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The Patent Trolls’ Lobby, Bristows and IAM Among Others, Downplays Darts-IP/IP2Innovate Report About Rising If Not Soaring Troll Activity in Europe

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 4:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…Because they’re not interested in facts; they actively promote the UPC and patent trolls, which they’re even paid to promote


Summary: Exactly like last year, as soon as IP2Innovate opens its mouth Bristows and IAM go into “attack dog” mode and promote the UPC, deny the existence or seriousness of patent trolls, and promote their nefarious, trolls-funded agenda

Déjà vu today. We saw that last year in spring. Lobbyists of patent trolls come out of the woodwork and relentlessly attack those who dare point out that today’s EPO gives rise to patent trolls and UPC would further exacerbate this problem. But let’s structure what happened yesterday and today chronologically, having researched this the entire day. We’ll leave this for readers to decide on, e.g. who is right and who is wrong.

It has long been known that low-quality patents granted by the USPTO were partly responsible for a trolls epidemic in the United States. Almost nobody would deny this, not even patent extremists; they just use different words for patent trolls. The same thing is happening in China right now because patent scope is broadened and examination weakened. It’s an avalanche of low-quality patents.

“The same thing is happening in China right now because patent scope is broadened and examination weakened. It’s an avalanche of low-quality patents.”This brings us to the EPO. We last wrote about decline of patent quality just earlier today, based on a two-page report/bulletin from EPO insiders. Anyone still in denial about the decline of European Patents’ (EPs) quality is either deluded or called Benoît Battistelli (he probably lies to himself about it, maybe he actually believes his own lies).

We’ve long warned (long before we covered EPO scandals) about low-quality EPs ushering in patent trolls, more so if the UPC ever becomes a reality. We weren’t alone. Others were saying the exact same thing. It’s so evident that in order to deny this one has to be both greedy and financially-motivated (Bristows comes to mind).

Patent trolls are already soaring in Germany. This was measured last year. Patent trolls’ representatives make a load of money out of it and they want to make it worse with ‘unitary’ effect (more defendants, higher damages and so on). The UPC is a disaster in the making, but thankfully it has been stopped. IP2Innovate already spoke out against it, echoing many of the same arguments we had made for years.

“Patent trolls are already soaring in Germany. This was measured last year. Patent trolls’ representatives make a load of money out of it and they want to make it worse with ‘unitary’ effect (more defendants, higher damages and so on).”Remember that IP2Innovate isn’t some ‘commie’ thing or some ‘radical’ group; it’s an actual representative of many companies, both large and small. It’s akin to CCIA and HTIA in terms of the pattern of membership. Many are technology firms. They actually create and innovate things. They’re not litigators.

This brings us to the study, which was carried out by another firm, probably at the behest of IP2Innovate. The study speaks of PAE [sic] activity in Europe. This is a form of troll (the other form typically being NPE or something the trolls’ lobby calls PIPCO if large enough to have gone public).

“The study speaks of PAE [sic] activity in Europe. This is a form of troll (the other form typically being NPE or something the trolls’ lobby calls PIPCO if large enough to have gone public).”“The reports shows there is growing activity of patent trolls in Europe,” told us a source associated with the study, “with a 20% year-on-year jump over the last ten years. US-based patent trolls initiated 60% of all lawsuits targeting European companies. 25% of victims are European SMEs. Furthermore, here is the link to our latest press release.”

I was about to cover this irrespective of their reach-out. From the press release:

European innovation is increasingly under attack from patent assertion entities (PAEs) and particularly from US-based PAEs who now file the majority of PAE suits in Europe. This is the conclusion evident from the information presented by the world’s leading authority in intellectual property case law data, DARTS-IP, to Europe’s lawmakers, regulators and business leaders this evening.

PAEs do not innovate and do not create and sell new products. Instead, they buy up patents and profit from asserting these patents against operating companies. In pursuing this model, PAEs can exploit certain aspects of Europe’s patent legal system to the detriment of Europe’s innovators and the European public.

DARTS-IP’s comprehensive study of the past ten years of available patent litigation data in Europe reveals increasing activity by PAEs, also commonly known as “non- practising entities” (NPEs) or “patent trolls.” There has been a 20% year-on-year jump in PAE litigation. US-based PAEs initiated most of those suits (60%) and targeted applications of information and communication technologies (ICT) (75%). As application of ICT is central to innovation and growth across many industries, the consequences of these attacks will be far-reaching. Most importantly, data shows that it is not just large companies who are affected — almost a quarter of the unique defendants are European SMEs. Germany is the preferred venue, with 20% of all German patent litigation having been brought by PAEs.

“Patent abuse is damaging digital innovation in Europe,” the headline from IP2Innovate said. Dull enough as it is, right? Because it’s nothing but a press release. The response to it was a lot more fascinating than the study because it revealed allegiances and biases. Here is the only press report we’ve seen so far. To quote:

Non-practicing entity (NPE) litigation and enforcement in Europe has increased by an average almost 20 percent year-on-year since 2007, according to a new report from Darts-IP.

The report, NPE Litigation In The EU, which was released yesterday (19 February), claims to provide a “factual overview of NPE related litigation and patent enforcement activities across the EU”.

In 2017, 173 NPE-related actions were recorded by the report, compared to 56 in 2007.

The report noted a spike in the number of cases in 2014, with 146 NPE-related actions that year compared to 90 in the previous year.

So now comes the ugly part. Richard Lloyd, probably the worst of the entire IAM bunch (he’s pro-trolls, the most vocal proponent of software patents etc.) worked an ‘article’ about this, calling it “spin” right there in the headline (wow, spot the hypocrisy) and then distorting the overall message of the study. Typical IAM. Lobbying disguised as ‘journalism’ from trolls denialists who are literally funded by patent trolls. This lobby group now uses articles to smear a study showing trolls’ rise in Europe. This is the kind of headline that will show up in aggregators like Google News (which deems this lobby group to be a news site): “Despite the spin, new report shows NPEs are responsible for a fraction of European patent litigation”

Got that? This is what people will read, based on a trolls-funded lobby group masquerading as IAM Media [sic].

“The response to it was a lot more fascinating than the study because it revealed allegiances and biases.”If that’s not bad enough, watch their tweets (based on the Google TLD, someone who works for IAM from Belgium tweeted these): “IP2Innovate press release here: ip2innovate.eu/wp-content/upl… @IPKat report here: ipkitten.blogspot.be/2018/02/has-eu… Judge for yourselves whether IP2Innovate is painting an entirely accurate picture here. @DartsIp [] The last US IP import Europe needs is the distorted debate about patent litigation that deep pocket corporations with a vested interest in infringement have successfully created. https://twitter.com/iam_magazine/status/965643285816664069 … [] If there are around 1,000 patent cases filed in Germany each year, 20% would be 200. The @DartsIp NPE report says there were 173 suits filed by NPEs in the whole of Europe last year. So how can the #IP2Innovate claim that NPEs file 20% of all cases in Germany be correct? https://twitter.com/BenGrzimek/status/965868605652000768 …”

“It’s called extrapolation,” I told them, “but carry on bashing people who speak out against patent trolls (sponsors of IAM).”

Remember that the IAM company (they call themselves IAM Media) was paid by the EPO’s PR firm and by patent trolls to promote UPC and to muzzle the voice of real SMEs. IAM is basically funded to undermine news, not to spread news. This is why Battistelli loves them so much (he recently wrote an article for them and will soon be their keynote speaker).

Disturbing? To us it is.

“This lobby group now uses articles to smear a study showing trolls’ rise in Europe.”Here is what Benjamin Henrion wrote: “European innovation is increasingly under attack from patent assertion entities (PAEs) and particularly from US-based PAEs who now file the majority of PAE suits in Europe http://www.ip2innovate.eu/patent-abuse-damaging-digital-innovation-europe/ …”

Here is what they themselves wrote in Twitter: “We are pleased to be part of the launch of @DartsIp report today. Hope the new #data will demonstrate the need for greater #transparency and improvements to make Europe’s #patent legal system robust, balanced and flexible.” [] There is an average 20% annual increase in Non-practicing entity #litigation in Europe – David Marques, @DartsIp #patents #BalancedPatents [] US-based #NPEs account for 60% of NPE-related #litigation in the #EU – David Marques of @DartsIp. #patents #BalancedPatents [] Patrick Schmitz sharing @Telekom_group experience with abusive #patent practices by patent assertion entities. #BalancedPatents [] Our Chairman Kevin Prey of @SAP concluding the event: hopefully it’s just the beginning of the discussion about how Europe can promote #innovation by making its #patent legal system fit for our modern era. #BalancedPatents [] We hope that all the stakeholders represented at our event today – #EC, Member States authorities, industry, legal profession and judicial authorities will work together to implement safeguards against abusive #patent practices. #BalancedPatents”

“Remember that the IAM company (they call themselves IAM Media) was paid by the EPO’s PR firm and by patent trolls to promote UPC and to muzzle the voice of real SMEs.”But wait, there’s more.

Lawyers of patent trolls saw it as their duty to confront this study in public (but without disclosure). We’re talking about Bristows, who love posting anonymously these days (because they lack ethics and when they consciously lie they don’t want to be held accountable for these lies).

Watch Bristows’ own site. It’s a shipwreck. Nobody reads it. It is run by incompetent people who hours ago posted a blank test page and neglected to remove it for several hours (in the process revealing weaknesses; it’s like a toy site with physical path being publicly exposed as "D:\inetpub\sites\upcblue\latest-news\test\").

“Lawyers of patent trolls saw it as their duty to confront this study in public (but without disclosure).”This Windows site of Bristows, with its truly bizarre (infinite) RSS feeds, does not want to be seen as attacking IP2Innovate, so obviously, as usual, they’ll just ‘borrow’ some other blogs (with an actual audience) like IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog.

For those in doubt about Bristows’ motivations, the firm is working for trolls. It knows that. For those who wonder why Bristows staff spends endless efforts and money promoting UPC, check out its list of services. It’s all about money and greed. Earlier today Bristows’ Sophie Lawrance, Francion Brooks and Jonathan Ross did a puff piece for the notorious patent troll MPEG-LA. “The creation of the CRISPR patent pool was announced last spring by MPEG LA,” they wrote. It now uses CRISPR patents (which are mostly invalid) to bully everyone who ‘dares’ study genetics. In their own words (just hours ago):

The creation of the CRISPR patent pool was announced last spring by MPEG LA, an organisation well-known for creating patent pools for consumer electronics. Thus far, only the Broad Institute has publically revealed that it has submitted patents for evaluation.

We wrote about this scam of a ‘pool’ several months ago. They’re relying on dodgy patents here, just as they relied on dodgy software patents beforehand. It’s a classic protection racket. The cost of challenging them in a court is just too high.

“And the last time the same sort of study/press release came out (from IP2Innovate) IAM also came out with an attack.”Going back to Bristows, watch what IP Kat posted in Twitter and in its blog. IP Kat did not disclosure that the writer is from Bristows. She’s always promoting software patents, pushing the pro-UPC card, as she/IP Kat did last year (almost exactly the same, in response to IP2Innovate).

And the last time the same sort of study/press release came out (from IP2Innovate) IAM also came out with an attack. Yes, IAM did the same thing back then. At least they’re consistent. Reading between the lines, Bristows — like IAM — alleges that the data is wrong:

However, the data is imperfect. This is only data held by Darts-IP and in many countries information about issued cases which settle early is impossible to maintain. Data and scrutiny of data is important. The lack of fulsome data from EU Member States’ courts is important not just for this study but for analysis of all substantive and procedural IP subsistence, validity, protection and enforcement. As it is in the business of sharing IP decisions from across the world, the IPKat has been banging this drum for near 15 years now – the EU must make it a priority to ensure that all Member States court information and decisions relating to IP are made easily accessible by the public (subject to confidentiality restrictions of course). It is noted that this issue was/is being looked at by the Commission as part of their IP Enforcement consultation.

That’s UPC propaganda right there from Bristows. The author continues to nitpick and downplay the study, doing little but pretending it boils down to drama and false claims (that’s quite hysterical coming from Bristows, best known for its UPC lies that even comments in Kluwer Patent Blog keep debunking — at least the comments which survive their censorship).

“Reading between the lines, Bristows — like IAM — alleges that the data is wrong…”Check out the comments, which are generally better than the posts (shameless lobbing and marketing) at IP Kat, especially after the founder of the blog left. “All of these factors point to the UPC becoming a paradise for NPE litigants,” the following comment said. “Is this really what we want for Europe?”

To quote the whole comment:

This certainly lends weight to the concerns voiced (repeatedly) about possible, negative impacts of the UPC.

It is no surprise that bifurcation in Germany attracts NPE litigants, and that the costs of litigation in the UK (as well as the absence of bifurcation) is off-putting for all but the most confident / determined of NPEs. However, the confirmation that these factors do indeed influence the behaviours of litigants ought to prompt some serious consideration of what behaviours we can expect the UPC to induce in NPE litigants.

My own view is that there are a number of important factors that will almost certainly influence behaviour. These include: the (relatively) low cost of bringing infringement cases at the UPC; the absurdly high cost of raising a defence of invalidity at the UPC; the opportunities for “forum-shopping”, particularly the selection of fora that are inconvenient for defendants; and the opportunities for “gaming” the system with regard to withdrawal of opt-outs (and consequent changes to the law(s) of infringement that will be applied by the court).

All of these factors point to the UPC becoming a paradise for NPE litigants. Is this really what we want for Europe?

Someone then said: “I am sceptical about considering the background of a patentee. To use an analogy from real estate: should it really matter who the owner of a piece of land is when he decides to take action against someone constructing buildings without a permit on his land? A title to a piece of land is a title to a piece of land whether you like it or not.”

“The author continues to nitpick and downplay the study, doing little but pretending it boils down to drama and false claims…”And the response: “Sure, but consider this. If someone is living on that land, and then someone moves in next door and plays loud music every evening (and thereby disrupting the landowner’s quiet enjoyment of the property next door), then the damage being caused is much greater here than the alternative where no one is living on the land.”

The following comment notes the correlation with the EPO’s actions. “With the EPO seemingly granting more and more (clearly) invalid patents,” it said, “and with the current UPC set-up being such a favourable forum for NPE litigants…”

Here is the full comment:

Drawing an analogy with land ownership is not appropriate.

New plots of land cannot be created “at will” by those seeking land. And they most certainly not be created within an existing plot that has a different owner.

Another point is that, for land, there is no official authority that decides whether or not title to the land will be granted, and how big the plot will be.

The latter topic reminds me that there is yet another factor that could drive “antisocial” behaviour in Europe from NPE litigants. That is, if the granting authority does not do its job properly (ie grant new titles inappropriately) then this will encourage abusive litigation based upon invalid rights.

Such abusive litigation has many characteristics in common with protection rackets run by gangsters: “That’s a nice market for your product that you’ve got going there. It would be a real shame if something nasty happened to it, like a court injunction.”

With high costs for launching a defence and no absolute guarantee of a high-quality (ie correct) court decision, how many of those threatened with such abusive litigation do you think would be inclined to pay the litigants to make the issue go away?

It is at least a little reassuring to see that “big” companies have so far been the main targets of NPE litigation in Europe, as they should at least have the option of fighting back (hard) against any “gangsters”. However, if pan-European litigation is made that much cheaper, and the costs for raising an invalidity defence are made that much more expensive, then it is a no-brainer that NPE litigants will inevitably turn their attention to less lucrative but far “softer” targets … such as SMEs.

With the EPO seemingly granting more and more (clearly) invalid patents, and with the current UPC set-up being such a favourable forum for NPE litigants, it is clear what will be in store for us if and when the UPC as currently envisaged ever sees the light of day. I repeat: is this really what we want for Europe?

“That Google News syndicates IAM as though it’s a source of news says a lot about Google itself.”We think it’s important to remind our readers what Bristows and IAM stand for. They’re the worst in Europe when it comes to coverage regarding patent matters because they’re deeply corrupted by money. They pretend to be telling news, but they knowingly spread falsehoods, such as patently 'fake news' about the UPC. That Google News syndicates IAM as though it’s a source of news says a lot about Google itself.

Links 20/2/2018: Mesa 17.3.5, Qt 5.11 Alpha, Absolute 15.0 Beta 4, Sailfish OS 2.1.4 E.A., SuiteCRM 7.10

Posted in News Roundup at 1:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source intelligent solutions to transform work, businesses

    New trends are opening up new opportunities and new ways to deal with IT, according to Thomas di Giacomo, SUSE CTO, speaking at the SUSE executive roundtable, which the open source company hosted in partnership with ITWeb last week.

    There are many new and innovative technologies that can help IT leaders meet these new demands, he added. Open source based technologies have become the driving force behind most of the technologically disruptive innovations, said Di Giacomo.

    “It is pretty clear that all the new innovation is coming from open source.

    “For example, open source progress with Linux and virtualisation a couple of decades ago, cloud in the last 10 years, and more recently, containers for applications, software-defined infrastructure, and platform-as-a-service, empowering DevOps principles.”

    However, these trends also present some new challenges, said Di Giacomo. Compared to a couple of decades ago, the number of open source projects today has skyrocketed – from hundreds in the different foundations like the Linux Foundation, Apache, Eclipse and others, to millions of projects on Github.

  • Choosing project names: 4 key considerations

    Working on a new open source project, you’re focused on the code—getting that great new idea released so you can share it with the world. And you’ll want to attract new contributors, so you need a terrific name for your project.

    We’ve all read guides for creating names, but how do you go about choosing the right one? Keeping that cool science fiction reference you’re using internally might feel fun, but it won’t mean much to new users you’re trying to attract. A better approach is to choose a name that’s memorable to new users and developers searching for your project.

    Names set expectations. Your project’s name should showcase its functionality in the ecosystem and explain to users what your story is. In the crowded open source software world, it’s important not to get entangled with other projects out there. Taking a little extra time now, before sending out that big announcement, will pay off later.

  • Events

    • FOSDEM 2018 Community DevRoom Recap: Simon Phipps & Rich Sands

      It’s been a few weeks now since FOSDEM and if you didn’t have a chance to attend or watch the livestream of the FOSDEM 2018 Community DevRoom, Leslie my co-chair, and I are doing a round up summary on posts on each of the talks to bring you the video and the highlights of each presentation. You can read the preview post of Rich Sands and Simon Phipps pre FOSDEM blog post here.

    • Scheduling Voxxed Days Zurich 2018 with OptaPlanner

      My name is Mario Fusco and I’m honored to be the Program Committee Lead of Voxxed Days Zurich for the third year in a row. Reading, evaluating, discussing, and selecting from the 200+ proposals that arrive every year is a long and challenging process. I must admit, I largely underestimated the task the first year I started doing it. It’s necessary to evaluate not only the quality of every submission, but also how they fit together. In the end, the worst part is having to reject so many incredible proposals because there are a limited number of slots.

      However, once all the talks have been selected and all the approval and rejection emails have been sent, the process is still not complete. Now it is time to take all the accepted talks and schedule the actual program. Even for a moderate sized event like Voxxed Days Zurich (the conference lasts only one day and we have four parallel tracks), this is not a trivial task. There are many constraints and nice-to-haves that you may need to consider. For example, some speakers will arrive late in the morning or will have to leave early in the afternoon. Some talks require different room capacities. Two talks belonging to the same track must not be scheduled at the same time. There are many more variables to this process.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • 20 Big Ideas to Connect the Unconnected

        Last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Mozilla announced the Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) challenges: $2 million in prizes for big ideas to connect the unconnected across the U.S.

        Today, we’re announcing our first set of winners: 20 bright ideas from Detroit, Cleveland, Albuquerque, New York City, and beyond. The winners are building mesh networks, solar-powered Wi-Fi, and network infrastructure that fits inside a single backpack. Winning projects were developed by veteran researchers, enterprising college students, and everyone in-between.

        What do all these projects have in common? They’re affordable, scalable, open-source, and secure.

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CRM

    • How startups and SME’s can leverage open source CRM to increase business

      Prominent Open Source CRM in India:

      – SugarCRM
      Founded in 2004, Sugar CRM has over 7,000 customers and more than half a million users worldwide. Easily one of the largest open sources CRM in the world, SugarCRM offers versatile functionalities including sales-force automation, marketing campaigns, customer support, collaboration, Mobile CRM, Social CRM and reporting. While SugarCRM has released no open source editions since early 2014, its earlier community versions continued to inspire other open source software, namely Suite CRM, Vtiger CRM and SarvCRM.

      – SuiteCRM
      Suite CRM is a popular fork of SugarCRM and was launched as the latest version of the SugarCRM in October 2013. In a short period of its existence, it has won several awards and has been adopted by reputed clientele, including the Govt. of UK’s National Health Scheme (NHS) program. Suite CRM is an enterprise-class open source alternative to proprietary alternatives and offers a series of extension for both free and paid-for enhancements. Prominent additional modules available with SuiteCRM include Teams security, Google Maps, Outlook Plugin, Products, Contracts, Invoices, PDF Templates, workflow, reporting and Responsive Theme.

    • SuiteCRM 7.10 released

      SalesAgility, the creators and maintainers of SuiteCRM, are excited to announce a new major release of the world’s most popular open source CRM – SuiteCRM 7.10, including highly anticipated new features and many enhancements.

      SuiteCRM is a fully featured, highly flexible, open source CRM, which can be installed on-premise or in the cloud, and allows companies and organisations to have full control over their own customer data. It delivers actionable insights into customers, boosts conversions, helps increase sales, bolsters customer care and streamlines business operations. The CRM is as powerful as Salesforce and Dynamics, but with the unique benefit of being completely open source.

    • SuiteCRM 7.10 released

      SuiteCRM is a fork of the formerly open-source SugarCRM customer relationship management system.

    • SuiteCRM 7.10 Released For Open-Source Customer Relationship Management

      SuiteCRM 7.10 is now available as the latest major feature release to this customer relationship management (CRM) software forked from SugarCRM’s last open-source release.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • A new Maryland bill would allow students to buy textbooks tax-free twice a year [Ed: This is a reaction to open-source (Open Access) books and maybe an attempt to extinguish such state-level initiatives]

        University of Maryland student Kayla Little has wanted to be a doctor since she was 11 years old — but a nationwide rise in textbook prices has proved to be an obstacle to her success.

        “I’ve wanted to go into medicine for the longest [time], and I really don’t want to give that up for books,” said Little, who hopes to go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon for a professional sports team.

      • How the Grateful Dead were a precursor to Creative Commons licensing

        From its founding in 1965, the Grateful Dead was always an unusual band. Rising amidst the counterculture movement in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Grateful Dead’s music had roots in multiple styles and genres but did not lend itself to easy categorization. Was it psychedelic? Folk? Blues? Country? Yes, it was all of these and more. The band frequently performed well-known public domain songs, but they made the songs their own.

        Members of the band could effortlessly play across traditional and diverse styles. At concerts, they often performed songs that sounded familiar at first but grew and evolved across styles and genres. Songs often turned into lengthy jam sessions in which musicians played off one another, discovering new musical motifs and expanding them together.

  • Programming/Development

    • Rust things I miss in C

      Librsvg feels like it is reaching a tipping point, where suddenly it seems like it would be easier to just port some major parts from C to Rust than to just add accessors for them. Also, more and more of the meat of the library is in Rust now.

      I’m switching back and forth a lot between C and Rust these days, and C feels very, very primitive these days.

    • Learning to program is getting harder

      I have written several books that use Python to explain topics like Bayesian Statistics and Digital Signal Processing. Along with the books, I provide code that readers can download from GitHub. In order to work with this code, readers have to know some Python, but that’s not enough. They also need a computer with Python and its supporting libraries, they have to know how to download code from GitHub, and then they have to know how to run the code they downloaded.

      And that’s where a lot of readers get into trouble.


  • “Just an Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost the Internet War

    Del Harvey, Twitter’s resident troll hunter, has a fitting, if unusual, backstory for somebody in charge of policing one of the Internet’s most ungovernable platforms. As a teenager, she spent a summer as a lifeguard at a state mental institution; at 21, she began volunteering for Perverted Justice, a vigilante group that lures pedophiles into online chat rooms and exposes their identities. When the group partnered with NBC in 2004 to launch To Catch a Predator, Harvey posed as a child to help put pedophiles in jail. In 2008, she joined Twitter, then a small status-updating service whose 140-character quirk was based on the amount of alphanumerics that could be contained on a flip-phone screen. She was employee No. 25, and her job was to combat spam accounts.

  • Science

    • Why even a moth’s brain is smarter than an AI

      These differences probably account for why machine-learning systems lag so far behind natural ones in some aspects of performance. Insects, for example, can recognize odors after just a handful of exposures. Machines, on the other hand, need huge training data sets to learn. Computer scientists hope that understanding more about natural forms of learning will help them close the gap.

      Enter Charles Delahunt and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle, who have created an artificial neural network that mimics the structure and behavior of the olfactory learning system in Manduca sexta moths. They say their system provides some important insights into the way natural networks learn, with potential implications for machines.

    • Can’t get new lungs? Try refurbished ones instead.

      Harald Ott, a surgeon at Harvard Medical School, thinks that his lab’s unusual methods might someday solve the organ- transplant crisis. On average, 20 people in the United States die every day awaiting donor organs for transplant, according to the American Transplant Foundation. If Ott’s idea works, it could one day eliminate the need for an organ waiting list.

    • Computers aid discovery of new, inexpensive material to make LEDs with high color quality

      A team led by engineers at the University of California San Diego has used data mining and computational tools to discover a new phosphor material for white LEDs that is inexpensive and easy to make. Researchers built prototype white LED light bulbs using the new phosphor. The prototypes exhibited better color quality than many commercial LEDs currently on the market.

    • Pattern formation—the paradoxical role of turbulence

      The formation of self-organizing molecular patterns in cells is a critical component of many biological processes. Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have proposed a new theory to explain how such patterns emerge in complex natural systems.

      Many biological processes are crucially dependent on the formation of ordered distributions of specific molecules within cells. These patterns are self-organizing structures that evolve in a predictable fashion in time and space. Perhaps the best known example of intracellular protein patterning is the molecular machinery that orchestrates the regular segregation of complete chromosome sets to the two daughter cells during cell division.

    • Ocean array alters view of Atlantic ‘conveyor belt’

      Oceanographers have put a stethoscope on the coursing circulatory system of the Atlantic Ocean, and they have found a skittish pulse that’s surprisingly strong in the waters east of Greenland—data that should improve climate models.

      The powerful currents in the Atlantic, formally known as the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), are a major engine in Earth’s climate. The AMOC’s shallower limbs—which include the Gulf Stream—transport warm water from the tropics northward, warming Western Europe. In the north, the waters cool and sink, forming deeper limbs that transport the cold water back south—and sequester anthropogenic carbon in the process. This overturning is why the AMOC is sometimes called the Atlantic conveyor belt.

  • Hardware

    • Qualcomm raises bid for NXP to about $43.22B

      Qualcomm is raising its takeover bid for NXP Semiconductors by nearly 16 percent to about $43.22 billion, citing in part NXP’s strong results since the companies first announced their merger in October 2016.

      The move announced Tuesday comes as Qualcomm itself is in the crosshairs of Broadcom Ltd., which earlier this month raised its own cash and stock bid for Qualcomm to $121 billion.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Woman billed $17,850 for dodgy pee test. Alarmed experts say she’s not alone

      In 2015, a college student in Texas named Elizabeth Moreno had back surgery to correct a painful spinal abnormality. The procedure was a success, and her surgeon followed it with just a short-term prescription for the opioid painkiller hydrocodone to ease a speedy recovery. Then came a “routine” urine drug test, ostensibly to ensure she didn’t abuse the powerful drug.

      A year later, she got the bill for that test. It was $17,850.

    • Breakthrough as scientists grow sheep embryos containing human cells

      Growing human organs inside other animals has taken another step away from science-fiction, with researchers announcing they have grown sheep embryos containing human cells.

      Scientists say growing human organs inside animals could not only increase supply, but also offer the possibility of genetically tailoring the organs to be compatible with the immune system of the patient receiving them, by using the patient’s own cells in the procedure, removing the possibility of rejection.

  • Security

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Warning after Assange fans targeted MP for retweets by Wikileaks

      POLITICIANS have been urged to show more caution on social media after evidence emerged that Wikileaks supporters were encouraged to use an SNP MP to spread their message on Twitter.

      Followers of Julian Assange were told to try and persuade Paul Monaghan to retweet content as part of a wider campaign to use parliamentarians to amplify their views.

    • Denis’s Dreaming: Julian Assange And His Doppelganger

      The ubiquitous US empire, I realized, had become an omnipresent force capable of vacuuming up and silencing all who dared question the activities of a system promulgating political chicanery… and it doesn’t approve of unauthorized disclosure, as the Julian Assange case demonstrates. Particularly as the covert activities of the ever-expanding American Empire – criminal by any measure – have become ever more rabid and rancid in its’ quest for full spectrum dominance.

      Fat chance that the masters of the universe would give a fig about the UN vote – pigs might fly I thought – recalling that the UN findings reflected the injustice of a system that hounded a man whose only crime was speaking truth to power. As I exited Hans Crescent, I felt queasy upon realising that it’s the ‘poodles’ – in this case the British variety – who sustain the status quo. When I arrived at my office I felt somewhat dejected, and closing the door on the outside world, sat myself down at my desk and said aloud to nobody in particular, “compliance is the flip side of expediency”.

      As morning turned to afternoon, I continued to reflect on the life of Julian Assange. Here was a man who was in possession of 250,000 diplomatic cables which shone an uncomfortable spotlight on US foreign policy. He published material documenting extrajudicial killings in Kenya, a report on toxic waste dumping on the Ivory Coast and Guantanamo Bay detention camp procedures and material involving large banks such as Kaupthing and Julies Baer. He also revealed the ugly truth of crimes committed by US forces in Iraq and the West’s role in the destabilization of Ukraine in 2014 plus the destruction of Libya, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    • Alleged Trump-Assange Backchannel: ‘There Was No Backchannel’

      One of the most curious episodes of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is also one of its most intriguing: Did Roger Stone—the eccentric informal Trump adviser—have backchannel communications with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange?

    • How Trump took advantage of Russian interference: Amplifying Wikileaks
    • Razer: journalism is not a crime! Except, you know, when WikiLeaks does it.

      I know you guys remember the detention of journalist Peter Greste, held with Al Jazeera colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahm in Cairo from December 2013. I remember, but perhaps not as well as you. I didn’t know the guy’s name before he was arrested charges of spreading “false news”. This was my fault, and not that of the Australian who had offered the Anglophone world an understanding of a coup that powers in the West would not call a coup. I was dumped that year, so any affairs more foreign than the one the ex was enjoying in Balwyn North were of limited concern.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Alaska’s Bering Sea Lost a Third of Its Ice in Just 8 Days

      In just eight days in mid-February, nearly a third of the sea ice covering the Bering Sea off Alaska’s west coast disappeared. That kind of ice loss and the changing climate as the planet warms is affecting the lives of the people who live along the coast.

      At a time when the sea ice should be growing toward its maximum extent for the year, it’s shrinking instead—the area of the Bering Sea covered by ice is now 60 percent below its average from 1981-2010.

      “[Bering sea ice] is in a league by itself at this point,” said Richard Thoman, the climate science and services manager for the National Weather Service Alaska region. “And looking at the weather over the next week, this value isn’t going to go up significantly. It’s going to go down.”

    • China’s polar ambitions cause anxiety

      Chinese tourists going abroad must be used to it by now – the lists of dos and don’ts to prevent them from tarnishing their country’s image.

      “Do not spit phlegm or gum” and “don’t take a long time using public toilets” are just two of the exhortations in a 2013 pamphlet from the National Tourism Administration.

    • The carbon-capture era may finally be starting

      The budget bill that President Donald Trump signed into law earlier this month provides a huge incentive for capturing and storing carbon emissions.

      Energy researchers who have crunched the numbers in the days since have concluded that on many projects the boosted tax credit could finally tip the scales for a technology that’s long proved far too expensive.

  • Finance

    • Working remotely, 4 years in

      It worked out. It obviously hasn’t always been 100% perfect in every way, but working remotely has been a great career move for me. I’ve learned a ton from my coworkers and have been able to do some really cool projects that I’m proud of. So here are some thoughts about what I think has made it work for me.

    • “Blockchain” Stocks Completely Disintegrate

      I’ve never seen a sector skyrocket and totally collapse this fast – in four months – as these newfangled “blockchain stocks.” Now they’re surrounded by debris and revelations of scams. These fly-by-night or near-failure outfits used the hype of “blockchain” and the whole media razzmatazz about cryptocurrencies to manipulate up their stocks, sometimes by several thousand percent in a matter of days.

    • Sears brand name deteriorates in value as sales suffer

      If Sears fails to execute a turnaround and ends up in bankruptcy, the company’s storied brand name could yet live on.

      But as the company slowly descends deeper and deeper into red ink, the value of the company’s brand is also suffering.


      The nearly half-a-billion-dollar writedown underscores the severity of the company’s financial crisis. Although President Trump’s tax cut likely carried the Sears to a fourth-quarter profit, that was a one-time benefit that won’t solve the company’s ongoing issues.

    • Trump administration recommends steep tariffs on steel and aluminum

      The Commerce Department is recommending steep tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

      The suggested tariffs, offered by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in the name of national security, are the latest indication that President Trump’s trade talk is turning from bark to bite. They also raise the risk of a trade war with China and other nations.

      Ross suggested three options for Trump — impose across-the-board tariffs on steel and aluminum, target select countries with even higher tariffs, or limit the total steel and aluminum coming into the United States.

    • Trump Contemplates Sanctions Against USA

      Think of it. If you slap on a tariff and importation instantly slows, it may take years to build new factories to take up the slack. Essentially, USA will be sanctioning itself. The tariffs won’t hurt China in the least. The world is hungry for its products and if USA ships fewer products made of aluminium and steel, China’s markets increase. So be it. USA, you reap what you sow. Trump adds this to the long list of stupid/crazy things he says and does.

    • Sorry, Brendan O’Neill, but we won’t be no-platformed on Brexit

      If you read Brendan O’Neill’s Coffee House article on Our Future, Our Choice! OFOC! – the campaign group of which I am co-president – you are left with the impression that we are a bunch of young fascists seeking a teenocracy. Brendan seems to believe that Britain’s youth see themselves as Nietzsche’s young warriors, and want to push out the ‘old men’. The ‘cult of youth’ wants to round up the walking-stick brigade, the village church congregations, the ageing Brexiteer army and send them where they belong: ‘peaceful’ correction camps.

      This is ludicrous. I wholeheartedly believe in ‘one person, one vote’. It goes without saying that we at OFOC! do not want to ‘dehumanise the old’. The concerns of the young should not override the concerns of the old. We all have an equal say. Brendan mistakenly assumes that we are making some grand philosophical point; that we are busy devising a voting system which would give a full vote to a healthy eighteen-year-old, and 0.4 of a vote to an 88-year-old on their deathbed. We are not. We are making a pragmatic argument rather than a philosophical one. Brexit is a national project which will take at least over half a decade to complete. In that time, according to demographic shifts alone, it will have lost its mandate. The British people will then clearly be inheriting a national project a majority didn’t ask for, and would rather not have.

    • Alibaba, Tencent rally troops amid $10 billion retail battle

      China’s tech giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK), worth a combined $1 trillion, are on a retail investment binge, forcing merchants to choose sides amid a battle for shoppers’ digital wallets.

      Since the start of last year, the two companies have between them spent more than $10 billion on retail-focused deals, boosting their reach online and in brick-and-mortar stores.

    • Mutually Assured Contempt at 2018 Munich Security Conference

      Last year the biggest name in Munich was Chinese President Xi, who did not disappoint and stole the show by his robust defense of free trade, global cooperation to combat climate change and other leading issues of the day from which Donald Trump’s America seemed to be retreating. This year there was no one leader who commanded the attention of the audience and media. What special meaning the gathering had could be found in the Report of the organizers, which highlights the issues and guided the discussion in the various sessions over three days.

    • Irish Border issue is a legitimate threat to the Brexit talks

      One senior EU official is very pessimistic. The impasse over legally copperfastening the UK’s no-hard-Border commitment could shortly, single-handedly, bring the Brexit talks process to a crashing halt, the source warns.
      Could the Border issue be the rock on which the negotiations founder, propelling the UK into a no-deal departure?
      It’s an apocalyptic view not universally shared in Brussels but, as my colleague Pat Leahy reported recently, Dublin is also increasingly gloomy. “The Government fears that patience with the UK is running out in EU capitals.”
      It expects difficulties translating December’s guarantees on the Border into a legally binding agreement.

    • The bitcoin patent – only a matter of time?

      Given that no person (or group) has credibly claimed authorship of the 2008 Nakamoto paper or the bitcoin transaction method it describes, not surprisingly, no patent based on that original work has appeared.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump and Facebook executive Rob Goldman’s tweets mislead about Russia’s election interference
    • Trump cites Facebook exec’s comments downplaying Russian ad influence on election

      Trump was citing Goldman’s own Twitter dump over the past week, responding to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of 13 Russian citizens charged with interfering in the presidential election.

    • Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

      Our democracy is in serious danger.

      President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.

      That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.

    • San Juan Mayor Calls for End to Puerto Rico’s Colonial Status Amid Slow Hurricane Maria Recovery

      Five months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, swaths of the island still have no electricity, while food and water supplies have been slow to arrive. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA, has been hit by a series of scandals, after it was revealed that only a fraction of the 30 million meals slated to be sent to the island after Hurricane Maria was actually delivered. FEMA approved a $156 million contract for a one-woman company to deliver the 30 million meals. But in the end, FEMA canceled the contract after she delivered only 50,000 meals, in what FEMA called a logistical nightmare. This came after FEMA gave more than $30 million in contracts to a newly created Florida company which failed to deliver a single tarp to Puerto Rico. For more, we speak with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.

    • Nunes: FBI and DOJ Perps Could Be Put on Trial

      Throwing down the gauntlet on alleged abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the Department of Justice and the FBI, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stated that there could be legal consequences for officials who may have misled the FISA court. “If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial,” he said. “The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created.”


      This was not supposed to happen. Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in, remember? Back when the FISA surveillance warrant of Page was obtained, just weeks before the November 2016 election, there seemed to be no need to hide tracks, because, even if these extracurricular activities were discovered, the perps would have looked forward to award certificates rather than legal problems under a Trump presidency.

      Thus, the knives will be coming out. Mostly because the mainstream media will make a major effort – together with Schiff-mates in the Democratic Party – to marginalize Nunes, those who find themselves in jeopardy can be expected to push back strongly.

    • Ignorance and Prejudice in Laura Ingraham’s Tiff With LeBron James

      Next came a clip with James saying: “The number one job in America, the appointed person, is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a f*** about the people.” James then continued his criticism of Trump in a discussion that aired on The Uninterrupted (a media platform founded by James).

      Ingraham clearly didn’t like James’ comments. First, she said: “Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately a lot of kids, and some adults, take these ignorant comments seriously.”

      She then went on to say that getting paid millions to play basketball doesn’t mean you can talk politics, and closed with a zinger inviting James and fellow NBA star Kevin Durant, also present in the video, to stick to what they do best – basketball – rather than attempt to provide political commentary: “As someone once said: shut up and dribble.”

    • Trump ‘Blatantly Backs Gerrymandering’ in Call for GOP to Fight New Pennsylvania Maps

      Shortly after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday issued a new congressional map that eliminates the state GOP’s partisan gerrymander, President Donald Trump implored Republicans to challenge the new district lines, arguing that the original map—which the state’s highest court said “clearly” violates the constitution—”was correct.”

    • Mueller Probe Heats Up: 13 Russians Indicted, Ex-Trump Aide to Plead Guilty, Focus on Kushner Grows

      There have been a number of significant developments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration. CNN is reporting Mueller is now investigating Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his attempts to secure financing for his family’s business while working on the president’s transition team. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times is reporting former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates has agreed to plead guilty and testify against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. Under the deal, Gates will plead guilty to money laundering and illegal foreign lobbying. These developments come just days after the Justice Department indicted 13 Russians and three companies in connection with efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election by orchestrating an online propaganda effort to undermine the U.S. election system. We speak to Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. She runs the website EmptyWheel.net.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • China Uses The Same Excuse As This CNN Analyst To Censor Social Media

      With fears of Russia soaring to new heights, a CNN national security analyst is employing a classic argument used by the Chinese government to support censorship, arguing that social media sites should be held accountable for the content their users…

    • The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan, Part 6: Over-Blocking of Legitimate Websites

      As the public concern over the Bell coalition website blocking plan continues to grow (both the Canadian Press and CBC this weekend covered the thousands of interventions at the CRTC), the case against the plan resumes with a review of why it is likely that it will lead to over-blocking of legitimate websites. Last week’s post highlighted the probable expansion of the scope of piracy for blocking purposes, a theme that continues today with a look at the many incidents over-blocking of legitimate sites sparked by website blocking (other posts in the series include the state of Canadian copyright, weak evidence on the state of Canadian piracy, the limited impact of piracy, and why the absence of a court order would place Canada at odds with virtually all its allies).

    • Closing windows.. censorship of the internet in Egypt

      Egypt was not familiar with the practice of blocking websites in the past, and therefore the skill of bypassing censorship was not one of the basic skills acquired by Egyptian users during their normal use of the Internet; in contrast, in some Arab countries which have a history of blocking practices, this has resulted in their citizens acquiring skills of how to deal with internet censorship. With the increase in the number of blocked websites in Egypt, social networks were flooded with advice on how one can bypass a block and links to free services that enable users to access blocked websites such as Tor browser, VPN services, and proxy servers. Some blocked websites began to direct their audience through social networks to rely on proxy servers as a free and easy-to-use way to access the content of blocked websites, while many activists who are interested in countering internet censorship have written about how to rely on Tor browser and VPNs to bypass blocking. On the other hand, blocked websites have tried to find easy mechanisms to reach their audiences, such as relying on alternative platforms to publish their material, or relying on services such as AMP [Accelerated Mobiles Pages], one of the most important services provided by Google on which millions of websites depend.

    • Censorship is a slippery slope

      The issue at question is censorship of a book, “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl,” by Tanya Lee Stone, currently in the high school library.

    • Andy Serkis says sex scene rules would be ‘censorship’

      Andy Serkis has said new rules being proposed this week for the filming of sex scenes could stifle creativity and amount to “censorship”.

      Actors’ union Equity is set to discuss new guidance for intimate scenes on film, TV and stage following the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood.

      In the wake of the accusations against the disgraced producer, many actresses have since come forward to detail uncomfortable or unscripted sex scenes they had felt pressured into doing.

    • Sex scene rules would be ‘censorship’ star says

      Hollywood star Andy Serkis says new rules surrounding the filming of sex scenes could amount to “censorship” and stifle creativity.

      Actors’ union Equity is considering bringing in guidance for intimate scenes on stage and screen in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

      The proposals, being discussed this week, could ban actors kissing with tongues and nudity in auditions.


      But speaking on the Bafta awards red carpet on Sunday night, Serkis said of the proposals: “I think that kind of censorship is censorship of creativity.

      “It should be arrived at by the director and the actors involved. They have to find a comfortable way of doing it that will tell the story, because that’s what we are all there to do.

      “It would be a shame if actors become so self-conscious about relating to people. You’re there to use your imagination, to create a role. I don’t think that you should be stopped from telling the story.”

    • The government is fighting ISIS online – but could it censor journalists?

      The government has developed new technology which can “automatically detect terrorist content” online. Propaganda by Daesh (also known as ISIS) could apparently be blocked as soon as it is uploaded.

      The software was created by private company ASI Data Science, with £600,000 of government money.

    • Instagram gives in to Russian censors

      Instagram has removed a video posted by Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny following pressure from the country’s communications regulator.

      The video shows deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko meeting with wealthy Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska on a yacht populated with models and escorts.

    • Shut out: outcry over censorship of Inxeba

      The unthinkable has happened. The Film and Publication Board has banned the multiaward winning film Inxeba: The Wound from being screened in mainstream cinema outlets, restricting its distribution to “designated adult premises”.

      This reclassification of Inxeba by the board’s appeal tribunal in essence means that the film can only be seen at venues where pornographic films are also screened. Therefore, the banning has reduced Inxeba to a pornographic movie. When it opened it had an age restriction of 16 years.

    • Academics Protest China’s Censorship Requests

      James Millward, a historian at Georgetown University and supporter of the petition, also sees withholding peer review as a particularly fitting way to respond to censorship.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Letter to EU Commissioners: Concern over United Kingdom’s proposed ‘immigration exemptions’ from Data Protection Bill

      We, the undersigned, write to express our concern regarding the UK Government’s incorporation of the General Data Protection Regulation into domestic law. Setting aside other areas of concern, the UK’s Data Protection Bill proposes an exemption that would remove individuals’ fundamental right to data protection if it is likely to prejudice “effective immigration control”.

      This proposed exemption (‘the immigration exemptions’) will remove the right of individuals to receive information from a subject access request: a core mechanism in any immigration dispute. Further restrictions would remove the government’s responsibility to process an individual’s data in accordance with the principles of data protection including lawful, fair and transparent processing. The exemption would allow data to be shared across UK government institutions without accountability or opportunity for recourse.

    • Why the Internet of Things is designed for corporations, not consumers

      Let me drive this home: The way that consumer goods are evolving, any implement that can be connected back to the Net will be. Think of a world where the physical location of every single item is logged and known at every single moment. Imagine what that would look like on a three-dimensional grid; it would bring an engineer to religion. A wise man once said that not a sparrow falls without God knowing it. However, in a world where the Net keeps simultaneous watch on a thousand million spinning plates, the Lord will have a peer.

    • Epic Games Uses Private Investigators to Locate Cheaters

      After hiring the services of a private investigations firm, Epic Games discovered they’d sued another minor for alleged cheating. The gaming company asked the court to keep the personal information of the kid under seal. A private investigator was also used to locate another minor defendant in a separate case, who is now risking a default judgment.

    • Google on Collision Course With Movie Biz Over Piracy & Safe Harbor

      Google and one of Australia’s leading movie companies are on a collision course over piracy. Village Roadshow’s outspoken co-chief Graham Burke has twice this month accused Google of facilitating crime and is now inviting the company to sue him. Meanwhile, Google is fighting for new safe harbor protections that Village Roadshow insists should be denied.

    • Facebook ordered to stop tracking web users in Belgium [iophk: "chump change"]

      Last week, a Belgian court ruled that it must stop tracking web users who have not given their consent for this behaviour or face fines of up to €250,000 per day for non-compliance.

    • Facebook will mail out postcards to verify US election advertisers

      This new verification system will be required for all advertising that mentions a specific candidate running for a federal office — such as the presidency. It will be implemented in time for the mid-term elections this coming November.

    • Facebook plans to use U.S. mail to verify IDs of election ad buyers

      Facebook Inc will start using postcards sent by U.S. mail later this year to verify the identities and location of people who want to purchase U.S. election-related advertising on its site, a senior company executive said on Saturday.

    • Swedish Public Healthcare Portal is sending your symptoms to Google

      We can see in the screenshot above that somebody has searched for “embarrassing symptoms”. With the Ghostery plug-in turned off, a call is made to Google Analytics (the ga.js script), to the host ssl.google-analytics.com highlighted in the screenshot above, which sends the data embarrassing symptoms in cleartext (the third highlight) as part of the Referer field.

      This happens even when you’re browsing over HTTPS/SSL, because of how bad this design is.

    • China’s mobile payment volume surges in 2017 to S$16.7 trillion by October

      Mobile payments in China totalled 81 trillion yuan (S$16.7 trillion) for the first 10 months of 2017, nearly 40 per cent more than the whole of the previous year as cashless transactions become increasingly popular in the country, official data showed.

      The 10-month figure represented a 37.8 per cent leap over the 58.8 trillion yuan recorded in 2016, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology cited by Xinhua news agency on Monday.

      China is one of the world’s leading players in mobile or e-payment, which has made it possible for Chinese to buy a pancake at roadside breakfast stalls, order food online, pay credit card bills, and manage stock accounts with just a smartphone.

    • Google files patent for robot that writes your Facebook posts, emails and tweets – but will need FULL access to scan your accounts
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Control your phone. Don’t let it control you

      Here are some simple tips — recommended by Harris — to work around the tricks phone designers use to keep us hooked

    • Passenger in NSA incident questions police use of force

      A 24-year-old Southeast DC man who says he was the passenger in that SUV that crashed at an NSA gate last Wednesday, is questioning police use of force.


      “They was meant to kill us,” said Brown, “You know what I’m saying? This was fatal shots they were shooting. They could’ve killed him. They hit him in his head. If I didn’t grab him and throw him under the wheel, little man would’ve got killed.”

      The “him” is a 17-year-old, reportedly unlicensed driver, Brown says he put behind the wheel because he and another passenger were too tired to drive. After shots were fired, Brown says the teen was grazed in the head with what was believed to be a piece of shrapnel.

    • For Taiwanese, tests of loyalty to China bring trouble in Australian workplaces

      China’s assertiveness has set off alarms in Australia, with officials warning that Beijing has been meddling in Australian politics more than the public realises. But the experiences of Yang and Tuan – along with many others – reveal how Chinese nationalism is also affecting private enterprise and, in some cases, leading to accusations of discrimination.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Broadband Availability Data Derided As Inaccurate, ‘Shameful’

      We’ve long-noted how the government doesn’t do a very good job tracking broadband availability and pricing, in large part because incumbent ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T don’t want them to. ISPs (and the lawmakers paid to love them) whined incessantly about the last FCC’s efforts to raise the standard definition of broadband, given it only highlighted the fact that two-thirds of Americans can’t get “broadband” (25 Mbps) from more than one ISP. ISPs also fight revealing pricing data, which is why our $300 million broadband availability map doesn’t contain any price data whatsoever.

      ISPs have also routinely lobbied against efforts to improve broadband availability mapping, since more clearly highlighting competition and deployment shortcomings might result in somebody actually doing something about it. As a result, government reports on the health of the clearly-dysfunctional U.S. broadband market tend to have a decidedly unrealistic and rosy timbre, which is often worse if the regulators in question are of the revolving door variety (as we’re currently seeing under current agency boss Ajit Pai).

      And while Pai is busy insisting that he’s all about transparency, hard economics, and “closing the digital divide,” his policies repeatedly and consistently undermine those claims.

    • The Fight to Save Net Neutrality Is Heating Up

      The many bids to try to stop the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality rules are gathering momentum.

    • “What’s happening in US on net neutrality and internet freedom?”

      149 Members of the European Parliament signed a letter to the US Congress in disapproval of an action taken by independent telecom regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The letter was organized by Mariete Schaake (D66/ALDE).

    • Wikipedia discontinues its “zero-rating,” will focus on research-driven outreach

      Wikimedia has since seen its zero-rated use dropping off a cliff, which has conclusively settled the argument. Wikimedia has a laudable goal: to incorporate input from all over the world, from all walks of life, into the canonical encyclopedia we all rely upon. But zero rating wasn’t doing that, so, to their eternal credit, Wikimedia is trying something different.

    • Building for the future of Wikimedia with a new approach to partnerships [iophk: "zero-rating"]

      After careful evaluation, the Wikimedia Foundation has decided to discontinue one of its partnership approaches, the Wikipedia Zero program. Wikipedia Zero was created in 2012 to address one barrier to participating in Wikipedia globally: high mobile data costs. Through the program, we partnered with mobile operators to waive mobile data fees for their customers to freely access Wikipedia on mobile devices. Over the course of this year, no additional Wikipedia Zero partnerships will be formed, and the remaining partnerships with mobile operators will expire.

      In the program’s six year tenure, we have partnered with 97 mobile carriers in 72 countries to provide access to Wikipedia to more than 800 million people free of mobile data charges. Since 2016, we have seen a significant drop off in adoption and interest in the program. This may be due, in part, to the rapidly shifting mobile industry, as well as changes in mobile data costs. At this same time, we conducted extensive research [1][2] to better understand the full spectrum of barriers to accessing and participating in Wikipedia.

    • Free ‘Wikipedia Zero’ Is Shutting Down After Serving 800 Million Users

      The non-profit organization Wikimedia Foundation has been running their project called Wikipedia Zero. Started in 2012, it aims to provide free Wikipedia access to users mostly living in developing countries by partnering with carriers in those regions.

      Wikipedia Zero was inspired by Facebook Zero project which also allowed people to access a stripped down version of Facebook for free. Such services are given a zero-rating by the carriers and using them doesn’t count on users’ data bills. The service providers already pay the operation charges.

  • DRM

    • Flight Sim Company Embeds Malware to Steal Pirates’ Passwords

      Flight sim company FlightSimLabs has found itself in trouble after installing malware onto users’ machines as an anti-piracy measure. Code embedded in its A320-X module contained a mechanism for detecting ‘pirate’ serial numbers distributed on The Pirate Bay, which then triggered a process through which the company stole usernames and passwords from users’ web browsers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UKIPO launches trade secrets consultation

      The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) yesterday launched a technical consultation on the EU trade secrets directive and the draft regulations that will implement the directive into UK law.

      The directive obliges EU member states to ensure that victims of trade secret misuse are able to defend their rights in court and seek compensation. Provisions on ensuring trade secrets are kept confidential during legal proceedings are also covered.

    • Sharp and Hisense bury the patent hatchet as they move toward resolving acrimonious brand and commercial dispute

      A conflict over use of the Sharp brand name in the US market for televisions has pitted the Foxconn-owned display maker against Chinese licencee Hisense in IP and commercial lawsuits across multiple jurisdictions since last June. Now, disclosures made by Sharp in the process of withdrawing a patent infringement lawsuit and an ITC investigation suggest that the two parties have agreed to a patent truce as they move towards a broad resolution.

    • French Constitutional Court Rejects Challenge to Image Right in National Monuments

      France’s Constitutional Court has just ruled that a provision in the Code du patrimoine (Heritage Code) involving the use of images of buildings protected as national domains passes constitutional muster.

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Decision Over Tom Brady Tweet “Threatens Millions of Ordinary Internet Users”

        A new decision from a New York federal judge could have a chilling effect on how we use the internet. This past week, Judge Katherine Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that Vox, Time, Yahoo, and Breitbart, among other publications, infringed another’s copyright-protected image of football star Tom Brady simply by embedding another person’s tweet that contained the image on their websites.

        According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world, “if adopted by other courts, this legally and technically misguided decision would threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability.”

      • Canadian Pirate Site Blocks Could Spread to VPNs, Professor Warns

        A group of prominent Canadian ISPs and movie industry companies are determined to bring pirate site blocking efforts to North America. This plan has triggered a fair amount of opposition, including cautioning analyses from law professor Michael Geist, who warns of potential overblocking and fears that VPN services could become the next target.

      • Sweden Considers Six Years in Jail For Online Pirates

        Sweden’s Minister for Justice has received recommendations as to how the country should punish online pirates. Heléne Fritzon received a proposal which would create crimes of gross infringement under both copyright and trademark law, leading to sentences of up to six years in prison. The changes would also ensure that non-physical property, such as domain names, can be seized.

Replacing Patent Sharks/Trolls and the Patent Mafia With ‘Icons’ Like Thomas Edison

Posted in Patents at 5:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dolphins and “innovation” not quite what the optimistic vision of patent systems led to


Summary: The popular perceptions of patents and the sobering reality of what patents (more so nowadays) mean to actual inventors who aren’t associated with global behemoths such as IBM or Siemens

WHEN I was a lot younger I was told that patents were supposed to make life better. When I won some competitions which the media covered it oddly enough chose to frame that as “our youth is getting us lots of patents” (I still have that newspaper headline preserved). But we hadn’t applied for any patents. We had no interest in patents. I was in charge of finances for that particular project, which flew us to Denmark to represent the country. That was a long time ago, almost exactly 20 years ago. Back then I (aged 15-16) knew next to nothing about patents, except by name. I had only done programming for a year or two. I could do electronics (relatively simple circuitry, which our next project revolved around — a gadget to be attached to doors).

“Back then I (aged 15-16) knew next to nothing about patents, except by name.”Anyway, this post isn’t about my school days; the point is, a lot of people know next to nothing about patents. My mother still knows next to nothing about them (she thinks they’re synonymous with “things” that do clever things), so I’ve quit trying to explain that to her. It would probably be interesting to give people a 10-question survey in order to understand just what proportion of the population really understands what patents are and how they work.

Yesterday (February 19th) this press release said that Siemens had joined an LTE patent pool. Good for Siemens. They can afford it. They have the money and the patents. But what about those who aren’t a multi-billion, multi-national, multi-faceted corporation like Siemens? What about that legendary (or mythical) ‘lone wolf’, ‘small guy’, ‘independent’ inventor? That sort of inventor just looks at these ‘pools’ as a rich people’s club, intended for the most part to guard them from competition. It’s like a cartel, to put it quite bluntly…

We’ll never forget how Siemens lobbied for software patents in Europe (something which the EPO practices now). We wrote a lot of articles about that at the time…

“It would probably be interesting to give people a 10-question survey in order to understand just what proportion of the population really understands what patents are and how they work.”Over the past couple of weeks we’ve gathered some other stories about patents. Yesterday, for example, someone glorified Edison again. He said: “February 19, 1878 – Thomas Edison received a US patent (No. 200521) for the phonograph. Edison created many inventions, but his favorite was the phonograph. While working on improvements to telegraph and telephone, Edison found a way to record sound on tinfoil-coated cylinders.”

“It’s wrong to say “created many inventions”,” I told him. “You mean he saw what poor inventors did, then applied for patents on these, eventually suing people like a patent troll over things he did not even invent?”

That negative legacy of Edison is rarely spoken about in the mainstream. They want to keep the legend alive. Victors write history.

Days prior to this someone wrote about “When Patent Royalties Are Not Capital Gains” — a concept that was explained as follows: “A key factor in the Court’s analysis was that Cooper retained the right to terminate the transfer at will. Cooper exercised this right for some of the transferred patents. TLC had returned certain patents to Cooper for no consideration, even though the patents had commercial value. The Court therefore affirmed the Tax Court’s determination that the patent royalties were not entitled to capital gains treatment.”

“That negative legacy of Edison is rarely spoken about in the mainstream. They want to keep the legend alive.”We often see misleading claims about “R&D” and other things that tend to be associated with patents. In reality, so-called ‘royalties’ tend to flow into shareholders’ pockets, not invested in “R&D” (in any shape or form). Spot the overuse of their gross euphemisms (especially in the above article from McDermott Will & Emery’s Blake Wong). They speak of royalties…

To conflate patents with value of an industry is also quite common a thing; it’s pure mythology. Sometimes branding (or brand recognition), too. Sure, it helps to have protectionism and access to market, but that alone does not determine one’s value. Here’s yet another site of lawyers choosing to prop up the nonsense from the Chamber of Commerce. To quote:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center released its 5th annual study that ranks intellectual property systems worldwide. In the Chamber of Commerce’s latest study, the U.S. patent system has dropped to 13th in the world, well behind such diverse countries as Singapore, France, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Italy. See “U.S. Chamber International IP Index” (“2018 Report”) at p. 35 (Category 1: Patents, Related Rights, and Limitations). The U.S. Chamber International IP Index uses 40 discrete indicators covering policy, law, regulation, and enforcement. The Chamber’s stated goal: to determine whether “a given economy’s intellectual property system provide[s] a reliable basis for investment in the innovation and creativity lifecycle.” 2018 Report at p. 1.

What makes this nonsensical is the assumption that the more patents (or patent lawsuits) a nation has, the more investment it will attract. In reality, lawsuits rather than innovation thrive in such nations and this can actively discourage investment, development etc. How many companies would wish to base a new office in the Eastern District of Texas for instance? Unless they’re patent trolls or law firms… to merely have operations in there means to be subjected to ruinous lawsuits, even after TC Heartland.

And on we move to a docket report from CACD, dated a week ago. To quote the outline:

The court granted plaintiff’s motion for monetary sanctions against defendant and its counsel following plaintiff’s successful motion to compel further contention interrogatory responses because defendant’s behavior was not substantially justified.

Oh, good, “monetary sanctions”… and how exactly does that help anyone?

Here’s another very recent docket report. This one is about ‘royalties’ (euphemism with the Crown connotation):

The court granted defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of plaintiff’s damages expert regarding reasonable royalties for three patents because his application of the Rubinstein bargaining model was unreliable.

They’re debating how much money will be passed from one company to another. Spot the overuse of their gross euphemisms again. It’s as if the whole thing is justified using some royal decrees and laws of the land.

Here’s one more docket report. “The court denied plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 for defendant’s unsuccessful motion for summary judgment under the on-sale bar,” it said. When the patent aggressor not only taunts a potentially innocent party but also demands lawyers’ fees be paid (for the aggressor). What has this system turned into?

“It’s as if the whole thing is justified using some royal decrees and laws of the land.”We don’t know the pertinent details of § 285 (created in part by lobbyists), but here’s something about § 257. It says that “a patent owner may file a request for supplemental examination asking the USPTO to consider, reconsider, or correct information…”

As if patents aren’t even an immutable thing. We wrote about this before. Are patents like a wiki now (something you can just edit as you go along)? To quote the whole paragraph:

According to 35 U.S.C. § 257, a patent owner may file a request for supplemental examination asking the USPTO to consider, reconsider, or correct information in a patent or its file history. Within three months, the director will determine whether the information presented in the request raises a substantial new question of patentability. If so, the examiner will order ex parte re-examination in view of the submitted evidence, during which the patent owner can argue for patentability of the claimed invention and/or amend the issued claims. Importantly, anything considered by the USPTO in the request for supplemental examination or the ensuing ex parte re-examination is, by statute, barred as the basis for a later finding of inequitable conduct.

“Today, most patents are awarded some patent term adjustment, but the numbers continue to drop,” Patently-O wrote some days ago.

“Remember what EPO actually came from. It was a repository of information rather than a proper patent office.”Yes, well, maybe all these “adjustments” sort of defeat the purpose of a patent system as we know it. Some EPO insiders have long told us that. They too recognise that a sort of wiki of information might be of better service in the days/era of the Internet. Remember what EPO actually came from. It was a repository of information rather than a proper patent office.

The Patent Trolls’ Lobby is Distorting the Record of CAFC on PTAB

Posted in America, Courtroom, Deception, Patents at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Distortion has become an art form

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), which deals with appeals from PTAB, has been issuing many decisions in favour of § 101, but those aren’t being talked about or emphasised by the patent ‘industry’

THE last post from yesterday, which was about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), showed an increase in activity and likely growing pressure for USPTO examiners to reject software patents (PTAB watches what they do). Clearly, based on recent studies, not enough software patents are being rejected (not yet anyway) as many are pure rubbish and it's still profitable to the Office (the financial incentive perturbs the process).

According to these two examples from yesterday [1, 2], not only PTAB rejects software patents; examiners do too (“PTAB Affirmed Examiner’s [Section] 101 Rejection of Software Claims in a patent application” and “PTAB Affirmed Examiner’s 101 Rejection of Philips Patent Application Claims for Shape Sensing with optical fiber”).

This is generally very encouraging. It’s just a shame that examiners do let software patents slip in sometimes.

Eventually, however, it’s the courts (not PTAB or examiners) that get to decide on things unless there’s an out-of-court settlement. Affirmations of PTAB decisions by CAFC are as recent as days ago, citing Alice/Section 101. This has become the new normal. There are other grounds for dismissal, but this scenario is most common. At lower courts the situation is a tad different, for instance:

The court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss on the ground that plaintiff’s synthetic gem investment product patent encompassed unpatentable subject matter because there were genuine disputes of fact whether an individual defendant was estopped from challenging the patent’s validity.

Putting aside the legalese, what we see here is a case going forward, but it’s not CAFC. CAFC typically (about 80% of the time) accepts PTAB’s veto of a patent (or patents) and closes the case. Sites of patent lawyers still obsess over the exceptions, i.e. the situations in which CAFC expresses a disagreement. For example:

In practice however, it is a rare reference that includes a technical explanation that is so strongly worded to satisfy the teaching away standard. Yet, as the Federal Circuit made clear this week, less pronounced evidence of divergent technical teachings cannot be disregarded by the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB).

Like we said yesterday, patent maximalists now piggyback a decision or two to ‘scandalise’ PTAB. We saw new examples of that less than 24 hours ago. Yesterday afternoon IAM’s Richard Lloyd spread the Berkheimer falsehoods [1, 2, 3, 4] again. He did this in order to promote software patents, calling it “blockbuster” even though it’s not (Managing IP had labeled it the same thing). Here is what he wrote with the words “big boost” in the headline. What a liar. “Blockbuster” is a word that was also repeated by others, along with “boost”. What a pathetic echo chamber. They’re now trying to influence the USPTO’s subject matter eligibility guidance, citing Berkheimer. To quote:

If you want to submit comments on how you think the subject matter eligibility guidance should be revised — particularly in response to the recent Berkheimer v. HP precedential opinion — you can still do so.

But it had no substantial impact and wasn’t really about Section 101 (§ 101), just as Aatrix Software, Inc. v Green Shades wasn’t. We wrote about that too. So did Michael Borella, who said: “Aatrix brought an infringement action against Green Shades in the Middle District of Florida, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,171,615 and 8,984,393. Green Shades filed a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss on the grounds that all asserted claims were not eligible for patent under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

As expected, § 101 does not always work. It’s not applicable to everything. But Aatrix (the above case) isn’t quite what the patent ‘industry’ tries to make of it. They’re just desperate for ‘ammo’.

There has long been an attempt to create a rift between CAFC and PTAB, but it never quite worked. Sites like Watchtroll and Patently-O has been attempting that for years. Here’s Watchtroll writing about a decision that we wrote about last weekend. The patent maximalists attempted to frame it as US government hypocrisy — an allegation we debunked last week.

Here’s Watchtroll’s post about Nordt’s CAFC case and almost pure spam/ad about another CAFC case (it’s all just marketing, but in the form of ‘articles’).

Dennis Crouch wrote about this case as well as another (Xitronix Corp. v KLA-Tencor Corp) — a case which was mentioned a lot only because the decision is precedential [1, 2]. Other CAFC cases that got covered [1, 2] as recently as yesterday [1, 2] were mostly disregarded. They ignore cases or rulings unless they deal with § 101. It’s really the bottom of the barrel. This particular one showed the patent microcosm moaning about the “two-part test from Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank [...] albeit in a nonprecedential case.” To quote the relevant part:

One of the more frustrating aspects of the current judicial patent eligibility framework is the propensity for courts, even the Federal Circuit, to carry out the two-part test from Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l in a conclusory fashion. When this occurs, the claims under review are most likely going to be found non-statutory and invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In this case, the Federal Circuit actually provides ample reasoning for finding that claims fail the test, albeit in a nonprecedential case.

Watchtroll did the cherry-picking of CAFC cases yesterday, finding — at best — one single case resulting not in overturning of a PTAB decision (it vacated). To recapitulate some old statistics:

  • Only about 2% of patents (granted by examiners) are independently examined
  • CAFC agrees with PTAB about 80% of the time
  • The vast majority of the industry is supportive of PTAB

Don’t let lobbying sites such as IAM change perception. They cannot change the underlying facts, so they are attempting to change politicians’ understanding of the patent system.

Japan Demonstrates Sanity on SEP Policy While US Patent Policy is Influenced by Lobbyists

Posted in America, Antitrust, Asia, Patents at 3:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last year: Delrahim to head Justice Department antitrust unit

Revolving Door: Makan Delrahim Employment Summary
Reference: Revolving Door: Makan Delrahim Employment Summary

Summary: Japan’s commendable response to a classic pattern of patent misuse; US patent policy is still being subjected to never-ending intervention and there is now a lobbyist in charge of antitrust matters and a lawyer in charge of the US patent office (both Trump appointees)

PATENTS are about markets and competition. They’re about publishing of ideas without risk to one’s business. The Japan Patent Office (JPO) seems to understand that patents which cannot be worked around, e.g. because they’re essential for standards compliance, are a barrier to markets and competition. These patents can actively damage progress in science and technology — something which the USPTO proclaims to be promoting.

“The Japan Patent Office (JPO) seems to understand that patents which cannot be worked around, e.g. because they’re essential for standards compliance, are a barrier to markets and competition.”As we’ve been noting repeatedly in recent years, Japan’s courts got tougher on software patents. It wasn’t always the case. Japan’s government also gets it better than the Trump administration, where lobbyist Delrahim is now in charge of antitrust matters. The US, which fails to understand the concept of antitrust, would do its industry irreparable damage for the sake of few large corporations (like Qualcomm); Japan is at least recognising the issue with SEP. It is taking action. We last wrote about that a couple of days ago, citing Japenese bloggers.

“Patent owners have little to worry about in JPO plans for SEP reviews,” IAM stated yesterday, having published this damage-controlling piece for the patent aggressors/trolls it stands for. To quote:

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) last week unveiled a new service that will see it weigh in on the standing of Japanese patents declared standards essential. When it was first announced last November, this system was perceived as offering a defensive tool to implementers. But the draft guidelines for the scheme, helpfully translated in part here by Satoshi Watanabe of Watanabe Research and Consulting, have foreclosed that possibility.

The essentiality checks fall under an existing programme called Hantei, in which the JPO provides non-binding advisory opinions on whether a particular patent covers a particular product. The service costs just around $400 and issued 97 decisions in 2016. Currently, this review can be requested by either a product manufacturer or a patent owner.

IAM’s hostility towards Japan can only grow if Japan embraces policy that impedes patent trolls. Last year, for example, IAM repeatedly attacked India. Why? Because its patent policy is quite rational and software patents are in principle not permitted.

As always, there’s that irksome lobby of the patent trolls. It wants to undermine patent policy or tilt things in its favour.

“As we’ve been noting repeatedly in recent years, Japan’s courts got tougher on software patents.”Aaric Eisenstein, writing for Watchtroll yesterday, is now publicly sucking up to Iancu, lobbying him to abolish PTAB (as usual from Watchtroll) among other things. Those are some of the same interests as IAM’s. Follow the money.

Then there’s the Koch-funded think tank for patent trolls (and against PTAB). It now says you “MUST READ” its letter which it describes with: “No empirical study has demonstrated that a patent-owner’s request for injunctive relief after . . . infringement of its property rights has ever resulted either in consumer harm or in slowing down the pace of technological innovation.”

“As always, there’s that irksome lobby of the patent trolls. It wants to undermine patent policy or tilt things in its favour.”Who wrote this? See the list. It’s just the patent maximalists’ lobby (some funded by the biggest patent bullies, e.g. David Kappos). To quote: “Signatories to the letter include Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the D.C. Circuit, former Chief Judge Paul Michel of the Federal Circuit, former FTC Commissioner Joshua D. Wright, and former Director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office David Kappos, among others.”

IAM promoted this letter some days ago. It’s signed by the usual suspects. We know what they want and why they want it. We also know who funds some of them. That’s pretty revealing.

The Patent Microcosm’s Embrace of Buzzwords and False Marketing Strives to Make Patent Examiners Redundant and Patent Quality Extremely Low

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent maximalism defeats the very purpose of patent systems


Summary: Patent maximalists, who are profiting from abundance of low-quality patents (and frivolous lawsuits/legal threats these can entail), are riding the hype wave and participating in the rush to put patent systems at the hands of machines

THE USPTO keeps tightening patent scope (more on that later today), whereas the EPO goes in the opposite direction and broadens the scope of patents. This is a recipe for disaster and it puts at greater threat plenty of European businesses. Not law firms, but actual European businesses.

“This is a recipe for disaster and it puts at greater threat plenty of European businesses.”Sadly, a lot of policy decisions are steered by lawyers, not scientists, and law firms rather than actual European businesses (which make things) have leverage over law. That’s how UPCA managed to get as far as it has.

Yesterday we saw another dumb idea resurrected, owing to a lot of hype. “We are going to continue hearing for some time about #blockchain methods being applied to #patent transactions and procedures,” said a patents person from the US. We were recently told similar things about “AI”. The craze over these things (especially in the media) is troubling; not only is “AI” not a new thing but it’s also not so Earth-shattering. Something as simple as patent searches (based on text and word density, textual patterns etc.) can already be framed as “AI”. The more one knows about the origins of the term, the more easily one accepts that almost any algorithm can be painted “AI” (given the will/motivation). As for blockchain, it’s not a buzzword but an actual implementation or set of implementations (based on the concept of blockchains), yet there’s plenty of hype around it.

“The craze over these things (especially in the media) is troubling; not only is “AI” not a new thing but it’s also not so Earth-shattering.”Alexander Esslinger responded to a commenter (context being the above) by stating: “Blockchain could provide a global, distributed, immutable, time-stamped invention disclosure register independent of patent offices, fees, and formality requirements…”

Algorithms, however, cannot quite correlate patents based on words and images. SUEPO already explained, repeatedly in fact, why this would never work. Marketing hype seems to have charmed non-techies and now they believe that some algorithms make examiners obsolete. Maybe they can, to a degree, do as well as low-trained, no-experience examiners, but they cannot replace domain experts like professors in their respective field.

“Algorithms, however, cannot quite correlate patents based on words and images. SUEPO already explained, repeatedly in fact, why this would never work.”Then came the “AI” hype (again). Esslinger wrote: “A blockchain-based time-stamped invention disclosure register together with AI-enabled prior art search could in the future significantly change the way patent offices work – after over a century of basically unchanged procedures…”

“You overestimate “AI” based on the latest hype wave,” I told him. “Battistelli did the same thing, thinking he can replace domain experts with lousy algorithms [that are a] self-deluding trap. Quality slips, people use different wording to dodge prior art matches…”

Examiners at the EPO and elsewhere ought to watch out. Patent attorneys, to whom patent quality does not seem to matter (they profit from abundance of low-quality patents), are all fine and dandy replacing examiners with algorithms. Having programmed for more than two decades, I can tell for a fact that many of these capabilities are grossly overstated for marketing purposes. Whether Battistelli falls for the marketing because he’s dumb or greedy (i.e. for purely economic reasons) is not a judgment for us to make.

“Some people conveniently forgot what patent systems are about or were made for. To them, the more patents get granted, the better.”Languages are many; thousands! Among those, maybe a dozen are commonly used in patents (over 90% of all patents). To believe that correlation of text, where terminology can vary across languages and even within one single language (e.g. “car”, “vehicle”, “transportation”, “auto”), would somehow capture underlying ideas is absurd. Some have gone as far (off the deep end) as to suggest that we should also allow machines to actually generate (using so-called ‘AI’) patents, rendering the whole patent pool so polluted that it would be meaningless and inaccessible for human ‘consumption’.

‘Patentism’ is like a religion. Some people conveniently forgot what patent systems are about or were made for. To them, the more patents get granted, the better. As the old saying goes, “Too Much of Anything Is Bad For You” (even patents).

Today, at 12:30 CET, Bavarian State Parliament Will Speak About EPO Abuses (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Team UPC does not want such abuses to be debated as that can kill the UPC for good

Bavarian flag

Summary: The politicians of Bavaria are prepared to wrestle with some serious questions about the illegality of the EPO’s actions and what that may mean to constitutional aspects of German law

SEVERAL days ago, in English even (we received a full translation), we wrote about the imminent debate at the Bavarian State Parliament. It’s an important day ahead of us as EPO abuses will be discussed by the host country (which is quite rare; it typically just looks the other way in order to shield the cash cow).

“ow that the EPO habitually breaks the law of the land it’s just too hard to ignore the impact this may have on a Germany-centric UPC.”Last night, readers told us about this new blog post titled “Constitutional Law Alert for the EPO” — a post which we are guessing SUEPO will soon notice and add to its list of recommended articles. Now that the EPO habitually breaks the law of the land it’s just too hard to ignore the impact this may have on a Germany-centric UPC. As the author put it:

What can people, in particular citizens of Munich and Bavaria, do if they feel that elementary constitutional rights are infringed, not somewhere abroad and far away, but literally next door, at the Isar river banks or in the Pschorrhöfe building?

Unfortunately, this is no rhetorical question. If such things happen in the jurisdiction of German courts and under German government, German citizens can discuss them with the relevant office or authority, seek redress to court, or they can choose the political pathway and vote for a party that at least promises to deal with the violation by changing the law, if others choose to ignore it.

Do not expect Team UPC to have any sympathy for EPO staff or have any respect for the law; in my experience, all that these people care about is money. Money, money, money. They even insinuate that the UPC complaint must have been motivated by money and is secretly subsidised by someone. It’s just utterly ridiculous. Here we have Andrea Hughes of Dehns (Team UPC, with people who call UPC resistance "idiots" and "trolls") participating in ‘globalisation’ of patents. It’s a recipe for patent trolls in Europe, as we have been warning for at least 7 years.

“Do not expect Team UPC to have any sympathy for EPO staff or have any respect for the law; in my experience, all that these people care about is money.”Also, mind yesterday’s article from Kluwer Patent Blog. It speaks about the UPC towards the end. The last paragraph shows that the UPC is an extremist legislation which, if politicians put their signature on it, would likely promote Stasi-type culture of raids and theft. We want to quote this entire paragraph for people who lack time to read the whole ‘book’ which is UPCA: “Finally, the Unified Patent Court (UPC)[4] provides for interim measures to preserve evidence and to inspect premises, which may be accompanied by sample collection or seizures of material[5]. This measure may be authorized without hearing the defendant under certain circumstances. As a result, saisie-contrefaçons are open for a significant extension within the frame of the UPC.”

Got that?

Pardon the French. Here’s what saisie-contrefaçons is about: “Saisie-contrefaçons are a particularly powerful tool in patent cases where evidence of infringement may be difficult to collect without entering the premises of the infringer.”

“It’s a recipe for patent trolls in Europe, as we have been warning for at least 7 years.”“Those rules of procedure come from Mars,” the FFII’s President told me about this. “They have no space in a democracy. But that’s a gift from UPC boosters that might make the whole project fail.”

I replied: “So some patent troll from another country and continent, which does not even have an office, can merely accuse me of some #patent infringement (which I’m innocent of) and then literally send people to raid my house and steal my belongings. From another continent!”

I’m at a loss for words; what is happening to European law? This is worse than TPP and ACTA. It’s borderline Orwellian.

“Team UPC is a bunch of crazy people who not only disregard truth itself — as we habitually show — but also disregard the law itself. Will Bavarian politicians be able to see that?”The UPC lobby often seems like a murder (or at least theft) of democracy with no consequences for the murder; massive documents are sent to politicians for signing and they don’t even bother reading what they’re giving a go-ahead to. The ‘unitary’ patent is crazy and has nothing to do with unifying anything. It’s just an unprecedented power grab by the litigation ‘industry’ and now they strive to expand Battistelli-type powers (like raiding offices and stealing personal properly of a judges) to the whole of Europe. Team UPC is a bunch of crazy people who not only disregard truth itself — as we habitually show — but also disregard the law itself. Will Bavarian politicians be able to see that?

Update: SUEPO has just published what looks like an official translation of what we published some days ago.

Another Loud Warning From EPO Workers About the Decline of Patent Quality

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Patent examiners must be able to examine patent applications thoroughly and to deliver valid monopoly rights.”

Decadence of monopoly

Summary: Yet more patent quality warnings are being issued by EPO insiders (examiners) who are seeing their senior colleagues vanishing and wonder what will be left of their employer

TECHRIGHTS was never a foe of the EPO. It was actually a lot more supportive of the EPO than of the USPTO and I’ve personally sent letters to the EPO for over a decade with constructive suggestions (mostly regarding software patents). The reason Techrights is now blocked by the EPO is that Team Battistelli cannot stand any constructive suggestions and it cannot tolerate criticism. EPO insiders know the feeling as some of them too got fired for that. If the EPO was a scientific institution, it would sack people with differing/dissenting points of view, like Galileo and his ‘crazy’ theory about the Solar System.

“If the EPO was a scientific institution, it would sack people with differing/dissenting points of view, like Galileo and his ‘crazy’ theory about the Solar System.”Either way, our history speaks for itself. I’ve long loved the EPO personally and none of us who are connected to this site (mostly Europeans) have anything to gain from EPO weaknesses/detriments. Quite the contrary.

Yesterday, once again, the EPO gave the false impression of caring for outside input. “Battistelli will make all decisions on his own regardless,” I told them, “just like in the Disciplinary Committee. This is just EPO giving the illusion of public participation…”

“I’ve long loved the EPO personally and none of us who are connected to this site (mostly Europeans) have anything to gain from EPO weaknesses/detriments. Quite the contrary.”“The Boards of Appeal invite users to participate in this online consultation on proposed amendments to their rules of procedure,” they said, but I very much doubt Battistelli will care what the ‘users’ have to say. He repeatedly ignores, overrides and sometimes derives suggestions given to him. It’s like a mental illness. It’s megalomania.

Right now, as before, the EPO’s management or the Administrative Council (which is in theory supposed to govern Battistelli) is being warned about imminent damage to patent quality (which already suffers). We have been given explicit permission to repost the following new text:

The final straw for patent quality 2.0

Highly qualified and motivated permanent employees have been ensuring the quality of the EPO’s services for more than 40 years.

The draft “reform” proposal CA/3/18 will, if it is allowed to enter into force, put an end to permanent employment at the EPO1. The proposed new Article 53(1)(f) Service Regulations will give the appointing authority the power to terminate the service of an employee at any time “if the exigencies of the service require abolition of their post or a reduction in staff”2, without the usual compensation and without a social security system to fall back on. The Article will apply to all – current and future – staff. We fear that the first victims will be the DG1 directors who have been made redundant and put on specially created posts.

Article 33 EPC3 makes a clear distinction between the “Service Regulations for permanent employees” and the “conditions of employment for other employees”. The proposal violates Article 33 EPC by removing this distinction. It is incompatible with the acquired rights and legitimate expectations of the current permanent staff4. It is also incompatible with the Office’s dual role – arising out of its status as an international organisation – as an employer and as a state. Its role as a state means that the Office’s duty of care is put at a much higher level than for a regular employer. If it over-recruits5,6 in a specific technical field, for example, it is not free simply to fire staff that are surplus to requirements, but must care for them in the way that a state would, or better.

The Office’s attractiveness as an employer has already suffered through recent “reforms”7,8. If this draft proposal gets approved by the Administrative Council, it will scare off even more of the best job candidates. Future recruits will not feel welcome with such rules in place. Under such conditions, highly qualified candidates are unlikely to accept an employment, move to another country with their family, and take the risk of investing in an expensive new home.

Permanent employment is a prerequisite for the independence of examining divisions, which have already suffered many “reforms” since 20139. Patent examiners must be able to examine patent applications thoroughly and to deliver valid monopoly rights. The head of the German Patent Office recently explained why patent offices need examiners on permanent posts:

“… I could just go ahead and say that you should do it that way. We could then recruit many examiners who will not come to you. On behalf of the German Delegation, I cannot agree. Examining patents requires highly qualified experts. … The special significance of patent examiners for the society justifies a special employment relationship. …”7

Users of the European patent system have already noticed a significant drop of the quality of the EPO’s services10,11.

Mr Battistelli’s successive “reforms” have not only been detrimental for staff, they may spell the end of the European patent system as we know it. If that has not already happened then the latest proposal could represent the point of no return.

1 In addition to «minor» inconveniences like the suppression of home leave for new recruits and the suppression of any form of regulated recruitment procedure.
2 Latest EPO employment proposals under fire (http://www.ippropatents.com/ippropatentsnews/article.php?article_id=5704
3 Article 33 EPC (http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2016/e/ar33.html)
4 Open letter Abolishing permanent employment for current and future EPO staff, Central Staff Committee, 09.02.2018
5 Patent rain, brain drain and quality bust at the EPO – Overcapacity and insecurity as an HR tool, Central Staff Committee, 23.06.2016
6 Open letter Running out of Search-Files …, Central Staff Committee, 08.11.2017
7 Feedback from the 128th Meeting of the BFC and of the 154th meeting of Administrative Council in Munich, SUEPO Local section The Hague, 20.12.2017
8 The EPO’s Vision (II) – “expert, well supported and motivated staff”, Thorsten Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle) (http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2018/02/14/epos-vision-ii-expert-well-supported-motivated-staff/) Mr Bausch considers the combination of “a permanent position with high job security and a good salary” as the factors which “enabled the EPO to recruit very good scientists and engineers and to train them on the job to become expert examiners.” He writes that the EPO management would in his view “be well advised to maintain these conditions.”
9 EPO-FLIER No. 33 The final straw for patent quality? (www.epostaff4rights.org)
10 2016 Patent Survey, conducted by the well-respected German legal magazine JUVE, English translation (https://suepo.org/public/ex17003cpe.pdf)
11 EPO – All Problems Solved? (http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2017/10/16/epo-all-problems-solved/)

Over the years we have been given examples, including of particular European Patents, from EPO insiders. We cannot name these examples publicly as those may give away the identity of examiners who dealt with them. We know for a verifiable fact that patents are being granted which otherwise (without Battistelli’s ‘reforms’) would not be granted. We are being told so. People are pressured to grant invalid monopolies because they might otherwise lose their job and need to move their entire family — children included — to another country.

Later today there’s an important political debate in Germany; we shall cover that in our next post.

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