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08.10.17

German Media Paints a Picture of Benoît Battistelli as a Drunken ‘Putin’ Looking to Push UPC at All Costs

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: German media studies the situation at the EPO and issues a detailed report which is titled “They call the Boss (Benoît Battistelli) Putin”

THE GERMAN media seems to be catching up and making up for lost time. Earlier this week Thomas Magenheim published another article about Battistelli, this time in General-Anzeiger Bonn. (via [1, 2])

Putin and BlatterstelliWhy is German media so late to cover this? This has been known for months (about 2 months). In fact, we broke the news with a leak of the job advertisement (before it was authorised and published at the beginning of July). Where was the mainstream media at the time?

Either way, SUEPO has just published this translation [PDF] of a recent article in German (original behind paywall), so we decided to reproduce and highlight important bits in yellow (please note that UPC as a good thing for SMEs is a popular lie typically spread by law firms that intentionally misrepresent SMEs):

European Patent Office

They call the Boss Putin

31 July 2017

Power struggle inside the European Patent Office: Quality of patents at risk.

Picture: PR
by Simon Book

A power struggle is raging inside the European Patent Office, which is threatening the quality of the patents. The strife between the President, the staff, and the Administrative Council could prove costly for medium-sized German companies.

One day after his biggest defeat, the President of the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich stood up and enumerated his greatest victories. Benoît Battistelli, 67, clasped the podium. He was there to open a patent conference, with the focus on the protection of intellectual property in Europe; but everyone in the room knew that whatever Battistelli said, the main issue was his own protection.

It is the beginning of July. For 24 hours the President has known that his job is officially open for applicants. The Administrative Council of the Office is looking for a successor for Battistelli. The Frenchman still has this much ahead of him: He is determined to issue the first EU Unitary Patent, and open the European Patent Court. And, above all, he has achieved so much: “We have increased efficiency, our quality, our productivity, and our profitability”, Battistelli tells the room. “Europe is now once again an attractive place for patents.”

The Frenchman does not let slip one word about his possible departure. His speech is one single call to arms: They won’t get rid of me that easily.


Germany, where the inventors are: Europe’s Top 5 Patent Applicants

First place
Germany
25,086 patent applicants

Second place
France
10,486 patent applicants

Third place
Switzerland
7,293 patent applicants

Fourth place
Netherlands
6,889 patent applicants

Fifth place
Great Britain
5,142 patent applicants


The appearance in Munich only marked the most recent stage in the escalation of an increasingly bizarre conflict. Ever since Battistelli took over the leadership of the super-sized authority in 2010, there has never been a situation like it. This is Europe’s most important agency for the protection of intellectual property, and the President, the staff, and the Administrative Council are locked in a struggle with none of them giving way. The staff feel themselves overworked, overseen, and overlooked. The President feels he is misunderstood. “You have a surly, power-conscious, and self-willed boss set against a surly, power-conscious, and self-willed mass”, is how the Administrative Council of the Office sees it. The people who are suffering, as is becoming abundantly more evident, are the clients of the Office – the entrepreneurs and the inventors. They are increasingly unwilling to appreciate the success story which the Frenchman is so keen to tout around.

There is no improvement in sight, either; rather, the opposite. In the autumn the Administrative Council are going to choose a new President; the adverts are no bluff. But the rumour refuses to go away that Mister Unpopular could actually end up staying on. In any event, a successor would not start work until June 2018. And that means the Office is threatened with a whole year stagnating if still-President Battistelli becomes a lame duck.

For people like Günter Hufschmid, that is bad news. The vigorous Bavarian, who often wears his traditional national costume, has had some bad experiences with Battistelli’s Office. With his company Deurex he develops waxes for the paint and varnish industry. An easygoing chemical company which does not have much to do with patents. But in 2010, when one of Hufschmid’s chemists inadvertently made an incorrect adjustment to a machine and mixed up the values for pressure and temperature, instead of wax it spat out ten tonnes of white wadding, which turned out to be a miracle weapon in the fight against oil spillage disasters. One kilo of Hufschmid’s wadding can suck up six kilograms of oil from the surface of the water.

Hufschmid promptly realised that he had come up with the invention of his life. And he wanted a patent. But being an entrepreneur he did not engage an expensive patent attorney, he wrote to the Office himself. After all, he runs his company alone, and he handles his taxes very personally.

But the EPO turned down the application out of hand. Twice, in fact, without giving Hufschmid a hearing. It was only when he insisted on demonstrating his wadding that he was granted an appointment at the annexe Office at The Hague. It didn’t take the inventor 20 minutes to persuade the patent examiners. After three and a half years of struggling he finally received his patent.

Premium Deurex boss Günter Hufschmid How a medium-sized company despairs about the European Patent Office

The European Patent Office likes to present itself as an advocate for small entrepreneurs and medium-sized businesses, Germany’s economic backbone. What entrepreneur Günter Hufschmid experienced was an entirely different story. A tale of woe.

That was when things started to get annoying. Hufschmid had a letter from the EPO, but still no patent protection in the whole of Europe. He had to apply to the different states individually, and, of course, in their different national languages. Only no-one at the EPO told him that to start with, so important time limits were allowed to lapse.

“The system is totally chaotic, and as a small company you’re completely lost”, the inventor complains. Large companies might have their own departments to do this. But what about him? The bottom line, says Hufschmid, is that he has spent a hell of a lot of time and money on the patent, but his wadding is still not protected in many places. “Had I known what it would involve, I wouldn’t have bothered.”

Unitary patent would make things much easier

Such stories are rife since Battistelli has had the say in the Office. Examiners no longer have the time to get deal generously with clients and applications, and certainly not when the application comes from an amateur instead of from patent attorneys.

But isn’t that exactly what a patent office is supposed to be there for: To help small and medium-sized companies, the ones who helped make “Made in Germany” the global brand it became? For inventors, who form the backbone of our innovation society?

That at least was the idea, when about 40 years ago Belgium, Great Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg established the EPO. Today 38 nations belong to the Organization, including some non-European such as Turkey. They have all agreed to recognize mutually the protection of intellectual property. Since then, applications are examined centrally in Munich. But then they need to be laboriously declared valid in each case by the authorities in the countries concerned.


Battistelli’s efficiency programme: Growth in all sectors, but at what price?

• Patents issued
+ 40 percent

• Production
+ 8.5 percent

• Work backlog
- 25 percent

• Costs
- 20 percent


It has long been planned to issue a unitary patent in Munich for all the Member States, so as to harmonize Europe’s patent landscape. For inventors like Hufschmid that would make things a lot easier. This year it was finally supposed to happen, or at least that was Battistelli’s declared aim. But the Unitary Patent is still not a reality.

Unity is urgently needed. For many western national economies, patents are the sole raw material they can exploit. Germany’s world market leaders from Schwäbische Alb need a reliable means of protection for their intellectual property to hold their own in global competition.

The question is, though: Can the EPO guarantee this protection? Or has President Battistelli, with his over-eagerness, actually only made things more difficult?

The President sees himself as an unappreciated reformer. Battistelli sits in an elegant restaurant in Brussels, orders the first bottle of expensive wine for lunch, and is entirely at peace with himself. “When I started at the Patent Office in 2010”, the President muses during the starters, it had been a successful institution, “but with far too high costs”. An average examiner earns 11,000 Euro net, while the EPO also pays substantial supplements, health insurance, private schooling, and even study fees for children in the USA.

According to Battistelli, this standard had to be maintained, but at the same time the existence of the Office had to be secured. That meant, it had to finance itself. True, the EPO, which is financed solely by the charges paid by companies and entrepreneurs, dispenses 500 million Euro annually to its Member States. But the pension bills, running into billions, were threatening to drag the institution down. “That’s why we had to change something with the system and improve its performance”, says the President – and orders the next wine. Not for nothing is he a member of the French Beaujolais Brotherhood.

Patents on plants How a bizarre dispute about brewers yeast crippled the sector

Thanks to a loophole in the patent law, agrarian concerns are dictating business with exclusive rights to foodstuffs. This is causing grief to middle-sized businesses and consumers. Patents on brewers yeast for beer are causing the strife to escalate.

Improving performance means for Battistelli, above all, issuing more patents per year. If the outgoings are going to remain high, the incomings must go up too.

So he merged procedures, cut search times, introduced digital filing, set time limits for oppositions. He agreed on co-operation arrangements, such as with Google, so as to improve the search for the “prior art”, and interacted with Asian examination authorities.

Patent disputes: Profitable for the Office, potentially fatal for entrepreneurs

The President also altered the career system, basing promotion and pay on performance. He also alienated the staff council and the staff union, which he was not prepared to recognize. Then he slashed at the right to strike, and caused staff members who reported sick to be examined while off work. Above all, according to the critics, he demoted colleagues who were too outspoken, and surrounded himself with yes-men as directors. Since then, Battistelli has been referred to internally as “Putin”.

“I have shown that it is possible for a large, multinational, trans-national organization to be reformed”, Battistelli insists, considering himself the greatest reformer since the opening of the EPO. Anything wrong with his figures, he asks? Patents issued: up 40 percent. Work backlog: down by a quarter. Costs: down 20 percent. And all that with improved quality. Allegedly.

Because there are a lot of people who have doubts about that, such as Thorsten Bausch, who meets and greets in the prestigious Munich suburb of Bogenhausen. This is home to the big law firm Hoffmann Eitle, for whom patent attorney Bausch, a man of distinction, works.


In 2016 these companies filed the most patents with the German Patent and Trademark Office (07.2017)

First place
Robert Bosch GmbH
Patent applications: 3,693

Second place
Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG
Patent applications: 2,316

Third place
Daimler AG
Patent applications: 1,946

Fourth place
Ford Global Technologies LLC
Patent applications: 1,790

Fifth place
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG
Patent applications: 1,757


Bausch is no friend of Battistelli. Not because he knows him personally. This veteran of the patent game simply notes how, during his term in office, the quality of work has slumped, not risen.

Reforms today – Problems tomorrow

The attorney has a lot to say about time pressure and the unbelievable challenges facing the patent examiner in trying to keep pace with the growing state of knowledge worldwide. Even with the very latest methods, this obviously takes more time than in the past. “How can anyone increase efficiency by 40 percent in one year”, Bausch wonders. “Either they were all asleep before. Or the patents today are of poorer quality.” Bausch plainly sets little store by the sleep hypothesis.

He is afraid that Battistelli’s efficiency campaign could come back to bite. Whether a patent is reliable, properly researched and registered, often does not become apparent until years later. Specifically, when someone somewhere claims to have come up with the patented invention still earlier, and the dispute starts.

For Bausch and his colleagues in the profession, such patent disputes are a steady source of income. But for the entrepreneur they can be potentially fatal. In the final analysis, whole companies can rise or fall simply on one patent. So why is Battistelli shaping his organization to do everything at speed? Is he taking quality shortfalls with the patents into account, because it will be some years at the earliest before the consequences become apparent?

Innovation atlas 2017 Germany’s ideas are forged in the south

E-mobility, 3D printing, or Industry 4.0: New technologies are constantly crowding onto the market. And German companies are well equipped to handle them. At least, in some regions. Most of the innovators are based in the south.

At least, that is what the German Patent and Trademark Office is afraid of. The authority is a neighbour of the EPO on the bank of Isar in Munich. There used to be a tunnel connecting the two buildings, but it was closed off long ago. Nor are the organizations otherwise as close as they used to be. “The real question is, how robust are Battistelli’s patents”, says one leading figure on the German side. “I don’t want to denigrate colleagues about quality, but Battistelli is overdoing it with the efficiency thing.”

Here, in the grey concrete block opposite the German Museum, people do not think much of the new high-speed style. “We do things our way: Aim-focused, properly, the German way”, is the word at the Federal institution. “I don’t want to know what Mr. Battistelli has spent all that money on, without anything to show for it.” What is wanted now is a successor who puts the Office centre stage, not the person.

That is plainly what Battistelli is about. Such as on a summer evening in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, postcard Venice. The guests come in shuttle boats to the evening reception of the European Inventors Prize, sponsored by the EPO. Beneath the entrance portal, itself the height of the average house, stand Mr. and Mrs. Battistelli and await their 300 guests. They shake every single one by the hand, such as Mario Moretti Polegato, founder of the shoe brand Geox
and multimillionaire. The Italian Minister of the Economy is announced. Battistelli, a graduate of the elite French academy, the ENA, is beaming. He conceives his position as a political posting, of the same level and status as the high and mighty
.

EU Patent Office More patents on plants

The European Patent Office (EPO) might be able to accord agrarian concerns more patent possibilities on seed materials. The dispute as to what extent patents on living things are permissible has been rumbling on for years. The EU Commission has actually banned them.

The Inventor Prize has been around for twelve years, but Battistelli has built it up – to be his show. The shindig has cost the Patent Office three million Euro. Shouldn’t the Office actually be saving the money?

“This is the Nobel Prize for inventors”, Battistelli cries to the assembled multitude in his opening address. Nothing less, according to him. Later he tots up the accounts for the evening: 21 interviews, 50 journalists from all over the world, put up at the expense of the EPO, two million clicks on YouTube. He has put his message across: The Patent Office under Battistelli is a power for innovation, the advocate of the individual inventor, the protector of medium-sized businesses.

Threat to “Made in Germany”?

At a table near the President, quite another impression is forthcoming. Here, Brian Hinman is appreciating the scenery, an American, who introduces himself as the “Chief Intellectual Property Officer” of the Dutch technology giant Philips. Over a chilled white wine he talks about technological change, about inventions and developments which are coming at an ever increasing pace. Hinman regards patents as a kind of competitive sport. “I absolutely want to be the person who gets the first European Unitary Patent”, he says. He has apparently already agreed about this with Battistelli.

If you talk longer with the Philips manager, you learn something: The patent business today is a world where share prices are as much an issue as fraternities. But there is something that seems to have slipped out of focus: The individual inventor tinkering away in the garage, who once in a lifetime comes up with an invention and founds a company on it. People like that are increasingly standing alone against global corporations, who collect patents the way other people collect postage stamps.

This evening Battistelli has little time for such musings. He would rather make contacts, and extend still further the power of the Patent Office – and therefore his own. The President wants to expand: He has already concluded preliminary agreements with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. And the European Patent Office will in future be getting involved with Africa and Asia too: Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Morocco and Tunisia already recognise EPO patents. And that means nothing less than the Europeans playing the part of the patent office for these states. The President is even negotiating about this with Angola.

German Innovation Prize 2017 Winners, Ideas, Impressions

Battistelli, the way many people in the Office see it, wants to grow at any price, to extend his power – and pretend that internal problems don’t exist.

This does not sound like having more empathy for middle-sized business, but more like a mission for world conquest. That may well be why the Administrative Council of the Office has gradually had enough of the vainglorious show master at the top. There were already rumours months ago that there were plans to be rid of Battistelli ahead of the due time. But the Frenchman, who has hitherto always craftily understood how to win the representatives of the small Member States on the Council onto his side, has been able to hold his own.

Then, when in the summer the previous leader of the Administrative Council, the Dane Jesper Kongstad, stood down, Germany grasped the opportunity and, in the person of Christoph Ernst, installed a critical overseer as the new Council executive. His first act in office: Advertising an opening for Battistelli’s job.

Ernst, as a civil servant, meets people at his main place of work, the Federal Ministry of Justice, where he serves as a ministerial director. Officially, with the advertising for the top job everything is going according to the accepted plan, or so Ernst asserts. Battistelli apparently has never intended to remain for longer than the summer of 2018. In any event, he will hear nothing of any power vacuum or any falling out between himself and the President.

But Ernst is also prepared to criticise. It is true that there may have been progress under Battistelli. “But productivity and effectiveness are not ends in themselves”, he says. “An institution such as the EPO also has an overall responsibility.”

For Ernst, the tasks facing the next boss at the EPO are clear: “The social environment must be improved. The EPO has an importance in Europe that affects the entire economy, and the companies and entrepreneurs need a Patent Office that functions properly”, he says. That is why the focus will be not only on social harmony within the Office, but also on “quality assurance and the relationship between the President and the Administrative Council.”

Starting in the autumn, Ernst will be busy with the hunt for a successor for Battistelli. António Campinos, Portuguese, who for a long while has headed up the European Trademark Office, is seen as the candidate most likely to succeed. Another possibility is that Ernst, just selected as leader of the Administrative Council, might himself become President.

Patent dispute Gillette and Wilkinson cross blades

Razor manufacturers Gillette and Wilkinson are confronting one another at the Düsseldorf Regional Court. At issue is an economically priced replacement blade for a widely sold wet razor from Gillette, patent rights – and a lot of money.

And then of course there is Battistelli himself, who is not yet ready to give up his fight for his future – essentially, he values the independence of the Office so highly: “I have never been so free. I have no Ministry looking over my shoulder, no government”, as the Frenchman is happy to say. The way to change this might be, perhaps, the Patent Solution.

The ending is so nice because it shows what sort of detachment from the world, from the law etc. Battistelli is happy to publicly brag about (and not for the first time, either). Like many other ENA graduates…

Incidentally, today in the news Marks & Clerk’s Will Nieuwenhuys remarks on how the Boards of Appeal, which Battistelli is crushing (against the rules of the Organisation), try improve patent quality. A portion from the article:

The Board found that the mere statement that compounds had been found to be active was not enough to make it at least plausible that dasatinib would be active. The Board noted that a skilled person’s acceptance of an assertion of activity “must be based on verifiable facts”, and concluded that there were none in the present case (either in the application as filed or in the common general knowledge at the filing date).

In view of its conclusion that activity had not been “at least made plausible” for dasatinib in the application as filed, the Board followed the established jurisprudence of the EPO and did not allow the Patentee to rely on post-published activity data. It was therefore not possible to rely on the PTK inhibitory activity of dasatinib or its associated anti-cancer activity for inventive step. As a consequence, the Board concluded that the problem to be solved was the mere provision of a further chemical compound, which is not considered to represent inventive activity (see, e.g., T 939/92). The patent was therefore revoked for lack of inventive step.

We have lots of new information in the report about the costs of EIA (reaffirming what we said about paid-for media), the decline in patent quality, the succession plans (Ernst might be Battistelli’s successor, as we pointed out last year, or even António Campinos, whom we also named last year). We used the highlights because the article is very long and new information is therefore not easy to spot. The observation about Battistelli’s wine obsession should be noted in light of this potential French scandal which mirrors Lufthansa’s (in Croatia).

Links 10/8/2017: Tails 3.1, GhostBSD 11.1 Alpha

Posted in News Roundup at 8:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source is driving digital transformation, according to mainstream businesses

    Many of us declared victory for open source years ago, once it came to dominate key industry trends like big data, mobile, and cloud. But the real sign of winning is when mainstream enterprises talk about open source as part of their earnings calls. Once open source becomes a key component of financial performance, the momentum is unstoppable.

    Combing through the last few quarters of earnings transcripts, it’s clear that open source has arrived…but to very different destinations, depending on the company.

  • 7 open source Twitter bots to follow

    We are quickly entering a world in which you may spend more of your day communicating with robots than with humans.

    Don’t believe me? Ask yourself how many times you’ve used an automated checkout machine or ATM in lieu of a human, called the 1-800 number for a customer service need and been greeted by a machine, asked Google or Alexa what temperature to roast your brussels sprouts at, or interfaced with a website that gave you a personalized recommendation.

  • The best open source CRM software

    If you’re a small business looking to take the next step in your evolution, you may be looking at implementing a customer relationship management (or CRM) solution. But with enterprise-grade vendors like Oracle and Salesforce charging such a high premium for their services, how can smaller companies afford to get started with CRM software?

    The answer lies in open source. As with many kinds of software, there are multiple vendors who provide open source CRM solutions that are completely free to use. They may have restrictions on them, such as limited features and support, but for small businesses looking to try out CRM, they can be an excellent starting point.

  • All Parts Of The Paranoid Android ROM Are Now Open Source

    Paranoid Android, one of the most popular custom ROMs on the Android scene, is now completely open source, with all parts of it now available for members of the community to use and modify. All of Paranoid Android’s original features like the Color Engine and Accidental Touch are hence open to anyone and can be compiled right alongside stock AOSP or put into other ROMs. The full codebase is available on GitHub and can be contributed to with approval, integrated into original projects, or simply recompiled from scratch for just about any Android device. This means that AOSPA can now expand to any device with a willing maintainer, rather than only those that the official AOSPA team wants to support on their own.

  • Open source network tools compete with shrinking vendor equipment

    Vendor equipment consolidation does a lot of things — both good and bad — to the service-provider buyer. It also affects network design and deployment — including service automation and the tools that can make it happen — and the potential for vendor lock-in, unless operators back open source network tools.

    To start with the good, the first effect of network vendor equipment consolidation is a reduction in vendor costs, which is what drives consolidation in the first place. That lets prices fall. Obviously, the price-reduction effect of consolidation can’t last forever, which means, eventually, other pressures could make network vendor equipment consolidation a net risk to operators.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 55 Brings Virtual Reality to the Web

        If you are setting up WordPress on a new Linux VPS for the first time you may face some problems like missing some PHP extensions. One example is missing the MySQL extension and this is a common problem since the extension doesn’t come by default with many operating systems. In this tutorial we will help you to fix the problem with the missing extension and complete the WordPress installation successfully.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Waiting for AOO

      Eleven months ago, Dennis Hamilton, the chair of the Apache OpenOffice (AOO) project’s project management committee at the time, raised the idea of winding the project down. He worried that AOO lacked a critical mass of developers to keep things going, and that no new developers were coming in to help. At the time, various defenders came forward and the project decided try to get back on track. Nearly a year later, a review of how that has gone is appropriate; it does not appear that the situation has gotten any better.

      The project did manage to get the 4.1.3 bug-fix release — its first in nearly one year — out in October, but has not made any releases since. At the time, the plan was to move quickly to release 4.1.4, followed by a 4.2.0 feature release shortly thereafter. The 4.1.4 branch was created on October 11, shortly before the 4.1.3 release. Since then, it has accumulated 24 changesets (which map to about 30 changes in the original SVN repository). There have only been four commits to this branch since early February, at least one of which includes security fixes.

  • CMS

  • Education

    • Italy’s Trento province to boost open source in schools

      The autonomous province of Trento (Italy) is revitalising its promotion of the use of free and open source software in education. In the coming months, the province will provide schools with training on free software and open standards.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD 11.1 Enters Alpha: FreeBSD 11.1 Paired With MATE, Xfce Desktops

      While TrueOS (formerly PC-BSD) is arguably the most well known desktop variant of FreeBSD, GhostBSD has been gaining ground as well as a FreeBSD-based desktop-friendly operating system. Today marks the availability of GhostBSD 11.1 Alpha.

    • GhostBSD 11.1 ALPHA1 is ready!

      This first alpha development release of GhostBSD 11.1 is ready for testing. All MATE and XFCE image is available with i386 and amd64 architectures. We hope to see a lot of people helping to test this next release.

  • Programming/Development

    • JDK 9: First Release Candidate

      There are no unresolved P1 bugs in build 181, so that is our
      first JDK 9 Release Candidate.

    • Java JDK 9 Sees Its First Release Candidate

      The first release candidate of Oracle’s Java JDK 9 is now available for testing.

      Java 9 is running behind schedule compared to its plan to ship in July but now available is the first release candidate of JDK 9. Delays of Java 9 have happened largely because of “Project Jigsaw”, Java’s new module system.

    • NASA/EOSDIS Earthdata

      he book, it goes without saying, focused on Python for the analysis and interpretation of satellite data (in one of the many topics covered). After that I spent some time working with satellite and GIS data in general using Erlang and LFE. Ultimately though, I found that more and more projects were using the JVM for this sort of work, and in particular, I noted that Clojure had begun to show up in a surprising number of Github projects.

    • Making pay transparent at Basecamp retains talent

      There are no negotiated salaries or raises at Basecamp. Everyone in the same role at the same level is paid the same. Equal work, equal pay.

      We assess new hires on a scale that goes from junior programmer, to programmer, to senior programmer, to lead programmer, to principal programmer (or designer or customer support or ops . . .). We use the same scale to assess when someone is in line for a promotion.

      [...]

      No scheme of pay is perfect, but at least with a model like this, nobody is forced to hop jobs just to get a raise that matches their market value. Which is reflected in the fact that we have lots of people at Basecamp who’ve been here for a long time with no plans to leave.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Mastering matplotlib: Acknowledgments
    • More Details on the PACER Vulnerability We Shared with the Administrative Office of the Courts

      PACER/ECF is a system of 204 websites that is run by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO) for the management of federal court documents. The main function of PACER/ECF is for lawyers and the public to upload and download court documents such as briefs, memos, orders, and opinions.

      In February we reported that we disclosed a major vulnerability in PACER/ECF to the AO. The proof of concept and disclosure/resolution timeline are available here.

    • Endpoint security firm leaking terabytes of data

      Endpoint security software vendor Carbon Black has been found to be exfiltrating data from several Fortune 1000 companies due to the architecture of its Cb Response software, the information security services and managed services provider DirectDefense claims.

    • Teenagers charged over allegedly running huge DDoS operation

      Two Israeli teenagers, who have been alleged to have co-founded and run a company used for launching distributed denial of service attacks, have been arrested and indicted on conspiracy and hacking charges.

    • HashiCorp Vault Brings Disaster Recovery to Secrets Management

      HashiCorp has released new versions of both its open-source and enterprise editions of its Vault secrets management platform, providing new scalability and security operations capabilities.

      Vault helps organizations securely store and access application tokens, passwords and authentication credentials, which collectively are commonly referred to as “secrets” in an information security context.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Madman With Nuclear Weapons is Donald Trump, Not Kim Jong-un

      FOR ONCE, Donald Trump has a point. “We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that,” he told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the transcript from their bizarre phone conversation that was leaked to The Intercept in May.

      The madman the U.S. president was referring to, of course, was North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The madman the rest of us should be worried about, however, is Trump himself, who — lest we forget — has the sole, exclusive and unrestricted power to launch almost 1,000 nuclear warheads in a matter of minutes, should he so wish.

    • 9 Ways Trump Has Endangered National Security
    • ISIS Remote Control Agent OPSEC

      From a security point of view, they are a disaster — because as they migrate from civilian to terrorist, their journey is easily spotted and tracked by security forces. Security for an illicit group is partially a factor of how much communication traffic it generates. The less traffic there is to monitor, the more secure they are. A remote control agent requires a huge amount of traffic, from recruitment to training to badgering and cajoling them into taking action. This is an operational security nightmare. So, lets look closer at how ISIS has implemented their operational security for handling remote control agents.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Alaskan towns at risk from rising seas sound alarm as Trump pulls federal help

      The US government’s withdrawal from dealing with, or even acknowledging, climate change may have provoked widespread opprobrium, but for Alaskan communities at risk of toppling into the sea, the risks are rather more personal.

      The Trump administration has moved to dismantle climate adaptation programs including the Denali Commission, an Anchorage-based agency that is crafting a plan to safeguard or relocate dozens of towns at risk from rising sea levels, storms and the winnowing away of sea ice.

      Federal assistance for these towns has been ponderous but could now grind to a halt, with even those working on the issue seemingly targeted by the administration. In July, Joel Clement, an interior department official who worked with Alaskan communities on climate adaptation, claimed he had been moved to a completely unrelated position because of the administration’s ideological hostility to the issue.

  • Finance

    • Gina Miller afraid to leave her home after threats of acid attacks

      Gina Miller, the campaigner who won a Brexit legal challenge against the government, has revealed that she has been receiving threats of acid attacks for months and is afraid to leave her home.

      The businesswoman said that if the threats continued and became too much to bear she would “seriously consider” leaving the UK.

      “I have been getting threats of having acid thrown in my face for months and months now. When I see someone walk towards me on the street with a bottle of water or something, I just freak out,” she told Verdict magazine.

      With the backdrop of a spate of acid attacks across the country, she said: “My life has completely changed.”

    • VR rail monopoly to end – Six effects of the coming transport reform {sic}
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The Google memo and the new blacklisting

      Google’s sacking of Damore matters not only because the tech giant is so well-known, and has been accused of sexist hiring practices (31 percent of its employees are women). It resonates with wider society because it suggests that there is only one ‘correct’ view on certain topics, like diversity, and that if you dare to question the ‘correct’ line you should be punished. Indeed, it has been striking to see that so many, including self-described progressives, rushed to denounce Damore’s memo and applaud Google for wielding the axe.

    • INTERNAL MESSAGES SHOW SOME GOOGLERS SUPPORTED FIRED ENGINEER’S MANIFESTO

      My biggest concern is the number of people who don’t understand how distribution differences aren’t stereotypes and can’t be applied to individuals. It’s basic statistical logic.

    • Australian Public Servants Warned Against Liking Social Media Posts That Are Critical Of Government Policies

      The Internet effectively turns everyone into a publisher, able to promulgate their ideas in a way that was not open to most people before. That’s great for the democratization of media — and terrible for governments that want to control the flow of information to citizens. The Australian government is particularly concerned about what its 150,000 public servants might say. It has issued a “guidance” document that “sets out factors for employees to consider in making decisions about whether and what to post”.

    • Facing libel lawsuit, Techdirt takes large donations to broaden coverage

      In the wake of an ongoing, expensive libel lawsuit that could drag on for years, Mike Masnick, the founder of Techdirt, announced Wednesday that his website would accept more than $250,000 in donations “to further reporting on free speech.”

    • Facebook, Twitter Consistently Fail At Distinguishing Abuse From Calling Out Abuse

      Time and time again, we see that everyone who doesn’t work in the field of trust and safety for an internet platform seems to think that it’s somehow “easy” to filter out “bad” content and leave up “good” content. It’s not. This doesn’t mean that platforms shouldn’t try to deal with the issue. They have perfectly good business reasons to want to limit people using their systems to abuse and harass and threaten other users. But when you demand that they be legally responsible — as Germany (and then Russia) recently did — bad things happen, and quite frequently those bad things happen to the victims of abuse or harassment or threats.

      We just wrote about Twitter’s big failure in suspending Popehat’s account temporarily, after he posted a screenshot of a threat he’d received from a lawyer who’s been acting like an internet tough guy for a few years now. In that case, the person who reviewed the tweet keyed in on the fact that Ken White had failed to redact the contact information from the guy threatening him — which at the very least raises the question of whether or not Twitter considers threats of destroying someone’s life to be less of an issue than revealing that guy’s contact information, which was already publicly available via a variety of sources.

    • North Carolina Passes An Entirely Misguided Restore Campus Free Speech Act

      You will recall that we were just discussing a proposed law in Wisconsin that sought to do a number of things on college campuses, including limit the ability to protest and shout down controversial speakers, as well as mandating quite insanely that school administrations must “remain neutral” on the “controversial” topics of the day. It’s a source of frustration for me that it’s not immediately clear how bad an idea this is for any number of reasons. My two chief complaints about the law, built upon a legislative proposal from the Goldwater Institute, are how broad a range of topics this could conceivably cover and how it quite plainly seeks to favor one form of speech over another. Put simply, giving state governments oversight about which topics a university administration is allowed to opine while also mandating punishments for students who protest to shout down speakers is about as anti-free speech as it gets, even as the proponents of the legislation attempt to shroud themselves in that most sacred of American ideals.

    • ACLU of Maine Sues Paul Lepage For ‘Facebook Censorship’
    • Maine Governor Sued for Deleting Facebook Comments
    • Maine Gov. LePage Illegally Censoring His Facebook Page, ACLU Claims
    • ACLU of ME sues Gov. LePage over ‘Facebook censorship’
    • ‘Censorship is for losers’: Assange offers fired Google engineer job at WikiLeaks
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Complaint Filed Over Sketchy VPN Service

      VPNs are important… for some situations. Unfortunately, the message that many have received in hearing about the importance of VPNs is that they somehow “protect your privacy.” But that’s always been wrong. They just move the privacy questions somewhere else. And sometimes it’s a sketchy place. A few months back we discussed this very issue with some security experts on our podcast. All VPNs do is create a secure tunnel from where you are to somewhere else. That’s useful if you don’t want other people sitting in the Starbucks with you to pick up your unencrypted traffic (or other people in your hotel on the hotel WiFi), but it doesn’t solve anything on larger privacy questions.

    • 70% of Windows 10 users are totally happy with our big telemetry slurp, beams Microsoft

      Microsoft claims seven out of ten Windows 10 users are happy with Redmond gulping loads of telemetry from their computers – which isn’t that astounding when you realize it’s a default option.

      In other words, 30 per cent of people have found the switch to turn it off, and the rest haven’t, don’t realize it’s there, or are genuinely OK with the data collection.

    • Disney sued over potential child data harvesting apps

      The perennially popular Walt Disney Company is being sued by parents in California because of concerns that otherwise apparently children-friendly apps are actually data vacuums that know more about your kin than you do.

    • ACLJ Sending Legal Demands to NSA

      Reports just this month reveal that Samantha Power – President Obama’s Representative to the United Nations – is believed to have requested hundreds of so-called “unmaskings” of United States persons.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Extraordinary renditions and arbitrary detentions

      As a legalized concept of international acceptance, Human Rights is considered a ’modern’ instrument, brought by the United Nations in 1948 after the ‘horrors of the Second World War’. However, the legal protection of individuals under arrest can be traced centuries before. Persian king Cyrus the Great issued 2559 years ago a law establishing civil rights for all, to be applied event to those defeated in war, which included the detainees. The Romans followed suit in its “natural law” codex, then the Magna Carta of 1215, the French Revolution’s ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’ of 1789, etc.

      Through that historical context, it is difficult to find a more flagrant – and also a more comprehensive– violation to the individuals’ civil rights, than the practice of ‘extraordinary renditions’. In essence, ‘extraordinary rendition’ is about the kidnapping of a foreign citizen by Intelligence or enforcement government agencies, act which is perpetrated in yet another country. This practice was commenced by the US government in 1987, with the abduction of a Lebanese citizen from a yacht that was in Italian waters.

      After 2001, the U.S. implementation of ‘extraordinary renditions’ has required the secret collaboration of some EU governments and others around the world. For instance, Sweden collaborated secretly with the CIA in the rendition of two refugees that were transported from a Stockholm airport to a torture site in Egypt. Because of that, the United Nations HR sanctioned Sweden for violating the UN’s Absolute Ban on Torture. Furthermore, Lithuania and Poland had faced denounces of arbitrary detention and renditions before the European Court of Human Rights. These last named were two countries in Europe where CIA secretly held its prisoners, the so called ‘black sites‘.

    • North Korea: Pastor Lim Hyeon-soo released after more than two years of imprisonment

      Amnesty International welcomes the release of Lim Hyeon-soo to receive urgent medical treatment. The Canadian pastor and humanitarian worker has been detained in North Korea for the past two and a half years.

    • Indonesia Again Silences 1965 Massacre Victims

      Indonesian police and military personnel last week forced the cancellation of a public workshop on financial compensation for victims of the country’s 1965-1966 mass killings. Security forces “interrogated and intimidated” workshop organizers, claiming they lacked a permit.

      The strong-arm reaction reflects a tenacious, decades-long official taboo on public discussions of the massacre as part of efforts by successive governments to absolve those responsible. That’s because in October 1965, the government gave free rein to soldiers and local militias to kill anyone they considered a “communist.” Over the next few months, at least 500,000 people were killed (the total may be as high as one million). The victims included members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), ethnic Chinese, trade unionists, teachers, activists, and artists.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Lies Again, Insists Net Neutrality Rules Will Hurt First Responders

      So one of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon’s favorite bogus claims about net neutrality rules is that such consumer protections will somehow prevent the sick or disabled from getting the essential internet connectivity they need. For example, Verizon once tried to claim that the deaf and disabled would be harmed if large ISPs weren’t allowed to create fast or slow lanes, or prioritize emergency traffic over say — Netflix streams. Comcast recently tried to argue something similar, again implying that the hearing-impaired could be harmed unless ISPs are allowed to prioritize or deprioritize select classes of traffic.

      [...]

      Right, “not even considered.” Except for the fact that it was painstakingly considered, and AT&T knows it. It’s a little grotesque to use the specter of 9/11 to attack popular net neutrality protections, but that’s well in line with AT&T’s behavior on this subject (including its recent use of the net neutrality protests to con its own customers into opposing net neutrality. In reality AT&T isn’t worried about net neutrality rules harming medical services, since they’ve long-been exempted. AT&T’s worried about one thing: any rules stopping it from abusing a lack of broadband competition to drive up prices and engage in anti-competitive behavior.

    • [Older] Internet giants need to be reined in for the public good

      A much bigger issue is the social cost of information monopolies. Facebook’s footprint as a distributor of news, for example, is expanding without any of the oversight you might expect from a press freedom watchdog. Yet we know that Facebook is a prolific vehicle for fake news, and that political agitators exploit the platform for their own ends (something that also makes Bannon’s position appear incongruous, given that he practically invented the genre).

    • As net neutrality dies, one man wants to make Verizon pay for its sins

      Nguyen is a recent college graduate living in Santa Clara, California. And for much of 2015, he spent his time digging through years of Verizon’s public statements and actions, assembling more than 300 citations into a 112-page document that could well have been his master’s thesis. (In fact, he studied computer science.) The document catalogs a dozen questionable actions Verizon has taken since 2012, assembling a body of evidence in an attempt to prove that the carrier has violated a number of open internet protections.

    • Maybe Americans don’t need fast home Internet service, FCC suggests

      Americans might not need a fast home Internet connection, the Federal Communications Commission suggests in a new document. Instead, mobile Internet via a smartphone might be all people need.

    • Demand That Congress Fight for Net Neutrality

      Take Action Now gives you three meaningful actions you can take each week—whatever your schedule.

    • Don’t Let Congress Compromise on Net Neutrality

      Next month, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will host a hearing on net neutrality. It has invited all of the major Internet service providers, as well as large Internet businesses like Facebook, Google, and Netflix, to come and testify. While it may be encouraging to see Congress turning its focus to net neutrality, it’s troubling that lawmakers appear to be more interested in the thoughts of a handful of large corporations than those of the public that’s been overwhelmingly calling for the preservation of existing net neutrality protections.

  • DRM

    • Disney Pulls Content From Netflix As Users Face An Annoying, Confusing Rise In Streaming Exclusivity Silos

      On one hand, the increasing number of independent streaming services is certainly a good thing. This increase in competition is finally starting to apply pressure on incumbent cable TV providers to offer greater programming flexibility and to compete on price, even though many cable and broadcast execs falsely believe they can ignore the threat and do the exact opposite. But as everybody and their mother jumps into the streaming game, we’re facing a new threat: the rise of fractured exclusivity silos that make consumers hunt and peck to obtain their favorite programs.

    • Disney Ditching Netflix Keeps Piracy Relevant

      Disney announced that it will end its US distribution deal with Netflix in 2019. This means that many titles won’t be available on the popular streaming service but through a new Disney-branded platform instead. While the media giant expects to profit from the strategy, more fragmentation is not ideal for the public. In a way, one can argue that it keeps piracy relevant.

Switch is Becoming More Aggressive With Patents, Even Questionable Design Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 1:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Switch logoSummary: Switch signals the potential commencement of a litigation campaign (or at least shakedown), using all sorts of patents on designs (which are on shaky ground anyway)

THE USPTO has long granted design patents. The Supreme Court, however, may be about to invalidate all design patents [1, 2], having already decided to potentially overturn the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) yet again. This is important in light of this week’s report which says this (emphasis ours):

Reflecting its focus on intellectual property, Switch said today that it has licensed several of its patented designs for data center cooling technology to Schneider Electric. In announcing the agreement, Switch also signaled that it stands ready to pursue legal action to defend the patents secured by its founder, Rob Roy.

According to Wikipedia, the company has Enron roots and “Rob Roy holds 218 patents or patent-pending claims for SUPERNAP designs” (may be some of the above too).

“We are not necessarily suggesting that all the patents from Switch are bogus, just that in light of recent developments in the Supreme Court this entire strategy of Switch may be in peril.”As we have already seen, as recently as days ago when the EFF got CAFC to secure invalidation of a notorious patent, just because some patents get granted by the USPTO does not automatically mean they’re not bogus. As TechDirt put it a couple of days ago:

For years now we’ve covered the saga of Personal Audio, the “company” that claimed it held a patent (US Patent 8,112,504) that covered podcasting itself. The actual patent is about delivering news on audio cassettes, but give lawyers enough old patents and they’ll twist them to be about anything. The company sent threat letters to a bunch of popular podcasts, and actually sued a few. EFF filed to invalidate the patent back in 2013 and finally succeeded in 2015. But… Personal Audio appealed.

Well, now this patent is dead for good.

We are not necessarily suggesting that all the patents from Switch are bogus, just that in light of recent developments in the Supreme Court this entire strategy of Switch may be in peril.

EPO, Lufthansa, and the German Government – Part IX: Potentially Fatal Injury to Air Plus Trademark Holder

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO, Lufthansa, and the German Government

Summary: The Air Plus trademark holder, who spends many of his days in the hospital nowadays, and suspicions that there was an attempt to harm him and spy on him

THIS series began over a week ago and since then Croatian and German media have taken note. In fact, some readers have offered additional help investigating these matters. In parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 we dealt not only with the role of Željko Topić (now EPO) but also some people around him. Having studied these matters, we often came across stories where Topić attacked his critics’ right to speak; even journalists and officials were impacted by this. Today we deal with suspicions of physical attacks too (in English and German below).


ENFinally, it should be noted that during the legal dispute and the criminal proceedings against Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH, the owner of the Air Plus trademark approached Anto Nobilo, the prominent Zagreb lawyer who is known for his role in the recent high-profile court case against former Croatian members of the Jugoslav secret service for murders committed on German territory in the 1980′s. The lawyer, however, declined to represent the trademark owner, with the remark that this is not a legal but rather a political case.

Furthermore, the trademark holder of Air Plus 2010 suffered a serious ski accident causing permanent health damage while skiing in France. The “accident” was caused by an unknown man who fled from the scene. The case is being investigated on grounds of serious bodily harm by the French prosecutor in Albertvill (annexed document #13). To this day the case which is registered under the number 10264000085 remains unresolved. Ivan Jurašinović, the cautious and sceptical Paris-based lawyer of the injured party, (annexed photo #14), openly expresses doubts and questions the manner in which the case is being handled in view of the deliberate injury with potentially fatal consequences caused to the trademark owner of Air Plus. In this regard a request was filed with the Croatian police for the monitoring and checking of the e-mails of the Air Plus trademark holder, as there is a well-founded suspicion that his e-mail account was hacked and its contents forwarded. The limited circle of suspects centres on the departments of the EPO entrusted with security and software and under whose cover the Vice-President of the EPO, Željko Topić, is suspected to hide.


DEAbschließend muß erwähnt werden, daß der Inhaber des Markenzeichens Air Plus, während der gerichtlichen Auseinandersetzung und des Strafverfahrens gegen die Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH, sich an den Zagreber Rechtsanwalt Anto Nobilo gewendet hat. (Er ist aus dem Gerichtsverfahren gegen ehemalige kroatische Mitglieder des Geheimdienstes für die auf deutschem Territorium verübte Morde bekannt). Der Rechtsanwalt hat aber die Vertretung des Markenzeichensinhabers, mit der Erklärung, daß es sich hierbei nicht um eine juristische, sondern eine politische Frage handelt, abgelehnt.

Weiter hat der Markenzeicheninhaber von Air Plus 2010 beim Skilaufen in Frankreich einen schweren Skiunfall mit dauerhaften Gesundheitsschäden erlitten. Dieser Unfall wurde von einem unbekannten Mann verursacht, der vom Unfallort geflohen ist. Der Fall wird auf schwere Körperverletzung von der französischen Anwaltschaft in Albertvill (#13. Nachweis im Anhang) untersucht. Der Fall blieb bis heute ungelöst und wird unter der Nummer 10264000085 geführt. Der vorsichtige und misstrauische französische Rechtsanwalt des Geschädigten, Ivan Jurašinović (#14.), mit Sitz in Paris, zweifelt ihn offen an und bestreitet die Straftat, also die absichtliche Verletzung mit möglichen Todesfolgen des Markenzeicheninhabers von Air Plus. Diesbezüglich wurde bei der kroatischen Polizei ein Antrag zur Aufsicht und Kontrolle der E-Mails des Markeninhabers von Air Plus gestellt, da es einen begründeten Verdacht gibt, daß sein E-Mail-Account gehackt und weitergeleitet wurde. Der geschlossene Kreis von Verdächtigen fällt auf die Abteilung von EPO, welche mit dem Schutz und Software beauftragt ist und in dessen Hintergrund sich der Vizepräsident von Epo, Željko Topić, versteckt.


Document #13

Albertvill

Photo/Foto #14

Ivan Jurašinović

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