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01.20.17

Links 20/1/2017: Docker 1.13, Linux 4.4.44 LTS

Posted in News Roundup at 8:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • What is Linux?
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution 1
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution 2
  • Anatomy of a Linux distribution 3
  • Desktop

    • Desktop environments in my computer

      I started my Linux journey with Gnome, as it was the default desktop environment in RHL. I took some time to find out about KDE. I guess I found out accidentally during re-installation. It used to be fun to have a desktop that looks different, behaves differently than the normal. During the earlier years in college while I was trying to find out more about Linux, using KDE marked me as a Linux expert. I was powered with the right syntax of mount command to mount the windows partitions and the xmms-mp3 rpm. I spent most of my time in the terminal.

  • Server

    • Distributed Fabric: A New Architecture for Container-Based Applications

      There’s a palpable sense of excitement in the application development world around container technology. Containers bring a new level of agility and speed to app development, giving developers the ability to break large monolithic apps into small, manageable microservices that can talk to one another, be more easily tested and deployed, and operate more efficiently as a full application. However, containers also demand a new architecture for the application services managing these microservices and apps, particularly in regards to service discovery — locating and consuming the services of those microservices.

    • DevOps trends emerging for 2017 and beyond

      Finally, one of the biggest trends for 2017 will not be just a focus on engaging and implementing some of these DevOps best practices into your enterprise, but a sweeping adoption of the DevOps/agile culture. This is because one of the most important – if not the absolute most key –tenets to a successful DevOps organization is culture. The enterprises that most espouse the shared responsibility, the empowered autonomous teams, the can-do attitudes, and the continuous learning environment in which DevOps thrives will see the biggest benefits.

    • Introducing Docker 1.13

      Today we’re releasing Docker 1.13 with lots of new features, improvements and fixes to help Docker users with New Year’s resolutions to build more and better container apps. Docker 1.13 builds on and improves Docker swarm mode introduced in Docker 1.12 and has lots of other fixes. Read on for Docker 1.13 highlights.

    • Docker 1.13 Officially Released, Docker for AWS and Azure Ready for Production

      Docker announced today the general availability of Docker 1.13, the third major update of the open-source application container engine for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows operating systems.

      Docker 1.13 has been in development for the past couple of months, during which it received no less than seven RC (Release Candidate) versions that implemented numerous improvements for the new Swarm Mode introduced in Docker 1.12, a few security features, as well as a new Remote API (version 1.25) and Client.

    • Docker 1.13 Prunes Containers, Improves Security

      The Docker 1.13 release introduces multiple new commands including prune and squash, which can help containers to use disk space more efficiently.

      Docker officially announced its 1.13 release on Jan. 19, with new capabilities to help build, manage and secure containers.

    • Who’s cashing in on containers? Look to the cloud

      Docker-style containers are so hot they’ve broken the scale ETR uses to measure CIO intent to purchase enterprise technology, registering “the strongest buying intention score ever recorded in [its] six-year history.”

      While that data is more than a year old, more recent analyses peg Docker adoption up by a factor of 2.6 in 2016 over 2015, yielding a market worth $762 million in 2016, projected to bloat to $2.7 billion by 2020, according to 451 Research.

    • Serverless Computing Is the Stack Reimagined [Ed: Serverless=you have less control over the computer you use. Cloud=you have no ownership of the computer you use. Serverless Cloud=suicide.]

      In Ho’s own words, “Serverless computing is the code execution model that the cloud provider abstracts the complexity of managing individual servers.” This basically means the provider worries about the servers. You just run your code on them.

  • Kernel Space

    • Optimizing Linux for Slow Computers

      It’s interesting, to consider what constitutes a power user of an operating system. For most people in the wider world a power user is someone who knows their way around Windows and Microsoft Office a lot, and can help them get their print jobs to come out right. For those of us in our community, and in particular Linux users though it’s a more difficult thing to nail down. If you’re a LibreOffice power user like your Windows counterpart, you’ve only really scratched the surface. Even if you’ve made your Raspberry Pi do all sorts of tricks in Python from the command line, or spent a career shepherding websites onto virtual Linux machines loaded with Apache and MySQL, are you then a power user compared to the person who knows their way around the system at the lower level and has an understanding of the kernel? Probably not. It’s like climbing a mountain with false summits, there are so many layers to power usership.

      So while some of you readers will be au fait with your OS at its very lowest level, most of us will be somewhere intermediate. We’ll know our way around our OS in terms of the things we do with it, and while those things might be quite advanced we’ll rely on our distribution packager to take care of the vast majority of the hard work.

    • Long-Term Maintenance, or How to (Mis-)Manage Embedded Systems for 10+ Years

      In this presentation, kernel hacker Jan Lübbe will explain why apparently reasonable approaches to long-term maintenance fail and how to establish a sustainable workflow instead.

    • Linux 4.9 Is the Next Long-Term Supported Kernel Branch, Says Greg Kroah-Hartman

      Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman confirmed today, January 19, 2017, in a short message, on his Google+ page, that the Linux 4.9 branch is now marked as “longterm,” or as some of you know as LTS (Long-Term Support).

      The story behind Linux kernel 4.9 becoming the next long-term supported series dates from way before it’s launch last month, on December 11, when Linus Torvalds officially announced the new branch. It all started back on August 12, 2016, when Greg Kroah-Hartman dropped a quick Google+ post to say “4.9 == next LTS kernel.”

    • Maintainers Don’t Scale

      First let’s look at how the kernel community works, and how a change gets merged into Linus Torvalds’ repository. Changes are submitted as patches to mailing list, then get some review and eventually get applied by a maintainer to that maintainer’s git tree. Each maintainer then sends pull request, often directly to Linus. With a few big subsystems (networking, graphics and ARM-SoC are the major ones) there’s a second or third level of sub-maintainers in. 80% of the patches get merged this way, only 20% are committed by a maintainer directly.

      Most maintainers are just that, a single person, and often responsible for a bunch of different areas in the kernel with corresponding different git branches and repositories. To my knowledge there are only three subsystems that have embraced group maintainership models of different kinds: TIP (x86 and core kernel), ARM-SoC and the graphics subsystem (DRM).

    • Linux Kernel 4.9.5 Released with Updated Radeon Drivers, KVM and PPC Fixes

      A new maintenance update of the Linux 4.9 kernel series was announced today by renowned Linux kernel maintainer and developer Greg Kroah-Hartman, versioned 4.9.5.

      Coming only five days after the previous point release, Linux kernel 4.9.5 appears to be a big milestone that changes a total of 132 files, with 1515 insertions and 821 deletions. There are numerous improvements implemented in this fifth Linux 4.9 maintenance update, but first we’d like to remind you that Greg Kroah-Hartman recently marked this kernel branch as long-term supported (LTS), yet this is not apparent from kernel.org.

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.44 LTS Brings Some x86 Improvements, Various Updated Drivers

      After informing us about the availability of the fifth maintenance update of the Linux 4.9 kernel series, which has recently become a long-term supported branch, Greg Kroah-Hartman is today announcing the availability of Linux 4.4.44 LTS.

      If you’re reading our regular reports on the Linux kernel, you should be aware of the fact that the Linux 4.4 kernel branch is a long-term support (LTS) one that should get security patches for one more year, until February 2018. This branch is currently available in several popular GNU/Linux distributions, including Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Alpine Linux, and Arch Linux, and Linux 4.4.44 LTS is now the most advanced release.

    • Linux 4.9 Confirmed As The New Long-Term Supported Kernel
    • Graphics Stack

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Has Geometry Shader Support For Testing

        David Airlie has published a set of 31 patches for testing that provide initial support for geometry shaders within the RADV Radeon Vulkan driver.

        While RadeonSI has long supported geometry shaders, it’s been a bigger work item bringing it to this open-source Radeon Vulkan driver within Mesa. The patches are enough for Vulkan geometry shaders to get working on RADV, but Airlie explains that the support isn’t gold: “This is a first pass at geometry shader support on radv, all the code should be here in reviewable pieces, it seems to mostly pass CTS tests but triggers some llvm 3.9 bugs around kill, and there might still be a GPU hang in here, but this should still be a good place to start reviewing.”

      • libinput 1.6.0

        This release fixes the slow touchpad acceleration on touchpads with less than 1000dpi, a missing call to normalized the deltas was the source of the issue.

      • Libinput 1.6 Released With New Touchpad Acceleration

        Libinput 1.6.0 was announced a short time ago on wayland-devel.

      • Mesa 17 Gets a First Release Candidate, Final Planned for Early February 2017

        Collabora’s Emil Velikov announced today, January 19, 2017, the availability of the first of many Release Candidate (RC) development versions of the upcoming and highly anticipated Mesa 17.0.0 3D Graphics Library.

        Mesa 17 is shaping up to be a huge milestone that should dramatically improve the performance of the bundled open-source graphics drivers for Intel, AMD Radeon, Nvidia graphics cards on a Linux-based operating system. Just the other day it enabled OpenGL 4.5 support for Intel Haswell GPUs, which is already a big achievement.

      • More Radeon & AMDGPU Fixes Line-Up For Linux 4.10

        Alex Deucher has sent in another batch of fixes for the Radeon and AMDGPU DRM drivers for the Linux 4.10 kernel.

        These fixes include support for a few peculiar Southern Islands graphics processors in AMDGPU and Radeon drivers. The affected SI GPUs now supported are those needing the “si58″ memory controller microcode. Unfortunately, haven’t been able to find much other details on the particular SI chips affected.

      • Mesa 17.0 Saw Less Code Changes Than Earlier Releases, But More Notable Features

        With Mesa 17.0 up to its release candidates and being under a feature freeze, I explored this morning how the size of the changes for Mesa 17.0 compare to earlier Mesa milestones.

        Mesa 17.0 ships with many exciting end-user changes such as OpenGL 4.5 for RadeonSI, OpenGL 4.5 for Haswell, many RADV and ANV Vulkan driver improvements, improved OpenGL 4.x Nouveau support, and many other features I’ll recap shortly in a Mesa 17.0 feature overview article.

      • The open source Vulkan driver ‘radv’ for AMD on Linux has patches for geometry shader support

        Dave Airlie sent in a massive patch-set of 31 patches for ‘radv’, the open source AMD Vulkan driver, to support geometry shaders.

      • ARB_transform_feedback_overflow_query For Intel’s Mesa Driver
      • Mesa’s Libdrm Gets USB DRM/KMS Device Detection

        Libdrm has some new patches this morning from a NVIDIA developer.

        Thierry Reding of NVIDIA landed xf86drm USB support so that DRM/KMS devices hosted via USB can be detected via Mesa’s DRM device infrastructure.

      • Mesa 13.0.3 Headed to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

        Mesa 13.0.3 will shortly be available to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS users to install, without needing to add any additional PPAs.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Kabylake: Windows 10 vs. Linux OpenGL Performance

        For those curious about the current Kabylake graphics performance between Windows 10 and Linux, here are some OpenGL benchmark results under each operating system. Windows 10 Pro x64 was tested and the Linux distributions for comparison were Ubuntu 16.10, Clear Linux, Antergos, Fedora 25 Xfce, and openSUSE Tumbleweed.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt Speech (Text to Speech) is here

        I’m happy that with Qt 5.8.0 we’ll have Qt Speech added as a new tech preview module. It took a while to get it in shape since the poor thing sometimes did not get the attention it deserved. We had trouble with some Android builds before that backend received proper care. Luckily there’s always the great Qt community to help out.

      • Text To Speech Goes In As A Tech Preview For Qt 5.8

        With Qt 5.8 that’s due to be released next week there is the new Qt Speech as a “tech preview” of text-to-speech for this tool-kit.

      • 5 Linux Desktop Environments on the Rise for 2017

        With each passing year, the Linux desktop ecosystem shifts and morphs from one darling to the next. Although it’s sometimes challenging to tell, from month to month, which desktop will reign as the fan favorite, there are always signs that a particular desktop is going to rise in market share.

        Three trends I always examine are evolution, usability, and modernity. I prefer my desktops to have evolved along with the needs of current trends and users, to be easily used, and have a modern design aesthetic. Bonus points are generally awarded for a high range of flexibility.

        Currently, the Linux desktop environment is dominated by Cinnamon, Xfce, GNOME, and Ubuntu Unity. Of those four, I believe only one will see a sharp rise in market share in 2017. Which one? Let’s dive in and see which five desktops, I think will climb the rank and file.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.23.4 released

        The fourth snapshot of GNOME 3.23 is now available!

        Probably one of the most important features of this release is the inclusion of a pre-release of GTK+4 for the first time.

      • GNOME 3.23.4 Released

        The latest development release is now available of the work leading up to the GNOME 3.24 desktop in March.

        GNOME 3.23.4 is today’s new development. Core changes to GNOME 3.23.4 include memory leak fixes for EOG, Epiphany browser improvements, GJS now supports JavaScript ES6 Promises, GNOME Calendar now supports online calendars being downloaded offline and synchronized, Librsvg begins making use of Rust, Mutter Wayland fixes, and various other fixes throughout the core GNOME components.

      • Revamped Cinnamon Desktop Add-ons Website Is Now Live

        A revamped version of the Cinnamon Spices website is now live, showcasing the latest and most popular add-ons for the Linux Mint desktop.

      • Emoji Picker GNOME Extension

        You folks must think that I’m obsessed with Emoji, but you’d be …No, you’d be absolutely right about that. Actually, I don’t overuse the popular pictorial glyphs that dominate daily communication. But I do appreciate being able to find the one I want to use in a timely manner.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • ISS Federal Lead Rob Rogers on Agencies’ Open Source Moves & ‘Information Advantage’ Efforts

    ExecutiveBiz recently caught up with ISS Federal Systems Vice President Rob Rogers for this interview to discuss ongoing data-related trends in government and where he sees agencies prioritizing efforts in that arena, plus his ideas for how the government should approach open source methodology.

    [...]

    We have seen a significant shift in the past five years around agencies adopting and embracing open source methods. For one, open source technology is the primary catalyst behind some of the most significant progress related to the evolution of “big data” and analytic capabilities, which is used pervasively in the intelligence community.

    Certain agencies have contributed major projects to the open source community, which further solidifies their position on supporting open source. One notable example is NSA’s contribution of NiFi and Accumulo to the Apache Software Foundation in 2014. If these types of actions are an indicator of the direction that the IC agencies are heading in their support of open source, then the future is bright.

  • Davos 2017: China unites 25 countries to establish Global Blockchain Business Council

    On January 17, the governmental and industrial representatives from China and 25 other countries gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the Davos Forum.

    According to the latest update provided by Tai Cloud Corporation to EconoTimes, Jamie Elizabeth Smith, the former spokesperson and special assistant of the U.S. president Obama, announced that the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) is formally established. The first national team members include senior executives of World Bank Mariana Dahan, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former Prime Minister of Haidi Laurent Lamont, former Economy Minister of Ukraine Aivaras Abromavičius.

  • Intel’s BigDL deep learning framework snubs GPUs for CPUs

    Last week Intel unveiled BigDL, a Spark-powered framework for distributed deep learning, available as an open source project. With most major IT vendors releasing machine learning frameworks, why not the CPU giant, too?

    What matters most about Intel’s project may not be what it offers people building deep learning solutions on Spark clusters, but what it says about Intel’s ambitions to promote hardware that competes with GPUs for those applications.

  • How is your community promoting diversity?

    Open source software is a great enabler for technology innovation. Diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth. Open source and diversity seem like the ultimate winning combination, yet ironically open source communities are among the least diverse tech communities. This is especially true when it comes to inherent diversity: traits such as gender, age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

  • Walmart’s Contributions to Open Source

    You might first think about open source in the context of outstanding tools for lean startup companies, but open source also finds a welcome home in behemoth, established companies, such as Walmart. In this O’Reilly OSCON video interview with Walmart Lab’s Alex Grigoryan, learn how Walmart both benefits from and contributes back to open source. The key takeaway? Open source allows you to reuse software components in labor saving ways.

  • Librecore: Aiming To Be A Better Libre Spin Of Coreboot

    Librecore is a new project aiming to be a new Coreboot downstream with a focus remaining on providing fully-free system firmware. Separately, Minifree/Libreboot has been accused (and admitted by Leah Rowe) to not paying a vendor for a completed contract.

    Librecore was formed due to “[Libreboot lead developer Leah Rowe] alienating large portions of the community, plus the stagnant and hard to use libreboot firmware and build system.” With Librecore, they are aiming to use industry-standard tools and build environments. Another different design decision is pursuing Petitboot as the payload for a more modern and useful interface over GRUB as a payload.

  • Use of open source software growing across telecom

    Open source software may still be a new model for the telecommunications industry, but it’s rapidly gaining traction as operators look to mimic computing world.

    While the open source community has quickly gaining ground in the computing space, the traditional telecommunications industry has a history of hardening its siloed approach to networking technology. This was especially apparent at a time when most mobile telecom networks were 2G-based, with 3G technology just coming online in more advanced markets.

  • Options for Open Source Support

    If you’ve been following the work we’re doing around open source at Rogue Wave Software, you’ve probably heard us say that open source software (OSS) has “crossed the chasm” or is “eating the enterprise.” Although the open source enterprise landscape is still truly nascent, there is no question that open source development principles and the products themselves have “won.” That begs the question: “Now what do we do?”

    You’re leveraging free software, perhaps even without knowing it! Your developers are seeking out open source libraries to meet your business demands before writing the code themselves. You’re using an open source application server, middleware solution, or operating system instead of an expensive and locked-in commercial alternative. You’ve shortened your development cycles, you’re releasing things faster, and you’ve gained a competitive edge by embracing community developed solutions in your enterprise.

  • Google’s VR art app is open source and ready to get weird

    Google’s Tilt Brush is capable of some pretty impressive results. But what if those 3D paintings and projects you made while strapped into virtual reality could escape into the real world?

  • Google’s open-source Tilt Brush: Now you can create 3D movies in VR
  • Google Is Quietly Turning VR Into A Real Creative Tool
  • ‘Tilt Brush’ Toolkit Turns Artists Into Animators With Unity Integration
  • Tilt Brush creations can now be exported to other projects
  • Tilt Brush Toolkit helps artists make their VR paintings interactive
  • Google creates Tilt Brush Toolkit to help 2D artists work better in 3D
  • Google Open Sources More Virtual Reality Tools
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • EIT Digital begins work on Hadoop open source product and start-up to take innovation to market
    • EIT Digital to Launch Hadoop-Based Software Framework, and a Startup

      While not everyone in the U.S. is familiar with it, EIT Digital is a leading European open innovation organization, and it has just launched a new innovation program called HopsWorks to work on a next-generation Hadoop open-source software framework for distributed storage and processing of very large data sets.

      The idea is to leverage Hadoop’s Big Data strengths in a new type of software framework, and a whole new startup comany will be created to take it to market.

      Dr. Jim Dowling, Senior Researcher at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS Swedish ICT) and the leader of EIT Digital HopsWorks Innovation Activity, said: “Hadoop is an open-source software framework for storing data and running applications on clusters of commodity hardware. Our product, dubbed ‘Hops’, will provide the first truly multi-tenant, elastic Hadoop distribution service with unified batch and streaming.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • What Do You Do? ‘I Run An Open Source Learning System Used By Millions’

      I’m CEO of Moodle, a learning management system. It’s a piece of software that is like an operating system for education. You can add and remove tools, and you can build an environment for learning. The teacher usually controls it. The students are usually going through activities set by the teacher, although that’s not always the case. It doesn’t just have to be like that. It’s ultimately a place where you’ll collaborate and work together and learn from each other.

      I started off making up this job because I was solving problems, bit by bit. There’s a lot of things involved in that, but ultimately, it’s glueing together a lot of different skills that I learned from a lot of different people, and solving problems in a bigger way.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The GPL in Layman’s Terms – Free as in What?

      Through the glazed-over eyes of friends and family, past that painful look of well-intended but feigned interest, I can clearly see a fundamental lack of understanding about this free software I’m constantly going on about.

    • Open Source Software: What Every In-House Counsel Should Know

      Open source software (OSS) is ubiquitous in software development today, enabling technical innovation, productivity gains, and touching everything from big data and cloud to mobile and embedded. Control modules on the market today commonly include OSS components such as real-time operating systems, libraries, data interfaces, firmware, and display software.

    • 4 Common Open Source License Compliance Failures and How to Avoid Them

      Companies or organizations that don’t have a strong open source compliance program often suffer from errors and limitations in processes throughout the software development cycle that can lead to open source compliance failures.

      The previous article in this series covered common intellectual property failures. This time, we’ll discuss the four common open source license compliance failures and how to avoid them.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 7 Moves Onto Only Regression/Doc Fixes, But Will Accept RISC-V & HSA’s BRIG

      The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is entering its “stage four” development for GCC 7 with the stable GCC 7.1 release expected in March or April.

      Richard Biener announced today that GCC 7 is under stage four, meaning only regression and documentation fixes will be permitted until the GCC 7.1.0 stable release happens (yep, as per their peculiar versioning system, GCC 7.1 is the first stable release in the GCC 7 series).

    • 5 ways to expand your project’s contributor base

      So many free and open source software projects were started to solve a problem, and people began to contribute to them because they too wanted a fix to what they encountered. End users of the project find it useful for their needs, and the project grows. And that shared purpose and focus attracts people to a project’s community.

    • Weblate 2.10.1

      This is first security bugfix release for Weblate. This has to come at some point, fortunately the issue is not really severe. But Weblate got it’s first CVE ID today, so it’s time to address it in a bugfix release.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • EU MEPs Call Again For ‘Robot Rules’ To Get Ahead Of The AI Revolution

      Questions about how we approach our new robotic friends once the artificial intelligence revolution really kicks off are not new, nor are calls for developing some sort of legal framework that will govern how humanity and robots ought to interact with one another. For the better part of this decade, in fact, there have been some advocating that robots and AI be granted certain rights along the lines of what humanity, or at least animals, enjoy. And, while some of its ideas haven’t been stellar, such as a call for robots to be afforded copyright for anything they might create, the EU has been talking for some time about developing policy around the rights and obligations of artificial intelligence and its creators.

      With AI being something of a hot topic, as predictions of its eventual widespread emergence mount, it seems EU MEPs are attempting to get out ahead of the revolution.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ProPublica Files Lawsuit Seeking VA Correspondence Related to Agent Orange

      ProPublica and the Virginian-Pilot filed a lawsuit today in federal court against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, accusing the agency of stonewalling requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

      The lawsuit, ProPublica’s second against the VA in two months, seeks a preliminary injunction compelling the government to immediately release correspondence about Agent Orange, an herbicide used to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War, including documents sent to and received by Dr. David Shulkin, the VA’s undersecretary for health. Shulkin has been nominated to be VA secretary by President-elect Donald Trump.

      ProPublica and the Pilot have been reporting about Agent Orange for 18 months, documenting ongoing effects on veterans and their families. The FOIA requests at issue in today’s lawsuit date back to May and September 2015.

    • When a Study Cast Doubt on a Heart Pill, the Drug Company Turned to Tom Price

      The $3 pill known as BiDil was already a difficult sell when a Georgia-based pharmaceutical company bought the marketing rights a few years ago. A treatment for African Americans suffering from heart failure, BiDil had never really caught on, forcing the drug company that developed it to take a buyout offer. One strike against the drug was a 2009 study that raised questions about its safety and effectiveness.

      So last summer, the new owner of the drug, Arbor Pharmaceuticals LLC of Atlanta, sought to get the study taken down from a government website. For help, the company turned to the office of a congressman to whom the CEO had given the maximum $2,700 campaign donation — Rep. Tom Price, the Georgia Republican nominated by Donald Trump to become head of the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Security

    • After MongoDB Debacle, Expect More Ransomware, Open Source Attacks in 2017 [Ed: Black Duck is at it again]

      “Black Duck’s Open Source Security Audit Report found that, on average, vulnerabilities in open source components used in commercial application were over 5 years old,” Pittenger said. “The Linux kernel vulnerability discovered 8/16 (CVE-2016-5195) had been in the Linux code base since 2012. Most organizations don’t know about the open source vulnerabilities in their code because they don’t track the open source components they use, and don’t actively monitor open source vulnerability information.”

    • Mirai: Student behind IoT malware used it in Minecraft server protection racket, claims Krebs

      SECURITY BLOGGER BRIAN KREBS has suggested that “Anna Senpai”, the reprobate behind the Mirai Internet-of-shonky-Things (IoT) botnet, is a student studying at Rutgers University in the US.

      Krebs made his disclosure after conducting an in-depth investigation and finding out that Mirai had been developed and deployed over the past three years or so – it didn’t suddenly emerge last year.

      Krebs believes that Mirai has been used a number of times in connection with what looks suspiciously likes an online protection racket: companies running, for example, Minecraft servers being offered distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection, on the one hand, just before being taken offline in massive DDoS attacks on the other.

    • Gmail phishing scam has everyone reaching for 2FA

      STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING, unless you don’t have a Gmail account. Carry on if that is the case.

      If you do use Gmail you apparently really, really, need to be aware of a crafty phishing scam that will have you hooked, lined, sinkered, gutted, covered in batter and served with curry sauce before you have a chance to realise that anything is happening.

      The scam that has everyone in a lather uses a deceptive URL, and quite a sneaky one. People probably won’t even notice it because, for the most part, it looks fine. It is only once it is clicked and the bastard gateway is broken through that the phishing and the stealing begins.

    • Sonatype: 1 in 15 open source app components has at least one security vulnerability
    • Friday’s security updates
    • The flatpak security model – part 2: Who needs sandboxing anyway?

      The ability to run an application sandboxed is a very important feature of flatpak. However, its is not the only reason you might want to use flatpak. In fact, since currently very few applications work in a fully sandboxed environment, most of the apps you’d run are not sandboxed.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Supreme Court Weighs Whether Bush Officials Can Be Sued Over Post-9/11 Abuse

      The federal government’s frantic response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sparked renewed debate Wednesday at the Supreme Court, as justices considered whether top officials in the George W. Bush administration could be held responsible for abuses against Muslim immigrants and others rounded up after the attacks.

      Conservatives on the court, citing the extraordinary peril of that time, appeared willing to give the officials legal protection from lawsuits arising from the detention policies they approved after the attacks.

      But some of the more liberal justices did not appear so forgiving.

      Even in a time of national emergency, government officials sometimes “can go too far,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said. “And if they have gone too far, it is our job to say that.”

    • Obama files parting appeal to protect drone secrecy

      President Barack Obama has pulled back the curtain on aspects of the U.S. drone killing program, but as he prepared to leave office this week his administration made a legal move to prevent a judge from pulling the curtain back even further.

      Last July, a federal judge in New York issued a 191-page legal opinion resolving an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit demanding dozens of Justice Department, Defense Department and CIA documents relating to the use of armed drones to kill individuals abroad. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon’s ruling appears to have largely favored the government’s right to keep the records under wraps.

      However, McMahon seemed to accept the ACLU’s arguments for disclosure in a few areas and she accused the government of “chutzpah” over some of its contentions. Because the government declared much of her opinion “top secret,” it’s difficult to assess.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Chicago Mayor Promises To Turn Over Emails From His Private Accounts Following Courtroom Losses

      Not only is the use of private email accounts to route around public records requests a common practice, it’s also an accepted practice. Politicians aren’t going to sell out their own in the name of transparency, so there’s likely as many private email accounts handling official business as there are government employees. Everyone from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to Gen. Colin Powell has used private email accounts to handle government communications they’d rather not be made public.

      The same goes for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. For years, journalists and government transparency groups have been trying (and suing) to get the mayor to turn over city-related emails contained in his personal accounts. To date, the city of Chicago hasn’t budged.

      But we’re living in a “new” era of Chicago-brand transparency — the aftermath of the city’s concerted cover-up of police recordings of the Laquan McDonald shooting. The mayor pledged the city would be more open and forthcoming in the future — not a difficult promise to make considering there was nowhere to go but up.

    • Wikileaks’ founder Assange says stands by U.S. extradition offer

      WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up at Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012, said on Thursday he stood by his offer to be extradited to the United States providing his rights were protected.

      Assange said last week he would accept extradition if former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning were freed and on Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s 35-year sentence, meaning she will be released in May.

  • Finance

    • Mark Zuckerberg sues over 100 Hawaiians to force them to sell them their ancestral land

      In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg (who insists that privacy is dead) bought 100 acres of land around his vacation home in Hawaii to ensure that no one could get close enough to spy on him.

      The Zuckerberg estate on Kauai North Shore engulfs several smaller pieces of land deeded in the 1800s — kuleana lands that were granted to native Hawaiians. The owners of this land are entitled to easements through Zuckerberg’s property, so they can reach their own.

      Zuckerberg has filed “quiet” lawsuits to force the owners of more than 100 of these parcels to sell to him. His lawyer says it’s the easiest way to figure out who has title to these family lands so he can make them an offer. Hey, when I want to find out who someone is, I always sue ‘em.

    • Mark Zuckerberg sues hundreds of Hawaii families to force them to sell their land

      Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly suing Hawaiian families who have ancestral rights to land within his $100 million (£81.2 million) property in a bid to force them to sell their plots.

      The Facebook founder has launched the legal action in an attempt to make his 700-acre beachfront estate on the Island of Kuai more private.

      Under legislation dating back to 1850 known as the Kuleana Act, almost a dozen native families currently have the right to live on small sections of land within the billionaire’s property on the island, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

    • Democrats Missed an Opportunity to Expose Steve Mnuchin as a Predator

      Treasury-secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin came to the Senate Finance Committee hearing room prepared to fight a war about foreclosures issued by OneWest Bank when he served as CEO. His only weapons were half-truths and outright lies. But you go to war with what you have.

      A funny thing happened on his way to the hearing room, however. Democrats got distracted by information uncovered by their staff that Mnuchin left off his financial disclosure, that he was director of investment funds incorporated in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Anguilla. Mnuchin called it an oversight, and that the forms are hard work. To quote Cristina Clifford, a OneWest homeowner subject to wrongful foreclosure, “Paperwork can be hard. It’s really hard when someone like Steve Mnuchin is foreclosing on your home. OneWest repeatedly lost my paperwork, and they foreclosed on me anyway.”

      But instead of taking up this line of argument, Democratic committee members pummeled him over the tax haven, asking again and again about why he would have to incorporate the fund overseas and whether he personally benefited from tax evasion.

      Mnuchin’s answer on this was a little weak. He admitted that he didn’t have an office, employees, or customers in these tax havens, but he seemingly argued that he incorporated in the Caymans only to benefit other groups like nonprofits and pension funds, as if that makes it all better. But it got bogged down into an arcane discussion of hedge-fund rules and tax law, when there were literally thousands of human stories, of people who lost everything they had at the hands of Steve Mnuchin’s bank, waiting to be discussed. Too few Democrats took the opportunity. And this is a familiar pattern, because of the troubling failures of the Obama administration to deal with foreclosures. Yesterday’s unofficial forum with foreclosure victims was the first appearance of homeowners on the Hill in years.

    • Treasury Pick Steve Mnuchin Denies It, But Victims Describe His Bank as a Foreclosure Machine

      Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin kicked off his confirmation hearing Thursday with a defiant opening statement, mostly defending his record as CEO of OneWest Bank. He cast himself as a tireless savior for homeowners after scooping up failed lender IndyMac. “It has been said that I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” he said. “I ran a loan modification machine.”

      But in stark contrast to his fuzzy statistics about attempted loan modifications, the victims of OneWest’s foreclosure practices have been real and ubiquitous.

      A TV advertising campaign that’s been running in Nevada, Arizona, and Iowa features Lisa Fraser, a widow who says OneWest “lied to us and took our home” of 25 years, right after her husband’s funeral.

    • Trump’s 10 Troubling Deals with Foreign Power-Players

      Incoming President Donald Trump’s business deals span the globe. Trump-branded skyscrapers, golf courses and hotels stretch from Dubai to Azerbaijan to the Philippines.

      Government ethics experts have strongly criticized Trump’s refusal to divest ownership of any of his businesses. But they point to his ongoing foreign deals with those connected to power as the most troubling.

      “These foreign deals are fertile ground for corruption,” Norman Eisen, the White House chief ethics lawyer under President Obama, told ProPublica. “When there’s a pre-existing relationship, there can be wink, wink, nod, nod, or even a private whisper that turns into a quid pro quo.”

      “He has to get rid of his foreign deals,” said Matthew T. Sanderson, an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale who has served as legal counsel on three Republican presidential campaigns.

    • Obama Leaves U.S.A $9,335,000,000,000 Deeper in Debt

      President Barack Obama will leave the federal government approximately $9,335,000,000,000 deeper in debt than it was when he took office eight years ago, according to data released today by the U.S. Treasury.

      The increased debt incurred under Obama equals approximately $75,129 for every person in the United States who had a full-time job in December.

      The $9,334,590,089,060.56 that the debt had increased under Obama as of the close of business on Wednesday is far more debt than was accumulated by any previous president. It equals nearly twice as much as the $4,889,100,310,609.44 in additional debt that piled up during the eight years George W. Bush served as president.

    • US Government To Start Working On NAFTA 2.0 Immediately; What Will It Do On Corporate Sovereignty?

      There’s plenty of sound logic to be found in this analysis. However, if we have learned anything over the last few months, it is that old-fashioned logic is relatively unimportant in the new political landscape. Since it looks like moves to renegotiate NAFTA are going to be made quickly, we should find out soon enough what the Trump administration’s new line on ISDS will be.

    • Chinese investors gobble up owner of PCWorld, Macworld etc

      Two Chinese investors are buying the owner of PCWorld magazine and the IDC market research outfit – International Data Group (IDG) – but IDC’s high-performance computing research businesses are not included in the sale.

      The two Chinese investors are China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co, Ltd and the confusingly named IDG Capital. They were apparently bidding separately several months ago, but joined forces under the encouragement of Goldman Sachs, IGC’s banker.

      They are paying a sum estimated between $500m and $1bn. The American Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has cleared the sale, which should complete by April.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • For Donald Trump, faith has become the perfect alibi for greed

      You may have paused over it at the airport and wondered if it might be worth a guilty read on a long flight. After all, it has sold over 5m copies and spent 186 weeks in the New York Times bestseller list. Maybe you then thought better of it, suspecting there is something a little bit overly needy about people who go in for self-help books. Wise choice; it’s a terrible book. Nonetheless, if you want to understand the psychology of Donald Trump, it might be worth steeling yourself for an hour. For Normal Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking was one of the formative influences on the young Trump. And Peale’s philosophy of positive thinking explains much about the internal workings of Trump’s maddening self-belief.

      Norman Vincent Peale was for over half a century the minister of Marble Collegiate church on New York’s Fifth Avenue, and he made it one of the most influential pulpits in the country, railing against communism and un-American activities. It was to there in the 1960s that Fred C Trump took his family, moving over from the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, where they lived, drawn by Peale’s theology of how to be winner. Donald Trump says he attended Marble church for decades and that he was much influenced by Peale’s sermons. Norman Peale married Donald to his first wife, Ivana, at Marble in 1977.

    • Michael Moore leads massive anti-Trump protest in NYC

      Documentary director Michael Moore held a massive protest Thursday night outside Trump’s New York City International Hotel featuring speeches from public figures including actors Robert De Niro and Mark Ruffalo.

      The protest started at 6 p.m. with De Niro poking fun at Trump by reading imagined tweets from the president-elect. It was followed by speeches from Moore, Alec Baldwin, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, Ruffalo and the Rev. Al Sharpton, and others.

    • Trump team wanted tanks, missile launchers in parade: report

      Donald Trump’s inauguration team wanted to show off the U.S. military during inauguration weekend and even suggested including tanks and missile launchers in his inaugural parade, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.

      “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” an inauguration team source told The Huffington Post, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang that are often interpreted as displays of aggression.

      According to the report, the military shot down the request because of concerns about how it would look to have tanks and missile launchers in the parade, as well as the possible damage the tanks, which can weigh over 100,000 pounds, would do to the roads.

      “I could absolutely see structural support being a reason [not to use tanks],” a Department of Defense official told The Huffington Post. “D.C. is built on a swamp to begin with.”

    • The idea of girls growing up in a world where a leader can talk about groping women turns my stomach

      We do know, however, what a Trump Presidency will mean for the campaign to end violence against women and girls – and it’s not positive.

      The most powerful man in the world has repeatedly and deliberately demeaned women. “When you’re a star” he said, “they let you do it. You can do anything …Grab them by the p***y … You can do anything.” He has gloated about sexual assault and argued that objectifying 50 per cent of the human race is exactly what the other 50 per cent do privately. even if they pretend otherwise in public.

      Trump’s election campaign and professional track record are distinguished by sexism and misogyny. There is very little he could say or do now to reverse the damage he has already caused, the consequences of which resonate beyond the US and beyond women and girls.

    • NYT Ignored Reality at 2001 Bush Inauguration; Now Ignorance Is History

      The link in that passage goes back to the Times‘ 2001 coverage of the inauguration—coverage that was critiqued by FAIR at the time under the headline “Ignoring Reality at the Inauguration”…

    • Who’s Paying for Inauguration Parties? Companies and Lobbyists With a Lot at Stake

      Corporate interests that were largely reluctant to embrace Donald Trump during the presidential campaign last year are finally opening their checkbooks to underwrite the festivities sweeping Washington, D.C., to welcome his incoming administration.

      Firms with a great deal riding on the major policy agenda items of the next four years have lined up to sponsor the endless parade of hors d’oeuvres and open bars at parties across the city.

      Topping the list are firms with interests in pharmaceuticals, oil, and defense contracting — highly regulated industries that have much at stake with ongoing policy discussions over drug pricing, environmental regulations, and the defense sequester.

      Several events list ride-sharing companies Lyft or Uber as special transportation partners. Both firms face regulatory hurdles to accessing municipal markets and in terms of gaining approval for the next generation self-driving car technologies.

    • Major Fake News Operation Tracked Back to Republican Operative

      Cam Harris, a recent college graduate hoping to build a career as a political consultant, received an unwelcome email from a New York Times reporter this month. As the reporter, Scott Shane, recounted on the front page of Thursday’s Times, he had discovered that Harris was the publisher of a fake news site dedicated to smearing Hillary Clinton.

      So Harris did what came naturally. He started to spin. First, he admitted that he had written the hoax news articles casting Clinton as a criminal on his site, ChristianTimesNewspaper.com. Eight of his stories attracted enough attention on social networks to merit debunking by Snopes, the fact-checking site, and one of them, published a month before the election, attracted six million readers with the headline, “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.”

      But when he was asked about his motives for posting elaborate disinformation about Clinton online over the course of 11 months, Harris was a little more economical with the truth. Even though he had attacked Clinton relentlessly on Twitter during the campaign, and voted for Donald Trump, Harris told The Times that his goals were purely financial. He had focused on potentially damaging fabrications about Clinton, he claimed, simply because those pieces generated more clicks and so more ad revenue than attacks on Trump.

    • Donald Trump has assembled the worst Cabinet in American history

      Any time a new administration comes into office, there will be some complaining about the new president’s cabinet picks. But we’re seeing something extraordinary happening now. Donald Trump’s cabinet brings with it a combination of ethical problems, inexperience, hostility to the missions of the departments its members are being called to lead, and plain old ignorance that is simply unprecedented.

      This is shaping up to be nothing less than the worst cabinet in American history.

    • Welcome to the Wipe House: President Trump shreds climate change, privacy, LGBT policies from WhiteHouse.gov

      With Donald Trump taking over the presidency Friday morning, a different type of transition has also taken place: a digital transition.

      A novel approach was taken with respect to the Twitter accounts of the president, vice-president and first lady: the accounts were both retained and cloned to new accounts – if you followed @POTUS, you will continue to do so but will also be added as a follower to @POTUS44 (Obama was the 44th president of the United States). The same goes with @VP and @FLOTUS.

    • A morning with ‘adorable deplorables’: why Trump supporters are optimistic

      On the bus, in the morning darkness, Steph and Brandi put on their makeup, using a phone as a mirror.

      Stephanie Friess and Brandi Tillman have been friends since high school, and now they were on their way from Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington to celebrate the man who had given them a brand new country.

      On election night, Steph stayed up past 3am to see Trump’s victory being announced. The next morning, remembering the night before while driving her car, the 24-year-old felt jubilant to be living in Trump’s America.

      The two women made matching Trump caps – blue and black – decorated with sequins and the slogan “Adorable Deplorable” in honor of the inauguration. Hillary Clinton had tried to attack Trump for lifting up the most “deplorable” among his followers: “the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic – you name it”. Trump’s followers had proudly reclaimed the term, and now Brandi and Steph bedazzled it.

    • Bowe Bergdahl’s lawyers say new president’s criticism threatens fair trial

      Donald Trump’s scathing criticism of Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl will prevent the soldier from getting a fair trial on charges he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan, Bergdahl’s attorneys said on Friday.

      In a motion filed shortly after Trump was sworn in, defense lawyers asked a military judge to dismiss the charges against Bergdahl and argued the Republican violated his due process rights and military law against unlawful command influence.

      Trump’s negative comments about Bergdahl, including calling him a traitor, take on new importance now that he is commander-in-chief. Defense attorneys argue that potential military jurors may feel obligated to agree with their new leader. They prepared a video exhibit of Trump’s criticism.

    • Trump’s ‘cyber tsar’ Giuliani among creds leaked in mass hacks

      Passwords used by Donald Trump’s incoming cybersecurity advisor Rudy Giuliani and 13 other top staffers have been leaked in mass hacks, according to a Channel 4 investigation.

      Giuliani, incoming national security advisor Lt Gen Michael Flynn and various cabinet members of Trump’s administration had their details included in website mega breaches… like millions upon millions of others. This doesn’t mean that we (or they) have been hacked and there’s no indication that it’s their current credentials that have been compromised. They may have changed their passwords since, for instance, the LinkedIn breach.

      “The passwords of the appointees were hacked in mass breaches of websites like LinkedIn, MySpace, and others between 2012 and 2016,” as Channel 4 puts it.

      An appearance of someone’s records in Have I Been Pwned? should not imply that they have been hacked, contrary to Channel 4′s breathless headline.

    • Nigel Farage hired by Fox News as a political analyst

      Nigel Farage has been hired as a commentator for American TV network Fox News, the broadcaster has announced.

      The former UKIP leader will provide political analysis for the main channel, and the Fox Business Network’s daytime and primetime programmes.

    • At His Inauguration, Trump Signals No Break From His Politics of Fear and Loathing

      Today, as of noon, the president of the United States is a man who boasted of sexually assaulting women. The nation’s leader is a purveyor of fake news and conspiracy theories who led the racist birther campaign. The commander in chief in charge of the US nuclear arsenal is a fellow who was unfamiliar with the nuclear triad but who is obsessed with revenge. The head of the federal government is a businessman who vowed to “drain the swamp” but who has taken office loaded with troubling conflicts of interest and flouting multiple ethics norms. The defender of the Constitution is a record-setting prevaricator and fabulist who has repeatedly attacked journalists who challenge his false assertions. The guy who oversees national law enforcement is a dishonest developer who was sued for racially based housing discrimination and who lied about his mob ties. The person in charge of US national security is a foreign policy novice who has called for enhancing relations with a foreign power that covertly worked to subvert American democracy in order to benefit him and whose associates are under investigation by agencies he now oversees for possible contacts with that foreign power. The most powerful man in the world is a thin-skinned, arrogant, name-calling, bullying, narcissistic hotelier.

    • Donald Trump Really Believes All Those Things He Said During the Campaign

      There was no recognition, and probably beneath it no awareness, that America’s security and prosperity have rested all these years on the liberal international order, which our wiser leaders created in the wake of World War II and which Trump now deprecates.

      Quite apart from the ignorance of history and economics that leads him to say, and probably believe, that protectionism will make America stronger and richer, this speech is likely to set off a cascade of consequences around the world. (Give the new president this: He penned a truly historic inaugural address—just not in the way that word is usually meant.)

    • Trump’s Speech Gave Us America the Ugly. Don’t Let It Become Prophesy.
    • The Government Secrets Trump Is About to Discover
  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Brits don’t trust Donald Trump with the surveillance powers President Obama left him

      BRITS DON’T TRUST incoming US president Donald Trump to be able to resist using state surveillance powers, handily expanded by outoing President Obama, for personal gain.

      That’s according to a survey by Privacy International, which seems to suggest that Brits will be up all night with worry over what, exactly, Trump will do after he’s sworn in.

      According to the survey, four-fifths expect Trump to use his surveillance powers in some way for personal gain, while half claimed that they have “no trust” in Trump only using the US government’s surveillance and information-gathering powers for “legitimate purposes”.

    • Android apps, IMEIs and privacy

      There’s been a sudden wave of people concerned about the Meitu selfie app’s use of unique phone IDs. Here’s what we know: the app will transmit your phone’s IMEI (a unique per-phone identifier that can’t be altered under normal circumstances) to servers in China. It’s able to obtain this value because it asks for a permission called READ_PHONE_STATE, which (if granted) means that the app can obtain various bits of information about your phone including those unique IDs and whether you’re currently on a call.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • New Jersey court upholds firing of corrections officer who wore hijab to work

      Hijab, burqas and other religious symbols have been a controversial subject. Last year a Canadian Superior Court justice ruled that a decision to deny a woman’s case in court because she refused to remove her hijab went against [JURIST report] the fundamental principles of Canadian law. In 2013 a Quebec official proposed a bill [JURIST report] banning religious headwear for public workers. Belgium officially banned [JURIST report] burqas in July 2011. France’s ban on burqas took effect [JURIST report] in April 2011. Some commentators have suggested that the rationales behind the European burqa bans are weak [JURIST op-ed] and that the true purpose of the bills is societal discomfort.

    • Judge bluntly warns of contempt if he doesn’t get ‘torture report’

      A judge has bluntly rejected the Obama administration’s effort to avoid giving the court an unabridged copy of the Senate report on CIA war-on-terror interrogation tactics — a compendium better known as the “torture report.”

      In late December, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth granted a request from lawyers for Guantánamo prisoner and alleged Al Qaeda mastermind Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri to have the highly classified report preserved in court files.

      Earlier this month, the Justice Department asked Lamberth to reconsider, noting that President Barack Obama decided to make the report part of his presidential records and that a military judge ordered the Defense Department to preserve a copy of the review.

    • Turkish parliament approves more constitutional reform articles

      Turkey’s parliament approved the first seven articles in a second round of voting overnight on a constitutional bill that will extend President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers, keeping the reform on course for a spring referendum.

      The two largest opposition parties in parliament say the 18-article bill, which could enable Erdogan to rule until 2029, will fuel authoritarianism in the NATO member and European Union candidate country.

      The ruling AK Party, backed by the nationalist MHP, says it will bring the strong executive leadership needed to prevent a return to the fragile coalition governments of the past.

    • Graphic CCTV footage appears to shows blind and mentally ill man being shot dead by California police

      A video appearing to show police cornering a mentally ill and blind man before he was shot dead has been released by the victim’s family.

      The CCTV footage purportedly shows James Hall surrounded by heavily armed officers in a petrol station and then collapsing to the ground as he is gunned down.

      The clip was released after his family announced it was suing the police department in California for using “excessive force”.

      “James was not observed by family, friends, or those who knew him as having violent tendencies because of his mental illness,’ said attorney Ben Meiselas, of Geragos & Geragos in Los Angeles.

    • In parting letter, Obama asks Congress one last time to shutter Guantanamo

      On his last day in office, President Obama repeated an eight-year request to Congress: Close the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

      “There is simply no justification beyond politics for the Congress’ insistence on keeping the facility open,” Obama wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan that was released by the White House on Thursday. “Members of Congress who obstruct efforts to close the facility, given the stakes involved for our security, have abdicated their responsibility to the American people.”

    • Why Chelsea Manning’s Release Will Make Us All Safer

      As one of his final acts, President Barack Obama responded to widespread public outcry and commuted the bulk of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence. Instead of serving 35 years in a military prison, she will be released on May 17, after nearly seven years behind bars, including months in conditions that the United Nations considers to be torture.

      Pardons and commutations are often controversial. But on balance, this decision should be seen as major victory for free speech and human rights—a move that will make all of us safer, and strengthen our democracy.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Netflix is so big that it doesn’t need net neutrality rules anymore

      Netflix has long been an outspoken supporter of net neutrality rules, but the streaming video provider says it is now so popular with consumers that it wouldn’t be harmed if the rules were repealed.

      The potential of reversing net neutrality rules increased the moment Donald Trump became president-elect, as Republicans in the Federal Communications Commission and Congress want to get rid of the rules. But in a letter to shareholders yesterday, Netflix reassured investors that this won’t affect the company’s financial performance or service quality.

      “Weakening of US net neutrality laws, should that occur, is unlikely to materially affect our domestic margins or service quality because we are now popular enough with consumers to keep our relationships with ISPs stable,” Netflix wrote.

      The FCC’s rules prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment. Because of the rules, small video providers that aren’t as popular as Netflix don’t have to worry about being blocked or throttled by ISPs or having to pay ISPs for faster access to customers. ISPs would prefer that customers subscribe to the ISPs’ own video services, and thus have incentive to shut out competitors who need access to their broadband networks.

    • Through Price Hikes And Annoyance, AT&T Still Waging War On Unlimited Data Users

      Back in 2011 AT&T and Verizon killed off their unlimited wireless data plans, instead replacing them with usage caps and steep (up to $15 per gigabyte) over fees. And while these companies grandfathered the existing unlimited data users at the time, they’ve spent the lion’s share of the last six years waging a not-so-subtle war on these users in an attempt to get them to switch to metered plans. This ranged from AT&T’s decision to block Facetime completely for users on unlimited plans, to covertly throttling these users only after a few gigabytes of usage, then lying about it. Repeatedly.

      Of course AT&T has also used vanilla rate hikes on these unlimited data plans to drive users to metered options.

    • Report: President Trump Picks Former Verizon Lawyer Ajit Pai To Head FCC

      As many expected, Donald Trump has chosen former Verizon lawyer and current FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to head the FCC, according to a report by Politico. According to two anonymous insiders “familiar with the decision,” Pai, who met with Trump on Monday, should be formally announced as FCC boss in short order. Pai recently proclaimed that net neutrality’s “days are numbered” under Trump, while stating that the reformed FCC would be taking a “weed whacker” to “unnecessary regulations” like the FCC’s net neutrality rules and its new consumer broadband privacy protections.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Red Cross Claims Makers Of ‘Prison Architect’ Violated The Geneva Conventions By Using A Red Cross

      Let’s start this off by stipulating that the Red Cross is an organization well known for doing very real humanitarian work. While some have raised questions as to exactly how ethically it spends donor money, the organization is still on the front lines in helping those suffering from natural and man-made disasters. All that being said, the Red Cross has also shown itself to wander over the line of sense when it comes to both video games and policing some of its iconography. Recall that the Red Cross insisted, for instance, that games that allowed players to commit what would constitute war crimes also be required to include virtual punishments for those actions. On policing the use of its icons, the organization has suggested in the past that the use of its red cross symbol on theatre costumes constitutes a violation of The Geneva Conventions.

      These two realms in which the Red Cross likes to play crazy have now converged, with Mark Morris and Chris Delay, makers of the notorious video game Prison Architects, having received notice that the game’s inclusion of an ambulance emblazoned with a red cross constituted a violation of The Geneva Conventions.

    • Trademarks

      • Supreme Court Delves Into Question Of Whether Or Not You Can Trademark ‘Disparaging’ Terms

        A little over a year ago, we wrote about an appeals court ruling saying that the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) could not reject a trademark based on the fact that it was “disparaging” towards an individual or group. The case focused around whether or not a Portland band named “The Slants” could trademark its name. The band, which is fronted by an Asian American named Simon Tam, had its trademark rejected by the PTO on the claim that it was disparaging to Asians.

        As I noted at the time, I had struggled with my own opinion on this question as well — initially arguing that this shouldn’t be a First Amendment issue, because refusing to grant a trademark registration in no way interfered with anyone’s freedom of expression. Instead, it did the opposite, and made it clear that anyone could make use of the content without restriction or fear of infringing on someone’s registered mark (though, a common law trademark may still be an issue). Over time, and after lots of discussions with lots of people on all sides of this issue, I eventually came down on the other side. The key issue was not whether or not speech was blocked, but rather that there’s a law that determines something based on the content of speech, and it’s that point that makes it a First Amendment issue.

    • Copyrights

      • Struggling Canadian News Agencies Ask Government For A ‘Google Tax’

        It never fails (although the proposed solution often does): when faced with the struggles of operating news organizations in the internet era, far too many industry leaders suggest someone else should pay for their failing business models.

        The favorite target is Google. Google has somehow destroyed the profitability of news media companies by creating an incredibly successful search engine. Even though its search engine directs users to news agencies’ websites, there are those in the industry that believe incoming traffic isn’t enough to offset their perception that the search engine somehow piggybacks off their success, rather than the other way around.

        So-called “Google taxes” have been passed into law in countries around the world. In every case, they’ve been a disaster. In Spain, new agencies begged to have the law rolled back after losing traffic from Google searches. Having seen what didn’t work in Spain, Austrian lawmakers floated the same idea, proposing a tax on SINGLE WORDS in search results. The latest bad idea is an EU-wide “snippet tax,” because it worked so well in Spain, Spanish newspapers begged the EU to step in and block Google from killing its news article search results in Spain in response to the proposed tax.

      • Is A ‘Fattened’ Version Of A Famous Jorge Luis Borges Story Artistic Re-Creation, Or Copyright Infringement?

        As the Guardian reports, the legal action has been brought by the widow of Borges, María Kodama. Theoretically the case could lead to a six-year jail sentence for Katchadjian, although nobody seriously expects him to end up in prison if he loses. Kodama’s lawyer is unimpressed with the argument that “The Fattened Aleph” is just another of Katchadjian’s literary experiments. Previously, the author rewrote an epic 19th-century poem about gauchos called “Martín Fierro,” by placing the poem’s lines in alphabetical order. “Martín Fierro” is also the name of a 1920s Argentinian literary magazine that published work by Borges, amongst others.

      • What the Five Year Anniversary of the SOPA/PIPA Blackout Can Teach Congress About Tech

        Five years ago this week, Americans opened their internet browsers and saw darkness.

        Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and other major websites had banded together and gone dark to make a then-obscure piece of legislation infamous. Wikipedia shut down completely for 24 hours and a black band masked the Google logo.

        These internet giants and other online sites joined millions of Americans in protesting the 2012 Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) legislation in a historic grassroots movement. More than four million people signed Google’s online petition linked to the blacked-out homepage. Eight million people looked up how to contact their representative when prompted to by Wikipedia. Tumblr alone produced 87,000 calls to representatives. The vast numbers led most congressional sponsors to rescind their support of the bill.

        SOPA and PIPA were well intended but ill-advised attempts on the part of Congress to protect the American copyright industry. But the legislation was so broad that it had the potential to harm or eradicate entire websites or online services, instead of specifically targeting individuals who uploaded illegal content.

        The New York Times called the SOPA/PIPA protests a “coming of age for the tech industry,” and at CTA, we were proud to help lead this vital growth. It was a bipartisan and cross industry effort: venture capitalists and law professors, computer scientists and human rights advocates, progressives and tea partiers teamed together to fight the bills. Still, the bills progressed through Congress and appeared to have the momentum necessary to become law.

“Federal Circuit Had Affirmed on Every Issue in 77.4% of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board Appeals it Had Seen” in 2016

Posted in Courtroom, Patents at 12:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Federal Circuit (CAFC) and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continue to squash a lot of patents on software, in contrast to that fake news from patent maximalists

WHENEVER PTAB (or a petitioner) puts forth an inter partes review the likelihood that the patent in question will be invalidated is high. In a sense, even without any lawyers and lawsuits, old rubbish patents find their way into the wastebasket. It’s like a cleanup operation inside the USPTO and the patent microcosm absolutely loathes it.

Some firms celebrate managing to escape the jaws of PTAB, whereas others see their patents turn to dust. They sought patents on non-inventions in the first place, so what did they expect?

Writing about a case which was mentioned here before, here is another report about an inter partes review:

Phigenix was a “for-profit discovery stage biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and biomedical research company”. Although Phigenix did not make products, it purported to have an extensive IP portfolio, including US Patent 8,080,534 (the ”534 patent’), which Phigenix alleged covered Genentech’s activities relating to Kadcyla. Phigenix asserted that it “was forced” to challenge ImmunoGen’s ’856 patent in IPR2014-00676 after Genentech refused to license Phigenix’s ’534 patent. In that inter partes review proceeding the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ultimately found ImmunoGen’s ’856 patent valid. Phigenix appealed the PTAB’s decision to the Federal Circuit.

“A great deal of angst [angst only for the patent microcosm] has been generated by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision,” wrote another site, “in Ex parte Itagaki and Nishihara, regarding the panel’s application of Section 101 (sua sponte as a new ground of rejection under 37 C.F.R. § 41.50(b)) that claims to a magnetic resonance imaging machine do not recite patent-eligible subject matter.”

Section 101 pertains to software patents, among other things. Here are some interesting new statistics about the Federal Circuit‘s agreement with PTAB:

As of the end of the year, the Federal Circuit had affirmed on every issue in 77.4% of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board appeals it had seen. Finnegan has analysed what parties can expect from cases that are remanded to the Board

Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner has published the latest statistics on the success of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) appeals at the Federal Circuit.

This helps refute a lot of the nonsense we have been seeing at Watchtroll — a site so focused on attacking PTAB, even cherry-picking cases (“graphical user interface patent”) to make it seem as though CAFC changed its tune. To quote Watchtroll’s accompanying tweet: “Will the PTAB find claims ineligible in a CBM that the CAFC just found to be eligible in litigation?”

Dennis Crouch also wrote about graphical user interface patents this week. These are essentially design and/or software patents, like that infamous progress bar patent. They should not have been granted in the first place.

“The Federal Circuit will also issue two en banc decisions from PTAB appeals,” MIP wrote the other day. It’s mentioned among US “Cases to look out for in 2017,” which include Lee v Tam:

The Supreme Court in the past two months has added two more patent cases – and they are both big ones – as well as hearing arguments in two others.

Following arguments in Lee v Tam on January 18, so far this term the Supreme Court will have heard arguments in five intellectual property cases (and already decided one of them) and is awaiting arguments in three more.

It’s a trademark case (still USPTO, as the “T” does not stand for patents) and it’s a subject that Patently-O repeatedly covered recently [1, 2]. Today it wrote: “First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” My question that I still do not understand for the Tam case: How is Tam’s speech being abridged by denial of his registration?”

The USPTO will never be perfect, but the very existence of PTAB is a step in the right direction and software patents, as per CAFC, are a barrier if not a violation of free speech (First Amendment). It is also useful to see statistics reaffirming CAFC’s support for PTAB, contrary to what the patent microcosm is trying to tell us (sparking perception of feuds that do not actually exist).

Kudelski Group Not Only Acts Like a Patent Troll But Also Run by Intellectual Ventures Person; Mobile Market in Dire State of Patent Armageddon

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Image credit: Kudelski Group

Joe CherneskySummary: The patent thicket which pervades everything that is used by billions of people, mobile technology in particular, can be traced back to a lot of non-practicing parasites (or patent trolls)

THE MOBILE market is one of the most trolls-infested markets these days. It has been like this for at least half a decade. There is a lot of money at stake and trolls are hoping to grab some of it without lifting a finger.

Never forget that Nokia was a top Linux contributor before Microsoft moved in for the kill and undermined everything Nokia was doing. Nowadays Nokia is acting more like a patent troll and the “Nokia” brand is just being licensed for some small — if not minuscule — level of income.

According to IAM, Nokia’s and Ericsson’s trolling affairs are now somewhat overlapping. To quote:

Huawei’s SEP licensing drive turns into clash of the telecom titans as Ericsson steps in with Nokia

[...]

Last week, NSN and T-Mobile – a US subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom – filed five petitions for inter partes review of multiple claims of four SEPs that Huawei asserted against the latter in East Texas in January 2016. The Chinese company claims that it filed these lawsuits after T-Mobile failed to respond satisfactorily to its requests to take a licence for telecoms equipment allegedly infringing on the patents, after first contacting it on the matter back in mid-2014.

[...]

In July last year, Huawei followed up its January infringement suits with another East Texas complaint against T-Mobile. This time, it requested that the court issue a declaratory judgment to the effect that it complied with its FRAND obligations in the licensing offers it had made to T-Mobile.

[...]

Another factor at play here is the global patent cross-licensing deal Ericsson signed with Huawei at around the same time that the Chinese company initiated its actions against T-Mobile.

Huawei is now the leading Android OEM and the leading OEM in the whole area in general. Samsung, in the mean time (the former leader), is cozying up to a deal with a troll. Only earlier today we wrote about the Kudelski Group, which is becoming a patent troll (it wasn’t historically) and is now being run by one, a thug from Intellectual Ventures. As IAM puts it (it’s portrayed as a partnership rather than a shake-down):

Led by senior vice president Joe Chernesky – a former Intellectual Ventures licensing executive – the Swiss company’s OpenTV subsidiary has engaged in an extensive patent licensing campaign, signing deals with the likes of AOL, Apple, Disney, Google, Netflix, Verizon and Yahoo over the past couple of years; while just this week, OpenTV filed another lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas against NFL Enterprises, the commercial arm of American football’s National Football League, alleging patent infringement. In August last year, it signed a licensing agreement with RPX, in return for an upfront payment and a future transfer of patents from the defensive aggregator.

Kudelski has made a big name for itself in the patent and technology licensing space – and having a strong relationship with it could prove especially beneficial for Samsung, if and when it begins to mine more value from its own IP portfolio.

Notice the role of RPX in there.

Why are so many firms out there trying to make income out of patents rather than actual products? BlackBerry too has begun doing such stuff, resorting to litigation in Texas. Legislation alone can put a stop to it.

“Qualcomm is one of the worst patent troll[s],” Benjamin Henrion wrote about this news regarding Qualcomm:

Qualcomm’s Alleged “No License, No Chips” Policy Gets it into Trouble with the FTC

Qualcomm is the leader in baseband processors used for cellular communications in smartphones and other products, and one way the company has become a leader is by leveraging its patents, by either forcing customer to first “purchase a license to standard-essential patents, including elevated royalties that the customer must pay when using a competitor’s processor”, “refusing to license its cellular standard-essential patents to competitors”, or “entering exclusivity dealing arrangements” with companies such as Apple. At least that’s according to a complaint brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US that accuses Qualcomm of maintaining a monopoly and using unfair methods of competition, violating the company’s commitment to license on a FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) basis .

Here is the latest from Florian Müller about this subject:

FTC sues Qualcomm over antitrust violation; Apple may buy baseband chipsets from other suppliers

[...]

I’m not surprised that Qualcomm’s stock is tanking. This antitrust action is huge. Basically, what the FTC is saying is that Qualcomm is leveraging its monopolies (some in the form of patent rights and others due to the market position of its baseband processors) in ways that enable it to charge several times more for its standard-essential wireless patents than market prices and that its “no license-no chips” policy threatens to force the last remaining competitors, such as Intel, out of the market.

In other, lesser-covered news, Apple has been sued again for patent infringement. “The complaint filed by Seatoun Media,” says a site for lawyers, “centers around a patent entitled “Point to point voice message processor, method and recording/playback device,” this patent describes a “voice message processor” which can send messages between users of the POS system.”

It’s becoming increasingly hard to compete in the mobile market without a heap of patents. What it means is higher price (artificially inflated) of phones.

Watchtroll and His Swamp Still Blame Google (Where Michelle Lee Came From) for Improving and Gradually Fixing Aspects of the US Patent System

Posted in America, Google, Patents at 11:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One Watchtroll author showed his professionalism just moments ago (promoting that baseless conspiracy theory about Google and Kushner):

Paul Morinville on Google

Summary: Shooting the messengers (even wrongly associating yours truly with Google) in an effort to undermine patent reform when it is so desperately needed due to serious injustices

The news about Michelle Lee — truly good news which we mentioned here last night and again this afternoon — has made it into corporate media (e.g. [1, 2]) and more blogs that focus on patents, e.g. Watchtroll citing this latter article to state: “Some are speculating that a meeting between Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Jared Kushner, the influential son-in-law of President-Elect Trump, may be the reason why Lee will be asked to remain as head of the Patent Office.”

Remember that Watchtroll and his swamp like to blame Google for everything (they did some nasty pieces about it), if not insult Lee directly. They want us to believe that patent reform is the fault of Google and that Google is some kind of “pirate”. They would rather see corruption at the top (with rumours about Rader) as long as it serves their agenda. “I would expect significant shake-up in PTO Senior Staff in the coming months,” Patently-O wrote several days ago, but that didn’t quite happen as far as the Director was concerned. To quote:

Recognize that these transitions and traditions are subject to immediate adjustment by the incoming Trump Administration. I would expect significant shake-up in PTO Senior Staff in the coming months: General Counsel, regional PTO Directors, and perhaps Solicitor and PTAB Director. However, every president struggles through how to deal with career federal employees loyal to the efforts of the prior administration.

When we speak about patent corruption we speak about all sorts of things, ranging from nepotism to vastly worse thing. One issue that emerged some days ago in Patently-O was akin to privateering. “The Bayh-Dole Act,” explains this new post, “allows private entities to patent inventions developed through federal funding.”

Sometimes they even sell these to trolls, as we showed here before. “The [James Love-run] KEI filing,” the above notes, “is in the form of a letter to Inspector General of HHS (parent of NIH) asking for an investigation and action.”

For those who are not aware of what’s wrong with the above(not just privateering), basically it’s about enriching someone using public (taxpayers’) money and then letting that same someone get patents and tax the public (taxpayers) yet again. It is an incredibly huge injustice that ought to be tackled by the government. Another new example of privateering-like practices came from IP Watch just yesterday. To quote: “A range of civil society organisations have issued a public statement opposing the United States Army’s proposed grant of an exclusive licence on technology necessary to produce a Zika vaccine to French pharmaceutical company Sanofi. The letter cites concerns that the exclusive licence might violate US law and could lead to high priced medicines as consumers buy back taxpayer-funded research.”

Also see yesterday’s article “Why Patent Protection In The Drug Industry Is Out Of Control” (not exactly what it sounds like).

It sure sounds like more journalists and observers out there are starting to ‘get’ it. All these issues need to be tackled. Blaming “Google” for every bit of patent reform is immature — possibly infantile enough only for Watchtroll to actually do.

In an Age of Necessary Patent Reform and Permanent Uncertainty for Software Patents the Patent Microcosm Looks for Workarounds and Spin

Posted in America, IBM, Patents at 9:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Source: “Patent Office head to keep spot in Trump administration” (report from yesterday)

Michelle Lee on software patents and trolls

Summary: Commentary on the status quo in the Michelle Lee era and some examples of bias from the patent microcosm, as well as news regarding the NFL getting sued by the Kudelski Group

THE PAST couple of years have been very encouraging for patent reformers. Reformist transitions are occurring (except in the EPO and SIPO) which limit patent scope in lieu with public interest and those who make a living purely out of patents aren’t liking any of it. It has gotten so bad that they now insult the USPTO's Director, insult examiners, and even insult judges. What next? Will racist attack too become prevalent?

“Nothing seems to be going in favour of the patent microcosm these days, especially not high-profile cases.”National Law Review, a large publication which covers patents among many other things, has this new list of “Intellectual Property Cases to Watch in 2017″. Nothing in the list challenges Alice itself (a de facto ban on many is not most software patents) and number 2 in the list can be the end to most patent trolls. 2017 should be interesting, we believe, unless Trump makes a mess of it with SCOTUS nominations/appointments which go beyond filling Scalia’s empty seat (swapping one Republican bigot with another).

Watchtroll, still trying to recover from the ‘horrible’ news which is more of the same (patent reform), now complains about § 101 (related to Alice) broadening its scope to challenge yet more patents. Nothing seems to be going in favour of the patent microcosm these days, especially not high-profile cases. They know it and they desperately cherry-pick cases to make it look as though they are gaining ground.

“We hope that Director Lee will add some more judges to the PTAB.”Computer vision is my professional field of research. I used to write a lot more about patents in this area and why they oughtn’t be granted (it's all reducible to mathematics and can be conceptualised with pen and paper). Vision patents are generally patents that oughtn’t be granted, yet the USPTO has just let another one slip in. Someone should petition PTAB for an IPR (inter partes review), but PTAB is already overworked and arguably understaffed. We hope that Director Lee will add some more judges to the PTAB. This would help improve the image and value of US patents.

Writing about SCOTUS, Minter Ellison, a law firm, recalls the Alice moment, not mesmorising but mourning. “Approximately two years ago,” it says, “the US Supreme court in the Alice decision considered the in principle patentability of software patents. Since then, gaining US software patents has been very difficult. In 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the ‘Court’) has considered numerous appeals from district courts relating to patentable subject matter. This blog post discusses the two-step test from the Alice decision and how the test was applied by the Court in 2016, the developing trends for patentable subject matter in the US as it relates to software patents and the take-away messages for 2017.”

As can be expected from a firm that profits from software patenting, tips are offered therein for dodging or side-stepping the rules, thus sneaking software patents past examiners (until or unless courts/PTAB throw these way). Here is a similar new guide for getting business method patents past examiners, based on the latest eligibility guidelines:

About a week before the holidays, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office quietly published a trio of new subject matter eligibility examples directed to the abstract idea exception to patentability. These are the latest in a series of examples provided by the USPTO to its examining corps, the series including previous examples published in December 2014, January 2015, and July 2015 (other USPTO publications include example claims directed to the law of nature and natural phenomenon exceptions). While the focus of this guidance is to educate examiners about how to determine whether pending claims are valid under 35 U.S.C. § 101, practitioners and patentees will find the examples to be helpful when considering how to draft and amend claims.

A lawyers’ portal, one which is even more overt, does very little to hide its bias as it gives tips for promoting and defending software patents in an age when they’re dying. “There are key concepts,” it says, “but no bright line rules on software patents. The best approach is to follow the common law, comparing and contrasting prior patent cases.”

The problem is, they’re typically cherry-picking only the cases which suit their agenda. It leads to bad advice, e.g. to clients or to readers of their so-called ‘analyses’. Trying to improve one’s chance of success is not in itself a problem; that’s what lawyers do. Some new advice like “importance of a prior art search” is better because it’s not about misleading examiners (or judges) but about ensuring one’s idea is really innovative and thus eligible.

“Software patents are a pain in the behind to a lot of producing (or productive) companies out there.”Sadly, not only patent law firms encourage the ‘tricking’ of examiners. IBM is doing that too (the former Director of the USPTO in fact came from IBM and is still being paid by IBM) and the corporate media fails to critically assess IBM's aggressive behaviour, to the point where even weeks later IBM is celebrated as some kind of champion, simply because it paints software patents as “cloud” (buzzword) or AI (an older buzzword).

Software patents are a pain in the behind to a lot of producing (or productive) companies out there. IBM now attacks a lot of legitimate companies, including medium-sized ones. According to the latest news, even the NFL has found itself sued by such patents (plenty of press coverage this week, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]). Lawsuits are a symptom of disagreement over patents. They are far from the ideal outcome and they are desirable to nobody except patent lawyers.

Michelle Lee, USPTO Director, Should Recognise That the Patent Microcosm is Her Enemy Which Hates Her

Posted in America, Patents at 8:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No comment necessary…

Paul Morinville sickened

Summary: The latest outburst from the patent microcosm, which has a temper issue and notorious disdain for judges it does not agree with, is more of what we have come to expect

WE now know that Lee is here to stay. There is a mixture of reactions, with left-leaning folks like the EFF celebrating the news (collective sigh), whereas the patent microcosm gets all ugly.

“A lot of technologists truly appreciate the reforms implemented under her wing.”Jeff Roberts has provided some excellent news coverage regarding patents this past year and he is happy about the news, unlike Watchtroll and his swamp (part of the software patents lobbying swamp), who bemoan the news and get all rude about it (Paul Morinville in this case, a regular author at Watchtroll). Here is what Watchtroll wrote two days ago: “A second credible source confirmed for me that Michelle Lee was attempting to stay on as Director. This confirmation came from an independent channel of information separate from the initial lead given to me earlier in the day. I was told that PTO Officials were refusing to confirm or deny any rumors relative to Lee, both on and off the record.”

Seeing all the hate directed at Lee reinforces our view that she has been a good Director and we encourage her to continue doing what she has done over the past couple of years. A lot of technologists truly appreciate the reforms implemented under her wing. Those who suffer the most are those who are taxing technologists, as they are becoming growingly obsolete.

Battistelli is an Autocrat Above the Law and It’s OK, Holland’s High Council Says

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 7:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Grabbing the EPO by the *****

Battistelli Trump

Summary: Battistelli’s autocratic tendencies will not be challenged by Dutch authorities, in spite of sheer condemnation from many groups all across Europe and the entire world

THERE IS some bad news regarding the EPO, as it turns out that the Dutch court is unwilling to do anything about Eponia’s abuses (the photo in the article has been changed for some reason, but we got a copy and modified it slightly). “Excellent article,” called it an anonymous insider. “Bravo to Mr König and the NRC. Translation desperately needed for our non-dutch speakers…”

“It’s grave news,” Petra Kramer (Dutch speaker) said. “The High Council chose Batistelli’s side.”

Well, Battistelli’s ‘side’ is that he’s immune from the law. It’s hardly a side to be proud of (in the words of the insider: “Greed for money and power was determinant?”) and this decision is not particularly surprising after what the Advocate General said some months back. Kramer will supply us with a full translation of the article from NRC (media behemoth in the Netherlands). We’ll add it below when it is ready.

Update: Here is the translation from Kramer:

Patent Office in Rijswijk remains immune

European Patent Office

The European Patent Office in Rijswijk, and its temperamental chief Battistelli, get a lot of criticism. Judges in the Netherlands are not allowed to intervene.

Can an employer in the Netherlands have a private investigator interrogate employees without a lawyer present? Is he allowed to dismiss union leaders or decrease their salary or pension? Is he allowed to refuse to labor inspections after a suicidal employee jumps out of a window of the office?

It all happened at the European Patent Office in Rijswijk. And Dutch judges are unauthorized to decide about the patent office. That’s what the Supreme Court on confirmed on Friday in a long-awaited decision. The Patent Office is an international organization which enjoys legal immunity in the Netherlands, says the Supreme Court.

In other words, the patent office is a kind of legal island in the Netherlands. The Supreme Court verdict is important for all forty international organizations in the Netherlands, such as the International Criminal Court and the European Space Agency. For union SUEPO of the patent office this is a severe setback.

The Bureau approved patent applications and grants patents that are valid in all 38 member countries. With clients such as Philips, Samsung, LG and Siemens, the patent office is important for the European market protection. The agency employs 7,000 specialist, well-paid workers in Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Temperamental CEO

The patent office is also notorious for his temperamental French President Benoît Battistelli (66). The CEO has long been at war with SUEPO union, which claims to represent half of the staff, but is not officially recognized. Last year, three union representatives have been dismissed and three others have been demoted. SUEPO denounces the pressure of work, authoritarian management and legal status of employees.

The battle hardened when the Hague Court of Appeal ruled in early 2015 that the agency should not limit strikes, union emails should not be blocked and the union must be recognized. Then Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten (VVD) ordered bailiffs not to execute the judgment in order to ensure the immunity of international organizations: an unusual situation.

The patent office then went in appeal to the Supreme Court, with the support of the Dutch state, which joined as a party. The Netherlands doesn’t want to drive out other international organizations, because it is bad for the reputation of the business climate and the economy. Battistelli delicately reminded the Cabinet last year that his office adds “1 billion” in sales to the Dutch GDP and invests “250 million” in a new high-rise building.

The Supreme Court has reversed earlier judgments of the preliminary court and the Hague Court. Labor rights are sufficiently protected by the internal disputes procedure. They can also appeal to the International Labour Organisation in Geneva.

But the dispute procedure is shaky and the road to Geneva is long, employees say. All that remains now is one solution SUEPO’s lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld said prior to the Supreme Court:

“A lawsuit against the Dutch state because the violation of trade union rights take place on Dutch territory. Does the state do enough to prevent this? The answer is no.”

Exploitation

Next month a parliamentary debate on the working conditions will be held. In a parliamentary debate last month, the patent office has already been criticized by SP and D66 and government parties PvdA and VVD. The PvdA cited the example of exploitation of Libyan and Sudanese staff in London. Didn’t a British judge allow the European Convention on Human Rights to still outweigh the “diplomatic immunity”?

The conflict forces Netherlands in a strange dilemma. The state supported the patent office in the courtroom, but at the same time the government is critical. Secretary Martijn van Dam (Economic Affairs, Labour) recently expressed in a letter his concern about the “difficult relationship between unions and senior management.” During the introductory interview which Van Dam held with Battistelli last year the Frenchman walked out the meeting in anger.

The Dutch patent world is concerned, says a spokesman for Economic Affairs. The Netherlands are represented by Derk-Jan de Groot, director of the Netherlands at the Patent Office. Together with other major patent countries like Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands is among the critical countries.

The problem is that the management board of all Member States, the highest body is too big and too diverse to reach a solution. Last year there seemed to have been a revolution, when 26 of the 38 Member States (with 12 abstentions) called Battistelli to a halt. They asked for arbitration in the conflict, cessation of ongoing proceedings against trade unionists and reform of sanctions. But almost all the proposals have been delayed, hence the situation “has not improved,” according to a spokesman for Economic Affairs. One SUEPO member who was overwrought and therefore on sick leave at home, was subsequently fired. It seems that all parties are intent to let Batistelli serve out his second term which ends on June 30 next year.

The patent office welcomes the “confirmation of the legal immunity” by the Supreme Court and “will continue to work to strengthen the social dialogue,” a spokesman said.

Beware Fake News About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UPC Dead

Summary: The UPC is dead, deadlocked, stuck, in a limbo and so on; those who claim otherwise are merely lobbying (in disguise of “analysis” or “news”)

OVER the past week we have come across many tweets, blogs, and articles that misinform the public about the UPC. We tackled only a few of these as we lack the time to exhaustively cover and respond to it all. It’s just chaotic.

Meanwhile we’ve noticed the UPC optimists in Germany repeating the lies from Team UPC in the UK. This is spreading to other media and other countries. Also see this new tweet that speaks of “Publication of: Unitary #Patent and the Unified Patent Court: #Europe adopts new tools to promote #innovation… http://fb.me/ug3HvgKi” (nope, it’s not adopting it, that’s still just an idea that’s being floated and faces many barriers from different countries). What the UPC is really about (or for) is to “promote litigation,” as Benjamin Henrion said, responding to that nonsense about “promote #innovation” (empty buzzword that lacks any real meaning in this context).

As another person put it, “if the courts are distributed between UK & EU then it will be unworkable if there is a hard border” (the Brexit barrier to UPC, one among several barriers).

“They’re lying through their teeth and they hope that politicians will let the UPC slide through under the false impression/belief that it’s inevitable and that if they don’t hop on board their country will be left out.”All that wishful thinking and fake news from those looking to profit from the UPC will continue to be tackled here, albeit only selectively due to lack of time/capacity. “Here is a visualisation of what the public will see in December when the UPC goes online,” wrote someone from the EPO, having produced the image at the top. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” wrote this person about the UPC.

Battistelli and the likes of him (Michel Barnier for example) have been promising the UPC for nearly a decade and predicted its imminent commencement for at least half a decade! They’re lying through their teeth and they hope that politicians will let the UPC slide through under the false impression/belief that it’s inevitable and that if they don’t hop on board their country will be left out.

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