07.22.16

Links 22/7/2016: Wine 1.9.15, KaOS 2016.07 ISO

Posted in News Roundup at 6:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Science

    • UK employers still reluctant to hire recent CompSci grads

      Computer science graduates continue to top the UK’s higher education unemployment rankings, according to the latest figures compiled by Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

      Ten per cent of computer science graduates failed to find a job six months after graduation in the academic year 2014/2015 – a figure higher than students who had studied Mass Communications and documentation, Physical sciences, or Engineering and technology (all 7.7 per cent).

      But the percentage is improving, albeit slowly. Last year’s statistics by HESA revealed 11.3 per cent of computer science graduates in 2013/2014 were unemployed.

  • Hardware

    • Digitimes Research: SoftBank chairman overoptimistic about benefits from acquiring ARM

      For Japan-based SoftBank’s plan to acquire a 100% stake in UK-based ARM at GBP24.3 billion (US$32.0 billion), SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son indicated that the acquisition is motivated by the large business potential for IoT (Internet of Things). However, Son overestimated real benefits from the acquisition and underestimated difficulties in vertical and horizontal integration of industries for IoT application, according to Digitimes Research.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Civil Society Calls On India To Backtrack On Policy Threatening Global HIV Response

      The International AIDS Society made a statement today at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, voicing concerns about India’s recent policy which, according to the group, is threatening access to HIV treatment in India and around the world.

      The International AIDS Conference is taking place from 18-22 July.

      The statement co-signed by a number of civil society groups, said civil society is concerned “about the closing space both for the civil society groups that have been critical in the AIDS response nationally and internationally and for the public health-supporting policies that ensure quality, affordable generic drugs for the world.”

    • Emails reveal role of Monsanto in Séralini study retraction

      In September 2012 the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) published the research of a team led by the French biologist Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, which found liver and kidney toxicity and hormonal disturbances in rats fed Monsanto’s GM maize NK603 and very small doses of the Roundup herbicide it is grown with, over a long-term period. An additional observation was a trend of increased tumours in most treatment groups.

      In November 2013 the study was retracted by the journal’s editor, A. Wallace Hayes, after the appointment of a former Monsanto scientist, Richard E. Goodman, to the editorial board and a non-transparent review process by nameless people that took several months.

      Did Monsanto pressure the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) to retract the study? French journalist Stéphane Foucart addresses this question in an article for Le Monde.

    • The U.S. Lags Far Behind Other Developed Countries In Access To Affordable Abortion

      Seventy-four percent of countries with liberal abortion laws cover abortion costs. Why doesn’t the U.S.?

    • New French Law Opens Market For Non-Profits Selling Public Domain Seeds

      New legislation on biodiversity has been adopted by the French National Assembly, opening doors for the sharing and selling of seeds in the public domain to amateur gardeners. For some associations that had been illegally trading public domain seeds, this is seen as a major victory.

      Prior to the newly adopted legislation, only seeds listed in the national catalogue could be commercialised in France. The new law allows non-governmental organisations to transfer, share or sell seeds that are in the public domain to non-commercial users (IPW, Biodiversity/Genetic Resources/Biotech, 7 July 2016).

  • Security

    • As a blockchain-based project teeters, questions about the technology’s security

      There’s no shortage of futurists, industry analysts, entrepreneurs and IT columnists who in the past year have churned out reports, articles and books touting blockchain-based ledgers as the next technology that will run the world.

    • Fix Bugs, Go Fast, and Update: 3 Approaches to Container Security

      Containers are becoming the central piece of the future of IT. Linux has had containers for ages, but they are still maturing as a technology to be used in production or mission-critical enterprise scenarios. With that, security is becoming a central theme around containers. There are many proposed solutions to the problem, including identifying exactly what technology is in place, fixing known bugs, restricting change, and generally implementing sound security policies. This article looks at these issues and how organizations can adapt their approach to security to keep pace with the rapid evolution of containers.

    • Preventing the next Heartbleed and making FOSS more secure [Ed: Preventing the next Microsoft-connected trademarked bug for FOSS and making FOSS more secure from Microsoft FUD]

      David Wheeler is a long-time leader in advising and working with the U.S. government on issues related to open source software. His personal webpage is a frequently cited source on open standards, open source software, and computer security. David is leading a new project, the CII Best Practices Badging project, which is part of the Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) for strengthening the security of open source software. In this interview he talks about what it means for both government and other users.

    • Container Image Signing
    • Friday’s security updates
    • Protecting the open source software supply chain [Ed: FUD for marketing of Sonatype]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • The President of Turkey has launched a bloody coup against his own people, and it’s happening right now

      After a brutal military coup in Turkey against Erdogan’s presidency failed over the weekend, the Turkish president has responded in kind: with his own brutal coup against the Turkish people.

      In the name of defending democracy from the original coup plotters, Erdogan is literally targeting tens of thousands of Turkish citizens. And standing in the firing line are not just his political opponents, but Turkey’s largest ethnic minority, the Kurds.

    • Britain’s nuclear-weapons future: no done deal

      The warheads are developed and assembled at the Aldermaston/Burghfield complex which has annual running costs of at least £1bn a year. The missile submarines need protection by nuclear-powered (but not nuclear-armed) attack submarines, and are also given support from surface warships. One of the functions of the fleet of nine new Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime-patrol aircraft, also just ordered at a cost of a further £3 million, is to provide further protection.

    • State Department Worried About “Backsliding” in Turkey Following Failed Coup, Mass Arrests

      Secretary of State John Kerry said that he and his European counterparts will be paying close attention to developments in Turkey, after thousands of Turkish officials were punished in the wake of a failed coup attempt.

      “Obviously a lot of people have been arrested and arrested very quickly,” Kerry said Monday, in Brussels. “The level of vigilance and scrutiny is obviously going to be significant in the days ahead. Hopefully we can work in a constructive way that prevents a backsliding.”

      Kerry made the statements from a previously scheduled meeting held by the European Council, an EU executive branch organ. The Washington Post described the gathering as having morphed into “crisis management,” in response to developments in Turkey.

    • Wikileaks: Email says AK Party provided Barzani with $200 million in March

      The Wikileaks website released a cache of nearly 300,000 emails allegedly sent by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), some of which were related to the Kurdistan Region, four days after an attempted military coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

      One of the leaked emails dating back to March 12, 2016 stated the AKP gave an unspecified member of the Barzani family $200 million in “financial aid” after a temporary halt in oil exports via the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline – a major financial lifeline for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

      The KRG is not specifically mentioned in the email and the Kurdistan Region is referred to as “areas under the hand of Peshmerga.”

    • [Older] Jeremy Corbyn may have been proved right on Iraq – but he’s hopeless on the important matter of doing up his tie

      Like Tony Blair, we were all duped by the intelligence on Saddam Hussein – except for the millions that went on marches, and Nelson Mandela, and France, and the Pope, and the chief weapons inspector, and Robin Cook

    • Turkey’s Baffling Coup

      This time, it was very different. Thanks to a series of sham trials targeting secularist officers, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had managed to reconfigure the military hierarchy and place his own people at the top. While the country has been rocked by a series of terrorist attacks and faces a souring economy, there was no inkling of unrest in the military or opposition to Erdogan. On the contrary, Erdogan’s recent reconciliation with Russia and Israel, together with his apparent desire to pull back from an active role in the Syrian civil war, must have been a relief to Turkey’s top brass.

    • Donald Trump Crams Two Errors Into One Statement on Turkey

      In an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, after suggesting that he might not defend another member of the NATO alliance in the event of a Russian attack, Donald Trump was asked if he was paying close attention to what was happening in Turkey, following the failed coup attempt last week.

      Trump replied that he had been impressed by the efforts of the Turkish people, who took to the streets to prevent the military from seizing power — but did so in a way that demonstrated his ignorance about a central facet of what took place last Friday night.

    • Erdogan Suspects US Sympathy for Coup

      Reports that Russian President Putin may have tipped off Turkish President Erdogan about last week’s coup attempt – while the U.S. apparently stayed silent – suggest a possible reordering of regional relationships, says John Chuckman.

    • Live updates: Several reported killed in Munich mall shooting

      Police believe three gunmen opened fire on Friday evening at and near a shopping mall in the German city of Munich, killing several people, authorities said. The shooting at Olympia shopping mall “looks like a terror attack,” a police representative said.

    • ‘Boom boom boom – he’s killing the kids’: Gunman shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ executed children in Munich McDonald’s before rampaging through mall killing NINE with police now hunting three attackers
    • Munich shooting: ‘Multiple deaths’ after shots fired at OEZ German shopping centre
    • Nice attack: City refuses police call to delete CCTV images

      The local authorities in Nice have refused a request by French anti-terror police to destroy CCTV images of last week’s lorry attack.
      The Paris prosecutor’s office said the request had been made to avoid the “uncontrolled dissemination” of images.

      But officials in Nice have responded by filing a legal document, arguing the footage could constitute evidence.

      It is the latest evidence of a growing dispute between the local and national authorities in the wake of the attack.

    • Nuclear weapons contractors repeatedly stifle whistleblowers, auditors say

      At laboratories and factories where American nuclear weapons are designed and built, and at the sites still being cleansed of the toxic wastes created by such work, contractor employees outnumber federal workers six to one. That makes them key sentinels when something goes awry, a circumstance that officials say explains why they get legal protections when whistleblowing.

      That’s the theory. It turns out that the Energy Department has actually handed most of the oversight over these protections to the contractors themselves, robbing workers at key nuclear weapons sites of confidence that pointing out security and safety dangers or other mistakes won’t bring retaliation, according to an audit released by the Government Accountability Office on July 14.

      The Energy Department’s decision to embrace contractor self-regulation of its whistleblowing protection system means in many cases that those overseeing it work for the contractors’ top lawyers, who must defend the contractor against employee claims of wrongdoing, or for those officials responsible for deciding about job cuts, the report disclosed.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Big Oil, Not Big Tobacco, Wrote the Public Skepticism Playbook: Report

      The playbook on sowing public skepticism about health and climate issues originated not with Big Tobacco—as long believed—but with Big Oil, a new investigation reveals.

      Documents published Wednesday by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) show that the tobacco and fossil fuel industries used the same public relations firms, the same think tanks, and in many cases, the very same researchers, to foment doubt about public interest issues—starting with climate change. The documents show that the “direct connections” between the industries go back even earlier than previously believed, CIEL says.

      “Again and again we found both the PR firms and the researchers worked first for oil, then for tobacco. It was a pedigree the tobacco companies recognized, and sought out,” said the center’s president, Carroll Muffett.

    • Greenland Is Still Melting Away

      A new paper just published by scientists in Geophysical Research Letters presents results of their investigation into the ice sheet covering Greenland. They found that over the four-year period from Jan. 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2014 Greenland lost over a trillion tons of ice.

    • The “Denial Playbook”: An Original Product Of The Oil Industry

      New documents reveal that the oil and tobacco industries took pages from the same book to engineer their decade long campaigns on denying the existence of climate change and smoking-related cancer. The playbook also appears to have originated not with tobacco, but with the oil industry itself, and the two even appeared to share patents.

      In their research, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), found that the two industries collaborated from the 1950s onwards, more closely and earlier than previously thought. Both industries had used the same PR firms, research institutes and researchers, many of whom began working for first the oil industry, and then tobacco.

  • Finance

    • Success! Leader Pelosi Stands Up for Users and Opposes the TPP

      Thank you, Leader Pelosi, for standing up for users to block this undemocratic, anti-user deal. Combined with the stated opposition to the TPP of both presidential candidates, and the likelihood that other House Democrats will follow Leader Pelosi’s courageous lead, it is now significantly less likely that the TPP will be introduced during the lame duck session, or if introduced, that it will pass the House.

    • HSBC’s Johnson Out on Bond After Airport Arrest in Currency Case

      Federal agents surprised an HSBC Holdings Plc executive as he prepared to fly out of New York’s Kennedy airport, arresting him for an alleged front-running scheme involving a $3.5 billion currency transaction in 2011.

    • Hours Before Hillary Clinton’s VP Decision, Likely Pick Tim Kaine Praises the TPP

      Hillary Clinton’s rumored vice presidential pick Sen. Tim Kaine defended his vote for fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Thursday.

      Kaine, who spoke to The Intercept after an event at a Northern Virginia mosque, praised the agreement as an improvement of the status quo, but maintained that he had not yet decided how to vote on final approval of the agreement. By contrast, Hillary Clinton has qualified her previous encouragement of the agreement, and now says she opposes it.

      Kaine’s measured praise of the agreement could signal one of two things. Either he is out of the running for the vice presidential spot, as his position on this major issue stands in opposition to hers. Or, by picking him, Clinton is signaling that her newly declared opposition to the agreement is not sincere. The latter explanation would confirm the theory offered by U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue, among others, who has said that Clinton is campaigning against the TPP for political reasons but would ultimately implement the deal.

    • Brexit, Austerity and the Future of the European Union

      Many commentators have focused on racism and xenophobia as major factors in the move to leave the EU. Undoubtedly these were important considerations. Many people in England, especially older ones, are uncomfortable with the country becoming more diverse. They fear and resent the people coming in from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere.

      But racism and xenophobia are not new for the United Kingdom. What is new is that these forces are powerful enough to force the country to break with a political union it joined more than four decades ago. Needless to say, there have been other situations where such forces came to dominate politics and they have not ended well.

      The issue in the UK and elsewhere is that there are real grievances which demagogues have been able to exploit. First and foremost is the austerity that had curbed growth in the U.K. and cut back funding for important programs. While austerity has not been as severe in the U.K. as in the euro zone (the U.K. is not in the euro), the conservative government sharply cut government spending in 2010, ostensibly out of concern that deficits and debt were harming the economy.

    • Lori Wallach, Peter Maybarduk and Karen Hansen-Kuhn on Corporate Globalization

      This week on CounterSpin: Few ideas are as hard-wired into current corporate media as the notion that so-called “free trade” agreements of the sort we have are, despite concerns, best for everyone. Given that the deals are not primarily about trade, and that what freedom they entail accrues to corporations and not people, you could say the very use of the term “free trade” implies a bias, against clarity if nothing else. This week, CounterSpin will revisit three interviews we’ve done on this issue.

    • #CETA #TTIP The next generation trade deals – We need to ask who benefits and why?

      The EU on behalf of the member states is current negotiating an EU US trade deal called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Talks around another trade deal between the EU and Canada have concluded – this deal is called The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

      Aside from the lack of coverage in the Irish media of the actual substance of these very critical trade talks, there are a number of concerns being expressed by campaign and civil society groups – in particular that a special court system will be incorporated into CETA & TTIP to allow corporations to sue EU member states who wish to introduce strong legislation to protect public health, food safety and environmental legislation for example.

    • Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street

      Nothing seems to rattle Hillary Clinton quite so much as pointed questions about her personal finances. How much she’s made. How she made it. Where it all came from. From her miraculous adventures in the cattle futures market to the Whitewater real estate scam, many of the most venal Clinton scandals down the decades have involved Hillary’s financial entanglements and the serpentine measures she has taken to conceal them from public scrutiny.

      Hillary is both driven to acquire money and emits a faint whiff of guilt about having hoarded so much of it. One might be tempted to ascribe her squeamishness about wealth to her rigid Methodism, but her friends say that Hillary’s covetousness derives from a deep obsession with feeling secure, which makes a kind of sense given Bill’s free-wheeling proclivities. She’s not, after all, a child of the Depression, but a baby boomer. Hillary was raised in comfortable circumstances in the Chicago suburbs and, unlike her husband, has never in her life felt the sting of want.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Leaked emails reveal Politico reporter made ‘agreement’ to send advanced Clinton story to DNC

      An influential reporter at Politico made an apparent “agreement” with the Democratic National Committee to let it review a story about Hillary Clinton’s fundraising machine before it was submitted to his editors, leaked emails published by WikiLeaks on Friday revealed.

    • DNC Staffers Mocked the Bernie Sanders Campaign, Leaked Emails Show

      A new trove of internal Democratic National Committee emails, stretching back to April 2016, released by Wikileaks show that the organization’s senior staff chafed at Bernie Sanders’s continued presence in the presidential primary. Staffers were also irritated by criticism that they were biased towards Hillary Clinton.

      In May, chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (DWS) reacted to an MSNBC anchor criticizing her treatment of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary by trying to force her to apologize.

      On May 18th, DNC staffer Kate Houghton forwarded to Wasserman-Schultz a Breitbart News story highlighting remarks by MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski in which she called for the chairwoman to step down over perceived bias against Sanders during the presidential primary.

      Wasserman-Schultz reacted angrily, writing that this was the “LAST straw” and instructing communications director Luis Miranda to call MSNBC president Phil Griffin to demand an apology from Brzezinski.

    • Wikileaks emails: Democratic officials ‘plotted to expose Bernie Sanders’ as an atheist

      The Democratic National Committee – a supposedly neutral organisation – apparently hatched a plan to try and undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign against Hillary Clinton by getting someone to claim he was an atheist.

      The Sanders campaign for months complained that people in the DNC were biased in favour of the establishment candidate, Ms Clinton. The campaign even sued the DNC to allow it access to its voter database.

    • New Leak: Top DNC Official Wanted to Use Bernie Sanders’s Religious Beliefs Against Him

      Among the nearly 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, released Friday by Wikileaks and presumably provided by the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” is a May 2016 message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall. In it, he suggested that the party should “get someone to ask” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his religious beliefs.

    • Major Errors In Reporting On Polling Data Must Be Corrected By International And Brazilian Media – OpEd

      A report on polling data first published on Saturday by Folha de São Paulo, Brazil’s largest-circulation newspaper, contained errors that were so “huge and fundamentally important to the current political crisis that they require much more than the usual correction,” according to CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot.

      “Bad polling happens quite often, but these are errors in both polling and reporting of a whole different magnitude,” said Weisbrot.

      As noted by The Intercept yesterday, Folha de São Paulo had reported that according to a poll conducted by the firm Datafolha, 50 percent of Brazilians wanted the interim president Michel Temer to serve through 2018; 32 percent wanted the elected president Dilma Rousseff to do this (the end of her current term of office); 4 percent wanted neither of the two; and just 3 percent wanted new elections.

    • Donald Trump’s Long Rant Thrilled David Duke, But Alienated Many Others

      As Donald Trump shouted for 76 minutes on Thursday night about how horrible everything is in the dystopian fiction he’s confused for America, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan found himself nodding along in agreement.

      So the white supremacist David Duke, who was nearly elected governor of Louisiana in 1991 by channeling white resentment, posted a rave review of the address on Twitter.

    • In Cleveland, Lonely Protesters Marched Through Empty Streets

      In total, 24 people were arrested in convention-related incidents as of Friday morning, most at a flag burning protest on Wednesday. But while legal observers denounced those arrests, and delays in the processing of arrestees, as “troubling,” the final count was significantly lower than what most expected, with the city having announced ahead of the convention that it was prepared to “handle upwards of 1,000 arrests per day.”

    • Republican Leaders Choose Their Own Future Over Donald Trump’s

      Republicans have nominated the least popular presidential nominee in recent history — and it showed. Throughout the week, the biggest names on the convention schedule consciously avoided lavishing too much praise on the nominee himself, for fear of their own political futures.

      House Speaker Paul Ryan mentioned Trump just twice in his address. Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, locked in a tough re-election race, mentioned the nominee just once. Ted Cruz, the second-place finisher in the primary, refused to endorse Trump at all, telling attendees instead to “vote your conscience.”

      And these were the Republicans who showed up to speak. Many major party figures didn’t attend at all. Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake told the press he wasn’t attending because he had to mow his lawn. None of the Bushes showed up.

    • Ivanka Said Her Dad Cares About Child Care. Here’s What Happened When A Woman Asked Him About It.

      Ivanka Trump tried to portray her father as a champion of women while introducing him on the last night of the RNC. But not only is there no evidence that the man who has a reputation for demeaning women is actually a champion for them — an examination of his platform and history indicates quite the opposite.

      [...]

      Trump Organization’s salaries are not public, but that claim doesn’t hold up on his campaign. Trump pays his male campaign staffers 35 percent more money than female staffers. That’s partly because he has only two women among his senior-level staff, and just 28 percent of his staff is made up of women. One former staffer filed a complaint earlier this year saying she was paid $2,000 a month — about half what several men with the same title make.

      She also talked about how Trump would help families. “As president, my father will change the labor laws,” she said, suggested he’d make “child care affordable and accessible for all” and provide support for working mothers.

      While affordable child care is a cornerstone of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Trump has not released any plan for child care. The candidate has also shown zero interest in thinking about the issue. When an organizer asked him for his thoughts on child care back in December, he replied, “I love children” but refused to engage further, saying, “It’s a big subject, darling.”

    • Robert Scheer: Americans Shouldn’t Settle for Candidates ‘Who Have Created This Tremendous Mess’

      In a recent interview on The Real News Network, Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer sat down with Paul Jay, senior editor of The Real News Network, to discuss the current election and the future of the American democratic system. The interview begins with Scheer talking about the Republican National Convention and neofascist rhetoric. “You don’t get fascist movements taking over, rising to power, without people being in pain,” Scheer says. “And we have a situation now in the United States that is increasingly resembling a kind of post-Weimar Germany.”

      Jay then brings the conversation around to new movements like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, which Scheer says save “a reasonable established order” by forcing those in power to respond to the needs of the people. “It’s only when the established order is failing to respond to the real needs of people that you get madness and chaos, and that’s what I think you’re hearing at the Republican convention.”

    • Never Mind the RNC — This Is What Voters Care About This Election

      Despite their absence from the Republican National Convention, voters prioritize campaign finance reform and action on climate change.

    • Donald Trump’s Convention Speech Rings Terrifying Historical Alarm Bells

      Donald Trump’s speech tonight accepting the Republican nomination for president will probably go down as one of the most frightening pieces of political rhetoric in U.S. history.

      Even for people who believe the danger of genuine authoritarianism on the U.S. right is often exaggerated, it’s impossible not to hear in Trump’s speech echoes of the words and strategies of the world’s worst leaders.

      Trump had just one message for Americans: Be afraid. You are under terrible threats from forces inside and outside your country, and he’s the only person who can save us.

    • Volatile America

      Then the headlines shifted and, for the moment, “normalcy” returned. It’s a Trump-sated normalcy that’s anything but, of course, and the most recent heavily reported violence (at least as I write these words) — the murder of three police officers in Baton Rouge — blends into the endlessly simmering turmoil known as the United States of America.

      And the civil war, in fact, started long ago. But until recently, only one side has been armed and organized. That’s why the two latest police killings, by disciplined, heavily armed former military men, loose a terrifying despair. The victims are fighting back — in the worst way possible, but in a way sure to inspire replication.

      When people are armed and outraged, the world so easily collapses into us vs. them. All complexity vanishes. People’s life purpose clarifies into a simplistic certainty: Kill the enemy. Indeed, sacrifice your life to do so, if necessary. I fear this is still the nation’s dominant attitude toward its troubles. We’re eating ourselves alive.

      One way this is happening was described in a recent New York Times story, headlined: “Philando Castile Was Pulled Over 49 Times in 13 Years, Often for Minor Infractions.” Castile, who as the world knows was shot and killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop on July 6, was a young man caught in a carnivorous system pretty much all his adult life. Every time he started his car, he risked arrest for “driving while black.” The Times quotes a Minneapolis public defender, who described Castile as “typical of low-income drivers who lose their licenses, then become overwhelmed by snowballing fines and fees.” They “just start to feel hopeless.”

      The story goes on: “The episode, to many, is a heartbreaking illustration of the disproportionate risks black motorists face with the police. . . . The killings have helped fuel a growing national debate over racial bias in law enforcement.”

      A growing national “debate”? Oh, the politeness! How much racism should we allow the police to show before we censure them? It’s like talking about the “debate” we used to have over the moral legitimacy of lynching.

    • Ted Cruz Booed and Heckled for Refusing to Endorse Donald Trump

      In a remarkable show of disunity at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Sen. Ted Cruz was booed and heckled by many delegates on Wednesday night as it became clear that he had no intention of endorsing Donald Trump for the presidency.

      Cruz, who called Trump “a pathological liar” and “utterly amoral” when he dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination in May, refused to follow the lead of two of the other defeated candidates, Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio, who did endorse the billionaire in their speeches.

      Watching Cruz give what seemed like a campaign speech for himself, Trump’s children sat in silence. Then there were cheers and a ripple of applause from the delegates as Cruz looked into the camera and said, “to those listening, please don’t stay home in November.”

    • Donald Trump is the Loneliest Man in America

      Donald Trump may well be the loneliest man in America. And I’m only 45%-60% kidding. This belief springs from his use of one single word—a word that every native speaker of the English language other than Trump knows does not, in fact, exist: the word “bigly.”

      Consider this: Donald Trump is so rich, so insulated–and so truly bereft of friends—that he’s managed to walk around on this planet for more than 70 years without ever realizing that “bigly” is not an actual word.

    • Chamber of Commerce May Prefer Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump

      The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday signaled that the big-business community is still undecided between newly minted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Chamber President Tom Donohue’s statements to Fox Business News on Wednesday morning represented an astonishing break from the organization’s nearly invariable support for Republican candidates.

      “Trump talks about some important things in energy and taxes and financial areas,” Donohue said. “Hillary perhaps has more experience and businessmen like that — businessmen and women like that — but I don’t think that’ll be decided until you hear the speeches here and next week and you see the first debate, and I think people will start to move more clearly to where they’re going to vote.”

    • On violence, neoliberalism and the hallucinatory anti-politics of the Trump era.

      “If we can’t change consciousness, if we can’t get people to identify with the issues in a way that make them appear very real to their lives, then all of a sudden anger gets distorted and rerouted into something worse – it becomes racism, it becomes a movement mobilized by the need for saviors, it becomes a movement that embodies the worst possible political alternative.”

    • Roger Ailes leaves Fox News in wake of sexual harassment claims

      Roger Ailes, the longtime Fox News chairman who helped found the network and build it into a cable ratings behemoth, has been forced out of the company following allegations that he sexually harassed numerous subordinates, including former host Gretchen Carlson and star anchor Megyn Kelly.

    • Black Cleveland Residents Tell Tale of Two Cities in the Shadow of Republican Convention

      A day after Republican National Convention speakers discussed how to “make America safe again,” a group of young Clevelanders held their own “make America safe again” event at a downtown park.

      As police officers on horseback and bikes fended off a small rally down the block and helicopters buzzed overhead, the group of mostly black and Latino college students huddled around a picnic table Tuesday and talked about how irrelevant and offensive the Republican event is to many residents of its host city.

    • 9 Lies In Donald Trump’s Big Speech To The Republican Convention

      At the beginning of his big RNC-closing speech, Trump called for “a straightforward assessment of the state of our nation,” and said he would “present the facts plainly and honestly.” He didn’t follow through on that promise.

      Trump’s speech was much more scripted than his typically ad-libbed rally performances, which are riddled with falsehoods. But his formal acceptance of the nomination was also full of deception. Here’s a rundown of some of the misleading claims made by the man whose campaign statements were named the “lie of the year” by Politifact.

    • Trump Spent A Lot Of His Speech Fear-Mongering About Crime. These 3 Charts Prove Him Wrong.

      Donald Trump wants you to think that America is a scary, scary place. In his speech accepting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Trump claims that “decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this Administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement.” He unleashes a blizzard of cherry-picked statistics all directed at one purpose — convincing you that crime has run amok and that he is the only thing that can save you.

      Don’t believe him. The reality is that crime isn’t just on a downward trend, but it has been for a very long time.

    • Trump Campaign Manager Makes Astonishingly Sexist Argument For Why Women Should Vote For Trump

      “Many women feel they can’t afford their lives, their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills,” Manafort said. “Hillary Clinton is guilty of being part of the establishment that created that problem. They will hear the message. As they hear the message, that’s how we will appeal to them.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The CIA, NSA and Pokémon Go

      Before heading out to capture Pokémon, you might want to consider the data the game has access to and the history of the company that created the game

    • Snowden: ‘I never thought I’d be saved’ after NSA leaks

      When Edward Snowden leaked highly classified secrets about government spying in 2013, the undertaking took meticulous coordination.

      Snowden, a former NSA contractor, chatted with Guardian reporters Glenn Greenwald and documentary maker Laura Poitras over encrypted email exchanges. Their first meeting hinged on code words and a secret signal involving a Rubik’s cube.

      But when the first article revealing hush-hush surveillance programs went live that June while he was in a Hong Kong hotel room, that’s as far as Snowden had thought things through, he said over a live internet feed from Russia, where he’s been living in exile since the leaks.

    • China To Ban Ad Blockers As Part Of New Regulations For Online Advertising

      Since it’s hard to see the Chinese government really caring too much about the problems that ad-blocking software causes for online publishers, there is presumably another motivation behind this particular move. One possibility is that the Chinese authorities use the tracking capabilities of online ads for surveillance purposes, and the increasing use of ad blockers in China is making that harder. That clearly runs against the current policy of keeping an eye on everything that online users do in China, which is perhaps why the authorities want ad blockers banned in the country, despite the inconvenience and risks for users of doing so.

      It remains to be seen how successful the Chinese government will be in stamping out such popular software, or whether this will be another regulation that is largely ignored.

    • Former Homeland Security Advisor: Tech Companies Have The Burden Of Proving Harm Of Backdoored Encryption

      Last week’s one-sided “hearing” on encryption — hosted by an irritated John McCain, who kept interrupting things to complain that Apple hadn’t showed up to field false accusations and his general disdain — presented three sides of the same coin. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance again argued that the only way through this supposed impasse was legislation forcing companies to decrypt communications for the government. The other two offering testimony were former Homeland Security Advisor Ken Wainstein and former NSA Deputy Director Chris Inglis.

      Not much was said in defense of protections for cellphone users. Much was made of the supposed wrongness of law enforcement not being able to access content and communications presumed to be full of culpatory evidence.

      But one of the more surprising assertions was delivered by a former government official. Wainstein’s testimony [PDF] — like Vance’s — suggested the government and phone makers start “working together.” “Working together” is nothing more than a euphemism for “make heavy concessions to the government and prepare to deliver the impossible,” as Patrick Tucker of Defense One points out. Wainstein says phone manufacturers must do more than theorize that weakened encryption would harm them or their companies. They must hand over “hard data” on things that haven’t happened yet.

    • Wall Street Journal Reporter Hassled At LA Airport; Successfully Prevents DHS From Searching Her Phones

      Welcome to Bordertown, USA. Population: 200 million. Expect occasional temporary population increases from travelers arriving from other countries. Your rights as a US citizen are indeterminate within 100 miles of US borders. They may be respected. They may be ignored. But courts have decided that the “right” to do national security stuff — as useless as most its efforts are — trumps the rights of US citizens.

      Wall Street Journal reporter Maria Abi-Habib – a US-born citizen traveling into the States with her valid passport — discovered this at the Los Angeles International Airport. Her Facebook post describes her interaction with DHS agents who suddenly decided they needed to detain her and seize her electronics.

    • France calls end to Microsoft’s ‘excessive’ user data collection

      France is not happy about the amount of data collection and lack of security in Windows 10 and has given the firm three months to sort it out.

    • Microsoft responds to allegations that Windows 10 collects ‘excessive personal data’

      Yesterday France’s National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) slapped a formal order on Microsoft to comply with data protection laws after it found Windows 10 was collecting “excessive data” about users. The company has been given three months to meet the demands or it will face fines.

      Microsoft has now responded, saying it is happy to work with the CNIL to work towards an acceptable solution. Interestingly, while not denying the allegations set against it, the company does nothing to defend the amount of data collected by Windows 10, and also fails to address the privacy concerns it raises.

      Microsoft does address concerns about the transfer of data between Europe and the US, saying that while the Safe Harbor agreement is no longer valid, the company still complied with it up until the adoption of Privacy Shield.

    • Cloud Encryption Threat Map

      The Cloud has gained quite a bit of popularity within the past decade such that many companies can roll out their own or one hosted by a cloud provider with relative ease. However with this new world come new threats and it is important that organizations adequately model their networks, data and possible threats to ensure sensitive data is kept secure. Kenn White was kind enough to create this threat scenarios mind map and I thought it was worth sharing as it does a great job of showing scenarios that different security technologies help protect against.

    • Tor Could Protect Your Smart Fridge From Spies and Hackers

      There’s a growing fear that the exploding internet of things — from baby cams to pacemakers — could be a goldmine for spies and criminal hackers, allowing them access to all kinds of personal photos, videos, audio recordings, and other data. It’s a concern bolstered by remarks from top national security officials.

    • Opera browser sold to a Chinese consortium for $600 million

      After a $1.2 billion deal fell through, Opera has sold most of itself to a Chinese consortium for $600 million. The buyers, led by search and security firm Qihoo 360, are purchasing Opera’s browser business, its privacy and performance apps, its tech licensing and, most importantly, its name. The Norwegian company will keep its consumer division, including Opera Apps & Games and Opera TV. The consumer arm has 560 workers, but the company hasn’t said what will happen to its other 1,109 employees.

    • Maxthon browser is a wolf in sheep’s clothing

      You may have installed the Maxthon browser on your mobile devices. If so, here’s why you should remove it. Immediately.

      [...]

      What exactly has been discovered that could be so damaging to this underdog browser? Fidelis Cybersecurity reported that Poland-based Exatel uncovered the Maxthon browser regularly sends a file, via HTTP, named ueipdata.zip, to a server in Beijing, China. The ueipdata.zip contains a file called dat.txt which stores information about the following:

      Operating system
      CPU
      Ad blocker status
      Homepage URL
      Browser history
      Installed applications (and their version number)

    • French State of Emergency: Overbidding Mass Surveillance

      Once again. The State of Emergency in France has been extended until January. In reaction to violence shaking the country and with the presidential election of 2017 only a few months away, political leaders are indulging an ignominious orgy of security-driven policy. Not satisfied with merely prolonging the state of emergency, lawmakers have also amended the 2015 Intelligence Act passed last year to legalize domestic mass surveillance.

      It is hard to believe that only 48 hours have passed since the bill was sent to the French National Assembly. With incredible speed, in the middle of summer, the Committee on Legal Affairs of the French Senate has given carte blanche to rapporteur Michel Mercier (UDI – centre-right wing and former Minister of Justice) to erase so-called “rigidities” in the Surveillance Law adopted last year.

      The provision, much criticised during the parliamentary debates at that time, provides for real-time scanning the connection data of individuals suspected of terrorist activities.

    • Snowden director Oliver Stone calls Pokemon Go new level of ‘surveillance capitalism’

      Filmmaker Oliver Stone tore into the Pokemon Go smartphone phenomenon on Thursday, describing it as “a new level of invasion” that could lead to totalitarianism.

      During a panel for his new movie Snowden on the first day of San Diego Comic-Con 2016, the director said the app was part of a larger culture of “surveillance capitalism.”

    • NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden collaborates on ultra-secure iPhone case
    • Marines, NSA to Bring Combat-Adapted Smartphone Tech to the Battlefield

      The program will mirror a similar approach adopted by the US Army that will provide soldiers with the ability to transmit strike coordinates, access visual maps, and potentially engage weapon systems using a heavily-modified consumer-level smartphone.

    • WSJ Reporter: Homeland Security Tried to Take My Phones at the Border

      On Thursday, a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter claimed that the Department of Homeland Security demanded access to her mobile phones when she was crossing the border at the Los Angeles airport.

    • Edward Snowden’s New Research Aims to Keep Smartphones From Betraying Their Owners

      In early 2012, Marie Colvin, an acclaimed international journalist from New York, entered the besieged city of Homs, Syria, while reporting for London’s Sunday Times. She wrote of a difficult journey involving “a smugglers’ route, which I promised not to reveal, climbing over walls in the dark and slipping into muddy trenches.” Despite the covert approach, Syrian forces still managed to get to Colvin; under orders to “kill any journalist that set foot on Syrian soil,” they bombed the makeshift media center she was working in, killing her and one other journalist and injuring two others.

    • Against the Law: Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance

      Front-line journalists risk their lives to report from conflict regions. Casting a spotlight on atrocities, their updates can alter the tides of war and outcomes of elections. As a result, front-line journalists are high-value targets, and their enemies will spare no expense to silence them. In the past decade, hundreds of journalists have been captured, tortured and killed. These journalists have been reporting in conflict zones, such as Iraq and Syria, or in regions of political instability, such as the Philippines, Mexico, and Somalia.

    • Snowden Designs a Device to Warn if Your iPhone’s Radios Are Snitching

      When Edward Snowden met with reporters in a Hong Kong hotel room to spill the NSA’s secrets, he famously asked them put their phones in the fridge to block any radio signals that might be used to silently activate the devices’ microphones or cameras. So it’s fitting that three years later, he’s returned to that smartphone radio surveillance problem. Now Snowden’s attempting to build a solution that’s far more compact than a hotel mini-bar.

    • New Snowden-Developed Smartphone Device Aims to Shield Journalists
    • Edward Snowden Makes An Open Source Anti-NSA Battery Case For iPhone 6
    • Snowden designs device to warn when an iPhone is ratting out users [iophk: "aside from the iphone problem, the real need is for an OSS baseband OS"]
    • Ed Snowden And Bunnie Huang Design Phone Case To Warn You If Your Phone Is Compromised

      Bunnie Huang is having quite a day — and it’s a day the US government perhaps isn’t too happy about. Huang has worked on a number of interesting projects over the years from hacking the Xbox over a dozen years ago to highlighting innovation happening without patents in China. This morning we wrote about him suing the US government over Section 1201 of the DMCA. And now he’s teamed up with Ed Snowden (you’ve heard of him) to design a device to warn you if your phone’s radios are broadcasting without your consent. Basically, they’re noting that your standard software based controls (i.e., turning on “airplane mode”) can be circumvented by, say, spies or hackers.

    • Edward Snowden designed an iPhone attachment that detects unwanted radio transmissions

      Edward Snowden thinks about phone security a lot more than the average person. And with good reason, as the world-famous whistleblower revealed methods of government data collection on phone calls, and even from his exile in Russia, still remains a major advocate for digital privacy.

    • Elon Musk’s Master Plan Includes Turning Tesla Into An Autonomous Uber

      Tesla’s Elon Musk is not afraid to think big and then go for it. He famously published the Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan ten years ago, and has pretty much stuck to that plan.

    • Data ruling should kill off the investigatory powers bill

      The European court of justice ruling that bulk data collection is only lawful if it is used to tackle serious crime (Report, 20 July) makes it clearer than ever that the monstrous (in size and aims) investigatory powers bill currently passing through the House of Lords is simply not fit for purpose.

      The proposed legislation sanctions the mass collection of citizens’ telephone and email data – something that is both ineffective and, as we now know, unlawful – and fails to put in place sufficient safeguards against the misuse of the powers granted to the intelligence services.

      The US last year ended the bulk collection of data from telephone calls when a report found that its counter-terrorism benefits were few or none. Firsthand evidence suggests that mass surveillance makes the security services’ jobs harder, not easier; you don’t look for a needle in a haystack more efficiently by making the haystack bigger.

    • Ed Snowden and Andrew “bunnie” Huang announce a malware-detecting smartphone case

      Exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and legendary hardware hacker Andrew bunnie” Huang have published a paper detailing their new “introspection engine” for the Iphone, an external hardware case that clips over the phone and probes its internal components with a miniature oscilloscope that reads all the radio traffic in and out of the device to see whether malicious software is secretly keeping the radio on after you put it in airplane mode.

    • Film director Oliver Stone thinks Pokemon Go could lead to ‘totalitarianism’
    • ‘Snowden’ director Stone talks NSA, Pokemon GO at Comic Con
    • Oliver Stone Calls Pokemon Go a ‘New Level of Invasion’ at Comic-Con ‘Snowden’ Panel
    • Why Oliver Stone Thinks ‘Pokemon Go’ Could Create Totalitarianism
    • Edward Snowden On Oliver Stone, A Society Of Surveillance & Seeing His Story Onscreen – Comic-Con
    • 35 Years after Saint Reagan’s Order, Treasury Still Dawdles

      The other day, I Con the Record released an updated index of the procedures intelligence components use to comply with Executive Order 12333’s rules on sharing information about US persons. As is typical of I Con the Record, it didn’t admit that this new “transparency” really just incorporates information demanded under FOIA. In this case, the index released three newly available documents liberated by ACLU in their 12333 FOIA. I Con the Record also misrepresented how long the renewed effort to make sure agencies have such procedures in place has gone on; as I’ve noted, PCLOB has been pursuing this issue since 2013.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Foreign embassy staff accused of human trafficking and child sex offences

      Diplomatic staff with immunity, working in embassies in the UK, have been accused of child sex offences and human trafficking, the Foreign Office says.

      A total of 11 “serious and significant” offences were allegedly committed by such people in the past year.

      Diplomatic missions and international organisations ran up nearly £500,000 in unpaid parking fines in London last year, it was also revealed.

      Diplomats and some embassy staff are entitled to diplomatic immunity.

      This means they can be exempt from being tried for crimes.

      The allegations, contained a written ministerial statement by new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, include someone at the Mexican embassy allegedly causing a child aged 13 to 15 to watch or look at an image of sexual activity.

    • Public servant says Australian Bureau of Statistics forced him out because he was blind

      Ex-Bureau of Statistics worker Matthew Artis says he was unfairly moved around different sections of the ABS, treated as a liability and once told he was a “fish out of water” by one of his bosses.

      Mr Artis is suing his former employer in the Federal Circuit Court where he is alleging he was the victim of serious and blatant disability discrimination by the Commonwealth.

    • Can the British monarchy last forever?

      Increasing awareness of the shady dealings of the monarchy – and the institutions that protect it – are leading to a growing republican movement in the UK.

    • If the Risk Is Low, Let Them Go

      How a man who served 33 years on a 15-to-life sentence is pushing New York’s intransigent parole board to release violent offenders who have aged out of crime, the fastest growing segment of the prison population.

    • Court Says Cop Calling 911 With Suspect’s Phone To Obtain Owner Info Is Not A Search

      The background is this: James Brandon Hill exited a taxi cab without paying, leaving his phone behind. The cab driver reported this to the police and an officer dialed 911 to obtain the owner’s info. The court doesn’t touch the issue of abandonment — which would likely have made the search legal. But its decision that the method used to obtain this info isn’t a search seems to be a bit off.

      While the information received may have had no expectation of privacy, an officer accessing a cell phone without a warrant is questionable under the Supreme Court’s Riley decision. As noted above, the warrantless search still likely would have survived a motion to suppress as the phone was abandoned in the cab. In fact, Hill does not challenge the seizure of the phone — only the search.

    • Police brutality: Is America teetering on edge of sectarian violence?

      The tragic shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile occured because soldiers and police officers alike view themselves on the frontline and dangerous edge of preventing terrorist and criminal attacks.

    • May gets Hollande ultimatum: free trade depends on free movement

      Theresa May was warned by the French president, François Hollande, at their first meeting in Paris that the UK cannot expect access to the single market if it wants to put immigration controls on EU citizens.

      At a joint press conference in the Élysée Palace, Hollande made it clear that the new British prime minister was facing a choice about whether to accept free movement of people in return for free trade.

    • Chinese anti-graft protest leader arrested for taking bribes: Xinhua

      A former leader of a Chinese village who was democratically elected five years ago after taking a stand against corruption has been arrested for taking bribes, said Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

      Lin Zuluan, one of the Wukan village protest leaders in 2011 whose calls for an uprising attracted global attention, had called for fresh protests in June against new land grabs and graft in the fishing village in Guangdong province.

      His arrest is the latest move on the core group of Wukan village protest leaders from 2011.

    • From yurt-dwellers to bankers, Mongolians worn out by ‘corrupt’ politics

      Mongolia is known for the nomadic lifestyle of many of its citizens, its mines of global importance and for being an unlikely – if troubled – democracy landlocked by Russia and China. On 29 June, amid deep economic problems Mongolians showed their discontent by voting opposition Mongolian People’s Party into the State Grand Khural (parliament) in a landslide victory.

      The party took 85% of the seats in the parliament, defeating main rival the Democratic Party, which led a coalition from 2012-2016; about half of the elected candidates are first timers in the Khural. Voter turnout was above 72%, indicative of the electorate’s overwhelming discontent, and its apetite for change. The election period raised questions that stretch beyond the immediate economic crisis, making many reflect on the state of democracy, trust and public ethics.

    • ACLU of Florida Statement on the Police Shooting of an Unarmed Man in North Miami

      “We are extremely disturbed by the police shooting of Charles Kinsey, an unarmed caretaker helping a patient with autism outside a group home facility in North Miami. Thankfully, Mr. Kinsey is alive and not more gravely injured – but had the officer’s weapon been pointed just a few degrees differently, this senseless incident could have been a much greater tragedy.

      “This is the latest in what seems like an endless litany of police shootings of individuals who should not have been shot. Philando Castile in Minnesota, Alton Sterling in Louisiana, Vernell Bing in Jacksonville: there are too many to name them all here. Of the 598 people killed by U.S. police this year, 88 were unarmed. Mr. Kinsey or his patient could very easily have become number 89.

      “We have to stem the tide of violence, both nationwide and here in Florida. It starts with holding people accountable for their actions. There must be a thorough and independent investigation into this shooting that covers both whether officers violated internal use of deadly force policies and whether criminal charges should be brought.

    • With Arms in Air, Unarmed Black Caregiver Shot by Police

      Charles Kinsey, a black man and caregiver at a group home, was shot by police on Monday in North Miami, Florida.

    • Hong Kong ‘Umbrella Movement’ student leaders found guilty

      It’s a dark day for the student leaders of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests in 2014 that came to be known as the “Umbrella Movement.”

      On Thursday, a court convicted Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow for unlawful assembly, for their role in starting the protests.

    • Want police reform? Charge rich people more for speeding tickets

      Soon after the horrific video of Minneapolis-St Paul resident Philando Castile being killed by a cop during a routine traffic stop was broadcast live over Facebook, evidence of just how “routine” the stop actually was also became public.

      Castile, it turned out, had been pulled over at least 52 times in 13 years for a variety of minor infractions – a broken seat belt, an unlit license plate, tinted windows, a missing muffler – or what his mother called “driving while black”.

    • Immigrants Told To ‘Get In Line’ Are Waiting For Years Because Of Court Case Backlog

      Critics often tell immigrants to “get in line” to legally stay in the United States — but the only line in place spans years, as there are now more than half a million cases backlogged in the federal immigration court system.

      Based on new Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) findings by the Associated Press, the total number of immigration cases still pending has reached 500,051 — a number driven by Central American mothers and children who began arriving at the southern U.S. border beginning in late 2013.

      Immigration courts have been inundated with cases after the Obama administration prioritized and expedited court hearings for Central Americans in a process critically called a “rocket docket,” which gives lawyers and immigrants little time to gather evidence to support their claims for humanitarian relief.

    • Texas Governor Latest To Ask For A ‘Hate Crime’ Law That Covers Attacks On Cops

      Yet another politician can be added to the list of people who think police officers just don’t have enough protections as is. Following in the footsteps of legislators in New Jersey and Minnesota — along with Rep. Ken Buck (CO) — Texas governor Greg Abbott has decided it’s time to treat attacking officers as a “hate crime.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • I wanna go fast: HTTPS’ massive speed advantage

      In fact, a bunch of the internet was pretty upset. “It’s not fair!”, they cried. “You’re comparing apples and oranges!”, they raged.

    • CenturyLink Claims Broadband Caps Improve The ‘Internet Experience’ And Empower Consumers

      Broadband ISP CenturyLink this week confirmed it’s following on Comcast’s heels and starting to impose usage caps and overage fees on the company’s already pricey DSL services. As we’ve long noted, there’s no reasonable defense for what’s effectively a glorified rate hike on uncompetitive markets, but watching ISP PR departments try to justify these hikes has traditionally been a great source of entertainment (at least until you get the bill).

  • DRM

    • Statement on DMCA lawsuit

      My name is Matthew Green. I am a professor of computer science and a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. I focus on computer security and applied cryptography.

      Today I filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, to strike down Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This law violates my First Amendment right to gather information and speak about an urgent matter of public concern: computer security. I am asking a federal judge to strike down key parts of this law so they cannot be enforced against me or anyone else.

    • Why I’m Suing the US Government

      Today I filed a lawsuit against the US government, challenging Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 means that you can be sued or prosecuted for accessing, speaking about, and tinkering with digital media and technologies that you have paid for. This violates our First Amendment rights, and I am asking the court to order the federal government to stop enforcing Section 1201.

    • America’s broken digital copyright law is about to be challenged in court

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the US government over ‘unconstitutional’ use of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

    • EFF Lawsuit Challenges DMCA’s Digital Locks Provision As First Amendment Violation

      Computer security professor Matthew Green and famed hardware hacker Bunnie Huang have teamed up with the EFF to sue the US government, challenging the constitutionality of Section 1201 of the DMCA, also known as the “anti-circumvention” clause. As we’ve discussed for many years, 1201 makes it against the law to “manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof” that is designed to “circumvent” DRM or other “technological protection measures.” There are all sorts of problems with this part of the law, including the fact that it doesn’t matter why you have that tool or why you’re circumventing the DRM. For example, it would still be considered infringement if you cracked DRM on a public domain work. That’s… insane.

      The only “safety valve” on this is the ridiculous triennial review process, whereby people can beg and plead with the Librarian of Congress to “exempt” certain scenarios from being covered by 1201. The process is something of a joke, and even if you get an exemption one time, it automatically expires after three years, and the Library of Congress might not renew it.

    • Ever Buy Music From Apple? Use Linux? You Need This Tool

      Sure, you’re a hardcore superuser, but that doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy the finer things in life — like shiny squircles and getting every new app first. But, what’s an OS-indiscriminate person like yourself going to do when it comes time to purchase music? That’s where the recover_itunes tool shines, and if you’re a Linux user with an iPhone, it might just be your new best friend.

      iPhones and other Apple products work great when you’ve purchased music from iTunes, but can be a headache when your music comes from other sources. On the other hand, music purchased from iTunes is notoriously difficult to listen to on anything other than an Apple product. One major reason for the difficulty with the latter is in the way that iTunes handles metadata.

    • EFF sues US government, saying copyright rules on DRM are unconstitutional

      Since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) became law in 1998, it has been a federal crime to copy a DVD or do anything else that subverts digital copy-protection schemes.

      Soon, government lawyers will have to show up in court to defend those rules. Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit (PDF) claiming the parts of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that deal with copy protection and digital locks are unconstitutional.

      Under the DMCA, any hacking or breaking of digital locks, often referred to as digital rights management or DRM, is a criminal act. That means modding a game console, hacking a car’s software, and copying a DVD are all acts that violate the law, no matter what the purpose. Those rules are encapsulated in Section 1201 of the DMCA, which was lobbied for by the entertainment industry and some large tech companies.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Report: Lifesaving New AIDS Drugs Remain Costly; Older Versions Get Cheaper

      The international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has found that prices of older HIV drugs continue to decline, but newer drugs largely remain expensive.

      The results were released on 21 July in Untangling the Web, the 18th edition of MSF’s report on HIV drug pricing and access, at the International AIDS Conference in Durban.

    • Commitment On Investment In Access To Essential Medicines Signed At UNCTAD14

      A commitment signed this week to facilitate investment in Africa’s pharmaceutical industry is expected to boost the sector’s production and make available essential medicines for millions of needy people.

      UNAIDS and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the African Union (AU), and the Kenyan and South African governments signed the pledge on 21 July, on the sidelines of the fourteen session of UNCTAD (UNCTAD-14), which is convening in Nairobi from July 17-22.

    • Trademarks

      • Running Out Of Puns: Get Ready For The Damn To Burst On Craft Beer Trademark Disputes

        With all the trademark actions we’ve seen taken these past few years that have revolved around the craft beer and distilling industries, it seems like some of the other folks in the mass media are finally picking up on what I’ve been saying for at least three years: the trademark apocalypse is coming for the liquor industries. It’s sort of a strange study in how an industry can evolve, starting as something artisan built on friendly competition and morphing into exactly the kind of legal-heavy, protectionist profit-beast that seems like the very antithesis of the craft brewing concept. And it should also be instructive as to how trademark law, something of the darling of intellectual properties in its intent if not application, can quickly become a major speed bump for what is an otherwise quickly growing market.

      • Dear US Olympic Committee: Tweeting About The Olympics Is Never Trademark Infringement

        It seems the USOC is just getting started with its bullying bullshit this Olympic season. Fresh off the heels of threatening Oiselle, a corporate sponsor of an Olympic athlete (but not a sponsor of the Olympics themselves), over trademark concerns because the company posted a congratulatory tweet for its sponsored athlete that included the Olympic bib she was wearing, the USOC is now sending out a helpful little reminder to other companies that have sponsored athletes but not the games. And by helpful, I mean that it’s helpful in seeing just how blatantly the USOC will outright lie in order to continue its bullying ways.

    • Copyrights

      • Kickass Torrents Gets The Megaupload Treatment: Site Seized, Owner Arrested And Charged With Criminal Infringement

        So just as the US government itself is accused of being engaged in massive copyright infringement itself, the Justice Department proudly announces that it has charged the owner of Kickass Torrents with criminal copyright infringement claims. The site has also been seized and the owner, Artem Vaulin, has been arrested in Poland. As with the original Kim Dotcom/Megaupload indictment, the full criminal complaint against Vaulin is worth reading.

        As with the case against Dotcom/Megaupload, the DOJ seems to ignore the fact that there is no such thing as secondary liability in criminal infringement. That’s a big concern. Even though Kickass Torrents does not host the actual infringing files at all, the complaint argues that Vaulin is still legally responsible for others doing so. But that’s not actually how criminal copyright infringement works. The complaint barely even shows how Vaulin could be liable for the infringement conducted via Kickass Torrents.

        But, of course, that doesn’t matter because the guy at Homeland Security Investigations (formerly: ICE: Immigrations & Customs Enforcement) just spoke to the MPAA and the MPAA said that Kickass Torrents had no permission to link to their content. Yes, link.

      • Amazon, Cable Industry Molest The Definition Of Copyright In Ongoing Scuff Up Over Cable Box Reform

        Last week we noted how copyright has once again become a straw man, this time as part of an attempt to kill the FCC’s plan to bring competition to the cable box. Under the FCC’s plan, cable providers would have to provide their programming to third-party hardware vendors — using any copy protection of their choice — without forcing consumers to pay for a CableCARD. The plan has little to actually do with copyright, but cable providers have tried to scuttle the effort by trying to claim more cable box competition will magically result in a piracy apocalypse (stop me if you’ve heard this sort of thing before somewhere).

        The cable industry’s attack on the FCC’s plan has been threefold: hire sock puppets to make violently misleading claims in newspapers and websites nationwide; push industry-loyal politicians (who have no real clue what the plan does) to derail the plan publicly as the worst sort of villainy, and present a counter proposal packed with caveats that makes it all but useless. This counter proposal involves the cable industry delivering its programming via apps (much like it already does), but forces consumers to continue renting a cable box if they want to record programs via DVR.

        Given the cable industry’s plan is little more than a press release, that’s only the caveat we know of. But anybody thinking the cable industry’s going to just give up $21 billion in set top rental fees and their walled garden control over the user experience is utterly adorable.

      • Following KickassTorrents Death, Streaming Website Solarmovie Disappears
      • IsoHunt Launches A Working KickassTorrent Mirror — kickasstorrents.website

        Shortly after the U.S. Government seized the domains of KickassTorrents, IsoHunt is here with a working mirror of the world’s largest torrent website. The mirror can be accessed by visiting a URL similar to KAT’s domains i.e. kickasstorrents.website. The new website also displays a manifesto, demanding KAT founder’s freedom.

      • How Apple And Facebook Got KickassTorrents Founder Arrested

        The founder of the world’s largest torrent hosting website KickassTorrents is now behind the bars. The cause of his arrest are the legal purchases he made on Apple’s iTunes Store which helped the homeland security department to track him down.

      • Trump campaign admits Melania’s speech plagiarized Michelle Obama

        Donald Trump’s campaign has acknowledged that Melania Trump’s speech on Monday at the Republican National Convention used identical phrasing as a speech from Michelle Obama in 2008.

        The admission came in a written statement (viewable below in its entirety) on Wednesday from Meredith McIver, the writer who worked with Melania on the speech. McIver identified herself as an “in-house staff writer for the Trump Organization” and a friend of the Trump family.

Haar Mentioned as Likely Site of Appeal Boards as Their Eradication or Marginalisation Envisioned by UPC Proponent Benoît Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wouldn’t that be metaphorical given Battistelli's plan (all along) for the boards and mistreatment of ill staff?

Haar hospital
Reference: The Killing of Psychiatric Patients in Nazi-Germany between 1939 – 1945 [PDF]

Summary: Not only the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) is under severe attack and possibly in mortal danger; the increasingly understaffed Boards of Appeal too are coming under attack and may (according to rumours) be sent to Haar, a good distance away from Munich and the airport (half an hour drive), not to mention lack of facilities for visitors from overseas

SUEPO (the only dominant EPO trade/staff union) leaders must be busy with their legal cases against EPO management (one to start/resume upon appeal later this year in the Supreme Court at The Hague, the other one having just started exactly a week ago), so it is not saying much about the monumental injustices at the EPO, at least not publicly. Having said that, anonymous voices continue to appear at IP Kat‘s comments, in spite of lack of coverage there about the EPO’s situation (nothing for weeks now).

A few comments there are floating new rumours about the fate of the appeal boards after they got punished for disloyalty (to Battistelli, not to the Office or the Organisation). Much of this began with a discussion about the UPC, which all along threatened to make the appeal boards obsolete, in due time. The UPC was first brought up in light of the decline/demise of justice at patent courts, as we noted a couple of hours ago (tackling patent examination justice). To quote the whole comment:

What good will it be to them to have good patents if their competitors can shut them down with vague and broad patents at the UPC?

A very important fact has been forgotten in Merpel’s article: the president of the council did not distanciate himself from the interference from Battistelli. Look at the text of the decision. Basically, what this means is that both the council and Battistelli view the enlarged board of appeal as subordinate to them and not as independent. The council did not object in their latest session.

In plain words: the enlarged board of appeal was expected to simply rubber-stamp a decision already taken. Even if the investigation was fraught with problems as some of the earliest comments in this thread noted.

These are the standards of justice of Battistelli and, we now understand, from the council. That is basically what the decision says.

Now, the all new UPC is created behind closed doors by the very same persons. How high do you expect the judicial standards of the new court to be?

Bonus question: how do you expect your clients to protect themselves against future decisions of the UPC?

There is a direct response to the above concerns about the UPC. “The danger comes when a court (UPC or any other) starts with a presumption of validity, just because it’s a European patent,” the following comment notes, reminding us of what happens in the USPTO and US courts, especially the ones in Texas:

Not sure I follow the logic here. I’m not saying that the national route produces stronger patents. I’m saying that, whereas the EPO previously provided a useful due diligence service (search and examination), this has now been diluted to the point where the national offices offer a competitive and lower-risk alternative.

Crap patents are fine, just as long as everyone recognises that they’re crap. The danger comes when a court (UPC or any other) starts with a presumption of validity, just because it’s a European patent.

An anonymous response to this said:

Crap patents are not fine, even the USPTO is getting convinced. And if the UPC independence is of the same kind as the enlarged board of appeal indepence, that is not fine either.

The article above describes a very serious problem. In most countries, interfering with the independence of justice would trigger a constitutional crisis.

In response to that, once again, the Turkey analogies came up:

The article above describes a very serious problem. In most countries, interfering with the independence of justice would trigger a constitutional crisis.

Apart from Turkey where a constitutional crisis triggers an interference with the independence of justice … :-)

“The Boards of Appeal are now paying a very high price for asserting their independence,” noted the following commenter, correctly insinuating that this ‘exile’ (not as far as Vienna as feared last year) is a sort of punishment:

The Boards of Appeal are now paying a very high price for asserting their independence. Following the approval by the Administrative Council of the reform proposed by Mr Battistelli, they will firstly be exiled to a corner of the Munich area, viz. Haar, which is very well known for its psychiatric hospital, possibly a humorous touch introduced by the president.

Secondly, renewal of the members’ appointment every five years, which used to be the default (in fact, it has never happened that a member was not re-appointed) is now subject to, among other, a performance evaluation. Coupled with another element of the proposal, i.e. to increase the cost coverage for appeals from 6,3% to 20-25%, firstly by increasing the members’ productivity, there will now be a high pressure on members to focus on production if they don’t want to lose their job. And if they lose their job, taking up another job will now only be possible after approval by the Administrative Council.

Finally, Board of Appeal members will be excluded from “step advancements”, which are open to all other staff at the EPO, i.e. the members’ salaries will be frozen.

It was already known that if Mr Battistelli doesn’t like you, he will hit hard. He has proven this again with the reform package for the Boards of Appeal.

Here is more about the Haar rumour:

Do you have good reason for believing that the BoA will be moved to Haar?

EPO – CA-43-16 Rev. 1:
“As a main precondition, criteria like good traffic links and appropriate accommodation standards were taken into account”.

Although I do not know much about it, I doubt that Haar would satisfy this main precondition. For a start, there appear to be very limited hotel and restaurant facilities in the immediate vicinity of the S-Bahn stop, which is itself a significantly longer journey (by S-Bahn) to / from the airport.

Also, is there not going to be any consultation with users about this? If the decision is Haar, then I can envisage the users getting hopping mad about this – especially as they would be paying significantly more in appeal fees for the “privilege” of having an additional journey out of Munich centre to stay in hotels that may be unappealing to some. And all to address what the users have consistently argued was a non-issue, whilst no real progress (in fact, quite the opposite) has been made in addressing the substantive issues relating to the independence of the BoAs.

I know that a proposal for a new BoA location has to be put to the Budget and Finance Committee, but am unsure if the AC needs to take a formal decision upon that proposal. If so, then it looks like users will need to engage in intensive lobbying of AC representatives if the proposal really is for somewhere outside of Munich centre.

And responding to the above one person wrote:

Like someone wrote above, GET REAL.

What consultations were there in the first place regarding the so-called “reform” of the BoA? What was the public’s input in that hastily load of garbage pompously called a “plan”?

Were the outcries of the public, judges, etc. heeded when a BoA member was given the virtual sack for what was apparently a crime of lèse-majesté?

The latest comment was posted this morning and said:

If the rumours are true, it looks EPO will be gaining an office that is outside of Munich city centre and that (compared to the Isar building) is more difficult for visitors to Munich to reach and is by far less well supplied with hotel accommodation, restaurants and other facilities that such visitors will need.

If the EPO management were being truly practical about this, then they would decide that such an office really ought to be occupied by the department(s) of the EPO that receive the fewest visitors. Given that pretty much everything that the Boards of Appeal do involves summoning visitors to Munich, I am certain that it makes no sense whatsoever to move them to Haar.

With this in mind, if the EPO president really is determined to physically separate the two current residents of the Isar building, then logic dictates that it really ought to be the other resident (that is, the president himself) who moves to Haar. Anyone up for lobbying the representatives to the AC to vote for this alternative?

Well, “lobbying the representatives to the AC,” as the above put it, might be an exercise in futility given their demonstration of (almost) blind loyalty to Battistelli in the last AC meeting. One person earlier on wrote:

The Enlarged Board of appeal did not rubber-stamped the decision that the president and the council asked them.
Probably for this reason they are going to be moved, although several suitable buildings are available in Munich, to Haar, a village outside Munich mostly known for its lunatic asylum.
Next time they will think twice before taking a decision that does not please BB or the council.
So much for the judicial independence.

There is no judicial independence and there is no justice at the EPO anymore. To make matters worse, as one commenter put it:

It seems that some applicants have their offices in the same building complex.

The board members will improve their perceived independence by discussing the inventions directly with the inventors at lunch.

Yes, exactly. What a horrible move that would be. Instead of sending the boards to Haar maybe it’s time to send Battistelli to Haar. As one of the above comments noted, Haar “is very well known for its psychiatric hospital,” which sounds like something Battistelli could use. They can give him some toys to break rather than let him break people (and lives or even families as per the recent survey) at the EPO.

EPO Attaché Albert Keyack Viewed as Somewhat of a Mole, Reporting From the US Embassy in Brazil Until Shortly Before the Temer Coup

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another French term in Benoît Battistelli’s EPO after his de facto coup d’état

Brazil coup
Reference: The Intercept (among many more at the time)

Summary: Public responses to the role played by Albert Keyack on behalf of the United States inside the European [sic] Patent Office

TECHRIGHTS is not a political site in nature, but sometimes it’s impossible to avoid a little bit of politics. Half a decade ago we wrote about the Brazil-based US Ambassador Sobel (now Republican fundraiser) lobbying/working for Microsoft in Brazil in his capacity as a diplomat (Microsoft Brazil President at the time was Michel Levy) — a subject on which we expanded in later posts on the subject, citing diplomatic cables leaked by Chelsea Manning quite shortly thereafter. Corruption levels in Brazil are relatively high and some people try to capitalise on weak regulatory powers. It kind of sounds like Benoît Battistelli and his EPO cronies, but it’s not. We used to say that the only European thing about the European [sic] Patent Office is the staff, but right now even the (external) PR team belongs to a US company (meddling inside European media) and some of the staff — at partial capacity at least — is from the US.

Days ago we wrote about Albert Keyack's new role at the EPO (announced only internally). Keyack is not an EU national. The following comment cites Techrights and says:

Sovereign principality of EPOnia appoints consul to the United States.

My mind is so boggled that it’s becoming numb.

Well, Battistelli breaks the rules, including his very own Code of Conduct, so the above isn’t thoroughly shocking. What’s interesting are the following legitimate points about the sovereignty of the EPO and issues pertaining to loyalty. As one person put it, “could he rather be the US envoy to the province of EPOnia, like Rome or Imperial Britain” (as Battistelli serves the 1% and thinks of himself in Napoleonic ways, the analogy seems apt). Here is the comment in full:

Nomination of Albert Keyack als “EPO Attaché”:

Keyack was reporting from the US Embassy in Brazil as least as late as May 2015, and had an E-mail address from the State Department. That was only one year ago.

The tone of his report linked above reflects the orthodox US foreign policy on “IP”, and Keyack’s affiliation is given to be with the USPTO.

It is rather ironical that the President who wants to control for two full years the lives of anyone “disloyal” enough to leave the EPO actually hired someone whose was serving a “competing” patent office. Isn’t there a line somewhere in whatever is left of the Codex about not accepting any instructions from foreign governments?

Or is the fellow hired on a service contract concluded with an entity created ad hoc for this purpose?

Whose interests is he actually representing? Europe’s? (And then, what is that position, and who defines it?) EPOnia’s? (ditto) European or US industry? Small applicants?

Or could he rather be the US envoy to the province of EPOnia, like Rome or Imperial Britain sent governors to their vanquished peoples? (If then, why should he be paid by the EPO?)

The President does have a little leeway under the Codex to appoint staff under the EPC from states which are soon to become EPC signatories. Could the US accede the EPC? Is EPOnia about to be moved somewhere in Virginia?

Here is another comment which explains why it’s improper or inappropriate:

I thought the ServRegs forbid to hire nationals of non-EPC member states (actually, other way around: allows only hiring of employees with a nationality of member states)…. The last time I checked, the USoA was not a signatory of the EPC…
But then, this person is granted an easy income the next few years, for virtually nothing. Whatever he does will not influence filing strategies anyway….
And since he’s neither French, Corsican, or Croatian, nepotism seems to be less of a problem this time….

Man, I chose the wrong career… But then, I love my job…

Incidentally, in response to “Use of English as an official EU language” (by CIPA) Benjamin Henrion wrote “as long as other languages are not discriminated like for the horrible “automated translations” Unitary Patent deal.”

Well, the EPO’s management now brags about US stakeholders being dominant, even if no country in ‘mainland’ Europe has English as its main language (only a few islands do). MIP’s latest catchup with Canada on trademarks and patents speaks about “Brexit putting the brakes on CETA” and says (the complete summary of the latter part): “A dismissal of a suit against Pfizer indicating consumers cannot be compensated for expenditures on invalidated patents, the NAFTA arbitration hearing of Eli Lilly’s complaint against the government, IP agents getting confidentiality privilege, the Federal Court awarding Janssen nearly C$20 million, and Brexit putting the brakes on CETA were among recent Canadian patent stories” (Brexit also undermines the UPC, as we noted here many times before).

Well, even after Brexit (assuming it happens) the US is working to impose TTIP/ISDS on Britain, reveals the latest article from Dr. Glyn Moody. It’s not hard to see who often holds the leash. We’ll say more on that in our next post.

EPO Insiders Explain Why the EPO’s Examination Quality Rapidly Declines and Will Get Even Worse Because of Willy Minnoye

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Arrogant and abusive top-level management a major culprit

Willy Minnoye caricature

Summary: Public comments from anonymous insiders serve to highlight a growing crisis inside the European Patent Office (EPO), where experienced/senior examiners are walking away and leaving an irreplaceable bunch of seats (due to high experience demands)

THE EPO is in great danger because the people who now run it only care about short-term gains and are willing to destroy the Office (and the whole Organisation) in the long run if that personally suits them better. It’s a question of personal, institutional, and collective accountability. Both Benoît Battistelli and Willy Minnoye (hated even by the Directors, we've been told) are already in retirement age and accordingly, they were not supposed to be given the positions they now hold in the first place (as per the rules/guidelines).

What the heck is going on inside the EPO and what happened to the EPO so many of us were once so proud of?

The following comment makes the point that new recruits take a long time to be productive and for a long period of time they actually slow down their colleagues, meaning that they can either do very little (while on probationary employment period) of just grant lots of patents with minimal examination so as to satisfy Battistelli’s appetite for ‘production’ (as measured by number of grants, which is a terrible yardstick). Here is the comment in full:

Interesting timeline. When are the new recruits expected to start making a positive contribution?

In an area as complex as patents, my own experience teaches me that new recruits usually decrease productivity for quite some time (approx. 1 year). Assuming that it will take 6 to 12 months to recruit the numbers being targeted, that means that the management is effectively expecting the increased capacity provided by the new recruits to enable the backlog to be completely eliminated within about 2 years. Is that at all possible, do you think? Or is this just yet another indicator that quality will go out of the window?

On Wednesday the EPO made it rather apparent that it is unable to recruit the type of people it is looking for, having lost a lot of its talent (as insiders openly admit) and lost public respect. They’re actively lying to staff about it, but the truth of the matter is, the EPO is no longer an attractive employer. The EPO asks: “Know any engineers or scientists interested in joining an international team at the forefront of technology?”

Well, even if I knew of one, I would not recommend setting a single toe in Eponia, seeing the kind of mess Battistelli and his henchmen have sown there. It’s utterly scary and even SUEPO publicly warned about it. It said that the EPO’s management (or HR department) should be more honest/upfront about what it means to join the EPO (potentially ending up unable to find a job for years thereafter, under presidential sanctions).

Here is an EPO sceptic/apologist writing:

I see comments about overrecruiting, inflated production demands for newcomers, contracts for examiners.
It is a pity that there are no numbers attached to these allegations, no evidence.
Could any of you shed some light on this?

As I see it, the EPO has almost 4500 examiners who work, more or less, 30 years as examiner.
Doesn’t this mean that you have to recruit 150 examiners per year just to remain at constant workforce?

Has any examiner been employed on a contract already?

I think it is great that the EPO finally is doing the work they have already been paid for!

The following very detailed comment certainly comes from an insider or a former insider, based on the broad knowledge and in-house terminology. He or she explains why this policy dooms the EPO:

In order to correctly train people at the EPO you need at least three years, and this does not mean that the cost put into training are recouped. It needs in my opinion at least another two years. If the search backlog has to be down by 2020, which means in 4 years, provided the candidates are numerous enough to fill all corresponding posts. One should rather think of 3 years, as any present recruitment efforts will not bring the candidates into the office before 2017.

Creating overcapacity is always dangerous. The only way not to have a permanent problem is to give those people a five year contract. For examiners this is ludicrous for the reasons given above.

So by 2022 those people will have to leave the EPO if they are not fired before. Good scientists and engineers are getting scarce on the market. The perspective of going to The Hague/Berlin or Munich and having to leave again is very high and not encouraging. For sure no scientist or engineer having a good job will leave it for a stint at the EPO, as this also means to transplant the family. The possible candidates will be newly graduates. And for those the grass will be always greener on the other side.

One way to recoup the training costs quicker is simply to lower the training level. And request people to produce in the first year as much as 2/3 of what an experienced examiner produces. Before BEST, training in search and in examination was scheduled to be 3 years for search and 3 years for examination. When BEST came, which allegedly was giving a gain of productivity of 18%, the training time was halved. In three years an examiner has to be a good searcher and a good substantive examiner, i.e. a jack of all trades.

The quickest way to catapult the production/productivity is to use BEST as best as possible (sorry for the pun). Carry out a search with no results and then a direct grant is at the end. If this is in the interest of the applicants, even the big ones, is doubtful. It is certainly not in the interests of the so cherished SME’s by Battistelli and consorts.

And here you have your answer about the quality of what will come out. Skip corners in training and the quality goes inevitably down.

But by then VP1 who only has a faint idea of what a search is as he only ever searched in paper, will benefit from a super pension, and will have been congratulated by the AC for being an extraordinary manager, with probably an extra bonus on top.

On top of this the boards of appeal are wilfully destroyed thanks to Battistelli and consorts, with the help of an AC lacking any spine. One wonders if the AC could even be compared to a spineless shell fish. At least they have a shell. The AC seems to be nothing more than mollusc pushed around by Battistelli and consorts.

It is sickening!

Regarding decreasing experience of examiners and directors who ‘fake ‘production and were promoted for ‘loyalty’, the following comment says:

I am not an examiner, but I have understood that all reference numbers for production have been abolished. In other words: the number of files an examiner is told to produce is entirely decided by his or her director. The director gives you a number at the beginning of the year and the examiner must bring that output in december. There is a formal complaint procedure, but it brings out the same number anyway.

We have old school directors close to retirement who are trying to keep the numbers somewhat reasonable. We have newly promoted directors who have been chosen for “loyalty”.

Newly employed examiners are on a probation period. They get a set of formal courses and then they get a number of files to output till the end of the period. If they don’t bring out the number, they don’t get the contract. I would think that most of them bring out a fairly large output already in the first year. I would expect them to contribute significantly to the reduction of the backlog soon.

The problem will be to get them. Who will be desperate or ignorant enough to come to the office knowing that there will be “overcapacity” in 4 years, that you may be prevented to work for 2 years afterwards and that the Council may change any regulations (including retirement and insurances) whenever they want? The pay may be ok for someone fresh from University, but is not much higher than other places in Munich and whatever career opportunities examiners had (like being promoted to the board of appeal) has disappeared.

The issue with artificial “targets” for examination are brought up in this comment which asks for further information or brings up half-rhetorical questions:

Thanks for the info. Would you happen to know whether the “production” targets for newly-appointed examiners are significantly lower than those of their more experienced colleagues? It would be insane for new recruits to have (nearly) the same targets as experienced examiners, but you never know with the EPO these days…

The response to this was as follows:

I don’t know, but I imagine the number depends on the director. This is why the problem is not out: there are no official instructions, it just depends on the hierarchy being “loyal”. Of course, they were chosen accordingly.

What you should also realise is that the system works entirely in one direction: Minnoye thinks aloud the figures he wants (say: divide the stock by 4 for 4 years…) and the hierarchy pass them down. Reportedly, with the new style of “loyal” directors, some examiners were presented with figures much higher than last year. Tough luck, they just have to comply or face disciplinary sanctions. If I understood correctly, in the next council Battistelli wants to make these dismissals a simple administrative measure.
How do you think we were able to increase production 15% last year with less examiners?

What I don’t understand is how they expect to recruit any people at all, but Minnoye probably has a plan.

Well, with staff suicides and other bad news in the press (the EPO spends a fortune trying to change the media and dilute it with paid puff pieces), how would they attract skilled examiners?

Well, one day in the future we shall give an example of stories of people who favour the UK-IPO over EPO for reasons to do with sheer incompetence at the EPO. It’s too early to write about this because there’s a dispute ongoing and we don’t want to compromise or interfere with it. In light of that consider the following new comment:

Meanwhile, while the EPO has been eroding its USP (excellent search and examination quality), external parameters have changed, and the national route is increasingly attractive. Translation is now very cheap. You don’t need a middleman in each country (at least not in most EU/EEA/EFTA countries), and most importantly you don’t get tied up in fatuous, artificial arguments with examiners who haven’t had time to consider the facts and arguments properly.

To end it with somewhat of a joke:

Secret FAQ …

would like to reassure any applicant that every application will get the same high quality treatment as before, yet we’ll by give more responsibility to the Division (read: pressure to the Division) to bring a case to a conclusion (under pressure).

Early Certainty sooner than you expected.

We need a new thread for this.

Well, as leaked documents serve to show, pressure is put on examiners to grant to Microsoft faster (demonstrating that the above observations are definitely true in practice). Sadly, the EPO sent me a series of threatening legal letters on this matter alone, after my earlier leaks had caused huge backlash from stakeholders.

Today’s EPO is the kind of employer that anyone with a clue would not join (it’s different if one is already there), unless one is fanatic about the “following orders” mentality.

Battistelli, a French republican, has cultivated a culture of fear at all levels (examination, administration, management) and even outside the Office, e.g. appeal boards and delegations. He ruined the whole Office and time will tell if the ‘old’ (widely-respected) EPO can still be salvaged somehow. We sure hope so.

Patents Roundup: BlackBerry, Huawei, PTAB, GAO, Aggressive Universities With Patents, and Software Patents in Europe

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 7:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation, he said.”

IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz

Summary: Various bits and pieces of news regarding patents and their fast-changing nature in the United States nowadays

AS WE wish to resume our EPO coverage (there is a lot more material on the way), we have decided to lump together various bits of news from the (primarily US) patent system, subdivided below and split into themes.

BlackBerry Still Dangerous

When Canadian powerhouse BlackBerry introduced not only one but several Android-based phones were were rather relieved, as at one point several years ago it seemed like BlackBerry was slowly transforming to become a patent troll or preparing to sell its very many patents to notorious trolls (or patent assertion firms/entities, PAEs for short). BlackBerry, which is still struggling based on the number of sales, may somehow be bound to become like a patent troll, judging by this new report which makes the company (now run by a Turbolinux executive who previously sold out to Microsoft on the patent front) sound like a PAE. “He also hinted at a future based around brand and technology licensing,” says the summary. Watch out for BlackBerry because if Android doesn’t give it the success it is looking for, then BlackBerry might simply choose to sue Android OEMs (directly or indirectly, like Ericsson and Nokia). They can always try to blame such aggression on “shareholders!”

China Comes Knocking, Not Knockoffs

“Watch out for BlackBerry because if Android doesn’t give it the success it is looking for, then BlackBerry might simply choose to sue Android OEMs (directly or indirectly, like Ericsson and Nokia).”Yesterday my wife and I had lunch with a businessman who is a distributor of goods from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines. He warned about Chinese protectionism via SIPO and spoke about unusual restrictions, such as the imperative registration (can take about a year) in order to proceed to the simplest of enforcement inside China (even purely defensive enforcement in the face of counterfeiting or cheap imitations).

Put old stigmas aside for a moment. China is not stupid. China is also more than an imitator. It actually brings out some innovations these days and it is willing to go abroad to sue Western rivals. It’s not just on the defensive and increasingly it’s on the offensive. “Knocking out Chinese patents may be a lot harder than you think,” IAM wrote the other day and Dr. Glyn Moody, citing his colleague (article from 6 years ago), says “Just As We Warned: A Chinese Tech Giant Goes On The Patent Attack — In East Texas”. So, how is it working out for multinational US companies which relied so much on the USPTO and faithfully (or blindly) trusted it for protectionism? “Techdirt,” Moody explains, “has been warning for years that the West’s repeated demands for China to “respect” patents could backfire badly. In 2010 [before Moody wrote for Techdirt], Mike [Techdirt founder] pointed out that Chinese companies were starting to amass huge patent portfolios, which were soon used as weapons against foreign firms operating in China, most notably Apple.”

“China is not stupid. China is also more than an imitator. It actually brings out some innovations these days and it is willing to go abroad to sue Western rivals.”Based on articles like this new one, not only Huawei is suing; it is also being sued, this time by Samsung (from Korea). Samsung and Huawei have become top Android OEMs and there is a lot of money at stake when people pay up to $1,000 per phone. IAM seems to have taken an interest in many east Asian markets recently; one new article is titled “Korea’s antitrust watchdog hints Qualcomm can expect another near $1b fine in patent probe” and another is titled “Transpacific denied Enfish lifeline as Taiwanese companies’ NPE experiment hangs in the balance”. These are IAM’s latest attempts to float software patents because of an old patent case involving Microsoft. To quote: “Sensing a glimmer of hope from the US Federal Circuit’s judgment in Enfish v Microsoft – which went some way towards clawing back patent eligibility for software inventions in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice – Kinglite filed a motion asking that the Central California court to reconsider its decision on the invalidity of the ‘304 patent. However, this was rejected on the basis that Kinglite’s patent does not “disclose any of those mathematical algorithms that actually represent an application of the ‘abstract’ idea of securing the BIOS through authentication, nor a new concrete means of applying those algorithms… [unlike] the patent in Enfish which apparently disclosed a new method of building a database”.”

Enfish does not really change much, but IAM would use anything it can to promote the interests of its paymasters, often unproductive (or counterproductive) patent parasites like this one it has just written about.

USPTO Wants ‘Certainty’

“Samsung and Huawei have become top Android OEMs and there is a lot of money at stake when people pay up to $1,000 per phone.”Certainty (or contrariwise, uncertainty) has become one of those buzzwords that David Kappos and fellow patent maximalists (especially proponents of software patents) use to say that Alice is nasty and needs to be buried. Two more articles have been published about the efforts to trigger changes with a new memorandum [1, 2]. The latter says: “The extent to which these disparate analyses can be reconciled will depend, of course, on future case law, leaving the question of subject matter eligibility in its current state of uncertainty.”

When the author (patent maximalist who shamed even a SOCTUS Justice) says “leaving the question of subject matter eligibility in its current state of uncertainty” the simplest translation is “leaving the question of subject matter eligibility in its current state of denying software patents.”

This is a subject which was mentioned here the other day, especially in relation to IBM.

Dying Software Patents

“Certainty (or contrariwise, uncertainty) has become one of those buzzwords that David Kappos and fellow patent maximalists (especially proponents of software patents) use to say that Alice is nasty and needs to be buried.”Upon reassessment most software patents are invalidated these days. There are some exceptions like the BASCOM case and patent lawyers love latching onto those. An article from Jason Rantanen (Patently-O) is an example of this bias among professors as well. He wrote: “Since Alice v. CLS Bank, the Federal Circuit has issued four opinions rejecting a lack of patent eligible subject matter challenge: DDR Holdings, LLC v. Hotels.com, L.P., 773 F.3d 1245 (Fed. Cir. 2014); Enfish LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 2016 WL 2756255 (Fed. Cir. May 12, 2016); Rapid Litigation Management Ltd. v. Cellzdirect, Inc., 2016 WL 3606624 (Fed. Cir. 2016), and BASCOM v. AT&T, with the latter three coming the last few months.”

Well, still, those are clearly in the minority and they come from a crooked court which is responsible for bringing software patents to the US in the first place.

Another software patent has in fact just died, thanks to Alice again. Patent Buddy wrote that “PTAB Holds Lottery Patent Claims Invalid under 101/ Alice: http://assets.law360news.com/0819000/819445/cbm2015-00105_termination_decision_document_36.pdf …”

“Another software patent has in fact just died, thanks to Alice again.”PTAB is very much dedicated to elimination of such patents because it has no incentive to empower plaintiffs, unlike CAFC. The US needs a lot less of CAFC (or anything like CAFC) and more of PTAB. Don’t be misled by all those spinners who equate PTAB with “death squads”. Patent law firms, for instance, still conveniently cherry-pick cases that support software patents (see “Another Software Patent Survives an Alice Challenge” by Seyfarth Shaw LLP). They put “abstract idea” in quotes (probably scare quotes, depending on style) and even add the word “alleged”, certainly not hiding their bias too well. To quote this latest ‘analysis’ (marketing): “In a rather complex case, Yodlee again focused on the definition of the “abstract idea” by the defendant. Many times, defendants frame the alleged “abstract idea” too broadly to improve their 101 invalidity argument, and courts or the PTAB find the definition is too broad. Other times, defendants frame the abstract idea too narrowly and courts agree with the defendant on the definition of the invention, but find such a narrow definition to not be drawn to an abstract idea. Here, the defendant framed the abstract idea in a manner inconsistent with the claimed invention, and the court found no apples to apples comparison.”

Improving Patent Quality

In our previous post we praised the USPTO (or PTAB by extension) for at least working to improve patent quality somewhat. Professor Crouch says that a new U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO) report alluded to patent quality. “Patent Office Must Define and Improve Patent Quality” says the headline and the body of the short article says: “Regarding patent quality, the GAO suggested that the USPTO’s standard of patent quality should focus solely on the basics: defining “a quality patent as one that would meet the statutory requirements for novelty and clarity, among others, and would be upheld if challenged in a lawsuit or other proceeding.” However, patent clarity must be an important element of that definition.”

“For those who don’t know it yet, when IAM precedes something with “REPORT” it’s actually a euphemism for “SPONSORED CONTENT” or “ADVERTISING” (disguised as analysis by some particular firm).”This is good news. Compare that to propaganda sites like IAM where there is a new “REPORT” (i.e. paid-for marketing placement for a firm) titled “International report – Federal Circuit distinguishes between tests for obviousness and patent-eligible subject matter”. For those who don’t know it yet, when IAM precedes something with “REPORT” it’s actually a euphemism for “SPONSORED CONTENT” or “ADVERTISING” (disguised as analysis by some particular firm).

GAO’s input basically says that the Office must tighten patent scope, whereas the latter (propaganda/marketing) offers ‘tricks’ for getting around scope restrictions.

Using Taxpayers’ Money for Patent Stockpiling

“GAO’s input basically says that the Office must tighten patent scope, whereas the latter (propaganda/marketing) offers ‘tricks’ for getting around scope restrictions.”We quite liked IP Watch‘s article “Patenting By Universities Unhelpful, Paper Says; WIPO Programme To Be Reviewed” [1]. It was published a few days ago, just in time for IAM’s ‘report’ on Harvard University’s use of patents (granted using public money) to sue the private sector. IAM wrote: “Late last month Harvard University took the very unusual step of filing two infringement lawsuits against semiconductor manufacturers Micron and Global Foundries over their alleged infringement of two patents that are owned by the Ivy League institution. That in itself is a pretty rare occurrence – combing the Lex Machina database I found that Harvard has been a co-plaintiff on just one other patent suit since 2011, so it seems that this is the only case in at least the last five years that it has been the sole plaintiff in an action.”

This isn’t the first time that we write about universities getting aggressive with patents, not just selling patents to trolls who become aggressive with these (like Intellectual Ventures). What they do here is extremely unethical and should be grounds or basis for revocation of government grants. When universities are becoming like patent trolls (not producing but suing) it’s worse than classic patent trolls because taxpayers fund it and get punished for it, usually for the enrichment of some shady people.

“When universities are becoming like patent trolls (not producing but suing) it’s worse than classic patent trolls because taxpayers fund it and get punished for it, usually for the enrichment of some shady people.”In other IAM propaganda this week, watch this spin on patent litigation decline in the US. So patent trolls, which rely on software patents more than most (and pay IAM), lose momentum. A cause for celebration or for sobbing? Probably for sobbing at IAM. Bezos-owned news site Washington Post meanwhile reports, somewhat contradictorily (in light of the latest figures from Lex Machina), that “Patent lawsuits swell and watchdog says the government is to blame” (they actually decreased year-to-year in the past few months). To quote:

Inventors are filing an exploding number of lawsuits against companies that appropriate their products illegally — and a new report puts the blame for these costly disputes squarely at the feet of the federal government.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is so focused on rewarding its employees for the number of applications they review that the quality of patents they give out is in jeopardy, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The result is that licenses conferring someone’s sole right to an invention are “unclear and overly broad” and vulnerable to infringement by competitors.

“Software patents are not legal in Europe, but the likes of Battistelli don’t obey the rules anyway and more attempts to interject software patents into Europe are made by those who could not care less.”Here again we have GAO saying what it has been saying for quite some time. Will anyone listen? Will the advice be taken seriously? See what happened after an Australian (almost) equivalent had said something to the same effect. Local patent law firms got rather aggressive.

Software Patenting in Europe Still Being Attempted

Software patents are not legal in Europe, but the likes of Battistelli don’t obey the rules anyway and more attempts to interject software patents into Europe are made by those who could not care less. According to this article, there’s a Dutch dispute over a patented “superformula” (i.e. algorithm). As the author correctly notes: “Despite the noise being made by Genicap, there’s some question as to whether the company’s patent actually applies to No Man’s Sky. The European Patent Convention says directly that “discoveries, scientific theories, and mathematical methods” are not directly patentable, and US patent law also excepts “disembodied mathematical algorithms and formula” from patentability.”

“The Dutch people don’t need software patents; they’re usually just victims of such patents.”Well, such patents oughtn’t exist in the first place. The last time we heard of software patents in relation to the Netherlands it was Microsoft’s lawsuit against TomTom (Dutch company) and a Dutch developer who had his work killed [1, 2, 3] by a patent aggressor, Shazam. The Dutch people don’t need software patents; they’re usually just victims of such patents.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Patenting By Universities Unhelpful, Paper Says; WIPO Programme To Be Reviewed

    A new publication analysing the relationship between intellectual property and access to science explores ways countries have developed to counter the potential barriers created by IP rights, and says patenting by universities is counterproductive.

Glimpse at Patent Systems Across the World: Better Quality Control at the USPTO Post-America Invents Act (2011), Unlike the EPO Post-Battistelli (2010)

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The pendency at the USPTO stands at around five years, as scrutiny has been increased

AIA Patents
Image credit: Professor Dennis Crouch, Patently-O

Summary: While the EPO reportedly strives to eliminate pendency and appeal windows altogether (rubberstamping being optimal performance as per the yardstick du jour), the USPTO introduces changes that would strengthen the system and shield innovation, not protect the business model of serial litigants

PATENT systems across the world vary, but they’re streamlined/unified by various programs which enable litigation across nations and entire continents. We’ve covered some of these programs here before and half a decade ago we wrote numerous articles about the vision of a global patent system, at times citing leaked diplomatic cables that had been published by Wikileaks. ‘National’ patent offices are actually not so national and the ‘European’ Patent Office isn’t really about Europe (some of its member states, for example, are not in Europe). The same is true in the UK-IPO, which is going ‘to bed’ with Facebook right now (surveillance, censorship and propaganda site from another continent). Here is a new MIP article on patent litigation trends in Russia. It’s not often that we hear about Russian plaintiffs in European, Australian or American courts; domestic policy there probably does not incentivise pursuing patents in other countries (especially NATO members), either. As we shall show in a later article, China is increasingly going abroad for litigation, albeit it wasn’t traditionally the case (the West wrongly assumed all China could do was knockoffs or ‘piracy’ [sic] as the think tanks label it).

“It’s not hard to envision the beneficiaries of a global patent system and their actions.”Days ago IP Kat wrote about the Rhodia v Molycorp “patent jurisdiction tussle,” to quote the author’s headline. Here is some background for the uninitiated: “Rhodia is the exclusive licensee of the UK and German designations of a European patent entitled “Ceric Oxide and method for production thereof, and catalyst for exhaust gas clarification”. Rhodia commenced infringement proceedings in the English High Court alleging that the English domiciled Defendant, Molycorp, had infringed the UK and German designations of the patent.” Here we have a reminder of the unifying patent factor which does not even necessitate a so-called ‘unitary’ patent. Do we really need a ‘globalisation’ of patent systems? That is a rhetorical question of course. It’s not hard to envision the beneficiaries of a global patent system and their actions.

One country dominates the world’s patent systems (including the EPO where it’s ranked number one) and that country is not China, albeit it’s by far the largest population in the world. “In today’s free-trade environment, the USITC’s role is somewhat counter — protecting of U.S. industry,” Patently-O wrote the other day about the ITC, guardian of large US corporations, a nationalist body which has the word “international” in its name/acronym. To quote Patently-O, the “USITC Procedure sets up the USITC as the party prosecuting the case rather than the patentee. As such, the agency is the named respondent and will be represented by the Solicitor’s Office. I expect that the patentee BriarTek will also weigh-in. The patent at issue is U.S. Patent No. 7,991,380 and covers an emergency satellite communication system. The asserted claims were found invalid as anticipated and/or obvious. That holding was then affirmed on appeal by the Federal Circuit.”

“Suffice to say, calls to abolish CAFC altogether increased in recent years.”Well, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), as we noted here repeatedly, is an exceptionally abusive court which not only bypasses constitutional issues but also works for large corporations and for patent lawyers rather than the public (or justice). Simply put, it’s corruptible. Suffice to say, calls to abolish CAFC altogether increased in recent years. And speaking of CAFC, MIP says: “The Federal Circuit has provided some guidance on the issue of 180 days’ notice of launch in a recent biosimilars ruling, in Amgen v Apotex, but practitioners say there will be a lot more litigation before the patent dance is fully clarified” (we are not optimistic).

About the USPTO Patently-O wrote that “Patent Filings Rising Slowly,” according to figures plotted by Professor Dennis Crouch. Is this a case of the more, the merrier? Well, for patent lawyers surely it is merrier (more profitable). Here is what Crouch wrote about it:

The chart above shows USPTO application filings for non-provisional patent applications as well as RCE’s. Both have been on the rise for many years. The filing numbers appear to have continued to rise since implementation of the America Invents Act, although at a slower rate (acceleration has slowed). The USPTO expects that applications filed today will receive a first action within 16 months.

America Invents Act (AIA), with PTAB in particular, has served to introduce some new quality control (potential slowdown and greater pendency to be expected), albeit at too slow a pace as PTAB needs to be expanded to be able to deal with more than just a couple of thousands of patents per year (such workload keeps growing fast).

Patently-O wrote another article exclusively about AIA in which it’s said:

Although more than three years have passed since the changeover date, most new patents still fall under the old-rule. This long transition period is explained by the reality that most patents that issue claim priority to a prior patent filing document such as a foreign priority filing, international PCT application, US provisional application or parent non-provisional US filing. Once the non-provisional application is filed, patent prosecution process still that typically takes around three years. This results in an average pendency from priority filing to issuance of around five years.

The chart there shows that, even though there's a patent litigation slowdown (we’ll expand on that in a later article), problems are far from over. There’s a capacity problem and there’s growing demand. An article by Zachary Kinnaird (posted on his behalf by Professor Jason Rantanen), a patent attorney with International IP Law Group, looks at the number of patent practitioners. He shows some fancy charts and notes: “The number of practitioners removed from the USPTO database reveals a practitioner percentage removal trend that can be seen as a retirement estimate for patent practitioners. This trend shows that the longer a practitioner has had a registration number, the more likely they are to have retired, or otherwise been removed, from the roster.

“The health of the patent system worldwide is oftentimes improving, except at the EPO where patent quality declines* (more on that later today) and human rights are routinely violated.”“The chart below shows the percentage of patent practitioners who still remain registered on the USPTO roster as a function of each practitioner’s year of registration. The further to the right, the more recently the practitioner earned their registration number.”

Not much can be deduced from this (the way it’s presented is not too helpful), unless one is interested in a sob story which serves the party line of the patent microcosm, or the industry associated with patent activity as opposed to production of merchandise, software, etc.

The health of the patent system worldwide is oftentimes improving, except at the EPO where patent quality declines (more on that later today) and human rights are routinely violated. As a European national I am sad and ashamed to see what was once the best patent system in the world becoming one of the worst and most notorious (unless one asks the EPO's mouthpieces). Battistelli tramples everyone and everything.
____
* Pressured examiners, unskilled (new) examiners and expensive appeals (short duration, very high fees) in an already-understaffed department make the entire process applicants-friendly at the expense of long-term reputation (which made the EPO appealing and worth the exceptionally high prices).

Blockstream Has No Patents, But Pledges Not to Sue Using Patents

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Patents at 4:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Read between the lines then…

Blockstream logo

Summary: Blockstream says that it comes in peace when it comes to software patents, which triggers speculations about coming Blockchain patent wars

THE PAST few years were baffling as companies equated promises not to sue with “Open Source” or “open-source” (with a dash, to help dodge the trademark perhaps). Examples we covered here included, notably, Tesla and Panasonic.

A couple of days ago we saw that Blockstream had claimed the following: “Today we are excited to announce some important steps we are taking on the patent front, why these defensive steps are necessary, and our hope that others will see merit in our approach and follow our lead.

“The system as it stands is inherently hostile towards GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software, which is what Blockchain is all about.”“Core to the Bitcoin ethos is permissionless innovation. Without it and the level of contribution to which it gave rise Blockstream would not be on the exciting path we find ourselves today. It should not come as a surprise then that permissionless innovation is also core to Blockstream’s ethos. We firmly believe that in order for Bitcoin and related technologies’ potential to be fully realized they must be underpinned by a global platform that is free for any innovator to use without hesitation.”

As Benjamin Henrion rightly asked, “where do you have patents? which numbers?” Another person, a patent attorney who specialises in patent data/statistics, noted that “Blockstream Does Not Have Any Patents Assigned to It.” This is not entirely shocking. Having written about Blockstream in the past (we have very broad scope in our daily links), not once did we mention it in relation to patents. Patently German hypothesised: “Preparation for future #blockchain #patent wars? Blockstream announces defensive patent pledge and patent agreement…” (IBM, a patent bully with software patents, is also heavily involved in the same Linux-centric space)

IP Watch, a decent watchdog of patent matters, wrote the headline “Trust Us, We Won’t Sue You” (it sounds rather humourous or sarcastic). It said that “Blockstream, which developed the blockchain technology and bitcoin, has announced a defensive patent strategy. The crux of it: assurance that users of its technology won’t be sued.”

“It seems like shameless self-promotion or a publicity stunt with a “patents” angle.”The EFF wrote about this as follows: “We’ve written many times about the need for comprehensive patent reform to stop innovation-killing trolls. While we continue to push for reform in Congress, there are a number of steps that companies and inventors can take to keep from contributing to the patent troll problem. These steps include pledges and defensive patent licenses. In recent years, companies like Twitter and Tesla have promised not to use their patents offensively. This week, blockchain startup Blockstream joins them with a robust set of commitments over how it uses software patents.”

Bob Summerwill told me [1, 2]: “I see this as hugely positive. Looks directly analogous to what the GPL does for copyrights. Use system against itself.”

Right, but unless Blockstream actually has some patents (there is no evidence of it so far), what can they really use against the system? The system as it stands is inherently hostile towards GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software, which is what Blockchain is all about.

Blockstream’s message is suggestive of unknown context (like something they know but are not telling us). It seems like shameless self-promotion or a publicity stunt with a “patents” angle. We have become accustomed to it. One company that should definitely do the same thing (but has not) is Red Hat. OIN membership does not guarantee this and if Red Hat got sold to some relatively hostile entity (like Sun to Oracle), there is no guarantee that Red Hat’s patents would not be used to wreak havoc (like a $10 billion lawsuit over a programming language alone, i.e. an order of magnitude worse than SCO versus IBM).

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