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06.24.17

Links 24/6/2017: GNOME Music Improves, FreeBSD 11.1 Beta 3

Posted in News Roundup at 6:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • [Older] Andy Rubin says Essential’s Ambient OS will be open source, just like Android

    Playground CEO Andy Rubin, whose new company Essential unveiled a new premium Android smartphone and Amazon Echo competitor today, says his company’s Ambient OS smart home platform will be open source. That means that Rubin, who rose to fame in the tech industry for co-founding Android, essentially wants to apply the same open-source philosophy that made Android the most dominant mobile operating system to the smart home.

  • [Older] How to Build Open Source Communities

    Seeing programming as a social activity changes how we build communities around programming. We should focus on building a community, and not on building a codebase, argued Ash Furrow at Craft. He suggested using a code of conduct, moving long or heated discussions into a Skype call or Google Hangout, avoiding fixing easy issues yourself, and distributing power and responsibilities.

  • [Older] R3’s open-source distributed ledger platform ‘Corda’ goes into public beta

    R3, the financial innovation company that runs blockchain consortium, announced that it’s open-source, financial-grade, distributed ledger platform ‘Corda’ has entered into first public beta.

    The release of the public beta represents a step forward in the path of Corda, towards API stabilization for production applications. The announcement was first made by Richard Gendal Brown, Chief Technology Officer of R3, last week.

  • As Blockchain Advances, Developers Look To Open Source As A Solution

    As the digitization of financial transactions becomes ever more mainstream, with Bitcoin’s core technology blockchain leading the way, the rapid adaptation raises security concerns at the same time its enhanced efficiency is being exploited. A recent Greenwich Associates survey highlights the conundrum but also points to solutions.

  • Free vs Open

    Here’s why. Corporations are not people, and so can’t “behave ethically” — doing so requires consciousness as a minimum. The people they employ can be expected to behave ethically, but a corporation will follow its programming to optimise the objectives stated in its bylaws. The people tending the machine can steer it towards different ways of achieving those objectives and can express their ethical selves through their choices, but they are not free to justify preferences purely on the basis of ethics. As a consequence, most advocacy of Open Source has focussed on helping those corporate employees demonstrate the value arising from it rather than the values motivating the people involved with it.

  • Events

    • The perils of live demonstrations

      Yesterday, I was giving a talk at the The South SF Bay Haskell User Group about how implementing lock-step simulation is trivial in Haskell and how Chris Smith and me are using this to make CodeWorld even more attractive to students. I gave the talk before, at Compose::Conference in New York City earlier this year, so I felt well prepared. On the flight to the West Coast I slightly extended the slides, and as I was too cheap to buy in-flight WiFi, I tested them only locally.

  • Databases

    • A beta for PostgreSQL 10

      PostgreSQL version 10 had its first beta release on May 18, just in time for the annual PGCon developer conference. The latest annual release comes with a host of major features, including new versions of replication and partitioning, and enhanced parallel query. Version 10 includes 451 commits, nearly half a million lines of code and documentation, and over 150 new or changed features since version 9.6. The PostgreSQL community will find a lot to get excited about in this release, as the project has delivered a long list of enhancements to existing functionality. There’s also a few features aimed at fulfilling new use cases, particularly in the “big data” industry sector.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice: Professional Typography Fully Arrives

      Three decades ago, StarDivision, the ancestor of LibreOffice and OpenOffice, was designed as an intermediate desktop publisher. However, many LibreOffice improvements are designed for users who insist on using it like a typewriter and entering manual formatting. Unofficially, I have been told that LibreOffice developers feel that, since manual formatting is the way most people use it, development for people who want advanced typography is a low priority. Finally, however, in the 5.3 release, LibreOffice has given advanced users a major feature: the ability to add advanced features automatically — a feature that, after almost a century and a half, gives home typists the ability to do advanced typesetting.

      That sounds like an exaggeration, so let me explain. Typewriters were a major advance over handwriting, but still fell short of producing copy that was as polished as what a printing shop could do. To add bold on most typewriters, a typist had to backspace and type over the same letters again, often blurring the letters. Adding italics was even worse, because they could only be indicated by the old copy editing notation of underlining.

      Word processors were a significant improvement over typewriters, but still generally fall short of complete professionalism. For instance, Bold and italic were available with a few clicks. However, far too many word processors continue to manufacture their own small capitals, the letters used to improve the look of several upper case letters in a row — and, often, the result was hideous.

    • Locked in by choice: Why the Italian Defence Department is switching to open source office

      Italy’s Defence Department began migrating to open source software in September 2015. It aims to replace Microsoft Office on 100,000 desktops with LibreOffice by 2020.

      Geneal Camillo Sileo was the man behind the decision to switch to open source. LibreDifesa – the name of his digital migration project – is a success, he says.

      “We have conducted a study and we have concluded that Microsoft Office and Libre Office were just as good for our needs.”

      The advantage of open source is that the code can be tailored to the needs of each organisation. “There should be a willingness to move towards that.”

    • Locked in by choice: How European governments are handling their Microsoft addiction

      In 2012, the then European Union (EU) commissioner for digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, said that not only EU institutions, but all government bodies throughout Europe should implement open standards. Her policy was designed to free public bodies from dependence on proprietary software suppliers.

      The UK has made the biggest strides in encouraging large government departments to increase their use of open source software, through initiatives by the Government Digital Service (GDS). Although local authorities and the NHS are still heavily reliant on proprietary software, the message is gradually spreading to smaller government departments in Britain.

      But five years on, EU civil servants rely on Microsoft Office and Windows. As a result, the public sector is hooked on a digital dependence on Microsoft that costs billions of any currency. Experts say this inhibits innovation and raises technical, political and security risks.

    • Announcing automatically updating Linux LibreOffice builds

      I’m finally ready to announce LibreOffice daily builds for Linux that integrate our new automatic updater. The work on the automatic updater has been going on for nearly a year now and is finally in a shape that we produce builds on TDF hardware that will automatically update using delta updates.

      The current builds are 64-bit Linux builds created on SLES 12.2 and should run on most Linux distros. These builds are .tar.gz based archives that you can extract and just run. Note that we can’t update builds that are placed into locations that are not writeable by the current user (and due to missing support for signing executables and libraries on Linux there are no plans to change that).

  • Python

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Making money with foss

      Because we are interested in making money, this post will took us all over the place. On the one hand we have the greedy businesses, and on the other side the diligent developer. Licenses were never discussed in hbo or university, which is interesting because these are the methods corporations use to make money. I think having discussed the overview and shown some concrete examples was a good exercise. I was not aware at all for example of the AGPLv3 practices which are interesting (without passing moral judgment). My blog seems to be really focused on money, but this is a reflection of what I’m worried about these days, having almost graduated.

    • Open-source software may save money, but what about monetization?

      While the open-source delivery model has emerged as a highly popular success, the problem remains that free downloadable software does not usually lead to revenue. But a growing number of cloud network entrepreneurs are becoming convinced that focusing their efforts on providing specific services for the enterprise computing marketplace is their path to the promised land.

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Firefox Focus for Android, Torvalds reflects on Linux, and more news
    • Finnish firm offers €30,000 prize to kick start open-source wood design

      Finnish materials firm Metsä Wood has launched the Open Source Wood initiative to encourage architects and engineers to make more use of the material. The idea is to make the company’s own intellectual property freely available to designers, and as an additional incentive, to offer a €30,000 prize for “exceptional designs” that are undertaken as part of the initiative and use one of its product lines.

    • Open Access/Content

      • University of Missouri launches systemwide initiative to adopt affordable and open educational resources

        On Wednesday, University of Missouri System President Mun Choi and Chancellors Leo Morton, Tom George, Garnett Stokes and Christopher Maples announced a plan that will save students significant amounts of money on textbooks and other course materials. This effort is designed to reduce the cost of attendance and enhance learning for students. The plan takes advantage of Open Educational Resources, or class materials that are free for students, and AutoAccess, which is a program that makes textbooks and class materials available online at a lower cost than traditional learning resources.

      • Textbook Costs to Drop Under University of Missouri Plan

        University system President Mun Choi wants to use more open-source learning material written by experts, vetted by their peers and posted for free downloading. Choi spoke about the effort Wednesday at an event with members of the Board of Curators, administrators, lawmakers, faculty from all four campuses and student representatives, the Columbia Daily Tribune (http://bit.ly/2t2L4HQ ) reported.

  • Programming/Development

    • Free and ready-to-use cross-compilation toolchains

      For all embedded Linux developers, cross-compilation toolchains are part of the basic tool set, as they allow to build code for a specific CPU architecture and debug it. Until a few years ago, CodeSourcery was providing a lot of high quality pre-compiled toolchains for a wide range of architectures, but has progressively stopped doing so. Linaro provides some freely available toolchains, but only targetting ARM and AArch64. kernel.org has a set of pre-built toolchains for a wider range of architectures, but they are bare metal toolchains (cannot build Linux userspace programs) and updated infrequently.

    • D Language accepted for inclusion in GCC

      I am pleased to announce that the GCC Steering Committee has accepted the D Language front-end and runtime for inclusion in GCC and appointed Iain Buclaw as maintainer.

    • Is Complexity Bad?

      You can essentially think of complexity as a distinction between two different types. Accidental and necessary complexity. Necessary complexity is okay, but accidental complexity will absolutely ruin your day as a programmer.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Assembling the history of Unix

      The moment when an antique operating system that has not run in decades boots and presents a command prompt is thrilling for Warren Toomey. He compares it to restoring an old Model-T. “An old car looks pretty, but at the end of the day its purpose is to drive you somewhere. I love being able to turn the engine over and actually get it to do its job.”

      Toomey, an Australian university lecturer, founded the Unix Heritage Society to reconstruct the early history of the Unix operating system. Recently this historical code has become much more accessible: we can now browse it in an instant on GitHub, thanks to the efforts of a computer science professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business named Diomidis Spinellis. The 50th anniversary of the invention of Unix will be in 2019; the painstaking work of Toomey and Spinellis makes it possible for us to appreciate Unix’s epic story.

    • Turkey to stop teaching evolution in high school

      Turkish high school students will no longer be taught the theory of evolution.

      The subject has been cut from the curriculum under changes made to eliminate “controversial” topics, the head of the national board of education, Alpaslan Durmus, announced in a video address.
      “If our students don’t have the background, the scientific knowledge, or information to comprehend the debate around controversial issues, we have left them out,” Durmus said.
      The new curriculum will go into effect for the 2017- 2018 school year.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • You Can’t Debate Health Care If You’re Dead

      So why are more people not talking about this? Why is this not the only thing anyone is talking about?

    • Plastic Water Bottles Might Have Poisoned Ancient Californians

      To make a Chumash-style plastic bottle, you start by weaving a bottle-shaped basket. Then you combine bitumen and pine pitch in an abalone shell. You have to melt them together, but you don’t place the abalone directly onto the fire. Instead, you roast some pebbles in a fire until they are piping hot. Remove the pebbles, place them in the abalone, and stir them around until the the mixture is wet, hot, and bubbly. Finally, use a stick to paint the molten bitumen over the bottle-shaped basketry.

    • Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds

      Three of the six reactors at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi complex were wrecked in March 2011 by an earthquake and tsunami. The destruction of emergency electric generators caused a “station blackout” which halted cooling water intake and circulation. Super-heated, out-of-control uranium fuel in reactors 1, 2, and 3 then boiled off cooling water, and some 300 tons of fuel “melted” and burned through the reactors’ core vessels, gouging so deep into underground sections of the structure that to this day operators aren’t sure where it is. Several explosions in reactor buildings and uncovered fuel rods caused the spewing of huge quantities of radioactive materials to the atmosphere, and the worst radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean ever recorded. Fukushima amounts to Whole-Earth poisoning.

      Now, researchers say, radioactive isotopes that were spread across Japan (and beyond) by the meltdowns will continue to contaminate the food supply for a very long time.

  • Security

    • Practical waterholing through DNS typosquatting

      Typosquatting has been known and abused since the 90’s, mostly for phishing, but is it still profitable for water-hole kind of attacks?

    • Encryption and Firewalls – Unleaded Hangout
    • Windows 10 S security brought down by, of course, Word macros [Ed: By Microsoft Peter (damage control)]

      But if that protection is flawed—if the bad guys can somehow circumvent it—then the value of Windows 10 S is substantially undermined. The downside for typical users will remain, as there still won’t be any easy and straightforward way to install and run arbitrary Windows software. But the upside, the protection against malware, will evaporate.

    • Microsoft claims on Windows 10 S security blown away

      Microsoft’s claims that no known ransomware can run on Windows 10 S have been blown sky high by a researcher – in just three hours.

    • A Stack Clash disclosure post-mortem
    • Hardened/Gentoo Hardened and Stack Clash
    • [Older] If your home wifi router is on this list, it might be vulnerable to CIA hacking tools

      For the past four months, WikiLeaks has been slowly publishing a series of documents that describe a plethora of hacking tools, which the anti-secrecy organization says belong to the US Central Intelligence Agency. The latest release, published June 15, is a batch of documents describing tools that can be used to hack home wifi routers.

      The collection of tools, which the documents refer to as “CherryBlossom,” can be used to monitor internet activity on networks that use the routers it infects. CherryBlossom infects routers by identifying their make and model and injecting malicious firmware into them. This kind of hack, when successful, is nearly impossible to detect because it infects the hardware itself and is not something anti-virus software is capable of checking.

    • Under pressure, Western tech firms bow to Russian demands to share cyber secrets

      Western technology companies, including Cisco, IBM and SAP, are acceding to demands by Moscow for access to closely guarded product security secrets, at a time when Russia has been accused of a growing number of cyber attacks on the West, a Reuters investigation has found.

      Russian authorities are asking Western tech companies to allow them to review source code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption before permitting the products to be imported and sold in the country. The requests, which have increased since 2014, are ostensibly done to ensure foreign spy agencies have not hidden any “backdoors” that would allow them to burrow into Russian systems.

    • AMD’s Epyc is a major advance in security

      AMD’s Zen core has been revealed in detail but with Epyc the company added a few juicy details. SemiAccurate is particularly interested in the security aspects on the new CPU line which is what we will discuss here.

    • 32TB of Windows 10 beta builds, driver source code leaked [Updated] [Ed: Microsoft has long hidden holes rather than disclosure/patch them. It admitted this, too. What happens now that source code is leaked? Article by Microsoft Peter, i.e. damage control.]
    • Sudo or Sudo Not, There Is No (4th) Try

      If you’ve been using Linux for any length of time, at some point in some tutorial or troubleshooting guide you’ve more than likely encountered Linux’s magic word: “sudo”. A casual observer probably can tell you that it’s used to access restricted functions on your computer, but there is much more to it than that.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion

      When the United States went to war with Spain in 1898, it did so in a media environment of “yellow journalism,” that played no small part in the advent of the Spanish-American War. Yellow journalism was basically the use of sensationalism and poorly researched reportage to stir up excitement and pad the bottom line. In February on that year, the mysterious sinking of the American cruiser Maine on a quiet night in Havana harbor was seized upon by western media outlets like William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World to create an atmosphere rife with tension, accusation, and defamation. War fever was loosed upon the population. The McKinley administration was soon ensnared in combat, which it won in ten weeks across the Caribbean and Pacific theaters, effectively erasing the Spanish imperial footprint from the Philippines and Caribbean, and delivering American control over Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. American author Mark Twain wasn’t fooled by the jingoistic broadsheets, nor by the administration’s claims of support for Cubans, nor by its claims to want to bring democracy to the Philippines, a former Spanish colony. Twain said, “…we have gone there to conquer, not to redeem.”

    • ISIS-themed fake Lego sets exported globally from China

      Counterfeit ISIS-themed Lego sets complete with beheading figurines are being produced in China and have been discovered on sale in Malaysia.

      A mother noticed the Islamic State terrorist figures inside a ‘Falcon Commandos’ set that had been bought for less than $2 by her youngest son from a store in Taiping, north of Kuala Lumpur.

      The serial number on the box has been traced back to a manufacturer in China, Berita Harian reports.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Why Aren’t More Employees Suing Uber?

      One current engineer told WIRED that Uber’s arbitration agreement has kept at least two people from suing the company for sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Although signing the agreement does not preclude employees from filing suit, the engineer believes that Uber recognizes the chilling effect of mandatory arbitration.

    • This guy sued Uber and won after a driver stole $4k of his stuff

      Wilcox ended up taking Uber to court, and after two hearings, he won. Uber was forced to send him a check for $4,000.

    • Beneath Red Hat’s and Oracle’s Earnings Reports

      There are probably a lot of smiles in Raleigh and Redwood Shores this week. Both Red Hat and Oracle turned in quarterly earnings reports that greatly beat expectations. Wall Street blessed both companies for the news, as the value of Red Hat’s stock rose by 10.6 percent in early trading after the announcement and Oracle saw a 9 percent spike.

      Although Red Hat’s gains were unexpected insofar as they beat both the company’s and Wall Street’s estimates by a long shot — they weren’t that much of a surprise. The open source company has been on a roll for a long while now.

    • [Old] Forfeit Your Bitcoin? Congressional Bill Draws Fire Over Border Check Rules

      This means if a person trying to enter the country has more than $10,000 worth of bitcoin in their possession, under the proposed legal change, they would need to inform the relevant authorities.

    • The academic evidence regarding immigration is overwhelmingly positive

      The immigration debate continues to rage and obsess the UK. The issue of immigration has managed to level with economic concerns and produces fireworks not only from UKIP but from a similarly infatuated Conservative camp. Unlike the political discourse which has stuck into “immigration is probably good, but” mode, the academic evidence remains almost unequivocally positive. The general public worries that there are many aspects of migration that could go awry and researchers have tried to address them in a similarly detailed fashion.

      Take, for example, the concern over unskilled migration waves, and the danger to the welfare system that migrants with little transferable human capital can present. Several recent academic papers have demonstrated that these fears are overstated (see here, here and here, for example). Immigrants to the UK tend to be highly-skilled on average compared to immigrants in other EU member states. In particular, Dustmann and Frattini show that the average level of education, as well as the share of individuals with a tertiary education, has been consistently higher in the UK’s immigrant population than among natives and that this difference has accelerated with the arrival of new immigrants since 2000.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • With cameras banned, CNN sends sketch artist to White House briefing

      Press secretaries for Democratic and Republican presidents have held on-camera briefings on a regular basis for the past quarter century.

      But the Trump White House has been cutting back on the frequency and the length of on-camera briefings.

    • Trump’s Lies

      Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office.

    • Prominent Democratic Fundraisers Realign to Lobby for Trump’s Agenda

      After President Donald Trump’s upset election victory, Democratic insiders who worked on Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid weren’t necessarily relegated to the sidelines. Many, in fact, are cashing in as lobbyists — by working to advance Trump’s agenda.

      Lobbying records show that some Democratic fundraisers, who raised record amounts of campaign cash for Clinton, are now retained by top telecom interests to help repeal the strong net neutrality protections established during the Obama administration.

    • Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge

      Labour Party membership is defined by dues, which start as low as 3 pounds, the rough equivalent of $5. Dues paying members elect the party leader in a model similar to that Bruce Dixon and Howie Hawkins advocate for the Green Party. In 2015, Labour Party membership tripled, to 550,000, largely due to new members who paid three pounds to join and vote for its leader. This is a good part of the reason Corbyn surprised himself and everyone else with his hugely successful campaign to lead the party.

      His victory was also made possible by the elimination of Labour’s variation on the Democratic Party’s super-delegates, elected officials and party big wigs who are free to vote for whatever presidential candidate they prefer at the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating convention, regardless of how their constituents have voted in the primary. Prior to 2015, the votes cast by sitting members of Parliament had greater weight than those of rank and file members, but in 2015, the party adopted a one member-one vote system. Fifty-one Members of Parliament and/or Members of the European Parliament still have to sign to put a candidate on the ballot for the party’s leadership—unless the candidate is incumbent—but the system is far more populist than before.

    • Remote and grim, No 10 mirrors its lonely leader

      Theresa May arrived back from Brussels last night and headed straight for Sonning, the village near Maidenhead where she has her constituency residence.

      Since her election humiliation she is said to be spending more time in the house she regards as home. Even on weekdays she is avoiding the private Downing Street flat, choosing instead to be driven in to London early in the morning with her husband, Philip.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • UK Law Enforcement Telling Citizens To ‘See Something Say Something’ About Dark Web Use

      What an “education” campaign like this has the potential to do is turn any deviation from normal web use into something inherently suspicious. If law enforcement likes chasing down worthless tips, depicting things non-terrorists do as terrorist-centric is a good way to get that ball rolling.

      I don’t doubt the public can play a part in preventing terrorist attacks, but the leaflet asks citizens to become intrusive extensions of the government. Most citizens aren’t going to know whether their friends and neighbors surf the dark web, much less have any idea if they’re “carrying out suspicious transactions on their bank account.” The upshot will be a generalized heightened level of suspicion that will most likely manifest itself as expressions of citizens’ inherent biases and bigotry.

    • Cops Sent Warrant To Facebook To Dig Up Dirt On Woman Whose Boyfriend They Had Just Killed

      Everything anyone has ever said about staying safe while interacting with the police is wrong. That citizens are told to comport themselves in complete obeisance just to avoid being beaten or shot by officers is itself bizarre — an insane inversion of the term “public servant.” But Philando Castile, who was shot five times and killed by (now former) Officer Jeronimo Yanez, played by all the rules (which look suspiciously like the same instructions given to stay “safe” during an armed robbery). It didn’t matter.

      Castile didn’t have a criminal record — or at least nothing on it that mattered. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been allowed to own a weapon, much less obtain a permit to conceal the gun. Castile told Yanez — as the permit requires — he had a concealed weapon. He tried to respond to the officer’s demand for his ID, reaching into his pocket. For both of these compliant efforts, he was killed.

    • California Finally Releases Wiretap Dataset

      In 2016, California investigators used state wiretapping laws 563 times to capture 7.8 million communications from 181,000 people, and only 19% of these communications were incriminating. The year’s wiretaps cost nearly $30 million.

      We know this, and much more, now that the California Department of Justice (CADOJ) for the first time has released to EFF the dataset underlying its annual wiretap report to the state legislature.

    • Restoring Privacy Protections for Californians

      Earlier this year, Congress narrowly voted to repeal federal privacy rules that kept your ISP from selling information about who you are and what you do online without your permission. Today, California legislators are introducing new state legislation—the California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, A.B. 375 (Chau)— that would effectively reinstate those rules for Internet users in California.

      ISPs are our gatekeepers to the Internet, and we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our privacy to these companies just to get online.

    • EU proposes banning encryption backdoors

      The European Union might want it to be easier for police to obtain data, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy for officers to read that data. The European Parliament has proposed amended regulation that would not only require end-to-end encryption when available, but forbid backdoors that offer guaranteed access to law enforcement. EU residents need to know that the “confidentiality and safety” of their data is “guaranteed,” according to the draft, and backdoors risk “weakening” that privacy.

    • Banning VPNs and Proxies is Dangerous, IT Experts Warn

      In its fight to restrict access to copyrighted content and blocked websites, the Russian government wants to ban the use of anonymization technology including VPNs, proxies, and [Tor]. In a discussion in parliament this week involving prominent IT experts, the message was clear. Blocking these technologies simply won’t work.

    • In terror fight, tech companies caught between US and European ideals

      Since terms of service apply globally, this has the effect of making EU speech norms apply to everyone, even though in many cases their definitions of hate speech and extremist speech are very broad – so broad that Professor Citron says they can “easily encompass political dissent” and turn into what she calls “censorship creep.”

    • Scroogled no more: Gmail won’t scan e-mails for ads personalization

      Google has announced it will no longer scan e-mail messages for ad personalization. Previously, in the consumer version of Gmail, Google’s computers would scan the contents of every e-mail message to determine a relevant ad to show. The scanning “feature” has been turned off for Google Apps for Education and GSuite accounts for some time, but now Google says that “consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change.”

    • Google Will Stop Reading Your Emails for Gmail Ads

      Google is stopping one of the most controversial advertising formats: ads inside Gmail that scan users’ email contents. The decision didn’t come from Google’s ad team, but from its cloud unit, which is angling to sign up more corporate customers.

      [...]

      Ads will continue to appear inside the free version of Gmail, as promoted messages. But instead of scanning a user’s email, the ads will now be targeted with other personal information Google already pulls from sources such as search and YouTube.

    • Facebook Near Deal to Lease Extra Office Space in Dublin

      The world’s largest social network plans to lease about 75,000 square feet (7,000 square meters) of space near East Point Business Park, where Google and Cisco Systems Inc. have offices, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deal isn’t public. That’s enough space for about 600 workers, based on modern office standards. The firm agreed to rent about 110,000 square feet of office space in the East Wall district earlier this year.

    • Mark Zuckerberg just unveiled Facebook’s new mission statement

      It was an almost quaint euphemism for the company’s more capitalistic goals of vacuuming up the attention of billions of humans and selling boatloads of advertising.

    • DOJ applies to take Microsoft data warrant case to Supreme Court

      The case, U.S. v. Microsoft, concerns whether data stored in a foreign server is under the jurisdiction of a U.S. warrant. A lower court had ruled that it was not – that law enforcement agencies would have to follow the same rules to obtain extraterritorial data as it would with physical evidence and seek the cooperation of a foreign government.

    • Does US have right to data on overseas servers? We’re about to find out

      The Justice Department on Friday petitioned the US Supreme Court to step into an international legal thicket, one that asks whether US search warrants extend to data stored on foreign servers. The US government says it has the legal right, with a valid court warrant, to reach into the world’s servers with the assistance of the tech sector, no matter where the data is stored.

    • Guarding personally identifiable information

      There is no viable way to prevent data from being collected about us in the current age of computing. But if institutions insist on knowing our financial status, purchasing habits, health information, political preferences, and so on, they have a responsibility to keep this data—known as personally identifiable information (PII)—from leaking to unauthorized recipients. At the 2017 Strata data conference in London, Steve Touw presented a session on privacy-enhancing technologies. In a fast-paced 40 minutes he covered the EU regulations about privacy, the most popular technical measures used to protect PII, and some pointed opinions about what works and what should be thrown into the dustbin.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Grenfell Tower fire: police consider manslaughter charges

      Police have said they are considering manslaughter charges in relation to the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze as they revealed that both the insulation and tiles at the building failed safety tests.

    • Employees say they’re forced to work amid bed bug infestation

      Employees told 11Alive the bugs are all over the three floors – and they’re biting. But employees are being told they still must go to work.

    • Man Shot by Deputy in Burien Was Carrying Pen, Not Knife

      A man who was fatally shot by a King County Sheriff’s deputy in Burien around midnight June 13 was carrying a pen and not a knife as initially reported, the sheriff’s office said.

    • ACLU releases video of brutal beating of motorist by enraged cop
    • Charleena Lyles Was Killed by a Police Department Under a Consent Decree

      The untimely death of a 30-year-old woman demonstrates the obvious need for more scrutiny, not less.

    • Woman assaulted on crowded bus ‘for wearing shorts during Ramadan’

      She said the slap caused her jaw hit the window of the bus.

    • Female Democratic senators ignore 2 women activists at hearing on Islamism, pose questions only to male witness

      On Wednesday, Democratic senators appeared to ignore Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani after they gave brief testimonies on the ideology of Islamism at a U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing, sparking a social media outcry.

    • EFF to the SEC: Get a Warrant

      If the federal government wants to compel an online service provider, like Yahoo or Google, to turn over your email, they need a warrant. That’s the industry-accepted best practice, implemented by nearly every major service provider. More importantly, it’s what the Fourth Amendment requires.

    • In the Blink of an Eye, Police Officers Turned This Traffic Stop Into an Unnecessarily Violent Encounter

      In a heartbeat, Anthony Promvongsa’s sunny summer day in Worthington, Minnesota, turned from ordinary to a nightmare.

      Shortly after encountering an agitated motorist driving in front of him on July 28, 2016, Anthony found himself confronted by the police. Within seconds of exiting his vehicle after pulling Anthony over, Agent Joe Joswiak of the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force opened the door of Anthony’s car, screaming, “Get the fuck out of the car, motherfucker!”

      Without hesitation, Agent Joswiak pulled, punched, and elbowed Anthony several times in the back while Anthony was still restrained by his seat belt. Agent Joswiak then yanked Anthony out of the car, threw him to the ground, and pressed his knee to the back of Anthony’s neck to pin Anthony facedown on the pavement while he and Sgt. Tim Gaul of the Worthington Police Department applied handcuffs.

      It turns out the agitated motorist Anthony encountered before being assaulted by Agent Joswiak was an off-duty police officer who called Joswiak to go after Anthony for tailgating him. The officer reports regarding the incident make no mention of any suspicion that Anthony was committing a drug offense.

    • Far-right activists detained at UK border before Britain First rally

      Prominent far-right activists from Europe who were planning to attend an anti-Muslim rally in Birmingham have been detained at airports hours before they were due to speak.

      Jacek Międlar, 28, an antisemitic priest, and his fellow activist Piotr Rybak were among three Polish nationals stopped on Saturday morning, according to Polish media and social media posts. They were due to speak at the rally organised by far-right group Britain First.

    • Majority of terrorists who have attacked America are not Muslim, new study finds

      Most of the designated terrorist groups in the US are right-wing extremists, not Muslim, according to a new report.

      A joint project by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, a nonprofit media centre, and news outlet Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting took a look at the 201 designated terrorism incidents within the US from 2008 to 2016.

      The results: “right-wing extremists were behind nearly twice as many incidents” as terror acts associated with those identified as “Islamist domestic terrorism”.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast sued for allegedly digging up rival’s cables when it refused to sell up

      It is alleged that Mr Luna was offered a purchase of his telecoms system at below market value, and when he refused, Comcast began planting its own system and then went rogue.

    • Frontier Communications Caught (Again) Ripping Off West Virginia Taxpayers

      So (for good reason), we keep noting that if you want to see how the American broadband market really works, you should take a close look at West Virginia. As in most states, a lack of competition keeps broadband prices high and speeds slow, with far too many consumers forced to pay a tidy sum for DSL speeds circa 2002. But the state has also been embroiled in scandal after scandal involving Frontier Communication’s mismanagement of taxpayer subsidies that were intended to try and resolve this problem.

      Local Charleston Gazette reporter Eric Eyre has quietly done an amazing job the last few years chronicling West Virginia’s immense broadband dysfunction, from the State’s use of broadband stimulus subsidies on unused, overpowered routers and overpaid, redundant consultants, to state leaders’ attempts to bury reports supporting allegations that Frontier engaged in systemic, statewide fraud on the taxpayer dime.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • King Has ‘Crush’ Trademark Opposed By Dr. Pepper

        App-maker King, of Candy Crush fame, has built up a reputation for itself as a trademark bully. The company has previously attempted to threaten pretty much any game or mobile app that utilizes the words “candy” or “saga.” And if that sounds insane to you, you’re not alone, as there have been several instances of severe backlash against how King goes about “protecting” its trademarks.

    • Copyrights

      • Court Suspends Ban on Roku Sales in Mexico

        A federal judge in Mexico has suspended the ban on sales and imports of Roku media players, at least temporarily. Roku is happy with the decision and says it will continue to work with entertainment industry stakeholders on a variety of anti-piracy measures.

      • Kim Dotcom Opposes US’s “Fugitive” Claims at Supreme Court

        In an effort to regain control over millions of dollars in seized assets, Kim Dotcom’s legal team has filed a brief at the Supreme Court, countering the US Government’s position. The US uses the fugitive claims as a coercive weapon, which offends due process and fundamental fairness, according to the Megaupload founder.

      • Scientific research piracy site hit with $15 million fine

        The operator of a searchable piracy site for scientific research papers has been ordered to pay $15 million as fallout from a US copyright infringement lawsuit brought by one of the world’s leading scientific publishers, New York-based Elsevier.

Microsoft and Bill Gates Become More Actively Involved in Their Biggest Patent Troll (and World’s Biggest Troll), Intellectual Ventures

Posted in Bill Gates, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Never forget the insidious strategy of Microsoft and SCO

Microsoft SCO
See Lawrence R. Goldfarb (Wikipedia)

Summary: The world’s largest patent troll, which reportedly operates (litigates) through literally thousands of shells, has received yet more financial aid from Microsoft and Bill Gates

TECHRIGHTS has been covering Intellectual Ventures (IV) for a decade. The coverage wasn’t in vain because nowadays this troll routinely targets companies that distribute GNU/Linux, just as we speculated and warned a long time ago. What does Microsoft have to do with it? It’s Microsoft and Bill Gates that this troll came from and it’s Microsoft and Bill Gates who are served by it. We gave a lot of examples over the years. As we pointed out in a dozen articles earlier this year [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], Microsoft now relies on trolls that target rival platforms, e.g. AWS customers. Microsoft’s trolls may not be doing too well (IV, for example, fails financially), so a couple of years after Microsoft’s latest cash infusion to it comes another cash infusion from Bill Gates.

“It’s Microsoft and Bill Gates that this troll came from and it’s Microsoft and Bill Gates who are served by it.”Found via Bastian Best is this new ‘report’ from the Gates Foundation-funded Seattle Times, telling us that the so-called ‘philanthropist’ is giving money to the world’s most notorious patent troll, an occasional Gates Foundation business partner. See “Intellectual Ventures spinoff Pivotal raises $17M from Bill Gates, others” and recall the past role of Gates (at personal and professional capacity) in this one particular patent troll.

Basically, Bill Gates continues to subsidise the world’s largest patent trolls, who actively attack GNU/Linux. Microsoft too paid this troll a couple of years back. The flow of cash in that direction is quite telling. Now watch this very recent report from IAM, a friend of IV and of Microsoft. It turns out that this patent proxy and massive patent troll won’t have much left to it but Bill Gates’ close friend Nathan Myhrvold, a bully since his days at Microsoft (we published some internal E-mails from him to highlight his ruthlessness, temper, and sheer arrogance). He, like his friend and neighbour Bill, believes he’s a master of the universe. God complex…

“Basically, Bill Gates continues to subsidise the world’s largest patent trolls, who actively attack GNU/Linux.”To quote IAM: “A new structure will now see a team of executives reporting into co-founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold with Brown’s former administrative duties spread among them. The new leadership team will comprise CFO Larry Froeber, chief people officer Nicole Grogan, new GC Janet Smith (previously chief counsel for corporate affairs), Cory Van Arsdale who moves from being senior VP for global licensing to chief revenue officer and Mathan Ganesan who is taking over as head of the Invention Investment Fund (IIF). Ganesan will move from the firm’s Dublin office to its Bellevue HQ. They will be joined in the senior leadership team by Maurizio Vecchione, head of the Global Good and Research team, and Casey Tegreene who leads the Invention Science Fund.”

A longtime Microsoft propagandist, Todd Bishop, did this puff pieces for Microsoft’s biggest troll only a short while ago. It’s not an article but more of a placement. To quote a portion: “Adriane Brown is president and chief operating officer of Intellectual Ventures, the Bellevue, Wash.-based intellectual property and tech company best known for its giant patent portfolio and big ideas from its co-founder, former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold.”

“It turns out that this patent proxy and massive patent troll won’t have much left to it but Bill Gates’ close friend Nathan Myhrvold, a bully since his days at Microsoft (we published some internal E-mails from him to highlight his ruthlessness, temper, and sheer arrogance).”Where is the news? Where is the substance? Decades later Bishop continues to act more like a courier of Microsoft agenda.

It must be frustrating to these people that software patents are dying in the US. Intellectual Ventures was famously stopped by PTAB some months ago and IAM is still unhappy about it. To quote this new “International report” from IAM: “Intellectual Ventures owns two patents directed to methods of selecting appropriate bandwidth for wireless communications systems. Ericsson and Google sought to invalidate certain claims in the patents through three inter partes review proceedings before the PTAB.”

Intellectual Ventures has used such patents to go after rivals of Microsoft.

“Microsoft did not change; only the marketing/PR changed.”Regarding the above, a few weeks ago Mozilla entertained the idea — supported by CAFC — that software patents are in violation of free speech rights. It cited that same/prior Intellectual Ventures case: “The debate over the First Amendment and boundaries of patent protection became a hot topic for discussion after Circuit Judge Haldane Mayer issued his 2016 opinion in Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Symantec Corporation.”

We certainly hope that readers of ours will keep an eye on Intellectual Ventures and inform us when new lawsuits are filed. This troll is so deep in Microsoft’s pockets that it’s inevitable Microsoft will continue to use it as a proxy against rivals. Microsoft did not change; only the marketing/PR changed.

The STRONGER Patents Act is One Among Several New Pushes for Patent Chaos in the United States

Posted in America, Patents at 4:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The ‘Trump effect’?

Great Seal of the United States

Summary: US patent law is being ‘massaged’ again, with bills being pushed forth that propose a return to Armageddon, undoing much of the progress made possible by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA)

THIS weekend we shall do a ‘marathon’ of posts about the US patent system.

It seems to be getting ever more crucial or at least important for Techrights to return to covering US patent matters. There are some disturbing developments in the US right now and we won’t have time to cover them as soon as the EPO finishes its quarterly meeting next week. We expect EPO coverage to dominate this blog again and we have literally dozens of drafts about the US system, just waiting to be properly composed and published (it typically starts with references and various notes).

“There are some disturbing developments in the US right now and we won’t have time to cover them as soon as the EPO finishes its quarterly meeting next week.”We are glad to say that we are not alone when it comes to fighting for patent sanity in the US. The EFF seems to have intensified its work in this domain and days ago we saw an OK (ish) response from Patent Progress to the latest disturbing move.

While we are very motivated to start writing a lot (again, as before, specifically about the US patent system), we also made the EPO a top priority, so from now on the US will be covered only when time permits.

Seeing politicians who work for the patent microcosm (bills written by lobbyists and large corporations with their lawyers), Patent Progress published “STRONGER Patents, WEAKER Innovation” regarding the “STRONG Patents Act.”

It said that “Senator Coons introduced his STRONGER Patents Act. Senator Coons provided a section-by-section description of the bill, as well as the text of the bill. And after reading it, I have some concerns. Patent Progress previously covered Senator Coons’ STRONG Patents Act. Much of STRONG Patents wound up in STRONGER Patents, and our analysis back then remains valid. But, as the “ER” on the end implies, there’s more this time, and it’s even worse.

“We are glad to say that we are not alone when it comes to fighting for patent sanity in the US.”“The short version? Let’s gut inter partes review, and then let’s make induced infringement extremely broad by overturning multiple Supreme Court decisions for good measure.”

There is another effort similar to it — one that we shall cover separately. In case we lack the time to cover all that, there’s always “Patent Progress”, “United for Patent Reform”, the EFF, TechDirt etc. They typically do decent work. Even “Patent Progress” has improved (we used to be critical of it).

Quite a few sites out there tackle the issues associated with patent maximalism in the US and the same cannot be said about Europe, hence our focus on the EPO, UPC etc. There needs to be response not only to Battistelli’s regime but also Team UPC and think tanks that pretend to be publications, e.g. IAM.

“The bottom line is, it’s reassuring to know that patent abuse (or excess if not aggression), especially in the US, is already being tackled by quite a few sites or groups.”IAM has already commented about the above, saying (in the headline) that it’s “smart politics” to push for laws written and pushed for by the patent microcosm. Remember who sponsors IAM.

The bottom line is, it’s reassuring to know that patent abuse (or excess if not aggression), especially in the US, is already being tackled by quite a few sites or groups. We shall limit our coverage on these matters until or unless things calm down at the EPO.

SUEPO and the EPO’s Central Staff Committee Condemn Battistelli’s Latest Attempt to Change the Rules in Defiance of Laws

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Staff representatives at the EPO voice opposition to so-called ‘reforms’ which are neither desirable nor legal

THE Administrative Council (AC) of the EPO will be meeting in The Hague at the middle of the coming week and letters have been sent, as usual, to tell delegates what Battistelli is really up to and why he should be stopped. For reasons explained here before, we expect small countries (some of which are mere cities with a vote equivalent in weight to that of a country like Germany or France) to just nod mindlessly at Battistelli, but what about the rest?

Here is SUEPO’s letter, which explains what Battistelli is trying to accomplish and why it must be prevented:

16 June 2017

Deficient proposals tabled to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (28-29 June meeting)

To: Ministers responsible for Intellectual Property of the EPO Member States
Cc: Heads of Delegation in the Administrative Council of the EPO (by email only)

Dear Sir/Madam,

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) wishes to draw your attention to the upcoming session of the Administrative Council (AC) of the EPO on 28 and 29 June 2017 and the proposals made by President Battistelli on which the representatives of the member states, including yours, will vote.

We are aware that the Central Staff Committee of the EPO is in the process of informing your national Delegate in more details of the severe deficiencies of a set of proposals tabled by the President of the EPO (CA/58/17 and CA/65/17).

1. With CA/65/17 the President of the EPO proposes a far-reaching restructuration of the EPO that violates the European Patent Convention, and will, if the AC adopts CA/C 8/17, create a risk of nullity of the patents granted under such structure as well as constitutional risks at national level.

2. A further set of proposals (CA/58/17) relating to the internal justice system of the EPO is highly problematic, because it contains regulations that

- violate fundamental rights, for instance as defined in the European Convention on Human Rights,
- are not compatible with the EU law, including EU Data protection guidelines,
- are not compatible with the national legal framework of EPO Member States,
- entail a high risk of litigation, of disrepute of the organization, and liability of member states.

If the proposals were adopted, the Member States, through their delegates in the AC, would discharge the President of the EPO of any responsibility in those matters, and take


responsibility for the consequences. Their own governments would, in consequence, be vicariously liable.

We thank you very much for your attention to this matter.

The Central Staff Committee too has written about it and we reproduce the letter below (a lot of staff already saw this):

Date: 16.06.2017

To the Members of the Board of the
Administrative Council

Reform of the EPO justice system (CA/58/17)

Dear Delegate in the Administrative Council,

Soon you will gather for the 152nd Council meeting, where you will have to decide on the reform of the internal justice system as proposed in document CA/58/17.

The Council acknowledged the concerns of staff when adopting resolution CA/26/16 in March 2016, by calling on the Office to reform its internal justice system so that it be fair, and be seen to be fair.

CA/58/17 contains elements of progress1. However, the reform addresses none of the true causes of the staff’s distrust. It sometimes even exacerbates it. More particularly, we would like to point to the following flaws:

  • An appointment of staff representatives guaranteeing a balanced composition is a fundamental feature of the Appeals Committee2. By artificial limitations, it is made yet more difficult3.
  • In a (quasi-) judicial system, the appointment, by the Head of the Administration, of a chair endowed with wide-ranging powers for a (renewable) term of three years4 must be considered as incompatible with (the perception of) independence.
  • The route for dealing with lack of professional ability and efficiency can be used to substitute for the disciplinary route, with reduced safeguards5.

___________

1 e.g. non-discrimination and commitment to combatting harassment
2 See Judgments Nos. 3694 and 3785, which annihilated the work of the Appeals Committee for the years 2014 (partly), 2015 and 2016.
3 The eligible appointees are limited to elected staff representatives and the President has further reduced the time allocated to them in revised Circular No. 356.
4 Article 98(4) ServRegs for the Disciplinary Committee; Article 111(7) for the Appeals Committee
5 See in particular the composition of the Joint Committee in Articles 53a


  • The final decision of the appointing authority may still exceed the recommendation in the opinion of the Joint, Disciplinary or Appeals Committees6.
  • The possibility of withholding parts of the salary for alleged failure to comply with one’s duties, by a mere administrative decision and in addition to a disciplinary sanction, is unprecedented and illegal7.
  • The control of the Office is extended into the life of former employees and pensioners8, with wider arbitrary prerogatives and less safeguards than in other international organisations.
  • Data protection and the protection of private property are made discretionary during investigations9.
  • The independence of the Ethics and Compliance Function from the President of the Office is not ensured by its organisational setup10.

The reform leaves fundamental rights unrecognised and unenforceable. It is even likely to set the foundations for future violations of those rights.

If the Council is minded to recall resolution CA/26/16 and restore the trust of the staff, the public, and the ILOAT in the EPO’s ability to administer its own justice system, CA/58/17 must be amended, with clear indications of what the Council expects.

Yours sincerely,
The Central Staff Committee

We confirm that this letter was legitimately decided and produced by the Central Staff Committee11.

___________

6 Articles 53b(4), 94a and 110(4); this is a major cause of the staff’s negative perception of fairness.
7 Compare Article 63a with e.g. German case law ArbG Frankfurt 20.1.2004 – 4 Ca 4332/03
8 See e.g. Article 94(1)(h) ServRegs
9 See e.g. Article 16 Implementing Rule
10 See Article 21 ServRegs
11 Pursuant to Article 35(3) ServRegs, the Central Staff Committee shall consist of ten full and ten alternate members.

The CSC presently consists of 8 full and 7 alternate members, because two have resigned in December 2014, one has been dismissed in January 2016 (against the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee), one resigned as of October 2016, one has been further dismissed in November 2016 and one refused replacement of a full member against Article 7(3) of Circular 355 since December 2014.

Furthermore, one member of a LSC has been dismissed and a further full member of the CSC has been downgraded in January 2016 (against the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee). In fact, the Office has launched investigations and disciplinary procedures against several other Staff representatives as well, affecting negatively their health.

It will be interesting to see how countries vote next week and if, as rumoured, there is another silent push to dismiss the judge who has been on “house ban” for 2.5 years (and whose pay got halved last year). Will the Administrative Council go ahead the following week and post this job vacancy for Battistelli's position? It says that it “shall be published on the Office’s website on 3 July 2017.”

Battistelli lost two separate referendums/elections in recent days. Will he lose another one?

The Tide Has Turned Against the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and It Finally Looks as ‘Alive’ as TPP

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TPP Is Dead. What Now?

Summary: The UPC is now stuck if not dead because officials are realising — however belatedly — that this entire charade was from start to finish just a coup d’état of the patent ‘industry’

THE stakes at the EPO are high and the threat of the UPC is still very real. The UP/UPC/UPCA can reemerge from the grave if we stop exposing the ugly reality behind it.

While software patents are on the decline/demise in the US (more on that later in the weekend), in Europe it’s the opposite and UPC would help such patents creep into a lot of nations without national debate on the matter. Yesterday we saw this new ‘article’ (shameless self-promotion) titled “The evolution of Software Patents in Europe” and it said that “[c]omputer programs appear on Article 52(2)(c) of the European Patent Convention (EPC), of 1973 as a subject matter excluded from the meaning of invention. However, in 2005, the European Patent Organization (EPO) had already granted over thirty thousand patents related to computer programs and, currently, computer-implemented inventions are the object of approximately 35% of European patent applications.”

“The stakes at the EPO are high and the threat of the UPC is still very real.”Well, they are not legal, but under Brimelow they created loopholes “as such” and Battistelli’s EPO openly promotes software patents every month, showing its utter disdain both for the EPC and the European authorities. When we wrote about the UPC about 9 years ago (it wasn’t known as “UPC” at the time) we focused on the aspect of patent scope and trolls. Nobody in Europe should want the UPC unless patent prosecution is one’s business. It’s all about shakedown and litigation without boundaries.

Working behind the scenes, so to speak, we have been trying to dig up more information about the UPC complaint in Germany. We are not 100% sure who is behind it. Yesterday I asked: Is it possible that Judge Siegfried Broß filed a complaint or will file one? Not that I think that he is the one who filed the complaint….

Benjamin Henrion (FFII) got in touch with the German Constitutional Court and said that the “Court tells me that there is one year window to file a complaint against UPC. In other documents they say one month…”

FFII too intends to file a complaint (maybe soon) and I, as a German national, can probably file one too. There is an effort to understand the deadlines for this. Henrion suspects “there is one-year window after the enactment of the law to file a complaint…”

“…Battistelli’s EPO openly promotes software patents every month, showing its utter disdain both for the EPC and the European authorities.”So don’t count on the UPC starting any time soon. We’d block it if it got close to it.

The German Constitutional Court’s staff told Henrion that they cannot share the details of the prior case for privacy reasons, but we think we know who is behind it. It’s just the tip of the iceberg and with weak and wobbly Brexit negotiations it’s unlikely that Germany can do anything anyway (it won't ratify unless or until the British situation/position is clarified).

In spite of the promise not to meddle with EPO scandals/affairs, one good ‘Kat’ has decided to rock the UPC boat a little. The other day he wrote this about the interview with Broß, noting: “The JUVE news blog has published a short interview with former Constitutional Court judge Prof. Dr. Siegfried Broß on the constitutional complaint against the UPC-ratification in Germany.

“Broß believes that the EPO Boards of Appeal are not independent from the EPO President and the EPO administration. He considers the recent reforms as being mere “cosmetics“.

“A further point was the unjust imbalance regarding legal measures against validity decisions. While a European Patent is retroactively invalid with a final invalidation decision of the EPO’s Boards of Appeal, the opponent can – if the EP is upheld by the EPO’s Board of Appeal – continue to attack the then national parts of the upheld European patent in national invalidity proceedings.

“The German Constitutional Court’s staff told Henrion that they cannot share the details of the prior case for privacy reasons, but we think we know who is behind it.”“Finally, Broß criticizes that the EPO would not commit to the protection of its employee’s fundamental rights guaranteed by national law and the EU Charter. A state transferring sovereign rights to a supranational administration has to safeguard that his nationals employed by such a supranational administration benefit from the same rights and standards as guaranteed by the German constitution. Prof. Dr. Broß strongly believes that these “fundamental constitutional deficiencies” have been overlooked and neglected during the drafting phase of the Unitary Patent Package.”

Thank you, Mark Schweizer, for bringing up the subject. It’s a refreshing break from the marketing/propaganda of Bristows at IP Kat. Might we see more meaningful articles — not just comments — in IP Kat?

The other day we mentioned the comment/attack from Wouter Pors, who resorted to attempts to discredit Broß. We are gratified to see we’re not alone in rebutting him. One response to him (Pors) said that “[t]he “reform” amounts to a substantial deterioration in respect of the personal independence of the Board members” and here it is in full:

It would be interesting to hear from Wouter Pors on which reasons the constitutional complaint is based and from which source he has his information. So far, I have not found any information on this point.
As far, as the judicial character of the Boards of appeal is concerned, the structural reform is cosmetic in respect of the new own building. It preserves the status quo in respect of the integration of the Boards into the general administration of the EPO, e.g. Investigation Unit conducting disciplinary investigations under exclusive control of the President of the EPO, Human Resources, EDP Systems.
The “reform” amounts to a substantial deterioration in respect of the personal independence of the Board members caused by the new elements of reporting connected with reappointment after 5 years based on reporting as well as payment based on reporting. The icing on the cake is the new rule that non-reappointed members are subject to a kind of non-competition clause. All this is a perfect system to prevent Board members from rendering decisions which might disturb the management to which the new President of the Boards of Appeal belongs. It will be interesting to see whether the suspended member of the Boards of Appeal will be reappointed. If not, this is the final proof that the EPO and its Administrative Council are willing to ignore the mandatory competence of the Enlarged Board of Appeal in suspension proceedings against Board members.
As far as the comparison of the EPO with the German system is concerned, there are two substantial differences:
First, a German authority cannot revoke the unitary patent, the EPO can and this without access to the UPC or any other court, an aspect carefully avoided by the ECJ in its decision on the Spanish complaint.
Second, revocation proceedings in Germany are embedded in a judicial system of two instances, the Federal Patent Court and the Federal Supreme Court (BGH). In the EPO, judicial review is exclusively entrusted to the Boards of Appeal. Therefore, they have to meet the acknowledged standards required for a proper court.

Someone else said to Wouter Pors: “You seem to pretend to know the reasons underlying the constitutional complaint – or what is the basis of your “understanding”? If so, please do enlighten us.”

He has not responded since. It has been over a day.

And also to Pors:

So Wouter, as you chose to remain silent so far, can we assume that your pretended knowledge about the contents of the complaint comes down to nothing but yet another case of you tooting your own horn by spreading fabricated information?

But at least you do seem to have a sense of humor when stating that the UPC “meets all the standards for an impartial and independent court”. Looks more like an exercise in whistling through the graveyard to me.

Well played. People are starting to pick up a fight with Team UPC, which offered nothing but lies and manipulation for a number of years. There is nothing they won’t do to get their way.

Another response to it came from Twitter: “« “fundamental constitutional deficiencies” have been overlooked », hum I’ve drafted this on May 2011 http://www.unitary-patent.eu/content/criticisms-governance-european-patent-office …”

Yes, we have been writing about this for years as well.

Francisco Moreno, another UPC critic, responded to Christopher Weber (a UPC booster) with: “Según antiguo magistrado, el Constitucional alemán esperará al final de negociaciones del Brexit para decidir si Alemania puede ratificar.”

It can be roughly translated to: “According to a former magistrate, the German Constitutional Court will wait for the end of negotiations of the Brexit to decide whether Germany can ratify.”

Yes, we said that a long time ago. So did some Germans who specialise in the field. Team UPC would rather not speak about it; but it won’t deny it!

“People are starting to pick up a fight with Team UPC, which offered nothing but lies and manipulation for a number of years.”Meanwhile, it is worth noting that SUEPO only ever seems to pick links that are ‘negative’ (i.e. realistic) about the UPC, such as this latest one. Many people now link to this article (in German) and EPO insiders are chatting in German [1, 2, 3, 4] to the effect of: “As yet, only small stones are turning… and the monster is still alive [yet] a dragon kills man with a stitch through the heart – Siegfried is the dragon slayer [...] The dragon is on the ground [...] Then, and only then, I’m going to rest!”

Yes, it is looking pretty grim for the UPC right now. And not just in the UK, which is one among several causes of deadlock.

As one comment in IP Kat put it yesterday:

Regarding the imbalance, let’s have a look at the German national patent system.

DPMA – Procedures
“Anybody can oppose the grant of a patent within nine months from the publication of the patent specification. …”

“Even after expiry of the opposition period, a patent in force can be challenged by an action for the declaration of nullity brought before the Federal Patent Court.”

So the German patent system is verfassungswidrig?

“It seems thus obvious that what happens in the EPO has an effect on the UP,” (Unitary Patent) said the next comment. To quote:

One fact should not be forgotten, whether one agrees with Prof. Broß or not. The Unitary Patent is nothing more than a European Patent granted under the EPC.

The competence of the EPO stops 9 months following grant, provided that there is no opposition. Just think of an opposition before the EPO against a UP. Why pay 20000€ in fees at the UPC, if in the first 9 months an opposition costs less than 1000€? This might be an important factor as the effect of an opposition is for all member states of the EPC, and not limited to member states of the UPC.

Just a simple question: when dealing with an opposition on a UP is the EPO free to designate any member of staff, or should such an opposition be exclusively be composed of nationals of member states of the UPC, or at least from the EU? Before grant, or in case of an opt-out, the question is moot, but not after grant when the opposition is against a UP.

It seems thus obvious that what happens in the EPO has an effect on the UP. That this is a Damocles sword hanging over the UPC cannot be denied.

By the way, has the constitutionality of the UPC agreement ever been checked? What is the basis for claiming that the UPC does meet “all the standards for an impartial and independent court”?

Whether the perspective of a decision or an opinion on the UPC by the CJEU might bring up some surprise, positive or negative, it will be difficult to escape it.

It might have been wiser to have asked the CJEU its opinion about the UPC before pressing forward at any cost and any rate. All the discussions on the post-Brexit stay of the UK in the UPC could also have been avoided.

One way to look at it is, the EPO scandals can undermine the UPC in the same way that UPC ambitions undermined the EPO and turned it into a hellhole. The two are closely connected. As the next comment put it: “Rumors say that the complaint that has induced the president of the German consitutional court to ask the German federal president to delay signing the implementing laws are related to the question whether a 2/3 majority of all members in both federal chambers, i.e. Bundestag und Bundesrat, is required. Apparently, presently, the two laws in question have only received a simple majority of the members present when the decision was made (in the Bundestag, the laws were accepted by 20-30 members that were present at approx 1 am, although all parties have declared that they are in favor)…”

“One way to look at it is, the EPO scandals can undermine the UPC in the same way that UPC ambitions undermined the EPO and turned it into a hellhole.”These rumours are not baseless. Based on what we know, this among other things is the basis for the complaint. “Spot-on,” said the next comment. “For the reasons you mentioned, I would be surprised if the German Constitutional Court had not been requested to ask the CJEU for its position on the EU law issues involved. The powers that be apparently tried to avoid at any cost a new CJEU case on the UPCA before its entry into effect, even at the price of enacting a legally doubtful system. A word from the CJEU is now needed more than ever.”

CJEU is further discussed in the next comment:

Whilst I have no idea whether they represent valid (constitutional) complaints under German law, the points raised by others about the connection between the UPC and the (well known) problems with the EPO certainly also appear to be “not wholly without merit”.

Thus, if those arguments do not yet form part of any complaint before the Bundesverfassungsgericht, would it not make sense for them to be added now (eg by way of a new complaint)? This might be a neat way of dealing with all of those nagging doubts that we are left with because of the absence of a CJEU opinion on the compliance of the UPP with EU law.

Perhaps the BVerfG could also tackle the point that I have discussed with Tim Jackson on another thread, namely whether the UPC does (or does not) form part of the national legal system of EU Member States – and, if not, whether there is any legal basis for the CJEU to accept preliminary references from the UPC.

By the way, whilst a lot of the above comments (regarding the question of compliance of the EPO with German constitutional law) have focussed upon avenues of appeal and the independence of the Boards of Appeal, we should not forget about the role played by the governing law, namely the EPC. For example, if German national law (and hence its constitution) incorporates EU Treaties, Regulations and Directives, do we also need to consider the question of whether the EPC is fully consistent with that body of EU law? As far as I can see, there are reasons to doubt whether the EPC is suitably compliant.

In relation to Battistelli (poetic): “That there are such suggestions now, to which anybody gives any credence at all, is exclusively the work of one man, a UPC-supporter, a man hell-bent on sabotaging the judicial function of the European Patent Organisation. Shameful! ”

Yes, exactly. This was said in relation to the EPO Board of Appeal as follows:

If there is any deficiency in the administration of justice, it occurs when an EPO Board of Appeal that is in the pocket of the EPO President revokes a patent.

As far as I know, until now there has never been any suggestion, ever since the EPO started in 1978, that any such Board is in any such pocket.

As another person points out, Battistelli “thinks he is above the law and has no respect for the separation of powers.” Here is the full comment:

Until the present president of the EPO, there has never been any doubts about the independence of the Boards of Appeal.

No president before the present one ever refused to propose renewals or appointments to the Boards, and all worked fine. In R 19/12, the EBA has shown that there are some problems with the independence of the BA, as the Chairman of the EBA was part of the management of the office. If the President had been acting in good faith, nothing like this would have happened.

Moreover, the present president thinks he is above the law and has no respect for the separation of powers. By escorting a member of the BA outside the Office without a decision under Art 23, the separation of powers has been grossly disregarded. An attempt of the Administrative Council to request the EBA to confirm the the dismissal of said member has grossly failed. There again the separation of power has been grossly disregarded. First you ask the EBA and then you decide, not the other way round.

The new structure of the Boards of Appeal Unit is a fig leave and in reality the BA are now less independent as before. They are not even allowed to decide upon their rules of procedure. They might give an input, but nothing says that it will be heard. It is like the General Advisory Council. It has to be heard, but the president can decide what suits him. But it has been consulted…..

The head of the BA Unit only holds the powers delegated to him by the president. If you call this independence, I do not.

The blame is thus not only for the president, but also for the Administrative Council as it has supported all the measures wanted by the president. Both have proven totally ignorant of what forms the core of a democratic society in which justice has to be independent.

It is to be hoped that the tree will on which all UPC proponents sit will be rattled and shaken. All those points will have to be thoroughly discussed before we end in a disaster.

In French one would say: mieux vaut tard que jamais.

Notice how a discussion about the UPC rightly became a debate about Battistelli’s abuses. In fact, “rumors from within the office suggest that the concerned member of the boards is to be dismissed” next week, according to this comment:

Here a further comment, which links the intervention of the German constitutional court to the lacking independence of the boards of appeal, as evidenced e.g. by the disciplinary action undertaken by the president of the office against a member of the boards, whith the full approval of the administrative council:

http://www.lto.de/recht/hintergruende/h/bverfg-stoppt-europaeisches-einheitspatent-epa-unabhaengigkeit-verfassungswidrig/

Incidentally, rumors from within the office suggest that the concerned member of the boards is to be dismissed at the meeting of the administrative council, next week. This would be a disaster for the European patent sytem as a whole.

If the judge on “house ban” gets officially dismissed, all hell will break loose! If someone can send us information related to that, please do so before the meeting of the Administrative Council commences.

More on the EPO Boards of Appeal:

On the value of the supra-national judicial function of the EPO Boards of Appeal, some anecdotes:

German client comes to me with problem. Competitor French, owns European patent, litigated already in FR and DE. Guess what, he won in Germany but the Frenchman won in France. What will the outcome be in the court in England was his question.

The HILTI case. Swiss patentee, litigates his patent all over Europe. Loses everywhere. Except in CH. There, he won. Surprise, surprise.

American client visits. Its EPO patent is being opposed by his big German competitor. Client question: how can we win in DG3, given that two of the three judges on the TBA have German names? Can you blame him for asking?

No wonder there is pressure for a UPC. It is just such a shame that some people have decided it is worth the price, namely, trashing DG3.

Well, “trashing DG3″ — as the above puts it — would trash the entire Office if not the Organisation. It would further legitimise claims that the place has gone rogue beyond repair. The EPO is already in chaos, but it can always get worse.

“More political pressure must be exerted on the small countries with regard to this unacceptable situation at the EPO,” one insider wrote, having also taken note of Bristows LLP’s James Boon publishing new UPC propaganda/decoy. “German UPC Ratification Postponed but yet Paid-for Media (again) focuses on UPC ratification in Estonia,” said the insider.

“Well, “trashing DG3″ — as the above puts it — would trash the entire Office if not the Organisation.”We saw Bristows doing exactly that before (regarding Estonia). We wrote about it. The fact that they now (probably) pay to ‘plant’ such brainwash rather than just post it in their worthless blog (barely any readers, unlike IP Kat or Kluwer Patent Blog) is quite revealing.

Remember, EPO staff, Bristows is your sworn enemy. It’s partly accountable for at least some of the chaos at the EPO, having bolstered Battistelli’s positions for a number of years.

Potential Targets of European Patent Office (EPO) Whistleblowing

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If you see something, say something…”

John Kiriakou
Reference: John Kiriakou

Summary: Priorities for whistleblowing at the European Patent Office (EPO), which operates secretly and occasionally illegally, too

THE management of the EPO is utterly rogue. This problem won’t be resolved unless the world can see that.

In part 1 and part 2 we gave an introduction and explained situations in which whistleblowing is justified and sufficiently safe. Today, taking it one step forward, the targets of whistleblowing are identified.

Unofficial EPO Circular no. 003

Whistleblowing Guidelines

for the staff of the European Patent Office

- part 3 -

Ranking of potential targets

In general, the more power and responsibility an individual has within the Organisation, the more important is the person’s responsibility for the reign of terror1 and corruption, and the lower the person’s accountability. This is not always reflected by the official hierarchy. We propose the following ranking of potential targets for exposure:

PRIORITY 1:

The president of the EPO, Benoît Battistelli and the members of his inner circle2: Elodie Bergot (PD HR) and her husband Gilles Requena (administrator), René Kraft (CIO), François-Régis Hannart (PD Int. Affairs), Antoine Rety (administrator), Frédéric Angermann (external auditor). These people are old buddies of Mr Battistelli from INPI who have infiltrated the EPO, installed a reign of terror and keep filling their pockets at the expense of the European patent system. They are enemies of Europe. Their illegal actions and misdeeds are thus of the highest relevance and should be exposed without hesitation.

Furthermore, the current chairman of the Administrative Council Jesper Kongstad belongs into this priority group for being the president’s closest ally and enabler.

The enforcers of the reign of terror at the EPO, i.e. the members of the Investigative Unit3, are amongst the main sources of fear and mental suffering among staff.

All persons under priority 1 enjoy presidential protection against being held accountable.

PRIORITY 2:

The vice-presidents and a certain number of principal directors at key positions keep the system running smoothly. Use your personal insight to identify those who are the most eager to support illegal measures and who receive generous monetary rewards in return.

PRIORITY 3:

Most principal directors and certain particularly influential directors or heads of department are eager to please their superiors. But they are caught in the middle of the hierarchy and they may have little choice but to obey orders. Still, many of them may have skeletons in the closet, and build their career on unscrupulous methods.

PRIORITY 4:

Heads of section, directors, team managers are at the lower end of hierarchy and their influence is usually extremely limited. While their actions and decisions affect ordinary staff in their daily work, solutions can in most cases be worked out locally within the unit.

___________
1 http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/03/european-patent-office-under-fire-over-reign-of-terror/
2 https://www.suepo.org/documents/42912/54300.pdf
3 http://techrights.org/2017/01/01/reign-of-fear-epo/


Personal disputes or doubt about a superior’s managerial competence should normally not be a reason to expose the superior, e.g. by leaking an internal email or the like.

Be careful

Whisteblowers always run a risk. The EPO management is relentless and brutal. However, compared to the abundantly high number of leaked information and documents during the last four years, the EPO’s rate of success in identifying whistleblowers is extremely low.

Best-practice for whistleblowers includes leaking documents which have been seen by a sufficiently large number of persons, e.g. documents which have circulated internally. When there is no urgency, better wait a few days or weeks before leaking a document. If you are one of very few persons who have seen a highly relevant document, it might even be better to secure a copy of the document and to wait instead of leaking it. In some cases, it might even be necessary to wait until the target person left the Office or lost support from top management, e.g. after the departure of Mr Battistelli.

Never upload a document from your Office PC to the web since that leaves digital traces. The same is true for exporting documents on usb sticks.

Pictures taken with private cameras contain the camera model as metadata. These can be easily removed, e.g. by the help of TAILS4. All Electronic documents contain metadata (author, software version, type and version of the operating system, time stamp, …). This also applies to pictures taken with smart phones. All metadata need to be carefully removed with sufficiently sophisticated tools. But this is not always possible. There is, for example, no tool for securely removing metadata from pdf documents. On top of those metadata which can be easily checked by looking at a document’s properties, some documents might contain so-called digital fingerprints or digital watermarks being invisible to the eye. For this reason, leaked documents should undergo a non-digital step, e.g. printing and consecutive scanning on a private device or in a copy shop (this will generate a pdf with the metadata of the scanning device used).

Be careful, take precautions, but don’t be paralysed by fear. Balance the value of the document with your personal risk. If you have access to very restricted documents, like contracts with external service providers, an audio recording of a confidential meeting, Mr Kongstad’s salary payslip or even the president’s top secret employment agreement, the relevance of the document may be extraordinary, but your risk of being identified or interrogated will be much higher.

Good luck!

A final note to the members of the Investigative Unit

We are not afraid. Oppression fuels resistance. The light of truth burns brighter than the smouldering of lies. Those who devour others will finally devour themselves.
________
4 https://tails.boum.org/news/

By all means cling on to material that can be published after Benoît Battistelli leaves. Accountability can sometimes be pursued long after an act.

In the fourth and final part we are going to publish more technical tips. We remind readers that in 3 years of publishing EPO leaks we have not betrayed or caused trouble for sources. We have, at times, rejected material or did not publish it purely out of concerns for safety of sources. Our utmost concern is people’s safety. Some unpublished material will eventually be published, but only at a later date when it’s safer to do so.

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