worked for the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) from 1976 to 1984 and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) from 1992 to 2004. Though he had left those jobs years before, people wondered if a former lobbyist would properly regulate the industries he once represented.

      “Obama’s Bad Pick: A Former Lobbyist at the FCC,” said the headline in The New Yorker on the day after Wheeler’s nomination. Consumer advocacy groups such as Free Press and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute publicly doubted whether Wheeler would be tough on his previous employers.

    • Canadian Cable Companies Make A Mockery Of Government’s Push For Cheaper TV

      So far, the Canadian government’s attempt to force innovation and lower prices on the Canadian TV industry doesn’t appear to be going so well. As previously noted, the government has demanded that all Canadian cable TV operators begin offering a so-called “skinny” bundles of smaller, cheaper channels starting this month, and the option to buy channels “a la carte” starting in December. But this being the cable industry, companies are finding all manner of ways to tap dance over, under and around the requirements.

    • ISPs Are Blocking Google Fiber’s Access To Utility Poles In California

      And while this is generally an idea that would benefit all broadband providers, it would benefit new providers like Google Fiber the most. That’s why companies like AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable have been blocking this pole-attachment reform, in some cases trying to claim such policies violate their Constitutional rights. The ISPs figure that if they can’t block Google Fiber from coming to town, their lawyers can at least slow Google Fiber’s progress while they try to lock customers down in long-term contracts.

  • DRM

    • Apple ‘AceDeceiver’ DRM Flaw Allows Malware To Install Itself On Non-Jailbroken iPhones

      Security researchers from Palo Alto Networks uncovered a new iOS malware family that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in Apple’s DRM software and can infect non-jailbroken devices. The researchers called the malware “AceDeceiver.”

      AceDeceiver uses a novel way of attacking iOS devices by managing to install itself without any enterprise certificates. Instead, it exploits design flaws in Apple’s “FairPlay” DRM mechanism that allow the malware to be installed on non-jailbroken devices.

      Apparently, this “FairPlay Man-In-The-Middle” attack was identified for the first time in 2013, but so far Apple still hasn’t fixed it. It’s been used to spread pirated iOS apps so far, but now malware makers seem to be taking advantage of it as well.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Two Brazilian Restaurants Battle Over Trademark For Logos Because Both Include Fire

        For whatever reason, we’ve seen all kinds of trademark actions over logos that are claimed to be very similar, but which aren’t. Most often these disputes center on the use of a single identifying thing within the logo, such as the umbrella in the Travelers Insurance logo, or the apple in the logo of, well, Apple. These disputes take trademark law, chiefly designed to aid the public in discerning between brands, and reduce it to slap-fights over the attempted ownership of images of everyday items.

        But in the trademark spat between two Brazillian restaurants, Fogo De Chao and Espirito Do Sul, we see this sort of thing sink to a new low as the former is threatening to sue the latter over the use of fire in its logo. Yes, fire. You know, one of the first things early mankind was able to manipulate in order to start down the road of societal progress.

      • Bacardi files amended complaint in Havana Club trade mark dispute

        Bacardi has filed an amended complaint with the US District Court for the District of Columbia in the dispute over the Havana Club run brand and trade mark in the US.

    • Copyrights

      • Powerman5000 Takes To Facebook To Complain About Similar Sounding Final Fantasy Song, Fans Rebut Them

        I imagine, as a musician, it must be common to come across other music that sounds somewhat similar to one’s own. I would think that not all genres of music are created equal in this respect. Jazz, for instance, while sharing common elements across the genre, seems to have enough instruments and space within the music for unique expression that perhaps similarities occur less often or are less severe than, say, industrial rock, which seems to have some more rigid common core elements. How much similarity is there in songs from Ramstein and Nine Inch Nails, for instance, or in songs from Nine Inch Nails and Powerman5000? Or in songs from Powerman5000 and Final Fantasy XIV…wait, what?

      • “Open WiFi Operators Are Not Liable for Pirating Users”

        Restaurants, bars and shops that offer their customers free and open Wi-Fi are not liable for pirating users. This is the advice Advocate General Szpunar has sent to the EU Court of Justice in what may turn out to be a landmark case. While there’s no direct liability, the AG notes that local courts may issue injunctions against Wi-Fi operators and long as they are fair and balanced.

      • EU Court Of Justice Advocate General Says Open WiFi Operators Shouldn’t Be Liable For Infringement
      • EU court: Public WiFi providers are not responsible for the actions of their users

        IN A PRELIMINARY OPINION, a bunch of sage European legal bigwigs have decided that public WiFi hotspots are not responsible for the actions of the general public.

        Let’s face it, who would want to be responsible for the actions of the general public?After all, they can get up to all sorts of very silly things, like ride hoverboards or agree with Katie Hopkins.

      • Napster Founder’s Movie Plan Will Fuel Torrent Sites, Theaters Say

        If Napster co-founder Sean Parker’s plans come to fruition, the latest movies will be available for viewing from day one in the home via a set-top box. But despite support from big name directors, not everyone is happy. According to a 600 theater chain, Screening Room will only provide quick, quality content for torrent sites.

      • Pirate Party to Dominate Iceland Parliament, Survey Finds

        The Pirate Party would dominate Iceland’s parliament if elections were held today. That’s the conclusion of a new survey which found that the Pirates appear to be maintaining an impressive lead over their rivals, with around 38% of voters saying they will be voting for the party and kicking the ruling coalition out of power.

Investigation Into Working Conditions at the European Patent Office Will Commence

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

Martijn van Dam goes ahead with the plan

Martijn van Dam, Staatssecretaris van Economische Zaken. Portret voor ministeriepagina op Rijksoverheid.nl

Summary: Increasing acceptance and acknowledgement of the human/labour rights issues inside the European Patent Office (EPO), as recognised even by host nations such as the Netherlands

THE EPO turns out to be a terrible place to work at/for. A TV program previously explained why, helping those who don’t actually work at the EPO get a glimpse from the inside (witnesses were anonymised).

Benoît Battistelli nearly had an opportunity to de-escalate, but he blew it and exploded with his notorious temper. Human-corrected machine translation of this article has been provided to us by Petra Kramer. It covers this week’s encounter/rendezvous involving Martijn van Dam and Benoît Battistelli.

Fruitless conversation with controversial patent boss

THE HAGUE / RIJSWIJK (Reuters) – CEO Benoît Battistelli is accused of conducting a reign of terror at the European Patent Office, but a “firm” interview that Secretary Martijn van Dam (Economic Affairs) held with the highest boss yielded nothing. The European Patent Office is an international organization with 38 Member States, including all members of the European Union. Rijswijk is is home to one of its offices.

“The call, to my disappointment, has not led to any new perspectives,” Van Dam wrote Wednesday to the House of Commons. The House, as the government, is deeply concerned about the leadership of the patent boss which has been described as a “tyrannical”. Those concerns have been brought over in vain by Van Dam on 4 March.

There will be an investigation into the working conditions at the Patent Office, Van Dam announced earlier this year. When workers protested against poor working environment and against the dismissal of colleagues who criticized the Frenchman Battistelli. The agency is to reorganize and the government and parliament already have made it known that it should implement those reforms more carefully.

As the latest staff survey comes to show, staff is suffering and the working conditions have deteriorated severely. An external probe is desperately needed now.

Patents Roundup: Software Patents After Alice, Apple and Samsung, Jawbone and Fitbit

Posted in America, Apple, Patents, Samsung at 6:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New Bilski Blog chart
Credit: Bilski Blog

Summary: A bunch of stories of interest regarding the USPTO, which is the world’s most dominant patent office

THIS is the latest update regarding the US patent system, which increasingly shows some positive signs (getting tougher on software patents) but still facilitates a lot of avoidable aggression, and not just by patent trolls.

AliceStorm Versus Software Patents

“The US patent system (or Congress) needs to reconsider whether software patents should be issued at all.”Bilski Blog calls/dubs "AliceStorm" the phenomenon of patent squashing after Alice (2014). A lot of these are software patents, which are abstract. Looking at some of the latest posts about this [1, 2, 3] (the last one was cited here before), we now have the chart at the top. It shows that most of the time, by a large margin, Alice successfully buries software patents. The USPTO needs to heed the warning from courts (not just the Supreme Court but dozens more). The US patent system (or Congress) needs to reconsider whether software patents should be issued at all.

Apple and Samsung

Apple started attacking Samsung several years ago because Apple cannot compete based on merit. Apple wants to make Android more expensive and also Apple’s cash cow. That is similar to what Microsoft has been doing. “Samsung and Apple Were Top Targets for Patent Suits in 2015″ says a new headline from Fortune, noting:

The country’s two most popular phone makers, Apple AAPL and Samsung, are still getting smacked by dozens of lawsuits from so-called “patent trolls,” which are shell companies that make no products.

Meanwhile, a single district in Texas, which the late Justice Antonin Scalia once branded a “renegade jurisdiction,” continues to occupy an outsize role in this ongoing patent pileup.

Those are two of the most notable takeaways that can be found in a new report on U.S. patent trends in 2015. Published by patent analytics firm Lex Machina, the report adds new grist to a debate over U.S. innovation policy at a time when patent reform in Congress has foundered once again.

“With Alice still fresh in people’s mind (although apparently forgotten by some Justices, based on newly-circulated rumours), Apple is likely to lose.”“Blame Texas for the latest patent pile-up falling on Apple and Samsung,” says this person, cited by Florian Müller who added this Friday watchlist alert. Müller wrote: “Earlier this month (on Friday, March 4), the Supreme Court of the United States already had Samsung’s December 2015 petition for writ of certiorari (request for Supreme Court review) in Apple’s design patents case on its agenda. It’s nothing unusual for a case to be relisted, and it happened in this case. There was no weekly conference last Friday, so this cert petition will be discussed this week, and we’ll know the decision (unless there’s another relisting) on Monday morning.”

It is possible that SCOTUS will deal with at least one case that Apple brought against Samsung. With Alice still fresh in people’s mind (although apparently forgotten by some Justices, based on newly-circulated rumours), Apple is likely to lose.

Jawbone and Fitbit

Involving some more design and software patents, the Jawbone and Fitbit story was covered here several times in the past. Here is the latest on that: “For nearly a year Jawbone and Fitbit have been in the courts and Jawbone just threw down new allegations. In a motion to amend the original filing, Jawbone wants to add a new defendant to the case that formerly worked at Jawbone but defected to Fitbit, bringing a host of confidential information along with her. Jawbone also now contends that this person, along with previously named defendants, lied under oath that they had returned all confidential Jawbone information prior to leaving the company.”

“Nobody wins except the lawyers. These cases drag on for ages.”There is a lot more coverage about it this week [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and it comes to show just what a sordid mess patent wars have become. Nobody wins except the lawyers. These cases drag on for ages.


A new article by Dennis Crouch says about a particular low-profile case that: “The original panel found that the sale constituted an invalidating on-sale bar. Of interest here, the “sale” was Ben Venue’s “sale of services” to manufacture the patented product-by-process rather than sales of the product themselves. The original panel found no principled distinction between these concepts – thus applying the on sale bar. Because the ‘sales’ at issue were associated with MedCo’s ‘validation batches,’ the patentee has also now argued experimental use.”

“If patents are about common good rather than protectionism for a few, then China should follow the will of its people, not of its patent lawyers (whose clients are often foreign).”Notice how far patents can go; even “sale of services”, not just manufacturing or sale of manufactured goods. How far can this go? Western patents, as this article from MIP suggests, can also be imposed on manufacturing giants/superpowers such as China. Why would China even entertain this? It’s not in the interests of China, that’s for sure, as most companies already manufacture everything in China. They hardly have a choice. “In determining the scope of patent protection in China,” MIP wrote, “the question of support for the claims has come into focus, particularly for bio-medical inventions. Wenhui Zhang and Stephen Zou review some recent decisions” (from China).

As we noted in relation to India the other day, patents on medicine are in no way beneficial to the interests of a large population such as China’s. If patents are about common good rather than protectionism for a few, then China should follow the will of its people, not of its patent lawyers (whose clients are often foreign).

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