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10.24.17

Links 24/10/2017: GTK+ 3.92, ArchLabs 2017.10

Posted in News Roundup at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • PC-MOS/386 is the latest obsolete operating system to open source on Github

    PC-MOS/386 was first announced by The Software Link in 1986 and was released in early 1987. It was capable of working on any x86 computer (though the Intel 80386 was its target market). However, some later chips became incompatible because they didn’t have the necessary memory management unit.

    It had a dedicated following but also contained a couple of design flaws that made it slow and/or expensive to run. Add to that the fact it had a Y2K bug that manifested on 31 July 2012, after which any files created wouldn’t work, and it’s not surprising that it didn’t become the gold standard. The last copyright date listed is 1992, although some users have claimed to be using it far longer.

  • PC-MOS operating system goes open source (30 years after release)

    These days if you’re using a desktop computer you’re probably running Windows, although there’s also a good chance you’re using OS X or maybe Chrome OS or one of a number of GNU/Linux distributions. But back in the 80s, it’s wasn’t really clear who the dominant players of the future would be.

  • MS-DOS variant PC-MOS/386 reborn as open source

    Do you still long to run WordPerfect 5.1, Lotus 1-2-3 4, or Doom on DOS? Well, if you do, there’s a new way to revisit the PC world of the 1980s: The newly open-sourced PC-MOS/386 v501.

    PC-MOS, for those who weren’t around in 1987, was a multi-user MS-DOS clone by Norcross, GA’s The Software Link. It ran most standard DOS and 386′s protected mode applications. I reviewed it back in the day — although I can’t find my article from Computer Digest, a Washington DC regional general interest computer newspaper, I recall it worked well.

  • Open Source Initiative, and Open Source Software Movement Celebrate Twenty Years

    The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the global non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and adoption of open source software, announced today plans for the “Open Source 20th Anniversary World Tour” to run through 2018.

    Open source software is now ubiquitous, recognized across industries as a fundamental component to infrastructure, as well as a critical factor for driving innovation. Over the past twenty years, the OSI has worked to promote and protect open source software, development, and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition (OSD), and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

  • ErosCoin – An open source solution for blockchain payment industries

    Possibly the largest single factor currently holding cryptocurrencies back from mass adoption is their difficulty of use for the average person. While Bitcoin and Ethereum both provide the ability to transfer value quickly and securely without borders, they both suffer from a steep learning curve, which limits interest from merchants, consumers and payment providers, and restricts growth of their platforms. EROSCOIN is setting out to create a new blockchain that is very significantly differentiated from other existing cryptocurrencies, giving the industry a payment solution that can help to expand the ecosystem and expand user adoption.

  • 7 years of open source: Cloud Foundry, DiffBlue & Quest
  • Rackspace kills discount cloud hosting for open source projects

    Rackspace has announced it will no longer be offering discounts on hosting for open source projects, although it will only apply to new customers rather than those with projects already up and running on the platform.

  • Google Debuts Software to Open Up Quantum Computers for Chemists

    The software, which is open-source and free to use, could be used by chemists and material scientists to adapt algorithms and equations to run on quantum computers.

  • How Open Source boosts the Big Data-Driven Business

    Open Source offers fertile ground for digital transformation. Though Open Source revolutionised software, it now has an impact in larger business fields and this phenomenon is way older than the Big Data revolution we are currently living through.

    Open Source refers to software licenses that can be freely redistributed, accessed and utilised to create derivative works. The source code is made available for the public and often results from collaboration between programmers.

  • Polhemspriset 2017

    I accept this prize, not as a single inventor or brilliant mind of anything, but like the captain of a boat with a large and varying crew without whom I would never have reached this far. I’m excited that the nominee board found me and our merry project and that they were open-minded enough to see and realize the value and position of an open source project that is used literally everywhere. I feel deeply honored.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla and Tactical Technology bring The Glass Room to London

        The Glass Room’s sleek, minimalist storefront located in London’s busy West End is no accident. Shoppers may enter with an expectation to browse and buy the latest technology, yet they leave with a greater understanding that for many companies, we have become the product and our personal data has become a commodity.

  • Databases

    • Neo4j Donates Cypher for Apache Spark to openCypher project: Open Source Contribution Makes ‘SQL for Graphs’ Available on Apache Spark

      Neo4j, the market leader in connected data, today announced that it has donated an early version of Cypher for Apache™ Spark® (CAPS) language toolkit to the openCypher project. This contribution will allow big data analysts to incorporate graph querying in their workflows, making it easier to bring graph algorithms to bear, dramatically broadening how they reveal connections in their data. Developers of Spark applications now join the users of Neo4j, SAP HANA, Redis Graph and AgensGraph, among others, in gaining access to Cypher, the leading declarative property graph query language. This also expands the tooling available to any developer, under Apache 2.0 licenses from the openCypher project.

    • VoltDB Extends Open Source Capabilities for Development of Real-Time Applications

      VoltDB, the enterprise-class translytical database that powers business-critical applications, today announced it is expanding its open source licensing to enable developers to rapidly build, test and deploy real-time applications with the VoltDB data platform. Developers can now access the power of the VoltDB platform with no additional fees, reducing the cost of application development and accelerating the testing and deployment of more advanced database capabilities in production environments.

  • Healthcare

    • Open Source Helps Healthcare Orgs Adapt to IT Advancements

      Open source software is gaining popularity in healthcare as organizations use it to quickly adopt new technology that further advances IT solutions. This continued adoption encourages vendors to offer open source software to help meet the IT demand.

      PrismTech recently announced that it’s expanding its Vortex data distribution service (DDS) to include an open source option, Eclipse Cyclone. Users have access to the full source code supported by the Eclipse Foundation.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Richard Stallman – One Of My Favorites (GNU/Linux)

      Renowned programmer and promoter of free software *, Richard Stallman developed many flagship software, notably those underlying the GNU project and the general public license known by the acronym GPL, which he wrote with the lawyer Eben Moglen and the collaboration of Roland McGrath.

      This program was at the origin of the flowering of the Wiki, initiated by Ward Cunningham in 1995, modifiable websites constructed by the community of the Internet users, such as Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Stallman was also the author of the term copyleft in ironical reference to the notion of copyright that he was fighting.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • How open government is helping with hurricane relief

      Just weeks after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, two more “unprecedented” hurricanes made their way to the southeastern United States. Although changes in Hurricane Irma’s path spared Florida from the bulk of the damage, both Irma and Maria directly hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Maria was particularly devastating for the more than 3.5 million American citizens living in these U.S. Caribbean territories. The CEO of Puerto Rico’s sole electric company indicated that the grid had been “basically destroyed.” Without electricity, communications were severely limited.

      In the aftermath of a natural disaster, embracing open government principles—such as open data, collaboration between citizens and government, and transparency—can save lives.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

  • Programming/Development

    • Center stage: Best practices for staging environments

      We’re talking about staging because no one talks about it. It’s mentioned in passing as the annoying sidekick to production. It’s the expected and completely necessary part of the deployment cycle barely touched by schools or internships. It’s considered such an obvious part of architecture that no one mentions it, no one details it, many people do it wrong—and some don’t do it at all.

    • Testing javascript in a dockerized rails application with rspec-rails
    • Learning Data Science

      In my last few articles, I’ve written about data science and machine learning. In case my enthusiasm wasn’t obvious from my writing, let me say it plainly: it has been a long time since I last encountered a technology that was so poised to revolutionize the world in which we live.

      Think about it: you can download, install and use open-source data science libraries, for free. You can download rich data sets on nearly every possible topic you can imagine, for free. You can analyze that data, publish it on a blog, and get reactions from governments and companies.

      I remember learning in high school that the difference between freedom of speech and freedom of the press is that not everyone has a printing press. Not only has the internet provided everyone with the equivalent of a printing press, but it has given us the power to perform the sort of analysis that until recently was exclusively available to governments and wealthy corporations.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan Cap Bloody Week in Which 250 Killed

      In Afghanistan, a suicide bomber ambushed Afghan army cadets as they left their base in Kabul Saturday, killing 15 of them. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, as well as a rocket attack earlier in the day on a military base used by the U.S.-led coalition. On Friday, a suicide bomber attacked a Shia mosque in Kabul, killing 56 people and wounding 55 others during prayers. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack. Separately, an attack on a Sunni mosque in central Afghanistan’s Ghor province killed 20 people. The attacks capped a week of violence that saw more than 250 people killed across Afghanistan.

    • Somalia: Roadside Bomb Attack Kills 11 Civilians

      In Somalia, a roadside bomb exploded Sunday south of the capital Mogadishu, tearing through a minibus and killing at least 11 people. A witness said he saw a Somali military vehicle pass near the time of the explosion and that the civilians were probably killed in error. There’s been no claim of responsibility for the attack, which came a week after a bombing in Mogadishu killed at least 358 people and wounded hundreds of others.

    • NYT Laments ‘Forever Wars’ Its Editorials Helped Create

      Corporate media have a long history of lamenting wars they themselves helped sell the American public, but it’s rare so many wars and so much hypocrisy are distilled into one editorial. On Monday, the New York Times (10/22/17) lamented the expansion of America’s “forever wars” overseas, without once noting that every war mentioned is one the editorial board has itself endorsed, while failing to oppose any of the “engagements” touched on in the editorial.

      [...]

      When confronted with this fact on Twitter, New York Times foreign and defense policy editorial writer Carol Giacomo responded, “In last decade, NYT editorial board has raised many questions about US military engagements.” Raised many questions? Well, then, never mind; let’s leave the Times’ role in the creation of said global empire unexamined.

    • Report: Middle East the primary destination for record Finnish arms exports in 2016

      Finnish materiel exports reached a record 133.4 million euros in 2016, according to the SaferGlobe peace and security think tank. The organisation said Monday that the bulk of exports – some 84 million euros — were sold to countries in the Middle East.

      Last year’s record sales includes a major deal including 40 8×8 Armored Modular Vehicles, sold by Finnish defence contractor Patria to the United Arab Emirates.

      “Finland has long had ambitions to stimulate exports to the Middle East. They have been realised,” said SaferGlobe researcher Kari Paasonen.

    • Villagers Suspected of Luring US Soldiers into Niger Ambush

      A local official and an analyst say residents of the Niger village where four U.S. soldiers were killed this month may have delayed the soldiers while an ambush was set up and helped to lead the victims into a deadly trap.

      “The attackers, the bandits, the terrorists have never lacked accomplices among local populations,” said Almou Hassane, mayor of Tongo-Tongo where the attack took place, in what is believed to be his first interview with a Western news organization.

      The village chief in Tongo-Tongo, Mounkaila Alassane, has been arrested since the attack, Hassane said, lending credibility to the suspicion of local involvement. He is in government custody, according to several officials.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Pirate Party Wins Big in Czech Parliament Elections

      The Czech Pirate Party has booked a significant win in local parliamentary elections. With more than ten percent of the total vote, the Pirates became the third largest party in the country, entering parliament with 22 seats. With its newly gained power, the party hopes to overhaul copyright legislation, fight corruption, and abolish Internet censorship, among other things.

    • Democrats Plan to Name Lobbyists, Operatives Superdelegates

      The new members-at-large of the Democratic National Committee will vote on party rules and in 2020 will be convention delegates free to vote for a primary candidate of their choice. They include lobbyists for Venezuela’s national petroleum company and for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., according to a list obtained by Bloomberg News. At least three of the people worked for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in 2016 while also casting ballots as superdelegates.

    • The DNC picked a bunch of sleazy lobbyists as superdelegates, can’t figure out why no one is donating

      The 2018 “superdelegates” to the Democratic National Convention will include lobbyists for Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp, CITGO petroleum, Citigroup, and other large corporations.

    • DNC enters 2018 in cash panic
    • Now we know: the right is as PC as the left
    • CNN takes aim at President Donald Trump and his TV surrogates’ lies in a stunning ad

      “This is an apple,” the ad begins with a red apple on a white screen. “Some people might try to tell you it’s a banana. They might scream, ‘Banana, banana, banana,’ over and over again. They might put banana in all caps. You might even start to believe this is a banana. But it’s not. This is an apple.”

      The words “facts first,” then flash on the screen before the CNN logo.

    • Congress: Trump Won’t Implement Russia Sanctions—and He Won’t Tell Us Why

      When Congress sent President Donald Trump a bill in July that slapped new sanctions on Russia, the president signed the legislation reluctantly while lambasting it as an example of congressional overreach.

      The administration has since blown past an October 1 deadline to implement the sanctions. Lawmakers are now searching for answers as to whether the president is even planning to follow the law that they passed and he signed.

      “If they don’t cooperate, then further actions need to be taken,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told The Daily Beast on Monday. The Arizona senator, who chairs the powerful Armed Services Committee and has spoken out against the White House on its attitude toward Moscow, said the administration has left him in the dark.

    • “Useful Idiots”

      Yet another trans-Atlantic think tank has cranked out a report attacking Russia, and yet again the focus of their ire is RT.com.

      Of course, all media outlets get attacked for “propaganda” (you should see the Daily Mail BTL comments about the BBC!), but this particular play book is getting old.

    • Russian Trolling of US Social Media May Have Been Much Greater Than We Thought
    • FCC Likely To Use Thanksgiving Holiday To Hide Its Unpopular Plan To Kill Net Neutrality

      Consumer groups believe that the FCC is planning to formally unveil its unpopular plan to gut net neutrality the day before Thanksgiving, apparently in the hopes of burying media backlash in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparation. At that time, the FCC is expected to not only unveil the core text of their Orwell-inspired “Restore Internet Freedom” proposal, but schedule a formal date for the inevitable, final vote to kill the rules.

      While announcing bad news right before a holiday works in some instances, net neutrality has been such a hot-button topic for so long, the ploy isn’t likely to soften criticism of Trump or the FCC in the slightest. These fairly modest consumer protections have broad, bipartisan support, since our collective disdain for uncompetitive giants like Comcast tends to bridge even the starkest partisan divide. Eliminating these rules is, by any measure, little more than a brazen gift to one of the least competitive and least popular industries in America, and anybody telling you otherwise is either financially conflicted or misinformed.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • FBI director: Unbreakable encryption is a “huge, huge problem”

      FBI Director Christopher Wray told a conference of law enforcement officials on Sunday that he and his colleagues have been unable to open nearly 7,000 digital devices in the first 11 months of the 2017 fiscal year.

      “To put it mildly, this is a huge, huge problem,” Wray said at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia, according to the Associated Press. “It impacts investigations across the board—narcotics, human trafficking, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, gangs, organized crime, child exploitation.”

      Wray’s remarks come less than two weeks after another top law enforcement official, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, called for “responsible encryption”—a seemingly magical method by which only law enforcement would be able to defeat the encryption on a digitally locked device.

    • How Silicon Valley’s Dirty Tricks Helped Stall Broadband Privacy in California

      Across the country, state lawmakers are fighting to restore the Internet privacy rights of their constituents that Congress and the President misguidedly repealed earlier this year. The facts and public opinion are on their side, but the recent battle to pass California’s broadband privacy bill, A.B. 375, suggests that they will face a massive misinformation campaign launched by the telecom lobby and, sadly, joined by major tech companies.

      The tech industry lent their support to a host of misleading scare tactics.

    • FBI Director Wray is Wrong About Section 702 Surveillance

      Newly-minted FBI Director Christopher Wray threw out several justifications for the continued, warrantless government search of American communications. He’s wrong on all accounts.

      In a presentation hosted by The Heritage Foundation, Wray warned of a metaphorical policy “wall” that, more than 15 years ago, stood between the U.S. government’s multiple intelligence-gathering agencies. That wall prevented quick data sharing, he said. It prevented quick “dot-connecting” to match threats to actors, he said. And, he said, it partly prevented the U.S. from stopping the September 11 attacks.

      “When people, now, sit back and say, ‘Three thousand people died on 9/11, how could the U.S. government let this happen?’” Wray said. “And one of the answers is, well, they had this wall.”

    • Senators want to reform a surveillance law before Trump renews it
    • Closing Section 702’s Front-Door Search Loophole: A Critical Protection for Americans
    • Latest FISA Amendments Act 702 surveillance legislation: SSCI, HJC

      Lots of legislative action on FISA Amendments Act Section 702 warrantless surveillance is happening with drafts that are not public even though they are not classifed. Here are some.

      The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on October 24, 2017, will mark up – behind closed doors – a bill being pushed by its chairman, Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina. Burr isn’t showing his draft to the public, and not clear what it will look like when the hearing is done, but here is a copy of the draft legislation, with annotations, heading into that hearing.

    • Apple Pay now in 20 markets, nabs 90% of all mobile contactless transactions where active

      Bailey also announced that the service is launching in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the UAE in the next few days, bringing the total number of countries where it is used up to 20. And she said that 4,000 issuers worldwide now work with the wallet (that is, there are now 4,000 credit and debit card issuers whose cards can now be uploaded to and used via Apple Pay).

    • No subsidised food without Aadhaar for Jharkahnd’s poor: Reality check reveals ugly details

      Jharkhand’s poor are being denied subsidised supplies under the public distribution system for not linking Aadhaar to their ration cards.

    • Linking your bank account with Aadhaar is mandatory, here’s what happens if you don’t

      Turns out you have to link your bank account with Aadhaar after all. The Reserve Bank of India on Saturday stepped in to strike down news reports that claimed, quoting an RTI reply, it was not necessary to link the 12-digit biometric identification number with bank accounts, saying the directive remained in force under anti-money laundering rules.

      So, the December 31 deadline stays put for now.

    • U.S. Will Curb ‘Sneak-and-Peek’ Searches Microsoft Sued Over
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Stand Up Against Bullying, or We All Lose

      I have never liked bullies. I still don’t.

      A few weeks ago, while coaching my daughter’s under-10 soccer team, we encountered a referee who was a bully. During the championship game of a tournament, this referee did not exhibit professionalism or mutual respect toward our team and sideline. Over the course of the game, he showed bias against our players and the parents of the players. He made multiple incorrect calls and affected the flow of the game. His actions may have influenced the outcome of the game, which we lost by one goal, 5-4, in overtime.

      Our team—nine girls under the age of 10—was heartbroken. They had played their hearts out to reach the championship game, winning four games over the course of a blazing hot Sunday. Tears started to flow.

      The head coach of our team and I attempted to console the girls. We did not make excuses or blame the referee. We used the loss as a teachable moment. “Sometimes in sports, as in life, we face obstacles outside of our control,” we explained. “We have to overcome these challenges to succeed. We have to find a way to win. We don’t always get the result we want. But in failure, we have to remember that the journey is the reward and learn from the experience to become better.”

    • L.A. Times: 38 Women Accuse Director James Toback of Sexual Misconduct

      Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that 38 women are accusing Hollywood screenwriter and director James Toback of sexual assault and harassment. In separate interviews, the women describe how Toback would lure them to a hotel room or movie trailer with the promise of making them a Hollywood star, before masturbating in front of them or making unwanted sexual contact. Toback denied the charges, telling the L.A. Times he had never met any of the 38 women, or if he had, he didn’t remember them.

    • [Older] We Snuck into Seattle’s Super Secret White Nationalist Convention

      Virtually every time I use the word “Nazi” I’m using it as an insult. In the world of millennial white nationalism, there aren’t a ton of people who actually self-identify as Nazis. Despite usually agreeing with everything the Nazis did and believing the Holocaust is just “anti-white propaganda,” they always claim a technical reason for why they aren’t “National Socialists.” None of these reasons would ever make sense to anybody outside the community and “I’m not a Nazi, but” is one of the most common white nationalist recruitment tricks to have people hear them out.

    • Here’s How Prison and Jail Systems Brutalize Women, Especially Mothers

      Nearly 220,000 women are incarcerated in the United States, leaving too many children without their mom.

    • Police body cams had no “statistically significant effect” in DC

      To conduct the study, researchers identified officers across the seven metro police districts that fit a specific criteria: the officer had to have active, full duty administrative status without a scheduled leave of absence during the study; the officer had to hold a rank of sergeant or below; and the officer had to be assigned to patrol duties in a patrol district or to a non-administrative role at a police station. From there, officers were split into control (no body cams) and treatment groups. “Our sample consisted of 2,224 MPD members, with 1,035 members assigned to the control group, and 1,189 members assigned to the treatment group,” the study notes.

      The study (PDF) then measured four outcome factors: reported uses of force, civilian complaints, policing activities (which includes tickets, warnings, arrests, etc.), and judicial outcomes, specifically whether MPD arrest charges led to prosecutions.

      DC Police Chief Peter Newsham told NPR that everybody was expecting a different conclusion about the agency’s $5.1 million program. “I think we’re surprised by the result. I think a lot of people were suggesting that the body-worn cameras would change behavior. There was no indication that the cameras changed behavior at all.”

    • 11 arrested, water cannon deployed as Orthodox Jews protest military draft in Jerusalem (VIDEO)

      The tensions escalated after some 45 students of yeshiva – an institution where Jewish religious texts are taught – were arrested and still remain in military prison for failing to show up for the draft or obtain the military service exemptions.

      The Jerusalem Faction leader, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has told the youths to refrain from getting exemptions and cooperating with the military in any other way. The move made hundreds of young men in the area eligible for arrest on charges of dodging conscription.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Cisco Buys Software Maker BroadSoft for About $1.9 Billion
    • An Over-The-Top Approach to Internet Regulation in Developing Countries

      Increased smartphone usage and availability of wireless broadband has propelled the use of Internet based platforms and services that often compete with similar services based on older technologies. For example services like Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp that offer voice or video calls over the Internet compete with traditional SMS and voice calls over telecom networks. Such platforms have gained in popularity particularly in developing countries because calling over the Internet is far cheaper than making calls on telecom networks. Online video streaming and TV services like Netflix and online similarly compete with traditional broadcasters and network providers.

      These online applications and services are transforming traditional sectors and changing the economic landscape of the markets. The increasing popularity of such apps and services, often referred to by telecommunications regulators as “Over-the-top” or OTT services, brings new regulatory challenges for governments. Historically, most of these services have not required a licence or been required to pay any licensing fee. As the use of such services picks up in developing countries, governments are rushing to create rules that would subject OTT providers to local taxation, security, and content regulation obligations—often under pressure from telco incumbents who are seeking protection from change and competition.

    • Govt looks to hike minimum net speed nearly four-fold

      Asked whether 2 mbps – which is also being pushed forward by regulator Trai – will be sufficient for digital transformation, she said, “2 mbps is the basic minimum. We should definitely mandate this. If at all, it should be higher than that. It cannot be lower than that.”

    • Michigan Lawmaker Flees Twitter After Reports Highlight She Helped AT&T Push Anti-Competition Broadband Law

      Last week we noted how Freshman Michigan Representative Michele Hoitenga has been pushing a broadband competition-killing bill she clearly neither wrote nor understands. The industry-backed bill, HB 5009 (pdf), would ban Michigan towns and cities from using taxpayer funds to build or operate community broadband networks, and would hamstring these communities’ abilities to strike public/private partnerships. The bill is just the latest example of broadband industry protectionist laws ISPs ghost write, then shovel unobstructed through the corrupt state legislative process.

      ISPs want their cake and to eat it too; they don’t want to upgrade or deploy broadband into low ROI areas, but they don’t want others to either. And they certainly don’t want outside added pressure disrupting the good thing (read: duopoly regulatory capture resulting in no competition and higher rates) they’ve enjoyed for fifteen years. While companies like AT&T could deter towns and cities from looking for creative alternatives by offering better, cheaper service, it’s much less expensive to throw money at lawmakers who, with the help of groups like ALEC, craft and pass laws protecting the duopoly status quo.

  • DRM

    • Portugal Bans Use of DRM to Limit Access to Public Domain Works

      At EFF, we’ve become all too accustomed to bad news on copyright come out of Europe, so it’s refreshing to hear that Portugal has recently passed a law on copyright that helps to strike a fairer balance between users and copyright holders on DRM. The law doesn’t abolish legal protection for DRM altogether—unfortunately, that wouldn’t be possible for Portugal to do unilaterally, because it would be inconsistent with European Union law and with the WIPO Copyright Treaty to which the EU is a signatory. However, Law No. 36/2017 of June 2, 2017, which entered into force on June 3, 2017, does grant some important new exceptions to the law’s anti-circumvention provisions, which make it easier for users to exercise their rights to access content without being treated as criminals.

      The amendments to Articles 217 and 221 of Portugal’s Code of Copyright and Related Rights do three things. First, they provide that the anti-circumvention ban doesn’t apply to circumvention of DRM in order to enjoy the normal exercise of copyright limitations and exceptions that are provided by Portuguese law. Although Portugal doesn’t have a generalized fair use exception, the more specific copyright exceptions in Articles 75(2), 81, 152(4) and 189(1) of its law do include some key fair uses; including reproduction for private use, for news reporting, by libraries and archives, in teaching and education, in quotation, for persons with disabilities, and for digitizing orphan works. The circumvention of DRM in order to exercise these user rights is now legally protected.

    • Portugal passes the world’s first reasonable DRM law

      Last June, Portugal enacted Law No. 36/2017 which bans putting DRM on public domain media or government works, and allows the public to break DRM that interferes with their rights in copyright, including private copying, accessibility adaptation, archiving, reporting and commentary and more.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Protecting intellectual property is a necessary evil but nations must work together
    • Trademarks

      • Long Trail Brewing Sues East Coast Apparel Company Over ‘Take A Hike’ T-Shirt

        The last time we checked in with Long Trail Brewing, the Vermont brewery was busy fighting a Minnesota brewer that had dared to put a stick figure of a hiker on its beer can. It seems that rather than basing its trademark legal expeditions on any real or potential customer confusion, Long Trail views trademark law as a vehicle for monopoly and lawsuit-driven income. Long Trail is certainly not alone in this view, unfortunately, but it does have a penchant for taking this sort of thing to ridiculous lengths.

        Such as going after an apparel company for a simple t-shirt using an incredibly generic phrase, for instance. Long Trail has initiated a trademark lawsuit with a company called Chowdaheadz because the latter dared to make a shirt with the phrase “Take a hike” on it. As the filing explains, Long Trail has trademarked the phrase for its use and has sold apparel with the phrase on it.

    • Copyrights

      • The Pirate Bay’s Iconic .SE Domain Name Is Back From The Dead

        The Pirate Bay’s iconic .SE domain name is the primary method by which pirates access their favorite torrent website. However, in a surprise development, last week, the domain name was deactivated.

        It seemed as the historic domain name was expired and the people were no longer able to visit the notorious website. However, as per a new report by TorrentFreak, thepiratebay.se is now operating normally and sending the visitors to thepiratebay.org.

      • TV formats potentially eligible for copyright protection as dramatic works under UK law

        This decision sheds light on an area of UK copyright that has remained uncertain for a long time, also due to the rigid and closed system of categories envisaged by the CDPA.

        However, as the outcome of the case confirms, wannabe holders of copyright in TV formats must pay substantial attention when drafting relevant documents, and provide as many details and information as possible. Another crucial aspect when it comes to potentially commercially valuable works like TV formats is to draft and rely on robust non-disclosure agreements, also to offset the fact that relevant documents should be sufficiently detailed.

      • MPAA and RIAA’s Megaupload Lawsuits Remain on Hold

        A federal court in Virginia has granted Megaupload’s request to keep the cases filed by the music and movie companies on hold until April next year. Since all crucial data on Megaupload’s servers was preserved earlier this year, the MPAA and RIAA have no objections against the stay, which was triggered by slow progress in the criminal case.

      • Copyright Trolls Hit Thousands of Swedish ‘Pirates’ With $550 ‘Fines’

        Many thousands of alleged movie pirates in Sweden have been hit with demands for cash settlements in recent weeks. The ‘fines’, which amount to around $550 each, are being sent by Njord Law, a law firm acting on behalf of international copyright trolls active in several different countries, including the United States.

Let’s Hope That Apple v Samsung Puts an End to Design Patents Once and For All

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 8:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Zach Snyder patent

Summary: Apple and Samsung are going to court again and again, much of the time just to bicker/argue about stupid design patents like rounded corners

EARLIER this month we wrote about design patents being somewhat of a sham. That’s just patents creeping into a domain already properly covered by copyrights and trademarks (like computer programs already fully covered by copyright law).

We may never understand the minds of so-called ‘IP’ lawyers (they lump together trade secrets, patents, copyrights and trademarks), but one thing we understand is that they always pursue money for themselves. They even give bad advice to clients if that would potentially bring income (to the lawyers, not to the clients).

The media is currently full of reports (e.g. [1, 2, 3]) about the Samsung dispute with Apple — a dispute which goes half a decade back. The case is going to a jury — probably a jury that does not quite understand patents (they’re usually told buzzwords like “property”, “innovation”, “stealing” and so on).

Florian Müller was among the first few to write about it (CBS had beaten him to it, but he has the original documents). To quote Müller: “If one thought it appropriate to label a company’s in-house and outside counsel, collectively, a “Comeback Kid,” the term would surely apply to Samsung’s IP litigation group and Quinn Emanuel. Yesterday (Sunday), Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California determined that a new Apple v. Samsung trial on design patent damages, which Samsung had been fighting for in courts on both coasts of the United States since the 2012 verdict, is indeed going to happen.”

“It appears @Apple v @Samsung will never end. Judge Koh says today-Sunday!-that there will be another damages trial,” said this tweet which Müller had highlighted before he found and published the relevant documents.

What’s worth noting here is that it’s all about design patents and this case, if escalated high enough, can squash all design patents (similarly to Alice). To quote CBS:

Get ready for Apple v. Samsung round number… oh, forget it, we don’t remember, either.

Apple and Samsung will head back to district court for yet another design patent infringement trial. Judge Lucy Koh, in an order signed Sunday, has ordered the two tech giants to meet again in a courtroom to determine how much Samsung owes Apple for infringing three patents.

We hope that this case will put an end to design patents once and for all. Both parties have very deep pockets and can afford an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Speaking of Samsung, there’s this bunch of lawsuits coming from Japan. IAM said yesterday that “Hitachi unit Maxell Ltd filed five US patent suits this month following on the Huawei and ZTE campaigns it launched last year. The breadth of the companies and industries on the defendant side in this latest offensive suggest that a significant initiative is underway within the Japanese company to increase its licensee base and royalty earnings.

“Three of the new complaints (which I accessed using Lex Machina) target well-known companies in the mobile space. Suits against Blackberry, ASUSTeK Computer and Blu Products name a range of mobile, tablet and other devices accused of infringing patents which appear to be related to mobile phones and cameras.

“The other two defendants – Fandango Media and FOTV Media Networks – both operate online video streaming services. These suits involve patents directed to digital video recording and transmission.”

What is it about dying companies that compels them to be so litigious? Such is the nature of patents. It’s like an ‘insurance’ policy for when business runs dry and managers look for someone to blame (or sue).

Freedom of Expression is Dying Not Only at the EPO But Also Outside the EPO (Media Coverage of the EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

On censorship

Summary: An epidemic of censorship around the Unitary Patent (UPC) and the European Patent Office (EPO) belatedly receives a lot more attention

THE situation is quite extraordinary. As a free speech advocate myself (we never deleted any comments in this blog; we received about 35,000 comments, including extremely rude ones) the situation at the EPO fascinates me. Responding to Thorsten Bausch’s latest blog post we see someone saying: “No wonder so many folks in Germany are so frustrated, and vote for the AfD. This is not good! Herr Maas (SPD), Herr Ernst, readers, take note…”

Maas and Ernst both actively suppress discussion about these matters. It’s not helping.

A few hours ago Bausch himself responded to the latest comment:

I have no own insights of what happened at IPKat, and my only comment is that there could be many (also purely technical) reasons why the commentaries on this particular blog were deleted, so I will abstain from any speculation.

As readers of this blog know, I believe in and honor the right of free speech and encourage readers to engage in a civilized critical dialogue about matters of common interest. It goes without saying that such a civilized critical dialogue should neither include insulting or denigrating other people or institutions, nor suppressing critical, but well-substantiated opinions by others. The Kantian “golden rule” applies everywhere.

Bausch is a doctor and probably lacks the incentive to become a censor. Based on what Bausch has written, he’s a man of integrity. To suggest the censorship is due to some technical issue, however, is far too optimistic and even unrealistic. The IP Kat blog has a long history of censorship (several times against me too) and we have plenty of examples documented. As the next comment (reply to Bausch) points out:

Dear Concerned Observer,

you will have noticed by now that certain people are giving their best trying to influence or ‘guide’ public opinion on topics like the EPO or the UPC in a direction suiting their interest. It is no coincidence that minions of them have assumed (or have been installed in) key positions at key IP blogs. I would encourage any commentator to take a screenshot of his/her comment before submission and make it public should publication not occur within a reasonable time. The mere number of reported incidents would quickly show whether we are talking about technical glitches or something else.

Our friends at the Ministry of Truth are fighting windmills!

Yes, “Ministry of Truth” indeed, like in 1984

The blog Thorsten Bausch writes for already got caught censoring comments critical of the UPC (Bristows apparently did that censorship). As that blog is also one of the loudest proponents of the UPC (just look who’s behind the blog, including Wolters Kluwer itself), this was probably “convenient” to censor.

The above mentions attempts to manipulate (e.g. by censorship) public debate about the UPC. We have documented plenty of that over the years.

Regarding a subject which we covered before, namely the forever-postponement of the UPC, the Law Society Gazette’s Max Walters wrote the following article:

The long-drawn out process of setting up a unified patent regime for Europe has hit a new delay, with the German Constitutional Court extending its deadline for comments about the credibility of a legal challenge.

The Bundesverfassungsgericht (BVerfG) said today it will accept submissions until 31 December instead of 31 October – meaning no decision on whether to hear the case will be made until at least next year. As a result, German ratification of the underlying treaty is on hold.

The challenge, filed by Düsseldorf intellectual property attorney Ingve Stjerna, questions the constitutionality of the German legislation enabling ratification. A spokesperson for the court told the Gazette the challenge ‘claims a violation of the limits deriving from the right to democracy with respect to the transfer of sovereign powers.’

They keep using that word, “delay”, insinuating that the UPC is somehow inevitable and just a “matter of time”. That too is a famous lie.

We are deeply concerned about the EPO bribing the media, threatening the media, and even interjecting lies into the media. Such behaviour only gives rise to radical political leanings.

Apropos, SUEPO has just published this post about the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). So PACE isn’t just a secret, discriminatory program that EPO used to undermine the integrity of the patent examination process (before saving face and saying this was available to everyone, only after a lot of European media had chastised the EPO for it).

Here is what SUEPO writes today:

See below the provisional version of report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (Title: Jurisdictional immunity of international organisations and rights of their staff)

PACE’s call for stronger protection for rights of staff in international organisations, read here.

Many mentions of the European Patent Office in the adopted report which can be accessed here

We are making a local copy [PDF] of the English version in case the original vanishes some time in the near future (less than a decade).

Here are the parts about the EPO:

18. At the December 2016 hearing, Ms Zegveld, who has advised SUEPO – the staff union of the European Patent Office (EPO) for several years, hoped to see a change in the case law of the Dutch courts following the SUEPO and Others v. the European Patent Office case. This case concerned the right of access to legal redress of SUEPO and other EPO staff unions. SUEPO is an external staff union with local unions in the countries where the EPO has its offices, in particular in Germany and the Netherlands. Today, almost half of EPO staff (3400 out of 7,000 staff members, 2,500 of whom work in the Netherlands) are members of SUEPO. As the EPO did not recognise this union and refused to deal with it in any way, the union brought the case to the Dutch courts. In a judgment of 17 February 2015, the Hague Appeal Court confirmed the judgment of the court of first instance, which had lifted the EPO’s jurisdictional immunity and ruled that SUEPO and the other staff unions had no means of protecting their rights under the Convention, because there were no internal remedies and the fact that they could not appeal to the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation, which has jurisdiction regarding labour disputes involving EPO staff. The Appeal Court found a violation of the freedom of association and the lack of any means of redress within the EPO. Subsequently, the EPO refused to implement the Appeal Court’s ruling and had submitted an appeal on points of law to the Dutch Supreme Court. The latter delivered its judgment on 20 January 2017 and set aside the judgments of the Appeal Court and the court of first instance, ruling that the Dutch courts had no jurisdiction to deal with cases referred by the unions against the EPO. There was no justification for waiving immunity as it could not be concluded that the protection of fundamental rights within the EPO was deficient. There was a guarantee of access to a tribunal, as union members, in an individual capacity, could appeal to the EPO’s internal bodies and to the ILOAT.

A little later it’s mentioned again:

24. More recently, in January 2015, the Court confirmed its previous case law and dismissed the applications lodged in respect of two employment disputes with IOs in the aforementioned Pérez v. Germany and Klausecker v. Germany cases. In the first case, a former staff member of the UN complained, on the one hand, about the allegedly deficient procedures before the UN internal appeal bodies and the UNAT concerning the termination of her service, and on the other, about the lack of access to German courts because of UN jurisdictional immunity. The Court rejected both complaints for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, stating that the applicant should have first lodged a complaint before the Federal Constitutional Court (however, concerning the first complaint, the Court considered that the issue of “equivalent protection” offered by the UN could be questioned in the circumstances of this case). In the second case, the applicant, a candidate for a position in the European Patent Office (EPO), was eventually rejected by the EPO because of his disability and complained about the lack of access to a tribunal in relation with the procedures he had instituted before the German courts (the Federal Constitutional Court, which declared his complaint inadmissible, confirmed that EPO enjoyed immunity from the jurisdiction of the German courts) as well as those instituted before the EPO’s bodies and the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO. Concerning the first set of proceedings, the Court referred to Beer and Regan v. Germany and Waite and Kennedy v. Germany and noted that the applicant had “reasonable alternative means” to protect his rights under the Convention, as the EPO had offered him an arbitration procedure. Concerning the proceedings before the EPO and ILOAT, the Court reiterated the principles stemming from the Bosphorus and Gasparini cases, and found that, in view of the said arbitration offer, the protection of fundamental rights within the EPO was not “manifestly deficient” and rejected the application as manifestly ill-founded.

Then again:

25. In order to have a brief overview of employment dispute systems in the various IOs (which will, however, be necessarily incomplete given the number of IOs and the constraints of this report), I shall look more closely at the systems in the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, the ILO, the European Union (EU), the EPO and the six co-ordinated organisations, which are the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), NATO, the ESA, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and the Council of Europe. I shall look at the different bodies (judicial and quasi-judicial) with which complaints from the staff of these organisations are lodged and then the status of these bodies (can they be considered courts?) and whether or not there is an appeal court.

26. Before initiating proceedings before an internal court (or “quasi-court”), staff are obliged to exhaust all administrative remedies, by filing an administrative complaint before the administrative body which has issued the impugned decision. At the UN, this is a request for a management evaluation submitted to the Secretary General (see Rule 11.2 of the Staff Regulations), at the EU, a complaint submitted to the appointing authority (see Article 90.2 of the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Communities), at the World Bank and the ILO, every internal means of redress available within the Organisation (see Article II.2 of the Statute of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal and Article VII.1 of the ILOAT Statute). The Service Regulations of the EPO provide that the staff member concerned must first submit a request for review before lodging an internal appeal to the Appeals Committee; once the latter has issued its decision, a complaint may then be filed with the ILOAT (see Articles 109 -113 of the Service Regulations).

The closing part is focused primarily on EPO and SUEPO:

44. Even though the legal arguments for maintaining the jurisdictional immunity of IOs remain solid and this system works relatively well in practice, the case of the unions at the EPO – recounted by Ms Zegveld at the December 2016 hearing – shows that this immunity can be abused in the event of poor management and internal conflicts within an IO. Following the case brought by SUEPO and the other unions before the Dutch courts, EPO management had started a campaign against members of SUEPO; some of them had been dismissed or suspended, or their salaries or pensions had been cut. As the EPO is subject to no public scrutiny, its Administrative Council, the organisation’s supervisory body, has done nothing to prevent unfair disciplinary proceedings and internal investigations. As a result, the activities of IOs, which often lie beyond the democratic scrutiny of national parliaments and the media, should be more transparent and monitored more closely by states, which are held responsible for the abuses taking place in these organisations. This case also shows the importance of upholding freedom of association in cases of disputes with employers, especially if the employer is an IO, and the need for trade unions to have access to all available means of
redress.

We don’t know if the authorities in Europe are going to do anything effective to stop the tide of tyranny at the EPO, but we certainly hope so.

The EPO uses an aggressive legal firm, Mishcon de Reya, to silence media/blogs (or scare them). We kindly ask readers to report to us comments/posts about EPO when/if they’re vanishing. Some do. Mishcon de Reya helps Battistelli suppress the truth; Mishcon de Reya has itself plenty to hide, including reports about its former staff engaging in massive fraud.

What If Lionel Baranes Was EPO President?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

He works in the private sector now

Lionel Baranes

Summary: Recalling the time Battistelli was considered unfit for the job of Vice-President (let alone President)

WE HAVE FINALLY received an answer to a question published here a couple of days ago. The name Lionel Baranes was mentioned here before (a source said that he had been “somehow exceptionally courageous Vice President, especially by the standards of EPO, who got so much in conflict with this boiling underground of “creative managers” that his term had to be curtailed by using the reason that he was of the same nationality of the President”; see the rest of these remarks about him, it’s mostly positive).

Here is the explanation we received about the assessment centre for the VP1:

I have just read the story about the assessment centre for the VP1. I had nearly forgotten it. That was at the time when a successor was needed for VP1 J. Michel. At the end of the assessment Lionel Baranes was the winner and the loser was, yes indeed, a certain Benoit Battistelli. Therefore with the “system Battistelli”, call it “social democracy” no more assessments just nepotism. Actually nepotism is a much better system because results are predictable, isn’t it?
I have also read a comment about Battistelli being a “prolo”. Allow me to disagree, calling Battistelli a “prolo” is an insult to all proletarians. Consider that after all the EPO staff are the proletarians in the patent world even if, in denial, they still believe to be” la creme de la creme”.
Actually, there is a far better French word to summarize Battistelli and it is” beauf”. Look at the definition on this page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauf
“a man perceived as vulgar, unintelligent, arrogant, uncaring, misogynist and chauvinistic, without any taste for etiquette or good manners. A “beauf” will typically be prompt to jump to conclusions and have strong views on complex social issues, based on an insufficient analysis of the facts, but presented as being plain common sense.” The definition looks tailored for Battistelli….

We will all remember Battistelli as a “beauf”, and as an irascible person without any personal or professional achievement or any kind of competence or qualities. Actually the kind of substance you try to avoid on the pavement. If there is one thing I can tell you is that the French are not happy to have him back….He will join his friends Sarkozy (criminal charges) and Balkany (also criminal charges). But this is another topic!

Lionel Baranes was apparently a much better person, but he only stayed at the EPO for a couple of years, based on his LinkedIn profile. “He left with an open letter to the Office,” a person once told us, “with statements along the lines of “the human resources are in a disastrous state”. Didn’t he know enough?”

It’s worth noting that we would know absolutely nothing about it had it not been for comments published (and soon thereafter censored) in IP Kat.

I have a strong suspicion (but not yet any concrete proof) that the EPO uses PR people to pretend to be pro-Battistelli/EPO and subvert commenting threads. We have seen similarly provocative comments in IP Kat, The Register and even Kluwer Patent Blog. A lot of it is staff-shaming tripe.

IP Kat‘s latest act of censorship, which several people told us about yesterday, means that the “lead” which reminded us of Baranes and Michel is now gone. It’s gone for good. It was deleted. The reason we asked about the assessment centre, which had been brought up by an anonymous comment, is that it indicates there were early warning signs about Battistelli and, according to later comments, it was Sarkozy who helped propel him to the very top of the EPO.

The EPO is not about as crooked as Sarkozy’s party (which Battistelli is a member of). And speaking of crooked political parties, recall how Kongstad is alleged to have gotten his job/s. How about this comment from yesterday regarding Campinos and his former employer (Caixa)?

If I understand this story correctly, Caixa invested into some start-ups. These were chosen as “inventors of the year”, saw their value increase because of the publicity and Caixa made lots of money. As is customary practice for these kind of market manipulation, the gains were shared back to whomever chose these particular firms as inventors of the year.

This is consistent with some other scandals which you published some time ago, like one of the inventor of the year not having a workable product at all (I don’t remember the name, a medical firm in California, I think).

Look what the EPO has turned into. It actively promoted frauds that have been put on trial by now. It helped pump up their claims and market valuations.

The Last Comment in IP Kat (Before Censorship) Was About Patent Quality at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We are guessing that the EPO’s management is pressuring/threatening blogs again (for deletion of critical voices); they tried it on us repeatedly and we have strong evidence that they did this to others

Erdoğan and EPO

Summary: While it’s hard to know for sure what triggered the latest IP Kat censorship, what’s clear is that people inside and outside the EPO are very disturbed by it “especially when one considers the curious silence of all “mainstream” media outlets on the situation at the EPO.”

Just before IP Kat deleted all the comments (about 40 of them) someone posted (now a broken link) a reference to Techrights and said: “On quality at EPO : position of SUEPO about the elephant in the room which is currently also being deplored among the European IP community…” (the comment was so recent that not even Google cache had it before the act of censorship; we check for latest comments every 4 hours or so)

Why is the IP Kat blog suppressing the voices of EPO critics right now? Is the EPO trying to gag its staff even outside of work?

In another IP Kat comments thread, someone said yesterday, “you understand that “just having” a patent for a small company is NOT all that helpful.”

Truthfully, patent trolls don’t count as small companies. But to the EPO, if/when it suits its agenda, anything goes! Yesterday it promoted this false (pro-UPC) narrative based on the lie that patents in Europe help SMEs. Based on leaks, the very opposite is true. The EPO just cannot stop repeating this lie. It did this at least twice yesterday (here is the second time) and it even recommended going to one’s national patent office when one needs a patent in just one nation (SMEs typically operate in just one nation). The EPO actually did that yesterday!

The next comment (after that) said: “With the quality issues at the EPO getting worse, you may soon see your first allowance.”

Here is the full comment:

what surprises me is that you say what you do, yet purport to have been in the industry for many years. Are you on the correct blog? This is about the patent industry. Patents provide monopolies in order to enable the patentee to block the actions of another party. If nobody is hurt, nobody is being blocked from acting freely. If you are in the industry, I guess you act for those hard-done-by, misunderstood, inventors of perpetual motion machines. But, just imagine the hurt if you do manage to obtain grant of a patent covering one of those things! With the quality issues at the EPO getting worse, you may soon see your first allowance.

If my amendment to the UK Patents Act was not in the alternative for (d), no patents would get granted, except those drafted by Chris.

What good is a blog that actively suppresses comments and isn’t a public forum? What has IP Kat turned into? It has long suppressed and even deleted comments about the UPC, but now this? Can’t even discuss internal EPO affairs? We are not sure, but we’re assuming it’s very much possible that the EPO threatened this blog (again).

Speaking of blogs that censor comments, we already caught Kluwer Patent Blog doing that as well. There’s currently a fairly long series of comments with several people in it (one of which is a pro-Battistelli voice, which is dubious). In case that too gets deleted, as happened there before, we have decided to reproduce the comments about patent quality below (making public copies reduces the incentive for censorship as well, as is widely known):

Bravo Thorsten. Thanks for speaking out. Speaking out works. It seems to have resulted in a new President for the EPO.

True, complaints about any fall in “Quality” need to be backed up by evidence, evidence in a form that is understandable to a 5 year old (or a delegate to the AC). Who can provide it? Who is willing to speak up and provide it? Your firm, Thorsten? It must by now have loads of data. More, in fact, than more or less any other EPO user.

The problem with a “Supervisory Board” is well-known. I experienced it myself, when sitting on the Board of a publicly-funded Arts Centre in London in the 1970’s. Management runs rings around the AC. The AC interests itself only in the accounts. It is not equipped to “take on” the management, in an area like “Quality”. Nobody expends all their troops in a battle they cannot win.

Or take VW. Take quality in diesel engine manufacture. Has its AC had the wool pulled over its eyes?

What’s to be done? I have no idea, beyond kicking up a fuss. As you are doing, in no uncertain terms. Again, bravo!

And someone complains about Dr. Ernst after that:

Thorsten – I commend your approach in being so direct. The situation at the EPO has for far too long resembled the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, with the EPO’s management proclaiming that quality has been maintained when it has been obvious to anyone who cared to look that this is simply not true.

It is very difficult to provide direct evidence on quality without breaching confidence. The exception is cases where one is an opponent… but then, as an opponent, one would naturally be expected to complain about poor patent quality. What therefore REALLY matters is the perception of the patent profession within Europe and the actions that those within the profession take based upon that perception. On this basis, the EPO clearly has a problem with quality. This is because it does not take a genius to figure out that a vastly decreased rejection rate plus a vastly increased grant rate means that there is a high likelihood that patents are being granted with invalid claims (and perhaps with invalid claims only).

On a separate issue, I find it extremely disturbing that the chairman of the AC does not know the full facts regarding appointments (to the Boards of Appeal) for which the AC is responsible. It has long been apparent that the EPO President does not provide the AC with the (full) facts and/or presents “facts” in a very misleading way. This is an untenable situation that must be brought to an end as a matter of great urgency.

The AC’s reputation has been severely damaged by its uncritical approach to information provided by the EPO President (to say nothing about the AC’s abysmal performance in case Art. 23 1/16) and there is a lot of remedial work that needs to be done to persuade observers that the AC is not effectively controlled by the EPO President.

As a commenter said on another blog, may be even Max Drei, what is going on at the AC is he tail wagging the dog. I could not come to the meeting, but it appears clearly that the information given by the management of the EPO to the AC is biased to say the least. The present tenant of the 10th floor is manipulating the AC at will!
How on earth can the chairman of the AC claim that the problem of the Boards is solved? I fully agree with Mr Bausch that the contrary is true.
When on the other hand one hears that the appeal fee should raise up to a level of 7 000 €, in words seven thousand Euros, the strategy behind this becomes more clear every day: first dry out the working force of the Boards, make accessing them so expensive, so that every user of the system will think twice of appealing a decision of first instance.
From a purely rational point of view, when it takes too long, and is too expensive, grind your teeth and accept what is going on. The net result is that any problems with the validity of a European Patent will end up primarily at the UPC. This is a very elegant way to avoid in the long run any conflict of case law between the UPC and the Boards on the validity of patents. Is this what the big industry wants? If the answer is yes, then owe it, and stop pushing the SMEs as a kind of fig leaf.
I take bets that the opposition fee will increase as well. The pretext for increasing the appeal fee is that the Boards should provide more income in view of their costs. If one thinks about the same way for opposition proceedings, the fee will have to be increased.
At the moment there is a concerted action from the Office towards SMEs, cf. the document heralding the need of the UPC for SMEs. Can you imagine a SME forking out 7 000 € for an appeal if its application is refused, and later having the perspective of forking out another 11 000€ + in fees if it wants to start an infringement action before the UPC, or 20 000€+ if wants to make a counterclaim for revocation when attacked? This is not serious and should be hung “an die große Glocke” as Germans would say. Why is there so little said about those facts?
That the quality is going down, is clear. I have seen communications which are not worth the paper they are written on. The mobile hair dresser saloon was just one element of the top of the iceberg.
I have seen a decision from an opposition division which makes one cringe. Following a request of maintenance in amended form, the opposition division decided to reject the oppositions! All three members of the division signed, and the formalities officer did not see anything either. In spite of what the tenant of the 10th floor has been touting at the UPC conference in July, the 3 man divisions of first instance have long time gone. There are clear oral instructions given by some directors: if the first member decides to grant, the two other have to shut up and sign. With the premium system introduced, the examiners will not annoy each other. Another stupidity.
You just have to look at some decisions of the Boards in appeal following refusal of the application. There is an increasing number of decisions in which the Board cites better prior art than the one found during the search. It might not be the role of a Board to redo the search, but if the original search is appalling, what else should be done? And this only happens if the application has been refused. The internal audit figures have to be made public. The sooner the better. They speak a clear language.
What should be done is to regularly file complaints at the complaints department, but even in flagrant cases of errors, the reply is anything but satisfactory. Only if there is a clear message coming from the outside, and going not only to the EPO but also to the delegates in the AC, things will not change. It is to be hoped that epi wakes up and start complaining as well.
The latest measure in order to increase quality is to recruit examiners on 5 years contracts, renewable or not. A contract will clearly only be renewed if the examiner behaved correctly. What is happening at the boards is to be pushed through to the first instance. When one thinks that the training costs of an examiner will only be recouped after three years, it is anything but certain that this measure will be beneficial to the office in the long run. And one can guess of what will come out….
Which sensible person will accept to leave its home country, decouple himself from any national social security and pension system in order to come to the EPO with the risk of being thrown out after five or 10 years? And then be left with nothing. May be young people having just finished their studies, but certainly not people with some experience having a family and children. May be some civil servants seconded to the EPO might accept, as they will in general have a right to return, but nobody else.
The worst is that the tenant of the 10th floor wants to introduce this system on January 1st 2018. As he is leaving the office at the end of June 2018, he should even, out of plain decency leave such a big reform to his designated successor, and not pre-empt his presidency.
To sum it up: the situation is by far worse as one can think, and if nothing is happening to stop this folly, the whole patent system will go down the drain. Is this what you want?

The new Chair of the AC is a professional Hit Man from the Justice Ministry of Germany. This is the Ministry that allows a scandalous backlog of tens of thousands of court cases in Germany. The small fry are pursued relentlessly (so as to satisfy the statistics of cases completed) while the Big Fish criminals get away scot free. How so? Because Big Fish have powerful friends and engage large legal teams. These kick up so much dust that the public prosecutors are overwhelmed, to the extent that Big Fish cases are still languishing when the limitation period expires and the criminals can no longer be pursued. Just one example, the head (Funke) of the criminal bank HRE. Google it!

No wonder so many folks in Germany are so frustrated, and vote for the AfD. This is not good! Herr Maas (SPD), Herrr Ernst, readers, take note.

The definition of madness, somebody once said, is to do the same thing all over again but expect a different result. It is naive, dear reader, to expect any improvement at the EPO. The top political imperative, at AC (that is, national Government) level, is that the UPC must be a success. Any institution (EPO-DG3) that could call such success into question must therefore be ruthlessly eliminated, without delay.

From “Anonymous attorney”:

A problem with the complaints system, as I see it, is that (whether or not by design) it’s incapable of spotting systemic issues. So everything gets treated as an isolated case, and they tend to look at the specific facts (one man’s unreasonable objection is another man’s divergence in interpretation of the prior art…) rather than the overall trends. Hence the management are able to go around claiming to be blind to any systematic degradation in quality because everything regarding examination/opposition proceedings is a matter of opinion and the only metrics that they have (speed and number of grants) say everything is fine within the parameters they themselves have chosen.

Meanwhile, in the real world, I and other attorneys at my firm (and others) are increasingly seeing shoddy examination that speaks of intolerable time pressure, inadequate training and inexperienced examiners. A non-exhaustive list of depressingly common problems includes:

– half-hearted or botched attempts by the Examining Division to amend the description in a 71(3) Communication, necessitating disapproval to undo the damage and/or complete the job properly

– amendments introduced to claims by the Examining Division in a 71(3) Communication that unnecessarily affect the scope of protection, again necessitating disapproval and a stern letter to the EPO explaining that the Applicant cannot consent to the amendments

– shoddy search opinions (especially in the international phase) that only contain brief comments on the independent claims and/or only give the vaguest reference to “relevant” passages in the prior art

– “copy-and-paste” Art.94(3) communications that simply reiterate old objections verbatim and don’t at all address the amendments or arguments made in previous submissions

– Art.94(3) communications that contain perfunctory, badly-worded, muddled and/or poorly-reasoned objections that have clearly been thrown together so that the examiner can get the case off their desk in time for an arbitrarily-imposed internal deadline (since it seems that speed is all that matters for the quality metrics)

– Basic legal errors that aren’t even a matter of opinion (asserting that a reformulation of the objective technical problem in reply to an inventive step objection constitutes a violation of Article 123(2) (!!!); raising a novelty objection against a specific claim on the basis of a generic prior art disclosure; etc etc)

– unnecessarily early issuing of summons to Oral Proceedings, which I fear will only get worse once the new Guidelines take effect at the start of November

– unwillingness to take part in meaningful telephone discussions, contrary to the Guidelines

– increasingly poor standards of English in substantive communications

– refusal decisions that bear only the slightest resemblance to issues discussed during examination proceedings

I could go on…

Of course, a knock-on effect of this is that there will be an increasing number of Appeals, making the backlog problem ever-worse.

Surely it is time for a coordinated effort across Europe for attorneys to raise these concerns with their AC representatives?

The other day, when doing some file inspection work, I found a complaint letter written by the in-house representative of a German SME and sent to the EPO. If your command of German is sufficient, have a look. The writer analyses three concrete cases and draws some chilling conclusions on patent quality at the EPO and its consequences. The contrast with Mr Battistelli’s self-congratulatory trumpet-blowing is striking, to say the least.

https://register.epo.org/application?documentId=EZMRZYSD4349561&number=EP06022243&lng=en&npl=false

(if the link does not work, look up any of patents EP1777452 or EP2768359 or EP2481259 in the Register and look for the written submission dated 30 September 2016).

Best regards

Michel

This in reply to “Michel” (and the Complainant with the office in Kandel, Germany).

We need to be clear on what we mean by “quality”. I say that the patents issued by the UK Patent Office prior to 1978 were of very high quality. Clarity was a big issue. What issued was crystal clear.

Yet the UK Office in those days made no examination of obviousness. Nevertheless, patent litigation was as rare as hens teeth. And when it happened it was only when both sides thought they could win. Nobody spent money trying to enforce a claim that would like go down as obvious. Why can’t every EPC country arrange it like that?

But the firm in Kandel is distressed that the EPO is not filtering out, prior to issue, claims that are palpably obvious. Why is that so important? Has its client been enjoined by a court, to cease manufacture? I doubt it. And if it has, was that because the court declined to consider evidence of invalidity of the asserted claims? What is stopping the court being educated, that the patent owner’s claims are without foundation?

These days, more than ever, given the rise in prior art in countries like China and Korea, it is no longer tenable to assert that claims examined by a Patent Office are valid. A different definition of “quality” is needed. One might need to downgrade the level of confidence that what issues from the EPO is valid. But was that ever the case?

This morning someone posted a comment there about IP Kat censorship:

Strange things are afoot in the world of (reporting on) the EPO. After months of a self-imposed moratorium of reporting on all matters EPO, a well-known IP blog finally posted something… about the appointment of Mr Campinos. The comments on that post raised some interesting issues that – like those raised in this post – deserve some airing. But now all of those comments have been deleted and the comments function disabled for that post.

What is going on? With perhaps only one exception, I cannot see how the deleted comments could possibly have posed a legal (e.g. libel) issue. So why delete them ALL?

Whilst I am not inclined to believe in conspiracy theories, I am very troubled by this development… especially when one considers the curious silence of all “mainstream” media outlets on the situation at the EPO. If Mr Ernst is earnest in believing that “One achieves the most positive results by a critical dialogue”, then this development should trouble him too.

Against this background, I can only commend you again, Thorsten, for speaking out about the troubling situation at the EPO. Whilst most attorneys are too afraid (or too ignorant or complacent) to speak up, your airing of these issues has demonstrated to me that I am far from being alone in being appalled by the current direction of travel at the EPO. Keep up the good work!

Thorsten is now in Twitter (his handle name is @patcrit). We encourage people to support him and not let Kluwer delete comments like it did before. From now on we will actively work, even proactively, to preserve comments from anonymous insiders and stakeholders. They are being systematically gagged.

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