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10.05.17

The European Patent Office’s New Relationship With Former Portuguese Colonies and the Connection to Battistelli’s Choice of Next President

Posted in Europe at 4:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brazil

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) continues its track record of highly dubious and politically-motivated deals while SUEPO, the staff union of the EPO, expresses concerns about the positions of Battistelli’s successor

THE European Patent Office continues to look like a third-world island in Bavarian territories. See what we wrote yesterday. Unlike some third-world countries, the EPO’s management enjoys immunity from within and from the outside. It can simply do almost anything it wants.

“Unlike some third-world countries, the EPO’s management enjoys immunity from within and from the outside. It can simply do almost anything it wants.”In Twitter, earlier today the EPO mentioned this new post (epo.org link). It’s a factoid which we also mentioned yesterday; it’s ridiculous, as we noted last night, but this time it comes with the obligatory Benoît Battistelli photo op. To quote: “The EPO and Brazil have agreed to launch a joint Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programme to enable work-sharing and accelerate patent prosecution at both offices, with the aim of improving the global IP system, supporting applicants and encouraging innovation.”

We wrote about PPH this morning. It’s worrying enough when done near Russia, not where there are many corruption scandals at the moment (even arrests). It’s a very interesting timing for the EPO to connect with all sorts of Portuguese colonies (our series about Angola will resume soon) because Battistelli is rumoured to be grooming a Portuguese-French person to take over from him. We don’t expect anything to change for the better if that eventually happens. In fact, even SUEPO wrote today about its letter to Mr. Ernst, who took over from Jesper Kongstad last Saturday. This letter is dated Tuesday and SUEPO summarised it as follows (similar to the second paragraph in the letter): “We are in a transition phase: not only the chairmanship of the Administrative Council (AC) has changed, but we are also soon to welcome a new President of the Office. SUEPO has kindly asked Mr Ernst (AC Chair) to invite the candidates for President of the EPO to answer a few questions. The letter to Mr Ernst is available here.”

Here is the letter in full:

INTERNATIONALE GEWERKSCHAFT IM EUROPÄISCHEN PATENTAMT
STAFF UNION OF THE EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
UNION SYNDICALE DE L’OFFICE EUROPEEN DES BREVETS

Zentraler Vorstand
Central Executive Committee
Bureau central

3 October 2017
su17056cl

Questions to the Candidates for President of the EPO

Dear Mr Ernst,

On behalf of the Staff Union of the EPO, we would like to extend our sincerest congratulations on your election as the new Chair of the Administrative Council.

We are in a transition phase: not only the chairmanship of the Council has changed, but we are also soon to welcome a new President of the Office. We are sure you are very keen to work towards a smooth transition and to lay healthy foundations for the new President’s future work. As a responsible social partner we will, of course, do our part.

The deadline of 14 September to apply to the position of EPO President has passed. The candidates who fulfil the criteria set up by the Administrative Council are now known. We respectfully ask you to invite the candidates to consider replying to the following questions we would like to ask them:

• What would be your first steps in re-establishing social peace and trust of EPO Staff in Management?

• What steps would you take to re-establish the rule of law at the EPO and make sure that the EPO legal bodies, e.g. Boards of Appeal, Appeals Committee and Disciplinary Committees are genuinely independent?

• Would you consider favourably working with the Staff Representation on an objective assessment of psychosocial risks at the EPO, and on ways to decrease them?

• Do you intend to look at the balance between quantity and quality of the service rendered by the EPO to its users?

We thank you for your kind attention, and remain,

Yours faithfully,
Joachim Michels
Chair SUEPO Central

Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO)
www.suepo.org

The examiners (or staff in general) have legitimate concerns. Battistelli has arranged succession that would barely promise change and probably be indebted to him (if the rumours are true about his ‘setup’).

“Battistelli has arranged succession that would barely promise change and probably be indebted to him (if the rumours are true about his ‘setup’).”To make matters even worse, the vision the EPO has had under Battistelli barely includes the EPO at all; it’s all about UPC, which would be a nightmare to European SMEs, contrary to today’s EPO lies about it (they do this every day now). The EPO is again spreading lies about SMEs in Europe, just as it was spreading lies about staff representatives (in order to have them dismissed). What’s more, it’s expected that many examiners will be rendered redundant soon. The EPO is trying to eliminate humans from the process (not just translations but searches and examinations too). Sure, in the process it is also driving away patent applicants, who realise they pay for very poor services. Take note of this EPO tweet from today. “Stephen Adams (Magister Ltd) will present the impact of technical change on the role of the human searcher,” it says.

It looks like there’s little or no future for the EPO as it exists at the moment. Battistelli demolishes it, perhaps consciously, while lobbying for a Paris-centric (among other locations) UPC.

Misuse of Tribal ‘Immunity’ for Patent Trolling Has Just Come Under a Congressional Probe

Posted in America, Patents at 4:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fallen tactics?

Fallen bee

Summary: Congressional scrutiny against a loophole at best or a “scam” at worst — a trick that is intended to shield dubious patents from a proper (re)assessment

TODAY we wrote about some prominent politicians coming out against patent trolls and in defense of PTAB, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

“Patent trolls [are] using Indian tribes proxy groups to fall under the “sovereign” shield,” Benjamin Henrion wrote, citing Slashdot, which in turn cites this report about Native Americans helping patent trolls for a quick buck. Last month we wrote two fairly long articles [1, 2] about the Mohawk people’s role in it and now comes a Congressional investigation:

Members of Congress want answers about a multinational drug company’s deal to save its patents by handing them off to a Native American tribe.

Last month, Allergan gave the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe six patents that protect Restasis, the company’s blockbuster eye drug. The goal is a sophisticated legal strategy to avoid having the US Patent Office proceed with a process called inter partes review, which is a kind of quasi-litigation in which opponents of a patent can try to have them revoked. Lawyers for Allergan are hoping that the principle of sovereign immunity, in which Native American tribes are treated as sovereign nations in certain ways, will protect their patents from government review.

From Slashdot’s summary of it:

But court cases have limited the scope of sovereign immunity (especially for commercial activity), and now Congress is investigating Allergan over the tactic that has Congress not only greatly concerned about competition in the drug industry (and exorbitant prices of pharmaceuticals), but also the questionable use of the sovereign immunity law. The four lawmakers who signed the letter to Allergan state: “The unconventional maneuver has received considerable criticism from the generic competitors challenging the drug’s patents under the process Congress created (IPR) to enable timelier review of such challenges (read: a fraction of the cost of a court trial).” The letter also notes that the key ingredient in the patent was set to expire in 2014 and that Allergan had filed more patents to extend patent protection to 2024, a signal that Congress is watching for exploitation of patent law to enable “perpetual patents” widely used by the pharmaceuticals.

Let’s hope that this “scam” (as some people have dubbed it) will be ended as soon as possible. Right now there are some copycats of it and this harms society at large.

Links 5/10/2017: Stable Kernels, X.Org Server 1.19.4, Qt 5.9.2, GNOME 3.26.1, PostgreSQL 10

Posted in News Roundup at 3:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Wide: Linux Foundation’s EdgeX Foundry Debuts Barcelona

    EdgeX Foundry, which launched its open source project and community focused on building a framework for simplifying interoperability for IoT ecosystem players, is demonstrating announcing “Barcelona,” its first major code release, at IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

  • EdgeX’s Barcelona Release Sets Path for Open Source IoT

    EdgeX Foundry, the Linux Foundation’s open source industrial Internet of Things (IoT) group, is making its first major code release, dubbed Barcelona, available later this month. The new release promises to help take the complexity out of IoT by supporting certain key APIs as well as industrial protocols like Bluetooth Low Energy, MQTT (a low-energy machine-to-machine protocol), and simple network management protocol (SNPP).

  • Google Cloud, Barefoot Networks create P4 Runtime open source project

    Google Cloud and Barefoot Networks have created an open source project under P4.org called P4 Runtime, an API for enabling communication between control plane and forwarding plane in a more flexible manner.

    Suitable for local or remote-control plane software, the P4 Runtime API is independent of the underlying forwarding plane type. It offers the ability to control a diversity of networking devices including fixed-function ASICs, FPGAs, NPUs, software switches, and Programmable ASICs.

  • The Faces of Open Source: Mike Dolan

    We’re pleased to present the eighth, but sadly, final episode of Shane Martin Coughlan’s, “The Faces of Open Source Law”, featuring Mike Dolan. We’d like to thank Shane for his great work in introducing the issues related to open source software and communities, as well as the people so deeply involved and committed to helping the movement succeed.

    [...]

    Mike commented that our setup was just as ramshackle as the actual show. Despite this we recorded one of the longer and most content-filled interviews of the season, providing a perfect end point to an experiment in connecting personalities to well-known names in the open source legal sphere.

  • 4 open source alternatives to Gmail

    Gmail has enjoyed phenomenal success, and regardless of which study you choose to look at for exact numbers, there’s no doubt that Gmail is towards the top of the pack when it comes to market share. For certain circles, Gmail has become synonymous with email, or at least with webmail. Many appreciate its clean interface and the simple ability to access their inbox from anywhere.

    But Gmail is far from the only name in the game when it comes to web-based email clients. In fact, there are a number of open source alternatives available for those who want more freedom, and occasionally, a completely different approach to managing their email without relying on a desktop client.

  • VOLTHA Release Provides the Brain for AT&T’s XGS-PON Plans

    AT&T’s 10-gigabit symmetric passive optical network technology (XGS-PON) plans are set to receive some open source brains.

    The carrier today released the first version of its Virtual Optical Line Termination Hardware Abstraction (VOLTHA) software into the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). The platform provides a software framework – or “brain” – behind the XGS-PON access network in the cloud.

  • AT&T Releases Open-Source VOLTHA Software for XGS-PON

    In AT&T’s latest effort to virtualize the last mile of connectivity between its fiber network and customers’ homes or businesses, the operator released open-source software it calls the “brain” for XGS-PON access technology.

  • Say Hi to Subutai

    Subutai is an open-source project and platform that lets anyone share, barter or rent computer resources to create clouds from the edge rather than centralized locations. Available devices can attach to these clouds hovering on the edge. We started calling it Social Cloud Computing, but technically, Subutai is a dynamic p2p multi-cloud made possible thanks to Lightweight Linux Containers and software-defined networking. Think Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud, but running on your computers and the computers of social contacts who share their computer resources with you. Or, think AirBnB on computers for the people’s cloud.

  • Open-Source Tool Aims to Boost Confidence in Ice Sheet Models

    Massive ice sheets with layers built up over millions of years blanket most of Greenland and Antarctica. As a result of climate change, these ice sheets have begun to melt and shrink. Scientists believe this trend is likely to continue and will contribute to sea level rise for decades to come.

  • What are the advantages of open source software?

    Open source software attracts an ever-growing list of advocates. It can save organisations a lot of money while still providing a superior service to that available from proprietary vendors.

    Read on for a rundown of the key benefits open source software has over commercial products

  • Events

    • Open Jam, our open source game jam, kicks off this week

      Open Jam is all about open source games and open game development. Whereas some jams require participants to submit source code for their games, not all of them require that code to be open source licensed. Open Jam encourages you to use open source tools and assets and to link them in your submission. Once voting has concluded, the top three games will be featured at All Things Open.

    • Webinar: 10-step plan to rollout Cloud devops
    • The ARCS model of motivational design

      The ARCS model is an instructional design method developed by John Keller that focuses on motivation. ARCS is based on a research into best practices and successful teachers and gives you tactics on how to evaluate your lessons in order to build motivation right into them.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Patching Firefox

        For Firefox 57, mozilla decided to overhaul much of their browser. The changes are large and massive, and in some ways revolutionary. It’s no surprise, therefore, that some of the changes break compatibility with older things.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 10 Released

      The PostgreSQL Global Development Group today announced the release of PostgreSQL 10, the latest version of the world’s most advanced open source database.

      A critical feature of modern workloads is the ability to distribute data across many nodes for faster access, management, and analysis, which is also known as a “divide and conquer” strategy. The PostgreSQL 10 release includes significant enhancements to effectively implement the divide and conquer strategy, including native logical replication, declarative table partitioning, and improved query parallelism.

    • PostgreSQL 10.0 Officially Released
    • PostgreSQL 10 released

      Version 10 of the PostgreSQL database management system has been released.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD gains eMMC support so … errr … watch out, Android

      Version 10.4 of FreeBSD has landed, with the headline feature being support for eMMC.

      For those of you still short of your best after nocturnal chemical exertions, eMMC – aka Embedded Multimedia Card – packs some flash memory and a controller into a single package. That arrangement is handy for manufacturers of personal electronics.

    • LibertyBSD 6.1 Released As A “Deblobbed” Version Of OpenBSD

      LibertyBSD 6.1 is now available as a deblobbed version of OpenBSD.

      LibertyBSD is a downstream of OpenBSD that focuses on only distributing free software. OpenBSD ships with non-free, binary-only firmware like Linux, but LibertyBSD strips away those binary-only bits, similar to the Linux-libre downstream kernel.

    • OpenSSH 7.6 has just been released.
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Node.js is Strong and Growing

      As we come into this year’s Node.js Interactive conference it’s a good time to reflect on the State of Node.js, and by any reasonable measure the state of Node.js is very strong. Every day there are more than 8.8 million Node instances online, that number has grown by 800,000 in the last nine months alone. Every week there are more than 3 billion downloads of npm packages. The number of Node.js contributors has grown from 1,100 contributors last year to more than 1,500 contributors today. To date there have been a total of 444 releases, and we have 39,672 stars on Github. This is an enviable position for any technology and a testament to the value of Node.js and the dedication of the Node.js community.

    • SUSE Developer Working On AMD Zen Tuning For GCC

      Veteran GCC contributor and SUSE developer Jan Hubicka has begun working on some Zen tuning within the GNU Compiler Collection for benefiting the Ryzen / Threadripper / Epyc processors.

      While GCC has already had the “znver1″ scheduler model and some tuning for this new CPU microarchitecture, tuning a complicated compiler stack is a virtually never-ending process, just as the LLVM/Clang znver1 support continues to be refined too. AMD has long partnered with SUSE for compiler engineering excellence from working on GCC HSA code to the initial x86_64 bring-up and much more over the years. Given Hubicka now working on Zen tuning, this looks to be the latest involvement.

    • PyPy v5.9 released
    • PyPy v5.9 Released, Now Supports Pandas, NumPy

      The PyPy team is proud to release both PyPy3.5 v5.9 (a beta-quality interpreter for Python 3.5 syntax) and PyPy2.7 v5.9 (an interpreter supporting Python 2.7 syntax).

    • PyPy 5.9 Released With Faster JSON Parser, Greater Compatibility

      PyPy, the self-hosting alternative Python interpreter, is up to version 5.9 for its Python 2 and Python 3 language support.

      PyPy 5.9 brings support for Numpy and Pandas with its Python 2.7 implementation, greater compatibility in conjunction with Cython 0.27.1, an optimized JSON parser, updated CFFI, improvements to the C API compatibility layer, and other updates.

    • Red Hat will provide PHP 7.1 for RHEL (and CentOS)

Leftovers

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Quality Of Medicines A Key Focus Of Antimicrobial Resistance Fight

      Assuring the quality of medicines all the way to the consumer is a key component of the global antimicrobial resistance action plan now beginning to be implemented around the world, a panel of experts said during the recent United Nations General Assembly.

      There are a number of reasons why patients develop resistance to antimicrobials, said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director and senior fellow, Center for Disease Dynamics Economics & Policy (CDDEP), the moderator of the panel. Examples are that people do not take the full course of treatment, or that they buy substandard medicines over the counter from local shops.

    • WHO Official On AMR: Poor Quality Medicines Entering At “Last Mile” To Patient

      In the question and answer period, Inoue reported on WHO efforts, saying for instance that since WHO launched its global surveillance and monitoring system for substandard or falsified medicines in 2012, they have gathered more than 1,500 reports of such medicine from more than 100 countries. So there is now some data on clusters of medicines or categories of medicines most prone to such issues.

    • Police raid Merck pharmaceutical plant amid mysterious drug crisis

      In the six months since pharmaceutical giant Merck KGaA reformulated a thyroid hormone replacement drug distributed in France, patients there have filed dozens of lawsuits. Hundreds of thousands signed a petition to reverse the change, and around 9,000 reported illnesses and side-effects, some dramatic. They complain of hair loss, cramps, weight gain, extreme fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, dizziness, memory loss, and heart palpitations.

      The outcry has created a political and media blitz. Rumors and conspiracy theories have flown, including that Merck switched production of the drug to a plant in China to cut costs. (The drug, which has no competition in France, is produced in Europe.)

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • How 2nd Amendment Distortions Kill

      “Gun rights” advocates insist that pretty much any gun control violates the design of the Constitution’s Framers and thus can’t be enacted no matter how many innocent people die.

      Some on the Right, as well as some on the Left, even claim that the Founders, as revolutionaries themselves, wanted an armed population so the people could rebel against the Republic, which the U.S. Constitution created. But the Constitution’s Framers in 1787 and the authors of the Bill of Rights in the First Congress in 1789 had no such intent.

      Arguably other individuals disconnected from the drafting of those documents may have harbored such radical attitudes (at least rhetorically), but the authors didn’t. In fact, their intent was the opposite.

      The goal of the Second Amendment was to promote state militias for the maintenance of order at a time of political unrest, potential slave revolts and simmering hostilities with both European powers and Native Americans on the frontiers. Indeed, the amendment’s defined purpose was to achieve state “security” against disruptions to the country’s new republican form of government.

    • Pilger Criticizes Ken Burns’s ‘The Vietnam War’

      For decades, the U.S. mainstream media has shied away from a clear-eyed view of the Vietnam War, not wanting to offend the war’s apologists, a residue of which tainted the recent PBS series, as John Pilger told Dennis J Bernstein.

    • No, Bill O’Reilly, Bloody Las Vegas Massacre Is Not “Price of Freedom”

      After former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly—ousted from his nightly show earlier this year following allegations of sexual harassment—described the blood-soaked massacre at a Las Vegas music festival on Sunday night that left 59 people dead and hundreds wounded as “the price of freedom,” the good people of the nation had a simple response: No, you heartless and mindless idiot.

      “Once again,” O’Reilly wrote on his personal blog Monday, “the big downside of American freedom is on gruesome display.” Later, he argued that mass murder at the hands of people with automatic assault rifles is simply “the price of freedom” because “violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are.”

      Though a classic construction of right-wing demagoguery, that thinking is betrayed by serious academic research which shows that when strict gun control laws are put in place, these kinds of attacks are incredibly rare compared to what the United States—hostage as it is to the nation’s gun industry lobby and the NRA—has been forced to experience in recent decades.

    • A Mindset Shift Is Necessary to Defeat Gun Violence

      One night in 2013, I sat in my living room, gaze fixed on the television. A teenage girl the same age as my own daughter had been murdered. In our neighborhood (and the neighborhood of the then-president, too). So many questions ran through my head: “How, what, why?” Yes — lots and lots of “why?”

      Her mother sobbed and moaned uncontrollably on the TV. Her family crowded around to bring strength to her, but at that moment, nothing could. I knew this scene. I knew the sound of it. I knew what it meant and I was terrified of it.

    • Two Charts on the Gun Crisis: One Hopeful, One Hopeless

      This chart shows that there’s a fairly strong relationship between the rate of gun-related deaths (murders, suicides, accidents) and the percentage of households that own guns: the fewer households with guns, the fewer gun deaths. This is encouraging because it suggests that efforts to reduce the heavy toll of gun deaths could work: If the statistical correlation holds, you wouldn’t have to eliminate all guns—a probably impossible goal—you would just have to reduce their number in order to significantly reduce the carnage. In other words, if Kentucky reduced household gun ownership by about two-fifths (just eyeballing it), it might look more like Delaware, with roughly two-thirds the rate of gun deaths.

    • Trump plans to declare that Iran nuclear deal is not in the national interest
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Texas Official After Harvey: The ‘Red Cross Was Not There’

      The Red Cross’ anemic response to Hurricane Harvey left officials in several Texas counties seething, emails obtained by ProPublica show. In some cases, the Red Cross simply failed to show up as it promised it would.

      In DeWitt, a county of 20,000 where Harvey ripped apart the roof of a hotel, Emergency Management Coordinator Cyndi Smith upbraided a Red Cross official in a Sept. 9 email:

    • The Latest: Interior ordered to reinstate methane rule

      A federal judge has ordered the Interior Department to reinstate an Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands.

      The order by a judge in San Francisco comes as Interior is moving to delay the rule until 2019, saying it is too burdensome to industry. Interior tried earlier to postpone part of the rule set to take effect next year.

    • Demand for new cars declines in September as consumer and business confidence falls

      The UK new car market declined for a sixth consecutive month in September, with 426,170 new units registered, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Registrations fell by -9.3% in this key month, as economic and political uncertainty, and confusion over air quality plans led to a fall in consumer confidence.

    • The FBI’s Hunt for Two Missing Piglets Reveals the Federal Cover-Up of Barbaric Factory Farms

      FBI AGENTS ARE devoting substantial resources to a multistate hunt for two baby piglets that the bureau believes are named Lucy and Ethel. The two piglets were removed over the summer from the Circle Four Farm in Utah by animal rights activists who had entered the Smithfield Foods-owned factory farm to film the brutal, torturous conditions in which the pigs are bred in order to be slaughtered.

      While filming the conditions at the Smithfield facility, activists saw the two ailing baby piglets laying on the ground, visibly ill and near death, surrounded by the rotting corpses of dead piglets. “One was swollen and barely able to stand; the other had been trampled and was covered in blood,” said Wayne Hsiung of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), which filmed the facility and performed the rescue. Due to various illnesses, he said, the piglets were unable to eat or digest food and were thus a fraction of the normal weight for piglets their age.

  • Finance

    • Explaining the new cryptocurrency bubble—and why it might not be all bad

      You’re going to hear a lot about initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the coming months. As investors have poured more and more money into newly created virtual currencies, they have created a gold-rush mentality. In recent months, some ICOs have raised tens of millions of dollars, and in early October the cryptocurrency market as a whole was worth about $140 billion.

    • Before Maria, Forcing Puerto Rico to Pay Its Debt Was Odious. Now It’s Pure Cruelty.

      On Tuesday, Donald Trump followed up his sadistic attacks on the people of Puerto Rico with a comment out of the blue regarding the territory’s $73 billion debt: “… we’re going to have to wipe that out.” Whether or not Trump can be taken any more seriously on that than he can on any other issue, Hurricane Maria did reveal in the starkest possible way that forgiveness of Puerto Rico’s debt is a moral necessity.

      The economic vulnerability that set the island up for an unnatural disaster unprecedented in U.S. history was a hybrid between mainland hedge-fund managers’ greed and the island colony’s political powerlessness. Writing more than a year before Maria, legal scholar Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan argued,

    • Puerto Rico Is On Track for Historic Debt Forgiveness — Unless Wall Street Gets Its Way

      For bondholders sitting on Puerto Rican debt, Hurricane Maria may have come just when they needed it, just as a yearslong battle over the fate of the island’s financial future was beginning to turn against them. Or, depending on how the politics shake out, they could see their entire bet go south.

      Ahead of Maria, the federally appointed fiscal oversight board now in control of Puerto Rico’s finances had developed a plan that would wipe out 79 percent of the island’s annual debt payments, taking a massive chunk out of the payday hedge funds had been hoping to land from the island.

      In the wake of the storm, that fight could go one of two ways: Advocates for Puerto Rico are making the case that the devastation means that 79 percent should be ratcheted up all the way to a full debt cancellation. The hedge funds, meanwhile, see an opening to attack the oversight board and reclaim ownership of the process.

      While Congress focuses on the size and shape of the relief package, the battle over the much larger debt — at least $74 billion — is being overshadowed. As hedge funds attempt to undermine the board’s legitimacy in the courts, resentment toward the board from a different end of the political spectrum has made the body unpopular for entirely different reasons: It’s colonial and undemocratic. The difference between the two? The left wants debt relief for Puerto Ricans. Many bondholders want the opposite.

    • 13 Cost-Cutting Measures Companies Hope You Won’t Notice
    • Trump Tax Plan Is a Rocket for the Rich

      As President Trump begins a barn-storming tour to tout his tax plan, we’ve released a short video rebutting some of the most common Republican myths about corporate tax cuts.

      Trump has claimed that we’ll “see a rocket ship” once his tax plan is adopted — that’s just how much he wants us to believe the economy will take off.

      But as predicted, the plan he and congressional Republican leaders released on September 27 would primarily benefit the wealthy and big corporations. For the rest of us, it would be a dud.

    • Special Investigation: How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis—With Phony Mortgages!

      You know the old joke: How do you make a killing on Wall Street and never risk a loss? Easy—use other people’s money. Jamie Dimon and his underlings at JPMorgan Chase have perfected this dark art at America’s largest bank, which boasts a balance sheet one-eighth the size of the entire US economy.

      After JPMorgan’s deceitful activities in the housing market helped trigger the 2008 financial crash that cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes, and life savings, punishment was in order. Among a vast array of misconduct, JPMorgan engaged in the routine use of “robo-signing,” which allowed bank employees to automatically sign hundreds, even thousands, of foreclosure documents per day without verifying their contents. But in the United States, white-collar criminals rarely go to prison; instead, they negotiate settlements. Thus, on February 9, 2012, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced the National Mortgage Settlement, which fined JPMorgan Chase and four other mega-banks a total of $25 billion.

    • Why Apple could be slapped with a massive $15 billion Irish tax bill

      The European Commission on Wednesday stepped up its campaign to force big American technology companies to pay more taxes on Wednesday. It ruled that Luxembourg had violated EU rules by allowing the bulk of Amazon’s European profits to go untaxed, and it announced it was taking Ireland to court for failing to collect higher taxes from Apple, after Ireland ignored a similar ruling from the EC last year. If the EC wins the battle, Apple could owe €13 billion ($15 billion), while Amazon could owe an extra €250 million ($290 million).

      The EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, says that she’s just trying to create a level playing field by preventing big multinational companies from getting sweetheart deals not available to most companies. But critics say Vestager is meddling in the internal tax policy decisions of democratic nations—and some have also insinuated that she has been singling out American multinationals for extra scrutiny.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Exclusive: Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted Michigan and Wisconsin

      Facebook previously has acknowledged that about one quarter of the 3,000 Russian-bought ads were targeted to specific geographic locations, without detailing the locations. The company said of the ads that were geographically targeted “more ran in 2015 than 2016.” In all, Facebook estimates the entire Russian effort was seen by 10 million people.

    • Facebook Fought Rules That Could Have Exposed Fake Russian Ads

      Since 2011, Facebook has asked the Federal Election Commission for blanket exemptions from political advertising disclosure rules — transparency that could have helped it avoid the current crisis over Russian ad spending ahead of the 2016 U.S. election.

    • Baltimore’s ‘Kushnerville’ Tenants File Class Action Against Landlord

      Tenants of the Baltimore-area apartment complexes owned by Jared Kushner’s real-estate company have brought a class-action lawsuit against the firm’s property management arm over its aggressive pursuit of tenants for allegedly unpaid rent.

      The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Circuit Court for Baltimore City, alleges that the management company and related corporate entities have been improperly inflating payments owed by tenants by charging them late fees that are often unfounded and court fees that are not actually approved by any court. This, the lawsuit charges, sets in motion a vicious cycle in which tenants’ rent payments are partly assessed toward the fees instead of the actual rent owed, thus deeming the tenant once again “late” on his or her rent payment, leading to yet more late fees and court fees. Making matters worse, the 5 percent late fees are frequently assessed on principal that includes allegedly unpaid fees, not just the rent itself. Tenants are pressured to pay the snowballing bills with immediate threat of eviction, the suit alleges.

    • In the South, Bankruptcy is Different, Especially for Black Debtors

      For consumers, there are two main options under federal bankruptcy law: Chapter 7, which wipes away most debts, or Chapter 13, which usually requires five years of payments before debts are forgiven. In most of the country, people choose Chapter 7. But two overlapping groups — debtors in the South and black debtors — disproportionately file under Chapter 13. About half of Chapter 13 cases are dismissed, usually because debtors failed to make their payments. This can leave them worse off than before they filed because they’ve paid court costs and attorney fees while falling further behind on their debts. Detailed Findings | Related Story | Download the Data

    • How the Bankruptcy System Is Failing Black Americans

      Novasha Miller pushed through the revolving doors of the black glass tower on Jefferson Avenue last December and felt a rush of déjà vu. The building, conspicuous in Memphis’ modest skyline along the Mississippi River, looms over its neighbors. Then she remembered: Years ago, as a teenager, she’d accompanied her mother inside.

    • The U.S. Election System Remains Deeply Vulnerable, But States Would Rather Celebrate Fake Success

      When the Department of Homeland Security notified 21 states that Russian actors had targeted their elections systems in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, the impacted states rolled out a series of defiant statements. “Oregon’s security measures thwarted Russian government attempts to access the Secretary of State computer network during the 2016 general election,” chest-thumped Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.

      The Florida secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections, was triumphant: “Florida was unsuccessfully targeted by hackers last year.”

    • Calling Foul on Donald Trump

      A post-surgical convalescence has held me captive to the 24/7 news cycle more than usual so I’ve been far too immersed than is healthy in the concurrent sagas of Donald Trump versus the National Football League and the United States Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Hence a couple of thoughts about aspects of Trump’s life and worldview that may help connect some dots:

    • Protest in the Black Lives Matter movement: an interview with activist and lawyer Justin Hansford
    • Catalonia: Rajoy Moves Towards Extreme Measures

      Things have taken a much more sinister turn in Catalonia, without sufficient notice being paid internationally. The leader of the Catalan regional police force has been formally arraigned for sedition by the Spanish attorney general, for refusal to comply enthusiastically with the beating up of old women. That carries a minimum jail sentence of four years. It is the first step towards major imprisonment of Catalan leaders. It is also extremely significant that this first step is aimed at decapitating the only disciplined and armed force under some measure of Catalan government control. What does that tell you about Rajoy’s next move?

      This extreme action against Major Trapero is precisely in line with last night’s ultra hardline address by a man with the comic opera name of Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia. It is hard to take seriously anyone named after a whiskey, but we live in such a strange world that this unelected, far right and immensely corrupt, inbred buffoon could spout about democracy and accuse anyone who did not bow the knee to him of disloyalty and sedition. That precisely prefigures the legal action taken against Major Trapero. It can only be a precursor to a Spanish attempt to impose physical control on Catalonia and imprison its leaders. Having rejected both dialogue and mediation, I see no other direction Rajoy will take.

    • The EU Doubles Down on Backing For Rajoy

      Timmerman said “rule of law” an amazing 12 times during his brief closing statement, and said “human rights” or “fundamental rights” precisely zero times. At no stage did Timmermans acknowledge that the Spanish Guardia Civil had viciously attacked peaceful civilians of all ages.

      [...]

      It was, in short, horrific. I am afraid to say that it left me in no doubt whatsoever that I have made the right choice in declining further to support membership of the EU.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Trump Wants to Censor the Media

      Frustrated with a set of damning reports about his relationship with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—including the nugget that Tillerson called him a “moron” (perhaps with an R-rated modifier)—the president offered a new suggestion on Twitter Thursday morning: Why not explore government censorship of the press?

    • Cloudflare Bans Sites For Using Cryptocurrency Miners

      Web-based cryptocurrency miners became a big thing recently when The Pirate Bay trialed one to generate extra revenue. Now, however, TorrentFreak has learned that Cloudflare has banned at least one torrent proxy site for deploying a miner on its platform. According to Cloudflare, unannounced miners are considered malware.

    • Amber Rudd: viewers of online terrorist material face 15 years in jail

      Asked by an audience member if she understood how end-to-end encryption actually worked, she said: “It’s so easy to be patronised in this business. We will do our best to understand it. We will take advice from other people. But I do feel that there is a sea of criticism for any of us who try and legislate in new areas, who will automatically be sneered at and laughed at for not getting it right. I don’t need to understand how encryption works to understand how it’s helping the criminals,” she went on. “I will engage with the security services to find the best way to combat that.”

    • Former Revenge Porn Site Operator Readies For Senate Run By Issuing Bogus Takedown Requests To YouTube

      He also had a history of mocking those who asked him to take down the nude photos that he had posted on his site. For example, this was posted to Brittain’s site, and preserved by Adam Steinbaugh (Craig took down this and other posts after Steinbaugh wrote about them). What you see below is Craig literally responding “lol” to people freaked out that their naked photos were posted to his site without their knowledge or consent (while the image says “admin,” Craig has publicly admitted he wrote and posted those responses).

    • Shouldn’t Federal Judges Understand That Congress Did Not Pass SOPA?

      We’ve discussed in the past the completely ridiculous attacks on Sci-Hub, a site that should be celebrated as an incredible repository of all the world’s academic knowledge. It’s an incredible and astounding achievement… and, instead of celebrating it, we have big publishers attacking it. Because copyright. And even though the purpose of copyright was supposedly to advance “learning” and Sci-Hub serves that purpose amazingly well, so many people have bought into the myth of copyrights must “exclude” usage, that we’re in a time where one of the most amazing libraries in the world is being attacked. Sci-Hub lost its big case earlier this year, and almost immediately others piled on. Specifically, back in June, the American Chemical Society (ACS) jumped in with a similar “us too!” lawsuit, knowing full well that Sci-Hub would likely ignore it.

    • Censorship board considers new name

      He said the idea to come up with a new name was informed by the negative connotations attracted by the current name.

    • Too much self-censorship

      It’s not just newspapers or internet giants like Twitter or Facebook; we are all in the communications business. We’re not the talking naked apes we once were. Now we are a species with interconnected tongues and brains, linked by clouds of computers and thinking machines. The same primate thumbs that enabled us to become toolmakers have now become our primary language devices. No thumbs means no phone, no communication.

      [...]

      Here at this newspaper, we have inherited new jobs. Every week we are forced to chase down Facebook errors and Nextdoor rumors and try to set the record straight. Why can’t Facebook’s billionaire Mark Zuckerberg do his own job? Maybe because he’s already admitted he can’t control all his thinking machines. Google’s motto is “do no harm.” That sounds a lot like a tag line promoting last summer’s Planet of the Apes movie.

    • Iranian art: of culture, clerical censorship and western influence
    • Spring art in Tehran
    • Banned books: Garland Public library display draws attention to censorship issues
    • Ladd Celebrates Banned Books Week in Style
    • Worth reading
    • Blade’s Lessenberry to lecture on censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Journalist’s supporters can sue FBI over subpoena seeking names of defense fund donors: Judge

      Kevin Gallagher, the creator of “Free Barrett Brown,” sued the government in San Francisco federal court this past February after learning that the Dallas prosecutor’s office used a subpoena to quietly obtain the names and other personal information of individuals who made seemingly anonymous donations to the writer’s defense fund. Prosecutors investigating the criminal case against Mr. Brown said the subpoena was necessary to determine if the accused could afford to hire an attorney, but lawyers representing Mr. Gallagher and an anonymous donor argued that the government sought “completely irrelevant” information that was meant to intimidate and silence the journalist’s supporters.

    • The U.S. Voted Against a U.N. Resolution Condemning Death Penalty for LGBTQ People

      President Donald Trump’s administration is facing strong backlash from civil rights groups after voting against a U.N. resolution that condemns using death penalty to punish “consensual same-sex relations.”

      The U.N. Human Rights Council approved the measure on Friday with a 27-13 vote, with seven countries abstaining. The United States, led by Amb. Nikki Haley, voted for an amendment to the resolution that said the death penalty was not necessarily a human rights violation, and voted against amendments urging countries to stop using experimental drugs in executions.

    • Judge: Barrett Brown donors can sue government over subpoenaed records

      A federal judge in San Francisco has denied the FBI’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a local activist who raised money for Barrett Brown. Brown is a journalist who was released from prison last year.

      As Ars reported previously, in April 2014 Brown took a plea deal admitting guilt on three charges: “transmitting a threat in interstate commerce,” interfering with the execution of a search warrant, and being “accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer.” Brown was arrested in 2012 when he shared a link related to Anonymous’ hack of Stratfor.

      During Brown’s incarceration, activist Kevin Gallagher solicited over $40,000 in donations on the WePay website. However, he soon found that the FBI had successfully subpoenaed WePay to obtain information about the myriad donors whose identities Gallagher had pledged to keep secret.

    • Search of “Rocket” Madsen’s space lab finds footage of woman’s decapitation

      Copenhagen prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen announced in a court hearing Wednesday that “images” of the torture, decapitation, and burning of a woman were found on a computer hard drive at RML Spacelab, the organization devoted to building a manned suborbital rocket led by Danish aerospace engineer Peter Madsen. The BBC reports that the images, “which we presume to be real,” said Buch-Jepsen, were on a computer believed to belong to Madsen—the suspect in the death of journalist Kim Wall in an incident aboard his submarine the UC3 Nautilus.

      Madsen, for his part, claimed the video was not his and that the computer the video was on was a computer that everyone in the lab had access to. But other evidence presented in this latest hearing on his case has prompted the judge overseeing the case to order he be held in custody another four months, as Buch-Jepsen told the court of the video and other evidence that have “strengthened” the case against Madsen since his last hearing on September 5.

    • Supreme Court says live streaming would “adversely affect” oral arguments

      The Supreme Court is setting aside a request to live stream its oral arguments. The attorney for Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. told members of Congress that live streaming even the audio portion of its oral arguments might impact the outcome.

      “The Chief Justice appreciated and shares your ultimate goal of increasing public transparency and improving public understanding of the Supreme Court,” Roberts’ attorney, Jeffrey P. Minear, wrote (PDF) the four members of Congress seeking (PDF) to have the court’s gerrymandering case live streamed in audio. “I am sure you are, however, familiar with the Justices’ concerns surrounding the live broadcast or streaming of oral arguments, which could adversely affect the character and quality of the dialogue between the attorneys and Justices. Consequently, the Court is unable to accommodate your request.”

    • 3 Bills Gov. Jerry Brown Should Sign Right Now

      Each day, California Gov. Jerry Brown releases a list of 30-40 bills that he’s signed—and those that he’s vetoed. When all is said and done, California likely will add more than 800 new laws to the books this year.

      And each day, EFF refreshes and refreshes the governor’s press release page, watching for Brown to take action on the bills we fought to put on his desk. He has until Oct. 15 to sign, veto, or let bills pass without his signature.

      Will he sign S.B. 345, a police transparency bill that even law enforcement supports? Will he agree that at-risk youth in juvenile halls and foster homes deserve access to digital tools, as proposed by A.B. 811? Will he finish the job of reforming California’s gang databases and approve A.B. 90?

      He could act on these bills any time over the next 10 days. If you live in California, tell the governor that today is a great day to strengthen our digital rights.

    • Seattle’s Nazi tech-bros’ plan: infiltrate tech industry, hire white supremacists

      The Stranger’s David Lewis snuck into the Northwest Forum, a s00per s33kr1t Nazi gathering in Seattle, and attended the speeches, including the keynote by reclusive white supremacist leader Dr Greg Johnson.

      All in all, the Forum was a pretty dull affair, but Johnson did take the opportunity to describe his strategy for “secret agent” white nationalists to infiltrate the tech sector by paying “lip service to diversity,” moving up the corporate ladder, and hire other mediocre white men who believe in racial superiority to fill the companies’ vacancies.

    • Judge: Barrett Brown Donors Plausibly Allege FBI Violated Free Speech

      A magistrate judge dismissed multiple claims brought by supporters of journalist Barrett Brown against a former assistant United States attorney, former special FBI agent, and the U.S. government. But the judge did not entirely dismiss the lawsuit and left the door open for one donor to amend his claim arguing an FBI subpoena chilled his First Amendment activity.

      Brown was released from prison on November 29, 2016, after serving a prison sentence which stemmed from pleading guilty to threatening an FBI agent, obstructing justice, and being an accessory to a cyber attack. He spent two years in pretrial incarceration prior to his sentence in 2014.

      Cadina Heath was the assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Texas. Robert Smith was a special FBI agent in the Dallas office. They drafted and served WePay with a subpoena that directed WePay to produce records on the crowdfunding campaign to raise money for Brown’s legal defense. It exposed the identities of donors, their sensitive financial information, and the amounts of their donations, and allegedly targeted their political speech.

    • He Was Meant To Secure An Election — He Turned Up Dead

      Early in the morning on July 31, eight days before a highly contested election that would plunge the country into a crisis unlike any it had seen before, the man responsible for designing the electronic system to ensure a fair and accurate vote was found brutally murdered.

      Authorities found the body of Chris Msando, the deputy IT manager of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), on the side of the road in a town called Kikuyu, about 12 miles northwest of Nairobi. Police also found the body of a 21-year-old woman next to him; both of their clothes had been removed. Early reports indicated that Msando’s arm had been chopped off, but a pathologist later clarified that he had suffered several cuts to his arm and other signs of torture. Officials said the cause for his death was strangulation. Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations continues the probe into his killing.

    • Indiana Supreme Court: Sex with minors is OK, but it’s illegal to sext them

      In Indiana, it’s legal for adults to have consensual sex with minors aged 16 and 17. But it’s illegal to sext those same minors, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled this week. The decision reinstated sexting charges against an adult who texted nude images of himself to a girl he knew was 16.

      The state’s highest court, ruling 5-0, noted that the charges against 40-year-old defendant Sameer Thakar, a high school teacher who has been removed from his post, are “inconsistent” when balanced against the state’s laws on consensual sex. But state lawmakers, and not the Supreme Court, can rectify that if they want to, the court ruled.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Broadband Lobbyists Gush Over Re-Appointment Of Trump’s FCC Boss

      If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that Trump-appointed FCC boss Ajit Pai is viciously unpopular. There are dozens of reasons for this, ranging from his assault on net neutrality and broadband privacy rules, to his efforts to protect cable’s set top box monopoly while fiddling with data measurement to downplay a lack of competition in the space. Pai’s the type to gut broadband funding programs for the poor while professing to be a stalwart champion of bridging the digital divide — a man whose self-professed dedication to transparency is notably absent in his policy making.

    • Wall Street Predicts Apathetic Regulators And Limited Competition Will Let Comcast Double Broadband Prices

      Wall Street predicts that cable giants like Comcast will soon be cashing in on the one-two punch of rubber stamp regulators and an ongoing lack of competition in the broadband space. Under the Obama administration, regulators turned a blind eye to the fact that cable giants like Comcast were taking advantage of a lack of competition to impose arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees. Under the Trump administration that apathy has ballooned ten fold, with the looming assault on net neutrality only green lighting Comcast’s ability to use those fees to raise rates and hamstring streaming competitors.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Man who sued over Facebook childbirth livestream slapped with $120k in fees

        A father who livestreamed his son’s birth on Facebook and then sued various media outlets that used his clips has been ordered to pay $120,000 in attorneys fees after losing his case.

        US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in February that TV stations broadcasting clips of the 45-minute livestream, published online by Kali Kanongataa, qualified as fair use. NBC used 30 seconds of the video on one of its morning shows, while ABC and Yahoo used 22 seconds of the video for a segment that was broadcast on Good Morning America and a Yahoo site that hosts ABC content. The father also sued COED Media Group.

      • ‘Six Strikes’ May Be Dead, But ISPs Keep Threatening To Disconnect Accused Pirates Anyway

        Earlier this year, the entertainment and telecom industries’ “six strikes” anti-piracy initiative died a quiet death after years of hype from the RIAA and MPAA about how it would revolutionize copyright enforcement (it didn’t). The program involved ISPs using a rotating crop of “escalation measures” to temporarily block, throttle or otherwise harass accused pirates until they acknowledged receipt of laughably one-sided copyright educational materials. Offenders, accused entirely based on IP address as proof of guilt, were allowed to try and contest these accusations — if they paid a $35 fee.

      • MPAA Reports Pirate Sites, Hosts and Ad-Networks to US Government

        The MPAA has submitted a new list of “notorious websites” to the US Government. The list features a wide variety of pirate sites including The Pirate Bay, Gostream, and Rapidgator, and also mentions fully-loaded streaming boxes. For the first time, the overview also includes ad-networks, highlighting the Canadian company WWWPromoter as an example.

“Cloud”, “AI”, and “IoT” Among the Buzzwords Used to Bypass Limitations/Bans on Software Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 4:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t fall for these tricks, which law firms advertise in the form of ‘drafting tips’

To bamboozle
Don’t be a victim of buzzwords and the art of semantics

Summary: Now that ‘pure’ software patents are pretty much impossible to enforce (except in China) there are efforts by law firms to mislead clients into further pursuits, usually relying on misleading words to avoid an impression of abstractness

THE REALITY in 2017 is that software patents are practically dead in the US courts. Sure, examiners still grant some (even at the EPO), but courts say “No!” almost every time (the higher the court, the more likely the rejection). Law firms that promote software patents consciously waste people’s time and money; after all, what do/why should they care about the outcome? They make money from legal fees either way (no matter the outcome). Yesterday we saw this article titled “Drafting Software Patents Post-Alice: Lessons From Courts” (which ones, district courts?).

Much of the article is behind a paywall, but the introduction says: “Since the decision in Alice[1] three years ago, applicants, patent practitioners and even patent examiners are trying to sort out what is and is not an abstract idea in the software arts for patentability purposes. With no clear objective test, each new decision potentially provides guidance on what may be determined to be abstract, and also may provide clues on how to better structure claims and specifications to avoid or at least overcome Alice-related rejections.”

But given the repeated rejection of such patents, what’s the point? Changing the words might help fool examiners into granting software patents, but courts (with witnesses, expert testimonies etc.) will almost always reach the same conclusion. Don’t bother. Don’t try to pursue software patents anymore. Don’t believe these law firms. They just try to make money for themselves, not for clients.

Unfortunately, we continue to see the dodge or departure from conventional language and into the realm of buzzwords, such as “AI”*. Even this morning we saw this piece published by a firm connected to Microsoft. It’s about Uniloc, a patent troll which has received money from Microsoft. It tries to use buzzwords to leverage software patents against companies: this time the buzzword is “cloud” and the author uses the euphemism “NPE”, which just means patent troll. To quote:

As Cloud IPQ will continue to demonstrate, a growing but often overlooked trend of NPE patent litigations against cloud computing providers and users has emerged in recent years. While many NPEs target big technology companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft, Uniloc has cast a wider net that includes health service providers, gaming companies and software developers. In less than two years, Uniloc has filed 59 district court cases against 39 defendants in the cloud computing space. The patents asserted relate to cloud software and platforms capable of remote network access and management in fields ranging from business management, software and game security, identity management, critical infrastructure security, and IP rights management. The lawsuits target both cloud computing providers (e.g., Nexon, Blackboard, Netsuite, Nutanix, etc.) and users (e.g., Riot Games, AthenaHealth, H&R Block, etc.).

These are just software patents. Courts or even PTAB would reject these post-Alice. Judges who don’t grasp these buzzwords will likely rely on technical people to explain/deconstruct these. It’s all abstract.

Another new example of a buzzword is “IoT” — an example we last wrote about in the weekend. Audrey Lo from Lee and Li Attorneys at Law has just published this article about the ‘dressing up’ of software patents as “IoT”. Just because one refers to software patents by some buzzword (with “things”, like “devices” in them) does not make these any more valid; it’s just a Trojan horse to fool examiners. As even Lo admits, “IoT technology is closely related to software development.” Here are some portions:

It is clear from the above that Taiwanese corporations lag much behind their foreign competitors in developing IoT technology. Moreover, according to the IoT patent report published by the UKIPO in 2014 and that by LexInnova in 2016, Chinese corporations were among the top three IoT patent applicants. However, none of the top ten IoT patent applicants in Taiwan came from China.

IoT technology is closely related to software development. Whether a patent can be granted depends greatly how the claims are drafted. Since the regulations and standards for assessing the patentability of software-related inventions are slightly different in each country, one should consider those differences in order to ensure the patentability of his/her invention. All the possible scenarios that may occur during enforcement must also be considered in claim drafting; otherwise, even if a patent is granted, the patent holder may not be able to enforce his/her patent against others.

It is worth noting that China does allow software patents (it’s one of the few countries that allow that), though we’re not sure about Taiwan, which China tries to assert sovereignty over.

As always, most software patents are laughable. Even patent maximalists like Patently-O are sometimes willing to admit this and days ago it gave an example — only to receive a threatening E-mail from the so-called ‘inventor’ (whereupon the blog published the E-mail). What’s the point trying to defend a terrible software patent which is obviously bogus? It’s 2017. We’re in the post-software patents era now. Just stop calling these patents things they’re not (buzzwords).
______
* There was another example of this last night, in a press release which said “Element Data, Inc., a decision support software platform that harnesses artificial intelligence and machine learning has acquired the assets and patent of BehaviorMatrix, LLC” (this patent is totally worthless as it’s a software patent).

PTAB Will Reach New Highs/All-Time Record This Year, Cleaning Up the Patent System by Throwing Away Invalid Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 3:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Many of these are software patents which pose a threat

High Tech Inventors Alliance members
Even Cisco, which came under fire from PTAB, strongly supports PTAB

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is defying resistance from the patent trolls’ lobby and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) once again defends PTAB, in essence lifting a ban erroneous imposed by the United States International Trade Commission (ITC)

THE EPO is pushing away its appeal boards, but the USPTO does the exact opposite by sending more IPRs their way. IPRs are the procedure by which PTAB invalidates patents which should never have been granted in the first place.

Record year for PTAB IPRs (i.e. elimination of bad patents)? It certainly seems so. Even patent maximalists are willing to admit so, having crunched some numbers. But here’s the spin they put on it (as usual):

The third quarter had the fewest Patent Trial and Appeal Board petitions since the first quarter of 2016. In September, the Board designated one of its decisions as informative and also granted a rare rehearing in an IPR involving the Coalition for Affordable Drugs

Ignoring this kind of spin, which conveniently omits all the numbers from 2012-2015, the PTAB is set to break another new record this year. Thousands of bad patents are being looked at and many get invalidated.

The patent maximalists who try hard to crush PTAB, even by scandalising it, also wrote about Aqua Products v Matal yesterday. PTAB judges are being pressured to become more lenient. As one PTAB opponent put it:

The opinion package, is 148 pages in length and includes five separate opinions walking the question of deference to PTO Decisionmaking.

Michael Loney put it like this:

The long-awaited Aqua Products ruling is narrow – a result of different views on the judgment and the rationale that should be employed. The matter is remanded for the PTAB to consider the patentability of the proposed substitute claims without placing the burden of persuasion on the patent owner

That’s not a very profound difference. In fact, we very much doubt it will — in any shape or form — impact the numbers above. PTAB is generally very widely supported by industry. As we pointed out yesterday, all the PTAB opponents are connected to patent trolls and cranks.

As we noted yesterday, even Cisco openly supports PTAB. That’s in spite of the fact that, at least in the Arista case, PTAB was used against Cisco. The case was recalled yesterday (“Why Hewlett Packard Enterprise Is Backing Arista, Not Cisco”) and Jones Day wrote a long article about it. Here are some key bits:

The Federal Circuit has determined to partially stay an ITC exclusion order as it pertains to products redesigned after the remedial orders issued. We have previously posted about Certain Network Devices, Related Software and Components Thereof (II); Inv. No. 337-TA-745 and the ITC’s refusal to stay its remedial orders after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found the asserted patents unpatentable in an IPR proceeding. Respondent Arista has had better luck in the Federal Circuit obtaining a stay of the remedial orders for its redesigned products.

[...]

Shortly after the Commission’s final determination and issuance of the remedial orders, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued final written decisions finding the asserted claims of the ‘577 and ‘668 patents unpatentable. In view of the PTAB’s findings, Arista filed an emergency petition asking the ITC to rescind or suspend the remedial orders. The Commission denied Arista’s request, concluding that the PTAB’s final written determinations did not constitute changed circumstances warranting rescission of the LEO or CDO.

[...]

The Federal Circuit’s order highlights the value of redesigning accused products to avoid patent claims as a defense in ITC investigations. Ordinarily, it is best for a respondent to develop and introduce potential product redesigns early in the underlying investigation. By asking the ITC to consider the redesigned products in the underlying investigation, respondents can avoid having to defend their redesigned products in a later enforcement proceeding, and preclude sanctions in the event that the redesign still infringes. Here, Arista was able to obtain a rare stay at the Federal Circuit based on its redesign, but it remains unclear whether the CAFC would have ruled the way it did if Cisco had not relied on the redesigned products to rebut irreparable harm to Arista. Eventually, Cisco may be successful in excluding Arista’s redesigned product from importation. But for now, despite the ITC’s remedial orders, Arista can continue to import at least some of its products.

In short, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) quickly rectified the matter and the ban has been lifted. In some sense, CAFC stepped in to reaffirm PTAB’s judgment (subject also to a redesign).

It is utterly outrageous that the US ITC continues to pretend that invalid (invalidated by PTAB) patents still apply, as we said several times earlier this year (see 2017 articles in this wiki page).

Number of Patent Cases in the Eastern District of Texas Has Dropped by an Astounding Rate in Just a Few Months

Posted in America, Patents at 3:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The political system wants change as much as Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Justices do

Orrin Hatch

Summary: The United States is moving closer to a post-trolls era, not just a post-software patents era, thanks in part to few outspoken politicians who can identify the issue with both

PATENT trolls are a big cause for concern in the US, more so than software patents (which about half a decade ago vanished from headlines).

The issues associated with patent trolls were mentioned in the latest post from Senator Orrin Hatch (we covered it on Wednesday and Patently-O published an outline of his points on the same day). Are patent trolls going to be a thing of the past any time soon? Maybe.

Following the SCOTUS intervention earlier this year (TC Heartland decision back in May), patent trolls based near the Eastern District of Texas are basically screwed, as many of us expected all along. The number of cases has “fallen to 16% post-TC Heartland from 34% before,” Managing IP wrote yesterday. Most of the article is behind paywall, as usual, but here is the key part:

The Eastern District of Texas’s share of US district court patent cases in 2017 has fallen to 16% post-TC Heartland from 34% before, while overall patent case filing is on course to fall 13% for the full year compared to 2016, reveals data from Unified Patents

Many of these cases are filed by trolls and many involve software patents. So this is a very big deal!

Yesterday, Josh Landau from the CCIA published a long article at Patent Progress in which he explained how PTAB (which Orrin Hatch also defends) has saved the world from a very nasty patent troll called MPHJ — one that uses a software patent, as usual. Here are some key portions:

MPHJ Threatens Basically Everyone

MPHJ had a very simple business model. If you were a business that used a scanner with a scan-to-email feature (which, these days, is just about any business copier/scanner), they would send you a letter. The letter would say “you need to pay us $1,000 per employee for use of our patent, or sign a letter swearing you don’t ever use scan-to-email, with a penalty of $1,000 per employee if you didn’t tell the truth.”

And MPHJ sent out more than 9,000 of these letters to small businesses. (According to the FTC, they specifically targeted businesses with 20-99 employees.)

The small businesses reacted in various ways. Some ignored the letters. Some paid up. But ultimately, it wasn’t reasonable for them to take on the burden of an expensive lawsuit or even a less expensive IPR, given that the amount at stake was always less than the cost of even filing an IPR. However, the way in which they operated did draw attention from the FTC and State Attorneys General, who successfully targeted the way in which MPHJ conducted their campaign. But simply targeting the enforcement approach wasn’t enough to shut down MPHJ.

[...]

MPHJ demanded around $1,000 per employee for a license. That means that the amount demanded from any given target was likely lower than the cost of an IPR, much less the cost of litigation, meaning that there was little incentive for any single MPHJ target to fight back. The companies that actually made the scanners that MPHJ claimed infringed might have had the financial incentive to fight back. But if IPR didn’t exist, those companies would have needed their customers to start fighting in court, at which point they could try to individually defend each of the 9,000 customers MPHJ sued. After several years of litigation, the manufacturer might be able to obtain a judgment of invalidity in a trial. Only at that point would other customers be safe.

Instead, they could file an IPR challenging the validity of the MPHJ patents. This enabled manufacturers to defend all small businesses using their products with a single action. IPR’s efficiency allowed the scanner makers to avoid duplication of litigation costs while also allowing them to protect their customers, the end users of the technology.

No one should have to worry that using a product they bought off the shelf at the office supply store in the way it’s designed to be used will result in a demand letter from a patent troll. IPR helps to prevent exactly that situation, allowing manufacturers to protect their end users.

In our next post we’ll deal with PTAB, for there’s a SCOTUS decision on the way about it. PTAB’s fate/future is probably safe, but we must keep abreast of what the trolls’ lobby is doing in an effort to undermine PTAB.

EPO Makes European SMEs More Vulnerable to Litigation From the Former Soviet Union

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

Scud man Battistelli

Battistelli with Scud

Summary: Battistelli sure knows what European SMEs need, apparently, e.g. more litigation from the former Soviet Union, including Russia

THE EPO lies to the public every day. Yesterday it repeated its own lies about SMEs, in a tweet that links to a so-called 'study' which misrepresents SMEs.

“IP landscaping can be used to provide input into an SME’s R&D strategy,” it said. “This case study shows how,” it added, linking to its own propaganda together with that hashtag, #IPforSMEs (which the patent maximalists lobby uses, along with “SMEmanifesto”).

“The EPO actively discriminates against SMEs. Lying about them or misrepresenting their stance is a step further — a step that the EPO was recently shameless enough to take.”Anyone who works for the EPO probably knows about PACE (we were first to publish these leaked documents). The EPO actively discriminates against SMEs. Lying about them or misrepresenting their stance is a step further — a step that the EPO was recently shameless enough to take. Previously, it was mostly Team UPC’s domain. It’s part of the UPC lobbying effort. It’s akin to “think about the children” (small businesses).

“Next round of patent information from the BRICS countries will focus on the Russian Federation,” the EPO wrote yesterday (Wednesday), just as it wrote about the EPO making itself more about litigation and less about patents, with hurried examination to help litigants, this time at the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO):

Inventors and businesses applying for patent protection at the EPO and the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO) are now able to benefit from fast-track patent examination at both offices, following the entry into force of the joint Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot programme. The PPH also permits each participating patent office to share and re-use existing work results.

[...]

The EPO already has operational PPH pilot programmes with the IP5 offices (a grouping of the world’s five largest IP offices, made up of the EPO and the patent offices of China, Japan, Korea, and the US), as well as with the national patent offices of Australia, Canada, Colombia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia and Singapore.

PPH (similar to PACE) is, suffice to say, very dangerous because it lowers patent quality (work under greater pressure) and enables companies (even trolls) from other countries to target European firms. SMEs would suffer the most because legal fees (usually court fees) by far exceed the amount demanded for settlement.

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