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02.21.18

End of the UPC Lobby and Withdrawal of UPCA May Seem Imminent

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Retired Judge Siegfried Broß has long spoken out against the Unified Patent Court (UPC); and for good reasons

Siegfried Broß
Image courtesy: campact.de

Summary: The Unitary Patent fantasy (of mass litigation firms) is coming to an end; in fact, the German government and courts (Bundesverfassungsgericht to be specific) now deem the complaint to be admissible and thus likely legitimate in spite of many attempts to shoot it down

The European Patent Office (EPO) barely says anything about the UPC. It used to. A lot. But it rarely mentions it anymore. The closest thing to a mention was today’s tweet that said: “Read more about the impact of #patent protection on trade & FDI in innovative industries in this study…”

It’s like a ‘template’ tweet that they cyclically shuffle/revolve in order for the propaganda to broaden its reach. Propaganda? Yes, propaganda. What they don’t say is that they funded it. In the process, the EPO entered controversial territories; it really corrupted academia (we explained this before). This is a serious matter. The EPO not only corrupts the media but also academia; and guess who’s paying for all this…

“The EPO not only corrupts the media but also academia; and guess who’s paying for all this…”EPO staff is said to be prepared for ‘chopping’ while the management corrupts the press and universities. It’s not cheap. It also pays something like 5 million euros for events that last just one afternoon (that alone is a year’s salary of about 50 examiners). As the EPO implicitly acknowledges (by mention of two Twitter accounts), it paid money to LSE (UK) and the University of Colorado Boulder (US) for UPC propaganda. Sadly for them, however, the Unitary Patent is dead regardless. How dead? Check out what happened today (it’s in German by the way). The ‘unitary’ patent regime is over. It is dead. Team UPC will not admit this, obviously.

We have spent a lot of energy and almost 10 years to help end it, so this is a relief. We expect press coverage in German and then in English quite soon. Will the press be heavily influenced by the spin of Team UPC, as usual?

“We expect press coverage in German and then in English quite soon.”“UPCtracker” (a UPC booster, as even his username serves to suggest) wrote: “BREAKING: The complaint against the German UPC ratification law made it on the list of cases to be decided by the BVerfG. No details available yet (see linked list, Justice Prof Huber, # 11).”

Richard Pinckney from Bristows stopped short of sober analysis of it. No analysis at all. Here’s what he wrote: “The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) has today published here a list of cases which it intends to decide in 2018. The complaint against the legislation enabling Germany to ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC), case reference 2 BvR 739/17, is included in cases to be decided by the Second Senate, with Justice Huber as rapporteur.”

Fair enough. Not much spin there for a change.

“Previously JUVE said it would likely take years, not even a single year, to decide on. There’s no deadline.”Christopher Weber (Team UPC) said that the “German Constitutional Court plans to decide within 2018 on #UPC and EPC complaints…”

IAM responded: “But when in 2018? If it is relatively early in the year and the complaint is rejected, there is an outside chance of German and UK UPC ratification before Brexit. Later on in the year and whatever the decision the UPC is dead in the water.”

Weber said: “Your guess is as good as mine. It’s No. 11 on a list of 26 for the 2nd Senate and No. 7 of 9 for reporting Judge Prof. Dr. Huber.”

“The very fact that IAM is pessimistic says a lot because IAM was actually paid to promote the UPC.”Previously JUVE said it would likely take years, not even a single year, to decide on. There’s no deadline.

I told IAM that UPC “has been dead in the water since a year ago, except for those who were asleep…”

The very fact that IAM is pessimistic says a lot because IAM was actually paid to promote the UPC. It’s like a lobbying group disguised as a publisher. Earlier today IAM published a self-promotional piece (that’s their business model) for Carpmaels & Ransford LLP in which the firm spoke of “Patent Box”. This sponsored ‘article’ actually trotted out an instrument of corporate tax evasion. To quote: “A wider awareness of the benefits of the Patent Box (a reduction in corporation tax available on the profits from patented inventions in the UK) may help to boost the number of patent applications filed.”

UPC is a scam. Patent Box is a scam. Earlier today we received new material about the EPO and INPI; that scam too will soon be covered here.

EPO’s Board 28 Spikes Article 53 in CA/3/18, Apparently After Battistelli Withdrew It

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The draft “reform” proposal CA/3/18 will, if it is allowed to enter into force, put an end to permanent employment at the EPO.” –EPO insiders

Most of the world's workers have insecure jobs, ILO report reveals
Reference: Most of the world’s workers have insecure jobs, ILO report reveals

Summary: The latest plot twist, as odd as that may seem, is that the attack on the rights of thousands of workers (many of whom are rumoured to be on their way out) is curtailed somewhat, at least for the time being

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) demise is worrying. It’s inevitable, but it’s still worrying (layoffs are probably coming very soon, based on insiders). CA/3/18 was covered here yesterday, based on the words of insiders.

World Intellectual Property Review has just written about this: [via SUEPO]

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) supervisory body, the Administrative Council (AC), will deliberate an employment proposal put forward by EPO president Benoît Battistelli to recruit staff on renewable contracts of five years in March.

Battistelli and Elodie Bergot, principal director of human resources, added the motion to discuss permanent employment at the EPO during a budget and finance committee meeting in October last year.

At the time, a spokesperson for the EPO said that the office is in a “unique situation” with 97% of its staff hired on a permanent basis.

A first discussion of the proposal, which is called the “Modernisation of the employment framework of the EPO”, took place during the AC’s meeting in December.

The proposal has since been amended.

The latest on this suggests further amendments. An EPO insider wrote:

Breaking news: during Board 28 today the proposed Article 53 in CA/3/18 is dropped (withdrawn) – a revised version of CA/3/18 (without Article 53) will be published at the latest tomorrow. Rumor has it that the King himself withdraw the document. Yes, you read that correctly!

What is going on? Are rumours and panic influencing the plan? Will the management potentially rethink its utterly destructive actions?

“I was reading an article about the corruption ranking by Transparency International when I came across this short video,” one reader told us. “This reminds me of something, a kind of deja vu at the EPO…”

Transparency International’s connections to the EPO scandals [1, 2] are noteworthy. It’s like there’s nobody left to properly investigate and then press for actual enforcement against the EPO. Certainly not ILO (UN), the EU/EC, the German authorities, or even the Dutch government.

Links 21/2/2018: Apper 1.0, New Fedora ISOs

Posted in News Roundup at 5:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • What Happens when you Contribute, revisited

    I sat down to write a post about my students’ experiences this term contributing to open source, and apparently I’ve written this before (and almost exactly a year ago to the day!) The thing about teaching is that it’s cyclic, so you’ll have to forgive me as I give a similar lecture here today.

    I’m teaching two classes on open source development right now, two sections in an introductory course, and another two in a follow-up intermediate course. The students are just starting to get some releases submitted, and I’ve been going through their blogs, pull requests, videos (apparently this generation likes making videos, which is something new for me), tweets, and the like. I learn a lot from my students, and I wanted to share some of what I’m seeing.

  • Events

    • OpenStack Summit Vancouver ’18: Vote for Speakers

      The next OpenStack Summit takes place again in Vancouver (BC, Canada), May 21-25, 2018. The “Vote for Presentations” period started. All proposals are up for community votes. The deadline for your vote is will end February 25 at 11:59pm PST (February 26th at 8:59am CET)

    • IBM Index: A Community Event for Open Source Developers

      The first-ever INDEX community event, happening now in San Francisco, is an open developer conference featuring sessions on topics including artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, cloud native, containers, APIs, languages, and more.

    • Eclipse CheConf 2018 – Join the live stream February 21st at 10 am EST

      2017 was a fantastic year for the Che project, with more contributors, more commits, and more usage – this solidified Che’s position as the leading developer workspace server and browser IDE. Eclipse Che users logged over 7 million hours of public Che usage (plus more in private installs). We’ll discuss the growing cloud development market, Che’s position in it, and the exciting changes we’re planning for 2018.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Best Web Browser

        When the Firefox team released Quantum in November 2017, they boasted it was “over twice as fast as Firefox from 6 months ago”, and Linux Journal readers generally agreed, going as far as to name it their favorite web browser. A direct response to Google Chrome, Firefox Quantum also boasts decreased RAM usage and a more streamlined user interface.

      • Share Exactly What You See On-Screen With Firefox Screenshots

        A “screenshot” is created when you capture what’s on your computer screen, so you can save it as a reference, put it in a document, or send it as an image file for others to see exactly what you see.

      • QMO: Firefox 59 Beta 10 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday – February 16nd – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 59 Beta 10.

        Thank you Mohammed Adam, Abhishek Haridass, Fahima Zulfath A. and Surentharan.R.A. from India QA Community team for helping us make Mozilla a better place.

      • Bugzilla Triage Helper

        There are an awful lot of bugs filed against Firefox and all it’s components in the course of a release. Keeping on top of that is hard and some teams have adopted some policies to help with that (for example see: design-decision-needed).

        Having a consistent approach to bugs across the organisation makes it a little easier for everyone to get a feel for what’s going.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Arrives in August with Revamped Online Experience, New Features

      Last week, we talked with The Document Foundation’s marketing assistant Mike Saunders about the 1 million downloads milestone reached by the major LibreOffice 6.0 release in only two weeks after its launch, who told us that the team is already working on the next version, LibreOffice 6.1, due for release in August.

      LibreOffice 6.1 will be the first major update to the 6.x series of the office suite and will add yet another layer of new features and improvements to the open-source and cross-platform office suite used by millions of computer users worldwide, and we’d like you to be the first to know about them.

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • EOH and LSD Information Technology partner to lead open source in Africa

      By identifying global trends and local needs, EOH is able to proactively source and secure capabilities that will assist with the adoption of the digital revolution. LSD’s offerings across Linux, automation, devops and containers is a great technology fit for EOH to lead open source in the market.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Choosing a tool to track and mitigate open source security vulnerabilities

      Continuously tracking your application’s dependencies for vulnerabilities and efficiently addressing them is no simple feat. In addition, this is a problem shared by all, and is not an area most companies would consider their core competency. Therefore, it is a great opportunity for the right set of tools to help tackle this concern.

    • Open source software: to be celebrated or cursed?

      The use of Open Source Software (OSS) has become widespread. The latest statistics show that 78% of companies run OSS, and a number of mainstream software and hardware products are based on the OSS model – for example Android, Skype [sic], Firefox, Amazon Kindle, Tivo and BT Home Hub.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Marshall Students Use Open Source Data to Help Stop Sex Trafficking Cases

        The work involved sex trafficking cases in Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Select students in Marshall’s Open Source Intelligence Exchange program worked to provide open source intelligence collection and analysis for law enforcement and other clients. Open source refers to data collection from publicly available sources.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Stanford scholar celebrates Western culture’s open-access tradition

        The move toward “open access” to research and scholarship, far from being a modern digital-age creation, has roots in the West that date back to medieval times, writes a Stanford education scholar. John Willinsky’s new book explains how learning has long benefited from efforts to increase its circulation.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open source RISC-V architecture is changing the game for IoT processors

        Over the past decade, open source software has been one of the biggest catalysts in the tech world. Today, the power of open source, the freedom it enables, and the communities that it generates are gaining traction in the hardware world too. For these reasons, RISC-V is gaining huge popularity. Here is an introduction to RISC-V and the opportunities it opens.

  • Programming/Development

    • Pyenv – Python Version Management Made Easier

      You’re a programmer who wants to test your python code on multiple different Python environments. What would you do? Install a specific python version and test your code and then uninstall that version and again install another different version and test code? No, wait! It is completely unnecessary. Say hello to Pyenv , an useful utility to manage multiple Python versions, simultaneously. It made the python version management easier than ever. It is used to install, uninstall and switch to multiple different versions of Python.

    • GitHub Predicts Hottest 2018 Open Source Trends

      As the world’s largest repository of open source projects, GitHub is in a unique position to witness what developers are up to. GitHub staff recently sifted through the site’s 2017’s data in order to identify top open source trends they predict will thrive in 2018.

    • What is LLVM? The power behind Swift, Rust, Clang, and more

      New languages, and improvements on existing ones, are mushrooming throughout the develoment landscape. Mozilla’s Rust, Apple’s Swift, Jetbrains’s Kotlin, and many other languages provide developers with a new range of choices for speed, safety, convenience, portability, and power.

      Why now? One big reason is new tools for building languages—specifically, compilers. And chief among them is LLVM (Low-Level Virtual Machine), an open source project originally developed by Swift language creator Chris Lattner as a research project at the University of Illinois.

    • Oxidizing Fedora: Try Rust and its applications today

      In recent years, it has become increasingly important to develop software that minimizes security vulnerabilities. Memory management bugs are a common cause of these vulnerabilities. To that end, the Mozilla community has spent the last several years building the Rust language and ecosystem which focuses primarily on eliminating those bugs. And Rust is available in Fedora today, along with a few applications in Fedora 27 and higher, as seen below.

    • This Week in Rust 222

      This is a weekly summary of its progress and community. Want something mentioned? Tweet us at @ThisWeekInRust or send us a pull request. Want to get involved? We love contributions.

    • Google Summer Of Code 2018 Larger Than Ever

      Google Summer of Code gives students an opportunity to make a substantive contribution to Open Source projects with the motto “Flip bits not burgers” has recruited more mentoring organizations than ever for its 13th year.

    • The Beauty of the COBOL Programming Language

      The first thing I needed in my journey to learn COBOL was an IDE. I am a big supporter of coding in an integrated development environment (IDE). I like being able to write, test and run code all in one place. Also, I find the support features that an IDE provides, such as visual code structure analysis, code completion and inline syntax checking, allow me to program and debug efficiently.

    • Clear Linux Is The Latest Distribution Figuring Out What To Do With Python 2

      While Python 3 has been around now for a decade, most Linux distributions are still working towards moving away from Python 2 and that includes Intel’s Clear Linux distribution.

      Like with Ubuntu, Fedora, and others moving away their base packages from any Python 2 dependencies and moving them to Python 3, Clear Linux developers are working on the same. Arjan van de Ven of Intel provided an update on their Python 3 transitioning. By the end of 2018, but hopefully within the next six months, they hope to be at a point where their performance-oriented Linux distribution is “fully and only Python 3.”

Leftovers

  • KFC restaurants across Britain are forced to close

    KFC said it first became aware of a problem in the software around a new computer ordering and delivery system on Friday.

    [...]

    The new regime is built around software developed by QSL, which is meant to ensure efficient delivery.

  • KFC chicken shortage closes outlets

    Last week, KFC switched its delivery contract to DHL, which blamed “operational issues” for the supply disruption.

    [...]

    The distribution network uses software developed by the firm Quick Service Logistics (QSL).

  • Science

    • Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected

      Lead magnesium niobate (PMN) is a prototypical “relaxor” material, used in a wide variety of applications, from ultrasound to sonar. Researchers have now used state-of-the-art microscopy techniques to see exactly how atoms are arranged in PMN – and it’s not what anyone expected.

      “This work gives us information we can use to better understand how and why PMN behaves the way it does – and possibly other relaxor materials as well,” says James LeBeau, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of a paper on the work.

    • The “Black Mirror” scenarios that are leading some experts to call for more secrecy on AI

      AI could reboot industries and make the economy more productive; it’s already infusing many of the products we use daily. But a new report by more than 20 researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, OpenAI, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that the same technology creates new opportunities for criminals, political operatives, and oppressive governments—so much so that some AI research may need to be kept secret.

    • Tech wishes for 2018
    • 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018

      Every year since 2001 we’ve picked what we call the 10 Breakthrough Technologies. People often ask, what exactly do you mean by “breakthrough”? It’s a reasonable question—some of our picks haven’t yet reached widespread use, while others may be on the cusp of becoming commercially available. What we’re really looking for is a technology, or perhaps even a collection of technologies, that will have a profound effect on our lives.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Daniel Ellsberg: Preventing Extermination Of Humanity By Nukes

      But he was asked to work in the plants that give materials for H-bombs, and as he said to his deputy when he decided not to do that, he said they have A-bombs. Now they’re building H-bombs, which he knew as he told me would be a thousand times more powerful than the A-bombs that triggered it. He said they’ll go right through the alphabet til they have Z-bombs they said.

    • U.S. Empire Still Incoherent After All These Years

      In the intervening 15 years, U.S. policy failures have resulted in ever-spreading violence and chaos that affect hundreds of millions of people in at least a dozen countries. The U.S. has utterly failed to bring any of its neo-imperial wars to a stable or peaceful end. And yet the U.S. imperial project sails on, seemingly blind to its consistently catastrophic results.

      Instead, U.S. civilian and military leaders shamelessly blame their victims for the violence and chaos they have unleashed on them, and endlessly repackage the same old war propaganda to justify record military budgets and threaten new wars.

      But they never hold themselves or each other accountable for their catastrophic failures or the carnage and human misery they inflict. So they have made no genuine effort to remedy any of the systemic problems, weaknesses and contradictions of U.S. imperialism that Michael Mann identified in 2003 or that other critical analysts like Noam Chomsky, Gabriel Kolko, William Blum and Richard Barnet have described for decades.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • A Defender of Assange Says She’s Fighting for All

      More than five years ago, on two different continents and only days apart, an Australian woman and an Australian man entered indefinite detention.

      For the woman, a defense lawyer at the International Criminal Court, being arrested was a relatively brief but harrowing affair, punctuated by armed men, dark rooms and aggressive interrogation. For the man, a co-founder of WikiLeaks, detention continues, though some might say voluntarily.

      The lawyer, Melinda Taylor, would go on to represent the man, Julian Assange.

      Ms. Taylor, now 42, has earned a reputation for defending the rights of individuals condemned by the court of public opinion before they have set foot inside an actual courtroom. Her clients have included Mr. Assange and Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, a son of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the deposed Libyan strongman.

    • Under Attack Part Six: The Stratfor and Syria Files I

      In what has to be one of the more spectacularly craptastic court decisions in recent history, last week the UK’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court upheld an outstanding warrant for Julian Assange which stemmed from a 2010 Swedish investigation that has since been closed. Despite public outcry, two UN rulings in favor of Assange’s freedom, and the fact that it recently came to light that the UK encouraged Sweden to keep the investigation open despite the Swedish prosecutor’s desire to close it in 2012, it appears that the UK is still taking its marching orders from Washington regardless of the implications. Of course there’s no evidence (yet) showing that the US directly interfered in the court case and I could be astrosurfing better than an Intercept journalist high on a government prescription of shill-lax. But unlike Micah Lee, this story has some worthwhile evidence to back up its claim including the fact that the magistrate who denied Julian Assange his freedom and the ability to receive adequate health care last week is none other than Baroness Emma Arbuthnot, wife of Lord James Arbuthnot— the former chairman of Parliament’s Defence Select Committee.

      Journalist Randy Credico also pointed out that James Arbuthnot and his cronies acquired a massive defense contract with the UK government through a little known group called SC Strategy which is headed up by none other than the former Chief of M16, Sir John McLeod Scarlett, and the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Alexander Carlile. In 2015, The Guardian reported that the elusive firm’s only known client at the time was Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund which perhaps isn’t all that surprising since that the Financial Times reported last year that Qatar, via the wealth fund, bought up a piece of Heathrow airport, the Shard skyscraper, a “portion” of the Canary Wharf financial district, and Harrods department stores. Apparently Qatar also bailed out Barclays bank because the only thing more comforting than one of the largest terrorist hotspots in the world investing about forty billion euros in your country is knowing that your country’s former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation is in bed with them.

    • What? NYT’s Haberman Compares Wikileaks Harm of Hillary Campaign to 9-11 Attacks

      Tuesday’s New York Times featured a humdrum personal profile of its own reporter, Maggie Haberman, whose only point of interest was an offensive comparison the White House reporter made between Michael Bloomberg’s 2001 run for mayor of New York City and Donald Trump’s run for president in 2016. In both cases, “an unprecedented form of terror in an election” resulted in an unlikely result. One was an Islamist terrorist attack that murdered over 3000 people; the other, some embarrassing campaign emails that may have damaged Clinton’s prospects over Trump. Same thing, really, right?

    • Congressman Says He Was Blocked From Briefing Trump on WikiLeaks

      A recent report in The Intercept says that California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher claimed to have told White House Chief of Staff John Kelly about a meeting he had last August with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In the meeting, Rohrabacher told The Intercept, Assange provided definitive proof—to him and his traveling companion, Charles Johnson—that Russia was not the source of Democratic Party communications leaked during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Record high temperatures possible Tuesday, Wednesday

      High temperature records for Roanoke from the 1930s are very much in danger of being challenged or even toppled the next couple of days.

    • If climate change wrecks your city, can it sue Exxon?

      Last summer, Ryan Coonerty, a county supervisor in Santa Cruz, got word that the neighboring county of San Mateo was about to take a bold step in adapting to climate change. Rising seas are already eroding San Mateo’s coast, and the county will need to spend billions of dollars on new sea walls and other infrastructure to protect itself in the years to come. So in July, San Mateo, along with Marin County and the city of Imperial Beach, sued 37 fossil fuel companies, arguing that they should help pay for the damage their products cause.

  • Finance

    • Rookie’s Guide to Ethereum and Blockchain

      Blockchain is the digital and decentralized ledger that records all transactions. (See the “Blockchain Simplified” video for more information.) Every time someone buys digital coins on a decentralized exchange, sells coins, transfers coins, or buys a good or service with virtual coins, a ledger records that transaction, often in an encrypted fashion, to protect it from cybercriminals. These transactions are also recorded and processed without a third-party provider, which is usually a bank.

    • Aviation cliff-edge: How Brexit is sabotaging a British success story

      The usual civil service metaphor for Brexit is of a series of rocks. Each time you pick one up, all these horrible slimy things crawl out from under it – things you’d never have thought were remotely connected to Brexit. This is an article about the horrible slimy things under the rock named ‘aviation’.

      European aviation is fundamentally a British success story. It’s one of the best pieces of evidence for how Britain made the single market work for its services economy and helped make life better for passengers all over the continent in the process. But that success is now a hostage of Brexit. If the hard Brexiters in Cabinet get their way, Britain will turn back the clock on the last 30 years of development.

      This is how the system works. Aviation is governed by a series of treaties. The foundation text is the 1944 Chicago convention, which gave nation states sovereignty over their airspace. You can only fly to another country once you’ve signed an agreement with them. There’s no WTO option or fallback system. You either sign a treaty or you’re out in the cold.

    • Oxfam Releases Internal Report into Its Sex Scandal & Cover-Up in Haiti

      The British charity Oxfam has been hit with dozens more misconduct allegations involving a slew of countries, in the days since The Times of London revealed Oxfam tried to cover up sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. On Monday, Oxfam released its own internal report into the sex scandal, in which Oxfam senior aid workers, including the country director, hired prostitutes at Oxfam properties and then tried to cover it up. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, but Oxfam refused to report the activity of its aid workers to Haitian police. Oxfam’s internal report also includes claims that three Oxfam staff members physically threatened a witness during the charity’s internal investigation. Haiti has threatened to expel Oxfam from the country. This is Haiti’s external cooperation minister, Aviol Fleurant.

    • ‘The Trump slump’: Remington files for bankruptcy as gun sales tumble

      For 200 years, Remington has been one of the most famous names in guns, supplying arms to soldiers in the civil war, both world wars and to generations of gun enthusiasts. Now it has met its match: the gun-friendly presidency of Donald Trump.

      After a golden era of sales under Barack Obama, America’s gun manufacturers are in trouble. Sales have tumbled, leaving the companies with too much stock on their hands and falling revenues. The crunch claimed its biggest victim this week when Remington filed for bankruptcy.

    • H&M and Others Tied to Chinese Prison Labor, But What About the U.S.?

      Peter Humphrey was jailed in Qingpu Prison just outside of Shanghai for two and a half years before he was deported from China. While he was incarcerated, the British fraud investigator – who (along with his wife, a fellow instigator) was convicted by a Shanghai court for “illegally acquiring personal information” on Chinese nationals – worked. He and his fellow prisoners were paid meager wages to make packaging parts for companies that you have heard of: H&M, international fashion chain, C&A and consumer products company, 3M.

    • Debt Collection Companies Have Hijacked the Justice System

      People who can’t afford to pay bills face arrest and jailing because of powerful money-hungry debt collectors.

      Denise Zencka, a mother of three in Indiana, had to file for bankruptcy because she couldn’t afford to repay her bills for treatment for thyroid cancer. And because she was unable to work, she had to stay with her parents in Florida while she recovered. She didn’t know that during that time, at the request of a debt collector seeking to collect outstanding medical bills, a small claims court judge had issued three warrants for her arrest. When she returned to Indiana, she was arrested by local sheriff’s deputies for the private debt she owed. Once at the jail, and being too sick to climb the stairs to the women’s section, she was held in a men’s mental health unit. Its glass walls allowed the male prisoners to watch everything she did, including using the toilet.

      As in Zencka’s case, and in thousands of other similar cases around the country, courts are issuing arrest warrants and serving as taxpayer-funded tools of the multi-billion-dollar debt collection industry.

      Debtors’ prisons were abolished by Congress in 1833. They are often thought to be a relic of the Dickensian past. In reality, private debt collectors are using the courts to get debtors arrested and to terrorize them into paying, even when a debt is in dispute or when the debtor has no ability to pay.

      Tens of thousands of arrest warrants are issued annually for people who fail to appear in court to deal with unpaid civil debt judgments. In investigating this issue for the new ACLU report, “A Pound of Flesh,” we examined more than 1,000 cases in 26 states, in which civil court judges issued arrest warrants for debtors. The debtors were often unaware that they had been sued. In many cases, they had not received notice to show up in court.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Man who says he was a Russian ‘troll’ arrested after going public

      Russian police have reportedly arrested a man who has claimed to be a worker at a so-called troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia, hours after he gave interviews to foreign journalists and lifted the lid on a secretive organization the U.S. Department of Justice last week accused of trying to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

    • How the Washington Post Missed the Biggest Watergate Story of All

      Stephen Spielberg’s film The Post is still running in theaters, lauding the Washington Post, Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee as fearless exposers of official secrets about government wrongdoing. But previously overlooked evidence now reveals for the first time how the Washington Post missed the most serious leak in newspaper history, and as a result history itself took a serious wrong turn. Consequently, this is a story that was also missed by Spielberg, and missed by Alan Pakula in his 1976 film about The Washington Post’s role in Watergate, All The President’s Men.

    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast: Russia, Trump and ‘Alternative Financing’

      After special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians for an intensive, elaborate effort to interfere with the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump reacted as he has before — with bluster and bellicosity, at everyone but Russia.

      This week on “Trump, Inc.,” we’re exploring the president’s, well, persistent weirdness around Russia: Why has Trump been so quiet about Russia and its interference?

    • Billy Graham: An Old Soldier Fades Away

      Billy Graham was a preacher man equally intent on saving souls and soliciting financial support for his ministry. His success at the former is not subject to proof and his success at the latter is unrivaled. He preached to millions on every ice-free continent and led many to his chosen messiah.

      When Graham succumbed to various ailments this week at the age of 99 he left behind an organization that is said to have touched more people than any other Christian ministry in history, with property, assets and a name-brand worth hundreds of millions. The address lists of contributors alone comprise a mother lode for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, now headed by his son and namesake, William Franklin Graham, III.

      Graham also left behind a United States government in which religion plays a far greater role than before he intruded into politics in the 1950s. The shift from secular governance to “In God We Trust” can be laid squarely at this minister’s feet.

    • Even If The Russian Troll Factory Abused Our Openness Against Us, That Doesn’t Mean We Should Close Up

      Last week, we wrote about the Mueller indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian organizations for fraud in trying to sow discord among Americans and potentially influence the election by trolling them on social media. If you haven’t read the indictment yet, I recommend doing so — or at least reading Garrett Graff’s impressive attempt at basically turning the indictment into one hell of a narrative story. The key point I raised in that article was that the efforts the Russians undertook to appear to be American shows how difficult-to-impossible it would be to demand that the various internet platforms magically block such trolling attempts in the future.

      But, there’s a larger issue here that seems worth exploring as well. Among the various attacks aimed at social media companies (mainly Facebook) it feels that many are using this as yet another excuse to demand more regulation of these platforms or to poke more holes in Section 230 of the CDA.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Vietnam’s Internet is in trouble

      The development of Vietnam’s Internet infrastructure has outpaced the government’s ability to regulate and control it. The best it can do is restrict access to certain sites. It has also deployed an army of people to closely monitor public sentiment on social media. In December, Vietnam unveiled a new, 10,000-strong military cyber unit to combat “wrong” views online, a move that was apparently modeled on the Chinese route of controlling the Internet.

    • Wired’s Big Cover Story On Facebook Gets Key Legal Point Totally Backwards, Demonstrating Why CDA 230 Is Actually Important

      That’s a pretty amazing story, which certainly could be true. After all, just a few years later there was the famous NY Times article about how companies were courting state Attorneys General to attack their competitors (which later came up again, when the MPAA — after reading that NY Times article — decided to use that strategy to go after Google). And Blumenthal had a long history as Attorney General of grandstanding about tech companies.

      But, for all the fascinating reporting in the piece, what’s troubling is that Thompson and Vogelstein get some very basic facts wrong — and, unfortunately, one of those basic facts is a core peg used to hold up the story. Specifically, the article incorrectly points to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as being a major hindrance to Facebook improving its platform. Here’s how the law incorrectly described in a longer paragraph explaining why Facebook “ignored” the “problem” of “fake news”…

    • Chinese Censorship Moves Into the American Workplace

      There is evidence to support a claim that the mission to censor criticism of China is moving into the American workplace. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese have been students in the United States, and many move into jobs for American companies after graduation. But as China acquires American companies, existing and newly hired Chinese employees may feel both emboldened and pressured to incorporate a culture of censorship into the new entity.

      Last year I gave a publicly listed American company a series of seminars on Chinese business, social, legal, and cultural norms and expectations. The audiences were primarily American-born employees, although many Chinese employees attended the sessions, as well. Some were relatively new hires; a few had been in the United States for years. The reason for the seminars? The company is being acquired by a Chinese company in an acquisition that requires CFIUS approval. (For legal reasons, the company names will be withheld here.)

    • Historians fear ‘censorship’ under Poland’s Holocaust law

      A new law in Poland that threatens those who say that Poles played any part in the Holocaust with up to three years in prison will create an atmosphere of “inner censorship” for the country’s historians, reminiscent of its communist past, critics have warned.

      Poland has been internationally condemned over the law, which some historians say attempts to whitewash broad swathes of Polish history.

    • Federal Judge Bars California’s Actor-Age Censorship Law

      A federal court judge has barred California’s legislation requiring that subscription entertainment database sites remove an actor’s age, if requested by the actor.

      U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria issued the ruling on Tuesday. IMDb filed a lawsuit in November of 2016, attempting to invalidate AB 1687. IMDb — a subsidiary of Amazon — had contended in its suit that the law, which applies only to subscription sites such as IMDb Pro, was unconstitutional.

      The defendants are Secretary of State Xavier Becerra and SAG-AFTRA, which joined the suit as a defendant after campaigning vigorously for the law in 2016.

    • California’s IMDb Age Censorship Law Declared Unconstitutional
    • IMDb age censorship law declared unconstitutional – L.A. Biz
    • IMDb Can Still List Actors’ Ages After Court Rules California Censorship Law Unconstitutional
    • The new censorship: Flooding us with ‘phony phacts’

      Everyone knows about censorship that has been perpetuated throughout history: the USSR, the Nazis, South African Apartheid, Chairman Mao’s China, the Kim Jung family in North Korea, etc. The United States is certainly not innocent in this regard either — the early 1900s race riots, Civil Rights-era violence, the systematic extermination of native populations, and much, much more has been downplayed and sometimes completely omitted from American history.

    • Hate Speech or Censorship? Civil servants redeployed over social media comments

      The decision of one of government parastatals, to start monitoring the activities of its employees on the social media is spreading fears of censorship of the media and its practitioners.

    • Twitter Censorship Should TERRIFY Everyone
    • Tech giants should resist Russia’s iron grip of censorship
    • Germany’s Speech Laws Continue To Be A Raging Dumpster Fire Of Censorial Stupidity

      Germany’s new law, targeting hate speech and other unpleasantness online, is off to a roaring start. Instead of cleaning up the internet for German consumption, the law has been instrumental in targeting innocuous posts by politicians and taking down satirical content. The law is a bludgeon with hefty fines attached. This has forced American tech companies to be proactive, targeting innocuous content and satire before the German government comes around with its hand out.

      It took only 72 hours for the new law (Netzwerkdurchsezungsgesetz, or NetzDG) to start censoring content that didn’t violate the law. Some German officials have expressed concern, but the government as a whole seems content to let more censorship of lawful content occur before the law is given a second look. The things critics of the law said would happen have happened. And yet the law remains in full effect.

    • Sanford: Is the removal of murals sensible or censorship?

      From the 1920s through the early ’50s, most entertainment in Memphis was at the mercy of a guy named Lloyd T. Binford, the chairman of the city’s Board of Censors. Binford banned scores of movies from being shown in Memphis simply because he personally found them distasteful and even refused to allow the staging of plays featuring a racially diverse cast.

      In the 1970s, an over-jealous federal prosecutor pressed obscenity charges against the makers of X-rated films. Roughly a decade later, city leaders tried to shut down topless nightclubs with an anti-nudity ordinance that was later ruled unconstitutional.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Trump, Nunes Accidentally Undo DOJ’s Efforts To Keep Surveillance Docs Under Wraps

      The government’s antipathy towards FOIA requesters is well-documented. Our last president declared his White House to be the Openest Place on Earth. This was followed by a clampdown on FOIA responses, huge increases in withheld documents, and a war on whistleblowers. The Trump Administration has made no such promises. Good thing, too, as the uncontrollable mouth running the country would make these promises impossible to keep. We’re living in a halcyon era of unprecedented, if inadvertent, government transparency. Whatever multitudinous leakers won’t provide, the president will hand over himself via Twitter or televised interviews.

      Late last year, Trump handed plaintiffs in two FOIA lawsuits a gift when he undercut an FBI Glomar response (“neither confirm nor deny”) by confirming FBI investigations (and FISA court involvement) in domestic surveillance. Trump has done it again, thanks to approving the release of the Nunes memo. Again, FOIA requesters seeking information about FBI domestic surveillance have been handed a gift by the Commander in Chief, as Politico reports.

    • The Car of the Future Will Sell Your Data

      Picture this: You’re driving home from work, contemplating what to make for dinner, and as you idle at a red light near your neighborhood pizzeria, an ad offering $5 off a pepperoni pie pops up on your dashboard screen.

      Are you annoyed that your car’s trying to sell you something, or pleasantly persuaded? Telenav Inc., a company developing in-car advertising software, is betting you won’t mind much. Car companies—looking to earn some extra money—hope so, too.

    • German Court Says Facebook’s Real Names Policy Violates Users’ Privacy

      With more and more people attacking online trolls, one common refrain is that we should do away with anonymity online. There’s this false belief that forcing everyone to use their “real name” online will somehow stop trolling and create better behavior. Of course, at the very same time, lots of people seem to be blaming online social media platforms for nefarious activity and trollish activity including “fake news.” And Facebook is a prime target — which is a bit ironic, given that Facebook already has a “real names” policy. On Facebook you’re not allowed to use a pseudonym, but are expected to use your real name. And yet, trolling still takes place. Indeed, as we’ve written for the better part of a decade, the focus on attacking anonymity online is misplaced. We think that platforms like Facebook and Google that use a real names policy are making a mistake, because enabling anonymous or pseudononymous speech is quite important in enabling people to speak freely on a variety of subjects. Separately, as studies have shown, forcing people to use real names doesn’t stop anti-social behavior.

      All that is background for an interesting, and possibly surprising, ruling in a local German court, finding that Facebook’s real names policy violates local data protection rules. I can’t read the original ruling since my understanding of German is quite limited — but it appears to have found that requiring real names is “a covert way” of obtaining someone’s name which raises questions for privacy and data protection. The case was brought by VZBZ, which is the Federation of German Consumer Organizations. Facebook says it will appeal the ruling, so it’s hardly final.

    • Also, Android P Won’t Let Malicious Apps Secretly Record Audio On Your Phone

      Just yesterday we heard about an Android 9.0 feature that would prevent idle background apps from accessing the camera. The move could prevent unauthorized use of the device’s camera to record video clips of the user’s environment.

    • Ubisoft Perma-Bans Creator Of Cool, Non-Cheating Tool For ‘The Division’ Because It Was Made With Cheating Software

      There are lots of ways companies can deal with those who cheat in online video games. We have seen developers and publishers sue those who cheat, we have seen national governments criminalize this kind of cheating, and we even got to see Rockstar’s attempt to force cheaters to only play with other cheaters. While these sorts of efforts vary wildly, the common response from game publishers is to be entirely too ham-fisted in keeping cheaters out of online games. This results in all sorts of problems, ranging from punishing players who weren’t actually cheating to creating all kinds of collateral damage.

    • Facebook ‘Security’: A New VPN That’s Spyware And Two-Factor Authentication That Spams You

      Facebook’s definition of protection isn’t quite up to snuff. Last week, some Facebook users began seeing a new option in their settings simply labeled “Protect.” Clicking on that link in the company’s navigation bar will redirect Facebook users to the “Onavo Protect – VPN Security” app’s listing on the App Store. There, they’re informed that “Onavo Protect helps keep you and your data safe when you browse and share information on the web.” You’re also informed that the “app helps keep your details secure when you login to websites or enter personal information such as bank accounts and credit card numbers.”
      [source: imgur.com]

    • Nunes Demands Copies Of FISA Docs About Steele Dossier Warrants; Court Suggests Taking It Up With The FBI

      Having already released the memo purportedly showing surveillance abuses committed by the FBI, the legislators behind the release are now getting around to asking for documents to back up the memo’s assertions. Bob Goodlatte and Devin Nunes have both asked the FISA court for the paperwork they probably should have looked at before writing and releasing the memo.

      Nunes has asked for “transcripts of relevant FISC hearings” related to the FISA warrants predicated largely on assertions made in Steele dossier. Goodlatte has asked applications and orders for the same warrants. The FISA court has replied with two letters stating basically the same thing: thanks for the weird (and inappropriate) question, but maybe take this up the FBI.

    • Lawyers for accused NSA leaker asking for some evidence to be thrown out

      One of Winner’s lawyers tells NewsChannel 6 there will be a hearing on February 27th.

      During that hearing, her lawyers are expected to question one of the FBI investigators who worked the case when Winner was arrested.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation

      In the coming decades, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are going to transform many aspects of our world. Much of this change will be positive; the potential for benefits in areas as diverse as health, transportation and urban planning, art, science, and cross-cultural understanding are enormous. We’ve already seen things go horribly wrong with simple machine learning systems; but increasingly sophisticated AI will usher in a world that is strange and different from the one we’re used to, and there are serious risks if this technology is used for the wrong ends.

      Today EFF is co-releasing a report with a number of academic and civil society organizations1 on the risks from malicious uses of AI and the steps that should be taken to mitigate them in advance.

    • Video: This Obscure Plea Deal Offers Freedom to the Wrongfully Convicted at a Huge Cost

      In 1987, police detectives — who’d later be made famous by David Simon, creator of “The Wire” — used flimsy evidence to pin a burglary, rape and murder case on James Thompson and James Owens. They were both sentenced to life in prison. Then, 20 years later, DNA evidence cleared them of the rape and unraveled the state’s theory of the crime. But instead of exonerating the two men, prosecutors pushed them to plead guilty to the crime in exchange for immediate freedom.

    • Court Sends Cop Back To Prison For Bogus ‘Contempt Of Cop’ Arrest

      It shouldn’t take an appeals court to reach this conclusion, but that’s the route taken most frequently by people challenging their convictions. Former sheriff’s deputy Matthew Corder doesn’t want to serve time after being convicted of depriving Derek Baize of his constitutional rights, and so we’ve ended up at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. (h/t Sixth Circuit Blog)

      This all stems from a “contempt of cop” incident. Baize returned home one night to find Deputy Corder parked in his parking spot in front of his home. Baize asked what was going on, only to be told to “mind his own business.” Baize then asked the deputy to move his car so Baize could park in front of his house. The deputy said he’d move his car “when he was ready.”

      Nonplussed by the behavior of this supposed public servant, Baize told the deputy to “fuck off.” Deputy Corder asked for clarification. Baize responded: “I did not stutter. I said ‘fuck off.’” Baize then walked into his house. Corder claimed he yelled for Baize to stop. Baize said he didn’t hear this. It really doesn’t matter. Citizens are under no legal obligation to engage in conversations with law enforcement officers. The deputy’s testimony indicates Baize wasn’t committing any crime nor was he wanted for a suspected criminal act when he walked away from the yelling deputy.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why Decentralization Matters

      The good news is that billions of people got access to amazing technologies, many of which were free to use. The bad news is that it became much harder for startups, creators, and other groups to grow their internet presence without worrying about centralized platforms changing the rules on them, taking away their audiences and profits. This in turn stifled innovation, making the internet less interesting and dynamic. Centralization has also created broader societal tensions, which we see in the debates over subjects like fake news, state sponsored bots, “no platforming” of users, EU privacy laws, and algorithmic biases. These debates will only intensify in the coming years.

      [...]

      We saw the value of decentralized systems in the first era of the internet. Hopefully we’ll get to see it again in the next.

    • The Great Puri.sm Outage of 2018

      We contacted the specialist first thing in the morning, and he had no idea why the domain was suspended; he said he would contact the .sm registry but with one complication: the San Marino .sm registry office was now closed so it might take until the next day for them to respond to the email! Because their office was closed, he said all he could do is put the ticket in the queue of the team on the next support shift—that’s right, the same team out of Ireland we originally contacted. Because their office hours mirrored the San Marino office hours, he assured us they would get to it first thing in the morning their time.

    • FCC reversal of net neutrality rules expected to be published Thursday: sources

      The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is expected to publish on Thursday its December order overturning the landmark Obama-era net neutrality rules, two sources briefed on the matter said Tuesday.

      The formal publication in the Federal Register, a government website, means state attorneys general and advocacy groups will be able to sue in a bid to block the order from taking effect.

      The Republican-led FCC in December voted 3-2 to overturn rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content. The White House Office of Management and Budget still must sign off on some aspects of the FCC reversal before it takes legal effect.

    • More Than Half Of U.S. States Now Pushing Their Own Net Neutrality Rules

      Large ISP lobbyists, the FCC and agency head Ajit Pai are going to be rather busy for the foreseeable future. In the wake of the agency’s extremely unpopular net neutrality repeal, consumer groups note that 26 states (27 including a new effort in Kansas) have now taken action to protect net neutrality themselves — with more efforts on the way. The efforts range from attempts to pass state-level net neutrality rules banning anti-competitive behavior, to executive orders modifying state procurement rules to prohibit ISPs that violate net neutrality from getting state money or securing state contracts.

  • DRM

    • When the Copyright Office Meets, the Future Needs a Seat at the Table

      Every three years, EFF’s lawyers spend weeks huddling in their offices, composing carefully worded pleas we hope will persuade the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress to grant Americans a modest, temporary permission to use our own property in ways that are already legal.

      Yeah, we think that’s weird, too. But it’s been than way ever since 1998, when Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, whose Section 1201 established a ban on tampering with “access controls for copyrighted works” (also known as “Digital Rights Management” or “DRM”). It doesn’t matter if you want to do something absolutely legitimate, something that there is no law against — if you have to bypass DRM to do it, it’s not allowed.

      What’s more, if someone wants to provide you with a tool to get around the DRM, they could face up to five years in prison and a $500,000 fine, for a first offense, even if the tool is only ever used to accomplish legal, legitimate ends.

    • Pirates Crack the First Windows 10 UWP Game

      One of the reasons Microsoft is pushing so aggressively for developers to bring their apps and games to the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 is that with the UWP approach, they can target more than one platform at the same time, including PCs, mobile phones, tablets, Xbox, and HoloLens.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Data on the first year of the Defend Trade Secrets Act

      In preparing for the Evil Twin Debate on the DTSA, David Levine (Elon) and Chris Seaman (Washington & Lee) were kind enough to share a draft of their empirical study of cases arising under the first year of the Defend Trade Secrets Act. Now that the article is forthcoming in Wake Forest Law Review and on SSRN, it only makes sense to share their latest draft.

    • Copyrights

      • Crazy new Swedish bill makes sharing music and TV as bad a “crime” as manslaughter (yes, really)

        A new bill has been tabled in Sweden that triples the maximum prison sentence for infringement of the copyright monopoly, such as using ordinary BitTorrent, to a maximum of six years in prison.

        Typical imprisonment time for crimes varies across the world, so talking in terms of prison years becomes apples and oranges. In order to understand the perceived severity of a crime, and the harm this bill does to society, we need to compare it to another crime in the same jurisdiction.

        And in this particular jurisdiction, the maximum penalty for copyright infringement becomes as harsh as the maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter, if this new crazy bill passes — which it very well might. (The maximum sentence in question is six years in prison, which is a light sentence by US standards, but among the harshest in Europe and the Nordics.)

      • Did Congress Really Expect Us to Whittle Our Own Personal Jailbreaking Tools?

        In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and profoundly changed the relationship of Americans to their property.

        Section 1201 of the DMCA bans the bypassing of “access controls” for copyrighted works. Originally, this meant that even though you owned your DVD player, and even though it was legal to bring DVDs home with you from your European holidays, you weren’t allowed to change your DVD player so that it would play those out-of-region DVDs. DVDs were copyrighted works, the region-checking code was an access control, and so even though you owned the DVD, and you owned the DVD player, and even though you were allowed to watch the disc, you weren’t allowed to modify your DVD player to play your DVD (which you were allowed to watch).

        Experts were really worried about this: law professors, technologists and security experts saw that soon we’d have software—that is, copyrighted works—in all kinds of devices, from cars to printer cartridges to voting machines to medical implants to thermostats. If Congress banned tinkering with the software in the things you owned, it would tempt companies to use that software to create “private laws” that took away your rights to use your property in the way you saw fit. For example, it’s legal to use third party ink in your HP printer, but once HP changed its printers to reject third-party ink, they could argue that anything you did to change them back was a violation of the DMCA.

Rumour: European Patent Office to Lay Off a Significant Proportion of Its Workforce

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 5:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

While Team Battistelli gives itself major bonuses

Unlock
Just don’t mention anything about luxury cars of top-level management or bars built secretly at the 10th floor (among other ludicrous spendings on media influence, Eurovision-type festivals, plenty of personal bodyguards and so on)

Summary: While the Administrative Council of the EPO praises Battistelli for his financial accomplishments (as laughable as it may seem) a lot of families stuck in a foreign country may soon see their breadwinner unemployed, according to rumours

THE EPO is in trouble/peril; insiders started to insinuate that something wrong and very major was brewing at the Office yesterday. We’ve waited long enough and we now hear it from multiple sources. So here it goes.

“According to rumours heard at the EPO’s canteen,” one source told us, “the EPO seems to be planning dismissals of 700 to 1000 employees.”

“If they have as much money as they claim, why would the Office shrink this much?”This does not surprise us. We wrote about layoffs just earlier this week and many imminent changes seem to be hinting at that. Battistelli is just planting the seeds of catastrophe, which no doubt already causes super-hard-working examiners to panic.

Now that we hear these things we can’t help but recall some recent comments. One such comment said that “the only bells to which the Administrative Council of the EPO usually reacts to are the cash register bells operated by Mr. Battistelli.”

What cash register?

If they have as much money as they claim, why would the Office shrink this much? This is unprecedented; the Office grew over time rather than shrink.

Here is another interesting new comment:

” If the Freie Wähler stand up and file a pretty sensible and non-ideological resolution like this one, then I would not be surprised if it will actually be passed by the state parliament on 20/2/2018.”

Dear Dr. Bausch, far be it from me to question your optimism about Bavarian democracy.
But I wouldn’t count on the motion passing if the CSU gets its way.

But I suggest that you take a look at the contribution from Mr. Taubeneder (CSU) during the last debate on EPO affairs back in March 2017:

https://www1.bayern.landtag.de/www/player/index.html?playlist=https://www1.bayern.landtag.de/lisp/res/metafiles/wp17/17_346/meta_vod_24176.json&startId=

Maybe it is just me, but he gives the impression of singing off the same hymn sheet as the EPO management.
It would not surprise me if the EPO PR department wrote the speech for him.

We wrote about that at the time. People said the same thing to us (that the EPO seems to be ‘operating’ some politicians behind the scenes).

Thorsten Bausch responded by noting that he “heard that today’s [yesterday's] session was postponed to March due to sickness of Ms. Schmidt.”

Schmidt is a key figure in all this. Fantastic politician.

“As to your comments about Mr. Taubeneder,” Bausch continued, “you may indeed be right. Some of the language he used was clearly not his own (but the same is true for Ms. Schmidt, to be fair). Mr. Taubeneder’s main argument in 2017 was that the Bavarian Parliament is not competent to judge about such matters, which are in the very capable hands of the Administrative Council (sarcasm added by me, but not much). If I were Mr. Taubeneder or any of his CSU fellows, I would rather argue that it is the failure of the SPD-led Federal Ministry of Justice to apply more pressure on the Administrative Council to change things at the EPO to the better.”

Where is the German state when all these abuses are happening, culminating in the likely dismissal of many public servants living and working abroad with their families? Can the sessions wait another month?

Here is another new comment from another thread. This one too is about the supine Administrative Council:

Introducing the provision to “terminate the service of an employee if the exigencies of the service require abolition of their post or a reduction in staff” looks like a classic (“dead cat”) strategy from the EPO management.

Getting feedback that nobody likes the proposal to change to 5 year contracts? Starting to worry that the proposal might not be passed? No problem, we have the answer for you: just introduce a proposal that is far more outrageous an objectionable and then everyone will expend their energy and time fighting that instead.

So here’s my prediction: unless the AC has become completely supine, the “dead cat” proposal will draw objections, at which point the EPO management (with a theatrical show of exasperation and reluctance) will agree to withdraw it, but only if the AC agrees to rubber-stamp all of the other proposals (including the expansion of 5-year contracts).

It will be interesting to see how accurate this prediction turns out to be.

If the rumours are true, it all makes sense now. And as a followup comment put it: “Our salaries at the USPTO are even more competitive than the EPO’s [...] Conclusion: the overall better employment conditions at the USPTO allows USPTO examiners to provide much higher quality than that provided by the EPO. Hence, applicants would be better advised to file first in the US to get value for money…”

It’s hardly surprising that under Battistelli, e.g. last year, the number of patent applications (for EPs) actually fell slightly. Battistelli doomed the Office. Whether it was intentional or not (UPC in mind) we’ll let readers decide.

The demise of the EPO threatens Europe’s competitiveness. One might say, “so they’ll turn to NPOs…”

Well, not necessarily. Some people now go abroad for their patents.

As a side note, earlier this month EPLAW wrote about the ‘Drum Unit’ case that relates to the NPO:

With its milestone ‘Drum Unit’ decision, the German Federal Supreme Court revisits its case law on the exhaustion of patent rights, and in particular, on the delimitation of ‘permissible use’ on the one hand and the ‘unlawful (re-)making’ of a patented product on the other.

What would exhaustion of a patent office itself mean to stakeholders? Has it ever happened?

We have, on numerous occasions, been told that an EPO career should be lifelong because finding a job after the EPO is hard (there are several different reasons for this). It pains us to think that many EPO workers, some of whom were supportive of us over the years, are not in a state of shock if not additional stress (as it things weren’t already stressful enough).

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