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11.21.17

Chinese Patent Policy Continues to Mimic All the Worst Elements of the American System

Posted in America, Asia, Patents at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This will crush Chinese innovation

Chinese flag

Summary: China is becoming what the United States used to be in terms of patents, whereas the American system is adopting saner patent policies that foster real innovation whilst curtailing mass litigation

THE USPTO, together with US courts, may have done what’s necessary to stave off at least some patent trolls. With software patents on the rocks, venue-shifting becoming tough and various other notable factors, patent trolls either go out of business [sic] or move somewhere else. Some of them go to China.

Even China, based on yesterday’s blog post, is lost in an appalling trap of a patent gold rush. The Chinese government now signals that competing/emergent players (those which compete against state-connected giants) are to be banned. From the blog: “While many past customs enforcement campaigns have focused on foreign rights owners (often big international brands), this one was carried out on behalf of domestic tech companies. China Daily explains that it is part of the government’s plan to “nurture Chinese companies with IP advantages in their exported goods”. In planning the “Soaring Dragon” operation, the Shenzhen authorities selected patent owners that were deemed “capable of independent innovation” – Huawei and ZTE chief among them.”

“The Chinese government now signals that competing/emergent players (those which compete against state-connected giants) are to be banned.”So put another way, a quarter million products were denied access to the market. Who exactly benefits from that? “Whatever the details behind the numbers GACC is publicly promoting,” it concludes, “the message is clear: if you’re an innovative Chinese company and your patents are being infringed, the customs services is one of the tools at your disposal. The more proactive they become, the more potent a remedy this will be, especially for the likes of Huawei and ZTE.”

Those are massive corporations. They now shield themselves with a massive number of low-quality patents, just like in the US. This actually suppresses innovation and reduces competition. It’s like ITC in the US.

Earlier today Watchtroll wrote about ITC action against Apple — action which, as we explained before, would likely go nowhere. ITC, like the above Chinese equivalent, guards the domestic giants.

China will never admit anything like that and with tight control over the media it’s already perfuming the above action. Watch how the Chinese official news site (government site in English) calls embargoes “Reforms open up fair playing field” (a euphemisms salad). “Officials said such ordinances,” the short report says, “meant to encourage enterprises to increase their brand-building awareness and improve product quality, had partly played a positive role.”

“Those are massive corporations. They now shield themselves with a massive number of low-quality patents, just like in the US.”In whose favour? Giants such as Huawei and ZTE? They basically use government-enforced protectionism in the same way Apple tried to guard itself from devices imported from China, Taiwan and Korea. Apple is still stockpiling patents and as we explained a couple of days ago, we expect it to become the next BlackBerry in the sense that it will litigate when little/no market is left for "i" devices. The Microsoft-connected patent troll Finjan already does exactly that (except it was never successful) and it’s is still at it, based on today’s press release. The good news is, victims of this troll are fighting back and challenging the patents. As for BlackBerry, in the absence of Kokes it carries on chasing companies with legal actions, albeit it looks like it explores doing so via intermediaries. As IAM explained yesterday:

Teletry is described as “an independent operating company with expertise in building relationships between patent holders and licensees in the wireless technology industry”. It is headed up by Kasim Alfalahi, who will be known to just about everyone who reads this blog as the former chief IP officer of Ericsson and the current CEO of Avanci, the IoT licensing platform.

Avanci is one of several businesses that sit within the Marconi Group, which was created earlier this year. Another is PanOptis, the NPE which, among other assets, owns a number of patents previously held by Ericsson. Although it is not entirely clear, it looks as if Teletry has been specifically created for the BlackBerry venture – it does not have its own website as far as I can tell and the only mention of it on the Marconi website is the press release announcing the BlackBerry deal.

Aside from Alfalahi, there are a number of other very well-known patent deal makers on the Marconi roster, including: former Google and Motorola Mobility patent transactions rainmaker Kirk Dailey; Eric Reifschneider, previously with Qualcomm; and Fred Telecky, once of Texas Instruments and most recently head of the licensing operation at PanOptis.

[...]

For the following ones, though, both parties will be expecting a return. If Kokes was right about the strength and breadth of the BlackBerry portfolio, outsourcing a large part of the smartphone licensing business to Teletry will free internal deal makers at the company to chase businesses in other verticals. That, in turn, should hasten the arrival of royalties into the company’s coffers – something that will undoubtedly please investors. The hook-up with Teletry may not have been a move that BlackBerry entered into entirely willingly, but it could be one that bears significant fruit.

Stick a fork in BlackBerry. It’s a patent troll by proxy now, for the actual business is just virtually dead. Now that we know what Teletry actually is, our predictions turn out to have been accurate all along. They’re just “managing” “portfolios” of patents (as per this press release from yesterday) and doing so by aggressive/proactive means, notably lawsuits. But will they succeed in the current atmosphere in the US?

“Stick a fork in BlackBerry. It’s a patent troll by proxy now, for the actual business is just virtually dead. Now that we know what Teletry actually is, our predictions turn out to have been accurate all along. “Today’s post from IAM, regarding RPX, says it’s a “tough market reality” and RPX is therefore moving to China. Many patent trolls are moving to China (good riddance!) and the only ones who complain about it are the patent ‘industry’. Technology companies are vastly relieved that all this nuisance is moving as far away as possible.

As a reminder, RPX was imploding somewhat earlier this year. Here’s the latest:

On a recent quarterly earnings call, RPX CEO Marty Roberts told analysts that the firm is looking to expand its presence in China in 2018. The exact dimensions of the aggregator’s planned investment aren’t known as of yet, but when you speak with senior IP executives inside Chinese companies one thing becomes clear very quickly: saying you want to be in China and actually being there are two very different things. If RPX really does want to take advantage of the opportunities the country presents it will need to be very serious about building a long-term project that may not immediately bear fruit.

We don’t yet know whether RPX plans to expand the coverage of its existing defensive aggregation model to China (perhaps by targeting more Chinese patents for acquisition), or whether it might seek to provide some different services designed specifically for Chinese clients. As a service provider with a defensive mission and a large portfolio, it could potentially provide a tailored service that helps Chinese entities gain freedom to operate in overseas markets and defends them against NPEs. However, the decrease of the NPE threat in the US, together with the emergence of the IPR system, have already brought down the costs of defence there – this is something that impacts Chinese companies as much as it does anyone else.

That last sentence is pretty revealing. RPX was directly profiting from a lot of troll activity (IAM uses the euphemism “NPE”) and now that trolls are ebbing away (or moving to China) those who offered a so-called ‘solution’ to it (for large corporations) fail to find themselves.

11.20.17

Links 20/11/2017: Why GNU/Linux is Better Than Windows, Another Linus Torvalds Rant

Posted in News Roundup at 4:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • A soft push for the fairer sex

      International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an autonomous institution under Government of Kerala and Society for Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment (SPACE), an NGO promoting free software, have been conducting ‘Women Hackers,’ a project to bring more women into free software. The programme involves intensive residential workshops on college campuses.

      It was during one such hackathon that the idea for ‘I install’ was put forward by the students of LBS College of Engineering, Kasaragod. A GNU/Linux installation camp, the event aims to promote the idea of taking control over the technology that you use. Those students who received training at the hackathon will be part of ‘I install’ where they impart their learning to other students.

  • Server

    • 6 Reasons Why Linux is Better than Windows For Servers

      A server is a computer software or a machine that offers services to other programs or devices, referred to as “clients“. There are different types of servers: web servers, database servers, application servers, cloud computing servers, file servers, mail servers, DNS servers and much more.

      The usage share for Unix-like operating systems has over the years greatly improved, predominantly on servers, with Linux distributions at the forefront. Today a bigger percentage of servers on the Internet and data centers around the world are running a Linux-based operating system.

    • All the supercomputers in the world moved to Linux operating systems

      In the June 2017 Linux system stood at 498 computers from the list of TOP 500.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.15 Is A Huge Update For Both AMD CPU & Radeon GPU Owners

      Linux 4.15 is shaping up to be a massive kernel release and we are just half-way through its merge window period. But for AMD Linux users especially, the 4.15 kernel release is going to be rocking.

      Whether you are using AMD processors and/or AMD Radeon graphics cards, Linux 4.15 is a terrific way to end of the year. There are a number of improvements to make this release great for AMD customers.

    • The Linux Kernel Is Still Rectifying The Year 2038 Problem

      The Linux kernel is still working to rectify the Year 2038 problem whereby the time values stored as signed 32-bit integers will wrap around.

      If you somehow are not familiar with the Year 2038 “Y2038″ problem, you can learn more via Wikipedia.

      The Linux kernel has been receiving fixes and workarounds for years now through many Y2038 commits to work through the many different areas of the kernel that are relying upon 32-bit signed ints for storing time values. With Linux 4.15, this work has continued.

    • The Big Changes So Far For The Linux 4.15 Kernel – Half Million New Lines Of Code So Far

      We are now through week one of two for the merge window of the Linux 4.15 kernel.

      If you are behind on your Phoronix reading with the many feature recaps provided this week of the different pull requests, here’s a quick recap of the changes so far to be found with Linux 4.15:

    • Intel 2017Q3 Graphics Stack Recipe Released

      Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center has put out their quarterly Linux graphics driver stack upgrade in what they are calling the latest recipe.

      As is the case with the open-source graphics drivers just being one centralized, universal component to be easily installed everywhere, their graphics stack recipe is just the picked versions of all the source components making up their driver.

    • Intel Ironlake Receives Patches For RC6 Power Savings

      Intel Ironlake “Gen 5″ graphics have been around for seven years now since being found in Clarkdale and Arrandale processors while finally now the patches are all worked out for enabling RC6 power-savings support under Linux.

    • LVFS makes Linux firmware updates easier

      Traditionally, updating a BIOS or a network card’s firmware in Linux meant booting into Microsoft Windows or preparing a MS-DOS floppy disk and hoping everything would work correctly after the update. Periodically searching a vendor website for updates is a manual and error-prone task and not something we should ask users to do. A firmware update service makes it simpler for end users to implement hardware updates.

    • GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu: -ENOFIRMWARE is now available

      GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu sources and tarballs are now available at
      http://www.fsfla.org/selibre/linux-libre/download/releases/4.14-gnu/ .
      It didn’t require any deblobbing changes since -rc6-gnu. Binaries are
      expected to show up over the next few days.

      The biggest change in this release is that the firmware subtree was
      removed upstream (thus the codename -ENOFIRMWARE), removing from the
      Linux kernel distribution a few pieces of Free firmware, and a number of
      non-Free ones. Alas, there are still a few pieces of non-Free firmware
      remaining in Linux 4.14; hopefully this problem will be addressed in a
      future release, and Linux will then be Free Software again. For the
      time being, it still requires some cleaning up to be Free Software, and
      plenty of additional cleaning up to meet the GNU Free Software
      Distribution Guidelines.

      The larger problem, that several drivers in Linux will not work at all
      unless you provide them with pieces of proprietary software, is not
      affected by this move: the drivers still refuse to work, a number of
      them for no good reason, and the non-Free firmware is still demanded by
      the upstream drivers, it is just distributed separately. This avoids
      legal problems for distributors of the kernel Linux, who refrain from
      distributing the non-Free firmware. However, that a number of drivers
      and corresponding firwmare are updated in lockstep suggests that they
      might actually be a single program, in spite of running on separate CPUs
      and having pieces distributed separately, and it might even be the case
      that the firmware happens to be a derivative work of the kernel. If
      that is so, those who distribute them together, or even just the
      firmware by itself, might be in violation of the terms of the GNU GPL,
      the Linux license, and thus losing their license to distribute Linux!

    • GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu Released, Still A Battle Deblobbing Driver Firmware
    • Linus Torvalds: ‘I don’t trust security people to do sane things’

      Linus Torvalds has offered his thoughts on Linux security approaches, branding some security professionals as “f*cking morons” for focusing on process-killing rather than debugging.

      Torvalds, the creator and principal developer of the Linux kernel, does not often pull his punches when it comes to the kernel’s behaviors and security.

      The engineer carried on the tradition over the weekend, as Google Pixel developer Kees Cook submitted a pull request for hardened usercopy changes for v4.15-rc1, which according to Cook, narrows areas of memory “that can be copied to/from userspace in the face of usercopy bugs by adding explicit whitelisting for slab cache regions.”

    • Linux creator slams security bods
    • Why Linus is right (as usual)

      Last year, some security “hardening” code was added to the kernel to prevent a class of buffer-overflow/out-of-bounds issues. This code didn’t address any particular 0day vulnerability, but was designed to prevent a class of future potential exploits from being exploited. This is reasonable.

      This code had bugs, but that’s no sin. All code has bugs.
      The sin, from Linus’s point of view, is that when an overflow/out-of-bounds access was detected, the code would kill the user-mode process or kernel. Linus thinks it should have only generated warnings, and let the offending code continue to run.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Kube-Node: Let Your Kubernetes Cluster Auto-Manage Its Nodes

        As Michelle Noorali put it in her keynote address at KubeCon Europe in March of this year: the Kubernetes open source container orchestration engine is still hard for developers. In theory, developers are crazy about Kubernetes and container technologies, because they let them write their application once and then run it anywhere without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. In reality, however, they still rely on operations in many aspects, which (understandably) dampens their enthusiasm about the disruptive potential of these technologies.

        One major downside for developers is that Kubernetes is not able to auto-manage and auto-scale its own machines. As a consequence, operations must get involved every time a worker node is deployed or deleted. Obviously, there are many node deployment solutions, including Terraform, Chef or Puppet, that make ops live much easier. However, all of them require domain-specific knowledge; a generic approach across various platforms that would not require ops intervention does not exist.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Announcing Season of KDE 2018

        KDE Student Programs is pleased to announce the 2018 Season of KDE for those who want to participate in mentored projects that enhance KDE in some way.

        Every year since 2013, KDE Student Programs has been running Season of KDE as a program similar to, but not quite the same as Google Summer of Code, offering an opportunity to everyone (not just students) to participate in both code and non-code projects that benefits the KDE ecosystem. In the past few years, SoK participants have not only contributed new application features but have also developed the KDE Continuous Integration System, statistical reports for developers, a web framework, ported KDE Applications, created documentation and lots and lots of other work.

        For this year’s Season of KDE, we are shaking things up a bit and making a host of changes to the program.

      • [LabPlot] Improved data fitting in 2.5

        Until now, the fit parameters could in principle take any values allowed by the fit model, which would lead to a reasonable description of the data. However, sometimes the realistic regions for the parameters are known in advance and it is desirable to set some mathematical constrains on them. LabPlot provides now the possibility to define lower and/or upper bounds for the fit parameters and to limit the internal fit algorithm to these regions only.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • [GNOME] Maps Towards 3.28

        Some work has been done since the release of 3.26 in September. On the visual side we have adapted the routing sidebar to use a similar styling as is used in Files (Nautilus) and the GTK+ filechooser.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • MX 17 Beta 2
      • SparkyLinux 4.7 “Tyche” Out Now with Latest Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” Updates

        Powered by a recent kernel from the long-term supported Linux 4.9 series, version 4.9.51, SparkyLinux 4.7 is now available for download (see link below) with all the updates pushed upstream in the software repositories of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series as of November 17, 2017.

        This version comes with the Xfce 4.12.3, LXDE 0.99.2, and Openbox 3.6.1 graphical environments, the latest Calamares 3.1.8 graphical installer, as well as Mozilla Firefox 52.5.0 ESR, Mozilla Thunderbird 52.4.0, LibreOffice 5.2.7, VLC Media Player 2.2.6, Pidgin 2.12.0, Transmission 2.92, HexChat 2.12.4, and DeaDBeeF 0.7.2.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat OpenStack platform 12 imminent, paves way for Kubernetes in platform 13

        Enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat is poised to release its OpenStack Platform 12. It’s the first step in a longer vision to ultimately deploy via Kubernetes.

        Red Hat released Fedora 27 last week offering containers and the latest GNOME, but for big business, it’s the next OpenStack release to watch out for.

        Red Hat announced OpenStack Platform 12 at the OpenStack Summit in Sydney earlier this month, with the release expected within weeks.

      • Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform 3.7 boosts AWS, Kubernetes integration

        Red Hat recently unveiled OpenShift Container Platform 3.7, the latest version of its Kubernetes container application platform, which includes native integrations with Amazon Web Services (AWS) Service Brokers.

        Modern applications made for digital transformation are dependent on a combination of component and microservices, making consistency across cloud providers difficult. The company said the newest platform is intended to address this challenge by allowing IT companies to connect any application running on OpenShift to a host of services, regardless of where the service runs.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Review: Fedora 27 Workstation

          On the whole there are several things to like about Fedora 27. The operating system was stable during my trial and I like that there are several session options, depending on whether we want to use Wayland or the X display server or even a more traditional-looking version of GNOME. I am happy to see Wayland is coming along to the point where it is close to on par with the X session. There are some corner cases to address, but GNOME on Wayland has improved a lot in the past year.

          I like the new LibreOffice feature which lets us sign and verify documents and I like GNOME’s new settings panel. These are all small, but notable steps forward for GNOME, LibreOffice and Fedora.

          Most of the complaints I had this week had more to do with GNOME specifically than Fedora as an operating system. GNOME on Fedora is sluggish on my systems, both on the desktop computer and in VirtualBox, especially the Wayland session. This surprised me as when I ran GNOME’s Wayland session on Ubuntu last month, the desktop performed quite a bit better. Ubuntu’s GNOME on Wayland session was smooth and responsive, but Fedora’s was too slow for me to use comfortably and I switched over to using the X session for most of my trial.

          Two other big differences I felt keenly between Ubuntu and Fedora were with regards to how these two leading projects set up GNOME. On Ubuntu we have a dock that acts as a task switcher, making it a suitable environment for multitasking. Fedora’s GNOME has no equivalent. This means Fedora’s GNOME is okay for running one or two programs at a time, but I tend to run eight or nine applications at any given moment. This becomes very awkward when using Fedora’s default GNOME configuration as it is hard to switch between open windows quickly, at least without installing an extension. In a similar vein, Ubuntu’s GNOME has window control buttons and Fedora’s version does not, which again adds a few steps to what are usually very simple, quick actions.

          What it comes down to is I feel like Ubuntu takes GNOME and turns it into a full featured desktop environment, while Fedora provides us with just plain GNOME which feels more like a framework for a desktop we can then shape with extensions rather than a complete desktop environment. In fact, I think that describes Fedora’s approach in general – the distribution feels more like a collection of open source utilities rather than an integrated whole. Earlier I mentioned LibreOffice can work with signed documents, but Fedora has no key manager, meaning we need to find and download one. Fedora ships with Totem, which is a fine video player, but it doesn’t work with Wayland, making it an odd default choice. These little gaps or missed connections show up occasionally and it sets the distribution apart from other projects like openSUSE or Linux Mint where there is a stronger sense the pieces of the operating system working together with a unified vision.

          The big puzzle for me this week was with software updates. Linux effectively solved updating software and being able to keep running without a pause, reboot or lock-up decades ago. Other mainstream distributions have fast updates – some even have atomic, on-line updates. openSUSE has software snapshots through the file system, Ubuntu has live kernel updates that do away with rebooting entirely and NixOS has atomic, versioned updates via the package manager, to name just three examples. But Fedora has taken a big step backward in making updates require an immediate reboot, and taking an unusually long time to complete the update process, neither of which benefits the user.

          Fedora has some interesting features and I like that it showcases new technologies. It’s a good place to see what new items are going to be landing in other projects next year. However, Fedora feels more and more like a testing ground for developers and less like a polished experience for people to use as their day-to-day operating system.

        • Mark McIntyre: How Do You Fedora?

          Mark McIntyre is a geek by birth and Linux by choice. “I started coding at the early age of 13 learning BASIC on my own and finding the excitement of programming which led me down a path of becoming a professional coder,” he says. McIntyre and his niece are big fans of pizza. “My niece and I started a quest last fall to try as many of the pizza joints in Knoxville. You can read about our progress at https://knox-pizza-quest.blogspot.com/” Mark is also an amateur photographer and publishes his images on Flickr.

    • Debian Family

      • MiniDebconf in Toulouse

        I attended the MiniDebconf in Toulouse, which was hosted in the larger Capitole du Libre, a free software event with talks, presentation of associations, and a keysigning party. I didn’t expect the event to be that big, and I was very impressed by its organization. Cheers to all the volunteers, it has been an amazing week-end!

      • DebConf Videoteam sprint report – day 0

        First day of the videoteam autumn sprint! Well, I say first day, but in reality it’s more day 0. Even though most of us have arrived in Cambridge already, we are still missing a few people.

        Last year we decided to sprint in Paris because most of our video gear is stocked there. This year, we instead chose to sprint a few days before the Cambridge Mini-Debconf to help record the conference afterwards.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Sustainable Open Source is About Evolution as a Group

    The role of a CMO in a software company is fundamentally different from that in any other category. We have a really interesting role in marketing and technology, and it’s one of education and guidance. There used to be a place 20 years ago where, as a marketer, you would come up with a simple pithy message and buy a bunch of advertising and people would believe it.

    That’s not true anymore. Now we have to position ourselves alongside the architectures and the thought leadership that our customers are interested in to prove our value.

  • Reveal.js presentation hacks

    Ryan Jarvinen, a Red Hat open source advocate focusing on improving developer experience in the container community, has been using the Reveal.js presentation framework for more than five years. In his Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, he shares what he’s learned about Reveal.js and some ways to make better use of it.

    Reveal.js is an open source framework for creating presentations in HTML based on HTML5 and CSS. Ryan describes Gist-reveal.it, his project that makes it easier for users to create, fork, present, and share Reveal.js slides by using GitHub’s Gist service as a datastore.

  • Font licensing and use: What you need to know

    Most of us have dozens of fonts installed on our computers, and countless others are available for download, but I suspect that most people, like me, use fonts unconsciously. I just open up LibreOffice or Scribus and use the defaults. Sometimes, however, we need a font for a specific purpose, and we need to decide which one is right for our project. Graphic designers are experts in choosing fonts, but in this article I’ll explore typefaces for everyone who isn’t a professional designer.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • The Fox Hunt – Firefox and friends compared

      So what should you use? Well, it depends. You want extensions, the entire repertoire as it’s meant to be? Go with Pale Moon, but be aware of the inconsistencies and problems down the road. However, another piece of penalty is less than optimal looks. If you are more focused on speed and future development, then it’s Firefox, as it offers the most complete compromise. The add-ons will make it or break it. Waterfox makes less sense, because the margins of benefit are too small.

      My take is – Firefox. It’s not ideal, but Pale Moon does not solve the problem fully, it combines nostalgia with technicals, and that’s a rough patch, even though the project is quite admirable in what it’s trying to do. Alas, I’m afraid the old extensions will die, and the new ones won’t be compatible, so the browser will be left stranded somewhere in between. But hopefully, this little comparison test gives you a better overview and understanding how things work.

      Finally, we go back to the question of speed. We’ve seen how one flavor of Fox stacks against another, but what about Chrome? I will answer that in a follow-up article, which will compare Chrome to Vivaldi, again based on popular demand, and then we will also check how all these different browsers compare using my small, limited and entirely personal corner of the Web. Stay tuned.

    • Firefox Private Browsing vs. Chrome Incognito: Which is Faster?

      Firefox Quantum is the fastest version of Firefox we’ve ever made. It is twice as fast as Firefox 52 and often faster than the latest version of Chrome in head to head page load comparisons. By using key performance benchmarks, we were able to optimize Firefox to eliminate unnecessary delays and give our users a great browsing experience.

      Most browser performance benchmarks focus on the use of a regular browsing mode. But, what about Private Browsing? Given that Private Browsing use is so common, we wanted to see how Firefox’s Private Browsing compared with Chrome’s Incognito when it came to page load time (that time between a click and the page being fully loaded on the screen).

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Intel Icelake Support Added To LLVM Clang

      Initial support for Intel’s Icelake microarchitecture that’s a follow-on to Cannonlake has been added to the LLVM/Clang compiler stack.

      Last week came the Icelake patch to GCC and now Clang has landed its initial Icelake enablement too.

  • Public Services/Government

    • 2018 is Year for Open Source Software for Pentagon

      The US Pentagon is set to make a major investment in open source software, if section 886 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 is passed.

      The section acknowledges the use of open source software, the release of source code into public repositories, and a competition to inspire work with open source that supports the mission of the Department of Defense.

  • Programming/Development

    • How startups save buckets of money on early software development

      Moving along, we have to segue with a short modularity lesson. More specifically, how modularity applies to software.

      Essentially, all products and services become cheaper and more plentiful when all the processes involved in production become modularised.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 has a power problem

      Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 has a power problem. When operating at peak performance, it may draw more power than its stock charger or Surface Dock can handle. What we’ve discovered after talking to Microsoft is that it’s not a bug—it’s a feature.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 15 dead, 5 hurt in a stampede for food aid in Morocco

      Moroccan state TV channel 2M reports that at least 15 people have died and 5 others have been injured in a stampede as food aid was being distributed in a southern village.

      It said the stampede took place Sunday in the village of Sidi Boulalam, in the southern province of Essaouira.

      Distributions of food aid are common in the North African nation, notably in remote parts of the country. They are organized by private sponsors and groups as well as by the authorities.

    • The lobbies of glyphosate: a danger to the health of Europeans and of their democracy

      On November 9, nine citizens were summoned before a Brussels tribunal for a peaceful action to denounce the European lobbies of the agro-chemical sector and their overweening influence in the EU negotiations on the ban on glyphosate, a carcinogenic pesticide notably commercialized by Monsanto. The report by the NGO “Corporate Europe Observatory” shows that these lobbies of the agro-chemical sector have been particularly active in the debates during the last 6 months.

      A bunch of Belgian activists decided to face down the powerful lobbies through symbolic non-violent actions. Their affinity group was named the “Zoological Assemblage for the Liberation of Nature”, better known by its French acronym “EZLN” in a clear reference to the Mexican Indigenous rebel “Zapatista Army for National Liberation” that has the same acronym in Spanish (“Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional”). While the context and the causes are much different, the Belgian EZLN activists have been inspired by the Mexican rebels. They borrow the poetic language of their communiqués, as well as their determination in the struggle from below against those in power, building from below “a world in which many worlds fit”.

      On March 9, 70 activists held a hilarious action denouncing the power of these lobbies. They entered the corridors of the European Crop Protection Association’ headquarter in Brussels, disguised as animals with the ecological slogan “We are the nature that defends itself”. This 5-minute tour of the building left some straw, stickers and some red water paint on the windows, but nothing was broken. Eight months later, nine of these activists faced trial in the main tribunal of Brussels.

    • Compulsory licencing proposed in the Netherlands to enforce lower prices for medicines

      ‘For rare conditions, this monopoly on medicines is strongly exacerbated by the European regulations that came into force in 2000 for orphan drugs. These are medications for conditions that occur in the European Union in less than five out of every 10,000 inhabitants. In addition to protection by patents, a company has additional protection such as ten years’ market exclusivity after licensing. This means that no medicines based on the same mechanism of operation for the disease in question may be put on the market during that period. The regulation has strongly encouraged the development of new orphan drugs. It has however also had the perverse effect of medicines being investigated and licensed for narrow and restricted indications in order to obtain the status of an orphan drug, while the study results indicate that its efficacy is broader.’

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Undercounting the Civilian Dead

      During the “war on terror,” the U.S. government has understated the number of civilians killed (all the better to manage positive perceptions back home). But a new report underscores the truth, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • With Trump Silent, Sanders and Dems Demand Aid for Iranian Earthquake Victims

      As the death toll from the “horrific” earthquake that struck the Iran-Iraq border earlier this week climbs above 500, and as President Donald Trump remains entirely silent on the matter, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and four Democratic senators sent a letter on Thursday to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanding that the White House waive certain sanctions on Iran and allow aid to reach those desperately in need.

      “After earthquakes in 2003 and 2012, the United States demonstrated its compassion and goodwill by offering assistance to the Iranian people and allowing private relief donations,” the senators wrote. “This time should be no different.”

      While the 7.3 magnitude quake affected both Iran and Iraq, Iran bore the brunt of the overall destruction and casualties.

    • The Breakthrough: Used as ‘Guinea Pigs’ by the U.S. Military, Then Discarded

      Soldiers are shown racing through a smoke screen, to which tear gas had been added by surprise to test their powers at detecting its presence, during a drill at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1941. They also were given a sniff of four world war gases — phosgene, chloropicrin, mustard and lewisite. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

      When we think of the harm that befalls soldiers during wartime, specific images come to mind. The fallout from scientific experiments — especially those carried out by our own government — isn’t one. But that was the reality of tens of thousands of military men in the 1940s, who were poisoned with mustard gas by the U.S. government to see how their bodies would react. It took decades to bring to light the vast scope of the experiments, and it couldn’t have been completed without the work of two NPR journalists.

      For years, veterans were sworn to secrecy about the tests, prohibited from even discussing them with doctors. While this curtain was lifted in the 1990s, and Congress and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs promised medical care and services, many vets didn’t get it. NPR reporter Caitlin Dickerson and research librarian Barbara Van Woerkom found records for and called hundreds of vets who were used in these experiments, and their work paved the way for the men — who are now well into their 80s — to receive the care and recognition they needed.

    • Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine

      Yemen is in the grip of the world’s worst famine and public health crisis, with all aid to Sana’a and the north presently blocked by the closure of the aiport and closest port, al-Hodeidah. The airport of Sana’a has been closed to all except aid flights since August 2016 and even to aid since the renewed Saudi blockade in retribution for the Houthi (Al-Ansar) missile directed at Riyadh. For good measure, the Saudi Coalition then struck the radio navigation tower of Sana’a airport, eliminating the possibility of any aid traffic, with the brave and hypothetical exception of relying solely on the pilots’ sight, as the runways and terminal still are intact. Al-Hodeidah, the Red Sea port with the closest and most direct route to Yemen’s capital Sana’a, has been ceremonially “re-opened,” but no aid ships have as yet received permission to dock and unload their cargoes. International aid groups, for most of the millions in Yemen, are their only hope for food, clean water, medicine, and other essentials for life.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Trump and WikiLeaks: Five things to know

      The revelation this week that Donald Trump Jr. corresponded with WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign has added a new wrinkle to the competing probes into Russian interference.

      Legal experts say the development is likely to intensify scrutiny of Trump’s eldest son, who is already under the microscope for a controversial June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer.

      Separately, a pair of senators revealed Thursday that Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had received correspondence about WikiLeaks prior to the election. They said Kushner has not yet turned over those documents to congressional investigators.

    • Journalism Made Possible Because of the Freedom of Information Act

      If the Freedom of Information Act were a person, who would it be? That’s a real question I asked our newsroom this week, because that’s the kind of thing I randomly think about.

      Really, though, I asked this of our newsroom because I genuinely want you to care about FOIA. And I thought that if I could get inside our reporters’ heads — to understand what they envision when that acronym comes up, be it Dwight from “The Office” or whoever — I could help you put a metaphorical face on a law that is not only fundamental to the work we do as investigative journalists but is also essential to our democracy. Plus, if you have a face to associate with FOIA, maybe that would help it stick in your brain.

      If you’re unfamiliar, the Freedom of Information Act is a law that allows anyone — yes, including you — to request records and documents from the government. This could mean, for example, a homeowner filing a request for records of government spending in their town, a lawyer filing for environmental assessments of a property or a journalist filing for records of incident reports in a prison. Although filing a FOIA request seems pretty straightforward — technically, all you need to do is send a letter or email to the FOIA officer detailing your request — we can vouch for the fact that, sometimes, the process can be anything but.

    • Why progressives should support wikileaks

      Some rights reserved.History is replete with disquieting figures, it is often difficult to know whether they deserve our support or mistrust. Julian Assange seems increasingly to be one of these figures. When I started writing about whistleblowers a few years ago, there was genuine sympathy for whistleblowers across international public opinion, and one sensed a common feeling of indignation at the repression whistleblowers suffered. But during the last few months, something seems to have changed. There now seems to be a real mistrust – if not outright hostility – with regard to Assange. The same cannot be said for Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning: they each continue to receive widespread support from journalists, academics, and various advocates for human rights and freedom of the press. But what little support remains for Assange is now much more distanced and qualified.

      Indeed, I get the impression that a kind of “WikiLeaks bashing” has taken hold: journalists, academics, and intellectuals have not only begun to distance themselves from Assange; they now question, attack, and discredit him on the slightest pretext.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Manitoba NDP floats idea of loans to help switch to electric vehicles

      The Manitoba NDP is pitching a plan to encourage people to ditch their fossil-fuel burning vehicles and switch to electric.

      The plan was included in the opposition NDP’s alternative throne speech, released Friday ahead of the Progressive Conservative government’s throne speech, which Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon is expected to read on Tuesday.

      The NDP plan includes a zero-interest, government-backed loan for the purchase of electric vehicles, which would be paid back over the life of the vehicle. Under the plan, the province would pool revenue from its upcoming carbon tax, which would then be doled out to Manitobans as repayable loans.

    • Scientists Issue Dire Warning on Climate Change & Key Researcher Urges “Changes in How We Live”

      At COP23, the International Energy Agency predicts U.S. oil production is expected to grow an an unparalleled rate in the coming years—even as the majority of scientists worldwide are saying countries need to cut down on fossil fuel extraction, not accelerate it. Meanwhile, a group of 15,000 scientists have come together to issue a dire “second notice” to humanity, 25 years after a group of scientists issued the “first notice” warning the world about climate change. We speak with the co-author of this report, Kevin Anderson, one of the world’s leading climate scientists. Anderson is deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester in Britain. The report is entitled “Can the Climate Afford Europe’s Gas Addiction?”

  • Finance

    • Aussies increasingly turn away from retail stores to online shopping: report

      Australians are turning to online shopping after disappointing experiences with bricks and mortar stores and the inability to find a product while shopping instore, according to a new study.

    • Some Instacart workers to strike over pay that can be as low as $1 per hour

      Seated at a dimly-lit bar, a gregarious man dressed in a scarf and beanie of his favorite local sports team, explained to Ars last week why he and some of his fellow Instacart shoppers plan on not working this Sunday and Monday.

      “We’re going to sign up for shifts and then when it’s time, if I’m working from 10am to 1pm on [November 19], the first order, I’m going to decline it, not accept the batch,” he said, using Instacart’s term for multiple pickups at a single retail location. “They’ll kick us off and we’ll continue to do that until they kick us off [for the day].”

      The man, who goes by Ike, declined to let Ars use his full name for fear of reprisal—he also doesn’t want unwanted scrutiny from his colleagues at his full-time public sector job.

    • The House Just Voted to Bankrupt Graduate Students

      Republicans in the House of Representatives have just passed a tax bill that would devastate graduate research in the United States. Hidden in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a repeal of Section 117(d)(5) of the current tax code, a provision that is vital to all students who pursue master’s degrees or doctorates and are not independently wealthy.

    • Working for former masters in Madagascar: a ‘win-win’ game for former slaves?

      Despite being formally illegal since the 1970s, sharecropping is one of the more common working agreements between landowners and their labourers in the highlands of Madagascar. Sharecropping agreements are often represented as a sort of win-win game by both landowners and tenants, particularly for rice cultivation, the main agricultural sector of the island. They have allowed otherwise landless families to install themselves in fertile regions for anywhere from a few years to several generations while keeping two-thirds of the production for themselves. At the same time, landowners, without moving a finger, obtain rice to satisfy domestic consumption or to resell, prevent others from illegally occupying their land, and maintain a strong emotional and economic link to the land of their ancestors (tanindrazana) and their family tombs, a crucial benefit if they have moved to urban areas.

    • Fund Local News to Fight Inequality

      After the reporters in New York decided to unionize, Ricketts took just a week to decide that the entire venture —including the local newsrooms in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. — was no longer worth it for him. The decision to shut down the sites reminded reporters of what they know all too well: there’s a crisis in funding journalism, especially the local kind. And many times, the money that does come in is dictated by whims of the ultra-wealthy.

    • Capitalism Is Not the Only Choice

      Since the breakup of the Soviet bloc and China’s turn toward free markets, many economists have pronounced an “end of history,” where capitalism reigns supreme as the ultimate form of economy. Perhaps “there is no alternative” to a globalized neoliberal economy, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher often said. Indeed, free markets in which individuals compete to get what they can while they can are glorified in popular culture through reality shows such as Shark Tank.

      [...]

      Economy is not just something that happens to us, a sea in which we swim or sink. Rather we are all part of multiple economies, some in which we are the main actors—such as our household economies—and others in which we are the extras—such as venture capital markets.

    • TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?

      After throwing Obama’s TPP out of the window, Asia experts in Washington were busy looking for alternatives to TPP which excluded China. Lo and behold, they found the term “Indo Pacific”! Trump dutifully brandished the term like a new toy before leaving for his longest tour to Asia. Indo Pacific became vogue in the media overnight. To spice up the alphabet soup, QUAD (comprising the US, Japan, India and Australia) was served up as a new strategy to slow, if not thwart, China’s rise as the predominant economic powerhouse in Asia Pacific.

      There are two problems with that geostrategy. One, Trump is agnostic about multilateral trade arrangements, to put it mildly. Two, Australia, Japan and India, the other three co-conspirators in QUAD, have China as their largest trade partner. They aren’t about to jeopardize their trade relations with China by ganging up with America to antagonize Beijing. As one commentator put it : “Whatever their problems with China, America will not be the answer.”

    • House to vote on giving Amazon $53 billion deal to become main Pentagon supplier

      Members of the US House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services committees announced Wednesday that they have reached agreement on the proposed $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense spending bill. This astronomical figure—an $80 billion increase over spending in 2016 and roughly $26 billion more than was requested by President Donald Trump—is a clear signal that the US will expand its ongoing wars around the world and is preparing to engage in far broader conflicts potentially involving North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China.

      The NDAA will now be voted on by the House of Representatives, where it has been rubber-stamped every year since 1961, before being signed into law by Trump. While reporting by the bourgeois press on the NDAA has been limited overall, a key section of the bill, titled “Procurement Through Commercial E-Commerce Portals,” has been almost entirely overlooked. This section establishes the framework whereby Amazon will be able to corner the market for Defense Department procurements worth roughly $53 billion, and its inclusion in the NDAA is a product of the direct links connecting Amazon with the state and military-intelligence apparatus.

    • Bitcoin Price Crosses $8,000 To Reach A New All-time High
    • Live blog: EU agencies leaving London after Brexit

      The EU27 countries today decide the new homes of the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority, with multiple rounds of voting behind closed doors in Brussels.

      The EMA is the biggest prize and the first to be decided, with 16 countries bidding to host the drugs regulator. Attention then turns to the banking authority, with EU officials picking between eight bidders sometime after 7 p.m.

      National governments have been promising anything in exchange for votes behind closed doors — from support for the new Eurogroup presidency to NATO troops.

    • London loses EU agencies to Paris and Amsterdam in Brexit relocation

      London is losing the European Medicines Agency to Amsterdam and the European Banking Authority to Paris, in one of first concrete signs of Brexit as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

      The two cities were selected to host the agencies after tie breaks that saw the winner selected by drawing a name from the ballot box.

      The Dutch capital beat Milan when lots were drawn after three rounds of Eurovision-style voting on Monday had resulted in a dead heat.

      Paris won the race to take the European Banking Authority from London, after the favourite Frankfurt was knocked out in the second round.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny

      Facebook, which disclosed that Russian groups bought over 3,000 ads on its platform, recently hired Luke Albee to lobby on matters of “election integrity,” according to a lobbying disclosure form this month.

    • My fear and fury in the eye of the Russia-Leave storm

      Last week, nearly one year on from the first stories about possible collusion between Donald Trump and the Kremlin, Theresa May stood up and finally talked about Russia. The country had “weaponised” information, she said. It had planted “fake stories and photoshopped images”, and it had our society and institutions in its sights.

      It was a watershed moment. Finally, the government was acknowledging that Britain is not uniquely insulated from what is a global firehose of disinformation, lies and fake news – from Russia and other actors.

      And then, just a few hours later, I clicked a link on Twitter. It was from Leave.EU’s official account – the Ukip-allied Brexit campaign headed by Nigel Farage. “WATCH @carolecadwalla takes a hit as the Russian conspiracy deepens.”

      Leave.EU is now the subject of two Electoral Commission investigations into potentially illegal sources of funding, the first of which followed an article I wrote in March. They’ve been calling me crazy for months and I thought this would be more of the same. But it wasn’t. The video was a clip from the film Airplane!, in which a “hysterical” woman is told to calm down and then hit, repeatedly, around the head. The woman – my face photoshopped in – was me. And, as the Russian national anthem played, a line of people queued up to take their turn. The last person in the line had a gun.

      [....]

      It was clearly unacceptable. And yet it was accepted. It remained on a “public” forum – beyond the reach of any law enforcement agency, immune to public opprobrium – for 42 hours. And it did its job: Leave.EU launders extremist content. It tests the ground. It gets unpalatable ideas out into the mainstream – racism, islamophobia, homophobia, death threats to journalists – and it normalises them.

    • ‘Grab-Em-by-the-Pussy’ President Slammed for Grand Hypocrisy as Trump Goes After Franken

      Critics were quick to label President Donald Trump a hypocrite late Thursday after the president—who’s been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct—took to Twitter to take aim at Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who has been accused of groping a woman without her consent.

    • Bill Maher: Al Franken Is Not Like Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey, Donald Trump

      The late-night comedian said Franken “did a bad thing” but shouldn’t be “lumped in” with other high-profile figures.

    • Revenge Is a Rotten Way to Run a Country

      Yielding to one of the basest of human impulses, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are subverting Western society and democracy.

    • Stacking the Bench

      Talley is only 36 — and extraordinarily unqualified. He was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week for a lifetime position on the Alabama federal bench and will be voted on by the full Senate as early as this week. As The New York Times reported, Talley has never tried a case, has practiced law for just three years and was unanimously deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association — a distinction given to only four nominees since 1989. Talley also provides plenty of media-distracting fodder: He’s a horror novel writer, once belonged to a ghost-hunting group and is a right-wing blogger who has disparaged “Hillary Rotten Clinton.” Talley also pledged his “financial, political and intellectual” support to the NRA after the Newtown shooting. Even so, he refused during questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), to say he would recuse himself from cases involving guns.

      The subplot to this story, however, began to unfold Monday when The New York Times reported that Talley failed to disclose in his Senate questionnaire, or during his hearing, or when specifically discussing his contact with White House lawyers, that he happens to be married to Ann Donaldson, the chief of staff to White House counsel Donald McGahn. Talley told the senators in his testimony that he regularly advised judicial candidates in his current role as deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy. He should know better than most that he is expected to be transparent. This is not a small oversight.

    • Sanders: Trump Spewing ‘Total Nonsense’ Over GOP Tax Giveaway for Billionaires

      “Democrats,” Sanders told Jake Tapper on CNN’s Face The Nation, “have been shut out of this process just as they were shut out of the healthcare legislation process.”

      Going further, Sanders said that Trump “should understand” exactly what’s going on and why Democrats, as well as a large majority of the U.S. public, do not like or trust what the Republicans in Congress are attempting to do with what they call “tax reform” but which progressive critics have identified—and numerous analyses have shown—as nothing more than a “tax scam” that gives to the rich at the expense of the lower- and middle-classes.

    • Under GOP Plan, Wealthy Foreign Investors Benefit Nearly Three Times More Than US Taxpayers

      If the Senate Republicans’ latest version of their tax overhaul bill passes, foreign investors will receive a financial benefit nearly three times larger than all U.S. taxpayers combined, according to a new analysis released Saturday.

      In its updated analysis, the non-partisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that while U.S. households would receive $8 billion in net benefits from the plan, wealthy overseas investors would capture an astonishing $22 billion.

      “By 2027,” the anlysis states, “foreign investors would benefit more than American households overall under the bill as written. While some households would pay more and others would pay less, in 2027 the average net effect for U.S. households would be a tax cut of $8 billion, which is much smaller than the $22 billion benefit to foreign investors.”

    • When Will Democrats Stop Being Losers?

      Much was made of the “blue wave” some saw on November 7th. Blue ripple is more like it. Don’t expect those results to translate into a 2018 landslide for Democrats, unless the Party figures out what it’s for, not simply what it’s against.

      Most of the Party leaders are only too eager to tell you what an idiot Trump is, or how mean Ryan, McConnell and the rest of the conservative wrecking crew is. But they are loath to tell you what, exactly, they, themselves stand for.

      Oh, yes, you will hear some vaguely progressive platitudes, especially around election time, but in terms of real, specific and substantive stands on behalf of the middle class and poor Americans, there’s more rhetoric than substance.

      And yes, the Democratic Party Platform is one of the most progressive since the New Deal. But it’s also the greatest story never told, and you won’t hear many of those progressive ideals pushed by or embraced by the Party’s leaders. The fact is, much of what is progressive found its way in there from the Bernie delegates, and—as politicians know—Party platforms are where popular, but inconvenient ideas go to die.

    • Mugabe agrees to stand down as Zimbabwe president: source

      Robert Mugabe agreed on Sunday to resign as Zimbabwe’s president hours after the ruling ZANU-PF party fired him as its leader following 37 years in charge, a source familiar with the negotiations said.

    • ‘Russiagate’ Zealots (Mainly Democrats) Have Become a Major Threat to US National Security

      Cohen argues that America is now in unprecedented danger due to two related crises. A new and more dangerous Cold War with Russia that is fraught with the real possibility of hot war between the two nuclear superpowers on several fronts, including Syria. And the worst crisis of the American presidency in modern times, which threatens to paralyze the president’s ability to deal diplomatically with Moscow. (To those who recall Watergate, Cohen points out that, unlike Trump, President Nixon was never accused of “collusion with the Kremlin” or faced reckless, and preposterous, allegations that the Kremlin had abetted his election by an “attack on American democracy.”)

      What Trump did in Vietnam last week was therefore vitally important and courageous, though uniformly misrepresented by the American mainstream media. Despite unrelenting “Russiagate” attempts led by Democrats to impeach him for “collusion with the Kremlin” (still without any meaningful evidence), and perhaps even opposition by high-level members of his own administration, Trump met several times, informally and briefly, with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Presumably dissuaded or prevented by some of his own top advisers from having a formal, lengthy meeting, Trump was nonetheless prepared. He and Putin issued a joint statement urging cooperation in Syria, where the prospects of a US-Russian war had been mounting. And both leaders later said they had serious talks about cooperating on the crises in North Korea and Ukraine.

      What Trump told the US press corps after his meetings with Putin was even more remarkable—and defiantly bold. He reiterated his longstanding position that “having a relationship with Russia would be a great thing—not a good thing—it would be a great thing.” To this Cohen adds that it would be an essential thing for the sake of US national security on many vital issues and in many areas of the world, and should be the first foreign-policy principle of both political parties. Trump then turned to “Russiagate,”saying that Putin had again denied any personal involvement and that in this Putin seemed sincere. Trump quickly added that three of President Obama’s top intelligence directors—the CIA’s John Brennan, Office of National Intelligence’s James Clapper, and the FBI’s James Comey—were “political hacks,” clearly implying that their declared role in “Russiagate” had been and remains less than sincere. He also suggested that Russia had been too “heavily sanctioned” to be the national-security partner America needs, a point Cohen reminded listeners he himself had made many times.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Radio Free Asia Cambodian journalists charged with providing information to foreign nation

      The two former RFA reporters were detained for questioning last Tuesday after police discovered they had rented a hotel room in Phnom Penh, which they were suspected of using as an office in continuing to provide news about the country

    • Censorship packaged as cyber transparency in China’s new website

      China’s military on Sunday launched a website inviting the public to report leaks and fake news, as well as illegal online activities by military personnel, the latest step in a push to ensure Communist Party control over the internet.

      Beijing has been ramping up measures to secure the internet and maintain strict censorship, a process that accelerated ahead of the party’s five-yearly National Congress that took place in October.

    • The Chinese Communist Party’s guide to moral living

      The censorship order handed down from the Chinese Communist Party earlier this year reads like a decree from a Puritan: depictions of underage drinking, gambling and extreme violence are not permitted online; images of scantily clad people and portrayals of homosexuality are off-limits; spiritual figures and beliefs cannot be satirized.

      [...]

      Some of Xi’s measures build on existing tools of control: The official state news agency issued an update to its style guide in July, banning the use of crude language and online slang in news reporting; internet censors shut down scores of blogs in June for their sensationalist coverage of celebrity gossip; other information channels, including school textbooks and street billboards, promote traditional virtues like honesty, obedience and filial piety, which are hailed as the foundation of a good society.

    • This week, Russian citizens have been arrested for intolerance towards Cossacks

      Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for preparing (non-existent) acts of terrorism in Crimea, has spent the past two weeks in solitary confinement. Sentsov had been moved to the White Bear prison colony in the Labytnangi settlement (in Yamalo-Nenetsky autonomous district) where he was immediately placed in solitary confinement. This is how the prison carried out a decision by the pre-trial detention centre in Irkutsk, where Sentsov had formerly been held, who had decided the prisoner had been in serious violation of regulations, but had not had time to punish him.

      In Chelyabinsk, environmental activist Irina Mochanova is under criminal investigation for using violence against a representative of the authorities while holding a one-person protest in front of president Putin’s car as it drove past. The activist was protesting against the construction of the Tomino copper mining plant.

      [...]

      Russian law enforcement haven’t forgotten about the dangerous criminals who exploit the internet for their nefarious purposes. Krasnodar blogger Leonid Kudinov has again been jailed for posting a video containing a swastika. In the video, Kudinov urges the police to stop using Article 20.3 of the Administrative Law Code against activists, and to take into account the context in which Nazi symbols may be used.

    • Removal of statues is not intolerance or censorship

      They are laudable reappraisals of what persons, values, ideas and events we wish to honor and affirm publicly and officially.

      The purpose of removing a statue to a museum (or qualifying its presence with additional information) or of renaming a building is not to rewrite or deny history, to change the past, or to prevent people from affirming, discussing, or propagating the ideas and values represented by the memorial.

    • Atul Kasbekar: “We don’t have any censorship issue so we can push the envelope more”

      “We don’t have any censorship issue so we can push the envelope more. Although we are not making a controversial series but people on this forum are enjoying the fact that they can use bad language and just insert sex scenes, even if it doesn’t need it. After going through so much of repressed censorship people have just gone berserk with the freedom.”

    • Nick Cave reject Israel boycott calls

      Nick Cave, the dark poet of rock, says he’s taking a “principled stand” against activists working to ostracise the Jewish state and people who tried to boycott his performances in the country.

      At a press conference on Sunday, the Australian spoke about the logistical challenges of playing in Israel then said musicians also endure pressure from an international movement known as BDS that seeks to ostracise Israel by lobbying corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with the Jewish state.

    • Nick Cave playing Israel shows to “take a stand” against censorship

      Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds end their European tour with a pair of controversial shows in Israel, on November 19-20, at Tel Aviv’s Menorah Arena. Roger Waters, Thurston Moore, and Tunde Adebimpe spoke out against Cave’s decision to play Israel in an open letter, saying “don’t go – not while apartheid remains.” Radiohead’s Israel show back in July attracted similar furor and protests from Waters and Moore, among others, and was also defended by Michael Stipe.

    • Fighting Censorship … With Trigger Warnings

      She was talking about a class she taught, Representations of Rape in Literature, and how her syllabus’s trigger warnings on the course’s violent content also called for an inclusive classroom — and specifically welcoming the inclusion of straight, cisgender men — in order to encourage debate and make sure every student felt welcome to share their opinions. The idea of calling for a safe space in the classroom and using trigger warnings, Spampinato said, wasn’t to stifle debate, as conservative pundits often charge, but quite the opposite: to foster “a diversity of opinions,” the same phrase that conservatives often use when claiming feminism or liberalism is intolerant of their views.

    • Iranian Official Threatens “Restrictions” on Social Media Networks That Reject State Censorship Policies

      A senior official representing Iran’s top internet regulation body has threatened to take action against social media applications that refuse to comply with the country’s strict censorship rules.

    • Chinese tech groups duel over violent video games
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Bug Or Feature? — Facebook Removes Delete Post Option From Desktop Website

      As Facebook enjoys an unchallenged position in the world of social networks, it keeps trying out new features in its web interface and mobile without any fear of losing the user base. Who can forget the company’s act of removing Messenger from the mobile apps and pushing it down the throat of users as a separate app!

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Democrats Missed A Chance To Draw A Line In The Sand On Sexual Misconduct
    • How algorithms are pushing the tech giants into the danger zone
    • School threatens to sue parents after they used Facebook to accuse teachers of failing to stop bullying
    • Wisconsin Police Gun Down Young Teen on Reservation

      According to multiple news reports, Pero — an 8th grader – was home from school with the flu when he left his house and encountered Deputy Brock Mrdjenovich. The Wisconsin Department of Justice stated that the Ashland County police department received a phone call just prior reporting that a male matching Pero’s description was walking down the street with a knife — a call that Department says that Pero made himself.

      When Mrdjenovich confronted Pero, the boy allegedly refused to drop the knife and even lunged twice at Mrdjenovich, causing Mrdjenovich to eventually shoot Pero twice — including at least once in the chest.

      [...]

      “Be clear,” writes The Root’s Kirsten West Savali, “Even if this child were holding a knife—which has not been proved—he did not deserve a bullet through his heart. But that is the state’s instinct when they see children of color as neither children nor human beings worthy of protection.”

      [...]

      Pero’s community is reeling from the violence he faced at the hands of those who are supposed to be trusted to keep the peace, and it is not surprising that they appear so far to doubt the details released by the Department of Justice on Pero’s motive, his alleged attack on an officer and the other actions leading to his murder. They aren’t wrong to be dubious, either: This isn’t an isolated incident, but a steady pattern of violence against communities of color.

    • This Is Where Hate Crimes Don’t Get Reported

      On Monday, the FBI released its latest tally of hate crimes in the U.S. Despite a 1990 law that mandates data collection on hate crimes, the FBI’s count remains only a fraction of what an annual national crime victims survey estimates the real number to be.

      The above map shows some of the gaps that remain in the data. It marks every law enforcement agency serving at least 10,000 residents that failed to report at all in 2016, that reported zero hate crimes, or that reported fewer than one hate crime per 100,000 residents.

      ProPublica’s reporting has shown that local jurisdictions often fail to properly recognize, investigate or prosecute hate crimes, and thus do not report them to the FBI.

    • The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb

      The death (or possibly murder) of Frank Olson was but a hint of the enormous secret CIA program of research into techniques of mind alteration and control. The whole enterprise was assigned the code-name MK-ULTRA and was run out of the CIA’s Technical Services Division, headed in the 1950s by Willis Gibbons, a former executive of the US Rubber Company. In the division’s laboratories and workshops researchers labored on poisons, gadgets designed to maim and kill, techniques of torture and implements to carry such techniques to agonizing fruition. Here also were developed surveillance equipment and kindred tools of the espionage trade. All of these activities made the Technical Services Division a vital partner of the covert operations wing of the Agency.

      Within Technical Services MK-ULTRA projects came under the control of the Chemical Division, headed from 1951 to 1956 by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, a New York Jew who received his doctorate in chemistry from California Tech. Born with a clubfoot and afflicted with a severe stammer, Gottlieb pushed himself with unremitting intensity. Despite his physical affliction he was an ardent square dancer and exponent of the polka, capering across many a dance floor and dragging visiting psychiatrists and chemists on terpsichorean trysts where appalling plans of mind control were ruminated amidst the blare of the bands.

    • U.S. Military And CIA Leaders May Be Investigated For War Crimes

      On November 3, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) informed the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber, ”[T]here is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan.”

      In what Amnesty International’s Solomon Sacco called a “seminal moment for the ICC,” Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court for authorization to commence an investigation that would focus on US military and CIA leaders, as well as Taliban and Afghan officials.

      Bensouda wrote in a November 14, 2016, report that her preliminary examination revealed “a reasonable basis to believe” the “war crimes of torture and ill-treatment” had been committed “by US military forces deployed to Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, principally in the 2003-2004 period, although allegedly continuing in some cases until 2014.”

      The chief prosecutor noted the alleged crimes by the CIA and US armed forces “were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals,” but rather were “part of approved interrogation techniques in an attempt to extract ‘actionable intelligence’ from detainees.” She added there was “reason to believe” that crimes were “committed in the furtherance of a policy or policies … which would support US objectives in the conflict of Afghanistan.”

    • A ‘Routine’ Stop Almost Ended My Career Before It Started

      BEING RANDOMLY STOPPED and questioned by the police is par for the course for black men in America. It’s an injustice so familiar that it barely registers as an injustice. That’s something I knew intellectually. Still, I was stunned when officers stopped me while walking on my law school campus back in the spring of 2011.

      From that stop and my subsequent complaint came a series of events that changed my life forever. That interaction led to the ruin of my reputation as a student and it almost ended my legal career before it started. Moreover, it confirmed for me, not just how unfairly people of color are treated by police, but the tremendous risk that comes with speaking up about that mistreatment.

      The law gives police officers incredible leeway when it comes to stops. Ever since Terry v. Ohio, the watershed 1968 Supreme Court case, officers have been permitted to stop and search anyone without probable cause, so long as the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is armed, or that he or she has committed, or is about to commit, a crime.

    • How (Not) to Cross the Street in Jacksonville

      Jacksonville, Florida, issues more tickets to pedestrians than all but five Florida counties. And it issues those tickets disproportionately to black pedestrians.

      The city’s population is 29 percent black, but black pedestrians received 55 percent of the pedestrian tickets issued from 2012 to July 2017. Looking at each type of ticket issued reveals even bigger disparities.

    • Infosec star accused of sexual assault booted from professional affiliations

      A well-known computer security researcher, Morgan Marquis-Boire, has been publicly accused of sexual assault.

      On Sunday, The Verge published a report saying that it had spoken with 10 women across North America and Marquis-Boire’s home country of New Zealand who say that they were assaulted by him in episodes going back years.

      A woman that The Verge gave the pseudonym “Lila,” provided The Verge with “both a chat log and a PGP signed and encrypted e-mail from Morgan Marquis-Boire. In the e-mail, he apologizes at great length for a terrible but unspecified wrong. And in the chat log, he explicitly confesses to raping and beating her in the hotel room in Toronto, and also confesses to raping multiple women in New Zealand and Australia.”

    • Exclusive: NYT White House correspondent Glenn Thrush’s history of bad judgment around young women journalists

      Sexual harassment claims against yet another powerful man in media inspired New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush to post an impassioned note on his Facebook page in October, calling on his fellow journalists to stand by women entering the field.

      In the post, which linked to an article about the latest accusations against political journalist Mark Halperin, Thrush wrote, “Young people who come into a newsroom deserve to be taught our trade, given our support and enlisted in our calling — not betrayed by little men who believe they are bigger than the mission.”

      It was a noble statement — but some Washington journalists I spoke to say it rings hollow, given Thrush’s own behavior with young women in the industry.

      [...]

      The downfall of Hollywood titan Weinstein, has been a catalyst for a movement to stamp out workplace harassment, particularly the variety to pits powerful men against much-less-powerful women. They are facing consequences for their behavior like never before, including men in media. Halperin lost a coveted book deal. NPR news chief Michael Oreskes resigned. Leon Wieseltier lost funding for his new magazine. And Lockhart Steele, the editorial director of Vox Media, Vox’s parent company, was fired for misconduct.

      Thrush wasn’t my boss at Politico. He was a reporter and I was an editor. We were on different teams and hardly crossed each other’s paths. But he was an incredibly influential person in the newsroom and in political journalism, a world I was still trying to break into in a meaningful way at the time.

      It wasn’t that Thrush was offering young women a quid pro quo deal, such as sex in exchange for mentorship. Thrush, just by his stature, put women in a position of feeling they had to suck up and move on from an uncomfortable encounter.

    • Fascist salutes in Madrid mark anniversary of Spain’s dictator General Francisco Franco’s death

      Far-right supporters giving fascist salutes have held rallies to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Spain’s former dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who died on 20 November 1975. Franco supporters gather every year to mark his death and that of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the nationalist Falange Española party, 42 years earlier. He was executed by the republican government on 20 November 1936, during the Spanish Civil War.

    • Libya: Enslaved Migrants Sold at Auction

      In Libya, human rights groups are accusing the government of looking the other way as migrants are sold at auction in a modern-day slave trade. New video obtained by CNN shows men at an unknown location in Libya auctioning off enslaved sub-Saharan African migrants. One grainy cell-phone video shows two enslaved men sold for 1,200 Libyan dinars—or about $800—as a man off-screen promises, “big strong boys for farm work”. The CNN investigation comes after the United Nations warned the EU over its support for Libya’s coast guard, as it turns back migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean and forces them into migrant camps, where they face “appalling” conditions.

    • Trump calls for Lynch suspension if anthem protest continues

      U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch should be suspended by the NFL if he continues to protest during the national anthem after Lynch sat during a rendition of the song before Sunday’s game in Mexico City.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM/Antifeatures

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • “The Commercial Usenet Stinks on All Sides,” Anti-Piracy Boss Says

        Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has responded to last week’s Usenet related raids. The Hollywood-backed group describes Usenet as a refuge for pirates of all ilks, with uploaders, site owners and resellers working in tandem to facilitate copyright infringement. “It’s stinking on all sides,” Kuik says.

      • The Truth Behind the “Kodi Boxes Can Kill Their Owners” Headlines

        This week, tabloid headlines screamed that so-called “Kodi Boxes” are a threat not only to the entertainment industries, but also to life itself. Claiming that devices could kill their owners due to electrical safety standards failures, we took a look at the actual report. Forget just throwing set-top boxes in the trash, it looks like anything electrical without a brand name needs to be discarded immediately.

      • Danes Deploy ‘Disruption Machine’ to Curb Online Piracy

        Danish anti-piracy group RettighedsAlliancen is taking a scattered approach to combat piracy. The piracy ‘disruption machine,’ as they call it, distributes a list of hundreds of pirate sites to ISPs, ad-brokers, search engines, payment processors and other intermediaries, who all expected to take action in response. In the future, this could expand to social media sites and web browsers, the group envisions.

      • Kodi Addon Dev Says “Show of Force” Will Be Met With Defiance

        Cease-and-desist letters, hand-delivered this week to several Kodi developers by the world’s most powerful entertainment companies, were designed to intimidate. That’s the belief of an as-yet-untouched Kodi dev who informs TF that while many people in the scene are simple “one man bands”, most won’t be intimidated by these multi-billion dollar rivals.

“US Inventor” is a “Bucket of Deplorables” Not Worthy of Media Coverage

Posted in America, Patents at 5:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Paul Morinville sickened

Summary: Jan Wolfe of Reuters treats a fringe group called “US Inventor” as though it’s a conservative voice rather than a bunch of patent extremists pretending to be inventors

A VERY short while ago Jan Wolfe, who had been covering PTAB for a while, published this article about so-called ‘conservatives’ attacking PTAB. We wrote about it yesterday. These are not quite the classical Conservatives but anti-government groups that are also misogynist and racist — the uglier face of US politics that aligns with the anti-scientific party (GOP). "US Inventor" (covered here before) is mentioned by Wolfe, who is perhaps easily misled by the name of the group. These are the people who bully Michelle Lee and resort to terms like “drain the swamp”. They could only get less than a dozen people to gather for an illegal protest on USPTO premises, so why even pay attention to them?

From the article:

“It’s time for us to make patents great again,” Michael Caputo, an advisor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, told those gathered. US Inventor, the group behind the protest Caputo now represents as a spokesman, is calling for the abolition of the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board, an administrative tribunal run by the patent office that reviews the validity of patents.

The rallying cry marks an about-face for some conservatives, who broadly supported the board’s creation in 2011 as a way to rein in trial lawyers and “patent trolls,” who hold patents for the sole purpose of suing big companies for licensing fees.

“Things have really flipped when it comes to the conservative perspective on patents,” said Charles Duan, a lawyer with left-leaning consumer group Public Knowledge.

Much of the credit goes to activists who have convinced many conservatives that the real problem is not out-of-control litigation but how the tribunal designed to speed up resolving patent disputes favors big business over smaller rivals.

Public Knowledge is a reputable group that has existed for a long time. We don’t understand why Wolfe saw the need to give an impression of parity. To entertain “US Inventor” on patent matters is like entertaining the NRA on public safety matters. Better not done at all, in the name of quality control rather than censorship.

Team Battistelli’s Attacks on the EPO Boards of Appeal Predate the Illegal Sanctions Against a Judge

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A shocked Battistelli

Summary: A walk back along memory lane reveals that Battistelli has, all along, suppressed and marginalised DG3 members, in order to cement total control over the entire Organisation, not just the Office

LAST night we wrote about the EPO‘s latest attack on the boards, which have already been relegated to the ‘suburbs’ of Munich (Haar). It’s like Battistelli does not want these boards to exist, or wishes to overburden them to the point where they become useless for assurance of patent quality (prior art search and the like). He cannot legally knock them out of existence because of the EPC, but the EPC does not say anything about punishing them relentlessly, so Battistelli will probably get away with it. Now that his departure is almost imminent it’s ever more unlikely that he’ll lose his immunity and himself be subjected to disciplinary actions. 6 weeks from now he and Bergot will officially put the axe to long-term contracts. In other words, 6 months before he’s gone he’s totally destroying any prospects of the EPO ever recovering or salvaging the talent it once had.

Disturbing. To say the least.

We very much doubt the press will cover our findings regarding the Haar ‘party’, which is a sad display of irony if not black comedy. The press repeatedly ignores important stories and developments, as recently as weeks ago. Even comments on the matter might not get through. Here’s yesterday’s report of censorship in IP Kat (or maybe slow moderation by Bristows, or perhaps approval only after a complaint about it). “Censorship is never good,” the comment said. And yes, it’s about the boards. It often seems as though these matters cannot be brought up at IP Kat anymore, as people’s names cannot safely be mentioned (this limits useful debate). Truths are now “personal attacks”. To quote the comment at hand:

Why has my comment relating to recent case re entitlement of priority at the EPO not been accepted?

Is it because I mentioned the plea of a well known specialist about the fact that the EPO should only looking whether there is identity of invention?

I considered my comment as showing that the problem is not a specific one of British courts. No more, no less.

Censorship is never good.

We have meanwhile dug some archives and found the following letter from 3 years ago. We believe it demonstrates how, even before the ‘house ban’ of a judge (Battistelli broke the rules), the boards had come under attacks from Battistelli. This is for readers to judge:

DG3 nominees

Dear Mr Battistelli,

On 12.08.2014 you informed staff of your decision to reduce the “administrative tasks“ performed by the members of the Boards of Appeal and of the Enlarged Board of Appeal. The administrative tasks concerned are the participation in selection boards for procedures external to DG3 and in the work of other bodies under the Service Regulations. In practice, this decision heavily affects nominations in selection boards and in the Disciplinary Committee, where the staff representation used to rely on colleagues from DG3 to provide some independence in those procedures in the past.

As to the reasons, you referred to “possible consequences resulting from the discussion” on the interlocutory decision R 19/12 by the Enlarged Board of Appeal.

As we understand it, the Enlarged Board decided in decision R 19/12 that the obligation imposed on the Vice-President DG3 (VP3), when acting as a high-ranking officer directly under the President, to consider and support efficiency and productivity goals to be reached by the Office may conflict with his duty, when acting as a member of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, to review decisions of the Boards of Appeal as an independent judge and, in so-doing, to contribute to the development of the case law as regards the protection of the procedural rights of the parties. In other words, the Enlarged Board saw in decision R 19/12 a potential conflict of interest between VP3′s managerial and judicial responsibilities.

We do not see such a general potential conflict in the involvement of DG3 members in selection boards, in the Disciplinary Committee or in other bodies under the Service Regulations, essentially because DG3 members have no managerial responsibilities in other DGs.

We therefore respectfully ask to be informed why you consider decision R 19/12 to be relevant to their involvement in those tasks.

We further respectfully ask to be informed why you considered that the obligation to consult the General Consultative Committee in accordance with Article 38 ServRegs did not apply to your decision.

As we now know, this Disciplinary Committee became a farce around that time. Grant Philpott, a thin-skinned advocate of software patents with background in the British Army, was Chairman of the notorious Disciplinary Committee (which ILO deemed to be unsuitably composed months after its union-busting activities had ‘decapitated’ SUEPO).

Those who pretend that the boards were “asking for it” or deserved punishment engage in artistic revisionism of history. Battistelli never wanted them. He wanted to destroy them, having already destroyed several other auditory jobs.

11.19.17

PTAB is Safe, the Patent Extremists Just Try to Scandalise It Out of Sheer Desperation

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 5:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tyranny of the patent microcosm continues to slip away

Kim to patent zealots
Nice try, patent zealots, but patent quality matters more than your ‘protection’ money

Summary: The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), which gave powers to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) through inter partes reviews (IPRs), has no imminent threats, not potent ones anyway

THE Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is a subject we get to revisit every weekend. A lot is happening there. Technology companies like PTAB, whereas law firms are trying to destroy PTAB, which really says a lot about whose interests are served by improved patent quality.

A few days ago the patent trolls’ lobby expressed its interest in an old proposal for slicing USPTO. By “independent” USPTO they just mean a private USPTO, i.e. a for-profit monopoly whose goal would be to maximise profit, potentially by lowering patent quality (a la EPO).

Quoting IAM:

The USPTO is one of the few federal agencies that actually makes a profit from its operations, versus the majority of other US federal agencies which require taxpayer dollars to carry out their delegated functions. At present, the USPTO collects filing fees from applicants for patents and trademarks, as well as additional fees for many other services. These fees cover the USPTO’s operations, including the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Historically, however, the federal government has diverted excess fees collected by the USPTO away from that office and into unrelated government programmes – some estimates put the figure at more than $1 billion diverted from the USPTO since the early 1990s alone. With the enactment of the America Invents Act in 2011, the Patent and Trademark Fee Reserve Fund was created to hold all patent and trademark fees collected by the USPTO, with all allocations from the reserve fund to be determined by Congress under the USPTO’s annual appropriation amount.

Things as they stand at the moment aren’t pleasing to those who became accustomed to a venue-shifting, litigant-friendly system (favouring plaintiffs with patents that lack merit). Loopholes are being closed, patent scope is being tightened, trolls are turned away, and thousands of patents are being formally invalidated by PTAB.

Recently, some patent extremists went to the USPTO to literally burn patents there. They also attacked — viciously and repeatedly — the Director of the USPTO until she resigned. How low will they sink? How poor-quality a bunch of patents are they striving to protect? A couple of days ago Ian McCarthy wrote about “consumer generated intellectual property” — a bizarre term which is 4 offensive words (and lies) in a row. Incredible what these people can come up with! Some of them actually want computer-generated patents to be examined and accepted by computer algorithms alone. Maybe they want billions if not trillions of patents, rendering the entire purpose (and manageability) of the Office moot. A patent system without restrictions on quality would be ignored; quantity should barely even be a parameter to strive for. At all!

PTAB’s job is, quite generally, to ensure patent quality is preserved if not improved. So who would oppose it? The answer is obvious: those whose patents are of no value (and know their patents lack any value). They don’t want any legal scrutiny. By avoiding actual litigation (initiated by themselves) they can dodge such scrutiny, but PTAB is different. Their patents are constantly under threat even if they initiate no legal action but only threaten vulnerable companies.

A Web site of patent extremists has just spoken to a firm favoured among patent trolls. It’s about bashing PTAB. That’s their goal. On another day that site showed that PTAB rules/procedures got altered, albeit only after repeated pressure. To quote:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has revised the “Standard Operating Procedure 9 (SOP9)” for cases remanded from the Federal Circuit, including requiring panels to meet with the PTAB chief, deputy chief or a delegate to discuss remanded cases

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has revised the “Standard Operating Procedure 9 (SOP9)” directed to procedures for cases remanded from the Federal Circuit.

That does not seem to have changed anything so substantial; patent extremists are trying hard to sabotage PTAB and help trolls with shoddy patents. Will they succeed? We doubt it. Have they made any progress? Not so far. PTAB is still going strong, but that should not be taken for granted.

United for Patent Reform wrote the other day some words from the pro-PTAB group, High Tech Inventors Alliance. Its head, John Thorne, told the panel: “For those who are not aware of what #IPR is, it’s an opportunity for @uspto to correct its own mistakes.”

Yes, exactly.

Nothing wrong with that, right?

If the USPTO does its job (examination) properly, PTAB will not be necessary.

Yesterday (yes, a Saturday!) Watchtroll went on another PTAB rant, stating the obvious in an attempt to demonise those who dispute validity of patents, e.g./notably PTAB. Alluding a lot to i4i vs Microsoft, Watchtroll said this:

Microsoft argued that the standard for proving a patent invalid should be by a preponderance of the evidence because the PTO did not consider the software in question when it issued the patent. According to Microsoft, the patent on which i4i relies is invalid because of prior art using the technology before the application was filed with the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Microsoft questioned why the “clear and convincing evidence” standard should apply even for issues that the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) did consider. Furthermore, Microsoft argued that the “clear and convincing evidence” standard is an unjust creation of the Federal Circuit.

i4i Limited Partnership maintained that Microsoft had infringed on a patent i4i received in 1998, US Patent No. 5,787,449. This patent makes clear that i4i claimed a particular “method and system for querying a structured document stored in its native format in a database, where the structured document includes a plurality of nodes that form a hierarchical node tree…” While the language may appear inscrutable to a layman, essentially i4i maintained that the XML-editing features in Microsoft Word infringed on i4i’s patent. In response to Microsoft’s argument, i4i argued that it did not sell a product which served as prior art and that only the product’s source code could meet the “clear and convincing evidence” standard. Since the source code was no longer available, this was a convenient interpretation for i4i. In addition, i4i strongly argued that the Court should use the “clear and convincing evidence” standard instead of the “by a preponderance of the evidence” standard supported by Microsoft.

We wrote several dozens of posts about this case. For Watchtroll it’s just another cheap excuse to claim that when it comes to patents the “Burden is on the Challenger” (to quote the headline). This wasn’t the only Watchtroll attack on PTAB lately. Watchtroll also spoke to patent maximalists in an effort to tilt a sense of expectation in Oil States, basically bashing PTAB ahead of a Supreme Court decision that can determine its fate. Such is the nature of that lobbying site.

For those who rely on the Supreme Court to stop PTAB, forget about it… it won’t happen. We have already explained the whys many times before. Some have attempted other tricks/shams/scams for bypassing PTAB, but loopholes like these will be no more (pretty soon). As one legal blog put it the other day, “Legislation to Curtail Sovereign Immunity in IPR May Be On the Way” (as reported elsewhere as well). To quote the background and the latest outcome:

A Native American tribe’s recent deal to obtain several pharmaceutical patents and seek dismissal of pending IPRs on the basis of sovereign immunity has piqued the public’s interest in sovereign immunity to IPR. The same tribe also recently asserted several other patents against Microsoft and Amazon, and may assert sovereign immunity from IPR there too. Prompted by the tribe’s actions, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on what Congress can and should do about it. Although much of the hearing focused on what many perceive as the problem of tribal sovereign immunity in IPR—not the use of sovereign immunity to IPR by state universities—many of the proposed reforms would also target state universities. Whether any of these reforms will be enacted remains to be seen, but there are reasons to doubt their constitutionality.

[...]

The hearing also explored whether statutory changes could be made to permit IPR to go forward without participation of sovereign patent owners that refuse to waive their immunity. The hearing offered few details about how such changes would be implemented, or whether, for example, such a proceeding would resemble ex parte reexamination—a proceeding already available to challengers. Further, the hearing did not address how such a proceeding would address the Supreme Court’s ruling that sovereign immunity bars an agency from adjudicating a private party’s complaint against a sovereign, even where participation by the sovereign is optional.[3]

This hearing suggested that some in Congress are interested in curtailing the use of sovereign immunity in IPR, but whether state universities will be targeted in ways that raise constitutional concerns remains unclear. While state immunity from IPR provides a privilege that private citizens do not enjoy, that is not new, as states enjoy immunity from numerous types of actions.[4] As the Supreme Court has explained, states’ unique constitutional role “sets them apart” for special treatment.[5] Thus, a one-size-fits-all reform to IPR that addresses the concerns of some about tribal sovereign immunity, but also seeks to limit states’ rights, may not be constitutionally possible.

The above spoke about ex parte reexamination — a subject also explored earlier this month in another legal blog.

Overall, what we are seeing here is a clear trend in favour of PTAB, which is growing each year and becoming more effective at tackling a broader range of patents, setting precedents in the process. Don’t expect PTAB to vanish any time soon. The “USPTO Finalizes Rule for Privileged Communications in Trials Before the PTAB,” said another blog earlier this month, showing that the USPTO too recognises the long-term operation of the board. To quote:

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”) provided for trials before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) in inter partes reviews, post-grant reviews, the transitional program for covered business method patents, and derivation proceedings. While patent agents are registered to practice before the USPTO, they are not attorneys. Therefore, it has been unclear whether attorney-client privilege prevents discovery in PTAB proceedings of communications between these non-attorney agents and their clients. Addressing this ambiguity, the USPTO just issued a final rule for trial practice before the PTAB that explicitly protects communications between patent agents or foreign patent practitioners and their clients. The amended rule becomes effective December 7, 2017.

That’s just three weeks from now.

In an effort to perhaps find something negative, patent maximalists are now measuring rates of rather irrelevant things. Instead of measuring the number of IPRs or successful invalidation they look at number of “stays” (in the legal sense). “Overall success rates of motions to stay district court litigation pending review at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board have dropped noticeably in the past fiscal year,” it says.

Well, district court litigation is relatively low profile and the number or proportion of “stays” does not say anything so interesting. It’s almost irrelevant. It’s like the ‘other’ “IPR” (the propaganda term that is meant to mislead, which these same patent maximalists use in relation to India). The interesting figures show that PTAB activity is growing or is at least stable (after year-to-year growth for half a decade).

“The flood of bad patents fueled an explosion of wasteful litigation in the tech industry,” United for Patent Reform quoted the other day, “brought by patent trolls that exist for no reason other than to make money filing lawsuits. #IPR has been a step toward reining in that problem…”

It has been happening more and more over time. Demand for PTAB has grown.

As we noted last week, the USPTO succumbed to bullying/pressure from patent extremists and the patent trolls' lobby, at least judging by the fact that it made PTAB less affordable. The patent maximalists wrote about that a few days later. dubbing it a “72% IPR request fee change”. To quote:

The USPTO has released a final rule detailing fee increases to go into effect in January. The combined cost of an inter partes review request and institution at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board will go up to $30,500

See how they’re trying to make PTAB less accessible, especially for small and vulnerable companies? Not good. If they cannot stop PTAB using Native American tribes and Justices, then maybe they can just price PTAB out of reach. There’s also the STRONGER [sic] Patents Act, which is an abomination that is going nowhere (so far). Rachel Wolbers mentioned it the other day. “This radical piece of legislation would leave startups without any of the tools they currently have to protect themselves from patent trolls,” she said.

Here’s more:

The real reason clever patent trolls are moving their patents to Indian tribes is to avoid the USPTO’s Inter Partes Review process, which provides startups with a quick and effective way to invalidate bad patents. Weakening the IPR process would cause the most damage to America’s startup ecosystem and we should not upend the good work done by the USPTO to improve patent quality.

Another potential threat to the current patent system would be the “STRONGER Patents Act” introduced by Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in June. The bill would completely gut the IPR system and would overturn decades of Supreme Court precedent on patents. This radical piece of legislation would leave startups without any of the tools they currently have to protect themselves from patent trolls. Furthermore, it would make investing in a technology startup much riskier, deterring investment in a sector of the economy that has been steadily growing for a decade.

IAM does a rather poor job hiding the fact that it’s a think tank for patent radicals and trolls. Watch who it gave a platform to (in its own event): “One of our keynote speakers was Senator Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the author of the STRONGER Patents Act and one of the relatively few US legislators who demonstrates a keen understanding of the importance of strong IP rights to an innovation economy. In an engaging speech he called for Congress to take action to strengthen patent rights in the US. Here’s a part of what he had to say:”

Where were the engineers? Totally absent from these stacked panels and lobbying events, as usual.

Various ‘Conservative’ sites have also been lying about the STRONGER [sic] Patents Act, by which they attempt to destroy patent reform. The National Center’s Jeff Stier came up with this misleading headline under a month ago and here is what Heartland wrote some days ago. Notice who wrote it: “Seton Motley is the president of Less Government, a DC-based non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the power of government and protecting the First Amendment from governmental assault.”

So they basically stand for reckless markets in which patent extortion would be ‘normalised’ and not subjected to government intervention.

Going back to IAM, watch what it wrote when PTAB was invoked and ITC then got involved:

Interestingly, the separator technology on the line in this case, which LG Chem calls Safety Reinforced Separator (SRS), has previously been an IP moneymaker for LG Chem. It was able to license the technology to UBE Maxell, a Japanese joint venture, back in 2014 (not before UBE Maxell tried and failed to IPR one of the patents now being asserted against Amperex).

LG Chem is not the only company seeking to license-out battery-related technology. UBE itself assigned two US patents for a “Cell electrode sheet with displaced electrode depolarizing mixes” to a Japanese licensing firm called Ryujin Patent & Licensing in 2014. One of them is now facing an IPR filed by Dell, HP, Asus and LG Chem, indicating the range of companies it may be approaching as potential licensees.

This is an example where PTAB impedes actions not just by patent trolls with software patents but also large companies which try to tax everything. This kind of case is the reason we see growing support for PTAB even from large technology companies. As Washington is generally dominated by those companies and their lobbyists, expect PTAB to remain in tact (albeit, perhaps, more accessible to large and wealthy corporations).

Update on the EPO’s Crackdown on the Boards of Appeal

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

A shocked Battistelli

Summary: Demand of 35% increases from the boards serves to show that Battistelli now does to the ‘independent’ judges what he already did to examiners at the Office

EARLIER this month we wrote about the Haar party which chairs refuse to attend. Team Battistelli had the ‘brilliant’ idea of inviting EPO chairs to actually celebrate Battistelli’s attack on the EPC. How tactless a move.

“So basically, Battistelli is now doing to the boards the same thing he did to examiners: working them to death.”“As far as I can tell,” one source tells us, “there are still only two takers for [the] meet up [and] In other news, Battistelli ‘junior’ is demanding 35% increases from the boards on the basis of “concentrating on essentials”.

Battistelli ‘junior’ is “[t]he independent other president. Holder of secret delegated powers.”

So basically, Battistelli is now doing to the boards the same thing he did to examiners: working them to death. Neither patent nor service quality can be assured this way.

“It often seems like Battistelli wants the EPO to have no staff anymore.”How independent and impartial they must feel…

This has gotten as ridiculous as it can get. But also predictable. It often seems like Battistelli wants the EPO to have no staff anymore. Maybe he wants everyone replaced by useless computer programs and fresh graduates with only enough knowledge to help operate these. Or maybe Battistelli wants to just outsource most of the work to yet another French company. Or some French court (UPC in Paris).

The Lobbyists Are Trying to Subvert US Law in Favour of Patent Predators

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 4:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Kappos
Source: David Kappos 2013 interview

Kappos PAI
Kappos-led lobbying group

Summary: Mingorance, Kappos, Underweiser and other lobbyists for the software patents agenda (paid by firms like Microsoft and IBM) keep trying to undo progress, notably the bans on software patents

The patent trolls’ (or sharks’) lobby is at it again. Thankfully, owing to reports from their fan media and sometimes their own Web sites, we are able to see what they are up to.

Francisco Mingorance, a rather evil and deceitful person from Microsoft front groups like the BSA and now IP Europe, is trying to force software patents upon Europe using buzzwords like 5G and IoT. We wrote about it last month. Found via their tweet was this press release which quotes Mingorance as saying: “We wholeheartedly welcome this signal from the DOJ that they will prioritise the safeguarding of longstanding FRAND principles against recent coordinated action of some implementers. In Europe, a decision to abandon this Communication – or to bring it back into line with its initially stated goals – can protect innovation, R&D investment, high-tech jobs and European leadership in 5G and IoT open standards.”

Nonsense. Exactly the opposite is true, as actual practitioners in this area would gladly tell (if the media bothered asking them; it prefers to print lobbyists’ words). These patent thickets actively suppress innovation and breed monopoly. Why isn’t the mainstream media talking about it? The downside of patent lobbying and propaganda sites (like the above) is that they push agenda; the upside is, they inadvertently reveal who’s behind it.

Days ago we found out that David Kappos too is at it again. A bunch of patent bullies, including this IBM-paid lobbyist and former IBM employee, were lying to an audience. To quote the event’s organisers: “Last #IPDF17 panel of day on patent quality Kappos, Judge Michel, John Mulgrew @Uber, Marian Underweiser @IBM & A. Fahrenkrog @RobinsKaplan” (stacked panel).

“At the #patent quality panel at #IPDF17,” said another tweet, “Marian Underweiser @IBM points out that “the subject matter [ #Alice] discussion undercuts the purpose of the patent system.””

Remember Marian Underweiser? IBM appointed her to crush Alice. We wrote about her several times earlier this year and her agenda remains very clear; patent bully IBM has paid Underweiser for lobbying. Just like it pays Kappos for his connections and clout at the USPTO. IBM is very evil when it comes to software patents. Surprisingly even, especially considering the work it did for GNU/Linux.

Relaying messages from another event, IAM quoted or paraphrased: “Shore – we’re living in a banana republic. Silicon Valley owns Congress and the executive branch. The only difference between us and Honduras in early C20th is that instead of bananas it’s smartphones and software #IPDF17″

The law ‘industry’ wants to dominate everything, so when Silicon Valley warps the law in favour of technology Shore and others get upset. When technology sets law it bothers the parasites. They’re accustomed to making money by doing (or making) nothing.

A few days ago IAM again quoted Kappos. The patent trolls’ lobby wants lots of lawsuits and it now mistakes pro-aggression for “pro-innovator”. Here is what IAM wrote:

Delrahim’s comments have already made an impact with senior members of the IP community. Former USPTO Director David Kappos, who was in the audience, described it as “the most important DOJ antitrust speech on IP during my decades practising law”. He added that: “It marks a major pro-IP and pro-innovator shift in DOJ antitrust policy.”

For the USPTO to improve its reputation it ought to ensure former officials don’t become lobbyists (as they do). It’s just embarrassing and it reinforces the perception that laws are up for sale.

Kappos is one among the alarmists who keep bringing up “China!” in order to scare legislators, urging them to act or else “China is coming” (similar to the “Russia!” hysteria in politics). China has become litigation central (not innovation central), which invites patent trolls rather than practising companies. What does the US want or need? More jobs or more lawsuits?

Days ago we saw Managing IP hailing China (litigation) and IAM spreading the myth that the success of Huawei is owing to patents rather than in spite of them. To quote IAM: “China is a crucial market for SEP owners – with a large amount of standards implementation and a litigation system that is becoming more favourable to patent holders – and that is borne out in the level of filing there. About 18% of global 4G-LTE patents are Chinese rights – putting the country second only to the United States and just ahead of the EPO.”

See what we said above about Mingorance. These patents are counter-productive and harmful to actual innovation. Moreover, China has developed some of its proprietary/national standards in several areas (technical domains). What causes a large surge in Chinese patents (at SIPO more so than overseas) is the lowered bar, which now officially permits software patents too. It makes China one of the few countries (if not only country) in the world to move in such a direction.

Thailand, according to this new overview from Ananda’s Benjapol Kongsombut, does not allow software patents (similar to Korea and maybe even Japan to a lesser degree). “Computer programs or software cannot be patented under Sections 9,” Kongsombut explains. Here is the entire relevant part:

To what extent can inventions covering software be patented?

Computer programs or software cannot be patented under Sections 9 and 65decies of the Patent Act. However, inventions relating to devices or machines controlled by software, or processes or algorithms for controlling devices or computers, may be patentable. Software-related inventions involving only computer source code cannot be patented but may be protected as a copyrighted literary work or a trade secret.

To what extent can inventions covering business methods be patented?

A business method cannot be patented as it is not considered to be an invention as defined in Section 3 of the Patent Act. However, a business method carried out by a computer can be considered as a software-related invention that may be patentable.

To what extent can inventions relating to stem cells be patented?

Stem cells are considered to be an animal extract, which is a non-patentable subject matter under Section 9 of the Patent Act. However, processes for the production or use of stem cells may be patentable.

What the likes of Mingorance, Kappos, and Underweiser are paid to promote is software patents in the US. We already know why: Alice and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which we’ll deal with in our next post.

Patent Trolls Based in East Texas Are Affected Very Critically by TC Heartland

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 3:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Of relevance and recent: US Patent Trolls Are Leaving and the Eastern District of Texas Sees Patent Cases Falling by More Than Half

Argument analysis: Justices hear horror stories about venue for patent litigation
Reference: Argument analysis: Justices hear horror stories about venue for patent litigation

Summary: The latest situation in Texas (United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in particular), which according to new analyses is the target of legal scrutiny for the ‘loopholes’ it provided to patent trolls in search of easy legal battles

According to Lex Machina, which is an invaluable service as we said yesterday, there may be a massive patent troll in the making. Several days ago the patent trolls’ lobby said that Alan Loudermilk is behind the entity named 511 Technologies, based in Marshall, Texas (where many of the trolls reside). It’s not actually a company, even if it has the word “Technologies” in its name (we recently wrote about other trolls that do this). Loudermilk, who founded this troll, has since then created what looks like another troll, Ginocchio Properties LLC, based in the same place. Will TC Heartland help squash these? We certainly hope so, but in the meantime, we have this to worry about:

Among the segments Maxell no longer operates in is magnetic tape cartridges. Once one of the most recognisable products under the Maxell brand, the company shuttered the division in 2014. That decision left only Fujifilm and Sony competing in the market, and according to USPTO assignments records from September, it is the former company that has benefitted patent-wise from its erstwhile rival’s withdrawal. Maxell transferred 53 US patents related to magnetic tapes to Fujifilm in two separate assignments on 1st September. Notably, Fujifilm is locked in a litigation fight with Sony over that same technology. As this blog detailed last week, the two sides are currently contesting an ITC investigation that could have huge implications for the availability of SEP injunctions in that venue going forward.

[...]

Loudermilk’s most recent venture is 511 Technologies, Inc, which filed 11 patent suits over the past two years against companies including Huawei, Qualcomm and Microsoft, all of which have resulted in either a voluntary or stipulated dismissal, according to Lex Machina. Previously, he was CEO of Solid State Storage Solutions, Inc, which acquired a portfolio of patents from Japan’s Renesas and asserted them against eight companies in 2011 and 2012 before transferring a portion of them to Acacia two years ago.

We wrote a lot about Acacia over the years. It is connected to Microsoft and it has repeatedly attacked GNU/Linux, which makes this troll particularly interesting to us. Another firm of interest is Rovi, which is connected to another Microsoft patent troll, Intellectual Ventures. According to news from four days ago, the ITC was called to potentially ban products. “Rovi asked the ITC to investigate the importation of certain digital video receivers and hardware and software components that use the inventions claimed in its patents,” said the report. “Both complaints were filed by Rovi right before it agreed to acquire TiVo…”

Going back to Texas, there are serious and perfectly relevant questions about its fate (and the fate of patent trolls that are based/stationed there, at least on paper). “Texas law of unfair competition by misappropriation improperly extends to offer patent and copyright protections,” Patently-O said a few days ago. This could get serious because it deviates from the national law:

On the patent side, the court cited to Bonito Boats, Inc. v. Thunder Craft Boats, Inc., 489 U.S. 141 (1989) statements that state laws that offer “substantially similar” protections are preempted by federal patent law and thus not enforceable.

As with copyright law, the appellate panel here suggested that torts that require “deceit” or “improper means” will be acceptable, but laws that focus simply on protecting the investment in product development and marketing will be preempted.

Of even greater interest, however, is TC Heartland, which is only months old and has already caused a collapse in litigation at Texas. The US will certainly be tougher on patent trolls after TC Heartland got told off at the highest level. This positive development (which is good for US technology companies) was mentioned by Dennis Crouch a few days ago when he said:

Regardless of this technicality, the rule appears now that district courts should be considering and granting improper venue decisions moving forward.

“Federal Circuit says TC Heartland changed the law,” heralded another site of patent maximalists. The USPTO refuses to tackle patent trolls (no financial incentive to do so), but judges certainly will take on the issue and it’s pleasing to see. Quoting Managing IP:

The Federal Circuit has granted Micron’s mandamus petition stating: “We conclude that TC Heartland changed the controlling law in the relevant sense: at the time of the initial motion to dismiss, before the Court decided TC Heartland, the venue defense … based on TC Heartland’s interpretation of the venue statute was not ‘available’”

Obviously it’s all known and visible to patent trolls, who prefer to maintain a low profile and extort/blackmail companies behind the scenes (avoiding challenge from judges like the above). Whether trolls get eradicated by a series of rulings depends on Congressional action (or inaction) too. That’s where lobbying comes into play. We’ll deal with that in our next post.

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