07.30.17

Blackbird is a Patent Troll, But Its Latest Media Campaign is a Reputation Laundering Campaign

Posted in Deception, Patents at 3:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Infomercial from the Boston Globe (for a patent troll) merits a response, as thousands of victims deserve better media than this

TWO days ago, the Boston Globe — perhaps feeling a sense of blind duty/loyalty to Boston — did yet another one of those puff pieces for this infamous troll; we highlighted another recent one earlier in the month, so it’s not the first of its kind lately. We must wonder how it came about. Media outreach maybe? Infomercial? Paid for?

The latest headline says that this troll is “actually performing a service” and there is femmewashing too. A patent maximalist said, “Wendy Verlander @bbirdtech_CEO gets chance to tell @bbirdtech’s side of the story. Go Wendy/Chris!”

Makes it sound like he knows them personally as friends…

To avoid confusion about what they do and where they came from, consider our previous articles about Blackbird [1, 2, 3]. There’s a long chain of victims they have ‘run over’. Patent Progress has just compared this troll to another, noting that there is a pattern. “Agarwal’s cases appear to be filed against relatively small businesses,” this new post explains (one of the authors of the site once knew this chief troll from Blackbird personally).

What patent trolls do in order to dodge legal challenge is prey on small businesses. Classic troll routine!

Here’s more on this:

You might recall a few months ago I wrote about Blackbird Technologies, an NPE with a novel approach to patent litigation. Blackbird is a company owned by lawyers. It buys patents from patent owners, apparently with a share of any litigation wins flowing back to the owner. The lawyers who own Blackbird also litigate the cases. This, as I noted, creates some ethical and practical issues.

[...]

So far, I count 6 cases filed by Mr. Agarwal in the few months he’s been in operation. A pretty solid pace!

The SR-71 Blackbird, of course, was one of the fastest things in the air.

Agarwal’s cases appear to be filed against relatively small businesses, and (at least so far) none of these cases has gone very far. One was stayed pending an IPR, which was recently instituted. All but two have been dismissed before any significant progress in the case, often by Mr. Agarwal. This kind of pattern of behavior is common amongst NPEs. For example, one NPE (Shipping & Transit) was ordered to pay attorney’s fees in part due to a pattern of behavior including “repeatedly dismiss[ing] its own lawsuits to evade a ruling on the merits and yet persist[ing] in filing new lawsuits advancing the same claims.”

It is sad to see corporate media, which I had experience with (the Boston Globe sought comments from me before), resorting to pure puff pieces that help trolls get away with reputation laundering. This is the kind of thing that erodes trust in the media.

EPO, Lufthansa, and the German Government – Part I: Further Information About Andrej Matijević

Posted in Europe at 2:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

DZIV appointments

Summary: An introductory part leading to a potentially long series which examines the role that the European Patent Office played in a now-famous European scandal (known to Croatian media and suppressed by German media)

IN OUR 3 previous articles about the Lufthansa story [1, 2, 3] (in German) we explained how the EPO had been used as a tool of monetary reward if not bribes to the media as well. There is a big story which people at the top are trying to suppress. We will gradually go through all the evidence and help readers judge for themselves what exactly is happening and why German media is so reluctant to mention it.

“In 2010 Matijević was appointed as spokesperson for the Croatian branch of BSA, the Business Software Alliance.”
      –Anonymous
After careful consideration of the amount of material at hand (and additional information which comes from various sources as we go along), this scandal merits multi-part series. Details about this scandal are to be published starting this weekend and go on indefinitely, as long as informed circles are able to highlight new leads. We welcome new information from anyone out there who may know more about it. Croatian media too is already on top of it (citing us). Translations of reports from Croatia would be much appreciated.

Part one will focus on Matijević.

“Further research into the background and career of Andrej Matijević (the Croatian legal representative of the Lufthansa subsidiary in the Airplus trademark affair),” one reader told us, “has revealed some interesting details. In 2010 Matijević was appointed as spokesperson for the Croatian branch of BSA, the Business Software Alliance. BSA will be familiar to readers of Techrights.”

We generally regard BSA to be systematic liars. We wrote dozens or articles about the BSA’s manipulations and lies. They’re a political apparatus, not just an enforcer.

“given the allegedly close connections between Topić and Matijević and the fact that Topić’s successor at the DZIV is his protegée Ljiljana Kuterovac, there is a suspicion that the appointment could have been influenced at least indirectly by Topić and his circle in Croatia.”
      –Anonymous
According to this page, dated 22/11/2010, “Andrej Matijević, a new spokesperson for BSA Croatia, [is] a world representative of the software industry’s interest in copyright and intellectual property.

“Matijević graduated from the Faculty of Law in Zagreb and mastered intellectual property rights, new technology and trade in the USA at Franklin Pierce Law Center. After working experience in several law offices in Zagreb and New York, he founded the law office Matijević, which mainly deals with intellectual property rights, new technologies, and the right advertising. Currently he is employed as a lecturer of the “Intellectual Property” course at VERN’s graduate school. He is a member of numerous national and international professional associations and regularly publishes articles in professional publications, including ‘Managing Intellectual Property’, ‘IP Value’, ‘Informa’, ‘INTA Bulletin’.”

“Since then,” our reader continued, “Matijević has been quite active for the BSA and has represented it at public events [1, 2]. He has also written occasional articles about IP topics for various publications such as Managing Intellectual Property (MIP).

“Back in 2008 Romana Matanovac Vučković who was closely associated with Topić’s alleged political protector the former Croatian President Ivo Josipović was appointed as the first President of the then newly established Boards of Appeal for Industrial Property Rights.”
      –Anonymous
“His articles in MIP include an feature in 2013 about IP crime law in Croatia. The most interesting detail uncovered to date concerns Matijević’s appointment as the President of the Boards of Appeal for Industrial Property rights in March 2015 a position which he currently holds.

“For the moment, no details are available about the background to this appointment. However, given the allegedly close connections between Topić and Matijević and the fact that Topić’s successor at the DZIV is his protegée Ljiljana Kuterovac, there is a suspicion that the appointment could have been influenced at least indirectly by Topić and his circle in Croatia.

“If true, then this would not be the first case of a politically manipulated appointment to that position.

“Back in 2008 Romana Matanovac Vučković who was closely associated with Topić’s alleged political protector the former Croatian President Ivo Josipović was appointed as the first President of the then newly established Boards of Appeal for Industrial Property Rights. This was an appointment which drew some criticism at the time because of an alleged conflict of interest due to Matanovac Vučković’s previous connections with HDS-ZAMP, the controversial musical royalty collecting society of the Croatian Composers’ Association.”

As readers may recall, the President of Croatia (another Ivo) was arrested for corruption. Ivo Josipović, according to our reader, “has been criticised and accused of corruption and involvement in financial irregularities in connection with the musical royalty collection society ZAMP. But according to available information he has never been placed under formal investigation or arrested in connection with these matters.”

We have made static copies of the above pages in case they get changed/removed later (as often happens when public scrutiny comes into it).

07.29.17

Loud Proponents of Software Patents Continue to Bemoan Alice and Seek Workarounds

Posted in Courtroom, Patents at 5:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A purse by another name is still a purse, like software patents by any other name…

Fancy Boy Seinfeld
Fancy Boy Seinfeld

Summary: Disguising software patents as something that they clearly are not might be enough to fool/bypass patent examiners, but not patent courts

THE USPTO may continue granting software patents, but courts repeatedly slap these patents down. So what’s the point pursuing such patents in the first place?

“Typically, nowadays, there are attempts to paint software as something which it’s not (e.g. a device). Buzzwords like “AI” and “cloud” get used a lot.”Watchtroll admitted yesterday: “Whereas patenting in the software space was a lot more open 10 to 15 years ago when there was less prior art in the field, court decisions like Alice have lessened the degree of freedom patent practitioners enjoy in the software sector.”

Tyler Tassone from The Legal Intelligencer tries to teach people how to fool/manipulate examiners into granting software patents. From the outline (the rest is behind a paywall):

Patent applications increasingly encounter subject matter eligibility ­rejections under 35 U.S.C. Section 101, particularly those applications directed to software and business methods. These rejections can be difficult to overcome, even for experienced patent practitioners due to lack of clear precedent and continuously evolving case law. The Supreme Court decisions in Mayo v. Prometheus (US 2012), and Alice v. CLS Bank International (US 2014), set forth the current framework for determining patentable subject matter eligibility under Section 101.

Typically, nowadays, there are attempts to paint software as something which it’s not (e.g. a device). Buzzwords like “AI” and “cloud” get used a lot.

“We certainly hope that in spite of all the lobbying on Section 101 (we wrote 3 articles about that lobbying in the past week) the patent office will heed the warning and learn from courts that software patents are passé”A day earlier Bloomberg wrote about oil/gas companies (like Halliburton, whose push for software patents — even at the EPOwe covered here six years ago). Here is the part about patents on drilling and potentially software/gas (it would not be hard to disguise the software as pertaining to a physical “effect”). To quote: “Halliburton Co., the largest provider of fracking services, bought Summit ESP, a company armed with 44 patents for technology to improve production. That followed by two months Helmerich & Payne Inc.’s acquisition of Motive Drilling Technologies Inc., with 14 patents, another dozen pending, and software in hand that can robotically steer drill bits located more than a mile underground.”

We certainly hope that in spite of all the lobbying on Section 101 (we wrote 3 articles about that lobbying in the past week) the patent office will heed the warning and learn from courts that software patents are passé.

The United States International Trade Commission is an Embargo-Loving Bully That Ignores Invalidation of Patents at Hand

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 4:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s also utterly biased in favour of — you’ve guessed it — US giants

Due process
Reference: Due process

Summary: Due process or inaction until guilt is proven not a concept that is honoured by the International Trade Commission (ITC), based on Cisco's case against Arista Networks (last covered here a week ago)

HERE IN TECHRIGHTS we are proponents of PTAB for all sorts of reasons; the patent microcosm loathes PTAB, but the actual producing industry appreciates it and guards it. As for the ITC (we wrote a lot about it before), it’s being incredibly irrational in blocking imports; here is one recent example of it. There are over a dozen other examples which we wrote about over the years. We repeatedly noted that there is nothing “international” about the International Trade Commission and it is too biased to be taken seriously as a patent ‘court’. It’s simply enjoying too much power which is frequently overused.

“We repeatedly noted that there is nothing “international” about the International Trade Commission and it is too biased to be taken seriously as a patent ‘court’.”Such was the case in this scenario that several law firms covered towards the end of the week [1, 2, 3]. “The ITC recently continued its trend of giving little deference to parallel PTAB IPR proceedings,” said one group of writers (marketing for their firm). “Though IPR remains an effective tool for defending against infringement allegations in district court,” they concluded, “this may no longer be true for ITC actions.”

Here is the entire concluding bit:

Though IPR remains an effective tool for defending against infringement allegations in district court, this may no longer be true for ITC actions. Unless they file an IPR before being sued in the ITC, it is unlikely that a respondent in an ITC action would be able to obtain a final written decision from the PTAB in a parallel IPR proceeding before the ITC issues a remedial order. Furthermore, as this case demonstrates, even if the respondent is able to obtain a final written decision from the PTAB, the Commission may refuse to suspend or rescind the remedial orders until all appeals of the PTAB decision have been exhausted and the Director of the USPTO issues a certificate cancelling the unpatentable claims. Given how long these appeals can take, the damage to respondent’s business by the remedial orders may already be done unless the respondent has a design-around.

In simple terms, the ITC jumped the gun and imposed an embargo/injunction using a questionable patent; even when PTAB deemed this patent invalid the sanctions remained in tact. It’s financially destroying the defendant (cannot import products to sell). Cisco is crushing a smaller rival this way.

What kind of justice is this? Where is due process? Is the accused presumed guilty until cleared of allegations/charges? This is another big stain on the ITC’s reputation. Nobody is safe (not even the innocent parties) and this is the kind of threat UPC would bring to Europe.

Anonymous Comments Discuss Erosion of Lawful Activity at the EPO, Lowered Patent Quality, Software Patents, and Trump Comparisons

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Insiders and stakeholders sound off!

Minnoye MAGA

Summary: Views and opinions about the state of the European Patent Office (EPO), as expressed in recent days in anonymous comments over at IP Kat

THE REASON why the UPC is not going anywhere (and oughn’t go anywhere, either) — some believe — is the lack of separation of powers (EPO tyranny), which itself poses a threat to juridical sanity. What good is a legal system wherein appeals are subservient to those whose decisions are judged?

Nothing of that kind was ever an issue at the USPTO (where PTAB does a good job).

“What good is a legal system wherein appeals are subservient to those whose decisions are judged?”Neil Wilkof, citing “Kat friend” Florica Rus and quoting her extensively, wrote about the EPO’s decision to stop granting lots of patents on seeds and plants, essentially succumbing to the EPC, to enormous pressure from the public, and the European Commission (i.e. the EU).

Rus correctly pointed out that “GMOs face in Europe strong and constant opposition. Can it be that after these developments, GMOs will gain more popularity?”

No.

“What good is an EP if the EPO can decide overnight to revoke it (without even a trial/opportunity for appeal)?”Either way, after revoking a lot of patents en masse the value of EPs will decline and confidence in them be reduced. We already wrote about some people who express such views. What good is an EP if the EPO can decide overnight to revoke it (without even a trial/opportunity for appeal)?

The comments on the views from Wilkof/Rus (Wilkof did only the introduction) reveal concerns about chaos as the Administrative Council could “simply overrule the EBA on the basis of a interpretive note from the European Commission.”

Here is the comment to consider carefully:

Whilst the legal changes may well be sensible and correct, the means by which that solution has been reached is clearly legally illegitimate and entirely incorrect. The Administrative Council cannot simply overrule the EBA on the basis of a interpretive note from the European Commission. The interpretative note has no legal standing unless and until it is examined by a Court of the European Union.

Regardless of how proper the outcome is, amendment of the Rules cannot and should not be welcomed as it has been achieved by completely bypassing all normal legal procedures. The ends cannot be used to justify the means.

Correct. But this is the outcome of the EPO operating in a vacuum, wrongly assuming that if input/feedback/imperatives are ignored nothing will go awry later.

“…this is the outcome of the EPO operating in a vacuum, wrongly assuming that if input/feedback/imperatives are ignored nothing will go awry later.”This was a house of card waiting to collapse and we warned about it more than half a decade ago.

“The Administrative Council,” says the next comment, “even dismissed a member in violation of Art 23 EPC.”

Yes, the EPO is a lawless place and in 2014 Battistelli rubber-stamped that status, having already hired a thug and serially-accused criminal to be his Vice.

The Administrative Council has recently lifted the former quasi-automaticity in the renomination of board members for a further five years term, and even dismissed a member in violation of Art 23 EPC. Guess why?

So the EPC no longer matters and Battistelli just nonchalantly violates it without any consequences (the Administrative Council led by Kongstad seems not to mind even when explicitly alerted about it).

“…the EPC no longer matters and Battistelli just nonchalantly violates it without any consequences…”It often seems like Battistelli not only shreds the EPC but also altogether kills the EPO. He kills it for UPC to get started, first by ensuring that there are no pending applications, rendering the majority of examiners redundant as early as next year. Some are already being pushed out without it being labeled “layoffs” (they’re just asked to resign).

“The EPO’s days as an independent entity are numbered, and it knows it,” said the next comment:

To Anonymous of 10:22, it must be kept in mind that after the public reaction to Harvard Oncomouse and the Transgenic Plants case the EPO decided it no longer wanted controversy. It waited for the EU to bring out the Biotech Directive and imported it into the EPC Rules, and the idea was that the EU and CJEU would make the decisions and take the flak for future ethical/bio issues. Therefore the EPO has already given away its authority on these matters to the EU which is why the Administrative Council did what it did, but the problem is the present procedures don’t reflect that.

The EPO has to tread very carefully because once the UP and UPC are up and running the EPO will be the next thing the EU will want to encompass. If the EPO had kept to its position to interpret its rules differently from the equivalent language in the Directive it would have given the EU more ammunition for the argument that there can only be one Supreme Appeal Court for patents in Europe. The EPO’s days as an independent entity are numbered, and it knows it. For now it must stay subservient to the EU to keep out of trouble, but it know it cannot resist forever.

Then, the relevance to/of the CJEU gets brought up (often the case when it comes to the UPC, especially in relation to Brexit):

The European Commission is entitled to a view on what the Biotech Directive means. But the body with the power to say what it means is the CJEU.

As to whether the change in the Rules is sensible, there may be more than one view. One thing that won’t result is increased certainty.

CJEU was then bought up again:

…but just as a means of clarification: are the boards bound by the implementing regulations to the extent they are NOT inconsistent with the the convention (also in view of article 24 saying the form an integral part of it)

-As for the CJEU, this is indeed a question that is waiting to be asked. However, if EPO (incl the boards) follow the new Rules, then no new patents will be granted, so national judges can only ask such a question with regards to national patents (if those don’t follow the EPO line) or already existing EP’s. It is likely (but not sure) that those jurisdiction where the EC opinion and the implementng law are already consistent with this reading of the biotech directive will not see a need to make the reference, and it is exactly those jurisdictions that tend to ask a lot of IP questions to CJEU. It could therefore be a long wait until the eventual question is asked…

After a day the original author responded to this query among others (like software patents):

Thanks for your comments. There is no doubt that the discussions regarding patents on plants will not end here.

To Treaty Notifier:
If the Boards are consistent with the Convention, having “as a shield” Article 164(2), one could say that they are not bound by the Implementing Regulations and, arguably, no issue can be raised against them. As for Article 24 EPC regarding exclusion and objection of the Board members (I guess you were referring to this provision, I hope not to be wrong), this applies also in case there is a reason for exclusion other than reasons originating from a member itself or from any party of the proceedings. One could think that “other reason” might be not following the amended Rules. Bearing in mind the current situation, in the end, if it will be considered that having a different view than the one in the Amended Rules might trigger exclusion, the case will be treated on a case by case basis. All in all, I am sure that further developments won`t take long … Hope to have answered to your question.

Regarding a question to the CJEU, it is true that a national patent case can refer to the CJEU. As for the time being, who knows, maybe there is somewhere a national revocation proceeding and in light on the new developments, the national Court will ask for a preliminary ruling.

To Anonymous of 14:15:
I like the comparison with the CII. Their situation can be considered similar to the one of patents on plants, although I think that CII began to have their situation under a more concrete legal layer than the latter. And yes, the creativity of the attorney or “smart claim drafting” could be seen as solutions. As for the reasons which contributed to the stay of the proceedings, there are arguments to run for or against it.

To Anonymous from 10:22:
It is true that there were several others ways to reach a harmonization and to amend the required provisions (e.g. a new Referral to the EBA; revision of the Biotech Directive and the EPC itself and so on). Now, we have to see what`s next and how to deal with/better interpret the new background around plant patents.

In the above response mind the part about “CII” [sic] (a euphemism for software patents). It’s those same old loopholes, which are referred to as “Art 52 EPC that however apply only for the exclusions “as such”.”

Here is the comment in question:

Personally, as a practioner I do not think that this will be a huge problem. The amended rule 28 EPC refers to “essentially biological processes”. This weak formulation will result in an outcome that might well be comparable with the situtation regarding the exclusions in Art 52 EPC that however apply only for the exclusions “as such”. In practice, programs for computers can be patented quite well as long as there is any interaction with the “outside” and creatvity on the side of the attorney. I expect that a similar approach could be taken with respect to biological processes. That is, try hard and long enought and you will have a T decision that gives you some leeway for arguments in subsequent cases that a claim is not directed to a “essentially” a biological process but merely has some biological features.

That national courts may revoke a patent that is perfectly vaild at the EPO in light of the very same circumstances is also an unfortunate fact of life that however has less consequences in practice than one might think. For example, while it appears that the German Supreme Court has a completely different view with respect to novelty of selections/sub-ranges than the EPO/BOAs, in the end, this hardly ever plays a role.

That the stay of proceedigns of cases “par ordre du mufti” was in my opinion illegal must also be said though.

So some people do believe that applicants will simply work around the restrictions and patent life (fruit, vegetables, seeds and animals) anyway.

“So some people do believe that applicants will simply work around the restrictions and patent life (fruit, vegetables, seeds and animals) anyway.”Does patent quality not matter anymore?

In another thread — the one regarding decline in patent quality and management's latest lies about it — alternative surrogates for measuring patent quality got brought up. The following speaks of oppositions to grants as a “checking mechanism for the quality of examination,” but it’s no secret that the window for oppositions has been narrowed by Battistelli, appeal boards have been crushed and so on. We covered all that. Here is the comment in full:

To use oppositions as a checking mechanism for the quality of examination is an old idea, but it does not work.

For a start, there are only 5% of the granted patents which are opposed.

Then, in some technical areas there are hardly any, and in other areas, they are quasi systematic. Number of oppositions are in new and upcoming areas, that means they are there as long as there is a place to take or subsidies to grasp. Once the market is settled, then they disappear as quickly as they arrived.

Some oppositions are on the basis of public prior use or divulgation, and hence not relevant for assessing the search and the examination procedure.

Last but not least, they are not for free. The actual fee might be low, but then you have to add costs for representation. Unless there is an economic interest, nobody will oppose.

There are other means to draw the attention to the lowering quality, but those are not without danger for the individual examiner.

In yet another thread — this one regarding a decision in the UK which keeps mentioning the EPO (and EBA) — the discussion carries on this weekend (there have been many comments on this).

Here is one of the latest comments on this (alluding to “zero-tolerance to ambiguity that the EPO espouses”):

My comment on the craziness of this decision is from a UK perspective. Here we had basically killed off our doctrine of equivalents (purposive construction) and were well along the road of increased literalism and zero-tolerance to ambiguity that the EPO espouses. Our younger judges (at Court of Appeal level and below) would have fallen entirely into that way of thinking and we would have been doing that for eternity had this Supreme Court decision not totally changed the direction of how we interpret claims. This is a big change for the UK, and I can tell you our patent attorneys are feeling pretty bewildered! Many feel that infringement opinions will be close to impossible to write now.

I referred to Brexit and Trump jokingly, but I do think that Brexit is giving some of the country a feeling that we now need to get back to independent thinking and not be so reliant on the EU and other International organisations to deal with the big problems. Trump being president means that decades of our foreign policy is up in the air, and the UK is requestioning what sort of country it wants to be and why. The Supreme Court may have had all this in the back of their minds when they decided to change how we interpret claims.

Trump, in my personal view, is about as irrational and dangerous as Battistelli. A few years ago Battistelli’s EPO simply blocked the whole of this Web site and earlier this evening Donald Trump blocked me in Twitter (for merely criticising him). The parallels are noteworthy. They refuse to accept criticism and censor to suppress access to it.

07.28.17

Links 28/7/2017: Suricata 4.0, QML vs. HTML5, LibreOffice 5.4

Posted in News Roundup at 5:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Four Open Source Data Projects To Watch Now

    While open source isn’t the sole source of creativity and progress in big data, it’s a major driver in the space. Market-shaking tech like Kafka, Spark, Hadoop, and MongoDB all began as obscure open source projects backed by enthusiasic developers. Which open source project will be the next breakout star?

    Many open soruce projects are organized under the Apache Software Foundation, but not all. Here are four recently founded upstream big data projects – two hosted by the ASF and two that aren’t — that could find their way into your quiver of big data analytics tools.

  • The 4 Quadrants of Open Source Entrepreneurship

    Some time ago, I noticed something missing in our discussions about open source software development. A few somethings, in fact. Nobody was talking about product management as it pertains to open source development. Admittedly, this was spurred by a question from a product management team member who was confronted for the first time by the reality of working with an engineering team that runs an open source project. Her question was simply, “So… what should we be doing?” Her question was born of a fear that product management had no role in this new regime and thus rendered her unnecessary. I had to think for a moment because I, experienced open source project hand that I was, wasn’t quite sure. For quite some time, my standard response had been for product management and other “corporate types” to stay the hell away from my open source project. But that didn’t feel right. In fact, it felt darn right anachronistic and counterproductive.

  • Aiming to Be a Zero: The Ultimate Open Source Philosophy

    Guy Martin, Director of the Open@ADSK initiative at Autodesk, had two dreams growing up — to be either an astronaut or a firefighter. Martin has realized his second dream through his work as a volunteer firefighter with Cal Fire, but his love for space is what led to “Aiming to Be an Open Source Zero,” the talk he will be delivering at Open Source Summit NA.

  • Why you need more than just open-source

    In 2016, the Open Source Drives Digital Innovation study commissioned by Red-Hat and conducted by analyst house Forrester revealed that 52% of CIOs and senior IT decision makers in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region are already tapping open source software in areas such as cloud, mobility, big data and DevOps.

    More IT decision-makers are turning to open source to drive better efficiency and digital innovation, as its flexibility enables organisations to build new customer experiences, services and products more quickly.

    As more enterprises tap open source there are some misconceptions about what open-source means. Open source technology allows for incredible collaboration between people, communities and projects. Yet many inadvertently associate the words “free” and “easy” with open source which is not always true. Open source makes tech easily accessible and collaborative, which drives incredibly fast innovation. But open source is much more than easily accessible tech. Enterprise needs must be considered and that is why the business of open source tech is about more than just accessibility.

  • 5 open source alternatives to Trello

    I have to admit, I’ve fallen in love with Trello as a productivity tool. If you like keeping lists as a way to organize your work, it’s a very good tool. For me, it serves two primary purposes: keeping a GTD framework, and managing certain projects with a kanban-like schedule.

    But Trello is a closed source SaaS product, and I wanted to know whether I could find an open source alternative to meet my needs. As much as I love Trello, it lacks a few features that I’d really like to have in a list/task manager, and I wanted to explore my other options.

  • How startup Kite tried to ruin two open source communities

    Even though it can be hard to make money with open source, there are some strategies that should be off-limits. Take Kite, for example, which has reportedly infiltrated two open source projects to use them to push ads and promote spyware. In the open source edition of How to Win Friends and Influence People, Kite’s actions would write the chapter on failure.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • How Could You Use a Speech Interface?

        Last month in San Francisco, my colleagues at Mozilla took to the streets to collect samples of spoken English from passers-by. It was the kickoff of our Common Voice Project, an effort to build an open database of audio files that developers can use to train new speech-to-text (STT) applications.

        What’s the big deal about speech recognition?

        Speech is fast becoming a preferred way to interact with personal electronics like phones, computers, tablets and televisions. Anyone who’s ever had to type in a movie title using their TV’s remote control can attest to the convenience of a speech interface. According to one study, it’s three times faster to talk to your phone or computer than to type a search query into a screen interface.

        Plus, the number of speech-enabled devices is increasing daily, as Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod gain traction in the market. Speech is also finding its way into multi-modal interfaces, in-car assistants, smart watches, lightbulbs, bicycles and thermostats. So speech interfaces are handy — and fast becoming ubiquitous.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.4 Released With New Standard Color Palette, Improved File Handling

      The official update to LibreOffice 5.4 is now available following a slight delay.

      This cross-platform open-source office suite features a new standard color palette, improved file format compatibility, importing PDFs now yield much better quality, support for OpenPGP key signing of documents on Linux, better performance of LibreOffice Online, and many other improvements.

    • LibreOffice 5.4 Office Suite Debuts with New Features for Writer, Calc & Impress

      The Document Foundation today announced the release and immediate availability of the LibreOffice 5.4 office suite, the last to be released for the LibreOffice 5 series.

      Supported until June 11, 2018, with no less than six incremental updates, the LibreOffice 5.4 office suite is here to add an extra layer of improvements to the Writer, Calc, and Impress components. It also introduces a great number of incremental improvements to the Microsoft Office file compatibility and focuses on file simplicity, which is a very important concept for LibreOffice.

    • LibreOffice 5.4 Released with ‘Significant New Features’

      LibreOffice 5.4 serves as the final major release in the LibreOffice 5.x series (meaning LibreOffice 6.x will be next). The update is said to add “significant new features in every module” and (as always) improved Microsoft Office file compatibility.

    • LibreOffice 5.4 released with new features for Writer, Calc and Impress

      The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 5.4, the last major release of the LibreOffice 5.x family, immediately available for Windows, macOS and Linux, and for the cloud. LibreOffice 5.4 adds significant new features in every module, including the usual large number of incremental improvements to Microsoft Office file compatibility.

  • CMS

  • Healthcare

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Binutils 2.29 Released

      Binutils 2.29 is now available as well as a Binutils 2.28.1 point release.

      Binutils 2.29 brings a lot for MIPS and SPARC users. MIPS improvements for Binutils 2.29 include support for microMIPS eXtended Physical Addressing (PXA), microMIPS Release 5 ISA for assembly/disassembly, support for the Imagination interAptiv MR2 CPU, and support for the MIPS16e2 ASE assembly/disassembly.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Public Domain Is Not Open Source

      Open Source and Public Domain are frequently confused. Here’s why it’s a mistake to treat the two terms as synonyms.

      Plenty of people assume that public domain software must be open source. While it may be free software within your specific context, it is incorrect to treat public domain software as open source or indeed as globally free software. That’s not a legal opinion (I’m not a lawyer so only entitled to layman’s opinions) but rather an observation that an open source user or developer cannot safely include public domain source code in a project.

    • 5 Reasons Facebook’s React License Was A Mistake

      In July 2017, the Apache Software Foundation effectively banned the license combination Facebook has been applying to all the projects it has been releasing as open source. They are using the 3-clause BSD license (BSD-3), a widely-used OSI-approved non-reciprocal license, combined with a broad, non-reciprocal patent grant but with equally broad termination rules to frustrate aggressors.

      The combination represents a new open source license, which I’ve termed the “Facebook BSD Plus Patent License” (FB+PL), and to my eyes it bears the hallmarks of an attempt to be compatible with both the GPL v2 and the Apache License v2 at the same time, in circumvention of the alleged imcompatibility of those licenses.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • How an open source board game is saving the planet

      Learning is supposed to be fun, and incorporating games into education is a great way for teachers to help kids have fun while they’re learning. There are many free online games that are appropriate for the classroom and there are also board games, including Save the Planet, a board game that teaches kids concrete solutions to environmental problems.

      Save the Planet is a free, DIY, cooperative board game that is openly licensed to encourage community contributions. In the game, players win by working together to clean up virtual pollution, while in real life they learn ways to save the planet. A recent study on distributed manufacturing of toys showed this game costs less than US$ 3 to make—70-90% less than a store-bought board game.

    • John Dylan’s Open Source Music Volume 2 [Ed: No real connection to "open source" just riding a buzzword]

      Dylan’s ‘Open Source Music Volume 2’ for ‘If I Want You To’ includes no fewer than 22 b-sides capturing some highly emotional and expressionist recordings made after John left his family and high school as a teenager. John commented that ‘I felt very isolated and angry and was wringing a lot of feeling out of myself during the creation of these recordings.’

    • Open Access/Content

      • CREATe Summer Summit 2017: Open Science, Open Culture & the Global South (and everything between)

        This was just one of various new web tools showcased last week, all of which work to further increase openness and indeed are generally available (at least as Creative Commons). There was the Copyright Evidence Wiki, a database for empirical copyright research; Online Media Behavioural Analytics (OMeBA) survey data; and – my personal favourite, and well worth a look – the digitisation of Edwin Morgan’s scrapbooks.

  • Programming/Development

    • JavaScript explodes on the server side with the growth of Node.js

      Not so long ago, the idea that JavaScript could become an important server-side language would’ve sounded downright silly. Thanks to Node.js, JavaScript has become a vital language not just for web development, but for Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) such as Cloud Foundry. In fact, according to the Stack Overflow 2017 Developer Survey of 64,000 programmers, Node.js is the most popular of all developer frameworks.

      According to Mark Hinkle, executive director of the Node.js Foundation, a branch of The Linux Foundation, “With more than 8 million Node.js instances online, three in four users are planning to increase their use of Node.js in the next 12 months.”

      [...]

      Node.js, for those who don’t know it, is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. It uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model to be both lightweight and efficient for server side applications. Npm, its package ecosystem, is one of the largest open-source libraries collections in the world.

    • How is coinduction the dual of induction?

      Earlier today, I demonstrated how to work with coinduction in the theorem provers Isabelle, Coq and Agda, with a very simple example. This reminded me of a discussion I had in Karlsruhe with my then colleague Denis Lohner: If coinduction is the dual of induction, why do the induction principles look so different? I like what we observed there, so I’d like to share this.

      The following is mostly based on my naive understanding of coinduction based on what I observe in the implementation in Isabelle. I am sure that a different, more categorial presentation of datatypes (as initial resp. terminal objects in some category of algebras) makes the duality more obvious, but that does not necessarily help the working Isabelle user who wants to make sense of coninduction.

    • Metaphors We Compute By

      Programmers must be able to tell a story with their code, explaining how they solved a particular problem. Like writers, programmers must know their metaphors. Many metaphors will be able to explain a concept, but you must have enough skill to choose the right one that’s able to convey your ideas to future programmers who will read the code.

      Thus, you cannot use every metaphor you know. You must master the art of metaphor selection, of meaning amplification. You must know when to add and when to subtract. You will learn to revise and rewrite code as a writer does. Once there’s nothing else to add or remove, you have finished your work. The problem you started with is now the solution. Is that the meaning you intended to convey in the first place?

    • ActiveRuby polishes up gems, precompiled jewels sparkle
    • ActiveState Releases Beta Commercial Distribution for Ruby, Bridging Gap Between ‘Innovation Market’ and Established Enterprises

Leftovers

  • Polish public sector information rules ‘too complex’

    Poland should relax its rules on the reuse of public sector information, recommends the ePaństwo Foundation, a Polish NGO advocating open government. “Provisions that lack clear justification are hindering the reuse of government data”, the NGO concludes in its report on the transposing of European legislation on reuse of public sector information (the PSI Directive), published in early July.

  • Austria plans digital leaders training programme

    The government of Austria is considering a training programme to increase the digital skills of public sector leaders. The ‘Digital Leaders’ training should let the public sector embrace new forms of cooperation and other innovations, and help it face labour market challenges, said Muna Duzdar, the country’s State Secretary for Digitalisation at a press conference on 4 July.

  • Science

    • Gramophone audio from photograph, revisited

      [...] a childhood toy robot of mine. I’ve taken a look at his peculiar sound mechanism a few times before (#1, #2), in an attempt to recover the analog audio signal using only a digital camera. Results were noisy at best. The blog posts resurfaced in a recent IRC discussion which inspired me to try my luck with a slightly improved method.

    • Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites

      When the pharaohs ruled Egypt and the ancient Greeks built their first cities, a mysterious people called the Canaanites dominated the Near East. Around 4000 years ago, they built cities across the Levant, which includes present-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and part of Syria. Yet the Canaanites left no surviving written records, leaving researchers to piece together their history from secondhand sources.

    • Our Minds Have Been Hijacked by Our Phones. Tristan Harris Wants to Rescue Them

      It started with 60 Minutes and its piece reviewing the ways the tech industry uses design techniques to keep people hooked to the screen for as long and as frequently as possible. Not because they’re evil but because of this arms race for attention.

    • A brief history of quantum alternatives

      In 1915, Albert Einstein, with a little help from his friends, developed a theory of gravity that overturned what we’d thought were the very foundations of physical reality. The idea that the space that we inhabit was not perfectly described by Euclidean geometry had been inconceivable—so much so that the philosopher Immanuel Kant, a radical thinker in so many ways, proclaimed that it was not possible for any theory of physics to dispense with it.A brief history of quantum alternatives

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Finance

    • Twitter’s user growth disappoints despite Trump tweets [iophk: “perhaps due to its heavy-handed censorship, including vigorous use of shadow bans”

      Despite its appeal among celebrities and public figures, Twitter has struggled to sustain its closely watched user growth even as it invests in features and live content to help draw viewers and boost user engagement.

    • Twitter revenue drops further as user growth stalls
    • Twitter’s stock plunges as user growth stalls

      That’s not going to happen, and investors are cluing in. Twitter had 328 million average monthly active users, or MAU, in the three months ending in June, which is unchanged from the previous quarter. The company’s shares were down more than 10 percent this morning on the news.

    • Wells Fargo also defrauded 800,000 car loan customers and stole 25,000 cars

      Wells Fargo didn’t just steal millions from its customers with crooked overdraft fees, didn’t just create 2,000,000 fraudulent accounts and threaten to blackball employees who tried to stop the frauds; didn’t just defraud broke mortgage borrowers by the bushel-load — they also defrauded 800,000 customers with car loans, forcing 274,000 of them into deliquency and “wrongfully repossessing” (that is, stealing) 25,000 of their cars.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Released Documents Show More Section 702 Violations By The NSA

      Always lawful and subject to strict oversight. Those are the NSA’s defenses any time someone leaks something about its surveillance programs or obtains documents indicating abuse of snooping powers. It gets a little old when it’s document after document showing the astonishing breadth of the NSA’s surveillance programs or the continual abuse and misuse of these powers.

      The Hill has dug through some recently-released documents and memos from the NSA which show long-term abuse of surveillance programs. The NSA recently ditched part of its Section 702 collection because it just couldn’t stop hoovering up Americans’ communications. This was “incidental,” according to the NSA, and supposedly impossible to stop. But the incidents detailed in these documents suggest a lot of over-collection happened because no one noticed and, if anyone did, no one cared.

    • Declassified Files Show FBI and NSA Routinely Broke Privacy Rules Under Obama

      The National Security Agency and FBI violated various civil liberty protections under President Barack Obama’s administration, improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on citizens and failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos uncovered by the American Civil Liberties Union.

      The documents cover compliance with privacy rules between 2009 and 2016. Released under a Freedom of Information Act request from the ACLU, they offer extensive detail on the two spying agencies’ apparent inability to obey their own rules. In all, the memos outline over 90 incidents in which the FBI and NSA violated restrictions on data collection, with many episodes involving multiple people and multiple violations over extended periods of time.

    • Google has stopped pre-empting your search results

      The feature introduced in 2010 which offered you results as you type has been discontinued effective immediately.

    • Accused NSA leaker’s supporters call on feds to drop charges against her

      Reality Winner’s supporters said they delivered petitions with more than 16,000 signatures to the U.S. Justice Department’s headquarters in Washington Thursday, asking the agency to drop its charges against the accused National Security Agency leaker.

      Among those delivering the petitions on “Whistleblower Appreciation Day” were representatives from several groups, including CodePink, Defending Rights & Dissent, RootsAction.org, Whistleblower and Source Protection Program and Stand with Reality, a nonprofit campaign that is supporting Winner’s case through advocacy and fundraising.

      “We should not be charging whistleblowers acting in the public interest, disclosing information responsibly to journalists, as if they were traitors to our country. Anyone who cares about a free press should be concerned about her case,” Rainey Reitman, co-founder of Stand with Reality, said in a prepared statement.

    • Senate bill would stop police from obtaining emails and location data without a warrant

      The Electronic Communications Privacy Modernization Act, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act by requiring police to obtain a warrant for remotely stored emails that are more than 180 days old, which law enforcement can currently obtain through a lower legal standard.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Feds Crack Trump Protesters’ Phones to Charge Them With Felony Rioting

      Prosecutors have indicted over 200 people on felony riot charges for protests in Washington, D.C. on January 20 that broke windows and damaged vehicles. Some defendants face up to 75 years in prison, despite little evidence against them. But a new court filing reveals that investigators have been able to crack into at least eight defendants’ locked cell phones.

    • TSA To Require Separate Scanning Of Electronics ‘Bigger Than Cellphone’

      Because that’s exactly the sort of thing we don’t need: more TSA personnel/policies stating that bigger is more dangerous. We already have the problem with laptops because the TSA’s math says potential threat level is directly proportionate to screen size.

      [...]

      Haha… oh my god, she’s serious.

      God bless the TSA, where enhanced screening is something to be inflicted on travelers, but never job applicants.

      The TSA notes this change “may” cause delays during screening, which can be read as “will,” especially as everyone gets the hang of the latest thing the TSA’s doing (including the TSA). More items will be headed to checked bags, which works out for airlines. And more people will be piled up at security checkpoints, which works out well for terrorists.

    • San Francisco DA: Anti-theft law results in huge drop in stolen phones [Ed: Promotion of kill switches in digital devices]

      San Francisco’s district attorney says that a California state law mandating “theft-deterring technological solutions” for smartphones has resulted in a precipitous drop in such robberies.

      Those measures primarily include a remote kill switch after a phone has been stolen that would allow a phone to be disabled, withstanding even a hard reset,

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Information, Access, And Development: Setting A Course For The Sustainable Development Goals

      IFLA’s Development and Access to Information (DA2I) report 2017, produced in partnership with the Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington, underlines that access to information is as important as ever today for development. But just as important is the question of whether this is meaningful – simply having the possibility to connect to the Internet is not enough.

    • The Worst Internet In America

      FiveThirtyEight analyzed every county’s broadband usage using data from researchers at the University of Iowa and Arizona State University and found that Saguache was at the bottom. Only 5.6 percent of adults were estimated to have broadband.

    • Can Facebook Connect the Next Billion?

      Our key findings:

      [...]

      Free Basics violates net neutrality principles: Free Basics does not allow users to browse the open Internet. It offers access to a small set of services and prioritizes the Facebook app by actively urging users to sign-up for and log into the service. Free Basics also divides third-party services into two tiers, giving greater visibility to one set of information over another.

    • Free Basics in Real Life : Six case studies on Facebook’s internet “On Ramp” initiative from Africa, Asia and Latin America [Warning for PDF]

      We are skeptical of Facebook’s contention that this technology is truly serving as an “on ramp” to using the global internet, i.e. convincing people to purchase a data plan. There is not sufficient evidence to suggest that first – time users will be motivated to make this transition. And ample evidence suggests that most users of this technology had in fact used the internet many times before they had Free Basics. They were motivated to use the tool not as an intermediary ste p towards full internet access, but rather as a way to supplement their mobile data allowances while limiting spending.

      With this in mind, we wonder what kinds of ideas first – time users will have about the internet, if Free Basics is how they become acquainted with the internet. How will people understand what lies beyond the confines of Free Basics? How will this formative experience affect their behavior if or when they do begin using the global internet?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Sci-Hub’s cache of pirated papers is so big, subscription journals are doomed, data analyst suggests

        Given that Sci-Hub has access to almost every paper a scientist would ever want to read, and can quickly obtain requested papers it doesn’t have, could the website truly topple traditional publishing? In a chat with ScienceInsider, Himmelstein concludes that the results of his study could mark “the beginning of the end” for paywalled research. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

      • Sci-Hub provides access to nearly all scholarly literature

        Finally, we estimate that over a six-month period in 2015–2016, Sci-Hub provided access for 99.3% of valid incoming requests. Hence, the scope of this resource suggests the subscription publishing model is becoming unsustainable. For the first time, the overwhelming majority of scholarly literature is available gratis to anyone with an Internet connection.

      • Police Confirm ‘Extra’ Illegal Spying on Kim Dotcom

        New Zealand Police have confirmed that Kim Dotcom was unlawfully surveilled for two months longer than previously admitted. The revelation is an embarrassment for local law enforcement and increases pressure on those responsible. Dotcom, meanwhile, is smelling blood: “What’s next? What are the consequences?” he says.

07.27.17

The USPTO Report on Section 101 is Somewhat Farcical as Input Comes From the Patent Microcosm, Not Producing Companies

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 6:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Soda industry

Summary: The USPTO is reaching convenient but erroneous conclusions by drawing input from just a tiny minority that’s niche interest groups (profiting from a torrent of litigation and low-quality patents)

THE occasional public events that discuss patents tend to be a sham. We wrote about several such bogus panels last year. These are echo chambers. Not a single engineer or technical person attended such events (or spoke in them). Lawyers, attorneys and managers were everywhere; public officials too. But nobody who actually applies for a patents or whose work is affected by patents. The intention of such events is to mislead the public by exclusion of voices.

“The intention of such events is to mislead the public by exclusion of voices.”Such was the report on Section 101, which was the outcome of lobbying, as we noted yesterday and earlier this week. The USPTO continues to grant patents that courts very often reject because the examiners, pressured from above, are too eager to grant and increase the numbers irrespective of merit (prior art, complexity of said invention and so on). It’s similar to what is happening at the EPO, but the US has PTAB (appeal board/s), whereas these systematically get marginalised in Europe and Oppositions/Appeals too (another division) sees windows narrowed to further impede/suppress much-needed gchallenges.

“Well, “these participants” are the patent microcosm, which does no innovation at all.”To make a long story short (or a 60-page document more concise), front groups of the microcosm want not only to eliminate PTAB but also to broaden patent scope, as usual. IAM has just named those notably involved as “the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), the American Intellectual Property Lawyers Association (AIPLA) and the IP section of the American Bar Association (ABA),” adding that they “have all put forward proposed 101 revisions” (to water down Alice effects).

This is very much expected and this is why we need to watch this carefully. The writer too is a patent maximalist (longtime proponent of trolls and software patents) and he said:

The report is not an advocacy document [yeah right!] and is therefore not designed to influence the patent reform debate in one direction or another. But it does conclude that a majority of those who took part in the consultation process favour legislative change to 101. “A call for legislation was particularly strong from the life sciences industry but also had many supporters from computer-related industries,” the PTO wrote. “According to these participants, the [Supreme] Court’s precedent is having such a harmful impact on innovation and business development that a legislative solution is critical.”

Well, “these participants” are the patent microcosm, which does no innovation at all.

IPO has in fact worked hand in glove with IBM on this, in order to facilitate IBM's ruinous patent bullying.

“Sites like IAM must be very pleased, for they are directly funded by the patent microcosm and effectively act as a front/influence group.”We have to confess that we have not yet read the entire report (it’s too long), but the impression we get from those who have is that it amplifies the positions of the patent microcosm. Sites like IAM must be very pleased, for they are directly funded by the patent microcosm and effectively act as a front/influence group. That’s just their business model.

Earlier today another writer from IAM wrote in order to protest Japan’s likely/imminent decision to do the right thing, having already toughened the courts (to make frivolous patent lawsuits harder). Those who use standards as Trojan horses to tax a lot of companies (the way MPEG-LA does) might lose their power, so the exploiters of such schemes panic a little. IAM responded with this:

The Prime Minister’s Office included the ADR proposal in its 2017 IP Promotion Plan. The document calls for the necessary amendments to the Patent Law to be submitted at the next ordinary session of the Diet, which is in January 2018. The plan states that the legal structure of the new system, which it maintains will not ‘abuse patent owner rights’, should be determined by March 2018.

As is usual and ever so typical from IAM, which already protested the Japanese courts’ hostility towards bad patent, it then veers off and turns into a megaphone of the abusers.

“As is usual and ever so typical from IAM, which already protested the Japanese courts’ hostility towards bad patent, it then veers off and turns into a megaphone of the abusers.”It ought to be clear by now that there’s an information war between “parasitic” elements in the patent world (trolls and law firms) and everybody else, namely companies that produce things and the public (which buys these things). If the USPTO fails to recognise and take this into account, it will be treated as nothing more than an extension of the “parasite”.

In Anthony Levandowski’s Case, Google Demonstrates It Would Leverage Patent Lawsuits as a Surrogate Weapon

Posted in Courtroom, Google, Patents at 5:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Google’s Stewardship of GNU/Linux (Android, Chromebooks and More) in Doubt After Company Resorts to Patent ‘First Strikes’

Anthony Levandowski
Reference: Anthony Levandowski. Credit: shinnygogo, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.

Summary: Another look at cases where patents are used as a sort of revenge/leverage over completely unrelated disputes, or matters pertaining to alleged copying rather than patent infringement per se

THE LATEST in Google v Uber (Google by another name) was covered earlier this month. What’s noteworthy about this case is that it’s Google first time (as far as anyone is aware, based on public action) resorting to patent aggression — no matter the excuses/justifications for it — after nearly two decades on the scene. The USPTO had granted patents that Google essentially bought and a popular magazine has just expressed concerns that patent wars like these may “Kill the Self-Driving Car” (alluding directly to this case):

Google vs. Uber is just the first salvo in what could be a nasty legal tug-of-war over who makes the biggest stack of money on the future of moving people around.

The case has generally been reduced by about 75% (little of it left in terms of the number of patents involved/asserted) and the judge says “Waymo may be in “a world of trouble” if it can’t prove actual harm by Uber”.

“Google’s division sued Uber back in February,” it said, “alleging that one of its own former engineers, Anthony Levandowski, stole 14,000 proprietary files and took them to his new startup, Otto (which was quickly acquired by Uber). However, Uber says it never received them and so it couldn’t have and didn’t implement them into its own products, services, or prototypes.”

Whatever the case may be, resorting to patent warfare was a big mistake from Google and we hope the lawsuit will be withdrawn entirely. What Google did shows that it’s willing to use patents offensively and therefore Google cannot be trusted with any patents under its belt.

Incidentally, there is this similar case in Florida where Axon (Taser rebranded to dodge the bad publicly) wants a monopoly on deadly weapons and uses patents to enforce this monopoly. To quote:

Axon, the company formerly known as Taser, said Monday that it has successfully defeated a Florida company in a patent lawsuit over its electrical stun gun design. For Axon, the victory is the third against knockoff rival firms in the last seven years.

Last Friday, a federal judge in Florida found that a company called “Phazzer” (yes, like “phaser”) “engaged in a pattern of bad faith behavior” as the case has unfolded. Phazzer made a product strikingly similar to the Taser. And the case involving Axon was first filed in 2016, shortly after a Florida county sheriff decided to switch from Taser weapons to Phazzer (largely over cost reasons).

The term “Phazzer” probably predates Axon/Taser (science fiction movies) and the retreat to patents over potentially different gripes (like in the above-mentioned Levandowski dispute) shows that patents became more like a weapon of revenge. This oughtn’t happen. If almost anyone is infringing someone’s patent (or patents), then it’s just a tool of mass coercion.

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