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07.01.16

Links 1/7/2016: New PCLinuxOS Magazine, Mageia 6 Close to Release

Posted in News Roundup at 6:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • UK farming left ‘in the dark’ after Brexit, says NSA

      British agriculture has been left “completely in the dark and rudderless” since voters went to the polls to make their voices heard on European Union membership, the National Sheep Association (NSA) has stressed.

      The organisation, which works to safeguard the interests of British sheep farmers, said there has been “nothing but political rhetoric and unanswered questions” since the British public voted to leave the European Union in last week’s referendum.

  • Finance

    • Hollande says competition rules need ‘adapting’ under new post-Brexit priorities

      The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has galvanized its remaining members to look anew at where they want to go as a 27-nation bloc. Part of the new policy drive should involve “adapting” competition laws, French President Francois Hollande has said.

    • Spotify’s concerns over Apple Music are obvious but it’s just manufacturing an App Store antitrust issue

      I wish to clarify upfront that I’ve never done any work for Apple or Spotify. A more elaborate disclosure can be found at the end of this post. The perspective from which I am writing this post is that of an app developer who happens to have fought hard for fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) behavior by companies wielding monopoly power. And one of the two iOS apps I’ll launch later this year will come with two different types of subscription offerings, which users can even use in combination. So I do have a strong interest in this, but for now I can’t see any wrongdoing on Apple’s part.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Lewandowski Hire Makes Journalists Choose Between Defending Their Profession and Embracing Its Demise

      Faced with the destruction of journalistic values by the corrupting effects of the profit motive, journalists can either stand up for the principles that brought many of them into the career in the first place—or else identify with the corruption, telling themselves that they’re siding with the smart money even as it destroys the institutions that form the basis for their profession.

      Both reactions were on display in the wake of CNN‘s decision to hire recently fired Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. The conservative New York Post (6/24/16) quoted an anonymous “TV insider” saying that “CNN is facing a near internal revolt over the Corey hiring,”with another unnamed source saying, “Everyone at CNN — and even people who used to work there — are pissed about Trump’s former campaign manager being hired on salary.”

    • BuzzFeed’s Obama Coverage Is 99 Percent Uncritical–and Borderline Creepy

      Since its launch as a scrappy clickbait site in 2006, BuzzFeed has grown to become one of the biggest names in online media and news, venturing into serious news coverage of politics and world events in attempt to add gravitas to a name typically associated with levity and listicles. While BuzzFeed has certainly done important work of late, on issues ranging from sex harassment to AIDS in Africa, when it comes to the most powerful person on earth, however—the president of the United States—its coverage is almost uniformly uncritical and often sycophantic.

    • There Will Be No Early General Election

      Labour and Tories were neck and neck on 32% in the Mail on Sunday Survation poll on 25 June, the day before the Blarites launched their coup against the “unelectable” Corbyn. Before Corbyn became leader, Labour were consistently between 7 and 12 points behind on Survation. That Corbyn has done so well in popular opinion and in elections, is remarkable considering the Blairites who dominate his own parliamentary labour party have been conspiring and briefing against him from day one.

      The coup “rationale” is based on two lies – that Labour was struggling in the polls, and that an early general election is imminent.

      Whoever becomes the new Tory Prime Minister, there is not going to be an early general election. No new Tory PM will throw away the 30 seat gain over Labour the Tories will get from the new Boundary Commission Review.

    • British Conservatives in Chaos Over Brexit, but Labour Party’s in No Position to Pounce

      Until Thursday, the political wrangling in Britain over how, or whether, to withdraw from the European Union — a move supported by a narrow majority of the voters in last week’s referendum, but opposed by 75 percent of the members of Parliament elected just last year — seemed likely to trigger a new general election.

      Although the ruling Conservative Party is not required to call an election until 2020, most political observers expected Prime Minister David Cameron to be replaced by the leader of the campaign for a British exit from the EU, Boris Johnson, who would then want a fresh mandate from the public.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Leak Reveals Secret FBI Guidelines That Basically Give Them Free Rein To Spy On Journalists And Sources

      Eleven months ago, we wrote about a lawsuit filed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation seeking to get a copy of the DOJ’s infamous new rules for spying on journalists. The new rules came about after it had come out that the DOJ had spied on Associated Press reporters as well as lied to a court to claim that Fox News reporter James Rosen was a co-conspirator in a leak investigation. To date, the DOJ has steadfastly refused to reveal the rules.

      Thankfully, someone has now leaked the rules, or at least the 2013 version of some of the rules, which show that, contrary to what then Attorney General Eric Holder had suggested, it’s still ridiculously easy for the FBI to spy on reporters and their sources in trying to hunt down a leak. In fact, it appears that these rules, around the use of NSLs are actually separate from the rules that Holder was talking about — meaning that there’s an entirely separate path for the DOJ to spy on journalists. The rules show that the FBI can just issue a National Security Letter (NSL), the mechanism that the FBI has been known to regularly abuse without consequence and which it’s trying to expand. The “process” by which the media is supposedly protected under these new rules is that if someone in the DOJ is seeking an NSL to get phone records of someone in the media, they need to get some permission from someone else in the DOJ first…

    • Michael Bloomberg Comes Down On The Wrong Side Of The Crypto Wars: Supports Backdooring Encryption

      This is perhaps not surprising, but still disappointing. Former NYC mayor and current billionaire media/tech company boss Michael Bloomberg has come down on the wrong side of the “going dark” encryption fight. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed (possible paywall link) he scolds tech execs for daring to side with Apple over the FBI and the Justice Department on the question of backdooring encryption. Bloomberg does not appear to actually understand the issues at play.

      [...]

      Note the false framing here. Bloomberg is setting up the argument that backdooring encryption for the sake of the FBI/DOJ is “good for national security and public safety.” He’s wrong. It’s not. It’s not even close. It actually puts many more people at risk, because the only way to backdoor encryption effectively is to break that encryption and put everyone who uses it at much more risk. Yes, it means that the FBI/NSA won’t be able to track some people, but it’s a very small number of people, and they have other ways to track them without undermining the security of everyone else.

    • IoT Already at Work in 65% of Enterprises

      A majority of enterprises, 65 percent in fact, have already incorporated Internet of Things (IoT) technologies into their environments, gathering data from sensors, equipment and other devices and using it for business purposes, according to 451 Research’s inaugural Voice of the Enterprise: Internet of Things report. The most common type of data collected is of the machine sensing type (71.5 percent), followed by environmental data (20 percent) and biological data from people and animals (8.5 percent).

    • 84% of IoT Data Comes From Data Center Equipment

      Even though they may not be familiar with the term “Internet of Things” (IoT), 65 percent of organizations are collecting data from equipment, devices, or other connected endpoints. And they’re using that data for business purposes, according to an IoT study conducted by 451 Research.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Reporter kicked out of Gatineau courtroom over dress

      A reporter says she was kicked out of the Gatineau courthouse because her skirt was too short and her shoulders were exposed.

      CTV Ottawa’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver says she was in court to cover a manslaughter case Thursday morning when a male police officer approached her and said she’d have to step out.

      “Of course, I’m confused. I don’t have my cell phone out. I’m not eating. I don’t think I’ve broken any rules,” she told CFRA’s Ottawa Now. “So he pulls me outside and says ‘I’m sorry. Your skirt is too short. ‘ ”

    • Illinois Court Says State’s Cyberstalking Law Is Unconstitutional

      One of several problems with hastily-enacted laws meant to deal with advances in technology is that they often skip a step or several when being written. In many cases, the step skipped is an important one: the consideration of intent. By crafting laws that cater to subjective views of a situation — whether it’s meant to address cyberbullying or other forms of online harassment — the laws blow past, sometimes intentionally, the requirement that there be malicious intent behind the targeted actions.

      This has led to courts striking down newly-enacted laws as unconstitutional because they have skipped this step. Without this requirement in place, the laws curb free speech by enacting new limits on First Amendment expression based almost solely on subjective reading of the allegedly “criminal” content.

    • Chatbot Helps Drivers Appeal Over $4 Million In Bogus Parking Tickets

      In what is likely a sign of the coming government-rent-seeking apocalypse, a 19-year-old Stanford student from the UK has created a bot that assists users in challenging parking tickets. The inevitable result of parking nearly anywhere can now be handled with something other than a) meekly paying the fine or b) throwing them away until a bench warrant is issued.

      While a variety of bots have been created to handle a variety of tasks, very few have handled them quite as well as Joshua Browder’s “robot lawyer” — which is certain to draw some attention from disgruntled government agencies who are seeing this revenue stream drying up.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Access To Medicines Resolution Adopted By UN Human Rights Council

      A resolution on access to medicines proposed by a number of developing countries was adopted today by the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as a resolution on enhancing capacity-building in public health. This marks yet another United Nations fora in which developing countries seek to raise the issue of access to medicines, particularly with regard to high prices.

    • First DTSA decision entered, as new trade secrets cases roll in [Ed: Anti-whistleblower law already being put to use]

      The Northern District of California appears to be the first federal court to enter a written decision under the Defend Trade Secret Act.

    • Kanye West’s ‘Famous’ music video: publicity rights vs the First Amendment

      Kanye West’s music video for “Famous” has sparked outrage for portraying naked celebrities in bed, in the form of life-like wax figures. It is not simply the nudity, but the individuals portrayed, which has led to criticism; Rihanna is seen lying next to former boyfriend and abuser, Chris Brown, alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby is featured, as well as Taylor Swift, Anna Wintour and Amber Rose. Subsequent to the release of the video, Kanye tweeted, “Can somebody sue me already #I’llwait” but later deleted it.

    • Copyrights/Culture

      • Think Tank: The Library Of Congress Has Too Many Librarians, So We Should Reject New Nominee To Run It

        When you get quotes like that — especially on the record — for someone retiring from a longstanding job, you know things were bad. And Hayden appears by almost any measure to be perfect for the job. She’s run large libraries, showing that she has the knowledge and administrative skills to run the Library of Congress. She’s also got experience dealing with a variety of policy issues, including ones around surveillance and access to information. I’ve spoken to many people who either know or have worked with Hayden, and I can’t recall ever hearing such levels of praise about anyone.

        But, of course, some are unhappy about this. But with such a supremely qualified nominee, the attacks have been weird and getting weirder. We recently wrote about a laughable complaint that Hayden was “pro-obscenity” because she fought against mandatory porn filters on all computers in libraries. And now someone has pointed out a complaint from Hans von Spakovsky from the Heritage Foundation, claiming that Hayden is unqualified for the position… because she’s a librarian. Really.

Ignoring the Bascom Hype and the Federal Circuit’s Built-in Bias, Software Patents Still Dying in US Courts

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 6:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents invalid
Credit: Robert R. Sachs

Summary: The trend which suggests software patents fade away in the United States, in spite of all the lobbying, remains largely uninterfered

AT TIMES when the USPTO does not care about patent quality (apathetic at best) and the Supreme Court is giving more power to CAFC, the originator of software patents in the United States, one must pay close attention to enemies of software development, i.e. those who promote software patents.

According to lawyers’ media (earlier this week), “At Federal Circuit, Death of Software Patents Exaggerated”. To quote the article’s basis for this headline: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit continues to carve out a sliver of room for software patents.

Alice is a lot stronger (Supreme Court) than most precedents and Enfish has proven to be rather useless in practice.”“A three-judge panel on Monday found that a Texas federal judge jumped the gun when she ruled that software designed to filter internet content was ineligible for patent protection under the Supreme Court’s Alice decision.

“Judge Raymond Chen acknowledged that the patent claimed an abstract idea and that the claim limitations, taken individually, recite generic computer, network and internet components.”

It’s not just this one. Patent lawyers continue to worry about Alice killing software patents and any time there’s an exception to that they leap at the opportunity, as they did yesterday [1, 2, 3] (the second one is also here) after CAFC had thrown a bone [1, 2, 3, 4]. It is not too shocking that the court which brought software patents to the US and has become rather notorious for corruption is throwing a bone to patent lawyers. Here is MIP’s coverage of the case. “The Federal Circuit has found a software patent valid for the third time since Alice, ruling in Bascom v AT&T that “an inventive concept can be found in the non-conventional and non-generic arrangement of known, conventional pieces”,” says the summary.

Does this mean that people can now just say Halo, Enfish or Bascom in order to overturn decisions in favour of software patents? Well, not really. Alice is a lot stronger (Supreme Court) than most precedents and Enfish has proven to be rather useless in practice. As the National Law Review put it the other day: “Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank shifted the contours of patent-eligible subject matter, district courts have wielded the two-part test set forth in that decision to dispatch scores of business method patents as being directed to unpatentable abstract ideas. In a recent example, the Massachusetts district court invalidated a patent relating to inventory forecasting software using the Alice test.”

Alice not only prevent new software patents from being asserted (or granted, if the USPTO actually decides to follow the rules rather than chase gold); it also retroactively devalues or revokes old software patents.”This is generally the trend nowadays, as statistics serve to show. Software patents continue to drop like flies and there is no sign (at least not yet) of the Supreme Court reversing its course of action. Regarding Yahoo, which was destroyed by Microsoft, someone finally says the obvious about its patents, which are being put on sale. Yahoo’s patents may be worthless because they’re primarily software patents or in the words of a Forbes blogger: “The Yahoo patents being marketed cover a number of different technology areas, including e-commerce, search, messaging, and cloud computing. However, over 80% of these IP assets are categorized as software or business method patents.”

Alice not only prevent new software patents from being asserted (or granted, if the USPTO actually decides to follow the rules rather than chase gold); it also retroactively devalues or revokes old software patents. Speaking of which, yesterday the EFF’s Nazer presented the “Stupid Patent Of The Month: Storage Cabinets On A Computer” (as the name/title implies, this too is a software patent).

To quote Nazer: “How do you store your paper files? Perhaps you leave them scattered on your desk or piled on the floor. If you’re more organized, you might keep them in a cabinet. This month’s stupid patent, US Patent No. 6,690,400 (the ’400 patent), claims the idea of using “virtual cabinets” to graphically represent data storage and organization. While this is bad, the worse news is that the patent’s owner is suing just about anyone who runs a website.

“With few exceptions here and there (including some from CAFC) we remain quite confident that the trend remains phasing out of software patents in the United States.”“The ’400 patent is owned by Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (“GEMSA”) which seems to be a classic patent troll. GEMSA is incorporated in Australia and appears to have no business other than patent litigation. The patent began its life with a company called Flash VOS. This company once offered a product that allowed users to run multiple operating systems on personal computers with x86-compatible processors. The ’400 patent describes a graphical user interface for this system. The interface allows users to interact with “graphical depictions of cabinets” that represent memory partitions and different operating systems.”

The nice thing is, many patents that are like that and can be described in physical terms (or analogies) would quite likely be deemed too abstract to be patentable. With few exceptions here and there (including some from CAFC) we remain quite confident that the trend remains phasing out of software patents in the United States. Software patents proponents like patent lawyers would have us believe otherwise because they’re trying to find customers and sell their services.

Battistelli’s Destructive Actions Will Drive EPO Applicants Away to National Patent Offices, Putting at Risk the Whole EU-Wide (and Beyond) Project

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So much for ‘unitary’ and ‘best’ patent office (based on EPO-connected punditry)

EPO features

Summary: Battistelli’s regressive policies and extremely bad behaviour increasingly motivate people to avoid the EPO, which serves to reinforce the observation that Battistelli has become an existential risk to the EPO with his huge spendings on self-glorification, militarisation, and dubious secret contracts

THE LEGACY of Battistelli — irrespective of when he leaves the Office — will be one for the books. Battistelli won’t be remembered as anything but a tyrant who was so widely loathed by his own employees that his approval rate stood at a flat 0%, triggering warnings of a crisis inside the Organisation. Some top managers have left (or decided to leave) since.

Earlier tonight The Register composed a piece about the latest attack on the appeal boards, which the Office proudly lies about (the Office is accustomed to lying to staff, journalists and so on). Here is a portion of the article:

A determined effort to oust European Patent Office (EPO) president Benoit Battistelli amounted to nothing this week, as representatives from European countries instead spent two days rehashing a reform proposal.

The meeting of the EPO’s Administrative Council in Munich had threatened to become a showdown over Battistelli’s increasingly autocratic behavior – a situation the EPO’s staff encouraged by attempting to serve legal papers on the president and sending messages to council members asking them to fire him.

The council decided to effectively ignore ongoing disputes between staff and management however, punting the relevant agenda items to their next meeting in October.

Instead, the meeting focused on reform of the organization’s Boards of Appeal (BOA), which had themselves proved controversial due to Battistelli’s efforts to afford himself additional powers over what is supposed to be an independent body and process.

The council threw out the powergrab, approving a reform system that saw a new Boards of Appeal Committee set up as a subsidiary of the Administrative Council, and a newly created President of the BOA that will absorb some of the powers currently held by the EPO President.

At the moment, the sole comment there says “So very European,” which shows to what degree Battistelli has disgraced Europe, not just the EPO. He creates resentment towards EU institutions and distrust of/against French people, which as we noted earlier this year is a good reason for French politicians to stop him.

“Battistelli won’t be remembered as anything but a tyrant who was so widely loathed by his own employees that his approval rate stood at a flat 0%, triggering warnings of a crisis inside the Organisation.”George Brock-Nannestad, an occasional commentator who writes about the EPO, left a strongly-worded comment today. He said “it is no longer responsible to recommend obtaining a patent via the EPO,” directly as a result of Battistelli’s actions that can kill the Office in the long run. Don’t take the EPO for granted; when millions of Euros are spent essentially buying the media and tens of millions of Euros get thrown at private companies without even a tender we probably need forensic accountants to pay a visit, if Eponia permits it (even a bailiff is hardly allowed near the postbox and Croatian authorities struggle to successfully summon Željko Topić, who refuses to attend hearings about his alleged corruption). Here is Brock-Nannestad’s full comment:

The development, or rather winding down of the quality at the EPO is very saddening and yet another blow to the stability that permitted a certain amount of complacency of the professionals.

Apparently, nobody among those who are responsible for carrying out the letter and intentions of the EPC have any historical perspective. Like politicians they are only concerned with getting re-elected and of financing their seat [almost like in the US, where fundraising seems to be the main activity of those elected to Congress, at least by some reports].

However, changes that may be carried out in one year to what was a complete application processing system will have repercussions for 15+ years, and those users that need to consider where to put their “insurance” money cannot risk obtaining superficially shiny patents that hide structural weaknesses, and on the other hand they cannot tolerate similar quality patents from their present or future competitors.

For consultants to smaller enterprises at least, the lesson is clear: it is no longer responsible to recommend obtaining a patent via the EPO, and the sooner alternative solutions are found on an individual basis, the better, because then the reforms at the EPO will not be felt.

The remaning problem will be an overabundance of unworthy patents from the competition, compounded by the ease with which the wise fathers expect the Unified Patent to be obtainable, that is, what defences can smaller enterprises muster against patents that go from irritants to (almost) trollls? We are not foreseeing a move to remove the European Opposition as a legitimate means of defence (but who am I to predict anything?), and that is what is needed.

9 months (and much more, if you have an early awareness) is definitely sufficient to structure supplementary searches and to study the paltry arguments for patentability that we see more and more. There is indeed a matter of cost, but smaller enterprises have ganged together in the past in order to protect their mutual interests, and paying a patent opposition membership fee corresponding in some agreed way with their turnover. And remember, due to the asymmetry of the EPC, the losing proprietor cannot go to the courts to try to reverse the decision and thereby gain further extortion time. Even if the EPO were to reject all oppositions, the opponents still have the courts available.

I think we need to think this way, and the AC members will not really be opposed: their patent offices will once more have responsibilities, and if they cannot lift them now, due to complacency and heavy reliance on EPO examination service contracts, they will b….y well have to re-charge their batteries. The EPO project will be a parenthesis in history, a brain trust of huge dimensions will disintegrate, and there will be human sacrifices. Let us celebrate the 30 years during which we were proud, but we must move on.

My candidate for a single country in Europe in which it would be worthwhile to apply in all cases, is Germany. Dependent on your purse and competitive situation you would choose other countries as well. We are back to before 1978! Luckily there are still some practitioners out there with experience that goes that far back.

An ex/former UK-IPO examiner argues that AC delegates “not wishing to show ignorance will tend to follow the herd” and thus they’re accepting Battistelli’s proposals, never mind money and free dental care. To quote:

I fear that we have seen BB using the BBB principle to good effect (BBB = “Bullshit Baffles Brains”, and old UK Armed Forces saying). I know nothing about the AC delegates, but it seems to be a law of nature (as expounded many decades ago in the classic textbook “Parkinson’s Law”), that the sort of person who ends up in a committee like the AC, has seldom had “hands on” experience in the day-to-day operation of the organisation that they represent (often having come in from another field at high level), and, not wishing to show ignorance, will tend to follow the herd, especially if arguments are presented forcefully enough.

The EPO, argues this one person, is “expensive and unpredictable. It may be OK for the big boys, but it’s no longer a sensible option for SMEs.” The same is true for UPC, which Battistelli strives and works hard to make a reality:

National patents are suddenly much more attractive. Especially as many of the main patenting states have relaxed their requirements for local representation. The national route is now highly cost effective, and much less risky than putting all your eggs into the EPO basket. The EPO’s new appeals regime makes the whole EPO route much too expensive and unpredictable. It may be OK for the big boys, but it’s no longer a sensible option for SMEs.

Here is an explanation of why AC delegates are not speaking about Battistelli’s abuses and his many sackable offenses; instead he attacks those whom he abused even further (collective punishment a possibility for their defense of a colleague) and delegates just mindlessly play along:

Upon further reflection, it is possible that some interesting (deliberate) tactics may have been employed by BB at the latest AC meeting.

The reason for reflecting is this: why was the discussion of the reform of the BoAs so pressing (i.e. no. 1 item on the AC’s agenda), so complex (i.e. involving multiple proposals that, for no good reason, were tied together by the Office) and so controversial (i.e. so blatantly against common sense as to guarantee vigorous debate at the AC meeting)?

It could perhaps be that BB believes that the best form of defence is attack. If he can control the agenda and tie the AC in knots with a debate on the first item, then he neatly side-steps an issue that could have truly seen him in the firing line. He also gains months (instead of only days) to prepare his defence to any criticisms stemming from the recent EBoA (Article 23 EPC) debacle.

It may well be a lot more complicated than that. However, if it really was that simple, then the delegates to the AC need to wake up to the fact that BB may well be playing them for fools.

It should definitely be noted, just in case intention is misunderstood, that I’m a big proponent of the EU and also a defender of the EPO as an EU-wide project (and beyond the EU). However, what goes on right now inside the EPO means that Europe will lose on competitiveness and damage its reputation. The sooner Battistelli is tossed out along with his cronies, the better. We’re now approaching the point where doing so might be too late (boards of appeal are already being scuttled, making the situation irreversible and decisions virtually irrevocable).

As Expected, ‘Team UPC’ Continues Fighting for Its Project’s Survival in Spite of ‘Brexit’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trying to float an utter wreck without even renaming it (like previous attempts)

A shipwreck of UPC

Summary: The desperate attempts to race to the bottom with the Unitary Patent Court and Battistelli’s misguided effort to reduce patent quality and make up for it with greater patent quantity, in addition to increased fees (to discourage appeals, withdrawals etc.)

THE so-called 'expert teams' which conspired (along with EPO management) to create and pass the UPC are in a poor state of affairs right now. ‘Brexit’ left them speechless or on the run.

MIP has released an article originally composed just before the ‘Brexit’ vote. It speaks of the Boards of Appeal, which UPC threatened to make redundant (based on some speculations but not all). Now we know that even without the UPC becoming a reality the Boards of Appeal are in serious trouble. Battistelli just wanted to demolish quality control all along, making the EPO more like the USPTO where so-called 'production' doubled in a matter of years (because quality control became hardly applicable).

“Now we know that even without the UPC becoming a reality the Boards of Appeal are in serious trouble.”Writing about the EPO and UPC today, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP remind us that they live in a fantasy world. They speak of a “soon-to-open Unified Patent Court (UPC)” even though there’s no such court and no opening is expected any time soon (if ever).

“The UPC Preparatory Committee and EPO Select Committee have issued a joint statement saying they will continue with their planned work despite the Brexit vote,” MIP reports today. Well, ‘Brexit’ makes it impossible until/unless they cheat in some way, as they probably will. We expected this when we wrote about it last week and at the beginning of this week. UPC would simply mean more patent trolls in Europe, lower patent quality (including perhaps software patents), and more legal action everywhere. It’s a patent maximalist’s wet dream.

“How long can this last and who will pay the price of erroneously-granted patents?”The EPO is in a freefall. Large corporations get patents granted/examined in bulk (alienating SMEs which makes up much of Europe’s landscape) and in relation to an article mentioned yesterday and earlier today in Techrights there is now this official announcement titled “EPO launches fast-track patent examination with Australia” (warning: epo.org link). The EPO also takes note of changed rates on “refunds for withdrawals” (earlier today), so perhaps they think they can make up for loss of quality by higher quantity and increased fees. How long can this last and who will pay the price for erroneously-granted patents? These are somewhat rhetorical questions.

Europe is about to suffer a a great deal (perhaps for decades to come) as a result of Battistelli with his horrible policies and UPC fantasy, which was a waste of time and energy. Never before has Europe’s patent system been in such a state of turmoil.

Goodbye Halo, Hello Revisionism (or How Patent Profiteers Perfume a Terrible SCOTUS Decision That Helps Patent Trolls)

Posted in America, Patents at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent trolls will wear the halo after Halo v Pulse

An angel

Summary: A short review/overview of this past week’s coverage regarding Halo (the Halo v Pulse case) — a SCOTUS decision that will help patent trolls in the United States

Patent lawyers like to focus on the Halo decision because, just like the USPTO, patent activity makes them money (litigation, patent grants etc.) and the consequences of the activity does not matter to them. It doesn’t even bother them when patent trolls take over portfolios and tax everyone (the externality).

“It doesn’t even bother them when patent trolls take over portfolios and tax everyone (the externality).”According to some of the latest articles about Halo, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], one’s position depends on one’s interests/agenda. Battistelli’s mouthpieces (IAM), for instance, say that SCOTUS “lowers bar for awarding enhanced damages for patent infringement”, software patents lobbyists say that all is fine (even if it helps trolls, like those that fund IAM), Science|Business seemingly celebrates the decision, Forbes (i.e. the billionaires’ rag) speaks in terms like “innovation”, and patent lawyers call it “willful infringement”.

Coinciding with the latest report/overview of SCOTUS cases (by Dennis Crouch) there is this article which says:

Finally, and on a related note: The Supreme Court’s statement that it’s the time of infringement that matters and not later is really unworkable and flawed. A defendant, for example, who finds another piece of prior art later, closer to trial, surely can rely upon that evidence (and/or opinion analyzing it) as (a) confirming the strength of an earlier opinion or (b) providing evidence that, from that time forward, its infringement was not “egregious”?

A lot of patent maximalists focus not on the aspect which is relevant to patent trolls. This decision has, in general, been highly helpful to patent trolls who may now be able to go after more companies and demand even more money from them.

As always, when reading about patents in sites that are run by people who profit from patents, take everything with a grain of salt.

Realistic English Translation of EPO Announcement About Crushing of Patent Quality

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 12:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO hogwash

Summary: The EPO’s statement which proves Eric Blair (George Orwell) right, carefully rewritten to better explain what Battistelli and his cronies have just done to bring the EPO’s status to an all-time low

PUTTING the USPTO aside for a moment, as there is something rather urgent regarding the EPO to respond to (something we explained in the afternoon), consider this truly ugly piece of North Korean-like state propaganda from the EPO (warning: epo.org link and every single sentence is an Orwellian lie, except the sentence which explains what the appeal boards do).

“Once upon a time several examiners looked at each and every application, but EPO patent examiners admit a decline in patent quality and apparently decline/elimination of multi-person participation as well (so Battistelli just keeps lying to the media about it).”It is a shameless pack of lies, so we decided to rewrite it correctly. As a little bit of background, consider the vital role of quality control at any patent office, especially a patent office which strives to have high reputation (in order to justify high fees). Once upon a time several examiners looked at each and every application, but EPO patent examiners admit a decline in patent quality and apparently decline/elimination of multi-person participation as well (so Battistelli just keeps lying to the media about it).

Earlier today the EPO wrote: “How do you find out if your idea is novel? You do it by searching for prior art.” Well, “searching for prior art” is exactly what Battistelli is fighting against by compelling examiners to work faster (i.e. more recklessly) and keeping the appeal period shorter, the appeal boards understaffed, and the entire process vastly more expensive to challengers/appellants (i.e. unaffordable/prohibitive to small businesses in particular). So here is the ‘corrected’ announcement from the EPO:

Greater lenience and reduced patent quality for the EPO’s President

1 April 2016

In a Battistellian decision, his Administrative Council that exploits the European Patent Organisation for free dental care, agreed to send to exile the Boards of Appeal (BoA) in spite of the framework of the European Patent Convention.

Approved with an overwhelming spending on cooperation money to member states, the European Patent Organisation accepted a comprehensive demolition proposal of the Office to strengthen the perception that there is no future for the BoA, in particular by increasing the incentive to seek alternative employment, and to make it hard to receive presidential approval for such alternative employment. The BoA is the body that takes decisions on appeals against decisions of the European Patent Office concerning European patent applications and European patents.

“The decision taken yesterday finally achieves destruction of the EPO’s appeal system which wrongly was envisaged for many years. After two attempts of destruction which failed in 1995 and 2004, this is a historic achievement”, EPO President Battistelli said. “Increasing both the perception of poor job security and the high cost of the BOA is essential for securing my own job and elimination of the EPO’s appeal system and for maintaining its long-term deprecation”, the EPO President explained.

Under the demolition plan the current BoA will be restructured into a Boards of Appeal Unit within the EPO managed by a President of the Boards of Appeal – a new position -, who is solely responsible to a Battistelli-controlled Administrative Council and not to Battistelli directly. A newly created subsidiary committee of the Administrative Council, the Boards of Appeal Committee (BoAC), will help bamboozle journalists and politicians. This link between the BoA and the Administrative Council will be at the mercy of a President who blatantly disregards the rule of law.

The EPO President will appoint a crony – probably a former colleague from France or someone who faces many criminal charges in another country – to the President of the Boards of Appeal and therefore maintain managerial powers relating to the Boards of Appeal Unit. The President of the Boards of Appeal will also serve as Battistelli’s lapdog, serving as competition to the Chairman of the Administrative Council. The reform moreover aims to increase the cost of the BoA within the next years so that it will be easier to justify closure or perpetual downsizing.

The institutional reform will be accompanied by a vastly less attractive career system for the members and chairmen of the BoA, and a relocation in Munich for the Boards of Appeal Unit with a separated building so as to make it harder to go to work and compel many to quit their job. Moreover, new restrictions relating to post-service employment of BoA members and chairmen take into account the need to make it harder to quit (risk of perpetual unemployment) in order safeguard the integrity [sic] of the EPO’s appeal system by preventing any risk of potential conflicts of interest, unlike for example appointment of a friend’s wife to a top EPO position in HR.

“To speak plainly,” wrote one person earlier today, “there are simply not enough safeguards in the EPC against corruption (or to ensure an appropriate balance of power).” The threat of corruption comes not from ordinary employees. Currently, all the alleged corruption comes from the top-level management, i.e. Team Battistelli. To quote the whole comment:

No, not all of us are EPO employees. But, with the AC seemingly in BB’s pocket, what can we do?

In the light of recent events, I fear that only developments outside of the control of the Member States (e.g. an adverse decision from the constitutional court in Germany) could possibly prompt the AC into decisive action. But would we really want it to come to that?

Alternatively, if the media took more interest and thoroughly investigated quite why it is that the AC takes the decisions is does, could the EPO as whole withstand the fallout if clear evidence of votes for cash (or other personal benefit), blackmail or any other illegal activities was obtained? Or would it be even worse if we found out that the reason is that the delegates to the AC genuinely agree with BB’s views?

Sad to say that the problem here lies in the fact that the founding fathers of the EPC did not foresee that the president of the EPO might (mis)use the resources at his disposal to effectively ensure that he controls his overseers. To speak plainly, there are simply not enough safeguards in the EPC against corruption (or to ensure an appropriate balance of power). (I should point out that I am not alleging that there definitely are corrupt practices going on here, just that there is nothing in the EPC that could stop them if there were.)

The problem is of course hugely magnified by the fact that the president of the EPO has immunity, and does not believe that he need recognise the jurisdiction (let alone the judgements) of any national courts. So, if the AC will not bring him to heel, who on earth can? I am clinging to the straw that something positive will come out of the court cases in the Netherlands. However, I am not holding my breath on that (as, even in the event of a decision adverse to the Office, no doubt some way will be found to “fudge” the issue and carry on as normal).

Very sad times at the EPO. It’s like watching a rogue state whose citizens are stranded. They cannot even escape due to newly-issued sanctions. Eponia has become the new North Korea and Battistelli is its Supreme Leader.

Great News: The US Supreme Court Shoots Down Software Patents Again

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 11:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), where corruption has been rather rampant, gets more of a say as a result

Money

Summary: The outcome of the US Supreme Court refusing to intervene in the Sequenom v Ariosa case — a case which would have put at risk the strongly-worded Alice and Mayo decisions (SCOTUS level)

WITH a software patents-friendly USPTO and software patents-hostile courts (even in the US) there certainly is a problem. One strives to make more money by granting (accepting) as much as 92% of applications (causing a massive spike in grants) and another actually delivers justice, where there’s no incentive to ‘bless’ every patent that’s at stake. It’s a bit like EPO examination versus reassessment at the appeal boards or USPTO versus PTAB.

A new article by Professor Dennis Crouch says that the Supreme Court will deal with Life Tech v Promega but not with a lot of other cases. “Alice and Mayo Remain” says another article in relation to the Sequenom petition (mentioned here before), which is very good news as it indicates that software patents will carry on dying, at least in the courts and at PTAB (irrespective of how reckless and selfish the USPTO chooses to be). “Patentees in the biotech and software industries had placed substantial hope on the pending Supreme Court case of Sequenom v. Ariosa,” wrote Crouch. “The hope being that the case would serve as a vehicle for the Court to step-back from the strong language of Alice and Mayo that has led to rejection and invalidation for many. The Supreme Court has now denied certiorari in Sequenom – effectively ending that campaign.”

Fantastic!

“It’s a bit like EPO examination versus reassessment at the appeal boards or USPTO versus PTAB.”We shortly thereafter found many polite complaints about this in patent lawyers’ Web sites like this one. It’s not exactly shocking that patent lawyers are sad that SCOTUS Justices won’t give software patents another chance. Watch how this gets framed as a ‘clarification’ issue (it’s not) over at patent lawyers’ Web sites that constantly bemoan this decision. Even some financial sites wrote about it (after earlier reports that pertain to financial speculations), life science Web sites wrote about it [1, 2, 3], and lobbyists of software patents were not exactly enthusiastic. “Drug industry overstates impact of patent reviews on innovation” is one good article about it (more from the same site), here is an objective site, and here is MIP writing about both aforementioned cases. “Fingers Crossed” is how some patent maximalists put it ahead of the decision, barely hiding their biases. The corporate media covered this as well [1, 2, 3, 4]. It’s quite unusual for those kinds of stories.

Ars Technica wrote about the former case as follows: “The US Supreme Court has taken up its next patent case, which may well lead to another decision sharply overturning a ruling by the nation’s top patent court.

“As we are going to show later, CAFC is already pushing against Alice in a newly-issued decision.”Here’s how the case made it to the high court: Life Technologies Corporation, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific, manufactures a genetic testing kit in the United Kingdom. The company sells this product worldwide. Life Tech made one element of the kit, called a Taq polymerase, in the United States and then shipped it to the UK to combine with the larger product.”

This case, unlike the latter one, hardly threatens Alice and Mayo in any way.

The only downside is that, in the words of the EFF, “Supreme Court Gives More Leeway to Lower Courts on Patents and Copyright: Will Lower Courts Champion Innovation?” Remember that by giving more influence to lower courts like CAFC the reality is that those who brought software patents to the US in the first place will gain more power. As we are going to show later, CAFC is already pushing against Alice in a newly-issued decision.

No Expectation of the US Patent System Getting Fixed Any Time Soon

Posted in America, Patents at 10:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Clinton fighting for herself

Summary: On the agenda of the supposedly ‘liberal’ side (hawkish and corporatist in practice) there’s no reason for Hope of Change and new data suggests that patent practices are gradually ebbing away in the United States

THE USPTO strives to grant more and more patents, i.e. the mistake that the EPO repeats under Battistelli.

Now that Hillary Clinton makes her supposed position on patents publicly known, EPO mouthpieces say that “Clinton releases her patent to-do list, but it’s on the Hill where the reform agenda will be driven” and Jamie Love, a patent reformer (especially in the area of access to medicine) says “Hillary Clinton makes a few welcome suggestions regarding reforms of patent litigation in US.”

“The patent world’s mumbo-jumbo, in particular misleading euphemisms like ‘protection’, ‘property’, ‘asset’, ‘assertion’, and ‘innovation’ aren’t exactly mesmerising and we hope that people everywhere will manage to filter the buzzwords and assess things for what they really are.”Here is the referenced page and some blurb from IP Watch about it. We don’t honestly think that Clinton would work for anyone other than herself and her campaign contributors, i.e. Wall Street, oligarchs (like Donald Trump) and large corporations, but giving her the benefit of the doubt, let’s see what TechDirt made of it after careful analysis. TechDirt published two articles on the subject; one was titled “Hillary Clinton’s Tech Policy Plan Includes Some Empty Broadband Promises And A Continued War On Encryption” and another “Hillary Clinton’s Intellectual Property Platform: Too Vague & Confusing”. This pretty much reaffirms what we believed all along. Lots of promises, no expected delivery. It’s campaign season’s rhetoric, just like Clinton’s (her husband) and Obama’s (who now endorses her, having failed to make any positive change in the patent system). Speaking of spouses, see “Quick Hit: Massachusetts Case Litigating Spouse’s Interest in Invention.” It comes from Patently-O and it says: “I can’t find anything available on line that is not behind a paywall, so… Recall that I’ve written here about how there’s an interesting question as to whether in a community property state the spouse of an inventor has an interest in inventions (and other IP). Defendants have, so far unsuccessfully, taken quitclaims from the spouse in an effort to defeat infringement suits, as a result.

“There’s a Massachusetts appeal pending where, from what I can tell from what I’ve found on-line, the spouse of an inventor is claiming that because funds from a joint bank account were used on the invention, she has an interest in it. The case is Mazzu v. Mazzu, No. 2015-P-16011, and it is on appeal from the Suffolk Count Superior Court to the Appeals Court of Massachusetts. Who knows what we will learn.”

Another Patently-O article, this one by Jason Rantanen, says that “Professor Radin’s discussion is worth a read for the eloquent way that she captures and synthesizes the raw strands floating around in current discussions about patent claims.”

“This whole election cycle is already well down the drain as people are basically presented with the choice between an oligarch and one who works for oligarchs.”The patent world’s mumbo-jumbo, in particular misleading euphemisms like ‘protection’, ‘property’, ‘asset’, ‘assertion’, and ‘innovation’ aren’t exactly mesmerising and we hope that people everywhere will manage to filter the buzzwords and assess things for what they really are. Another new Patently-O article is particularly interesting as there’s a graph, derived from raw data, showing a decline in the number of newly-registered patent practitioners since Obama took public office. Here is the caveat: “The above graph shows only initial registrations. It does not show changes in which a patent agent becomes a patent attorney, as the practitioner does not receive a new registration number. The registrations for 2015 indicate that 42.4% of the initial registrations were for patent attorneys and 57.6% were for patent agents (some of whom later became or will become patent attorneys).”

Whatever happens next in the US, we believe that neither Clinton nor Trump will make things any better. This whole election cycle is already well down the drain as people are basically presented with the choice between an oligarch and one who works for oligarchs. It’s somewhat of a lost cause.

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