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07.10.17

Subtle Shaming of EPO Staff by EPO Management Earlier Today

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO strike shaming

Summary: How a popular strike against the management of the EPO got spun as improvement in the social climate

THE EPO was on strike a week ago, after nearly 90% of staff had voted for a strike (among the ~40% of staff which was brave enough and informed enough to go vote on it).

After human rights violations by Battistelli, including persistent attacks on staff representatives, abolishment of the rights of staff/strikers etc. we see them do this obligatory but unprecedented strike-shaming (warning: epo.org link). “A low rate of participation by staff was registered,” it says.

Someone told us in the comments that about 20% were on strike, but the EPO, as usual, found its “alternative facts”.

It’s worth noting that the EPO’s managers and communications people hadn’t even mentioned anything about the strikes anywhere (barely even internally) until they found a strike-shaming angle/spin. Disgusting and insulting, not just to those who participated.

As can be seen above, the subliminal message is, workers are now happy and it’s business as usual. The subtext is gross as it’s another spit in the face of EPO staff.

Looking at some new anonymous comments, people are certainly not happy. “Given that the administrative council appears to be solidly backing Battistelli, it does seem that he [Battistelli] is not the only problem,” one person wrote.

Another person said: “Given that the national representatives are clearly listed on EPO site, and I’m sure there are commentards from each European nation represented in EPO – it’s not really that difficult to send an email to your national EPO rep and ask what the hell is going on!”

The next comment said: “If they can’t even fire a dictator in a European-run company, how the heck are we supposed to deal with dictators of countries??”

That’s a typical argument that’s often heard from/used by Eurosceptics.

“I know he’s claiming that as it’s an international organisation,” said the next comment, “they’re immune from local laws, but that’s bollocks right? Surely any organisation has to adhere to the labour laws of the country they’re employing people in? I suppose they can just refuse to pay up even if an employment tribunal finds them guilty of (eg) withholding pay.”

Well, they already withhold pay in some cases and even threaten to take away people’s pensions. They use these threats to blackmail people.

“I doubt things will improve with a new president,” the next comment said. Here it is in full:

The EPO is a bit of a weird one in that all countries participating agreed that it would remain outside the jurisdiction of one specific country, lest it give the country the EPO settled in some form of legislative control over the organisation, possibly forcing it to rule in it’s favour. This means the EPO staff does not fall under Dutch labour laws. This has already been tested in court.

Given the support Batistelli seems to have in the higher levels of management (these latest approved “reforms” are again a blatant power grab and method to silence critics) I doubt things will improve with a new president. The only way they are ever going to fix this is for the new president to immediately throw out all this bullshit Batistelli put in place and put some proper independent oversight comittees in place. Otherwise they’ll just be swapping “Great Leader” for “Dear Leader”.

More on the immunity:

It would be nice to think so, but the European Institutions have effective and legal immunity from such mundane things as local laws.

In Luxembourg, there are many EU Institutions and many, many eurocrats working in them. I will not go into listing the various advantages these people have (special tax-free supermarkets, no income tax, . . .), but a few years ago there was a review of hiring policy and now EU Institutions in Luxembourg are offering new entry-level positions at less than than the Luxembourg Minimum Wage index.

Nothing can be done against that by the Luxembourg government.

Anon for obvious reasons.

Oddly enough, IPO was then brought up:

I’m not going to defend the European Institutions laws / staff rules – I will remark though that all of these Institutions mandates are created and approved by each of the Member States Governments – its therefore also a national responsibility to correct things if they are not fit for purpose! In the case of ridding the IPO, which is not an EU Institution, of its leader it seems the same is true. With the exception of a few honorable exceptions the responsible administrations are not living up what I would expect their electorates to demand from them.

Also its incorrect to say that EU bureaucrats don’t pay tax – they don’t pay tax in the Member State they work in but they do pay an EU income tax – http://ec.europa.eu/civil_service/job/official/index_en.htm. However, in the case of the IPO which is not an EU entity, it may be that no income tax is paid.

“It’s like FIFA,” said the next comment, where people got “bribed and threatened into compliance with the President’s agenda.”

Remember what Battistelli did. Here is the comment in full:

It’s like FIFA. There are a large number of member states which can be (and were) bribed and threatened into compliance with the President’s agenda. Yes, a few member states may have objected but they are vastly outnumbered by the others. FIFA wrongdoing was eventually exposed because football is interesting to the press. International civil servants are not, and are often caricatured as “privileged”. Yes, they are well paid, but many politicians, academics, consultant physicians, business people, lawyers, etc etc are paid even better (even after tax), can live in their home countries and enjoy the protection of their laws and of human rights treaties to which their country is a signatory. No-one would suggest that at a certain level of pay they have been bought out of the protection of the law, would they? But this is implicit in many comments about the plight of employees of the EPO and other IOs.

In our assessment, the EPO has become not only crooked but also corrupt. Those who dare protest against it have their action spun as some kind of “social democracy” (the right to strike) and are used as ‘proof’ that dissent comes from a “vocal minority” (see the EPO’s misleading statement at the top).

Links 10/7/2017: Fedora 26 is Coming, Debian 9 ‘Stretch’ Reviewed

Posted in News Roundup at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Toward a Reasonably Secure Laptop

    It’s no secret that hardware selection is one of the biggest hurdles Qubes users face. Finding a computer that is secure, trustworthy, and compatible is more difficult than it should be. In an effort to address the compatibility aspect of that problem, we introduced the Qubes-certified laptop program back in 2015.

    So far, only one laptop has been Qubes-certified: the Purism Librem 13v1. A number of users purchased this laptop comfortable in the knowledge that it would be compatible with Qubes, and it served them well in that regard. However, the Librem 13v1 is no longer being manufactured, and the Librem 13v2 has not undergone Qubes-certification (nor has any other laptop yet). This means that the need for compatible hardware is more pressing than ever.

  • Don’t be scared to open-source your startup’s technology

    To open source or not to open source? If you’re in the software business, this is a question you’re going to face at one point or another. The sooner you tackle it, the better.

    The open-source movement is no underground phenomenon; it’s a fully mature and highly effective method of building software systems. You’re likely running open-source software right now. Every time you use Google you’re using one of the largest and most successful open-source operating systems in the world – Linux. Today’s largest enterprises owe much of their success to the open-source movement — we’re all building on-top of, and borrowing from, each other’s work, and this has powered the era of exponential progress we’re living in.

  • How the Puppet DevOps Tool Is Used to Improve Security, Compliance

    The open-source Puppet configuration management tool is widely used by organizations to enable DevOps processes and workflows. Puppet also plays a strong in enabling security and compliance as well, according to Deepak Giridharagopal, CTO and Chief Architect of Puppet.

  • How Google Turned Open Source Into A Key Differentiator For Its Cloud Platform
  • Haiku fixes year 2038 bug

    As Michel points out in the comments, this means Haiku’ll be good until 4 December 292277026596, about in time for the beta release.

  • cron.weekly issue #88: a forum, kernel 4.12, OpenBSD, systemd, elvish, puppet, vtop & more!
  • Mapping paintings, a new medical image repository, and more open source news
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Roland McGrath steps down as glibc maintainer after 30 years

      Open source luminary Roland McGrath has decided “enough is enough” – after 30 years on the GNU compiler library project.

      As a teenager in 1987 – working back from the age he gives in his mailing list post, as a 15-year-old, in fact – McGrath began writing glibc, and he reckons that devoting “two thirds of my lifespan so far” is “long enough”.

  • Programming/Development

    • A first look at Kotlin’s co-routines on Android

      Co-routines have been the biggest addition in Kotlin 1.1. They are absolutely great because of their power, and the community is still discovering how to make the most of them.

      Simply stated, co-routines are a way of writing asynchronous code sequentially. Instead of filling it all up with callbacks, you can write your lines of code one after the other. Some of them will have the ability to suspend execution and wait until the result is available.

Leftovers

  • It’s the End of Network Automation as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)

    Network automation does not an automated network make. Today’s network engineers are frequently guilty of two indulgences. First, random acts of automation hacking. Second, pursuing aspirational visions of networking grandeur — complete with their literary adornments like “self-driving” and “intent-driven” — without a plan or a healthy automation practice to take them there.

  • Science

    • Here’s why parents should not allow children to click selfies

      According to Dr Godsi one should switch off or leave mobile devices behind when out with family. The method should be applied during meal times as well. Youngsters should have ‘real fun’ instead of ‘pretending’ to be enjoying themselves for the camera.

    • The strange and righteous history of the equals sign

      Robert Recorde was one of those people so extraordinarily ahead of his time that he seemed destined to come to a tragic end. In the 16th century, he made advances in economics, medicine, theology, and poetry. But his greatest contribution is taught to every elementary school child, and it arguably laid the groundwork for modern computer science. He invented the equals sign.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Who’s got your hack back?

      The topic of hacking back keeps coming up these days. There’s an attempt to pass a bill in the US that would legalize hacking back. There are many opinions on this topic, I’m generally not one to take a hard stand against what someone else thinks. In this case though, if you think hacking back is a good idea, you’re wrong. Painfully wrong.

      Everything I’ve seen up to this point tells me the people who think hacking back is a good idea are either mistaken about the issue or they’re misleading others on purpose. Hacking back isn’t self defense, it’s not about being attacked, it’s not about protection. It’s a terrible idea that has no place in a modern society. Hacking back is some sort of stone age retribution tribal law. It has no place in our world.

      [...]

      So this has me really thinking. Why would anyone want to hack back? There aren’t many reasons that don’t revolve around revenge. The way most attacks work you can’t reliably know who is doing what with any sort of confidence. Hacking back isn’t going to make anything better. It would make things a lot worse. Nobody wants to be stuck in the middle of a senseless feud. Well, nobody sane.

    • CIA has hacking tools, says Wikileaks

      The leaked papers have revealed that the agency turned to software which is named BothanSpy and Gyrfalcon to steal user credentials.

    • Linux Malware and Attacks on the Rise [Ed: This whole thing is based on a Microsoft ally from Seattle. Microsoft FUD by proxy, to distract from WannaCry Armageddon?]
    • Black Hat Survey: Security Pros Expect Major Breaches in Next Two Years

      A major compromise of U.S. critical infrastructure will occur in the next couple of years, according to a majority of IT security professionals — and most expect breaches of their own enterprise networks to occur even sooner.

      These serious concerns are among those registered by respondents to the 2017 Black Hat Attendee Survey, the results of which are being published Wednesday. The survey offers insights on the plans and attitudes of 580 experienced security professionals, including many cybersecurity leaders who work in critical-infrastructure industries.

    • LinuxKit and Docker Security

      Docker got its start not just as a container system, but also as a Linux container system. Since then, Docker has developed versions of its container management systems for other platforms, including widely used cloud service providers, as well as Windows and the Macintosh OS. Many of these platforms, however, either have considerable variation in the Linux features which are available, or do not natively supply a full set of Linux resources.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Lynx could return to Britain this year after absence of 1,300 years

      After an absence of 1,300 years, the lynx could be back in UK forests by the end of 2017. The Lynx UK Trust has announced it will apply for a trial reintroduction for six lynx into the Kielder forest, Northumberland, following a two-year consultation process with local stakeholders.

      The secretive cat can grow to 1.5m in length and feeds almost exclusively by ambushing deer. Attacks on humans are unknown, but it was hunted to extinction for its fur in the UK. The Kielder forest was chosen by the trust from five possible sites, due to its abundance of deer, large forest area and the absence of major roads.

    • Renewable energy is becoming so cheap the US will meet Paris commitments even if Trump withdraws

      Research analysts at Morgan Stanley believe that renewable energy like solar and wind power are hurtling towards a level of ubiquity where not even politics can hinder them. Renewable energy is simply becoming the cheapest option, fast. Basic economics, the analysts say, suggest that the US will exceed its commitments in the Paris agreement regardless of whether or not president Donald Trump withdraws, as he’s stated he will.

      “We project that by 2020, renewables will be the cheapest form of new-power generation across the globe,” with the exception of a few countries in Southeast Asia, the Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report published Thursday.

  • Finance

    • Layoffs in IT sector lead to a dip in popularity of software engineers in marriage market

      ITengineers, once hot property in the marriage market, are no longer such a prize catch, going by matrimonial website trends and even traditional matchmakers.

    • German industry warns UK not to expect help in Brexit negotiations

      German industry has warned Britain not to rely on its help in securing a good Brexit deal, in a stark intervention that strikes a blow at the government’s EU departure plans.

      Senior ministers have repeatedly claimed since the election that Germany’s powerful exporters will exert pressure for a deal handing Britain substantial access to the EU’s markets.

      However, ministers are told that it is up to the British government to limit the economic fallout from its decision to leave the single market. With the government facing new pressure from business to soften its Brexit plans, German industrialists also warn that Britain will struggle to avoid economic damage as a result of exiting the bloc.

      Two of Germany’s biggest industry groups have told the Observer that their main concern during the Brexit process is protecting the single market for the remaining 27 members, even if this harms trade with Britain.

    • UK business group: Government has no ‘clear plan’ for Brexit

      The U.K. government has no “clear plan” for Brexit and needs a “serious fact-based discussion about what the future looks like” outside the EU, Paul Drechsler, president of the Confederation of British Industry lobby group, said Sunday.

      Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, Drechsler said that although the U.K.’s exit date of March 29, 2019 was “firmly in the ground” the government should “continue to operate to the principles and rules that we apply today” until it can figure out how to transition to a new system.

      “We are no wiser today than we were 12 months ago in terms of what conditions business will be able to plan on for the future,” said Drechsler, just days after the CBI’s Director General Carolyn Fairbairn made the argument for staying in the single market in a speech at the London School of Economics.

    • Theresa May asks Jeremy Corbyn to help deliver Brexit and support her policies amid Tory leadership plots

      Theresa May will ask Jeremy Corbyn for his support in delivering Brexit and pushing through legislation as she faces up to the “reality I now face as Prime Minister”.

      Mrs May will on Tuesday make a direct appeal to opposition parties to “contribute, not just criticise” and help “clarify and improve” her policies in the Commons instead of undermining them.

      It comes at a time Mrs May’s leadership is at its weakest, amid open calls by Tory MPs for her to stand down following her failure to secure a majority at the election.

    • Improve the Brexit offer to EU citizens, or we’ll veto the deal

      In the European parliament we accept that the Brexit decision was a democratic choice, but we were never convinced Brexit would be a positive development economically: certainly not for the standing of Europe and the UK in the world and, most importantly, not for citizens. The UK proposal only confirms this belief – falling short of its own ambitions to “put citizens first”. If implemented, it would cast a dark cloud of vagueness and uncertainty over the lives of millions of Europeans.

    • Jacob Rees-Mogg denies potential conflict of interest over fund links

      Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP vying to lead parliament’s powerful Treasury watchdog, has denied claims that his involvement with an investment fund poses a conflict of interest.

      The prominent Brexiter, a founding partner at Somerset Capital Management, is slugging it out with five other MPs to replace the respected Andrew Tyrie as chair of the Treasury select committee.

      “It’s very hard to see how the select committee could have a specific individual benefit to Somerset Capital,” Rees-Mogg said. “It’s a medium-sized investment firm that would never come into direct contact with the committee.

    • Ex-Sainsbury’s CEO: Brexit means ‘higher prices, less choice, and poorer quality’ at supermarkets

      King, who was in charge of Sainsbury’s for a decade until 2014, told BBC’s Panorama programme: “One can say very clearly what the direction will be: higher prices, less choice, and poorer quality, because all of those dimensions have been improved by these open trading relationships that we’ve had over the last 40 years.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • No One Wins the Machiavellian Game of Trump vs. the Press
    • TV networks hide bad ratings with typos, report says

      It’s described as a common practice in the world of TV ratings, where programs with higher ratings can charge advertisers more to run commercials. When an episode performs poorly with viewers, the networks often intentionally misspell the show title in their report to Nielsen, according to the Journal. This fools the system into separating that airing out as a different show and keeping it from affecting the correctly-spelled show’s average overall rating.

    • Donald Trump ‘behaving like a dictator by leaving underqualified socialite daughter to fill in for him at G20′
    • ‘Face like thunder’: how the mood soured at Donald Trump’s first G20

      Friday’s much-anticipated head-to-head with Vladimir Putin went well, in the judgment of the White House, with talks extending amicably well beyond two hours. But Trump, according to one western diplomat, sat with arms folded and a “face like thunder” as he listened to China’s President Xi Jinping speak on trade during a working lunch for leaders. Disagreements between the countries on the question of steel dumping have not been resolved by this latest encounter. There was also some bemusement when Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, stood in for the president when, in the words of a subsequent White House statement, he “had to step out”.

    • One by one, Brexit’s ‘salvations’ are seen to be illusory

      Like Vladimir and Estragon, the British right is waiting for its Godot. For years, Godot manifested himself in the unlikely form of the German car industry. English nationalists invoked its name as if it were a spell that could protect the nation from hard times and harder questions.

      From Boris Johnson and Michael Gove in the Leave campaign, through to Iain Duncan Smith and David Davis today, they convinced 17 million or so voters that BMW would ensure we could have our cake and eat it too. “The first calling point of the UK’s negotiator immediately after #Brexit will not be Brussels, it will be Berlin, to strike a deal,” announced Davis in May 2016. German car manufacturers would want access to the British market. The German government would listen and grant us privileged access to the single market in return.

      As it has turned out, economics has not trumped politics. And although I am instinctively a materialist, I have to admit it rarely does. Try to find an economic explanation for nationalism or religious fanaticism, or for middle-class professionals supporting left-wing parties or working-class voters support for rightwing parties, and your arguments rapidly lose conviction. Economics did not trump politics when Britain voted to leave the EU. It does not trump politics now that 27 countries are determined to preserve the union. And not only as a defence against a return of fascism and communism.

    • May’s deal with DUP faces legal challenge from crowdfunding campaign

      A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to raise funds for a potential legal challenge to Theresa May’s parliamentary deal with the Democratic Unionist party, on the grounds that it breaches the Good Friday agreement.

      Ciaran McClean, the son of one of the founders of Northern Ireland’s civil rights movement, Paddy Joe McClean, is spearheading the challenge of the arrangement through which the DUP gained a £1bn aid package for the region.

      The Green party activist believes the deal, which sees the Conservatives granted an overall majority with the support of the DUP’s 10 MPs, breaches both the landmark 1998 Good Friday agreement and the Bribery Act.

    • Old Man Makes Entire World Watch Vacation Slideshow

      A still photo of the president of the United States angrily explaining something to his wife, who is not paying attention, badly compressed so that it looks pixelated beyond belief, with audio that has been carefully miscued to allow a full second of sheet-music rustle before the brass comes in: David Lynch couldn’t fit that much unease on screen if you gave him two TV shows and a feature film. Our authority figures are crumbling as digital technology scrambles and distorts our feeble attempts to connect with each other, Trump seems to be saying, and for the rest of his film, he pokes and prods at the disconnect between the country’s traditional conceptions of leadership, heroism, and happiness and the all-consuming black hole occupying the White House.

    • US isolated as world leaders unite on Paris climate agreement at G20 summit

      “And the fact that negotiations on trade were extraordinarily difficult is due to specific positions that the United States has taken.”

    • G19 rejects Trump’s pro-fossil fuel agenda

      Investors hail “most ambitious G20 climate statement ever produced”, as world leaders dismiss attempt by President Trump to secure group’s backing for fossil fuels

      The G20 Summit in Hamburg ended in an uneasy compromise between the US and the rest of the group of leading economies, after world leaders refused to bow to pressure from the US to step up support for a new wave of fossil fuel development.

      In a move that was widely interpreted as a victory for the German hosts of the latest G20 Summit in Hamburg, the group’s final statement on climate change underlined that all of the group’s members bar the US regard the Paris Agreement as “irreversible”.

    • ‘Atheist Muslim’ says bigoted Donald Trump supporters have hijacked debate on Islam

      A self-styled “atheist Muslim” author says liberals have stifled criticism of Islam and allowed Donald Trump supporters to hijack debate about the religion from “a position of xenophobia and bigotry”.

      Ali Rizvi claimed those on the left and right of the political spectrum are unable to distinguish between “Islamic ideology and Muslim identity”, preventing honest conversations about the link between religion and terrorism.

      And he accused liberals of maintaining a “devastating double standard” by attacking the illiberal beliefs of Christian fundamentalists while branding people “Islamophobic” for condemning similar views held by Muslims.

    • Court ruling over UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia a ‘deadly blow’ to Yemeni civilians

      A UK court ruling that the government is entitled to continue authorizing arms supplies to Saudi Arabia is a potentially deadly setback to Yemeni civilians, Amnesty International said today.

      The High Court in London dismissed a legal challenge from the NGO Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which claimed that such arms transfers should not take place because of the clear risk that the weapons supplied would be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen’s armed conflict.

      “This is a deeply disappointing outcome which gives a green light to the UK authorities – and potentially Saudi Arabia’s other arms suppliers – to continue authorizing arms transfers to the Kingdom despite the clear risk they will be used to commit violations,” said James Lynch, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • How CNN Identified HanAssholeSolo

      Nevertheless, it was not necessary to figure out who @HanAssholeSolo was. All CNN had to do was contact him on Reddit if they wanted a comment.

    • Reviewing film censorship in Malaysia

      A painting, a song, a dance and a novel – these are all forms of expression. So too, is a film as art and literature are all forms of expressions.

      When a person expresses himself or herself, he or she is exercising his or her freedom of speech and expression. But these are not absolute. Under international human rights law, freedom of speech and expression may be restricted, but must be through law and only if necessary.

    • Could Philippine senator’s bill criminalising fake news lead to censorship?

      Philippine Senator Joel Villanueva filed a bill in late June that would criminalize the “malicious distribution of false news.” Media groups are warning it could lead to censorship.

      Villanueva’s Senate Bill No. 1492 or “An Act Penalizing the Malicious Distribution of False News and Other Related Violations” defines fake news as “those which either intend to cause panic, division, chaos, violence, and hate, or those which exhibit a propaganda to blacken or discredit one’s reputation.”

      The bill assigns penalties to those who publish “fake news” and even to those who share it, potentially criminalizing social media users who may not fully understand the implications of simply sharing an article with friends.

    • Samizdat: How did people in the Soviet Union circumvent state censorship

      The USSR always had severe censorship, and the rare period of relaxations, for example, during the Second World War, did not change the overall situation. But while in Stalin’s time no one even thought of illegally distributing books and magazines, with the coming of Nikita Khrushchev’s ‘thaw’ and the emergence of the dissident movement the demand for a truthful interpretation of current events and interest in uncensored literature only increased.

    • For China’s censors, livestreaming is a huge headache

      In a show of strength, in anticipation of a huge political event, China is cracking down hard on the one thing it hasn’t been able to control — livestreaming.

      With 731 million internet users in China — of which 300 million have used livestreaming apps — its no surprise that the country’s livestreaming industry is worth an estimated $9 billion.

    • How a proxy is bringing banned Wikipedia to Turkey
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How I learned to stop worrying (mostly) and love my threat model

      I have a healthy level of paranoia given the territory I inhabit. When you write things about hackers and government agencies and all that, you simply have a higher level of skepticism and caution about what lands in your e-mail inbox or pops up in your Twitter direct messages. But my paranoia is also based on a rational evaluation of what I might encounter in my day-to-day: it’s based on my threat model.

    • Brexit: May offering EU workers in UK ‘second-class citizenship’ – MEPs

      Theresa May has been accused of offering EU workers in the UK “second-class citizenship” in a stark warning from the European parliament that it would reject her “damp squib” opening offer on the Brexit negotiations.

      The prime minister, who will on Monday attempt to relaunch her struggling tenure in Downing Street, was told that the EU legislature would “reserve its right to reject any agreement that treats EU citizens less favourably than they are at present”.

    • Rodrigo Duterte’s first year: a human rights disaster the world prefers to ignore

      Rodrigo Duterte’s first year as president of the Philippines should never be forgotten – for all the wrong reasons. For those directly affected by his brutal and lawless “war on drugs”, which has claimed the lives of thousands of people, the only hope is for an end to the suffering. But in the absence of a clear international declaration against Duterte’s disastrous regime, that hope is in vain.

      The sad fact is that much of the suffering Duterte is inflicting was entirely predictable. The Philippines’ human rights institutions are fragile, and Duterte came to office with a well-known record as a mayor who sanctioned death squads to dole out vigilante justice in his city. But the international community failed to respond to his election with due alarm, and it is still failing to realise the sheer destruction the Duterte administration is causing. How bad will it need to get before other nations back away from him?

      Nominally aimed at tackling a much-hyped but poorly understood methamphetamine “crisis”, the scores of extra-judicial killings have resulted in little capture of the networked organised crime Duterte says is behind the “drug menace”. Instead people are gunned down in the middle of the street by vigilantes or by an increasingly brazen police force, whether during arrest or in custody. Their corpses are left in the street, sometimes with a cardboard sign saying “drug user” or “pusher”.

      This is a matter of social cleansing, with many of the victims among the poorest people in Filipino society. And yet many nations refuse to sign a UN declaration condemning the policy.

      [...]

      It doesn’t have to be this way. Duterte is vulnerable and sensitive to foreign criticism, and has little with which to protect himself other than insults. Yet countries such as Australia and the US are providing military assistance to Duterte apparently without applying any serious pressure.

      Their help with airborne intelligence and “special forces liaison” is offered on the pretext of fighting a local militant group supposedly linked to IS, now laying siege to the city of Marawi.

      It’s one thing to overlook Duterte’s war on drugs to help him fight a violent insurgency notionally linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS), but even that flawed alliance has its problems. How can these countries defend their support for a leader who publicly says he is willing to kill civilians – in direct opposition to international humanitarian law?

      Duterte is using IS as a pretext for more abuses, and headlines linking the situation in the southern Philippines to IS with little to no evidence play into his hands. But alas, this tendency has a long history.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • DRM Is Toxic To Culture

      Travelling frequently in Europe, I’ve had the chance to use two approaches to the underground/metro/subway, the Paris Metro and the U-bahn in various German cities. There is a very visible difference between the two, at least in my experience. Here are some sample encounters.

      In Paris, I bought my Metro ticket and then used it in an automated barrier to reach the platform. I noticed lowlife furtively scanning the station and then vaulting the barriers, and I saw armed police at the station to catch the thieves doing this (they didn’t catch any that I saw, and there were several of each at each station).

      By contrast, the U-Bahn in Nürnberg had no barriers. I bought my ticket, boarded the train without fuss, there was no risk of being shot by a policeman targeting a barrier-vaulting cheat, and the system was still clean, efficient and well-used.

    • Day against DRM

      Sunday, July 9, is the Day against DRM. The Document Foundation supports the global campaign led by FSF, to raise the awareness of issues related to the so called Digital Rights Management software. As any other proprietary technology, DRM is killing user freedom of choice, and should always be avoided.

    • How big is the market for DRM-Free?

      They reached a shocking conclusion: DVD players with even minimal circumvention features sell for about 50% more than similarly reviewed DVD players of similar vintage — that means that in a commodity electronics category where the normal profit would be 2% or less, manufacturers that sell a model with just slightly different software (a choice that adds virtually nothing to the manufacturing costs) pocket 25 times the profits.

    • Encrypted Media Extensions: Copyright, DRM and the end of the open Web

      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which sets standards for the Web, has released what it calls a “disposition of comments“, designed to address objections to the controversial Encrypted Media Extensions (EME). EME is officially “a common API that may be used to discover, select and interact with content encryption systems”. In practice, for the first time it builds DRM officially into the very fabric of the Web, a move that will destroy an openness that has underpinned it since its public release in 1991.

      The “disposition of comments” is the formal version of an earlier blog spost by the inventor of the Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, which he published back in February. There he explains in more detail why he wants to allow DRM to become part of HTML. It’s clear from both documents that the central argument is that the W3C is simply standardizing an existing situation where many DRM schemes are used, and that by providing a rigorous framework it is making life easier and better for the user. In fact, the W3C even went so far as to insist on Twitter that “There’s no DRM baked in the EME spec.” But as Florian Rivoal pointed out in reply, this is like claiming “Guns are not dangerous if you don’t put bullets in them. We’re just working on guns not bullets, so we’re not doing anything dangerous.”

      [...]

      It is simply tragic that the man who created the World Wide Web, and then, in an act of great generosity, released it freely to the world, should acquiesce in this terrible mistake that will destroy a key aspect of his gift: its openness.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Handy: Google Highlights ‘Best Torrent Sites’ in Search Results

        Google is an excellent search engine. The company does its best to present users with relevant information wherever it can. With a reel of popular torrent sites, for example, when users search for it. Or a handy overview of streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Putlocker and Movie4k.to. Whether Hollywood will appreciate this service doubtful though.

      • Would you like a copyright law that said “if Hollywood doesn’t like this law, they can use their own”? Well, you see…

        The net effect of this is that the entire code of the copyright monopoly, except for this one line, is completely nullified. Copyright monopoly law now says “whatever the publisher wants, and it’s criminal to attempt otherwise”. The other provisions never come into effect. This is the result of the insane hubris of lawmakers around the turn of the century insisting on creating a thousand-year copyright reign, innovation and creativity be damned.

        This means that when a book is sold to you in digital format, if the publisher decides you’re only allowed to read your own book at night, or in Ankara, or without any friends nearby, or when you’re marked “single” on Facebook, such insane and normally-utterly-illegal requirements are now the law of the land.

Lobbying Against the US Supreme Court’s Landmark Decision (Alice) by Bristows, IBM, David Kappos, IPO, ABA, AIPLA, Adam Mossoff and Kevin Madigan

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 1:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They want software patents back and they work hard to mislead politicians on it, sometimes under the guise/pretense of “academia”

A stacked panel
Echo chamber-like panels (“stacked” by their own admission) designed to talk about how wonderful software patents are

Summary: Using paid-for lobbyists and influence that’s up for sale, companies such as IBM set up events and initiatives to compel politicians to change Section 101, gut patent progress, and basically give patent aggressors a free rein

THE one article we were extremely eager to publish (for over a month now) pertains to the efforts to overturn Alice or at least compel the US patent office to ignore it.

A lot has happened since we intended to publish this (pending some more fact-checking and research), including the pushing forth of a bill. Watchtroll, for example, has moved on to other matters and it’s almost as though the lobbying effort completely lost steam by now. Nevertheless, we want to keep documented what happened around the month of May (and to a lesser degree June). There are malicious forces at play and they desperately try to undo all the patent progress, having already chased away the Director of the USPTO. Will they be back at it? We certainly think so.

“There are malicious forces at play and they desperately try to undo all the patent progress, having already chased away the Director of the USPTO.”IP Kat used to be a good blog, but we hardly cite it anymore. It has become terrible. It’s used for marketing and agenda-pushing. It plays a role in some of the most regressive activities. A longtime proponent of software patents (not that she ever wrote any software), Annsley Merelle Ward from Bristows, attacked the US patent system over Section 101 — essentially the means for invalidating software patents these days. She piggybacked a bunch of people who lobby against Section 101 (or lobby to water it down). “His heightened sense of alarm stems from a concern that America’s patent system has been going in the wrong direction while other patent systems have been improving,” she wrote. Pure nonsense. If anything, the US patent system is improving! Quality is up, lawsuits are down.

IP Kat, now effectively run by Bristows’ liars as far as patent coverage is concerned, goes further by calling AIPLA (pressure group of the patent microcosm) something that it’s not, in order to give its ‘views’ (financial agenda) legitimacy. There were many examples of this back in June, e.g. [1, 2, 3]. Is this what IP Kat boils down to now? A mouthpiece for AIPPI/AIPLA? Thrice in June alone (so far, based on a quick ‘literature’ survey) Bristows exploited the blog for marketing or lobbying by patent maximalists. This may sound benign, but considering what AIPLA has been up to recently, it’s anything but benign. The US Supreme Court is under attacks from these think tanks and pressure groups (like AIPLA), primarily for stopping software patents with Alice (2014). See this article titled “AIPLA releases Section 101 legislative proposal” (one among several such reports). AIPLA, a pressure group, along with IBM and some other patent vultures, try to undermine the law itself. As United for Patent Reform put it at the time, “Steven Anderson of @culvers tells @HouseJudiciary that to lose #Alice “would be extremely disappointing and costly” to #smallbiz” (obviously).

IP Kat, now effectively run by Bristows’ liars as far as patent coverage is concerned, goes further by calling AIPLA (pressure group of the patent microcosm) something that it’s not, in order to give its ‘views’ (financial agenda) legitimacy.”People start to worry that the lobbying might actually work and Section 101 (in its current form) will be thwarted. Under Trump it will probably be easier to bribe politicians to ‘buy’ USPTO policies in defiance of SCOTUS. As The National Law Journal put it at the time (in its headline), “After SCOTUS Shake-Up, Lawmakers Plot Next Steps on Patent Reform” (we now know the resultant bill, which seeks to gut PTAB as well).

As is usual from IP Kat these days, comments are a lot better than the ‘articles’ (lobbying/advertising). Someone pointed out that Annsley Merelle Ward “lacks a grasp of what the subject matter in each STILL means.” Well, exactly the opposite of what she said (AIPPI/AIPLA propaganda) is true. To quote the comment:

I must take issue with the statement of:

“The incredible developments in technology – how information is created, by what technological process, how information is accessed and where it is used – means the subject matter once the purvey of the patent world has crossed into the copyright realm.”

It is not only incorrect, but troubling so, to think that that a person charted with writing on the subject does not understand that the subject matter of what patents protect and what copyright protects has “crossed into.”

The subject matter remains clearly different between the different areas of Intellectual Property protection.

What perhaps has “crossed into” (and certainly, this crossing has been going on now for many decades) is that a particular manufacture of the hand of man (as those terms are understood in the various Intellectual Property legal terrains), has multiple aspects, each of which may earn protections in the different IP areas.

This is most definitely NOT a matter of “subject matter” crossing from one IP terrain into another.

Patents still protect that which patents protect.
Copyrights still protects that which copyrights protect.

It is decidedly unhelpful to contribute to the view that somehow “subject matter” is “crossing into” one IP arena from another IP arena – and shows that the author lacks a grasp of what the subject matter in each STILL means.

Watch how Annsley Merelle Ward gets completely skewered in the comments in another one of her posts (again for distorting facts):

Terrible proposal. Assessing patent eligibilty without regard to sections 102, 103, and 112 is absurd. This allows completely ineligible subject-matter to become patentable simply by including a conventional and known piece of apparatus e.g. a computer doing something that can be performed solely in the human mind. It should be the new and non-obvious subject-matter that is assessed for patent eligibility.

And here is another:

Your post contains so many legal (and factual) errors that I scarcely know where to begin.

First, subject matter eligibility and patentability are separate concepts.

Second, the US law – as established by the Act of 1952 broke apart 101 and the other sections of law (102/103/112) for a reason. That reason is exactly the same reason that the current legislative suggestions are coming forth.

Third, eligibility remains something determined for a claim as a whole, so the notion that ineligible subject-matter now “becomes eligible” has nothing to do with the legislative changes – your “concern” already IS the law in the US. The easiest example of this is the Diehr case, where everything in that case was old, except for the use of a computerized math equation. The important aspect was that the math equation was there in the sense of applied math. Your over-stated concern of “a computer doing something” is exactly the type of thing that patent law was meant to protect. It was, is, and will remain a question (for eligiblity) as to WHAT the “doing” is, and whether that “doing” falls into the realm of patent protection of the Useful Arts.

Fourth, your position denigrates the factual situation that the known and conventional piece of apparatus is in fact improved. US patent law allows for improvement patents. In fact, a very large percentage of patents are of the improvement patent type. Your view exhibits the fallacy known in the US as the House/Morse fallacy. A television show called House has a protagonist that believed that only the first computer should have been patentable and that all improvements (via software) belonged to that first inventor. This though is the opposite of the US case of Morse which held that all future improvements were NOT captured by a first (grand) invention.

Fifth, your view ignores the actual factual state of what software is. Software is a manufacture (in the legal sense, as it is a fabrication by the hand of man intended to be a machine component). That is the nature of what software is, and always has been. It is a “ware” that is soft, or easily modified, changed, reconfigured, and the like. In the patent sense, this “ware” is every bit a patent-equivalent to other “wares” i.e., hard and firm “wares.” There is nothing that can be claimed as a software invention that also could not be set completely in hardware.

Sixth, you conflate 102/103 with 101, and this conflation evidences an attempt to apply 101 on some per element basis. This gets each and every section of US law wrong.

I could continue, but I hope that you see the error in your views by now.

This would probably be excusable as gullibility if the author hadn’t spent years gleefully promoting software patents. The matter of fact is, all the above is pure lobbying and it’s happening right here in the UK.

Over in the US, things are just as bad because the patent microcosm (Jeff Lindsay‏ in this case) resorts to alarmist tone: “Many patents being allowed in Europe &China are rejected as ineligible in US, a sign of trouble in USPTO & SCOTUS.…”

So?

That’s a good thing, no?

“This would probably be excusable as gullibility if the author hadn’t spent years gleefully promoting software patents.”Well, not for a “patent agent” like Mr. Lindsay‏. High patent quality is not “trouble” and Watchtroll promoting a right wing corporate think tank is hardly shocking (that’s what Mr. Lindsay links to). The latest among all those think tanks involves Adam Mossoff, a pro-trolls academic who spoke of “Dave Kappos @ IIPCC conf on patents & innovation: the 101 situation is not improving, it has at best only stabilized in a terrible space” (yes, he calls David Kappos “Dave” as if this lobbyist is a buddy of his).

As can be expected, the company that hires these lobbyists, IBM, was there too. Mossoff wrote that “@MannySchecter @ IIPCC conf on patents & innovation: legal uncertainty is enemy of R&D & #innovation, & massive legal uncertainty today” (Schecter is IBM’s patent chief). Nice lobbying platform you got there. IAM helped with this article:

US businesses deal with devastating effects of SCOTUS decisions; support grows for subject matter reform bill

[...]

In March, a paper by Adam Mossoff and Kevin Madigan from George Mason law school analysed a dataset of 1,400 patent applications, finding marked differences between patent eligibility in the US compared with Europe and China.

By their own admission, this is a “stacked” panel (lacking anyone from the other side of the argument). To quote, “@JackBarufka of @pillsburylaw moderating the stacked Section 101 panel #GWIP pic.twitter.com/kt1hAO65IM”

“Watchtroll and IP Kat are symptoms of a problem. They are figureheads in the fight against Section 101.”As a reminder, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), the American Bar Association’s (ABA) IP section and the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) play a big role in this, aided by Adam Mossoff and Kevin Madigan in “scholar” clothing. IPO and IBM even created a “task force” for this. They actively support sites like Watchtroll.

Watchtroll and IP Kat are symptoms of a problem. They are figureheads in the fight against Section 101. They are not only smearing SCOTUS (Watchtroll and his sidekicks) but are also insulting their own country. “America’s patent system favors low tech, not groundbreaking innovation,” said one recent headline from Watchtroll. So says a man who doesn’t invent anything and just attacks anyone (even judges) who applies patent law and issues a judgment based on the rules. Here is another example of Watchtroll posts. It says that “patent analytics software can be utilized to assess the corporate patent portfolio on an asset-by-asset basis, by technology or product focus, and within the context of a broader IP landscape.” Seriously? Letting some machine do an in-depth analysis of the underlying concepts? Pure science fiction. Like that stuff Battistelli tends to fall for…

“It’s not clear if all that lobbying will lead them anywhere, but unless their actions are properly scrutinised and the culprits get named and shamed, they might actually make headway for their own selfish interests (disguised as “innovation” or whatever).”Here is Watchtroll using terms like “piracy” and “patent owner” to further perturb the debate.

It’s not clear if all that lobbying will lead them anywhere, but unless their actions are properly scrutinised and the culprits get named and shamed, they might actually make headway for their own selfish interests (disguised as “innovation” or whatever).

Patent Trolls Roundup: GPNE, Blackbird Technologies, Uniloc and More

Posted in America, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 12:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is no “David versus Goliath” myth but a case of parasites versus companies that actually produce stuff

Ducks

Summary: A condensed summary of cases and news coverage pertaining to patent trolls in the United States

“TROLL” is a derogatory term. So is the term “shark”, as in “patent shark”. But considering what patent trolls are doing, derogatory terms are very much deserved and justified. I occasionally hear from victims of trolls and they are too afraid to speak about their experiences publicly. It ruins their lives, not just their businesses, their projects (sometimes hobbies) etc. Today we summarise some of the recent troll cases that we have not found time to cover. All of them rely on patents granted by the USPTO, notably software patents.

GPNE

The trolls-friendly IAM, citing the GPNE troll, says that China is quickly becoming attractive to patent trolls, just like we expected. China is nowadays mimicking or copying the worst elements of the US patent system and is sometimes dragging companies to courts in Texas. We say “China” because some of these companies are government-connected.

IAM, as usual, calls patent-trolling “monetisation”. “Given the tough monetisation climate,” it says, “particularly in the US,” some of these parasitic companies go elsewhere.

Well, we certainly hope that they’ll stay out of Europe and preferably out of business altogether.

Patent Trolls in the Mainstream

Not only sites that primarily cover patents write about trolls. “Why we stepped up to the patent troll problem,” for example, is a press article that surfaced quite recently. As trolls are the source of most software patents litigation, some would rather speak about the plaintiff, not the patent/s. “Entrepreneurs don’t pour all their energy into building startups just to have a patent assertion entity (PAE, or patent troll) attack them with patents of questionable quality,” it says. “That is, unfortunately, a very common patent troll story. The PAE problem is big and growing, posing a threat to startups and established companies alike, costing companies millions in defensive litigation fees and diverting money that would be better spent on innovation.”

There is a part there about OIN as well: “Open Invention Network (OIN) is another solution. Members agree not to sue other members for patent infringement on Linux (though they can still engage in patent litigation with other OIN members for infringement for things built on Linux). In exchange, members get the same promise from other members and a license to OINs portfolio of 100s of patents. Along with LOT, membership in these networks is not only good for individual companies, but also for the tech industry as a whole.”

The article comes from Michael Meehan, a director of IP at Uber, and may be a copy of an article elsewhere.

Also worth highlighting is Zoho’s blog post titled “Supreme Court Ruling Bolsters Zoho’s Stand Against Patent Trolls” — an article which celebrated TC Heartland and said:

Yesterday, the Supreme Court dealt a major blow to patent trolls all across the U.S. For decades, technology companies have been an easy target for frivolous patent suits. Arguing that most judges don’t have the technical expertise to preside over most software patent cases, predatory litigants have managed to shift more and more cases to a single federal court system: the Eastern District of Texas. As a measure of how skewed IP litigation has become, this rural court, seen by many as “friendly” to plaintiffs, presided over 44% of all patent disputes in 2015.

We wrote about TC Heartland yesterday, hopefully for the last time.

Codec FUD

Going almost a couple of months back, BAMTech’s CTO said something quite odd. He, like Steve Jobs, was relaying patent trolls’ FUD. He wants us to think that paying a cartel or patent trolls is safer than Free software.

According to the report, “Inzerillo said open-source codecs are “really tough” because on one hand, they’re royalty-free, but on the other, none have been tested, meaning they could result in a lawsuit if they’re eventually found to infringe. He added that becoming embroiled in a lawsuit could be more expensive than licensing a codec like HEVC.”

Well, how often have such lawsuits actually happened?

Blackbird Technologies

One patent troll that emerged again this summer was Blackbird Technologies, which we wrote about back in May. “The Patent Troll’s New Clothes” was one among many articles about it, noting that “Blackbird was formed in 2014 by attorneys” and that it had nothing to do with invention, just extortion with software patents. As this one article from someone who knows them personally put it:

Blackbird was formed in 2014 by attorneys who worked for two major law firms. Everyone involved in Blackbird used to work on the defensive side of patent litigation; often, they were defending their clients against trolls. (A disclaimer: I used to work with some of the Blackbird attorneys, and I think well of them personally, despite their descent under the bridge.)

A new puff piece about this troll was published yesterday in the US media and said this:

So Freeman and Verlander founded Blackbird Technologies. The lyrics of the iconic Beatles song suggested rebirth to them, and they hoped to resurrect lifeless patents. (Also, every conceivable spelling of “phoenix” was taken.) Unlike a ​ traditional law firm, Blackbird is structured as a limited liability company, not a partnership, and it has no clients. Instead, it acquires patents from inventors or small businesses. Blackbird then sues companies for patent infringement on its own behalf, and it shares an unspecified percentage of any settlement or judgment with the original patent owner.

Blackbird filed 107 lawsuits between September 2014 and May, including against Amazon, Fitbit, Netflix and kCura, a Chicago company that makes software used by law firms. It has settled with Amazon; the kCura case has moved to private mediation. The cases against Fitbit and Netflix are ongoing.

We first wrote about this troll in relation to one particular lawsuit, but it’s actually going after quite a few companies. Patently-O wrote about it back in May, calling these patent trolls “Patent Assertion Entities” and noting that “there are other entities like this, but if so they haven’t made the boom that this one has. Blackbird Technologies was founded by former big-firm (WilmerHale, Kirkland Ellis) patent litigators. It buys (or somehow obtains rights to assert) patents and asserts them with its own in-house staff of litigators. Its “news” page reports a number of suits — at least 100 in its short life — and reports that it settled many.”

We hope that the underlying patents will be quashed. In some of the Blackbird Technologies cases there are already motions to that effect.

ContentGuard

Last year when we mentioned ContentGuard we did not delve into the details, albeit Patent Progress ran a long series about it last month [1, 2, 3, 4]. The site “went through the history of the ContentGuard v. Apple and ContentGuard v. Google cases [and] talked briefly about the Markman process [going] into more detail on what Markman is, how it works, how Markman affected the ContentGuard cases, and why it’s such an important issue in patent litigation in general.”

These cases are relevant due to reaching the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), so we shall keep an eye on these.

ContentGuard was first mentioned here about 8 years in relation to Microsoft.

Uniloc

Uniloc is so prolific a patent troll (best known for its cases against Microsoft) that we have a Wiki page about it and dozens of articles.

Having already got money out of Microsoft, this troll “is scrambling to keep Google and other big tech defendants in East Texas federal courts,” says this report. “Uniloc filed a brand-new complaint (PDF) last week, which spends twice as much time describing Google’s ties to Texas as it does explaining how Google supposedly infringes two Uniloc patents, numbered 8,995,433 and 7,535,890. The patents, entitled “System and Method for VoIP messaging,” describe sending instant messages and voice messages over the Internet.”

This could become trickier after TC Heartland. Uniloc is also going after Apple as “Uniloc alleges that Apple infringes upon its patents with AirPlay, autodial, and battery charging,” said a recent report from a Mac-oriented news site. Patent Progress wrote about this as well. To quote: “Uniloc filed a set of lawsuits against Google based on a set of VoIP patents back in March in the Eastern District. After TC Heartland, however, their original complaint would have been totally deficient—there simply wasn’t any information in it that would support venue being proper in the Eastern District.”

Yes, this may be a good example of TC Heartland at work. In July, or at the very end of June, Mac-oriented news sites were still writing about it. These software patents generally affect phones, too, including Android devices, and there are many lawsuits. Uniloc targeted Google directly and the filings (as PDF) got mentioned quite a while back. To quote a patent maximalist: “Next battleground for #patents, venue: https://www.patentprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Uniloc-v.-Google-Complaint.pdf … IMO ecommerce cos have regular/established place of biz: each user browser”

“Microsoft used that trick against TomTom to be able to litigate where they wanted,” Benjamin Henrion responded to him. The EFF too is watching this case. As the EFF’s Nazer put it at the time, “Uniloc sued Google in EDTX yesterday. The patent troll tries, very very hard, to allege venue under TC Heartland…”

We’ll keep en eye on that case.

Universal Secure Registry

Here’s a new name: Universal Secure Registry.

We never wrote about it. New patent troll on the block?

Well, back in May it went after Apple, as reported by Apple-centric sites, corporate media and even this press release. This case too we intend to keep an eye on.

The bottom line is, the terrain is becoming tougher for patent trolls, but they are still active. When we’re not busy writing about the EPO we’ll definitely report about patent trolls. They ought to go extinct because they’re an anathema (or antithetical) to the patent system as it was first envisioned.

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