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BlackBerry is Now Suing Facebook Using Software Patents, Canadian Press is Talking Like a Patent Troll: “You Better Not Screw With Us”

Posted in America, Patents at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: BlackBerry, which Canadian people used to be very proud of, is joining the ranks of several high-profile patent trolls that are based in Canada and suing in the United States as revenue dries up and patents approach their expiry date

THE USPTO granted a lot of patents to BlackBerry. “BlackBerry, the former king of business-level smartphones,” says this new article, “is seeking to raise money through different means. Although you can still buy BlackBerry phones – they’re actually made by Chinese company TCL Communications under licence – BlackBerry’s business now is largely focused on software, driverless car technology and monetising its many technology patents – of which over 40,000 exist.”

40,000 patents. How many of these are crude crap? BlackBerry has become a de facto patent troll; it’s just suing and extorting actual companies that actually sell something (even Android phones like BlackBerry’s). Thankfully, more people now recognise this and even call BlackBerry a “troll”. Earlier this week a blogger who focuses on mobile patents (and is himself a developer of mobile software) called BlackBerry’s latest action a “trollish patent lawsuit”. To quote:

The company that used to be called Research In Motion is now named BlackBerry. It has always had the wrong kind of name at the given time: Research In Motion would be a typical name for a patent troll (second-best to “Innovations in Motion”, more often than not with a demonym such as “American” placed in front) as those organizations try to position themselves as innovative, research-centric businesses with a view to jury trials when in reality they usually aren’t. But it had that name when it was making those BlackBerry devices. Now that it has the name of the product, it’s no longer making phones and becoming ever more of a patent troll.


Why is BlackBerry afraid of Northern California? Obviously, for the troll that the company increasingly is, the Eastern District of Texas would have been an obvious choice. But presumably BlackBerry didn’t want to try such a long shot in light of TC Heartland.

Like we said some years ago, when a Canadian company strives to be in Texas for litigation it’s becoming harder to ignore its “trollish” tendencies. This latest lawsuit should not be shocking a twist. So many dozens of articles about BlackBerry suing Facebook with software patents have already been published, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

One of the above has a headline with a quote: “You better not screw with us” (that’s not BlackBerry talking like a patent troll, albeit BlackBerry is certainly acting like one).

We researched this carefully and the quote comes only from this article which mentions Alice: (one of many articles about it, maybe thousands)

In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court made it much harder to enforce software patents, essentially saying that taking established ways of doing business and putting them on a computer shouldn’t be considered new intellectual property. BlackBerry seems to have prepared its suit with this in mind by laying out a 117-page complaint against Facebook explaining why the patents it holds were truly innovative at the time they were invented, said Jim Wallace, a lawyer who represented NTP Inc. in a major court battle against BlackBerry in the early 2000s.

“They’ve done everything they can to send a message to the defendants and the world: ‘We’ve got strong patents and you better not screw with us,”’ Wallace said. The NTP suit ended in 2006 with BlackBerry paying $612.5 million.

So the quote does not actually come from BlackBerry but from someone who sued BlackBerry many moons ago (back when BlackBerry was doing very well as a practicing company).

Facebook recently became more active in lobbying against patent trolls. It backs some groups that combat patent trolling. But Facebook itself may one day become like BlackBerry (it is occasionally aggressive with patents), namely a troll which once upon a time had a real, thriving business. Check out this creepy new patent from Facebook, which is primarily a surveillance company. What sort of companies would Facebook sue? Militaries and spy agencies?

Japanese and Korean Companies Don’t Pursue Patent Litigation and They’re Doing a Lot Better Than China

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, Deception at 11:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

China as a nation does not demonstrate the value of patent maximalism (unless you’re a lawyer looking for a quick buck/yuan)

Quantity alone is a rather poor measure of value

Summary: China and its neighbours to the east are far from friends (contrary to shallow beliefs that are ubiquitous in the West) and their different patent policies serve to show that, if anything, patent restraint pays off

THE Japanese market and JPO made the news quite a few times recently, initially because of SEP policy and then some Japanese companies. IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, did everything it could to spin what had happened (we wrote some rebuttals) and right now it downplays — yet again — the patent trolls (IAM still calls them “NPEs”) problem by looking at a country which barely has any. Earlier this week IAM wrote:

In their heyday, NPEs often saw companies from Japan with big product businesses as easy prey: they were conservative, defensive and did not like confrontation; so accuse them of patent infringement and the likelihood is that they would pay to make the threat of litigation go away. That’s why Japanese businesses were always towards the top of the rankings as defendants in NPE suits.

Japan and Korea are mostly victims of trolls from abroad, not domestic trolls. It’s hard to even think of any famous trolls from Japan and Korea.

“Japan and Korea are mostly victims of trolls from abroad, not domestic trolls.”Last week Canon made the news because it had become aggressive with patents in the US (which is rare), only a few months after Canon had joined OIN, which is incidentally a bullies’ club (some of its largest members are aggressive with patents). The total number of lawsuits/defendants was revealed by IAM when it wrote that “Canon’s big US patent attack last week is unlikely to represent a new licensing strategy, but other recent suits filed by Japanese companies State-side may well indicate changing views.”

From the blog post it turns out that the approximated number, 50, was pretty close:

In all, 48 firms are named in an ITC complaint Canon filed on 28th February – 14 of these are corporations domiciled in China, Hong Kong or Macau. According to a representative patent complaint, the defendants import replacement toner cartridges which are compatible with Canon and HP brand laser printers. In turn, Canon has asserted at least seven cartridge-related US patents against each respondent at a range of district courts, in states including Delaware, California, Arizona and Texas. It is very unlikely that Canon has any desire to grant these types of entities a revenue-bearing licence. Instead, the chances are that it would rather see them shut out of this particular sector to protect its cartridge business.

A few days ago in a press release [1, 2] they called themselves “Canon U.S.A.” in order to sound American (they’re Japanese). They should rename/rebrand as “Canon Litigation”, for that’s what they’re reduced to now.

Meanwhile in China, where there’s a patent trolls epidemic (nobody would deny it at this point), blame is being put by US patent maximalists. Everything they dislike is being blamed in China (by default) as if only China competes with the US. In reality, it’s similar to the constant Russia-blaming tactics (in defense, not economic aspects). And it’s getting boring. It has gotten so boring in fact that we stopped tracking particular patent maximalists whose output is constant China blaming, China envy etc. Here’s one of them stating: “If the next generation of American children want to be engineers or scientists, they will have to learn Mandarin” (complete nonsense!).

This sort of alarmist propaganda has become very commonplace among patent maximalists. Their agenda is pretty obvious to see. They basically say, “hey, look at China rising; that must mean that its lenient patent system is behind all that and therefore we must undo all the reforms and grant patents by the millions!”

Over at Watchtroll several days ago (Sunday) there were two articles about patents, one in which Paul Morinville continued the China obsession (as if the US only has patents and nothing else) and David Kline bemoaned the price of patents: (they’re pretty cheap in China, which devalues the very concept of a patent)

Making the patent system inexpensive invited everyone’s participation. In the words of Englishman John Standfield, quoted in an 1880 issue of Scientific American: “The cheap patent law of the United States has been and still is the secret of the great success of that country.”

This leads to China-style saturation of patents and ultimately devaluation thereof. Do we really want that? Scarcity of patents is what makes them worth pursuing and keeping. Abundance of patents may be China’s ‘hack’ for discrediting accusations that it is “stealing”, “ripping off”, “pirating”, “knocking off” and so on. China just floods the market with patents, irrespective of the long-term consequences.

The same author (as above) later defended patent trolls, so we pretty much know where he comes from and where he chooses to post (Watchtroll is just about the most extremist site in the patents domain). As we shall show in a few days, Watchtroll is back to attacking judges. It’s getting pretty ugly again.

Last but not least, consider where Yahoo’s founder (Yang) came from. He was born in Taiwan as Yang Chih-Yuan and he created a massive US corporation with hard work and technical edge. Microsoft destroyed his company (which he attempted to save amid Microsoft’s sabotage) and now the patents are up for sale. As it turns out, Samsung has just wasted money on a pile of software patents that are likely not valid after Alice. As IAM put it earlier today:

Altaba, the holding company that was formed to sell off former Yahoo! assets, has transferred a patent portfolio to Samsung Electronics, in what looks to be its second small-scale disposal.

USPTO records show that the transfer was made in late February. The assignment includes nine US patents and two applications. If there are any foreign counterparts involved, they’re not mentioned in the documentation. A brief review of the titles suggest that they cover inventions related to augmented reality (AR) technologies (“Reconfiguring reality using a reality overlay device”; “Virtual notes in a reality overlay”).

The move is the first made by Altaba since it brought in former RPX executive Paul Reidy to lead its patent monetisation effort last December. It comes five months after Altaba’s first patent disposal in September, which saw Eureka Database Solutions, an affiliate of Dominion Harbor Group, pick up 25 patent assets related to search. It is unclear whether that deal was brokered by Houlihan Lokey, the firm originally appointed to find a buyer for the whole portfolio

Samsung is generally not aggressive with patents, so we’re assuming that it pursues patent peace or cross-licensing with the above acquisition. With the exception of China and perhaps also Singapore, east/southeast Asia isn’t renowned for patent aggression. Considering the financial prosperity in Japan and South Korea (China is low on a per capita basis), that ought to give the US something to think about. Is patent maximalism desirable at all?

The European Patent Office (EPO) Ought to Lead in Patent Scope, Not Slide to the Bottom of the Pile

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 9:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What good is patent examination that does not (or cannot, due to lack of time) assess underlying evidence and just rubber-stamps almost everything?

Three monkeys

Summary: The United States is getting tougher on the same sorts of patents that the EPO under Battistelli is extremely eager to grant — all in the name of so-called (fake) ‘production’

HAVING closely watched and written about the patent systems since my early twenties (even before Techrights existed), I’m genuinely worried to see the EPO — once the world’s best patent office (based on several criteria) — becoming even worse than the USPTO (historically notorious, especially since the Reagan years when policy was changed). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is a growing force at the USPTO, whereas the EPO’s equivalent (the appeal boards) is being marginalised. There are many ways by which to measure this marginalisation. It’s more like sabotage by the Office, which is in principle supposed to be completely isolated from the boards; the boards should be untouchable in order to assure independence of judges (and freedom to rule as they see fit, based on underlying laws, evidence/prior art, the EPC and so on).

“The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is a growing force at the USPTO, whereas the EPO’s equivalent (the appeal boards) is being marginalised.”One of two areas we’ve always campaigned in is what we refer to as “patents as life” (there are other terms that can be used). Anticipat, a site which markets some products/services by bashing PTAB, has this new post today. It’s actually a couple of days old (but only showed up today) and it speaks of the PatCon8 conference, noting that the “State of Patent-Eligibility of Medical Diagnostics [is] Not Good” (in the US).

It’s good actually. Very good. No such patents should be permitted and many are indeed being denied. The USPTO has gotten tougher and early assessments suggest that the number of granted US patents — not to be mistaken for patent applications — will have declined by year’s end (which is not necessarily a bad thing, for constant expansion in monopoly power isn’t desirable). “The eighth annual PatCon hosted by the University of San Diego School of Law,” Anticipat wrote on Tuesday, “included a wide range of speakers and presentations. Perhaps due to the largely academic audience, participants openly disagreed on various points. But one point had almost universal consensus: patenting medical diagnostics in the US is very bleak due to patent-eligibility. And it’s unlikely to change any time soon.”

“The USPTO has gotten tougher and early assessments suggest that the number of granted US patents — not to be mistaken for patent applications — will have declined by year’s end (which is not necessarily a bad thing, for constant expansion in monopoly power isn’t desirable).”Good.

We recently wrote an article about the "cancer" which is patents on treatments (typically mere processes, not an invention) and the concept of "life sciences" as a Trojan horse for patenting things like genetics (nature’s ‘invention’, not a human invention, maybe just an explanation/revelation/reverse-engineering by humans).

The EPO was recently denying patents on CRISPR. These patents on life are laughable and should be voided so as to avoid going down the slippery slope of making DNA as a whole some corporations’ ‘property’. Hours ago a site dedicated to advocacy of patents on life (or “life sciences”) wrote about the ERS Genomics patent (we wrote about this exactly one week ago). This is what it said:

The European Patent Office (EPO) has granted a second CRISPR/Cas9 patent to a specialist genomics company, one month after revoking the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT’s patent relating to the technology.


The EPO’s granting of Charpentier’s second CRISPR patent came a month after it revoked a CRISPR patent (2,771,468) owned by the Broad Institute.

Will consistency/clarity come from the appeal boards (Boards of Appeal)? Will they be able to rule independently?

“We have never seen even a single European programmer defending software patents.”As we noted this morning, the Boards of Appeal were unable to rule properly (e.g. in lieu with the EPC and European Parliment) on software patents and one of their judges got put on a “house ban” shortly after he had vetoed a software patent of a company close to the EPO.

The “EPO annual report has replaced software patents by “4th Industrial Revolution” buzzword,” Benjamin Henrion wrote an hour ago. “4th Industrial Revolution” means software patents, I’ve reminded him, by IAM's and Battistelli's (almost conjoined) own admission. Where will the EPO put the barrier to patenting? Should we accept that mere concepts (like algorithms, not even code) or code of life are patent-eligible in order to artificially inflate the number of granted monopolies? Where would that leave public health and programmers? At the hands of vicious law firms like pretty much every single European advocate of software patents? We have never seen even a single European programmer defending software patents. Never.

Links 8/3/2018: Vulkan 1.1, Cockpit 163

Posted in News Roundup at 7:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • What is open source programming?

    At the simplest level, open source programming is merely writing code that other people can freely use and modify. But you’ve heard the old chestnut about playing Go, right? “So simple it only takes a minute to learn the rules, but so complex it requires a lifetime to master.” Writing open source code is a pretty similar experience. It’s easy to chuck a few lines of code up on GitHub, Bitbucket, SourceForge, or your own blog or site. But doing it right requires some personal investment, effort, and forethought.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Clang Now Compiles Chrome For Windows

        This is simple story until you start looking just below the surface. The simple part is that Google has manged to use the Clang compiler to compile Chrome targeting Windows. The real question is why?

      • Google Chrome 65 Now Rolling Out to Android Devices to Fight Malvertising

        After releasing the Chrome 65 web browser for Linux, Windows, and Mac operating system, Google now announced today that it started rolling out to Android devices as well.

        Google Chrome 65 (65.0.3325.109) is the first version of the Chromium-based web browser to come with a built-in ad-blocking feature that promises to fight malvertising by preventing websites with abusive ads from opening tabs or new windows and ruin your entire Chrome browsing experience.

    • Mozilla

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Report from the Geniatech vs. McHardy GPL violation court hearing

      Today, I took some time off to attend the court hearing in the appeal hearing related to a GPL infringement dispute between former netfilter colleague Partrick McHardy and Geniatech Europe

      I am not in any way legally involved in the lawsuit on either the plaintiff or the defendant side. However, as a fellow (former) Linux kernel developer myself, and a long-term Free Software community member who strongly believes in the copyleft model, I of course am very interested in this case.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: January 2018

      Given that we’re into March, it seems like a reasonable time to publish our Q1 Programming Language Rankings. As always, these are a continuation of the work originally performed by Drew Conway and John Myles White late in 2010. While the means of collection has changed, the basic process remains the same: we extract language rankings from GitHub and Stack Overflow, and combine them for a ranking that attempts to reflect both code (GitHub) and discussion (Stack Overflow) traction. The idea is not to offer a statistically valid representation of current usage, but rather to correlate language discussion and usage in an effort to extract insights into potential future adoption trends.

    • On standards work

      All of the students are using JavaScript. Where did it come from? Who made it? Who maintains it? Who defines it? Who is in charge? When we talk about open source we think about code, tests, documentation, and how all of these evolve. But what about open standards? What does working on a standard look like?

    • This Week in Rust 224

      Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed.

    • GitHub open sources Licensed for OSS license compliance

      GitHub announced it is open sourcing its internal tool for automating the licensing process of building and maintaining open source products. The tool, Licensed, is designed to help engineers streamline one of the most complex and crucial parts associated with building open source projects: maintaining code functionality and compliance.

    • GitHub gives businesses a helping hand to open source project licensing

      GitHub has introduced a new way for companies to license their open source projects, with an open source program.

      The company has open sourced ‘Licensed’, which is an internal tool used to automate various open source projects licensing processes that GitHub runs. The program aims to help programmers reduce the time it takes to track down licenses for open source projects, putting their efforts elsewhere.

      Licensed will enable developers to effectively use their code’s open source licensing by spotting potential problems with a program’s dependency license early in its development cycle. By spotting these problems early can help prevent larger issues happening.

    • Why Your Engineers Should Spend More Time Writing Open Source Software Code


  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Record Afghan Opium Crop Signals Violent Year for U.S. Forces

      Despite an escalation of the Afghan conflict under the Trump administration, a record opium crop, coupled with steady Taliban gains, foretell bitter fighting in the coming months for American forces and the Afghans stationed alongside them.

      “Record-high opium production is but one indication of how badly U.S. efforts have failed and are continuing to fail,” said Andrew Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University and author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East. “It is both a major source of Taliban funding and an indication of how little control the Afghan government is able to exert.”

    • Trump Announces One-Sided Plan To Meet With Video Game Makers Over Gun Violence

      In the conspiracy against video games that is now in full swing after the school shooting in Florida, it seems that it goes all the way to the top, by which I mean the recent comments by our Dear Leader, Donald Trump. Lower levels of the government have already begun foisting the sins of the shooter on the scapegoat of violent games, with Rhode Island looking for a plainly unconstitutional tax on adult-rated games and the governor of Kentucky trying to blame violent games for the recent shooting, sans evidence. And now it seems that Donald Trump has gotten into the mix, announcing that he will be meeting with “the video game industry” in coming weeks to see how they can stop real-world gun violence.

    • Media Erase US Role in Syria’s Misery, Call for US to Inflict More Misery

      In the Guardian (2/10/18), Simon Tisdall described the US and its Western partners as “hovering passively on the sidelines in Syria,” and “restricting themselves to counterterrorism operations and vain calls for peace.” ABC’s Conor Finnegan (2/26/18) expressed concern that “the US will remain on the sidelines” in the country.

      However, America currently controls 28 percent of Syria (Foreign Policy, 1/25/18), precisely the opposite of being “on the sidelines,” and has recently declared its intent to continue occupying the country indefinitely (New York Times, 2/22/18). As Joshua Landis (Syria Comment, 1/15/18), director of the Center for Middle East Studies, notes, the US controls “half of Syria’s energy resources, the Euphrates dam at Tabqa, as well as much of Syria’s best agricultural land.”

      Anglo-American press coverage of the Syrian situation has grossly misled readers about their own governments’ role in the catastrophe, and has urged audiences to accept greater Western military intervention in the country without examining the implications of such a move.

    • For NYT, a Trillion Dollars’ Worth of A-Bombs Is ‘Little’ Response to Russia

      So what does a “little” response look like? Since taking office, the Trump administration and Congress—citing the Russian challenge as one of their major rationales—have increased the military budget by about $80 billion, or roughly 13 percent, the largest increase since the aftermath of 9/11, and 70 percent greater than the entire Russian military budget of $47 billion. (Note that in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the Soviet military budget was bigger in real terms than that of the United States—and yet the USSR still managed to lose the Cold War.)

      Additionally, Trump has reportedly asked for a “black budget” of over $80 billion for covert operations ($30 billion more than previous reports), and pledged more than $1.2 trillion to building up the United States’ nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years, $200 billion more than Obama asked Congress for when he announced the plan two years ago.

    • The Elephant In The Room

      Nerve agents including Sarin and VX are manufactured by the British Government in Porton Down, just 8 miles from where Sergei Skripal was attacked. The official British government story is that these nerve agents are only manufactured “To help develop effective medical countermeasures and to test systems”.

      The UK media universally accepted that the production of polonium by Russia was conclusive evidence that Vladimir Putin was personally responsible for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. In the case of Skripal, po-faced articles like this hilarious one in the Guardian speculate about where the nerve agent could possibly have come from – while totally failing to mention the fact that incident took place only eight miles from the largest stock of nerve agent in western Europe.

    • What the Saudi leaks tell us: An interview with Julian Assange

      Since June 2015 WikiLeaks has been releasing details of leaked cables and other documents from within the Saudi Foreign Office. Julian Assange explains what’s inside.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Council Of Europe Agrees New Guidelines On Media Pluralism, Transparency Of Media Ownership

      The Strasbourg, France-based Council of Europe today adopted a recommendation containing a range of guidelines aimed at managing the effects of modern technology on the media sector and media pluralism. The recommendation sets out a comprehensive framework of guidelines for a “pluralist, transparent and participatory” media environment, online and offline.

    • CIA Still Arguing Its Official Leaks To Journalists Shouldn’t Be Subject To FOIA Requests

      Last week, a federal judge pointed out the obvious to the CIA: release-to-one is release-to-all, no matter how the agency’s lawyers spin it. The CIA had emailed classified information to certain journalists. When another journalist sought copies of those emails, the CIA handed him fully-redacted versions. Obviously, they weren’t redacted when they were sent to select members of the public. Why would the CIA feel the need to redact the information now when another member of the public asked for it?

      The CIA argued it had every right to hand out classified info to whoever it saw fit and then turn around and refuse to hand it over when an FOIA requester requested it. It said the classified info it gave to journalists was never published by those journalists, so it was technically not a public release. The judge shot back, stating that the CIA had effectively waived its right to withhold this information by handing it out to journalists in the first place.

  • Finance

    • Co-op becomes first UK supermarket to scrap queues for customers – and all you have to do is shop and go [Ed: Terrible idea. Greed.]

      The Co-op has become the UK’s first supermarket to introduce a no-queues policy – and shoppers can simply pick up their groceries and walk out.

      The new initiative, dubbed shop, scan and go, will allow time-pressed customers to complete payments on their phones, without visiting a till.

    • Slush Pool is Now Compatible With AsicBoost Bitcoin Miners

      “The protocol extension we propose and already implemented allows [miners] to use overt AsicBoost over stratum protocol, which was not yet possible,” Slush Pool CTO Pavel Moravec told Bitcoin Magazine. “Mining can now get even closer to the theoretical lower limit on power consumption so that there is less space for finding optimization.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast: The Desperation, Secrecy and Conflicts of Jared Kushner’s Company

      We’ve seen headline after headline about Jared Kushner. We’ve heard that Trump’s son-in-law company has been on a global search for cash, that the company got giant loans from two big financial firms after Kushner met with officials from the companies in the White House, and that countries believe they can manipulate Kushner through his “complex” business arrangements.

      Just like his father-in-law, Kushner has not fully divested from his family’s business. He still owns at least $761 million in assets. Meanwhile, the company has found itself owing hundreds of millions of dollars in debt that comes due in less than a year.

      All of this while the company has worked very hard to keep some of its partners a secret.

    • French Government Wants To Toss Far-Right Political Leader In Jail For Posting Images Of Terrorist Atrocities

      France’s decision to inhibit free speech in response to local terrorist attacks has resulted in ridiculous applications of laws being written (and rewritten) on the fly. The current French president — and supposed moderate — wants to “ban” fake news and the French government has previously expressed a desire to censor websites for national security reasons. The attack on satirical publication Charlie Hebdo supposedly prompted French government officials to stand in solidarity with free speech. This show of unity was followed immediately by multiple arrests for violations of France’s speech laws — including the arrest of comedian for an anti-Semitic Facebook post and another for posting a video mocking dead policemen.

    • Could It Happen Here? Donald Trump, Tony Judt, and the Future of American Democracy

      Is Trump’s election a step on the road to authoritarianism, or is he an anomaly? That depends on us.

    • What We Found in Trump’s Drained Swamp: Hundreds of Ex-Lobbyists and D.C. Insiders

      When the Trump administration took office early last year, hundreds of staffers from lobbying firms, conservative think tanks and Trump campaign groups began pouring into the very agencies they once lobbied or whose work they once opposed.

      Today we’re making available, for the first time, an authoritative searchable database of 2,475 political appointees, including Trump’s Cabinet, staffers in the White House and senior officials within the government, along with their federal lobbying and financial records. Trump Town is the result of a year spent filing hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests; collecting and organizing staffing lists; and compiling, sifting through and publishing thousands of financial disclosure reports.

    • The Trump Appointee Behind the Move to Add a Citizenship Question to the Census

      In December, the Department of Justice requested that the Census Bureau add a question to the 2020 survey that would ask respondents to reveal whether or not they are U.S. citizens. Since ProPublica first reported the DOJ’s letter, civil rights groups and congressional Democrats have announced their opposition, arguing that in the midst of President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown, the question will lead many people to opt out of the census, resulting in an inaccurate population count.

      A lot is at stake. The once-a-decade population count determines how House seats are distributed and helps determine where hundreds of billions of federal dollars are spent.

      But one question regarding the December letter remained unclear. The letter was signed by a career staffer in a division of the DOJ whose main function is handling budget and procurement matters. Who, observers wondered, was actually driving the policy change?

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Parliament approves “Internet Censorship Bill” – What happens next

      The National Assembly has approved legislation that aims to allow the FPB to regulate the distribution of online content in South Africa.

      Known as the Internet Censorship Bill, the Film and Publications Amendment Bill includes provisions to give the FPB powers to have online content blocked in South Africa.

      This includes “user-generated content”, such as posts published to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media services.

      According to reports, the National Assembly vote was 189 in favour, 35 against, and no abstentions.

    • We are probably going back to Emergency era: Shyam Benegal
    • Is Censorship A Necessary Evil?

      With more than 1000 films being released every year, in India censorship of films has not only been a debate in the legal fraternity but also a topic of discussion at the family dinner table. The recent delay and cuts in the movie “Padmavati” is just one of the many examples of censorship in India. The current trend of CBFC of cutting scenes and banning of movies has raised various questions in people’s mind which need clarification.

    • Eliminating Free Speech – Internet Censorship in the Trump Era

      Trump’s election victory was the Reichstag fire of internet censorship. The fury and conspiracy theories that followed were not just about bringing down President Trump, but ending free speech online.

      It’s no coincidence that the central conspiracy theory surrounding the 2016 election involves free speech or that the solution is internet censorship. The claim that Russian trolls and bots rigged the election has zero actual evidence behind it. But it’s a convenient tool for not only delegitimizing Trump, but the very idea of a free and open internet where anyone can say anything they choose.

      Senator Ben Cardin, Rep. Jerry Nadler and other members of Congress compared the election influence conspiracy to Pearl Harbor. Rep. Jim Himes went even further, suggesting that it had eclipsed 9/11 by claiming that it, “is up there with Pearl Harbor in terms of its seriousness as a challenge to this country.”

    • Judges impose self-censorship under gov’t pressure: CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu

      Judges in Turkey have been obliged to impose self-censorship due to government pressure and issue their verdicts according to the expectations of the presidency, the head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has said, amid discussions over the impartiality of the judicial system.

      “Judges have come to a point where they can no longer hand judgements in line with their conscience in a country under a one-man regime. They impose self-censorship. They are concerned about angering the person at the presidency with his or her verdict. They either delay the verdicts or they issue them in line with the expectation of the person in the palace,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told his parliamentary group on March 7.

    • Palestinian journalists protest Facebook censorship

      Palestinian journalists staged a demonstration outside the UN office in Gaza City on Monday, “to protest Facebook’s practice of blocking Palestinian Facebook accounts”, reported Al Jazeera.

      Participants held banners saying “Facebook is complicit in [Israel’s] crimes” and “Facebook favours the [Israeli] occupation”.

      Monday’s protest was organized by the Journalists Support Committee, a Palestinian NGO.

      Speaking at the demonstration, Salama Maarouf, a spokesperson for Hamas, said Facebook was “a major violator of freedom of opinion and expression”.

    • ‘Internet Censorship Bill’ approved

      The controversial Films and Publications Amendment Bill, labelled by some as the “Internet Censorship Bill”, has been passed by the National Assembly.

      According to the Parliamentary Monitoring group, the Bill was passed by the National Assembly on 6 March and will now be transmitted to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for concurrence. After that it heads to the desk of the president to be signed into law.

      The Bill is supposed to address the shortcomings of the Films and Publications Act of 1996, but has come under fierce scrutiny since it was first gazetted, with many calling for it to be overhauled for infringing on freedom of speech.

    • WATCH: ‘Inxeba’ ruling a ‘victory against censorship’: filmmakers

      The critically-acclaimed local film Inxeba (The Wound) may have won a legal battle, but its war is far from over, as filmmakers will be back in court at the end of March.

      The movie’s creators scored a victory on Tuesday when the North Gauteng High Court overturned the Film and Publication Board Appeals Tribunal’s decision, to give the film an age restriction of X18.

    • Inxeba returns to cinemas nationwide

      The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ruled that the X-rating on the film Inxeba: The Wound can be lifted meaning the film can now be shown in local cinemas with an 18 age restriction pending court proceedings that have been postponed until March 28.

    • Offensive? Censorship? Inxeba in court over X18 rating

      The main argument of the applicant on its court papers is that as things now stand – the classification as hardcore pornography – the film can only be viewed at “adult premises” aka “sex shops” and no longer at mainstream cinemas.

      An appeal against the reclassification of the film was made at the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

      The decision over the 18 rating has been postponed to March 28.

      This is a development of critical importance to Inxeba.

    • A blow against censorship
    • WATCH: ‘Inxeba’ ruling a ‘victory against censorship’: filmmakers
    • Can Someone Explain How SESTA Will Stop Sex Trafficking?
    • The New Israel Anti-Boycott Act Is Still Unconstitutional
    • Rhode Island Law Would Mandate Porn Filters, Charge You $20 Per Device To Bypass Them
    • Famous Racist Sues Twitter Claiming It Violates His Civil Rights As A Racist To Be Kicked Off The Platform

      We’ve seen a bunch of lawsuits of late filed by very angry people who have been kicked off of, or somehow limited by, various social media platforms. There’s Dennis Prager’s lawsuit against YouTube as well as Chuck Johnson’s lawsuit against Twitter. Neither of these have any likelihood of success. These platforms have every right to kick off whoever they want, and Section 230 of the CDA pretty much guarantees an easy win.

      Now we have yet another one of these, Jared Taylor, a self-described “race realist” and “white advocate” (what most of us would call an out and out racist), has sued Twitter for kicking him and his organization off its platform. Taylor is represented by a few lawyers, including Marc Randazza, who I know and respect, but with whom I don’t always agree — and this is one of those cases. I think Randazza took a bad case and is making some fairly ridiculous arguments that will fail badly. Randazza declined to comment on my questions about this case, but his co-counsel — law professor Adam Candeub and Noah Peters — both were kind enough to discuss for quite some time their theory on the case, and to debate my concerns about why the lawsuit will so obviously fail. We’ll get to their responses soon, but first let’s look at the lawsuit itself.

      To the credit of these lawyers, they make a valiant effort to distinguish this case from the Prager and Johnson cases, which appear to be just completely ridiculous. The Taylor case makes the most thorough argument I’ve seen for why Twitter can’t kick someone off its platform. It’s still so blatantly wrong and will almost certainly get laughed out of court, but the legal arguments are marginally better than those found in the other similar cases we’ve seen.

    • Subtle Censorship: A Gateway to Sovereignty

      “Both my maternal great-grandparents immigrated to the United States,” Dr. Kara Ritzheimer began. “I grew up hearing stories about my great-grandparents from my mother. As a teenager, I traveled to Germany and met my relatives there on my great-grandmother’s side, and I’ve stayed in very close contact with them.”

      Ritzheimer is an associate professor of history at Oregon State University, where she continues research in modern European history with an emphasis in modern German history. Her interest began with the female agency she heard about in stories from her mother. While that is still of interest, her work has led her to studying censorship of “trash” or “smut” in Germany surrounding WWI.

      Her work provides some food for thought about what censorship looks like, how it can be implemented, and the harm it causes. While the world of WWI Germany is much different than the U.S. today, censorship and its threats have changed surprisingly little.

      Ritzheimer contextualizes her work, explaining that prior to WWI, “trash first referred to serialized novels and then dime novels,” short stories of no more than 25 pages with bright covers, detailing the often violent or macabre adventures of characters like Sherlock Holmes and Buffalo Bill.

    • Controversial YouTubers head to alternative platforms in wake of ‘purge’

      SteemIt’s CEO Ned Scott doesn’t believe in censorship; a stance that has won him and his platform fans in recent months.

      The appeal of video platform, DTube, which runs on the Steem blockchain database, is almost directly tied to what many creators allege has been happening on YouTube for more than a year: the “YouTube Purge,” an alleged condemnation of right-wing political channels, pro-gun advocates and conspiracy theorists, that’s led to claims of censorship on Google’s video platform.

      As YouTube attempts to crack down on content it deems hateful, bullying or promoting dangerous conspiracy theories, people are looking for alternatives. DTube is a decentralized video platform with little to no moderation that uses cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to pay its users. BitChute is similar, but whereas DTube takes much of its design inspiration from YouTube, BitChute looks like an older version of LiveLeaks. The creators of BitChute describe themselves as a “small team making a stand against Internet censorship because we believe it is the right thing to do.”

    • Comcast Protected Browsing Blocks TorrentFreak, Showing Why Site-Blocking Sucks Out Loud Always

      While site-blocking is now a global phenomena, every country appears to be on a different trajectory in how it does this new flavor of censorship. Russia, for instance, looks for any excuse to block the availability of a website on its soil, resulting in absolutely hilarious amounts of collateral damage. Italy is slightly more judicious, but still does its site-blocking sans due process, whereas Ireland has just begun to open the door to site-blocking, with all kinds of major media companies just waiting to barge through it. Here in America, site-blocking is typically reserved for streaming sites during major sporting events and the voluntary blocking companies like Comcast offer with its “Protected Browsing” service.

      But let’s be clear: all of these points on the spectrum suck out loud. Collateral damage is the rule, not the outlier, and these efforts at justified censorship always creep, if not dash, towards the other line of reasonable behavior. As an example of this, let’s go back to the site-blocking Comcast performs for customers who enable its “Protected Browsing” feature. This feature is supposed to protect internet users from malware, unwanted pornography, and pirate sites. It also apparently keeps people from being able to access news sites like TorrentFreak.

    • Anti-censorship bill for student journalists awaits Washington governor’s signature

      In just a few days’ time, school administrators in Washington state may no longer get the final call on what publishes in their school newspapers — students will.

      On Monday afternoon, the state Senate approved the amended version of Senate Bill 5064, a bill that’s been introduced in various forms since 1992, including four times in the last decade. The vote count was 45 to 4. Sunnyside Republican Jim Honeyford was among those voting against the bill.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Shadow Brokers’ NSA data dump offers up more revelations

      A group of Hungarian researchers found that the National Security Agency (NSA) was able to scan for and track nation-state threat groups when NSA workers were conducting operations inside other country’s systems.

      The research comes from the Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security, also known as CrySyS Lab, reported The Intercept. The tracking was accomplished using scripts that could spot other nation-state hackers that were inside the same machines as the NSA. The Intercept said CrySys found the NSA was able to track 45 foreign operations. This tracking ability were discovered among the trove of NSA documents spilled by The Shadow Brokers several years ago.

    • The Leaked NSA Spy Tool That Hacked the World

      Leaked to the public not quite a year ago, EternalBlue has joined a long line of reliable hacker favorites. The Conficker Windows worm infected millions of computers in 2008, and the Welchia remote code execution worm wreaked havoc 2003. EternalBlue is certainly continuing that tradition—and by all indications it’s not going anywhere. If anything, security analysts only see use of the exploit diversifying as attackers develop new, clever applications, or simply discover how easy it is to deploy.

      “When you take something that’s weaponized and a fully developed concept and make it publicly available you’re going to have that level of uptake,” says Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence at the security firm CrowdStrike. “A year later there are still organizations that are getting hit by EternalBlue—still organizations that haven’t patched it.”


      Microsoft released its EternalBlue patches on March 14 of last year. But security update adoption is spotty, especially on corporate and institutional networks. Within two months, EternalBlue was the centerpiece of the worldwide WannaCry ransomware attacks that were ultimately traced to North Korean government hackers. As WannaCry hit, Microsoft even took the “highly unusual step” of issuing patches for the still popular, but long-unsupported Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems.

    • Spy v. Spy: An NSA Leak Reveals the Agency’s List of Enemy Hackers

      When the still-unidentified group calling itself the Shadow Brokers spilled a collection of NSA tools onto the internet in a series of leaks starting in 2016, they offered a rare glimpse into the internal operations of the the world’s most advanced and stealthy hackers. But those leaks haven’t just let the outside world see into the NSA’s secret capabilities. They might also let us see the rest of the world’s hackers through the NSA’s eyes.

      Over the last year, Hungarian security researcher Boldizsár Bencsáth has remained fixated by one of the less-examined tools revealed in that disemboweling of America’s elite hacking agency: A piece of NSA software, called “Territorial Dispute,” appears to have been designed to detect the malware of other nation-state hacker groups on a target computer that the NSA had penetrated. Bencsáth believes that specialized antivirus tool was intended not to remove other spies’ malware from the victim machine, but to warn the NSA’s hackers of an adversary’s presence, giving them a chance to pull back rather than potentially reveal their tricks to an enemy.

    • Leaked Files Show How the NSA Tracks Other Countries’ Hackers

      When the mysterious entity known as the “Shadow Brokers” released a tranche of stolen NSA hacking tools to the internet a year ago, most experts who studied the material homed in on the most potent tools, so-called zero-day exploits that could be used to install malware and take over machines. But a group of Hungarian security researchers spotted something else in the data, a collection of scripts and scanning tools that the National Security Agency uses to detect other nation-state hackers on the machines it infects.

    • Judge raises doubts in NSA hoarder case

      Prosecutors and a defense attorney squared off here Tuesday over a thorny legal question that a federal judge declared unprecedented: whether a National Security Agency contractor can be convicted under the Espionage Act for taking home highly classified documents he may not have known he had.

      There’s little doubt that Hal Martin, a computer specialist who worked with an elite NSA hacking unit, had a large volume of classified information at his Maryland home in 2016 when the FBI showed up with a search warrant.

    • The New Surveillance State and the Old Perjury Trap

      We now know that a significant number of people affiliated with Donald Trump were surveilled during and after the 2016 campaign, some under warrants, some via “inadvertent” or accidental surveillance. That surveillance is now being used against these individuals in perjury cases, particularly to press them to testify against others, and will likely form the basis of Robert Mueller’s eventual action against the president himself.

      How did the surveillance state become so fully entrenched in the American political process? Better yet, how did we let it happen?

      The role pervasive surveillance plays in politics today has been grossly underreported. Set aside what you think about the Trump presidency for a moment and focus instead on the new paradigm for how politics and justice work inside the surveillance state.

    • TorGuard VPN : Secure your web traffic
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Trump Created the DACA Immigration Crisis, and He Could Fix It Right Now

      Monday was the deadline President Trump gave Congress to put into law the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and protect nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to America as children. There’s no fix yet to a problem that Trump himself created six months ago when he ended DACA by executive action.

      The Supreme Court last week left in place a federal judge’s order temporarily continuing the program, thus denying Trump the chance to immediately carry out one of the cruelest policies of his presidency: deporting the Dreamers, as the DACA participants are known. Yet this is only a partial reprieve. Those who have DACA status can apply to renew the permits that allow them to be in the United States legally, but there’s no path for more than 1 million young people who do not already have DACA status and thus have no protection from deportation at all.

      Over the last six months, immigrant community groups have had to become experts at suicide prevention as the anxiety of being caught by Trump’s agents becomes overwhelming for some, while thousands of immigrant youth have had to organize to fight for their right to exist in the country they call home.

    • The Trial Against Kobach Kicks Off: Here’s What You Should Know

      Blocked from voting, three Kansans took the stand against Kris Kobach and the law that disenfranchised them.

      Tuesday was the first day of the Fish v. Kobach voting rights trial. The ACLU and Kris Kobach, Secretary of State of Kansas, squared off over a 2013 Kansas law which requires people to produce citizenship documents, like a birth certificate or U.S. passport, in order to register to vote. Kansas is one of only two states that imposes such a requirement, known as a documentary proof-of-citizenship or the DPOC law.

      The ACLU successfully blocked the law in 2016, prevailing in both the federal district court in Kansas and the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. The case is now back before Judge Julie Robinson for trial, the outcome of which will determine whether or not the law is struck down permanently. The ACLU represents the League of Women Voter and individuals disenfranchised by the law, three of whom took the stand to share their experiences. In an unusual move, Kobach — who is being sued in his official capacity as secretary of state — chose to represent himself in court.

      Kobach and Dale Ho, ACLU’s Voting Rights Director, each delivered opening statements, which set the stage for the week ahead.

    • West Virginia’s Little-Known Riot Act

      An obscure law that came to light during the teachers strike gives police expansive powers to crack down on protesters.


      This means the law could be used to impose harsh measures against a group of entirely peaceful protesters and those around them — individuals who, say, step off a sidewalk and onto a street because of the number of people nearby, or who can’t hear a dispersal order or get out of a crowd quickly enough once it is deemed unlawful.

      In many ways, these dangers mirror the troubling nature of the broader anti-protest legislative trend around the country. Rather than address the substantive issues raised by the powerful protests of the last two years — like racial justice, environmental protection, and the rights of indigenous communities — legislators have instead chosen to introduce bills that would pressure protesters to quiet their dissent.

    • Florida’s Governor Will Sign Bill Expanding Workers’ Comp Benefits for First Responders

      Josh Vandegrift was just starting a 24-hour shift for the Cocoa Fire Department on Florida’s Space Coast when the call came in: A pedestrian had been hit by a vehicle about 100 yards from the station where he worked.

      Vandegrift and other firefighter paramedics responded by ambulance, and Vandegrift cleared bystanders out of the way.

      “I looked down and I saw my brother’s face on the patient,” he said.

      Nate Vandegrift, his younger brother, had been hit by a commercial van crossing the street. Josh Vandegrift reverted back to his training and began to treat his brother. Then he was removed from the scene by police officers. “I remember just absolutely losing it in the middle of the road.”

    • LAPD Finally Starts Fixing Its Awful Body Camera Policy, But It’s Not All Good News

      It appears the city of Los Angeles is finally going to revise its terrible police body camera policy. Nearly $60 million was spent outfitting officers with cameras, but the end result provided little value to taxpayers. As it stands now, the only way to access footage is to engage in civil litigation with the police department (over violated rights, not rejected records requests) or be a defendant in a criminal case. Even then, a judge still has to be convinced you have a right to see the footage, even if you’re one of the subjects.

    • LAPD Mulls Over New Body Cam Video Release Policy
    • What would an Iranian secularism look like?

      The Iranian government is not determined enough to implement change, nor does it have the authority and resources to embrace the reforms people are demanding. Meanwhile, in restaurants, coffee shops, streets, schools, newspapers and sometimes even on state TV, people are discussing and talking about reform.

      People ask valid questions that rarely find viable answers by those who are supposed to find answers: will women, comprising half of Iran’s population, be finally officially permitted to watch football matches live in stadiums? Will the debate on the necessity or appropriateness of “compulsory veil” come to an end, as there’s no “solution” for what seems to be a “social dilemma” rather than a “problem” or as what some religious figures say, a “moral crisis” being injected from the overseas to pollute the pious minds? Will Iranian males, after graduating with their bachelors, refrain from harming themselves physically, i.e. pulling out their healthy teeth, or paying absence fines in order to avoid being enlisted for compulsory military service? Will Iranian sports be depoliticized with Iranian wrestlers, sportswomen, chess-players and other athletes stop losing international opportunities or being penalised due to their voluntary or involuntary decisions in refusing to face Israeli opponents?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why Is Hollywood Pushing A Totally Bogus Push Poll Trying To Undermine The Internet?

      The ad is from “CreativeFuture”, an MPAA front group that pretends to be representing the interests of “artists” but miraculously only seems to promote the extreme viewpoints of the giant Hollywood studios (imagine that). The group is often the go to quote for the copyright extremist position — and has a history of basically blaming technology for Hollywood’s own failures to adapt.

      Not surprisingly, then, that it’s now running this highly unscientific “survey” with a bunch of ridiculous leading questions, to try to argue that internet companies aren’t doing enough and that Congress should destroy the laws that protect the open internet. You can check out the survey yourself, but let’s dig into the questions and just how leading and/or silly they are.

    • Nobody (Even His Industry BFFs) Likes Ajit Pai’s Latest Attack On Low Income Broadband Programs

      So we’ve noted a few times how Trump FCC boss Ajit Pai enjoys wandering the country informing everyone he’s a massive champion of closing the digital divide. But those claims have been repeatedly and consistently undermined by Pai’s own actions, whether that involves rolling back net neutrality (a move that will make life harder and more expensive for countless consumers, non-profits, minority communities and startups alike), or his slow but steady dismantling of programs intended to make life a little bit easier for the poor.

      One of Pai’s biggest targets has been the FCC’s Lifeline program. It’s an arguably modest program that was started by Reagan and expanded by Bush, and it long enjoyed bipartisan support until the post-truth era rolled into town. Lifeline doles out a measly $9.25 per month subsidy that low-income homes can use to help pay a tiny fraction of their wireless, phone, or broadband bills (enrolled participants have to chose one). The FCC under former FCC boss Tom Wheeler had voted to expand the service to cover broadband connections, something Pai (ever a champion to the poor) voted down.

    • Middle Schoolers Cheer As Oregon Passes A Net Neutrality Law

      More than half of all states are now pushing their own net neutrality rules in the wake of the federal repeal. Some states are pushing for new net neutrality laws that closely mirror the discarded FCC rules, while others are signing executive orders that prohibit states from doing business with ISPs that behave anti-competitively. And while these discordant laws may make doing business from state to state harder on incumbent ISPs, that’s probably something they should have thought about before dismantling arguably modest (and hugely popular) federal protections.

      This week Oregon became the latest state to sign net neutrality protections into law with what was largely bipartisan support. House Bill 4155 largely mirrors the FCC ban on things like paid-prioritization and anti-competitive blocking and throttling, though (also like the discarded FCC rules) it wouldn’t address usage caps and overage fees or zero rating, one of the key areas where anti-competitive behavior often takes root. The bill also carves out numerous exemptions for legitimate instances of prioritization (medical care, prioritized VoIP services).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • SPCs in France: an uncertainty disappears and a few days appear

      The French National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) has just dispelled doubts by means of an official statement( https://www.inpi.fr/fr/nationales/communique-relatif-au-calcul-de-la-date-d-expiration-des-certificats-complementaires-de-protection ) it is now possible for holders of a supplementary protection certificate (SPC), issued in France before October 6, 2015, to require extension of their protection duration.

    • Copyrights

      • Gutenberg.org loses to German publisher and is found liable for damages

        In a year-long legal battle between the ‘not-for-profit-corporation’ Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, its CEO and the German publishing house S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, the District Court of Frankfurt (Landgericht Frankfurt am Main) has found Gutenberg in breach of German copyright law.

      • Project Gutenberg Blocks Access In Germany To All Its Public Domain Books Because Of Local Copyright Claim On 18 Of Them

        Project Gutenberg, which currently offers 56,000 free ebooks, is one of the treasures of the Internet, but it is not as well known as it should be. Started in 1991 by Michael S. Hart, who sadly died in 2011, Project Gutenberg is dedicated to making public domain texts widely available. Over the last 25 years, volunteers have painstakingly entered the text of books that are out of copyright, and released them in a variety of formats. The site is based in the US, and applies US law to determine whether a book has entered the public domain. Since copyright law is fragmented and inconsistent around the world, this can naturally lead to the situation that a book in the public domain in the US is still in copyright elsewhere.

      • Fair Use and Platform Safe Harbors in NAFTA

        Negotiators from Mexico, Canada and the United States were in Mexico City this week for a tense seventh round of negotiations over a modernized version of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. With President Trump’s announcement of tough new unilateral tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, and the commencement of the Mexican election season later this month, pressure to conclude the deal—or for the United States to withdraw from it—is mounting. In all of this, there is a risk that the issues that are of concern to Internet users are being sidelined.

      • Ten Hours of Static Gets Five Copyright Notices

        Sebastian Tomczak blogs about technology and sound, and has a YouTube channel. In 2015, Tomczak uploaded a ten-hour video of white noise. Colloquially, white noise is persistent background noise that can be soothing or that you don’t even notice after a while. More technically, white noise is many frequencies played at equal intensity. In Tomczak’s video, that amounted to ten hours of, basically, static.

        In the beginning of 2018, as a result of YouTube’s Content ID system, a series of copyright claims were made against Tomczak’s video. Five different claims were filed on sound that Tomczak created himself. Although the claimants didn’t force Tomczak’s video to be taken down they all opted to monetize it instead. In other words, ads on the ten-hour video would now generate revenue for those claiming copyright on the static.

        Normally, getting out of this arrangement would have required Tomczak to go through the lengthy counter-notification process, but Google decided to drop the claims. Tomczak believes it’s because of the publicity his story got. But hoping your takedown goes viral or using the intimidating counter-notification system is not a workable way to get around a takedown notice.

      • 9th Circuit ‘slam-dunks’ claim of copyright infringement by Nike photograph of Michael Jordan and ‘Jumpman’ logo

        Judge Owens agreed (in part) with the rest of the panel, but disagreed in the sense that questions of substantial similarity are inherently factual and should therefore have been addressed by the lower court: “Where no discovery has taken place, we should not say that, as a matter of law, the Nike photo could never be substantially similar to the Rentmeester photo. This is an inherently factual question which is often reserved for the jury, and rarely for a court to decide at the motion to dismiss stage.”

Patent Trolls and Their Lobbyists Continue to Attack Academics Who Warn About Patent Trolls in Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Now they’re ganging up against professors ‘courageous’ enough to talk facts


Summary: In an effort to silence those who sound the alarm about patent trolls in Europe, the trolls and their lobbyists now try to embarrass anyone who merely talks about the problem

A RECENT scholarly study explained how the USPTO helped birth patent trolling in the US. There’s another new study in Europe right now and patent trolls are very much afraid that this new study can impact policy in Europe. Trolls’ legal representatives and paid media (like IAM) help the trolls discredit the study. They just cannot help themselves.

“Trolls’ legal representatives and paid media (like IAM) help the trolls discredit the study.”Professor James Bessen, who spent years of his academic career studying the effect of patent trolls in the US, wrote this simple, factual tweet: “Patent troll litigation rising in Europe” (linking to the study).

What happened next was pretty revealing.

Head of patent troll Dominion Harbor (David Pridham), who defames me and claims I fake my doctorate, responded just like Trump. “#fakenews” was all he said! How immature. Coming from a man who defames me also with talk about testicles and stuff like that. He’s not a man, he’s acting like a child. It’s incredible that someone this infantile was put in charge of anything, let alone a massive patent troll with connections to Microsoft (through Intellectual Ventures, as we last noted a few days ago).

J Nicholas GrossAnother gross individual, who habitually writes for Dominion/Pridham, came up with this attack on Professor Bessen (Mr. Gross attacks various academics with defamatory statements while denying that they are professors).

“I do hear from people who get (patent) trolled in Europe.”What a nice bunch, eh? “You’re more likely to get a random trolled Tweet from James Bessen than a lawsuit in Europe,” he wrote. Henrion responded, judging from his own experience: “So maybe iMatix was lucky then.”

I do hear from people who get (patent) trolled in Europe. It’s not a rare thing; it just doesn’t receive sufficient press coverage, certainly not from IAM, which also responded to Bessen with this lie: “The reality is that an SME’s chances of being sued by an NPE in Europe is around 0.000005%. Overall, NPEs account for less than 5% of patent lawsuits filed in Europe.”

“Now they attack professors who ‘dare’ mention the report/study.”This is not true, but IAM is just linking to their staff's attacks on the report. They’re reinforcing their status as spokespeople of patent trolls.

Just like in the US, many troll attacks (assertions) go undetected, but they’re still there. They cause agony and ‘protection’ money is silently being paid. Firms like Bristows just cannot help attacking the report even a month later. Now they attack professors who ‘dare’ mention the report/study. They’re like a pack of hyenas. Some of them issue veiled threats against me — tactics which Bessen said he’s familar with.

EPO Hires External PR Agencies to Control Coverage of Its Annual Report, Deny Investigative Journalism

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 1:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It is all about money, not about factual interpretation (with proper fact-checking)

Hand with money

Summary: The EPO’s hallmark of controlling the media as seen in yesterday’s news coverage; so-called ‘media partners’ and various blogs are being played not only by the EPO but also PR agencies that the EPO is hiring

THE European Patent Office (EPO) published so-called ‘results’ yesterday. We quickly wrote a short rebuttal within an hour, expecting the media to play along with the EPO regardless. Because that’s just how such media works. It’s their business model.

This wasn’t our first time rebutting claims of this nature. For background reading/examples see:

Long story short, stock is running out pretty first, assuring EPO layoffs. This isn’t how patent systems are supposed to work. What would be the purpose of examination if it’s not done properly by domain experts? Based on what insiders are saying, examiners are now being assigned to assess applications that aren’t even in their field/domain!

“Based on what insiders are saying, examiners are now being assigned to assess applications that aren’t even in their field/domain!”But facts don’t matter. The EPO has budget. So ‘alternative facts’ can be constructed and then amplified by corruptible (as in easy-to-manipulate) publishers and journalists employed by these publishers. Money helps. I once met one of these journalists at a coffee shop and he told me how his bosses had urged him to write EPO puff pieces. This is no joking matter. The EPO corrupts the media.

The EPO now hires public relations (PR) agencies. We’ve lost count of how many and we named some of them before. Below we are seeing Echolot (Barbara Geier), which is being used as “outside help” in order to spread EPO lies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

It’s blatantly obvious, based on this new press release which was custom-made for the UK:

Media contacts European Patent Office

Jana Mittermaier, Director External Communication
Rainer Osterwalder, Press spokesperson
EPO press desk : Tel.: +49-89-2399-1820, mobile: +49-163-8399527, press@epo.org

UK media contact

echolot public relations
Barbara Geier
Tel.: +44-7983-242-195

They previously hired several other PR agencies; those too might still be on the payroll. We don’t know for sure because the EPO isn’t as transparent as it likes to claim. Remember that pub Battistelli built for himself for for his 'son' Campinos? Guess whose budget was used. If Battistelli wasn’t boasting immunity, he would probably have been under a very serious investigation by now.

“If Battistelli wasn’t boasting immunity, he would probably have been under a very serious investigation by now.”The PR in the UK (with “UK media contact” listed above) seemed effective enough for puff pieces like “Medtech patents soar in UK”. There are some other puff pieces in the UK, but we’ll name them below irrespective of location.

So the EPO is again wasting stakeholders’ money (budget) on external PR agencies that help amplify lies/spin for Battistelli; is this actually necessary? Is the EPO about examination/granting of patents or self-publicity?

Here is the official press release for the US. Reinforcing its commitment to patent maximalists, UPC, PTAB-bashing (similar to appeal boards) and patent trolls, Watchtroll basically copy-pasted (verbatim) the EPO’s press release with all the propaganda in tact. With friends like these, eh?

“So the EPO is again wasting stakeholders’ money (budget) on external PR agencies that help amplify lies/spin for Battistelli; is this actually necessary? Is the EPO about examination/granting of patents or self-publicity?”Then came the “media partner” of the EPO, which habitually posts puff pieces for the Office. “Chinese firm Huawei leads European patent applications,” said the headline. There was similar stuff in the Chinese media and even in German. They’re emphasising China, just like we predicted, as it makes the EPO look like it’s surging. “Huawei top filer at EPO in 2017″ was WIPR’s headline. Mind the time of this article that had been published by China’s official state media even before the EPO published it, which means that the EPO’s PR department coordinated dissemination of the latest lie in advance. With China even…

Also mind the ‘blog’ of the EPO/Battistelli (warning: epo.org link) with the expected focus on China (as predicted). To quote:

Over the last few years the number of applications from Chinese inventors has been growing at a very fast rate. In 2016 applications from China grew by 24.8% and last year there was another increase of 16.6%.

Nice cherry-picking. All about China, eh? Watch how the EPO framed this blog post (“A responsive EPO”). “He means to say EPO that just works shoddily and quickly,” I told them. Sort of like SIPO (China)…

It’s actually a tad disappointing that IP Watch was quoting from the EPO’s press release (rather than investigate the bigger picture).

“Patent quality has fallen and pending work has been slapped away carelessly; this will lead to layoffs.”German media, which the EPO targeted with a humongous budget, was well under the EPO’s thumb this time. German media that never bothers reporting on EPO scandals was happy to parrot the EPO’s claims, even in English. Then there’s the English press release from Siemens and the press release from Philips. The Local, which always issues a lot of puff pieces about these results, did the usual thing (it will probably do more in days to come).

A site that typically covers SUEPO affairs participated in the EPO’s PR (not for the first time). This article overlooks the full story entirely (not too surprisingly). Patent quality has fallen and pending work has been slapped away carelessly; this will lead to layoffs.

“If it weren’t for the EPO wasting a fortune on PR, there would probably be almost no press coverage.”The Battistelli and UPC proponent known as Managing IP relayed the EPO’s talking points, but this was more of less expected. “The EPO’s annual report reveals the top patent filers in Europe in 2017. Filing trends included a 5.8% increase in patent applications from the US,” it said. They did not mention the ‘discounts’ that led to this? No. What would the numbers look without any ‘discounts’? Another decline (like last year’s)?

“Over 10% more granted European patents in 2017,” the EPO bragged. “You’re running out of stock,” I told them. “You grant in error.”

The EPO was soon just linking to one of several promotional videos like this one and the zombie-like Battistelli (he’s an appalling speaker, irrespective of his mother’s tongue). Watch the rather pathetic numbers (less than 100 views after almost a day). If it weren’t for the EPO wasting a fortune on PR, there would probably be almost no press coverage. But we already know how the EPO exploits money to control media and more recently academia, too [1, 2].

Benoît Battistelli and Confidants Like Bergot Want to Make a Lot of EPO Staff Redundant Without the Staff Ever Noticing

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gagging unions and representatives is the first phase

Old: Battistelli Puts ‘Team Battistelli’ in Charge of ‘Scrutinising’ His Proposals

Downsizing not due to automation but because of greed that lowered patent quality and repelled applicants (now being offered ‘discounts’ to still entice them, after the number of applications dropped)

Summary: The EPO’s (Organisation) Boards Of Appeal are not being replaced by UPC (as UPC fails to arrive), but staff of the EPO (Office) now faces the prospect of mass layoffs, before or just after the arrival of President Campinos

THE future of the EPO does not look bright. The EPO, in our humble assessment, is changing the rules to facilitate upcoming layoffs with the Council’s consent. This is clearly not what examiners signed up for. Who would trust EPO after that?

“This is clearly not what examiners signed up for.”There’s 'peak censorship' at the EPO right now; even staff representatives are being gagged. They’re not really allowed to speak to staff whom they represent. Flow of information is being suppressed if not cut.

Just before the media was taken over by the EPO’s PR department with external help (more on that in our next post), World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) published this article about a provision to lay off any EPO member of staff (living abroad with family) instantaneously (like Battistelli intended):

European Patent Office (EPO) president Benoît Battistelli has ensured that a controversial term in an employment proposal has been dropped, just weeks before the EPO’s supervisory body, the Administrative Council (AC), will deliberate the plan.

Battistelli and Elodie Bergot, principal director of human resources, had added a motion to discuss the plan to recruit staff on renewable contracts of five years during a budget and finance committee meeting in October last year.

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.

It was then amended to include article 53(1)(f) of the EPO’s Service Regulations, which read: “Without prejudice to the expiry of a fixed-term appointment in the same circumstances, the appointing authority may decide to terminate the service of an employee: … (f) if the exigencies of the service require abolition of their post or a reduction of staff.”

The removal of this provision is almost a Pyrrhic victory because what remains is still very harmful to staff. It’s Battistelli’s infamous negotiation tactic wherein he asks for something very extreme and at the end makes “concessions” that still leave a pretty radical proposal in tact. We wrote about this before. It’s not the first time. Based on what sources told us, the removal of this provision was Battistelli's own action. Maybe it’s the strategy he had all along (giving staff the mere impression that they accomplish a “compromise”).

“In 2016 it was projected that layoffs would start some time around 2018.”We don’t intend to frustrate or depress staff; we’re just trying to be realistic here. It looks like the media lost its tongue and EPO insiders are too afraid to speak out in this current, hostile climate. Regarding layoffs, these were foreseen in 2016 by staff representatives [1, 2]. Most staff is already aware of it. In 2016 it was projected that layoffs would start some time around 2018.

It’s worth noting that Britain’s national patent office (UK-IPO) advertised jobs recently; it’s hiring. It was also making jokes about patents on snow the other day. Back in 2016 we reported that EPO recruitment of Brits had gone down by 80% and sources inside the EPO are concerned that hiring standards collapsed under Bergot (working conditions also). What is the EPO becoming? It can barely attract people who are required to move (relocation to another country).

Regarding the Boards of Appeal, yesterday the EPO wrote again: “Here’s how you can have your say on proposed changes to the Rules of Procedure of our Boards of Appeal.”

“The Boards of Appeal are constantly complaining that they self-censor and cannot rule independently from the Office (without ramifications/dangers to their career).”As we said before, they try to give the bogus impression that the public is participating. In reality, however, the Boards of Appeal have been under unprecedented attacks from Battistelli, who thought they would be scuttled by the UPC. But it’s not happening, is it? So now we have neither a UPC nor a truly functional venue for appeals. The Boards of Appeal are constantly complaining that they self-censor and cannot rule independently from the Office (without ramifications/dangers to their career).

A few hours ago John Leeming from J A Kemp wrote about where Boards of Appeal stand on software patents (they should all be denied).

I wrote to the Boards of Appeal about it in the past, but now that they’re living in fear of Battistelli (who openly supports software patents) can we truly expect them to do what’s right? Leeming wrote:

2017 was a year of change for the Boards of Appeal of the EPO: a new President and a move out of the EPO’s oldest building in the centre of Munich to a suburb, Haar. There has been some recruitment, but overall it appears there are still many vacancies on various Boards. Overall the relevant Boards issued 10% more decisions than in 2016 and Board 3.5.01 in particular has significantly increased its output in the latter part of the year as it now has a chairman.

The so-called “Comvik” approach to mixed inventions has been applied consistently, with Board 3.5.01 introducing the “notional business person” to help distinguish between technical features – which can contribute to inventive step – and non-technical features – which can’t. Nevertheless, the presence of non-technical features in a claim remains a strong predictor of rejection.

This paper reviews notable decisions published in 2017 by the “electrical” Technical Boards of Appeal (Boards 3.5.01, 03, 04, 05, 06 and 07), which most often handle software related inventions, excluding Board 3.5.02 which mostly handles electrical components and hardware.

While we’re sympathetic towards the Boards, historically they have been very much akin to patent maximalists and their rulings went in favour of Battistelli. In his last bit of work (in his capacity as a judge) Patrick Corcoran rejected a software patent of a massive American (US) company that is connected to the EPO. Was the house ban potentially retribution for his stance? Whatever information he was accused of transmitting had already been disseminated by many other members of staff, as we noted here in the past. Why was it him who got targeted and isolated by illegal surveillance? We might never know and it’s likely just a “coincidence” as Minnoye might put it.

A few days ago there was also this article by Ping Li and Olga Bezzubova (Jones Day). It was about the Enlarged Board of Appeal and it said:

A recent decision by the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office confirmed that a 2011 ruling dealing with disclosed disclaimers does not overrule its 2004 decision applying to undisclosed disclaimers.


With its decision in G 1/16, the Enlarged Board of Appeal (“EBA”) of the European Patent Office (“EPO”) clarifies that its 2011 decision in G 2/10 dealing with disclosed disclaimers does not overrule its 2004 decision in G 1/03 that applies to undisclosed disclaimers.


1. The G 1/16 decision confirms that “undisclosed disclaimers” fulfilling the criteria set out in G 1/03 do not introduce added matter.

This case was mentioned here before. It’s a bit old. How long before Battistelli and/or Campinos (Battistelli put him in place and will likely have leverage over him even after his tenure ends) attempt scuttle the Enlarged Board of Appeal along with the other boards? Perhaps as they intended all along? They already put the Board in a building that is not the EPO’s and is basically rented space (as though it was temporary).

Is there a future for the EPO? EPO insiders are actually more negative than us. Some have begun assessing/planning their post-EPO career, assuming — as more EPO insiders do — that the first round of layoffs is coming.

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