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03.26.17

Links 26/3/2017: Debian Project Leader Elections, SecureDrop and Alexandre Oliva FSF Winners

Posted in News Roundup at 4:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • SAP buys into blockchain, joins Hyperledger Project
  • Events

    • foss-north speaker line-up

      I am extremely pleased to have confirmed the entire speaker line-up for foss north 2017. This will be a really good year!

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chromium/Chrome Browser Adds A glTF Parser

        Google’s Chrome / Chromium web-browser has added a native glTF 1.0 parser. The GL Transmission Format, of course, being Khronos’ “3D asset delivery format” for dealing with compressed scenes and assets by WebGL, OpenGL ES, and other APIs.

        There are glTF utility libraries in JavaScript and other web-focused languages, but Google adding a native glTF 1.0 parser appears to be related to their VR push with supporting VR content on the web. Their glTF parser was added to Chromium Git on Friday.

  • CMS

    • Sex and Gor and open source

      A few weeks ago, Dries Buytaert, founder of the popular open-source CMS Drupal, asked Larry Garfield, a prominent Drupal contributor and long-time member of the Drupal community, “to leave the Drupal project.” Why did he do this? He refuses to say. A huge furor has erupted in response — not least because the reason clearly has much to do with Garfield’s unconventional sex life.

      [...]

      I’ll unpack the first: open-source communities/projects are crucially important to many people’s careers and professional lives — cf “the cornerstone of my career” — so who they allow and deny membership to, and how their codes of conduct are constructed and followed, is highly consequential.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • MRRF 17: Lulzbot and IC3D Release Line Of Open Source Filament

        Today at the Midwest RepRap Festival, Lulzbot and IC3D announced the creation of an Open Source filament.

        While the RepRap project is the best example we have for what can be done with Open Source hardware, the stuff that makes 3D printers work – filament, motors, and to some extent the electronics – are tied up in trade secrets and proprietary processes. As you would expect from most industrial processes, there is an art and a science to making filament and now these secrets will be revealed.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Cod fishing catches plummet in waters off New England

      The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released an assessment of the Gulf of Maine cod stock in 2014 that said the spawning population was at its lowest point in the history of the study of the fish. Scientists have cited years of overfishing and inhospitable environmental conditions as possible reasons for the decline.

    • [Old] Methane Hydrate: Killer cause of Earth’s greatest mass extinction [iophk: "warning: Elsevier"]

      Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic, but the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic

    • Kochs pledge millions to GOPers in 2018 — if they vote no on health care bill

      In a last-minute effort to sink the Republican health care bill, a powerful network of conservative donors said Wednesday it would create a new fund for Republican 2018 reelection races — but they’ll only open it up to GOPers who vote against the bill.

      The advocacy groups helmed by Charles and David Koch have unveiled a new pool of money for advertisements, field programs and mailings that would exclude those who vote for the health care bill they oppose on Thursday. The effort, which they described as worth millions of dollars, is an explicit warning to on-the-fence Republicans from one of the most influential players in electoral politics not to cross them.

    • Kochs Bankroll Move to Rewrite the Constitution

      A constitutional convention, something thought impossible not long ago, is looking increasingly likely. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, if 34 state legislatures “issue a call” for a constitutional convention, Congress must convene one. By some counts, the right-wing only needs six more states. Once called, delegates can propose and vote on changes and new amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which, if approved, are currently required to be ratified by 38 states.

  • Security

    • NSA: We Disclose 90% of the Flaws We Find

      In the wake of the release of thousands of documents describing CIA hacking tools and techniques earlier this month, there has been a renewed discussion in the security and government communities about whether government agencies should disclose any vulnerabilities they discover. While raw numbers on vulnerability discovery are hard to come by, the NSA, which does much of the country’s offensive security operations, discloses more than nine of every 10 flaws it finds, the agency’s deputy director said.

    • EFF Launches Community Security Training Series

      EFF is pleased to announce a series of community security trainings in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library. High-profile data breaches and hard-fought battles against unlawful mass surveillance programs underscore that the public needs practical information about online security. We know more about potential threats each day, but we also know that encryption works and can help thwart digital spying. Lack of knowledge about best practices puts individuals at risk, so EFF will bring lessons from its comprehensive Surveillance Self-Defense guide to the SFPL.

      [...]

      With the Surveillance Self-Defense project and these local events, EFF strives to help make information about online security accessible to beginners as well as seasoned techno-activists and journalists. We hope you will consider our tips on how to protect your digital privacy, but we also hope you will encourage those around you to learn more and make better choices with technology. After all, privacy is a team sport and everyone wins.

    • NextCloud, a security analysis

      First, I would like to scare everyone a little bit in order to have people appreciate the extent of this statement.

      As the figure that opens the post indicates, there are thousands of vulnerable Owncloud/NextCloud instances out there. It will surprise many just how easy is to detect those by trying out common URL paths during an IP sweep.

    • FedEx will deliver you $5.00 just to install Flash

      Bribes on offer as courier’s custom printing service needs Adobe’s security sinkhole

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The New Laptop Ban Adds to Travelers’ Lack of Privacy and Security

      It can be difficult to understand the intent behind anti-terrorist security rules on travel and at the border. As our board member Bruce Schneier has vividly described, much of it can appear to be merely “security theater”—steps intended to increase the feeling of security, while doing much less to actually achieve it.

      This week the U.S. government, without warning or public explanation, introduced a sweeping new device restriction on travelers flying non-stop to the United States from ten airports in eight Muslim-majority countries, and nine airlines from those countries. Passengers on these flights must now pack large electronics (including tablets, cameras, and laptops) into their checked luggage.

    • Laptop ban on planes came after plot to put explosives in iPad

      The US-UK ban on selected electronic devices from the passenger cabins of flights from some countries in north Africa and the Middle East was partly prompted by a previously undisclosed plot involving explosives hidden in a fake iPad, according to a security source.

      The UK ban on tablets, laptops, games consoles and other devices larger than a mobile phone came into effect on Saturday. It applies to inbound flights from six countries – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. Six UK airlines – British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson – and eight foreign carriers are affected.

      It follows a similar move in the US, which applies to flights from 10 airports in eight countries – Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

    • Risks to US from War on North Korea

      Experts agree that within a few years, at most, North Korea will have mastered the ballistic missile technology needed to destroy U.S. cities with nuclear warheads. It recently demonstrated the use of solid-fuel technology in intermediate-range missiles, and earlier this month the regime tested a sophisticated new rocket engine that even South Korea called a technical breakthrough.

      [...]

      Last fall, the influential Council on Foreign Relations issued a major white paper calling North Korea’s weapons program “a grave and expanding threat” and asserting that Washington may have no choice but to “consider more assertive military and political actions, including those that directly threaten the existence of the [North Korean] regime and its nuclear and missile capabilities.”

      Such threats are foolhardy and counterproductive. As many analysts point out, a pre-emptive attack by the United States cannot guarantee to destroy all of North Korea’s hidden nuclear weapons or mobile missile launchers. Missing even a handful would guarantee the incineration of Seoul, Tokyo, and other nearby cities in radioactive fireballs. Even in the best case, North Korea could respond by flattening Seoul with artillery barrages, and killing tens of thousands of Koreans and Japanese with chemical weapons.

    • The war in Yemen: two years old and maturing?

      The United Nations has stated that, of the four famines predicted for 2017, Yemen is the worst, with seven million people close to starvation and a further ten million in urgent need.

    • Trump’s War on Terror Has Quickly Become as Barbaric and Savage as He Promised

      From the start of his presidency, Donald Trump’s “war on terror” has entailed the seemingly indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people in the name of killing terrorists. In other words, Trump has escalated the 16-year-old core premise of America’s foreign policy – that it has the right to bomb any country in the world where people it regards as terrorists are found – and in doing so has fulfilled the warped campaign pledges he repeatedly expressed.

      The most recent atrocity was the killing of as many as 200 Iraqi civilians from U.S. airstrikes this week in Mosul. That was preceded a few days earlier by the killing of dozens of Syrian civilians in Raqqa Province when the U.S. targeted a school where people had taken refuge, which itself was preceded the week earlier by the U.S. destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens. And one of Trump’s first military actions was what can only be described as a massacre carried out by Navy SEALS in which 30 Yemenis were killed; among the children killed was an 8-year-old American girl (whose 16-year-old American brother was killed by a drone under Obama).

    • Trump Insults the Media, but Bush Bullied and Defanged It to Sell the Iraq War

      As we pass the 14th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, its chief progenitor is suddenly beloved by the mainstream media again.

      Every time former President George W. Bush pops up somewhere these days, media pundits gush about how good he looks now, compared to Donald Trump. Recently, for instance, he described himself – and was dutifully portrayed as — a great supporter of the free press.

      “I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” he told NBC’s Matt Lauer in early March. “That we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”

      The same week, he similarly assured a gushing daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres that “I’m a big believer in free press.”

    • America Digs Its Own Afghan Grave

      Afghanistan has long been called the “graveyard of empires,” the site of failed invasions. But the U.S. – in its 15-plus-year endeavor – seems determined to dig its own grave there, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.

    • America Digs Its Own Afghan Grave

      The United States had an earlier experience injecting armed force into Afghanistan, with its provision of lethal aid — most notably Stinger anti-aircraft missiles — to mujahedin fighting against the Soviets in the 1980s. During that effort, U.S. policymakers showed little or no concern with the political nature and direction of the forces they were aiding, which included what we would today quickly label as violent Islamists. Those forces were used as a tool to bleed the Soviets, who got themselves stuck in a military expedition that reached a strength just slightly bigger (about 115,000 troops) than the later U.S. expedition.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The North Atlantic may get its first-ever named storm in March next week
    • Trump’s Defense Secretary Cites Climate Change as National Security Challenge

      Our story on March 13 concerning Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ views on the relationship between climate change and national security was based on excerpts from unpublished written exchanges between Mattis and several Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee following his Jan. 12 confirmation hearing. ProPublica has now obtained more comprehensive sets of these “Questions for the Record” and his answers.

      While the exchanges mainly focus on climate change, fossil fuel and renewable energy and related security issues, which was the initial reporting focus, they include discussions of Mattis’ views on issues ranging from Iran’s nuclear weapons program to ISIS, Guantanamo and LGBT issues in the military. The merged documents are posted on DocumentCloud.

  • Finance

    • [Possible paywall] Uber Group’s Visit to Seoul Escort Bar Sparked HR Complaint

      woman who dated Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for three years, Gabi Holzwarth, says she was with Mr. Kalanick when he and a team of five Uber employees visited an escort-karaoke bar in Seoul in mid-2014.

    • We’re in a fine mess if George Osborne is our last hope of halting Brexit

      To adapt Dr Samuel Johnson’s famous saying: attacking the BBC for alleged bias is a last refuge of the scoundrel. In this case, the scoundrel is one Julian Knight MP, who last week assembled some 70 fellow Brexiters to attack the BBC for allegedly being biased in favour of the Remain camp.

      Yes, we Remainers still exist and, according to an interesting finding by Alastair Campbell, our numbers may well be growing, which could help to explain why the Leave camp, ostensibly monarch of all it surveys, is displaying increasing signs of insecurity, as the falsity of its prospectus becomes manifest to a more reflective audience.

      Campbell wrote in the New European that at speaking events, he asks for a show of hands in response to the question: “Are you broadly optimistic or pessimistic about Brexit?”

      When he put this recently to 250 people who recruit from universities for their companies or organisations, only one optimistic hand went up. As Campbell says: “For the other 249 or so … you get the picture. Pessimism by a landslide. These are people who feel they have no voice in the debate as May wishes to conduct it.”

    • The Observer view on triggering article 50

      Like sheep, the British people, regardless of whether they support Brexit, are being herded off a cliff, duped and misled by the most irresponsible, least trustworthy government in living memory. The moment when article 50 is triggered, signalling Britain’s irreversible decision to quit the EU, approaches inexorably. This week, on Black Wednesday, the UK will throw into jeopardy the achievements of 60 years of unparalleled European peace, security and prosperity from which it has greatly benefited. And for what?

      The ultra-hard Tory Brexit break with Europe that is now seen as the most likely outcome when the two-year negotiation concludes is the peacetime equivalent of the ignominious retreat from Dunkirk. It is a national catastrophe by any measure. It is a historic error. And Theresa May, figuratively waving the cross of St George atop the white cliffs of Dover like a tone-deaf parody of Vera Lynn, will be remembered as the principal author of the debacle. This is not liberation, as Ukip argues, nor even a fresh start. It is a reckless, foolhardy leap into the unknown and the prelude, perhaps, to what the existentialist writer Albert Camus described in La chute – a fall from grace, in every conceivable sense.

    • Former Lobbyist With For-Profit Colleges Quits Education Department

      A former lobbyist for an association of for-profit colleges resigned last Friday from the Department of Education, where he had worked for about a month.

      As ProPublica reported last week, the Trump administration had hired Taylor Hansen to join the department’s “beachhead” team, a group of temporary hires who do not require approval from the U.S. Senate for their appointments.

      On the day Hansen resigned, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, citing ProPublica’s reporting and requesting more information on Hansen’s role.

    • AT&T, Verizon Feign Ethical Outrage, Pile On Google’s ‘Extremist’ Ad Woes

      So you may have noticed that Google has been caught up in a bit of a stink in the UK over the company’s YouTube ads being presented near “extremist” content. The fracas began after a report by the Times pointed out that advertisements for a rotating crop of brands were appearing next to videos uploaded to YouTube by a variety of hateful extremists. It didn’t take long for the UK government — and a number of companies including McDonald’s, BBC, Channel 4, and Lloyd’s — to engage in some extended pearl-clutching, proclaiming they’d be suspending their ad buys until Google resolved the issue.

    • 50+ Economists Warn Against Neoliberalism’s Return in Ecuador

      Over the past ten years, Ecuador has achieved major economic and social advances. We are concerned that many of these important gains in poverty reduction, wage growth, reduced inequality, and greater social inclusion could be eroded by a return to of the policies of austerity and neoliberalism that prevailed in Ecuador from the 1980s to the early 2000s. A return to such policies threatens to put Ecuador back on a path that leads not only to a more unequal society, but to more political instability as well. It is important to recall that from 1996 to 2006, Ecuador went through eight presidents.

    • The First Brick in the Wall

      President Donald Trump’s administration announced a $600 million bidding contest late Friday night to kick off construction of The Wall, a towering physical barrier between the United States and Mexico.

      The process will start with little walls — an unknown number of barriers of concrete and other materials that will serve as models for the bigger wall, which Trump made central to his political campaign.

      Construction will proceed with unusual haste. Companies have just two weeks to submit proposals. Finalists will make a 2 1/2-hour-long oral presentation to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, which is overseeing the contest. Winners will be announced by late May.

      Steven Schooner, a professor of government contracting at George Washington University, tweeted that the process was “extremely/uniquely complicated (and confusing).”

      But CBP officials said the approach was designed to get the best value for the government.

      “Through the construction of prototypes, CBP will partner with industry to identify the best means and methods to construct border wall before making a more substantial investment in construction,” the agency said in a statement.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • From Russia, with Panic

      The Russians hacked America.

      After Donald Trump’s surprise victory in November, these four words reverberated across the nation. Democratic Party insiders, liberal pundits, economists, members of Congress, spies, Hollywood celebrities, and neocons of every stripe and classification level—all these worthy souls reeled in horror at the horribly compromised new American electoral order. In unison, the centers of responsible opinion concurred that Vladimir Putin carried off a brazen and successful plan to throw the most important election in the most powerful democracy in the world to a candidate of his choosing.

      It seemed like a plotline from a vintage James Bond film. From his Moscow lair, Vladimir Putin struck up an alliance with Julian Assange to mount a massive cyber-offensive to discredit Hillary Clinton and her retinue of loyal Democratic Party operatives in the eyes of the American public.

      The plot was full of twists and turns and hair-raising tangents, including tales of Russian-American retiree-agents sunning in Miami while collecting payoffs from Russia’s impoverished pension system. But the central ruse, it appears, was to enter the email server of the Democratic National Committee and then tap into the Gmail account belonging to John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress and premier D.C. Democratic insider.

    • Trump in No Hurry to Staff ‘Enemy of the People’ Offices

      The New York Times (3/12/17) reported that the Trump administration, for a variety of reasons, was filling the offices of administrative agencies at a glacial pace. From the Department of Agriculture to the Weather Service, over 2,000 mid-level political-appointee positions were still unfilled; the Times called it “the slowest transition in decades.”

      One place that slowness has showed up clearly is in the staffing of what are variously called Public Affairs offices, Newsrooms or Media Offices of these government departments and agencies—the very offices that reporters in both Washington bureaus and in newsrooms around the country depend on to get routine information about what these departments and agencies are doing, or, in the case of more investigative assignments, to ask basic questions and set up interviews with key personnel.

      This reporter stumbled upon the problem earlier in the month while researching a story for High Times magazine on the fate, in the Trump administration, of the now 19-year-old ban on federal student aid for any students who are convicted of even a minor criminal drug violation. In my case, I began by calling the Department of Education’s Press Room. (As of March 17, the website was still listing Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education, though he left a year ahead of Obama, and there was another secretary, John King, before Trump nominee Betsy DeVos took over.)

    • Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics

      A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst entitled Explaining White Polarization in the 2016 Vote for President: The Sobering Role of Racism and Sexism found that “while economic dissatisfaction was part of the story, racism and sexism were much more important and can explain about two-thirds of the education gap among whites in the 2016 presidential vote.” The analysis used data from a national survey conducted during the final week of October (just days before the election), and concluded that the negative effects of neoliberalism and the rule of Wall Street were not the single most important factor in the victory for Trump. Rather it was “whiteness” and misogyny which played a pivotal role.

    • Chris Hedges Explains the Importance of ‘Robust’ Public Broadcasting (Video)

      Chris Hedges just received a Daytime Emmy nomination for his weekly online show “On Contact.” The Truthdig columnist is nominated for Outstanding Information Talk Show Host, alongside mainstream daytime hosts like Dr. Oz and Steve Harvey.

      “We need programs where dissident voices that challenge the dominant narrative, that critique systems of power, including of course corporate power, can be heard,” Hedges said in a press release. “And there is almost no space left, and that’s what we’ve tried to do with ‘On Contact,’ to fill that void.”

    • What causes the populist infection? How can it be cured?

      According to this study, while older generations keep thinking that democracy is essential, younger generations are much more indifferent. In Europe, about 52% of citizens among the generation born in the 1930s believe that to live in a democratic country is fundamental, but only about 45% among those born in the 1980s share this opinion. In the United States, the intergenerational gap is even more heightened. 72% of citizens born in the 1930s believed democracy is essential, while only around 30% of those born in the 1980s had the same view.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Charter’s Trying To Kill Recent Merger Conditions Banning Usage Caps, Net Neutrality Violations

      For decades now the FCC has been an expert at imposing utterly meaningless merger conditions. Usually these conditions are proposed by the companies’ themselves, knowing full well these “demands” are utterly hollow — and FCC punishment for ignoring them will be virtually non-existent. The end result has been a rotating tap dance of merger conditions that sound good upon superficial press inspection, but wind up being little more than hot air. It’s a symbiotic relationship where as the telecom sector consolidates (often at the cost of less competition) the FCC gets to pretend it’s not selling consumer welfare down river.

    • Confidence Wavers In Google Fiber As ISP Cancels Installs, Refuses To Explain Why

      Late last year Google Fiber announced it would be pausing expansion into several new markets, axing its CEO, and shuffling a number of employees around. Reports subsequently emerged suggesting that Alphabet higher ups were growing frustrated with the high cost and slow pace of fiber deployment, and were contemplating an overall larger shift to wireless. While the company continues to insist that there’s nothing to see here and that everything is continuing as normal, signs continue to emerge that the ground Google Fiber is built on may not be particularly sturdy.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UC Berkeley Receives CRISPR Patent in Europe [iophk: "now we are seeing what the US universities have been allowed to become"]

      The European Patent Office will grant patent rights over the use of CRISPR in all cell types to a University of California team, contrasting with a recent decision in the U.S.

    • Consumers Press the USTR Nominee on Trade Transparency

      A third front in our battle to reform the USTR’s closed and opaque trade negotiation practices is in a submission to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that we submitted this week. The ITC was seeking public submissions in an enquiry on digital trade, to gather input into a report that it is writing to advise the USTR on the topic.

      [...]

      As the renegotiation of NAFTA is around the corner, the need for USTR to reform its outdated practices is becoming increasingly urgent. With Congress, consumer groups, and international trade experts all demanding similar reforms from the next Trade Representative, we certainly hope that Robert Lighthizer is feeling the heat, and that he will rise to the challenge once he takes office.

    • Trademarks

      • Trademark Censoring: Hungary Considering Banning Heineken Red Star Trademark Because Communism

        When it comes to trademark law, it’s worth repeating that its primary function is to prevent customer confusion and to act as a benefit for consumer trust. This mission has become skewed in many ways in many countries, but one of the lessons learned via the Washington Redskins fiasco is that even well-meaning attempts to have government play obscenity cop will result in confusing inconsistency at best and language-policing at worst. When government begins attempting to apply morality to trademark law in that way, it skews the purpose of trademark entirely.

        To see that on display elsewhere, we need only look to Hungary, where the government is considering stripping the trademark protection for some of the branding for Heineken beer because it resembles the ever-scary demon that is communism.

    • Copyrights

      • Congress Leaks Draft Bill To Move Copyright Office Out Of The Library Of Congress

        Well, we all knew this was coming, but Rep. Bob Goodlatte has been passing around a draft of a bill to move the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress. Specifically, it would make the head of the Copyright Office, the Copyright Register, a Presidentially appointed position, with 10-year terms, and who could only be removed by the President.

        [...]

        Either way, by making this a Presidential appointment, the MPAA and RIAA know that it will give them significantly greater say over who leads the office. Right now they can (and do!) lobby the Librarian of Congress on who should be chosen, but the Librarian gets to choose. One hopes that the Librarian would take into account the larger view of copyright law, and who it’s actually supposed to benefit — and we’re hoping that the current Librarian will do so (if given the chance). But making it a Presidential appointment will mean heavy lobbying by industry, and much less likelihood that the public interest is considered.

      • eBook Pirates Tend To Be Older And Well Off, Which Means They Pirate Because Of Human Intuition On Economics

        People tend to have a hard time discussing the two mathematical concepts of zero and infinity. It’s not hard to understand why this is, of course, with reality being a material thing and both the lack of and the infinite amount of something being somewhat foreign. And this manifests itself in all sorts of disciplines, from cosmology to spirituality to physics. And, of course, economics, particularly in the digital age where many of the axioms surrounding physicality no longer apply to digitized goods. Zero and infinity play heavy roles here, both in the discussion of free content (zero) and the concept of digital and freely copyable goods as a resource (infinity). The economic nature of these concepts have long vexed established industries, even as some of us have pointed out how efficient and useful infinite digital goods can be if properly applied.

        [...]

        With nearly half of eBook pirates falling into their thirties or forties, and the study later showing that two-thirds of eBook pirates have household incomes of at least $30k per year, and almost a third having incomes in six figures, this simply isn’t a situation that can be explained away by pointing at young poor people. So, why do older, more affluent people pirate eBooks?

        I would argue it’s instinctual. Most of these people may not even be able to explain the term “marginal cost”, but by instinct they feel that something that costs nothing to reproduce ought not to require payment. Their brains do this calculation behind the scenes, not thinking about the sunk costs of initial production, nor the sweat-equity spent by the content creator. Marginal cost is the term used by economists to explain pricing laws that emerged organically through human instinct.

      • Rightscorp Boss Signs Deal That Could Be Bad News For Pirates

        Unfortunately for them, the company is a miserable performer and has lost millions over the past few years. On a good day its stock is worth around $0.04. On a bad one, barely half of that.

      • Lawyers & Academics Warn UK Against Criminalizing File-Sharers
      • Australia Stalls Copyright Safe Harbor Proposal

        Copyright safe harbors for Internet intermediaries are under attack from Big Media both in the United States and in Europe. Laying the blame for falling revenues on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook (despite that fact that revenues aren’t actually falling at all), their aim is to impose new controls over how these platforms allow you to access and share content online. The control at the top of their wish-list is a compulsory upload filter, that would automatically screen everything that you upload. Such a requirement would be a costly imposition on smaller platforms and new innovators, and provide governments with a ready-built infrastructure for content censorship.

        In Australia, the situation is a little different—because due to an oversight in implementation of the original U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement in 2005, they never had a copyright safe harbor system to begin with; or rather, a much narrower one which only applies to ISPs, but not to other Internet platforms, nor even to other Internet access providers such as libraries and educational institutions. This oversight was due to be remedied with the passage of new amendments to Australia’s Copyright Act. (The TPP, had it passed, would also have required Australia to bring in this reform.)

      • Australian Govt.: Just Kidding On That Whole Safe Harbors Reform Thing, Guys

        It was just last week that we discussed the pleasant news that Australia’s Prime Minister was backing the idea of reforming the country’s safe harbor laws, which are far out of line with much of the world as the result of poor wording. The whole thing can be basically summarized thusly: in Australia, safe harbor protections only apply to commercial ISPs, as opposed to service providers like websites or institutions that offer internet access, because someone decided to use the term “carriage service providers” in the law as opposed to simply “service providers.” Essentially everyone agrees this was done in error as opposed to intentionally, yet it’s been decades and nobody has bothered fixing the law.

        Until some members of the government revived an attempt to do so and got the Prime Minister’s support. Doing so would have put Australian law on equal footing with the EU and American safe harbor provisions, meaning that service providers generally couldn’t be scapegoated for the actions of a third party. You know, holding the actual people culpable of a crime accountable instead of the service provider.

His Master’s Voice, Jesper Kongstad, Blocks Discussion of Investigative and Disciplinary Procedures at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation is actively preventing not just the dismissal of Battistelli but also discussion of Battistelli’s abuses

EARLIER today we wrote about Jesper Kongstad, Chairman of the Administrative Council, who can in principle get rid of Battistelli. But instead he hiding key facts from the delegates and is protecting Battistelli from these delegates, in spite of many EPO (Office) scandals that put the EPO at risk of total collapse.

“So, not too shockingly, Kongstad remains a chinchilla of Battistelli and also stonewaller of Battistelli, i.e. a key facilitator of the abusive regime and thus an active collaborator.”Readers were not too surprised by what was shown because employees of the EPO generally regard Kongstad to be little more than a chinchilla of Battistelli, totally incapable of supervising the “king” (a word which is in Jesper’s own surname). “During the last AC meeting (March 2017),” one reader explained to us, “several delegations of the Board 28 complained that a proposal concerning the investigative and disciplinary procedures at the EPO had not been put on the agenda of the March 2017 AC. The Council Chairman, Jesper Kongstad, admitted during the meeting that it had not been done, but said that the document would be made available soon. But the delaying tactics was successful – the subject could not be discussed during the March Council.”

Highlighted in yellow are the relevant bits from the relevant document.

AC on UI

AC on UI

AC on UI

AC on UI

“The proposal,” our reader explains, “now available as CA/32/17 had been filed by the delegations of Switzerland, Germany, France and The Netherlands on 21 February, a few days after a discussion during the 16 February Board 28 meeting. See point 8 of the minutes of the meeting.”

Here is the corresponding portion:

AC Board

So, not too shockingly, Kongstad remains a chinchilla of Battistelli and also stonewaller of Battistelli, i.e. a key facilitator of the abusive regime and thus an active collaborator. He is under no obligation to do so. If and when the EPO comes under a serious investigation, Kongstad will have a lot more to worry about than that massive 'farm' of chinchillas in tiny cages all over his mansion (waiting to be slaughtered and sold for their skin). How can human empathy (e.g. for EPO staff) be expected from a skin farmer?

Heiko Maas and the State of Germany Viewed as Increasingly Complicit in EPO Scandals and Toxic UPC Agenda

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: It is becoming hard if not impossible to interpret silence and inaction from Maas as a form of endorsement for everything the EPO has been doing, with the German delegates displaying more of that apathy which in itself constitutes a form of complicity

WE PREVIOUSLY wrote about Maas supporting the UPC, which would exacerbate the already-growing problem of patent trolls in Germany. What does Maas want for his country and what does he envision for Europe? The same mess that Battistelli is envisioning?

“The German delegation sometimes expresses strong criticism of Battistelli’s reform proposals during Council meetings,” one reader recently told us. “But in the end, they almost never vote against any of them.

Heiko Maas sale“An example is the recently-endorsed proposal ‘functional allowances’ which authorises the payment of additional boni to some selected managers. Its lack of clear criteria and transparency were criticised in the March 2017 Council meeting. Other examples are two reforms voted in the December 2016 Council meeting: the Internal Appeals Committee reform (which bears a great risk that the composition of Battistelli’s Internal Appeals Committee will be ruled illegal by the ILO tribunal again; it would be the third time), and the removal of the Boards of Appeals to Haar (which was qualified as both unnecessary and non-urgent by many delegations).

“The cartoon apparently makes fun of the German delegation’s indecisive maneuvering.”

Rent a Maas

As a reminder, the head of the German delegation might be Battistelli’s successor [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and German parliament (Bundestag) recently did a charade of a vote where only 5% of politicians actually voted [1, 2]. It became a publicity stunt of Team UPC and EPO management; no doubt Maas too was pleased. As far as we’re aware, neither he nor Merkel did as little as react to the letter from the International and European Public Services Organisation [1, 2]. It’s a disgrace; it damages Germany’s reputation in Europe and worldwide.

With IP Kat Coverage of EPO Scandals Coming to an End (Officially), Techrights and The Register Remain to Cover New Developments

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO is playing a game of Whac-A-Mole, but McCarthyism tends to backfire

Kieren McCarthySummary: One final post about the end of Merpel’s EPO coverage, which is unfortunate but understandable given the EPO’s track record attacking the media, including blogs like IP Kat, sites of patent stakeholders, and even so-called media partners

“Great blogs come and go,” said one person about the end of Eponia coverage by Merpel (EPO scandals) and another person asked: “So this is the end of any possibility for people to give their comments on eponia? Where else can we go?”

Well, Techrights remains committed to covering EPO matters to the very end (of Team Battistelli and those who protected it, Jesper Kongstad included). This may take some time, but we’ll get there. I’m not going anywhere, not even if the EPO is attempting to silence me. The more aggressive the EPO becomes, the more enemies it will make, and the more eager they will be to end this aggression. Battistelli and his cronies already know that they are circling down the vortex and they attempt to grab any money they can put their claws on while descending towards the drain. They’re making an implosion or brewing an explosion even bigger (when of if authorities finally tackle these issues and belatedly investigate).

Another person later said:

Dear Merpel

Thank you for your commentary and hard work. It is very sad to see you bow (meow!) out of commenting on EPONIA matters. I do not understand but I am grateful.

You have provided balanced insight into difficult situations, and hope for the unheard.

There must be a reason behind this. If it is personal – so be it – sometimes life takes us away from the path we might have wished to follow and I thank you for your efforts.

If it is something else – whether external pressure or internal frustration – could you try to find another blogger who can take on the mantel of Merpel in this role of providing sensible commentary on EPONIA. Son of Merpel (or daughter of Merpel) has a nice ring to it, someone to take on this difficult, task. Someone must be the “ringbearer” if the present incumbent cannot go on.

Who will take up the challenge – Merpel would you help such a person if they approached you anonymously? I do hope so.

“Cutting, unabashed and your often funny interventions make you special,” another reader (“Ashley”) said. “We will miss you.”

Here is a joke about Battistelli barking:

Personally I never understood that a cat could understand something of this IP business.This is not serious.

I see despite my greatness and endless competence in all matters I do not master, how difficult this is. So a cat talking IP…. Hahahahahah

All of this must be modernised at once: now the cat will be investing its time in more productive actions, eg chasing mice and if below target, the cat will meet the Dog.

Benoit stop barking, quiet please I am dealing with it, calm down my Benoit, calm down, the cat will soon get it trust me

“Raising the profile of the goings on at the EPO might have been better accomplished had the blog posting not been under the pseudonym of a kat,” noted another person. “Why anyone would believe that others will pay heed to such anonymous comments is beyond me.”

Considering the abuse by the EPO’s management against bloggers and apparently even broadcasters, anonymity may make sense. These people are so certain they’re immune from prosecution, so they’ll stop at nothing!

“Thanks Merpel,” wrote another reader. “Giving paws for thought. Enjoy a bit of me-ow time… And ignore the snarky know it all comments. We know you’ve made a difference!”

She has. She helped us too.

The following commenter asked, “can’t you stay one more year”? Well, Battistelli is staying one more year, unless delegates can get their act together and toss out Battistelli prematurely. Here is the comment in full:

During all these years Merpel has been our “radio Londres” the voice of the resistance.
Things would have been much worse without you.
Where would have Laurent found a place to speak, to be listened ?
We have heard the voice of the real Europeans who are the examiners, but also seen the pure mediocrity of those who pretend to be superior but in reality are less than nothing.
Thanks to you (and a few others) he has lost the battle of communication and this made him even more mad and mean than he already was.
I thank you for all, but things here are dark and I fear the last year is going to turn even darker.
Please Merpel, can’t you stay one more year ?

“I used to say of Merpel that her presence on the Eponia battlefield made the difference of forty thousand men,” this reader remarked and another person said:

Dear Merpel, we hate to see you go. Your coverage was precise, the documents good. The problem with the “wider press” is that often they have no clue at IP and especially the special legal construct of the EPO. You did know all that (see your impressive summary in this post) – a tip of the hat! The style of your writing is also something I’ll miss. Oh yes – one last detail re BB: the restriction of internal appeals at the EPO in 2011 already, to the effect that appeals against “general” regulations were not possible anymore, i.e. they had to go to ILO. The start of the deluge there. With all these actions, its hard not to see a master plan in action. The final goal??? All the best to your kittens, Merpel! Maybe one of them wants to continue this sorely needed blog?

That’s actually an important point right there about lack of understanding among journalists. This is so often exploited by EPO management, which attempts to paint staff as spoiled (obsessing over money) while distracting from the serious abuses against that staff.

The following comment corrected a statement made by Merpel:

But a Dutch court decision lifting the immunity of the EPO from national jurisdiction, on the basis that the delay at ILO-AT denied EPO employees effective access to justice, was overturned on appeal.

As I understood the Appeal Court ruling, that’s not quite correct, Merpel.

The EPO’s immunity was lifted not because of delays at the ILOAT but because the Staff Union (as a collective body) has no possibility to bring a complaint before the ILOAT. In other words the (main) reason for lifting immunity in that case was because the Staff Union has no access to the ILOAT.

The position taken by the Dutch Supreme court appears to have been that this did not amount to denial of access to justice. For the Supreme Court it was sufficient that individual Staff Union members could – as EPO staff members – bring individual complaints before the ILOAT.

Earlier this month EPO management lied to staff about ILOAT. They hoped that nobody would challenge them on it, so they posted this internally only.

The following comment said that “at the EPO’s Administrative Council, voters are not so dumb” but many may be corruptible and they are managed or represented by a disgraced Dane who misleads and antagonises them. Here is the comment in full:

We are living through a period in which voters notoriously cast their vote against their own long term interests. Meanwhile, at the EPO’s Administrative Council, voters are not so dumb. They vote quite deliberately in what they callously and ruthlessly perceive to be their own national (and maybe also personal) financial interest. EPO staff are seen as privileged and pampered, and therefore undeserving, so that their warnings of irreparable harm being done to the Organisation by its President are hand-waved away as nothing more than self-serving. How ironic!

How naive is it, to suppose that AC members would vote any other way?

We quite liked the following comment as well. It says that the “IP world value the EPO (as was). If it were otherwise, would any of us be quite so concerned about how bad things have got?”

What is your point? Does the EPO deserve a pat on the back for some of its truly worthwhile achievements? Absolutely! But does this mean that the media should think twice before reporting very disturbing developments in Eponia? Absolutely not!!

Actually, this all goes to show how highly those in the IP world value the EPO (as was). If it were otherwise, would any of us be quite so concerned about how bad things have got?

This was preceded by the statement that “there is a layer of society that considers itself to be above the law [...] but [nothing assures] absolute immunity.”

It is not naïve to assume that AC members (and the EPO management) would respect the rule of law. On the contrary, it is the minimum that the users of the patent system (and the general public) should be entitled to expect.

Whilst this situation has been allowed to persist by the EPO management’s reliance upon legal immunities (and cronyism within the AC), this is no answer to the basic charge – that what has been done is contrary to EU law, the EPC and the European Convention on Human Rights.

I know that there is a layer of society that considers itself to be above the law, but to allow this situation to continue unchallenged would frankly not only be immoral but also a high risk strategy for those involved who do not have (or who cannot guarantee retaining) absolute immunity.

It seems as though, at least here in Britain, it’s mostly us and The Register who are left to cover the EPO saga. The Register‘s Kieren McCarthy can be contacted here and we too can be contacted anonymously.

Everyone, Including Patent Law Firms, Will Suffer From the Demise of the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And those bearing the most brunt are probably European businesses, which will fall victim to litigation over dubious patents

Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Bad
The quality of patents matters, as too much of a “good thing” — as the saying goes — can be disastrous.

Summary: Concerns about quality of patents granted by the EPO (EPs) are publicly raised by industry/EPO insiders, albeit in an anonymous fashion

“It is clear that this blog has been exposed to [EPO] pressure and had ceeded to it in the past,” said one comment to IP Kat readers, after the blog had announced it would stop covering EPO scandals. “The present [EPO] management has reduced the EPO to a money printing machine which suits most applicants and more so representatives just fine.”

So there is finally growing consensus on the EPO‘s management being reduced to just a bunch of greedy people turning the Office into “a money printing machine” (and personal cash cow)? Even if that means that this will kill the Office not too long from now? The emerging consensus regarding the EPO is that its management is a “swamp” that needs draining. Here is the curious comment:

Really it is not too much of a pity that the feline is no longer reporting one what is none of its concerns. It is clear that this blog has been exposed to pressure and had ceeded to it in the past. Non-profit or not, this is a blog run by patent attorneys. The conflict at the EPO is a social question of labour law and human Rights. Here you find patent and TM and copyright attorneys, not experts in interational labour law or human rights. At most educated amateurs, in any case interested ones, It shows how desperate the staff of the EPO has got to be to look and in appearance find support by their natural adversaries. As it is not dignified for the EBOA to publish their decisions on Wikipedia it is not dignified for public officials to publish their concerns on a blog like this. The appropriate fora are others, e.g. that of the SUEPO and maybe even techrights. The applicant’s are not the customers of the examiners they don’t pay their salaries, fees are not prices, their interest is dialectically and diametrally oppossed and should remain so. Applicant’s by default are not interested in quality. The present management has reduced the EPO to a money printing machine which suits most applicants and more so representatives just fine. The vast majority of their income comes from prosecution before offices not before courts Risk of litigation nullity etc are theortical issues. A negiglible fraction of granted patents either get legally enforced or challenged. The reasons for holding a patent are different. Tax optimisation, balance sheet cosmetics and some even less noble aims. Examiners on the contrary work for the public. They protect the intellectual property of the public, not that of the applicant. A fair fraction of them is not even European and hence not a stakeholder in a European organisation.

“No real checking of quality is done” at the EPO. So says the following comment:

I fulhheartedly agree.

As chair I see a decline, as OPPO member I see a decline, and it all boils down to second and chair not having the time to actually check the work. The search checks (which get ISO 9001 recorded) are positive, because the time allowance is such, that you cannot do much more than understanding the subject-matter of the application, and see what was done, and click through the forms. No real checking of quality is done. 2h is really on the short side, at least in my field…
But then, quality is very subjective here..

A previous president, Mr Kober, took a stack of search file, had them duplicated so that another search examiner could do exactly the same file. He expected in most cases the same documents to be cited. This turned out to be illusionary. But, the same application with different searches had different documents, but the differences in which dependent claim may be positive was negligible. Different reasoning, same result.
I fear, this would not be the case anymore, if the same exercise was repeated. Also because the new search tools would find the very similar first done search, and the second search examiner would build on that or even stop the search there….

One person rightly took issue with the supposition that “attorneys and EPO staff are ‘natural adversaries’ and ‘their interest is dialectically and diametrally oppossed [sic] and should remain so’.” There’s a distinction to be made between attorneys and law firms, and moreover between the patent microcosm (or maximalists) and people who are in it for the science. To quote the explanation:

I must remember this next time I chair an opposition. Now, how do I manage to annoy both parties so that they both feel persecuted?? Once more, a comment says far more about the writer. As an examiner, my only aim is to examine applications based on the EPC. I may get it wrong – in either direction – but there really is no interest here in opposing you just for the fun of it. Under the current regime, I stand to gain a lot more from being as generous to you as possible (within the EPC). As for oppositions or appeals, the idea that the judges are adversaries of every attorney is worthy of far wittier analysis than I can muster.

Best wishes for your future dealings. Trust me, we really have never been out to get you (yes, I know, I would say that…)

Looking at the USPTO right now, patent quality has improved. It’s moving in exactly the opposite direction (opposite from the EPO’s). Very soon it might turn out that, based on the Supreme Court, patent maximalism will regress even further. Here is what the EFF wrote regarding Impression Products v Lexmark International the other day:

Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could allow companies to keep a dead hand of control over their products, even after you buy them. The case, Impression Products v. Lexmark International, is on appeal from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, who last year affirmed its own precedent allowing patent holders to restrict how consumers can use the products they buy. That decision, and the precedent it relied on, departs from long established legal rules that safeguard consumers and enable innovation.

When you buy something physical—a toaster, a book, or a printer, for example—you expect to be free to use it as you see fit: to adapt it to suit your needs, fix it when it breaks, re-use it, lend it, sell it, or give it away when you’re done with it. Your freedom to do those things is a necessary aspect of your ownership of those objects. If you can’t do them, because the seller or manufacturer has imposed restrictions or limitations on your use of the product, then you don’t really own them. Traditionally, the law safeguards these freedoms by discouraging sellers from imposing certain conditions or restrictions on the sale of goods and property, and limiting the circumstances in which those restrictions may be imposed by contract.

We wrote about that last year. A Justice who was involved in Alice and is now involved in this case (Stephen Breyer) seems likely to reduce the scope and magnitude of patents, which is why maximalists have been attacking him lately.

Yes, Battistelli’s Ban on EPO Strikes (or Severe Limitation Thereof) is a Violation of Human Rights

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

British unions must defend their right to strike – and become better at it
Reference: British unions must defend their right to strike – and become better at it

Summary: Battistelli has curtailed even the right to strike, yet anonymous cowards attempt to blame the staff (as in patent examiners) for not going out of their way to engage in ‘unauthorised’ strikes (entailing dismissal)

THE EPO had a general strike one year ago. The Office was half empty. But it only lasted one day, it resulted in paycuts for those who participated, and it took a monumental effort to organise, with permission sought from the bosses under extreme constraints and risk to those voting/joining. This isn’t what we should expect in the 21st century, certainly not in the EPO. The whole thing (the strike and vote for a strike) just came to show how badly oppressed EPO staff really is. For Battistelli and Bergot, moreover, attempts to prevent the strike were self-defeating and they just served to reinforce the point made by disgruntled staff (almost everyone vote for a strike).

The other day we noticed the following comment, which responded to provocation that we refuse to repeat (similar provocation, maybe from the same person, was posted among comments in The Register at the same time). To quote the response alone:

I understand that the examiners have moved to this working practice because Battistelli introduced Rank and Yank. Last year, the EPO granted 90,000 patents, which is 50% more than in the years before. The examiners increased their production by 50% just to compete with their colleagues for a salary increase of about 2,000 euro per year, which only half of the examiners are entitled to receive.

[provocation omitted]

I do not know anyone who works “for the bonus of 2,000 euro”. I certainly don’t. In fact, I couldn’t care less if I get the bonus or not. What is much more worrying is missing your target by such an amount that you get a poor report.

“But it is even worse. A judge remains in limbo, union officials have been fired, the appeal court will be moved to the outskirts of Munich. And the staff in the EPO remains silent. Poor people! They get what they deserve. “Even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat.” ”

Unfortunately we are powerless, with the changes that BB has introduced. We have been been as non-silent as possible, witness the various protest marches that we have held, resulting in occasional negative reports in the (local) press. I’m curious what else it is that you think we should do under the current management – you may have rights in your country (whichever that is), unfortunately, as has been repeatedly demonstrated, we don’t. Obviously, when they decide to start investigating the contents of our private electronic devices, not only will we have no rights, we will also have no privacy.

I am posting anonymously for obvious reasons.

In reply to the above, one person said: “A proper all out strike for a month would have sent a message that could not have been ignored.”

This demonstrates that some clueless people (who don’t know the EPO’s new rules) are eager to just blame the victims. If the staff strikes without permission — as ludicrous as the notion of permission may be in this context — Team Battistelli will replace staff with Google algorithms (this is already done to a degree, limiting their role in decision-making and assessment of prior art). It would further damage patent quality and thus penalise European businesses.

The person in question (maybe just blissfully naïve) said:

EPO staff have nobody to blame but themselves.

A proper all out strike for a month would have sent a message that could not have been ignored.

If people are not prepared to show solidarity and fight for their rights then there is no point whingeing when they are taken away from you.

“I would think twice before blaming the examiners” at the EPO, said a person in response to this. They’re the victim. They are well paid, but they are suffering. The reply to the above went as follows:

Wow. That’s pretty harsh. Whilst I too have never been in the employ of the European Patent Organisation, I would think twice before blaming the examiners in the way that you have done.

You do realise that BB has imposed serious restrictions upon the ability of EPO employees to strike, don’t you? So, in effect, he has taken away the very weapon that you condemn the EPO examiners for not deploying.

And as for fighting for their rights, do you not count taking court cases as far as possible in both Germany and the Netherlands? And what about making repeated pleas to the members of the AC?

Frankly, I think that you should walk a mile or two in the shoes of the examiners… deprived of rights enshrined in European law, badly let down by the “supervisory” bodies (the AC, ILOAT and the national courts) that should be there to protect you, invisible to the majority of the general public, ignored by most mainstream media and politicians, the subject of increasingly draconian rules imposed by EPO management, etc., etc. I would like to see how you coped with all of that!

About time you had treatment for your hypoempathy disorder, methinks.

If they ever go beyond the rules, they will get sacked. Battistelli is merciless and he makes “examples” out of people, even innocent people. Yet the same person persists with the idea of civil disobedience on Battistelli’s ‘production line’, where no anonymity is possible:

Not true.

BB certainly imposed some restrictions on striking but he did not prevent a strike being called if the staff really wanted it. There just has to be a strike ballot and the will to follow through.

Instead of striking, the staff has basically capitulated and even went so far as to churn out a 40% production increase.

While you are at it maybe you should ask the Appeal Boards what happened to their interview with an IP journal and why they voluntarily consented to be censored by BB?

Unless you can explain that one I don’t intend to go for any hypoempathy disorder treatment any time soon.

Someone clarified the rules even further:

Would that it were so simple.
“The President of the Office may lay down further terms and conditions for the application of this Article to all employees; these shall cover inter alia the maximum strike duration and the voting process”

http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-epo-rules-on-strikes-revealed-to.html

Indeed, BB is not afraid of “outlawing” strikes for which the staff have voted (in spite the draconian rules).

http://www.worldipreview.com/news/anger-as-epo-president-rejects-latest-strike-6767

Looks like you will have to start that treatment after all…

You will also have to explain what you mean about the Boards of Appeal. The structure of the EPO means that issues with DG3 are different to those with DG1. So I am not quite sure what the relevance of DG3′s actions would be to the situation in DG1. Do let me know if I’m missing something, though.

The very notion of a boss rejecting a call for a strike is utterly ludicrous. Therein lies a key issue, yet some people insist that unless EPO workers resign or engage in “illegal” strikes which would cause dismissal, they are part of the problem.

Even the EPO’s Administrative Council No Longer Trusts Its Chairman, Battistelli’s ‘Chinchilla’ Jesper Kongstad

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Terms such as “Team Chinchilla” perhaps wrongly assume that the Council still tolerates Kongstad (who kills chinchillas for profit, as his wife demonstrates below)

LANDBRUG photo

Summary: Kongstad’s protection of Battistelli, whom he is supposed to oversee, stretches to the point where national representatives (delegates) are being misinformed

OVER the years, many letters to Jesper Kongstad fell on deaf ears. We have been covering such examples since 2014. The EPO seems to be managed by problematic people at two levels: the Office and the Organisation (or Council). This became apparent again earlier this month when Kongstad protected Battistelli from the Council rather than protect the Council from Battistelli. He got it all backwards, so both EPOs — both the Office and the Organisation — are unofficially defunct.

Not too long ago we saw our analysis cited in IP Kat comments (now that it no longer covers the subject). One comment said:

Protest in front of the main building in Munich.

http://techrights.org/2017/03/14/epo-letter-to-heads-of-delegations/

And in another thread:

EPO Protest Tomorrow, Heads of Delegations Informed Regarding the Reasons

See Techrights : http://techrights.org/2017/03/14/epo-letter-to-heads-of-delegations/

The delegates have been trying to do the right thing. Some of them, especially of the larger nations, want Battistelli ousted. But it recently came to our attention that Kongstad keeps them too in the dark. Maybe it’s time for delegates to oust Kongstad. He is part of the problem and an impediment to any solution.

“The delegates have been trying to do the right thing. Some of them, especially of the larger nations, want Battistelli ousted.”According to reliable information that we received, last year there were attempts to submit a complaint for corporate harassment to the Administrative Council (AC), “to be delivered via Kongstad.” One EPO veteran said that this would help bypass the “hopelessly longer route of an internal appeal, yet there is no guarantee of a positive decision.”

We already wrote about the ILO blasting this process. “They most probably won’t answer at all,” a source told us at the time. “But now,” we learned, “issues like this start to pile up on the AC’s table and the embarrassment becomes harder to hide.”

One person, we’re told, “was clever enough to send a complaint to Kongstad expecting he would bury it in his papers. He did. And when the issue [ultimately] burst out, the AC pulled an ear to Kongstad, asking why they hadn’t be informed. Well done.”

“Maybe it’s time for delegates to oust Kongstad.”So, put in simple terms, Kongstad is keeping delegates in the dark at Battistelli’s behest. Is that the form of behaviour which one can expect from a ‘supervisor’ of Battistelli?

For those who think that the Kongstads have withdrawn their cruel business since the negative publicity began, think again. They’re still active almost every day, posting stuff like the below (lots of dead animals, turned into ornaments in a factory-like fashion). We’re a little surprised that this is considered permissible by Facebook’s terms of service.

Kongstad Chinchilla

Thanks to Merpel, the World Knows EPO Scandals a Lot Better, But It’s a Shame That IP Kat Helped UPC

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also see: IP Kat is Lobbying Heavily for the UPC, Courtesy of Team UPC (competing interests in the same blog)

Bristows LLP and EPO

Summary: A look back at Merpel’s final post about EPO scandals and the looming threat of the UPC, which UPC opportunists such as Bristows LLP still try hard to make a reality, exploiting bogus (hastily-granted) patents for endless litigation all around Europe

Right now, with UPC lobbying in full force (just three days left before Article 50 invocation), some IP Kat circles like Bristows LLP/Bristows UPC (using the blog for lobbying) could probably use Battistelli’s EPO as an ally. Merpel never publicly acknowledged the EPO’s sanctions (blog banned), further actions, or hints thereof as playing a role in self-censorship about EPO scandals. Truth be told, it’s like an NDA scenario; I should know as the EPO tried to gag me about threats that it had sent me. It’s a classic modus operandi and SLAPP-happy lawyers use that sparingly. Shiva Ayyadurai and his lawyer (who attacks the media on behalf of Melania Trump) did this to me earlier this year.

We are gratified for the time Merpel spent shedding light on the EPO. We use a lot of her revelations to this day. In fact, to date, some information that’s in the public domain is a Merpel “exclusive”. That information is still publicly accessible, so the EPO never successfully deleted history. It’s all documented online.

Now that the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation sounds like its master's voice (Battistelli) action is urgently needed. After the Dutch election (earlier this month) allies of EPO staff are even fewer. The EPO conflict persists and the issue is anything but resolved, or even near a solution. Merpel is unlikely to change her mind, even if she ever publicly acknowledged that her assumption was wrong (about things improving or reaching a breaking point). “‘Public’ institution threatens non-profit blog that informs the public, blog gives up,” I told her earlier this month, adding, “please don’t give up fighting for justice, for staff and parties affected (all of Europe).”

It certainly feels like IP Kat actually did want to write about EPO scandals, but someone in the blog capitulated to the bullies. Techrights will carry on of course, and The Register too does a good job covering these scandals. This already tarnishes the image of EPO management and politicians cite these articles in support of their motions (recently in Dutch Parliament for instance). It seems like too few people are both capable (have the background knowledge) and willing to expose and tackle EPO abuses. We hope IP Kat will rethink its self-censorship on the matter, but we can’t be optimistic about it. We’ll just assume that no matter the persistence and persuasion from readers, Merpel has already made up her mind. She did not respond to any of the comments urging her to carry on.

“Keep going,” one person wrote, “don’t stop! He will have his Waterloo soon…surely, please God!” (“From: a “customer” of the EPO, that like quality “products”…even if they to wait a little while to get them”).

We need to keep fighting not just for EPO workers but for Europe in general. A lot is at stake here. As the following comment put it: “No strikes anymore, no resistance, nothing. Good bye, EPO!”

Unless something is done to redeem the EPO, the whole institution will be destroyed. Here is the comment in full:

Thank you for your regular reports in the past. It appears that also applicants lost their interest in the EPO. Why should we pay enormous fees for fake quality? I feel sorry for the examiners, but they are digging their own graves by solely looking at production figures in order to get more money. No strikes anymore, no resistance, nothing. Good bye, EPO!

Someone then responds with claims that the “unfortunate reality is that highly qualified, highly intelligent examiners are viewed as mindless drones” under Battistelli. Therein lies one of the core causes of brain drain. Here is the full comment:

We EPO Examiners are not “solely looking at production figures in order to get more money” as you put it. We are doing our best to perform our job as it supposed to be done, in an increasingly hostile environment, whilst trying to keep our jobs; no more, no less. More money does not come into it, and never has.

Don’t forget, examiners are all either scientists or engineers; once you have done our job for more than a few years, it is hard to change jobs, and is especially hard to do if you have a family. The unfortunate reality is that highly qualified, highly intelligent examiners are viewed as mindless drones by EPO higher management, and are treated as such…

The next comment speaks of “dubious (AC / EPO management) practices that are a serious threat to the reputation of all of us who work in the patent microcosm.”

Yes, the term “patent microcosm” was used and they too worry about what Battistelli has done. To quote:

Merpel – many thanks for covering the EPO up to now. The information, insights and commentary that you have provided have been invaluable in shedding light on dubious (AC / EPO management) practices that are a serious threat to the reputation of all of us who work in the patent microcosm.

I do hope that you will be able to pass the baton over to another member of the IPKat family. With the reputation of the EPO now in tatters, it would be a shame if the IP world lost an important source of information that helps it to critically assess the picture painted by the management of the EPO.

“EPOmustGO,” said an anonymous comment. “Replacing the president won’t change anything in its democratic deficiency,” the person added. Actually, while the EPO was never a paradise, it wasn’t ever this horrific. Insiders say that even several years ago things were more or less acceptable.

A more courteous comment said this to Merpel at al:

Guys be proud of the work you did for the benefit of the IP community since the dysfunctionings of the EPO impact the IP community obvsiouly.

Your posts will be missed but hey that’s life.

All the best to you and thanks for work done.

“Now EPO has decided to PACE everything,” the next comment from “Observer” said, “but without listening to its users and exclusively pleasing its shareholders.”

There is also something inherently discriminatory about PACE. It reveals the favouritism. Here is the comment in full:

Warm thanks to Merpel for what she did, but I am sad to see her resign.

I hope that Merpel’s renouncement has not been provoked by threats uttered against her.

It is a pity that a voice like Merpel goes out. In the end, the president of the EPO will be grinning: another one I manage to shut down…..

That things should change at EPO which had entered a certain trot is not to be denied. But did it have to be done with an ax? There is a difference between what is legal and what is moral; what was done looks legal but is certainly not moral.

It is sad to see that how an office which was thriving and having an excellent reputation is driven in the wall by would be managers.

Under other skies it is called shareholder value. Here the shareholders will be happy that they can cash in annual fees much earlier, so that disapproval by the AC is probably not on the table.

I wonder whether this frenzy of quick granting of cases is really in the interest of the applicants at large. I have always heard that it becomes expensive once the patent is granted, and the numerous publications about PACE, i.e. acceleration of search and examination, in old editions of the OJ have never been followed by increasing numbers of such requests. There were certainly good reasons for not following this invitation, unless absolute necessity. Now EPO has decided to PACE everything, but without listening to its users and exclusively pleasing its shareholders.

In the end, one cannot suppress the feeling that what is going on at the EPO is to quickly obtain patents, which are worth what they are, so that litigation can start at the UPC. This would be to the profit of certain applicants, I do not count SMEs under those, supported by certain law firms who have been very active and keen to push the UPC through.

This also touches upon the boards of appeal and the way they have been treated. Why do we need them, if we have the UPC? The less case law the boards of appeal produce, the less chances there are of colliding jurisprudence.

I do not want to see it all as a plot. However, I cannot help but ask questions.

Mind the part about the UPC: “In the end, one cannot suppress the feeling that what is going on at the EPO is to quickly obtain patents, which are worth what they are, so that litigation can start at the UPC. This would be to the profit of certain applicants, I do not count SMEs under those, supported by certain law firms who have been very active and keen to push the UPC through.”

That’s a toxic combination of low quality patents and easy, far-reaching litigation and injunctions. We’ve braced for a disaster, but right now it seems likely that we’ll just say “UPC is dead, long live the next UPC attempt” (maybe later this week). What about all these falsely-advertised UPC jobs that never existed and probably will never exist?

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