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03.08.17

Latest EPO ‘Results’ Should be Grounds for Immediate Dismissal of Battistelli Rather Than Celebrations

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 10:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

By Associate Professor in intellectual property law at London School of Economics:

Translation/projection: Prepare for massive, unprecedented EPO layoffs, probably amid what looks like a transition to a much-dreaded registration office (no quality control)

Summary: The quality of European patents, or EPs, should be the elephant in the room next week, but will delegates dare bring up the subject and recognise the irreversible ruin caused by Battistelli, who flushed down pending applications by cursory decisions?

WE have already published numerous articles about the EPO‘s so-called ‘results’ [1, 2], which measure ‘success’ using Battistelli’s yardstick that got ‘hacked’ (it was originally a well-intentioned yardstick, but Battistelli decided to just simply game it). Are European patents (EPs) becoming just (E)arly (certainty) (P)atents, i.e. something granted in a rush under pressure from above?

Low quality of patents leads to a lot of spurious, frivolous litigation. Anyone who has paid attention to the legacy of pre-reform (e.g. AIA) USPTO would know that. Yet this week, so far at least, all we see are puff pieces like “Italy has EU’s second-largest increase in patent requests” (not a word about quality) or this by Kelcee Griffis from Law 360. The latter says that the “European Patent Office both received more patent applications and granted more patents in 2016 than it did in the previous year, according to data released Tuesday, setting a new all-time high.”

“Low quality of patents leads to a lot of spurious, frivolous litigation.”Actually, this is not true. It wouldn’t be the first time the EPO fudges numbers, as we demonstrated repeatedly last year (other people too had spoken about it, including insiders who generally know the raw figures).

Earlier today the EPO wrote: “#Transport registered the 2nd strongest growth in 2016 in terms of patent applications. http://buzz.mw/b1wo0_l cc @Bulc_EU pic.twitter.com/NgaBB1aDE7″

“It wouldn’t be the first time the EPO fudges numbers, as we demonstrated repeatedly last year (other people too had spoken about it, including insiders who generally know the raw figures).”Maybe instead of “growth” they could say weakness — a weakness or weakening of rigorous examination. Earlier today we also discovered that EPO puff pieces had reached as far as English language Chinese media, e.g. [1, 2]. There are press releases from big companies, including tobacco companies like Philip Morris (we are not kidding!). Siemens just seems to think that it’s a popularity contest.

Benjamin Henrion told the EPO “thanks for your software patents, they account for a big part.”

This is true based on what insiders have told us. The EPO still flagrantly violates terms of the EPC and grants software patents in willful defiance of well-understood directives. And what for? Artificial gains?

“The EPO still flagrantly violates terms of the EPC and grants software patents in willful defiance of well-understood directives.”The EPO is either paying Watchtroll, a loud proponent of software patents, for press releases, or maybe Watchtroll just voluntary reposts press releases of the EPO for personal gain. We are not quite so sure yet, but either way, we are stunned at the lack of actual investigative journalism, taking into account input from professionals such as the above Associate Professor. Is every writer out there so lazy and so eager to just copy and paste EPO statements rather than examine the underlying evidence?

Today, being International Women’s Day, the EPO rode the wave (as it did on cancer, in spite of its terrible record on it). In spite of the EPO having a notorious lack of diversity, including the fact that the proportion of female workers at EPO is far lower than the average, it wrote this: “Happy International Women’s Day! Have a look at these brilliant women inventors & their life-changing work http://buzz.mw/b1wr7_l #IWD2017 pic.twitter.com/6UGDFcSOnU”

“The danger to Battistelli is, if appeals are affordable (access to justice), then the erosion of patent quality would quickly become measurable, abundantly evident, and simply undeniable.”Pure marketing and a two-faced attitude. At the same time (also today) the EPO had the audacity to pretend that it cares about appeals, even though it does everything it can to discourage appeals (understaffing, higher costs, shortening of appeal window, distance from airport/Office etc.). The EPO wrote: “What is the best approach to take when objecting to a pending application or granted patent?”

“There is no approach anymore,” I told them, as “Battistelli is killing the appeal boards…”

The danger to Battistelli is, if appeals are affordable (access to justice), then the erosion of patent quality would quickly become measurable, abundantly evident, and simply undeniable. Battistelli just wants a bunch of obedient assembly line workers, just like in INPI. He wants filers, not examiners, or so it would seem based on leaks

People at IP Kat have begun discussing how to get rid of Battistelli. The basis upon which Battistelli can be fired in 7 days or less, this person believes, is the EPO Service Regulations:

How about Article 53 of the EPO Service Regulations ?

Article 53
Dismissal for other reasons
(1) The appointing authority may decide to terminate the service of a
permanent employee if:

(c) in the case of an employee appointed by the Administrative Council in
accordance with Article 11, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Convention, the
Administrative Council so decides in the interests of the Organisation.

A bit of a no-brainer really I would have thought.

If Battistelli is buying votes (as widely alleged), then Battistelli won’t be fired except by outside intervention (which can potentially induce resignation). As another person put it, replying to the provocative comment above:

Read the small print,
But read the even smaller print about how they make such a decision.i think a simple majority isn’t enough (and you can be sure BB will not fall on his sword from a vote of no confidence.

The “EPO represents 73 per cent of the total number of pending ILO cases,” Henrion wrote, quoting The Register. Is that not enough to show the Council that the EPO is a disaster now (as Board 28 already admitted)?

The next comment says:

Replying to “Read the Small Print” immediately above, you refer to sub-Article 1 of Art 11 of the EPC, reminding us that the Administrative Council “may” decide to dispense with the services of any person appointed under Art 11(1) if that would be “in the interests” of the Organisation.

But Art 11(1) is exclusively concerned with the office of President of the EPO.

As you say, by now it is, for an AC that is mindful of its international responsibilities, using everyday undiplomatic parlance, a No Brainer.

Then the nature of a vote was brought up:

You may need to put your reading glasses on.

Article 35(2) EPC states that a three-quarters majority is required for a decision under Article 11(1) EPC – that is a decision to appoint a President.

http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2016/e/ar35.html

A decision to dismiss a President is a decision taken by the Administrative Council in exercise of its disciplinary authority under Article 11(4) EPC.

UNDER THE TERMS OF ARTICLE 35 EPC FOR SUCH A DECISION A SIMPLE MAJORITY WILL SUFFICE.

The only open question is: who would dare to put such a motion on the Agenda?

This next reply noted that “Article 35 EPC limits the requirement for a 3/4 majority to the appointment of a President under Article 11 paragraph 1 of the EPC. The exercise of disciplinary authority under Article 11 paragraph 4 only requires a simple majority.”

A “majority” when small (easy to ‘bribe’) nations are unweighted according to their size? In which case it’s not a majority of people but a majority of mere delegates (or flags)? Battistelli knows how to deal with such circumstances. He controls a lot of EPO budget and can distribute it to control outcomes.

Then, linking to Techrights, one person wrote about the so-called results:

Like a hamster in its wheel said

“Quality is overrated guys see: http://techrights.org/2017/03/07/destroying-the-reputation-of-epo/ ”

only + 40% output in one year. I would have expected more

If Battistelli was not to be judged based on his sheer abuses but only based on performance, would that qualify as a good outcome? It mustn’t. It’s just insane! It’s like selling one’s children for a profit. Such artificial ‘gains’ are temporary and damaging, by the very nature they are attained. Insiders know this and they agree with our assessment on this, but will anyone among the delegates be courageous enough to stand up and point it out next week? Or will they all just worship the invisible dress that covers Battistell’s naked body? Would it be a pain in the butt-istelli to speak truth to Battistell? Possibly.

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders: Rapid Improvements in European Patent Office or Else ‘High Level’ Action

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bert Koenders
Reference: Wikipedia

Summary: The growing political pressure to subject the EPO to the Rule of Law, as the Administrative Council became so complicit that it is demonstrably incapable of functioning rationally, e.g. so as to repair the broken institution

THE EPO‘s management is trying to come across as confident with its bogus 'results' (and bogus conclusions inferred from these, as we shall explain again later this week), but it’s actually rather sweaty under the necktie. Pyrrhic victories such as these (enormous damage to all EPs ever granted and untold damage to the EPO’s reputation) have already led to a decrease in applications, a recruitment crisis, and perhaps even an existential threat to the EPO (as a patent examination office). EPO management is on the run, it is not at all victorious. It’s just trying to have one last “hurrah!” using many years’ worth of backlog, which merely deepens the crisis (examiners are smart enough to know what this entails). Everyone at the EPO knows about it, probably even the clueless management. Maybe the new recruits, having signed short-term contracts, are still not “in the know”…

“Pyrrhic victories such as these (enormous damage to all EPs ever granted and untold damage to the EPO’s reputation) have already led to a decrease in applications, a recruitment crisis, and perhaps even an existential threat to the EPO…”AS SUEPO has already noticed, Dutch media caught up with the latest major development (ignore all the UPC fake news, which we shall tackle later this week and in the weekend).

The “Dutch media report about EPO intervention by Foreign Minister,” a reader told us, is finally out. There may be more like it (to come or already published but overlooked) and it follows some coverage here in Britain. We were the first to write about it if not ‘scoop’ it.

“They finally published a report about it on 7 March,” the reader noted, “four days after Techrights broke the news. Well done Techrights!”

We’ve noticed that as well. The Register covered this too and explicitly gave credit to us.

We have meanwhile ‘taken advantage’ of fluent Dutch speakers whose English is also strong and produced the following translation, which helps shed further light and contains some new quotes, especially in the last paragraph about FNV.

Tuesday, 7th March 2017

Koenders: rapid improvements in Patent Office or else ‘high level’ action

THE HAGUE – The European Patent Office (EPO) in Rijswijk must show “visible improvements in labour relations” in the short term. Unless that happens the Minister for Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders intends to discuss the situation “at a high political level” with the other member countries of the European Patent Organisation.

“I will monitor the matter closely having regard to the responsibilities of the host country,” wrote Koenders in a letter to the Parliament. Moreover, he intends to keep after the management to “push for normalization of the situation within the EPO”.

At the insistence of the House of Representatives, the Minister recently spoke to the Vice-President of the EPO, Willy Minnoye, about the ongoing discontent among staff. He also mentions in his letter to the House that the Supreme Court has upheld the immunity of the EPO. That means the Organisation is not subject to Dutch law. According to Mr Koenders, this does not preclude the Netherlands as a host country from entering into a discussion of the situation “especially now that the conflict has become part of public and political debate”.

The internal conflict has persisted for too long

During the discussion the Minister is said to have informed Minnoye that “the internal conflict has persisted for too long and the situation now requires rapid improvement.” As far as he was concerned “the social dialogue needs to be resumed in a constructive manner” and a number of measures designed to inspire confidence must be implemented within a very short time.

The Vice-President of the EPO is reported to have said that “efforts were being made in various ways to initiate a positive dialogue with the staff.” He also claimed that the Organisation would soon move into calmer waters.

A reign of terror

For a long time now there has been conflict inside the EPO. Recently the staff have held protest rallies and work stoppages on several occasions. Under the leadership of the director Benoît Battistelli the management is said to conduct a reign of terror.

“Battistelli rules with an iron fist and tolerates no participation or opposition on the part of staff. He dismisses people at will, demotes them, unilaterally forces through changes to working conditions thereby demotivating the whole organisation,” according to the trade union FNV in a previous statement about the situation.

“We’re dealing with quite a beast here and if tamed or brought down (or pacified, so to speak) the EPO can once again return/revert back to a more-or-less tolerable workplace — one that would serve Europe’s interests rather than a cabal of sociopaths.”For those who may be wondering what’s to come next, we have a lot to write about the UPC (rebuttals to lobbyists), much to write about the demise of patent quality, and our two long series (“The Sickness of the EPO” and the much older ongoing series) are far, far from over. We’re trying to tackle and get out of the way the most important/relevant topics first, based on what time permits (I have been at work many days this week) and based on the timing or strategy of EPO taking points. To say that they lie every day is an understatement; in Twitter, for instance, they lie once every few hours. I have never in my entire life come across anything quite so embarrassing or an institution so eager to receive positive publicity that it pays publications for it and hires fracking lobbyists as a PR company (at the expense of over a million Euros per year!). We’re dealing with quite a beast here and if tamed or brought down (or pacified, so to speak) the EPO can once again return/revert back to a more-or-less tolerable workplace — one that would serve Europe’s interests rather than a cabal of sociopaths.

Links 8/3/2017: Manjaro 17.0 Released, Firefox 52 is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Shaping the Culture of Open Source Companies

    With all of the discussion about source code contributions in open source, sometimes we don’t spend enough time talking about the culture. In her keynote at LinuxCon Europe, Stormy Peters points out that when we say the word “culture,” we sometimes think only about diversity or hiring more women, but culture means more than that. Culture is about how we work, how we think, and how we interact with each other.

  • Keynote: The Double Helix of Open Source Software & Companies by Stormy Peters
  • The Promise of Blockchain Is a World Without Middlemen

    The blockchain is a revolution that builds on another technical revolution so old that only the more experienced among us remember it: the invention of the database. First created at IBM in 1970, the importance of these relational databases to our everyday lives today cannot be overstated. Literally every aspect of our civilization is now dependent on this abstraction for storing and retrieving data. And now the blockchain is about to revolutionize databases, which will in turn revolutionize literally every aspect of our civilization.

  • Open Source Linkerd Project Celebrates First Anniversary in Quest to Become the TCP/IP of Microservices

    uoyant, the commercial entity behind the open source Linkerd project, today announced the one year anniversary of the project. Since launching in February 2016 with the mission to make microservices reliable at scale, Linkerd has rapidly gained adoption in the cloud-native community and has served over 100 billion production requests in companies around the world.

  • Hedge Funds Opt for Open Source and AI Goes ‘Fintech’

    It makes sense for large technology companies like Google and Microsoft to open source AI and machine learning solutions because they have overlapping vertical interests in providing vast cloud services. These come into play when a certain machine learning library becomes popular and users deploy it on the cloud and so forth. It is less clear why financial services companies, which play a much more directly correlated zero sum game, would open up code that they paid the engineering team to create.

  • SK Telecom CTO Discusses The Future of Software-Defined Networking in the Telco Industry

    As more people access the Internet from their mobile devices, mobile operators must adapt their networks to accommodate skyrocketing data use and new traffic patterns. To do so, they’re turning to the same principles of software-defined networking (SDN) already finding success in the data center.

  • Does your open source project need a president?

    Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the Linux Foundation Open Source Leadership Summit. The event was stacked with many of the people I consider mentors, friends, and definitely leaders in the various open source and free software communities that I participate in.

    I was able to observe the CNCF Technical Oversight Committee meeting while there, and was impressed at the way they worked toward consensus where possible. It reminded me of the OpenStack Technical Committee in its make-up of well-spoken technical individuals who care about their users and stand up for the technical excellence of their foundations’ activities.

  • Why Using Open Source Software Helps Companies Stay Flexible and Innovate

    Companies that use Open Source Software (OSS) find that it offers the most flexibility of any third-party software alternative. You are, for example, never locked into a vendor, their costs, their buying structures, or their re-distribution terms. Open Source enables vendor independence.

    In addition, using OSS speeds development, lowers costs, and keeps companies on the cutting edge of technology by facilitating innovation. Open source communities provide a low-cost medium for incubation and testing of new capabilities. While open source ecosystems direct ownership and accountability back to the development teams.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Microsoft’s browsers are shedding users as they jump to Chrome [Ed: And Net Applications is Microsoft-connected, too]

        If you’ve jumped from using a Microsoft browser to Chrome in the last couple years, you’re far from alone. People are deserting built-in browsers at record rates, and Microsoft is taking the brunt of the damage, according to analytics firm Net Applications.

    • Mozilla

      • A $2 Million Prize for Building a More Accessible Internet

        The Internet can help a young girl in Chicago’s South Side learn how to write JavaScript. It can also keep citizens connected during a time of crisis or disaster.

        But only if the Internet works as intended.

        The Internet should be a public resource open and accessible to all. And, it is to many. But many people still lack reliable, affordable Internet access. And the underlying network itself is increasingly centralized, relying on infrastructure provided by a tiny handful of companies. We don’t have a failsafe if the infrastructure these companies offer is blocked or goes down.

        These are significant issues. Mozilla and the National Science Foundation are committed to finding solutions by supporting bright people and big ideas across the U.S.

      • Firefox 52: Introducing Web Assembly, CSS Grid and the Grid Inspector

        It is definitely an exciting time in the evolution of the web with the adoption of new standards, performance gains, better features for designers, and new tooling. Firefox 52 represents the fruition of a number of features that have been in progress for several years. While many of these will continue to evolve and improve, there’s plenty to celebrate in today’s release of Firefox.

      • Firefox 52 Released With WebAssembly Support, Security Fixes, CSS Grid

        Mozilla has rolled out Firefox 52.0 as the latest version of their open-source, cross-platform web browser.

      • Lots new in Firefox, including “game-changing” support for WebAssembly

        Today’s release of Firefox introduces great new features, making the browser more powerful, convenient, and secure across all your devices.

      • Firefox 52 Released With WebAssembly Support, Removes NPAPI Plugins Other Than Flash (Java, Silverlight)

        Firefox 52 was released today and it includes two major changes: support for WebAssembly and the removal of support for NPAPI (Netscape Plugin API) plugins like Silverlight, Java, and others, with the exception of Flash.

      • Mozilla Firefox 52.0 Lands in All Supported Ubuntu Linux OSes, Update Now

        Canonical announced a few moments ago that the recently released Mozilla Firefox 52.0 web browser landed in the stable software repositories of all supported Ubuntu Linux operating systems.

      • Final Firefox version with Windows XP, plugin support released today
      • Firefox 52 Brings WebAssembly and Security fixes

        Mozilla patches Firefox for 28 different vulnerabilities, with seven rated as having critical impact.

        Mozilla released Firefox 52 on March 7, providing users of the open-source web browser with new features as well well as patches for 28 security vulnerabilities. The Firefox 52 release is the second major milestone release of Firefox in 2017 so far, following the Firefox 51 milestone that debuted on Jan. 24.

      • Firefox 52 Released with WebAssembly Support, Enhanced Sync

        Mozilla Firefox 52 has been released and is now available to download. Among new features in Firefox 52 is support for WebAssembly. Mozilla describes this as “an emerging standard that brings near-native performance to Web-based games, apps, and software libraries without the use of plugins.”

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Understanding the Economics of OpenStack

      As anyone involved with managing an OpenStack deployment quickly learns, cost savings and elimination of time-consuming tasks are among the biggest benefits that the cloud platform provides. However, leaders at many OpenStack-focused organizations, including Canonical, believe that the business technology arena is under such tremendous pressure to keep up as Software-as-a-Service, containers, and cloud platforms proliferate, that the true economics of OpenStack are misunderstood. Simply put, a lot of people involved with OpenStack don’t fully understand what they can get out of the platform and the ecosystem of tools surrounding it.

    • Working for a mission, not a boss

      I had a brilliant opportunity to interview Suresh V. Shankar, founder of Crayon, at Slush Singapore 2016. At the conference, he spoke about his experience—and the difficulties he faced—as an entrepreneur. He also talked about how he overcame them.

  • CMS

    • Next version of Joinup in DrupalCamp Transylvania

      The ongoing software development for the next version of Joinup, the European Commission’s digital government collaboration platform, is one of the key presentations at DrupalCamp Transylvania, which takes place from 31 March to 2 April in Tîrgu Mureș (Romania). The talk will focus on the new semantic database storage solution for the next Joinup version.

  • Education

    • German schools turn to open source cloud eLearning

      Schools and vocational colleges in Cologne, Aachen, Essen and other towns are using open source-based cloud eLearning and collaboration software. The cloud service, Ucloud4schools, is based on the NextCloud open source cloud services solution.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Free Software Directory meeting recap for March 3rd, 2017

      This week we returned to clearing the backlog of approved entries. During the meeting we were joined by a developer looking to discuss the licensing of their software developed under contract with an institution of higher learning. The issue of license compatibility came up and we talked about how GPLv2 or later can upgrade to GPLv3. All the while we plugged away at the backlog getting it to drop somewhat over the course of the meeting.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Albanian open source advocates target elections

      Free and open source software advocates in Albania are going to ask candidates in the June parliamentary elections about their plans for free software. The campaign will be kicked off by Open Labs later this month. The free software advocacy group will aggregate questions and answers on their campaign website.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Establishing a Clean Software Baseline for Open Source License Compliance

      One of a company’s first challenges when starting an open source compliance program is to find exactly which open source software is already in use and under which licenses it is available.

      This initial auditing process is often described as establishing a clean compliance baseline for your product or software portfolio. This is an intensive activity over a period of time that can extend for months, depending on how soon you started the compliance activities in parallel to the development activities.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Build a smart garden with these 3 DIY Arduino projects

        With warmer weather around the corner here in the US, it’s time for gardeners to start making plans for spring and summer. For the more technically minded among us, it’s also a good time to start working on DIY projects that can keep things running smoothly. As it turns out, projects based around the Arduino open hardware development board are an excellent place to start. In this article, I’ve rounded up three cool Arduino-based projects that take your garden to the next level.

  • Programming/Development

    • RVowpalWabbit 0.0.9

      The RVowpalWabbit package update is the third of four upgrades requested by CRAN, following RcppSMC 0.1.5 and RcppGSL 0.3.2.

    • RProtoBuf 0.4.9

      RProtoBuf provides R bindings for the Google Protocol Buffers (“Protobuf”) data encoding and serialization library used and released by Google, and deployed as a language and operating-system agnostic protocol by numerous projects.

Leftovers

  • The Problem with “Content”

    Back in the early ’00s, John Perry Barlow said “I didn’t start hearing about ‘content’ until the container business felt threatened.” Linux Journal was one of those containers—so was every other magazine, newspaper and broadcast station. Today, those containers are bobbing around in an ocean of “content” on the internet. Worse, the stuff inside the containers, which we used to call “editorial”, is now a breed of “content” too.

    In the old days, editorial lived on one side of a “Chinese wall” between itself and the publishing side of a newspaper or magazine. The same went for the programming and advertising sides of a commercial broadcast station or network. The wall was transparent, meaning it was possible for a writer, a photographer, a newscaster or a performing artist to see what funded the operation, but the ethical thing was to ignore what happened on the other side of that wall. Which was easy to do, because everything on the other side of that wall was somebody else’s job.

    Today that wall has been destroyed by the imperatives of “content production”, which is the new job of journalists and everybody else devoted to “generating content” in maximum volumes, all the better to attract “programmatic” advertising.

  • Take a Look at Bluetooth 5
  • Hardware

    • Patriot Torch: Trying A $30 SSD On Linux

      Recently I ran out of spare SSDs and needed one for one of my test systems where the I/O storage capacity or performance wasn’t important, so I decided to try out the Patriot Torch 60GB SSD that can be had for about $33 USD.

      The Patriot Torch 60GB SATA 3.0 SSD has a Phison SSD controller with 16nm MLC NAND flash memory.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Put down the coffee, stop slacking your app chaps or whatever – and patch WordPress

      The 4.7.3 update comes just days after WordPress admins were alerted to a separate security crisis in NextGEN Gallery, a WordPress plugin vulnerable to SQL injection attacks.

    • WordPress 4.7.3 Updates for Six Security Issues

      The open-source WordPress blogging and content management system fixes six vulnerabilities, including three Cross Site Scripting flaws.

      The open-source WordPress blogging and content management system (CMS) released a new incremental version on March 6, providing users with six new security patches and 39 bug fixes. The new WordPress 4.7.3 update is the third security update for WordPress so far in 2017, following the 4.7.2 update on Jan. 26 and the 4.7.1 update on Jan. 12.

    • New Stable CloudLinux 7 Kernel Update Released to Patch Multiple Security Issues

      CloudLinux’s Mykola Naugolnyi announced today, March 7, 2017, the immediate availability of a new stable kernel update for the CloudLinux 7 operating system series.

      The updated CloudLinux 7 kernel was bumped to version 3.10.0-427.36.1.lve1.4.39 and is here to address a bunch of security vulnerabilities discovered recently. First of all, you should know that this new kernel replaces the 3.10.0-427.18.2.lve1.4.38 build that many of you have installed, and can be downloaded from CloudLinux’s stable repository.

    • Frankfurt used as remote hacking base for the CIA: WikiLeaks

      WikiLeaks documents reveal CIA agents were given cover identities and diplomatic passports to enter the country. The base was used to develop hacking tools as part of the CIA’s massive digital arsenal.

    • Wikileaks reveals how CIA is targeting your iPhone, Android, and smart TV

      Wikileaks just dropped a massive collection of information detailing how the US government is attacking the devices that many of us use every single day in an effort to gain intel for its own purposes. Tactics for breaching iPhones, iPads, Android devices, PCs, routers, and even smart TVs are included in the leak, which has some serious privacy and security implications if even a fraction of it proves to be accurate.

    • WikiLeaks publishes massive trove of CIA spying files in ‘Vault 7′ release

      WikiLeaks has published a huge trove of what appear to be CIA spying secrets.

      The files are the most comprehensive release of US spying files ever made public, according to Julian Assange. In all, there are 8,761 documents that account for “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA”, Mr Assange claimed in a release, and the trove is just the first of a series of “Vault 7″ leaks.

      Already, the files include far more pages than the Snowden files that exposed the vast hacking power of the NSA and other agencies.

    • Wikileaks posts alleged trove of CIA hacking tools
    • WikiLeaks’ CIA document dump shows agency can compromise Android, TVs

      WikiLeaks has released more than 8,700 documents it says come from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, with some of the leaks saying the agency had 24 “weaponized” and previously undisclosed exploits for the Android operating system as of 2016.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed

      Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named “Vault 7″ by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

      The first full part of the series, “Year Zero”, comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election.

      Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Automated platform filtering: La Quadrature sends its arguments to MEPs

      The draft of the new European copyright directive has been presented in september 2016. For now, the work in progress in the european Parliament and mobilisations by concerned people and organisations are multiplying. People pay great attention to the two articles that La Quadrature du Net pointed in september : Article 11 about ancillary copyright for press publishers, and Article 13 about the use of effective content recognition technologies for content platforms.
      La Quadrature du Net publishes today its positions about Article 13, that have been fed by discussions and workshops with creators, legal experts and more globally with common users of digital culture. These positions are also send to the Members of the European Parliament to feed the work done in the Committees. The preliminary work carried out by the European Parliament Committtees show that, contrary to what one might think, nothing is locked and many subjects remain open in the copyright dossier. Articles 11 and 13 are subject to various discussions and some proposals by MEPs show that they pay attention to the evolution of use.

    • China’s film censorship paradox: restricted content, unrestricted access
    • China’s New Film Ratings Don’t Cut Out the Censors
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Revelations Illustrate Aggressive CIA Hacking, Sloppy Security Of Smart Services

      Thought about buying a smart phone, smart TV, smart car? – think twice. Wikileaks today (7 March) released over 8,000 documents illustrating hacking activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA. In what has been described by some commentators as a bigger leak than the Snowden revelations about the National Security Agency in 2013, the whistleblower platform allowed a glimpse into the CIA hacking into smart TVs and smartphones and presented a list of zero day vulnerabilities found, bought and sometimes shared with colleagues in other agencies, including British colleagues. Wikileaks announced that today’s leak was the “Year Zero” tranche of the much bigger “Vault 7” project: more redacted details from the documents and much more documents will be published.

    • German Judge Fines Father Because He Didn’t Tell His Kid Not To Engage In Piracy

      Time for German parents to have “The Talk” with their kids. Unprotected sexual activity is probably fine. But casual seeding? That’s a problem.

      TorrentFreak reports that a German court has decided to hold a parent responsible for his child’s infringing activity. This doesn’t have much to do with the rightsholder being unable to extract fines from a minor, but rather a perceived parenting failure.

    • CIA Leak Shows Mobile Phones Vulnerable, Not Encryption

      But the details don’t seem to show that those apps are compromised, so much as that Android and iOS devices are compromised. It’s always been true that if someone can get into your phone, the encryption scheme you use doesn’t matter, because they can just pull keystrokes or grab data before you encrypt it — in the same way that someone looking over your shoulder can read your messages as well. That’s not a fault of the encryption or the app, but of the environment in which you’re using the app itself.

    • Vizio Fails To Dodge Class Action Over Its Spying ‘Smart’ Televisions

      So if you hadn’t been paying attention, most of the “smart” products you buy are anything but intelligent when it comes to your privacy and security. Whether it’s your refrigerator leaking your gmail credentials or your new webcam being hacked in minutes for use in massive new DDoS attacks, the so-called “smart” home is actually quite idiotic. So-called smart-televisions have been particularly problematic, whether that has involved companies failing to encrypt sensitive data, to removing features if you refuse to have your daily viewing habits measured and monetized.

      Last month Vizio joined this not-so-distinguished club when it was discovered that the company’s TVs had been spying on users for the last several years. Vizio’s $2.2 million settlement with the FTC indicates that the company at no time thought it might be a good idea to inform customers this was happening. The snooping was part of a supposed “Smart Interactivity” feature deployed in 2014 that claimed to provide users with programming recommendations, but never actually did so. In short, it wasn’t so much what Vizio was doing, it was the fact the company tried to bullshit its way around it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Body Cameras Used By UK Local Government To Catch People Dropping Litter And Walking Dogs

      We’ve just written about the use of body cameras in UK schools. One reason these trials are taking place is probably because the technology is now relatively cheap, which lowers previous barriers to deploying it. So it should perhaps come as no surprise to learn from a new report from Big Brother Watch that body cameras are also widely used by UK local government departments (pdf).

  • DRM

    • Industry, and Apple, opposing “right to repair” laws

      Ahead of a 2010 decision by federal regulators to legalize mobile phone jailbreaking, Apple had cautioned US Copyright Office officials that doing so would have “potentially catastrophic” (PDF) consequences because hackers wielding jailbroken iPhones might take down the nation’s mobile phone networks.

    • Canadian Court Chips Away At Anti-Circumvention Exceptions In Massive Win For Nintendo

      The first major ruling [PDF] by a Canadian court applying the country’s anti-circumvention laws has been handed down and it’s not good news. The law provides for a few exceptions to its broad restrictions on bypassing technological protection mechanisms (TPMs), but as the court sees it, any anti-circumvention process that might lead to infringement violates the statute.

      Not that the courts have done a great job interpreting the law to this point. In 2015, a Canadian judge ruled that simply asking for a copy of a paywalled article was illegal circumvention. The lawsuit at hand — reported by Michael Geist — isn’t a great test case for exploring the outer limits of the anti-circumvention law. But the conclusions reached have severely negative implications for others not quite so entangled in facilitating infringement.

The European Patent Office is Wasting Its Already Limited Budget on Misleading Press Releases/Paid-for Coverage That Overlook Sharp Decline in Patent Quality

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 2:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The steep slope of EPO doublespeak

EPO flying high
See our response from yesterday: EPO Record Low on Quality of European Patents (EPs) in 2016

Summary: The media is awash with EPO talking points, which were not necessarily the result of objective journalism or fruits of labour but were sometimes simply paid for if not ghost-written too (as is typical by now)

THE arguably cash-strapped or debt-saddled EPO is now paying a fortune pushing a lie or a half-truth (lie by omission). Why? Because Battistelli will meet his supposed overseers one week from now. The EPO is attempting to distract from what is really happening. It’s like utterly autocratic and oppressive regimes that boast or brag about “reduction in crime”. It just depends whose, and at what cost…

“Time to say goodbye,” one person asked about Battistelli this week. “You wish …

“The EPO is attempting to distract from what is really happening.”“The rumours currently circulating inside the EPO indicate that he is planning to do all he can to block the Admin Council from kicking off the selection procedure for his successor which is due to be discussed at the quarterly meeting next week (15/16 March).

“He has no plans to go because it looks like there is no “cushy number” waiting for him back in France.”

We don’t expect Battistelli to be fired as long as the EPO is so thoroughly compromised (resignation is another matter altogether). Redemption will need to come from the outside, i.e. national/international interventions (ILO is not strong enough for this).

“We don’t expect Battistelli to be fired as long as the EPO is so thoroughly compromised.”The EPO likes to pretend that it’s all just business as usual with stock photography and tweets like this one that says: “During their EPO study visits, participants do practical exercises to learn more about patent filing strategies…”

The matter of fact is, the EPO is extremely unpopular (unprecedented recruitment problem/crisis and brain drain) and visitors too aren’t particularly fond of the management. “Did you search their telephones too,” I asked them about the visitors, as visitors too are now presumed "terrorists" until proven otherwise (which was always the case, there’s no genuine, solid basis for this paranoia at all).

“The matter of fact is, the EPO is extremely unpopular (unprecedented recruitment problem/crisis and brain drain) and visitors too aren’t particularly fond of the management.”Proceeding to the key point, the principal lie being pushed forth this week is that the EPO is doing better than ever before. An avalanche (collapse) of patent quality is being touted as a victory. To quote the EPO’s Twitter account: “EPO President Benoît Battistelli: “2016 saw significant advances at the EPO.” http://buzz.mw/b1w9z_l #AnnualReport #AnnualResults”

This links to another lame video of Battistelli — similar to the lame video we remarked on last year. When it comes to quality, he just likes to mention his propaganda mills, such as IAM, in such awkwardly-framed videos.

The EPO says “Granted patents up by 40% in 2016. See the full report: http://buzz.mw/b1w9w_l #annualreport #annualresults”

If a local hospital has a 40% rise “in demand” (an industrial term), does that indicate success or simply increase in illness? What is the actual goal of a hospital?

Watch this later tweet from the EPO. It uses a factory term, “patenting demand,” as if it’s all about supply and demand. It figures. To quote: “These are the TOP technology fields with the fastest growth in patenting demand in 2016 http://buzz.mw/b1w7n_l #annualreport #annualresultspic.twitter.com/ZSLCjhMzBA”

“…the principal lie being pushed forth this week is that the EPO is doing better than ever before.”The EPO also drew attention to this self-promotional tweet from Philips. The company said “2,568 patent applications at @EPOorg during 2016 = our commitment to innovation. Find out more http://philips.to/2mwoDHn”

“How many of these patents were granted after just 2 hours,” I asked them, linking to this EPO leak. Philips links not to an English article about it but a paid press release. What a waste of money pushing self-serving statements.

But Philips, being a corporation, has every right to spend its money doing this. What about the EPO? Well, Battistelli is in essence bribing various large publications, including this publication which now repeats his propaganda in French while censoring critical (and factual) coverage. Money well spent? The EPO's PR team, in the meantime, is pushing various publishers to parrot EPO talking points, probably even gratis!

Disappointing coverage came out of World IP Review (WIPR), which parrots the EPO’s claims without looking deeper and investigating the full picture. It says that the “European Patent Office (EPO) granted a record number of European patents in 2016, while the US led the charge for applications.”

“If a local hospital has a 40% rise “in demand” (an industrial term), does that indicate success or simply increase in illness?”What about patent quality and how were these supposed gains achieved? No remarks on that? Even IP Watch, which is typically OK, helps the EPO spread this nonsense (very promotional headline).

Patent systems are not a numbers contest. Without quality control we could have millions of patents granted PER WEEK. That’s hardly an accomplishment worth celebrating.

“What about patent quality and how were these supposed gains achieved?”To make matters even worse, the EPO now spreads (using press releases, i.e. EPO budget) misleading patent propaganda in the UK, conveniently enough amidst UPC talks. Using various press outlets, not to mention a total waste of money (paid propaganda for Battistelli), they are hoping to ‘sell’ lies in the meeting with Battistelli’s Chinchillas and also ‘sell’ this to British politicians. We have found numerous sites, e.g. [1, 2], where the EPO ‘planted’ the press release “2016 a good year for UK companies and researchers at the European Patent Office” (that is not what the numbers show; they equate raw numbers with other things). Watchtroll, in the mean time, contributed its own lawyers-leaning angle. In a later post we shall focus on what the EPO and the UPC (if it ever becomes something at all) mean to British businesses.

The EPO also disseminated a similarly misleading press release for the US, “European Patent Office Grants More Patents To US Companies Than Ever Before,” and the Swedish English-speaking media — basically the same bunch of sites as last year (we criticised them for it) — just does some puff pieces. The same network, incidentally, brainwashes the Swiss about it. The richest countries, which can most easily afford EPO fees (application, renewal, litigation etc.) are not necessarily “champions” (as the headline put it). But who cares about facts anyway? It’s the EPO’s day to “shine”, facts be damned!

“To make matters even worse, the EPO now spreads (using press releases, i.e. EPO budget) misleading patent propaganda in the UK, conveniently enough amidst UPC talks.”What the EPO speaks about isn’t good news. They’re aware of it. They rely on so-called ‘results’ that are framed in misleading terms, which assume that the goal of a patent system is just to yank out lots and lots of patents, irrespective of their merit.

“All results for 2016 are available here,” the EPO wrote, but these so-called ‘results’ say nothing about quality; quality is down sharply. Does that not matter? It has a profound negative impact on the value (or perceived legitimacy) of patents granted by the EPO for several decades. They’re muddying the water now.

One particular firm now treats the EPO’s numbers like a popularity contest and states: “We’re 63rd in @EPOorg’s 2016 patent rankings! We believe in the power of #science and #innovation: http://spr.ly/60138XqxB pic.twitter.com/Qq6gBNRSFW”

“It has a profound negative impact on the value (or perceived legitimacy) of patents granted by the EPO for several decades.”Unlike the EPO which believes in anti-science, post-truth and alternative facts?

If “patent rankings” are based on just raw numbers, where wealthy parties can just successfully ram lots of low-quality patents down the throat of the Office (the USPTO was notorious for this), then what we’re getting here is a system ripe for abuse, not a respected patent system that took nearly half a century to build its reputation.

Battistelli’s Shock Doctrine is Coming to the EPO’s Boards of Appeal, Having Already Rattled the Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Independence” apparently means harsher supervision and vastly degraded working conditions

Shock Doctrine cover

Summary: The vicious attacks on the Boards of Appeal are already having a very negative effect on their ability to operate and the end result will be lack of patent justice, just more and more so-called ‘production’

BELATEDLY, years too late to be precise, the EPO‘s management comes under fire from top Dutch officials who seem eager enough to take severe action. Following our coverage the other day, even Dutch media covered this letter from the Dutch Foreign Minister (yesterday).

“Nothing about even perception of [Boards of Appeal] independence. Only: give me the numbers, and make regular reports on members, indicating how they will increase their production.”
      –Anonymous
It seems to be able to understand that the whole Organisation is now in disarray. It’s becoming just a production line rather than a patent examination office.

“New President of EPO Boards of Appeal,” one source tells us about Josefsson [1, 2, 3], “talked to [the] Chairmen yesterday. Nothing about even perception of independence. Only: give me the numbers, and make regular reports on members, indicating how they will increase their production. Re-nominations will depend on the reports of the member concerned. This should make it very clear that, whatever the stated intention behind the reform of the Boards of Appeal, their new president was given only one clear task: make those annoying judges produce more. One idea which is now circulating is to save time by not writing the board’s provisional opinion before oral proceedings take place.”

So, in simple terms, they’re attacking people outside the Office and inside the appeal boards in more or less the same way. Quality of patents does not seem to matter anymore.

“Quality of patents does not seem to matter anymore.”“Oh no,” Bastian Best wrote the other day, “the backlog at the EPO boards of appeal still seems to increase!”

The appeal boards are not lazy. They're understaffed and constantly under attacks from Battistelli. It’s like the “shock doctrine”. They say so publicly, as recently as days ago [1, 2]. Well, that’s what happens when one understaffs them the way Battistelli and Kongstad have. Best’s source is this new blog/article titled “Hot numbers”. “Here is my selection of subjective highlights from the report,” it says, “I will focus only on the technical boards of appeal, which handle the vast majority of appeals at the EPO.

“First, the total number of new cases, has increased to a record total of 2748. That’s a 15% increase relative to 2015, but only a 6% increase relative to 2012, since there was a drop in new cases in 2013 and 2014.”

So understaffing has made no practical sense (just collective punishment or vendetta), but as we pointed out before, the boards can serve to reveal sharp declines in patent quality; the last thing Battistelli wants are some truly independent judges stating so to the world.

“The appeal boards are not lazy. They’re understaffed and constantly under attacks from Battistelli.”Marks & Clerk, proponents of the EPO, software patents, the UPC and all that abuse that brings them money, came out with 2 more puff pieces in the past week [1, 2]. Both are about appeals but obviously say nothing about the crisis of the appeal boards. It has become almost a taboo subject inside the Office because those who dare criticise these operations (or Battistelli’s policies) tend to find themselves wrongly accused and then dismissed.

A lot of patent law firms out there, even if they cannot tolerate what Battistelli has done (deep inside they want him ousted), are still in denial about core issues at the EPO because they feel as though they need to suck up to the EPO and milk their cows as much as possible before these cows are dead.

EPO “Too Industry-Friendly, Say the Critics”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The biggest corporations too will suffer as the reputation of European patents (EPs) sinks

Welt on EPO

Summary: Criticism of the EPO in German language, as it appears to have attracted attention in Austria while German media mostly overlooks the subject these days

In a previous part we provided a translation of “Prost auf das Monopol (“Raise Your Glass to the Monopoly”), serving to show just how serious patent maximalism has become at the EPO because only numbers count — a subject to be revisited in a separate post. There are ethical issues associated with patent maximalism which allows life itself to be monopolised by corporations.

The curious thing was that the Austrian press too has begun taking an interest, which is not so usual and is in fact rather unusual. “This is quite strange,” a reader explained to us, “because since 1990 the EPO has had a small branch office in Vienna so it could be expected that there would be more interest in its activities. (see EPO Vienna 1990 [PDF])

“The granting of patents on plants seems to be generating a lot of controversy in Austria. This issue seems to be getting more and more media attention there and it was the trigger for the Kurier article.

“The Kurier article is interesting because it goes beyond the immediate subject of patents on plants and begins to explore the autocratic management style of Battistelli quoting from a statement which he made in an interview to the German newspaper “Die Zeit” back in March 2014.”

A copy of that earlier article is shown above and here, below, is a complete English translation.

Controversial and sovereign

The President of the European Patent Office wants reforms; the staff in Munich are up in arms

By CHRISTIAN THIELE

He played a major part in the contest between Siemens and Samsung. His name also comes up during the Farmers’ Pilgrimage at Altötting. And some of his staff only utter it when they unplug the telephone cord in the office. That’s how much of a topic of conversation he is – Benoît Battistelli, 63, and since 2010 Director of the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich.

“The Black Colossus” – in the beginning, that was what the people of Munich called the building which the architects Gerkan, Marg and Partners planted on the west bank of the River Isar between 1975 and 1979. In the picturesque capital of Bavaria, the rather cool building is still today a contrast to the onion domes of the churches, the city’s fiery red tiled roofs and the blue and white of the sky.

On the tenth floor, without a view to the south, to the summits of the Alpspitze and the Zugspitze, the view which most high-rated properties in Munich are keen to offer, but instead overlooking the dolls house backdrop of the Inner City, sits Benoît Battistelli, rimless glasses, smooth shaven, a somehow tie round his something shirt, an apparition, so neat and tidy that he rapidly gets forgotten.

On the desk is a globe, on the wall a photograph of the Beaux-Arts Bridge in Paris, and the document which confirms that Battistelli is a member of the Grand Council of the Order of the Companions of Beaujolais. What German civil service executive or corporate CEO would want the world to know that he belongs to a brotherhood of winebibbers by hanging a certificate up in his office? But, after all, this is a Frenchman.

And in the same way that a Frenchman thinks about Europe, in the same way a Frenchman runs his office, in the same way a Frenchman gets to be in such a position, and in the same way a Frenchman talks about everything, that’s the way Battistelli thinks, acts, and speaks. Talking about his position he says: “When it comes to patents, we are the voice of Europe. And we are an element of European Soft Power. And we are leaders in the field of international harmonization.” Europe as a means to increased global significance or belonging. Since the days of Charles de Gaulle at the latest, that has been the raison d’être of the French State.

His career path is typical: Starting off with studying political science at the Institut d’Études Politiques, then the ENA, the École Nationale d’Administration. It is from these executive hothouses that the governments mostly recruit their top personnel, regardless of whether they’re socialist or conservative, as do the big corporations, the public administration and the authorities.

Battistelli was the commercial attaché at a number of embassies, chief consultant to the Minister of Industry, head of the national patent office in Paris – and since mid-2010, head of the EPO in Munich. And in addition, typically for a leading French functionary or politician, he is also a deputy mayor, specifically of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the birthplace of Louis XIV, the most sumptuous suburb Paris has to offer.

The Sun King has faded somewhat. People in the Office who are well inclined towards him say that Battistelli is a somewhat centralistic boss – “the way things usually are in France.” Those who are not so well inclined compare his management style to that of an African dictator.

When Battistelli talks about his job and his office, he does it in those grammatically complicated but correct sentences which could go straight to press, the style which the French educational and bureaucratic elite have cultivated ever since Louis XIV took office. And when it comes to using an Anglo-Saxon expression, with that tee-aitch problem and that rather grating R so typical of the English-speaking French.

“The exciting thing about this work is that it lies at the interface of law, technology, competitiveness, politics, and the economy. If you are the head of a national patent office, you are obliged to report to a ministry, or a parliament. Here I am leading a politically independent institution”, he says. As the boss of 7,000 patent examiners, he is also an important political player, and in a number of major matters it’s what he says that goes.

The patent is an anomaly in the market economy. It restricts free trade and free competition. Someone who applies for a patent for an invention receives an officially guaranteed monopoly. Subject, of course, to their having invented something new, and subject to their disclosing the details. That is why companies like Siemens, who with 2193 newly applied for patents in 2012 hold second place in the EPO ranking, just behind Samsung and ahead of BASF, think very carefully about putting their inventions up for a patent application; or whether they would rather play their technological aces closer to their chest.

Too industry-friendly, say the critics

Do patents still make sense in a Wiki and Open Source world? Economists like Michele Boldrin doubt it. Intellectual monopolies impede innovation, and therefore growth, welfare, and freedom, they argue. Battistelli believes the opposite: “The patent is a legal instrument in the service of the economy, of innovation, of the ability to compete.” His view is that the European economy is dependent on patents in order to remain competitive. After years of squabbling, 25 states have at last come together with a unified European patent.

Beat Weibel, who as head of Siemens Intellectual Property leads the biggest patent department of any German corporation, says: “For a technology company like Siemens, the importance of the patent is growing. Essentially, we are encountering more and more global competitors all the time, such as from Korea and China, who in part are very virtuous when it comes to playing the instruments of intellectual property.” The fact that the new uniform patent may be issued by Battistelli’s examiners, is in Weibel’s view, “a breakthrough for the Office.”

Critics of patents and of those who issue them, however, are making their voices heard where one would least expect them – for example, at the Farmers’ Pilgrimage at Altötting. Parish priest Michael Witti gave a warning in his sermon: “If we have just a few big companies holding the basis of our food production in their hands, if there are patents on seeds – in other words, patents on life – and therefore just a few companies who can dictate prices, it will have unforeseeable social consequences worldwide.”

Christoph Then, veterinarian and Greenpeace expert on the subject of seed patents, has done some sums: The EPO has already issued around 100 patents for methods of conventional crop cultivation, and more than 2000 in the field of genetically modified seeds and plants. “Battistelli is a driving force in this matter, and his position is very clearly in favour of the interests of industry”, he says.

By contrast, Battistelli says that the Office is rigorous when it comes to the issue of bio-patents: Only 25 percent of patent applications are granted. “In this very sensitive area we are undoubtedly one of the strictest patent offices worldwide. As well as that, if certain groups are now taking the view that the European Patent Convention is not precise enough, then they need to turn to the legislature, in other words the national parliaments and the European Parliament, and bring about changes that way. We cannot write the laws ourselves, only apply them.”

The debate has even reached Berlin. In the coalition agreement, the black-red Federal Government takes the view that: “The existing patenting prohibition on conventional methods of cultivation, on animals and plants derived from them, and on their products and on specific material used in their production should be upheld, and the pertinent European regulations made more precise.”

Battistelli has for a long time held a much less critical view of bio-patents, say critics. He is alleged to have waved through the patenting of broccoli, paprika, and tomatoes, even against criticism from the European Parliament; after all, his Office is financed exclusively from the fees from issued patents. It was only when criticism became louder in Germany and other countries that Battistelli put the brakes on, above all because he wanted to secure a majority among the national representatives on the EPO Administrative Council for his re-election in 2015.

The EPO was established in 1980, at a time when cross-border work permits, bank remittances, telephone calls, and school exchanges were still complicated matters. In order to attract enough engineers, physicists, telecommunications experts, and other specialists as examiners at the Munich Office, EPO staff were granted some plush benefits: Almost tax-free salaries, their own pension scheme, free crèches, kindergartens and schools, days off for trips home, and, and, and…. Battistelli wants to phase out some of these privileges. His argument: “We work at the behest of the European economy, and we should not burden European industry with excessive costs.”

That doesn’t make him popular with the staff. Anyone who wants to discuss Battistelli with trade unionists and personnel representatives has to do it in the bar. Or in the office, with the doors closed, after a quick look in the corridor. “You never know, here”, one person says.

He has the attitude of a strict but well-intentioned headmaster

Battistelli has changed the rules about striking. He wants to bring down the number of days taken off due to illness, and he wants to pay patent examiners more by their results. Whether he is allowed to do this will depend on the outcome of court cases. The mood is turbulent. “Great uncertainty and insecurity” – “He’s behaving like some little African dictator”; that’s how they talk about Battistelli.

In October 2013, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the European Patent Convention, some of the staff went on strike. In December, Battistelli’s Christmas holiday speech was drowned by whistles and catcalls. Most recently, employees at staff meetings in Munich and The Hague have been expressing their distrust of the President.

If you talk to Battistelli about the protests, his friendly smile does not change a jot. Relaxed, with the attitude of a strict but well-intentioned headmaster, he says: “We are now in a time of changes and reforms within the Office. It is entirely normal for every person to react to change initially by rejecting it. But the situation is stable. And changes are necessary for the future of the Office.”

A real reformer, as every French schoolchild knows from learning about the French Revolution, cannot always simply be concerned with the inconsequential. Days off due to illness, strike votes, performance premiums – he needs to keep focused on the big picture. And Battistelli likes to think big. He sees the European Patent Office as a global player. Together with the patent authorities from the USA, Japan, Korea, and China, known as the IP5, he wants to equal up the rules for intellectual property worldwide – under the leadership of the EPO. “We are pioneers in the field of international harmonization.”

Battistelli is now 63. In the course of the year he will make it known whether he will put in a bid for a second term of office as from 2015, which has been usual with previous Presidents. But one thing is already clear: When he does go into retirement, it won’t be in Munich. He does not speak German, he loves French literature, French films, he is a member of the Beaujolais fraternity. And, in addition, says Battistelli: “The Isar and the Seine, they’re not quite the same.”

[illegible] his desk in Munich. In the background: the church towers of the Frauenkirche.

Protection for what’s new

Patents

A patent is a commercial protective right which is issued by a sovereign authority in respect of inventions. The proprietor of a patent can prohibit other people from using or imitating the invention, or allow it against payment. Patents are intended to help promote innovation. Without patents, there would be less incentive for inventors and researchers to invest time and money in the development of technical and other innovations. In 2013 there were 266,000 patent applications lodged with the European Patent Office, and 66,700 patents issued. Around two-thirds of the applications originate from countries outside Europe, such as the USA, Japan, China, and South Korea. The biggest increase was in the number from Asia.

The Office

The European Patent Office is an international organisation which is supported by 38 Member States. Among these are all the countries of the European Union, as well as countries such as Switzerland, Norway, and Turkey, which are not members of the EU. The Office is based in Munich (photo below) and has offices in The Hague, Berlin, and Vienna. It employs around 7,000 people from more than 30 nations. The Office is overseen by an Administrative Council, at the head of which is the chief of the Danish Patent Office, Jesper Kongstad.

Suffice to say, the article above is mostly soft, almost even a so-called ‘puff piece’, but the section in the middle about patents on seeds is nonetheless relevant.

“The article could be a sign that the Austrian media is starting to wake up to the wider problems concerning the EPO and its governance (or lack of it),” our source concluded.

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