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05.12.18

The Patent Trolls’ Lobbyists Continue to Deny That the Concept of Trolling Even Exists or Needs Addressing

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 11:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IAM logo

Summary: With patents becoming like an ‘insurance policy’ at the hands of companies that no longer even make anything (or the hands of trolls that these patents get passed to), questions need to be asked about correlations between patents and innovation; sites that act like front groups for patent parasites and trolls aren’t interested in real answers, just more litigation and shakedown

IN the previous post we mentioned BlackBerry as a primary example of dying companies which turn to the business model of patent trolls. BlackBerry is Canadian and was, at one point at least, one of the largest technology firms in the country.

“BlackBerry is Canadian and was, at one point at least, one of the largest technology firms in the country.”Steve Brachmann (Watchtroll) seems unhappy about the Canadian government stating that it is going to tackle patent trolls in Canada. It's a real problem, but Watchtroll being Watchtroll would come up with headlines like “Canada’s National IP Strategy Stoking Fears About Patent Trolls” (at least they use the “T” word, “trolls”).

Stoking fears? It’s a real, legitimate fear that’s shared among many companies. The government isn’t scaring anyone. Au contraire — it’s trying to reduce fear by assuring that it would tackle the issue.

Watchtroll says: “patent trolls, of course… It’s easy to point to the boogeyman of the patent troll” (it’s not merely a “boogeyman” but a real parasite). Canada has many of those, including some rather large ones that we habitually name here. They typically leverage USPTO patents in courts that are plaintiff-friendly (like the ones in the Eastern District of Texas).

“Steve Brachmann (Watchtroll) seems unhappy about the Canadian government stating that it is going to tackle patent trolls in Canada.”Speaking of Watchtroll, mind the Watchtroll/IAM overlap again. For the second time in recent months Watchtroll does Joff Wild ‘ads’. It’s like the patent trolls’ lobby unites, mutually amplifying different ‘branches’ (Patently-O also participates, so it’s almost like a love triangle). Wild has just taken stock of their articles and some IAM staff has been trying to suck up to us (perhaps hoping that it would discourage further criticism). Days ago there was this summary/roundup from the latest IAM event. IAM’s events actively groom and promote patent trolls i.e. it’s collective fronting for those whom/which the real innovators/industries suffer from. Even when people in such events explicitly use the “T” word — a concept which IAM denies — IAM adds scare quotes. As if patent trolls are merely a myth.

IAM wrote: “Erin Wiggins of TS Tech America – we do see “troll” litigation as one of the bigger problems the industry is going to face…”

I asked IAM: “Did Wiggins say “inverted commas”? Or use the hands to signify this? Or did IAM, which protects trolls, decide that it merits scare quotes? I’m guessing the latter.”

Here are “inverted commas” again: “Audi’s Kai Brandt – probably the biggest result from car litigation wars that we’re expecting will be that they might change the European and especially the German IP systems as much as the “troll” wars have changed the US IP system…”

“3G Licensing, as its name serves to suggest, does not actually make anything.”Why the scare quotes? By American conventions, those are scare quotes (British conventions are pretty much the opposite).

Do we still need to even argue over 1) whether patent trolls exist and 2) whether they harm the economy? Many studies have been conducted on the subject, including several by Professor Bessen in Boston.

In related news, regarding S3G Technology LLC v UniKey Technologies, Inc. (at the Eastern District of Texas), some patent courts seem to be ‘advertising’ themselves by being overzealous against defendants/accused. To quote this new example:

The court granted in part plaintiff’s motion to exclude the testimony of defendant’s damages expert regarding prior settlement agreements because the expert was not authorized to review one agreement under the protective order.

And here we have the Delaware Federal Court, where patent law and the patent system apparently discriminate based on nationality. As Patently-O put it:

In 2017, 3G Licensing filed its infringement lawsuit in Delaware Federal Court — accusing both HTC Corp. (a Taiwan Corp.) and HTC America (its US Subsidiary based in Washington State) of infringement. Following TC Heartland, the District Court found that venue was improper for HTC America, but allowed the action to proceed against the foreign company HTC Corp.

[...]

In what appears to me as dicta, the Federal Circuit went on to explain its position that the Delaware court is a proper venue for the foreign corporation. Rather, according to the court, TC Heartland did nothing to disturb the “long-established rule that suits against aliens are wholly outside the operation of all the federal venue laws, general and special.”

[...]

As a result of the possibility that a foreign company might not fit within the Venue statute, the Supreme Court in Brunette held that venue is proper for a foreign corporation in any judicial district where accused is subject to personal jurisdiction. In other words “the venue laws do not protect alien defendants.”

3G Licensing, as its name serves to suggest, does not actually make anything. Its official Web site states upfront that “Sisvel International S.A contributes its patents to the 3G Licensing Program.” Sisvel is a very notorious patent troll and ‘enforcer’. We wrote many articles about it before. Sisvel is one of Europe’s most notorious trolls.

Companies in the Red Resort to Patent Litigation Rather Than Creation

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, Patents, Samsung at 10:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coolpad
Reference: Coolpad

Summary: A little update about patent litigation involving Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi and even the dying Coolpad

THE DEMISE of BlackBerry (like a hundred-fold decline in terms of revenue) has meant that it is being reduced — however gradually — into a patent troll. The company’s patent activities are being noted in this new article, “What’s Driving Our $11 Price Estimate For BlackBerry?”

But BlackBerry isn’t alone because Apple follows its footsteps and so did Nokia. Florian Müller spent years keeping abreast of Apple and Samsung patent disputes and just before the weekend he covered the latest twist, citing that old judgment from the courts of the Northern District of California (in anticipation of another):

We’re just days away from yet another Apple v. Samsung trial in the Northern District of California. IT’s a re-retrial over damages, following a trial, a retrial, Samsung’s successful appeal to the Supreme Court and various other procedural steps on the way back to where we are. By the way, the dispute started more than seven years ago (mid-April 2011).

Judge Koh’s final jury instructions will inform the jury of the relevant factors for the article-of-manufacture determination. If the jury determines the relevant AoM is an entire smartphone, Apple gets a huge damages award. If the jury concludes the casing/screen is more reasonable, then the amount will be less extreme amount, but still a chunk of money.

[...]

“Determinative” is not part of everyday language, but it isn’t too uncommon either. Reasonably educated people should figure out what it does mean and what it doesn’t. Numerous other passages of the preliminary and final jury instructions contain words that jurors may misunderstand in similar ways as Apple fears.

The parties couldn’t agree, so Judge Koh will have to decide. Technically, “not determinative” is simply accurate. In colloquial language, one could add a few words like “in their own right,” though one could also argue that any additional words could create confusion, too.

Generally speaking, Judge Koh’s proposed preliminary and final jury instructions combined don’t really tell the jury much about how to make the article-of-manufacture determination. For an example, the amicus curiae brief filed by the Obama Administration with the Supreme Court contains additional helpful guidance that Judge Koh could, but apparently won’t, provide to the jury.

There’s an additional article about it: [via Müller]

The U.S. District Court for Northern California will be rehearing arguments next week in a major design patent case between the two tech giants Apple and Samsung. The case could very well be a turning point for the future of the tech industry. Major technology companies have largely weighed in on the side of Samsung as the industry worries about the long term impact of the case and its potential to empower a new breed of design patent trolls and encourage more litigation.

Apple Inc. launched a tense legal fight over whether some design features of its iPhone were infringed upon by Samsung devices. The dispute resulted in a longstanding legal dispute which eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Apple argued that it could claim remedies equivalent to the total profits of an entire smartphone if even one design patent was found to infringe. This awarding of total profits came from a 19th century law written long before a multifunctional device as complex as a smartphone could be imagined.

Watchtroll, a site friendly to the litigation ‘industry’, has publishedApple v. Samsung Retrial: An Opportunity to Finally Clarify Design Patent Law” (there’s no lack of clarify, they’re just protesting the status quo, as usual).

Another site of patent maximalists took note of this lawsuit against Apple — one that we covered last weekend and the week before that. “Apple has built its success on innovative products,” it said. “It has sought to protect this innovation through patents and registered designs. Apple is no stranger to asserting its patents and designs against its competitors but it is also regularly on the receiving end of third parties asserting their patents.”

Well, Apple isn’t particularly innovative; it just tells this lie to itself and to its hardcore ‘followers’ (loyal clients), who perpetuate such myths. It’s true that Apple uses patents on designs — not mere trademarks — to go after rivals, including Samsung. We spent years ranting about several such examples. There was nothing innovative about these designs; some were downright laughable — something that a young child could easily some up with in a matter of minutes.

Earlier today Müller looked eastwards again and took note of patent lawsuits by China’s government-connected giant (Huawei) versus Korea’s giant, which isn’t so government-connected because South Korea is capitalist, not Communist. He spoke of what Huawei had done in the US using patents:

Procedurally, this is an appeal to the Federal Circuit, based on the rule that any case involving at least one patent infringement claim must be appealed to the Federal Circuit, which, however, applies the law of the regional circuit in question if an issue is not about patent law in a strict sense (infringement, validity etc.). So in this case, the Federal Circuit will act as if it were the Ninth Circuit–or at least it will try to.

[...]

As for political/diplomatic implications (also called “international comity”), it’s actually a positive thing for Samsung in this case that it’s not a U.S. company. In some other cases, such as Apple v. Samsung, it would benefit from it, but in this dispute with Huawei and in times of “trade war,” it’s a good thing that this is a dispute between foreign companies–and let’s not forget that the Northern District of California was Huawei’s venue choice when it brought its cross-jurisdictional complaints.

Earlier this year we said that China's patent policy would drive out companies not only from the US but also from Korea (LG for instance). There’a also a number of disputes among Chinese firms, so it causes domestic feuds (waste of commercial resources). The following is not the start of it, but it is the latest example where a company is trying to ban actual products of another company (Coolpad v Xiaomi):

After noticing intellectual property right violations three months ago, Coolpad notified Xiaomi and since the latter hasn’t yet taken any action, Coolpad has requested that eight Xiaomi devices be recalled from the market. In addition to that, the company also wants compensation for economic losses resulting from patent infringement.

Coolpad filed the lawsuit through Yulong Computer Technology, their subsidiary company, at the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court. One of the patents behind this controversy is related to software, being termed as ‘method for implementing call record interface system of multi-mode mobile communication terminal,’ as per MyDrivers. Other infringements relate to app icon management, notifications and the system’s user interface (UI).

Here is another report about that:

Coolpad has filed a lawsuit against Xiaomi regarding patent infringement. From a hint revealed by the company’s CEO, it was thought that the lawsuit has been settled outside the court. But that’s not the case. Coolpad has come up with an announcement that the lawsuit it filed against Xiaomi is before the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court. Notably, the lawsuit has been filed by Yulong Computer Technology, its subsidiary.

At the top of this post we included a summary sheet of Coolpad because we are hoping to show the reason for such a dead-end strategy. If Coolpad cannot sell much anymore, then perhaps it’s thinking of just taxing other company’s products.

Patents on Life (or Supposed ‘Gene-Editing’/CRISPR) Are a Gross Distortion of the Raison D’être of Patents

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Life is made in nature, it’s not a robot and it is definitely not an invention

Patents on life
No Patents on Seeds: Stop patents on plants and animals!

Summary: The complete and utter insanity which is misappropriation of patent law for protectionism in an age of monopolies on life (DNA/genetics) in light of recent developments

THIS Saturday afternoon onwards we intend to catch up with USPTO news. It is mostly about patent scope and policy, not scandals. Like the EPO, the American (US) patent office is at least in theory denying patents on nature; in practice, loopholes remain and they are occasionally being exploited. We have been writing about it for many years because other than software patents, one family (or class) of patents we strongly object to is “nature” or “life” or “genetics” (there are other words by which to refer to this kind of patents).

As noted here earlier this month, patents on life itself are being discussed at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). This is a positive thing because we generally respect the judgments of this court, which would likely take Mayo and Myriad into account. The latest twist in all this has just been discussed in relation to a Broad Institute case and PTAB. A site of the patent microcosm said this:

The UC v Broad Institute appeal hinges on whether the PTAB made any legal errors by deciding the case in favour of Broad without “substantial evidence”, with observers believing an affirmance of the Board’s ruling is most likely

The Federal Circuit heard oral arguments in University of California (UC) v Broad Institute on April 30. A decision is expected within 90 days.

Another site of the patent microcosm, masking/hiding more and more of its pages behind a paywall these days (like the above), wrote about “top 10 CRISPR patent assignees at the world’s big five issuing agencies” (IP5). Timothy Au of IAM (blog of patent trolls) is still promoting patents on life that both the EPO and USPTO are more or less denying (Broad Institute recently had a CRISPR patent rejected by the EPO).

The USPTO is the most willing of the major patent offices to grant CRISPR-related patents, but activity in the field is increasing most rapidly in Asia, new research commissioned for IAM reveals. Earlier this year, iRunway produced a report on the CRISPR patent landscape – which we provided exclusive coverage on – analysing the geographical spread, technological focuses and top owners of the patents related to the much-discussed gene-editing technology. New research by iRunway, commissioned by IAM, now offers a more detailed breakdown of where things stand.

It says “commissioned by IAM,” but remember who’s funding IAM. It ain’t pretty. This is behind a paywall, but we can imagine what the outcome will be. It should be noted that only days ago IAM complained once again about India, which already disallows software patents, because it had denied patents on life, namely seeds. Citing [1-4] (below), IAM said [5] that “India’s agricultural industry have downplayed the decision’s importance” (by “India’s agricultural industry” he didn’t mean India’s but Germany’s/US and he was not talking about agricultural anything but merely Monsanto with its ‘industry’ of lawsuits against actual farmers). This is typical IAM.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Monsanto loses right to patent seeds

    Delhi High Court’s ruling which forbids Monsanto from stopping supplies to seed companies is a boost to domestic seed companies, and will curb the ability of multinationals to establish a seed monopoly

  2. Supreme Court to hear Monsanto plea over GM cotton patents

    Section 3(j) states that “plants and parts thereof as well as essentially biological process for production or propagation of plants” are not inventions that can be patented. The court had also directed Monsanto to seek intellectual property protection under the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Right (PPVFR) Act 2001. It had given Monsanto three months to appeal to the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority for relief under the PPVFR Act.

  3. Supreme Court rejects Monsanto plea on seed patent order

    The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay a 2 May Delhi high court order which held that plant varieties and seeds cannot be patented under Indian law by companies like Monsanto Inc., and that royalties on genetically modified (GM) technology would be decided by a specialized agency of the agriculture ministry.

    As a result, the patent held by Monsanto, through its Indian arm Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMBL) over its Bollgard-II Bt cotton seed technology, a GM variant which resists the bollworm pest, was decreed to be unenforceable in India.

    Monsanto’s appeal challenging the Delhi high court order was brought before a bench headed by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman who sought the response of seed companies over the issue.

  4. Delhi High Court’s Judgment in Monsanto v. Nuziveedu Delivers a Deadly Blow to the Agro-biotech Industry

    A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court recently pronounced its judgment in the long running litigation between Monsanto and Nuziveedu. The present judgment was delivered in cross appeals filed by both parties against the order of a single judge of the Delhi High Court that was delivered last year.

    To describe the judgment briefly, the court has delivered a knock-out punch to Monsanto, by declaring invalid its patent for Bt. Technology because Section 3(j) of the Patents Act prohibited the grant of patents for plants, plant varieties or seeds or any part thereof. The court however does give three months to Monsanto to seek protection for its invention under the Plant Variety Protection & Farmer’s Rights Act, 2002. (I’ll deal with this issue in a later post)

  5. India’s Supreme Court will hear Monsanto’s challenge to a recent ruling imperiling agri-tech patentability

    The case has generated a strong reaction over the past three weeks. Over at Spicy IP, Prashant Reddy described it as a “deadly blow to the agro-biotech industry”. The former CEO of Indian seed company Advanta warned: “A number of patents of agriculture biotech inventions in various crops from wheat to rice that have been granted by various patent authorities across the globe stand the risk of being invalidated because of the judgment.”

    Meanwhile, representatives of India’s agricultural industry have downplayed the decision’s importance – they point out that innovations in the sector will still be eligible for plant variety protection.

Links 12/5/2018: Wine 3.8 and Scientific Linux 7.5

Posted in News Roundup at 8:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • A closer look at Chrome OS using LXD to run Linux GUI apps (Project Crostini)

      Project Crostini is the Chrome OS project to add support to run Linux GUI apps on Chrome OS.

      The components that facilitate Project Crostini can be found at https://github.com/lstoll/cros-crostini That page has instructions for those that wanted to enable the running of Linux GUI apps on Chrome OS, when Project Crostini was still under development. Lincoln Stoll dissected the source of Chrome OS and created a helpful list of the involved repositories.

      The basic component is The Chrome OS Virtual Machine Monitor (crossvm), which runs untrusted operating systems through Linux’s KVM interface. The Linux distribution would run in a VM. The test repositories make reference to the X server, XWayland and Wayland. There is a repository called sommelier, which is a nested Wayland compositor with X11 forwarding support. It needs more searching to figure out where the source code ended into the Chrome OS repository and what is actually being used.

      Update #1: Here are the vm_tools in Chrome OS. They include garcon, a service that gets added in the container and communicates with another service outside of the container (vm_concierge).

      What is important, is that LXD runs in this VM and is configured to launch a machine container with a Linux distribution. We are going in depth into this.

    • Linux On Chromebooks Now Official

      Among other news from Google I/O 2018, Google is making it possible to code on Chromebooks. Whether it’s building an app or writing a quick script, Chromebooks will be available for coding projects.

    • Android apps on Chromebooks can finally access SD card storage

      It’s been nearly two years since Google started rolling out a feature that lets you run Android apps on Chromebooks. And while Android support has come a long way, there’s one thing Android apps couldn’t do on Chromebooks… until now: access an SD card.

      But starting with the latest Chrome OS beta, it looks like Android apps on Chromebooks can access the SD card… although it seems like the feature is still very much a work in progress.

    • Microsoft to replace Surface Pro 4 tablets affected by screen flickering

      Microsoft is formally launching a replacement program for Surface Pro 4 devices affected by screen flickering. Any Surface Pro 4 units experiencing the problem will be covered for up to three years from the time of original purchase. “We have heard your feedback and after careful examination, have determined that a small percentage of Surface Pro 4 devices are exhibiting a screen flicker that cannot be addressed with a firmware or driver update,” the company said on its support page with details on the program.

      The annoying flickering has been well-documented on Microsoft’s support forums, with some users taking drastic steps like putting their Surface Pro 4 in a freezer to temporarily fix the issue. Back in February, Microsoft said it was closely monitoring the situation, and the company came to the conclusion that there’s no convenient fix.

    • Microsoft can’t fix “flickergate” Surface Pro 4s with software, so it’s replacing them
    • Don’t Skype Me: How Microsoft Turned Consumers Against a Beloved Brand

      In March tech investor and commentator Om Malik summarized the negativity by tweeting that Skype was “a turd of the highest quality” and directing his ire at its owner. “Way to ruin Skype and its experience. I was forced to use it today, but never again.”

    • System76 vs. The LVFS Firmware Updating Service

      This week the latest open-source drama was a differing of opinions between Richard Hughes of Red Hat who maintains Fwupd and LVFS for Linux firmware updating from the desktop and that of Linux PC vendor System76.

      Richard Hughes volleyed a blog post that recommend not buying System76 hardware for those wanting firmware updates via LVFS (the Linux Vendor Firmware Service). He wrote that post based upon System76 not currently using UEFI UpdateCapsule for BIOS updates, System76 developing a Rust tool to flash the embedded controller, and them rolling out their own firmware update handler that officially targets Ubuntu and Pop!_OS. Richard then encouraged Linux users to buy Dell XPS laptops instead.

      Richard’s post in full can be read here.

      On Friday, System76 responded to those accusations. According to System76, Richard expressed via email that the approach System76 is using for firmware updating likely wouldn’t work with LVFS and also their distributing of a proprietary firmware flashing tool likely wouldn’t be approved by Red Hat legal and they also found flashing the embedded controler from user-space to be sub-optimal.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • Radeon EQAA Anti-Aliasing Support Merged To Mesa 18.2

        In addition to the potentially performance-doubling AMD Kaveri fix landing yesterday in Mesa 18.2 Git, also hitting this next version of Mesa is Enhanced Quality Anti-Aliasing (EQAA) support for Radeon GCN graphics processors.

        RadeonSI Gallium3D has wired up its Enhanced Quality Anti-Aliasing support. EQAA aims to deliver better quality over multi-sample anti-aliasing (MSAA) by providing more coverage samples per pixel. EQAA should have only slightly higher performance requirements than MSAA but with significant visual quality benefits.

      • AMD Kaveri Gets A Big Performance Boost With Mesa 18.2 & AMDGPU DRM

        When using the latest Git/development code of Mesa 18.2 on Kaveri APUs you may find up to a 2x increase in performance if you are using the AMDGPU DRM driver rather than the default Radeon DRM driver.

        It turns out the number of render back-ends reported by the kernel driver was wrong for Kaveri: there’s two, not one. Both render back-ends for Kaveri should now be enabled when using Mesa 18.2 Git since yesterday, but you need to be using the AMDGPU kernel driver as otherwise with the Radeon DRM kernel driver one of the back-ends will still be disabled.

      • Radeon ROCm 1.8 Compute Stack Released

        Following the slew of recent AMD/Radeon Linux driver updates, the ROCm 1.8.0 release was issued today for the Radeon Open Compute stack.

        ROCm 1.8 can be obtained via the GitHub instructions. Binary packages are provided for Ubuntu 16.04 and CentOS/RHEL 7.4.

      • The developer of Crazy Justice has shown off a quick teaser of it on Ubuntu

        Black Riddles Studio has finally shown Crazy Justice [Official Site] on Ubuntu, although it’s only a small teaser of their third-person shooter it has me excited.

        Crazy Justice is the third-person shooter developed by two brothers, which was crowdfunded on Fig where they managed to get $51K in funding. Since the campaign finished, they’ve hit just shy of $70K thanks to people pre-ordering it.

        They later announced a Battle Royale mode, which has me excited because Linux doesn’t really have one currently. You could argue we have stuff with last man standing modes, sure, but they’re quite different. Given how popular the BR genre is, it will be sweet to have it on Linux. As a reminder, the Early Access release should hopefully be available before the end of June. Looks like I might be getting an early birthday present this year…

      • Logind Support For Mir Is Getting Closer To Working

        Mir developers have been working on support for systemd’s Logind and there is a “mess of a branch” that is nearly functionally complete and could soon be merged.

      • Several DDX Drivers Aren’t Yet Ready For X.Org Server 1.20

        If you were hoping to build the newly-released X.Org Server 1.20 on your system(s) this weekend, be forewarned that a number of the DDX drivers haven’t yet been updated for supporting the API/ABI changes of this big server update.

        A number of the smaller, obscure drivers like Tseng, SiS, R128, and March64 haven’t yet been updated for xorg-server 1.20 support but also the more prominent xf86-video-ati and xf86-video-amdgpu DDX drivers have not yet seen new releases with xorg-server 1.20 support.

      • NVIDIA 396.18.11 Linux Vulkan Driver Released With Fixes

        The NVIDIA 396.18.11 Vulkan beta driver for Linux was released on Friday as pulling in the latest upstream fixes to the Vulkan beta driver branch for Windows and Linux.

        The 396.18.11 Linux driver and 397.76 Windows driver pull in the latest fixes from their general release driver. For the Linux release, it comes just three days after another small beta update (396.18.08) that was released to fix Alt-Tab freezing with the DXVK Direct3D11-over-Vulkan implementation.

      • Mesa 18.1 Expected To Officially Debut Next Week

        While Mesa 18.0 debuted just about one and a half months ago, the fourth and final release candidate of Mesa 18.1 is now available for testing as the next quarterly feature installment to these primarily OpenGL/Vulkan open-source drivers.

        First time Mesa release manager Dylan Baker issued Mesa 18.1.0-RC4 this Friday evening with 25 queued patches. The affected work ranges from core Mesa fixes to Gallium3D, R600, RADV, RadeonSI, i965, and ANV fixes… Pretty much fixes across the board at least as far as the major drivers are concerned sans Nouveau.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • FreeText typewriter annotation WYSIWYG implementation ideas

        As a part of the GSoC project, I’m working with my mentor Tobias Deiminger on implementing the FreeText typewriter annotation with click-to-type WYSIWYG editing feature in Okular to write directly on PDF page.

      • Modern C++ and Qt – part 2.

        I recently did a short tongue-in-cheek blog post about Qt and modern C++. In the comments, people discovered that several compilers effectively can optimize std::make_unique<>().release() to a simple new statement, which was kind of a surprise to me.

        I have recently written a new program from scratch (more about that later), and I tried to force myself to use standard library smartpointers much more than what I normally have been doing.

      • Google Summer of Code 2018 – Community Bonding Part 2: Studies about LVM

        As I said in my previous post, I’m using this community bonding period to understand how LVM works in kpmcore. It involved studying about how the three parts of LVM (Physical Volumes, Volume Groups and Logical Volumes) work in the library and how this logic was implemented.

        In this text, I’m intending to give a short explanation about LVM, discuss about some plannings related to the process of creation of LVM VGs in Calamares and talk about some corrections related to it that I’ve implemented in kpmcore and KDE Partition Manager.

        [...]

        Community Bonding period is almost finishing, but I’ll write another post about it before that, talking a little bit about my studies involving RAID arrays and which are my ideas to implementing it. See you later!

      • Kdenlive Sprint – The Movie

        Kdenlive is KDE’s advanced video-editor. This April, members of the Kdenlive project met up for five days – from 25th to the 29th – for their spring sprint. The developers Jean-Baptiste Mardelle and Nicolas Carion, along with professional community videomakers Farid Abdelnour, Rémi Duquenne and Massimo Stella, got together at the Carrefour Numérique in Paris to push the project forward.

      • Krita 4.0.3 Released

        Today the Krita team releases Krita 4.0.3, a bug fix release of Krita 4.0.0. This release fixes an important regression in Krita 4.0.2: sometimes copy and paste between images opened in Krita would cause crashes (BUG:394068).

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Work is Underway to Make the GNOME Web Browser Mobile Friendly

        To do well, the upcoming Linux-powered Librem 5 smartphone will need a decent set of mobile-ready apps — and a good web browser is key to that.

        Hoping to step up to the plate is GNOME Web (aka Epiphany), whose developers are working hard to make sure that the webkit-based browser is in fine form for finger-friendly fun while surfing.

      • Purism wants to create a GNOME mobile shell for Linux smartphones (and other Librem 5 phone update)

        Linux computer maker Purism hopes to ship their smartphone in January, and the corporation has been providing updates about development of the upcoming Librem 5 smartphone periodically since launching a crowdfunding campaign last September (that campaign eventually raised more than $1.5 million through pre-orders).

        We know that the phone will feature an NXP i.MX8 processor, that it will ship with a custom version of Purism’s PureOS operating system, and that it will support several different user interfaces and operating systems including Ubuntu Touch, KDE Plasma Mobile, and Purism’s own GNOME-based user interface.

      • Fractal Hackfest, Strasbourg (day 1

        Yesterday was the first day in the first Fractal Hackfest. I’ll try to write an small blog post every day to share the development with the world.

        My travel to Strasbourg was not an easy travel because I’ve to take two flights to get here from Málaga so a long day travelling.

        I met with Mathew from Matrix.org at the London airport because we took the same flight to here and it was really cool to meet him in person and we talk a little about the current Matrix situation.

        I’ve met the other Fractal people and collaborators at the event, and it’s great that people from Purism, Matrix, Gnome and the two GSoC students come here to work together in this great application.

      • Fractal Hackfest, Strasbourg (day 2)

        The encryption is a needed feature but encryption is hard to do in rooms. Matrix uses public-key cryptography, for rooms they are using Megolm, that’s a protocol to exchange encrypted messages with more than one and share that message keys in a one-to-one secure communication.

        I don’t know a lot about this E2E because for me it’s more important to have the client working with a basic functionality before the encryption. So you should read the official doc because maybe this that I’m writing here is completely wrong.

        To do all this E2E key sharing, client side encryption and communication, Riot has three different implementations of the same lib, so they have this code in the JavaScript SDK, the same ported to iOS version in ObjectiveC and the same ported to Android in Java. Below this lib there’s the libolm that does the real encryption.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Gentoo Family

      • On OpenPGP (GnuPG) key management

        Over the time, a number of developers have had problems following the Gentoo OpenPGP key policy (GLEP 63. In particular, the key expiration requirements have resulted in many developers wanting to replace their key unnecessarily. I’ve been asked to write some instructions on managing your OpenPGP key, and I’ve decided to go for a full blog post with some less-known tips. I won’t be getting into detailed explanations how to use GnuPG though — you may still need to read the documentation after all.

        [...]

        Signing keys are used to sign data, i.e. to prove its authenticity. Using multiple signing subkeys is rather trivial — you can explicitly specify the key to use while creating a signature (note that you need to append ! to key-id to force non-default subkey), and GnuPG will automatically use the correct subkey when verifying the signature. To reduce the wear of your main signing subkey, you can create a separate signing subkey for Gentoo commits. Or you can go ever further, and have a separate signing subkey for each machine you’re using (and keep only the appropriate key on each machine).

    • Slackware Family

      • Moving to XOrg 1.20
      • Let’s show some love to 14.2

        With all the excitement going on about the disruptive changes in Slackware-current (migration to the new C++ ABI caused all of Slackware to be recompiled, and then the upgrade of openssl to 1.1 caused many packages to be recompiled again), I had to spend all of my time and CPU power to keep up with the changes and fix my packages for -current.
        That meant, less attention to the package updates for Slackware 14.2. I realize I left the users of our stable release somewhat in the cold.
        I am going to do something about that. During the next weeks I will try to bridge the gap that had been expanding for package versions in my own repository, between 14.2 and -current.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Summit 2018 Wraps Up With Containers/Virtualization Still Being Hot

        Red Hat Summit 2018 in San Francisco has now wrapped up, marking Red Hat’s 25th year hosting the event of customers and partners. Virtualization and containers continued being among the most discussed topics at the tech event.

        While there’s been signs of an approaching Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Alpha, sadly there was seemingly no RHEL8 mentions at this year’s summit, at least when it came to public announcements pertaining to this next-generation enterprise Linux platform. So we’ll have to wait and see on the RHEL8 front, but based upon their past release cycles and the alpha references we’ve been seeing, I suspect we’ll hear more later in the year.

      • Red Hat, Boston Children’s Collaborate on Open Source Image Sharing

        Red Hat announced its collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital to provide a distributed user open source image sharing interface so clinicians and radiologists can share images in real-time anywhere around the world.

        The ChRIS Research Integration Service is a web-based medical image platform deployed on the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC). The MOC is a multi-provider cloud that was created by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and several research universities.

        The collaboration was put into motion by the need for faster and more convenient access to medical images. Waiting for images to be scanned, shared, and analyzed causes delays in patient care, which can cause further medical problems.

      • Photos: Red Hat Gets Hot & Sweaty

        Tech conference protip: When attending conferences, my rule is I wear jeans to events with the name “open” in the title, and otherwise wear a suit. Red Hat is a unique edge case — the word “open” isn’t in the title, but the company is founded on open source. On the other hand, it’s enterprise focused, suggesting a suit as appropriate business attire. I went with a suit on day one, and jeans on day two.

        When I was not running around working on articles, and feeling the pain of sugar/carb withdrawal, I found some interesting oddities in corners of the conference. Click on the slideshow below for some of what I saw.

      • Red Hat shows the way for open-source licensing. Will the industry follow?

        The licensing of open-source software is complicated and runs counter to human intuition. Developers put their blood, sweat and tears into creating an elegant piece of software and then sign away the copyrights so that others can use and improve on it free and clear. Say what?

        The tech community has been grappling with this issue basically since Richard Stallman developed a free UNIX-style operating system in the early 1980s. As the open-source community has grown, the products have become more diverse and the stakes are higher.

        [...]

        At the heart of open-source licensing is the General Public License, or GPL, the compliance instrument that governs much of Red Hat’s software, including its Enterprise Linux. The GPL is known as a “copyleft” license, meaning that a developer can create open-source software and distribute it to someone else with all of the necessary copyrights. The recipient can copy it, distribute it, or improve on it in any way they see fit.

      • OpenShift Roadmap: What’s Next for Red Hat’s Kubernetes Container Platform?

        Red Hat is increasingly focusing on its OpenShift container platform for enabling organization to deploy and deliver applications. OpenShift was a dominant topic at the 2018 Red Hat Summit, with a multiple announcements and pronouncements about the Kubernetes platform’s future.

        Among the key OpenShift sessions was a roadmap session on May 9, in which five Red Hat product managers detailed future feature capabilities that are set to come to the platform over the coming year.

      • Red Hat Announces OpenShift Products, Partnerships at Annual Summit
      • Scientific Linux 7.5 Released As RHEL 7.5 Rebuild

        Testing of the release candidate earlier this month went well and out now is the official Scientific Linux 7.5 release.

        Scientific Linux 7.5 is the re-spin derived from upstream Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 and its many changes/improvements.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 28: Another Release for Power Users

          Fedora is widely recognized to be a smooth Linux distribution with up-to-date software, and is also used by a lot of developers around the world. Just around a 10 days ago Fedora 28 was released, bringing many changes and updated software.

          This review will guide you through the new release and what to expect so far.

          [...]

          Fedora 28 is yet another updated release for power users around the world. With updated software and some interesting new features and battery optimizations, Fedora 28 can be a good choice if you are looking for the latest stable up-to-date packages or you would like to get software just as they are from upstream.

          You may, however, face one of the common bugs in Fedora 28 of face crashes and hangs like we did, but this doesn’t mean that it’s not worth to try. Your experience on your hardware may be different than ours.

        • Fedora 28 : The LibreCAD application.
        • Custom Fedora Live Media
        • EPEL Outage Report 2018-11-05
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Get Privacy Tools on Ubuntu 18.04

            If you are already aware about 2013 global privacy case, I believe you care about your internet privacy by now. If you just switched to Ubuntu, here’s a list of user-friendly programs (free software only) and search engine to protect your privacy. You will find my recommendation of a web search engine, a specific web browser, add-ons, email client enhancements, and password storage. This list accompanies the previous list of 20 useful programs for 18.04.

            [...]

            Free software is not gratis software but software that the user is free. Free software is about the user’s right, either individually or collectively, to control over the software. If you run your activities with nonfree software (also called proprietary), you don’t control the whole things software does within your computer, which only means there is somebody else controlling you and the computers. To protect your privacy, you should make sure you run only free software and relies only on privacy-respecting internet services.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux-based networking SBC features five GbE ports and optional SFP

      Gateworks has launched a rugged, headless “Newport GW6400” SBC that runs Linux on a dual- or quad-core Cavium OcteonTX with 3x mini-PCIe, 2x USB 3.0, 5x GbE ports (2x with PoE) and optional SFP.

      Last November, Gateworks announced a new product family of rugged Newport SBCs that run OpenWrt or Ubuntu on Cavium’s dual or quad-core ARMv8.1 Octeon TX networking SoCs. The debut model was a 105 x 100mm GW6300 SBC. Now, Gateworks has followed up with the promised high-end, 140 x 100mm Newport GW6400 model, which has 5x Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of 3x on the GW6300. Later this year we’ll see a GW6100 with a single gigabit port and a GW6200 with 2x GbE.

Free Software/Open Source

  • National Guard team builds open-source cyber toolkit

    When the Missouri National Guard Cyber Team was called in to respond to security incidents, it used to take two days to collect information from compromised servers.

    To get better insight into attempted breaches and overall network health faster, the team built the Response Operation Collect Kit for Network Service Monitoring, a scalable and secure open source sensor platform that makes network monitoring more automated and easier to navigate.

    RockNSM combines several open source tools in a single platform. The combination of tools allows the Missouri National Guard Cyber Team to set up their data collection for security monitoring and incident response in 20 minutes.

    Part of the appeal of RockNSM is the ability to collect information on networks without needing administrative access to sensitive networks.

  • Maximizing Value from Open Source Testing Frameworks

    Even well-known companies like Google that have built home-grown systems to run UI and API testing against all their applications are now releasing their own open source systems into the market. Recently, Google and Netflix announced Kayenta, an open source automated canary analysis service to enable continuous delivery for software teams. However, if you are not a company with the resources of a Google and Netflix, building your own open source tool or complementing an open source framework with a home-grown system is not always a viable open. In fact, it’s a common misconception that software teams have or should choose between purchasing a commercial tool or leverage free open source framework. Growing companies should maximize their value from open source assets along with commercial tools.

  • Taking Open Source for Granted

    But just as many in the United States have had a wakeup call about taking the stability of our civic institutions for granted, those with an interest in seeing open source remain a vital and robust model moving forward should remember that the price of freedom is high. It always has been.

  • Events

    • Considering an RSAC Expo booth? Our Experience, in 5,000 words or less

      So we decided to try a booth for 2018, and figured we’d document our experience (and thoughts) along the way. In this post you’ll find a full breakdown of all our costs for attending and boothing at RSAC, including what it takes to get a space; kitting it out with furniture, equipment, swag and more; staffing the booth; the crazy that is conference pricing; and the logistics for actually making it happen.

    • OpenStack Summit Vancouver 2018

      OpenStack Summit is the leading event in Open Infrastructure, bringing together the builders and operators for sessions and workshops on containers, CI/CD, telecom & NFV, public cloud, multi-cloud and more.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • rr Chaos Mode Improvements

        rr’s chaos mode introduces nondeterminism while recording application execution, to try to make intermittent bugs more reproducible. I’m always interested in hearing about bugs that cannot be reproduced under chaos mode, especially if those bugs have been diagnosed. If we can figure out why a bug was not reproducible under chaos mode, we can often extend chaos mode to make it reproducible, and this improves chaos mode for everyone. If you encounter such a bug, please file an rr issue about it.

      • This week in Mixed Reality: Issue 6

        The team and community continue to add new features, fix bugs, and respond to early user and developer feedback to deliver a solid experience across Firefox Reality, Hubs and the content related projects.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 11.2 Beta Now Available For Testing

      FreeBSD 11.2 has reached the beta milestone to succeed FreeBSD 11.1 from last year and ahead of FreeBSD 12.0 that is expected this November.

      FreeBSD 11.2 is targeted for release around the end of June but before then they expect to do a total of three beta releases and up to three release candidates.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • LibreJS 7.14 released

      GNU LibreJS aims to address the JavaScript problem described in Richard Stallman’s article The JavaScript Trap. LibreJS is a free add-on for GNU IceCat and other Mozilla-based browsers. It blocks nonfree nontrivial JavaScript while allowing JavaScript that is free and/or trivial.

    • Contract opportunity: JavaScript Developer for GNU LibreJS

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF), a Massachusetts 501(c)(3) charity with a worldwide mission to protect computer user freedom, seeks a contract JavaScript Developer to work on GNU LibreJS, a free browser add-on that addresses the problem of nonfree JavaScript described in Richard Stallman’s article The JavaScript Trap. This is a temporary, paid contract opportunity, with specific deliverables, hours, term, and payment to be determined with the selected candidate. We anticipate the contract being approximately 80 hours of full-time work, with the possibility of extension depending on results and project status.

    • Paper on reproducible bioinformatics pipelines with Guix

      I’m happy to announce that the bioinformatics group at the Max Delbrück Center that I’m working with has released a preprint of a paper on reproducibility with the title Reproducible genomics analysis pipelines with GNU Guix.

      We built a collection of bioinformatics pipelines called “PiGx” (“Pipelines in Genomix”) and packaged them as first-class packages with GNU Guix. Then we looked at the degree to which the software achieves bit-reproducibility, analysed sources of non-determinism (e.g. time stamps), discussed experimental reproducibility at runtime (e.g. random number generators, the interface provided by the kernel and the GNU C library, etc) and commented on the practice of using “containers” (or application bundles) instead.

    • New release of eiffel-iup

      It is already available a new version of eiffel-iup, a Liberty Eiffel wrapper to IUP toolkit. So you can build your graphical application from Eiffel using Liberty Eiffel, the GNU implementation of Eiffel language. So happy hacking.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Brazilian federal government leads in open source adoption

      Open source is more common at federal level, seen in 93 percent of organizations, while 78 percent of state-level bodies use it, according to the findings of the E-Government ICT edition carried out by the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br).

      The study has also found that in 2017, new open source development has taken place in 85 percent of federal government organizations to cater for their specific requirements, while 57 percent of state organizations also developed new open systems.

      Of the federal organizations that have carried out open source development in Brazil, some 52 percent have also shared these platforms with other public sector bodies.

      For the study, some 1686 federal and state-level organizations were surveyed by the CGI.br between July and October 2017.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Cisco has yanked all its ads from YouTube

    “When we find that ads mistakenly ran against content that doesn’t comply with our policies, we immediately remove those ads. We know that even when videos meet our advertiser friendly guidelines, not all videos will be appropriate for all brands. But we are committed to working with our advertisers and getting this right,” the company said.

  • Ryanair goes all in on AWS

    It is also migrating from Microsoft SQL Server databases to Amazon’s popular Aurora. This will help the airline run its email marketing campaigns at lower costs. Naturally the airline runs email marketing at massive scale, sending out 22 million emails daily to customers about travel bookings or sales events.

  • The spectacular power of Big Lens

    Between them, Essilor and Luxottica play a central, intimate role in the lives of a remarkable number of people. Around 1.4 billion of us rely on their products to drive to work, read on the beach, follow the whiteboard in biology lessons, type text messages to our grandchildren, land aircraft, watch old movies, write dissertations and glance across restaurants, hoping to look slightly more intelligent and interesting than we actually are. Last year, the two companies had a combined customer base that is somewhere between Apple’s and Facebook’s, but with none of the hassle and scrutiny of being as well known.

    Now they are becoming one. On 1 March, regulators in the EU and the US gave permission for the world’s largest optical companies to form a single corporation, which will be known as EssilorLuxottica. The new firm will not technically be a monopoly: Essilor currently has around 45% of the prescription lenses market, and Luxottica 25% of the frames. But in seven centuries of spectacles, there has never been anything like it. The new entity will be worth around $50bn (£37bn), sell close to a billion pairs of lenses and frames every year, and have a workforce of more than 140,000 people. EssilorLuxottica intends to dominate what its executives call “the visual experience” for decades to come.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trump Declares Intent To Stop Pharma Companies From ‘Gaming’ Patent System

      US President Trump today declared in a White House speech his intent to “take steps” to lower drug prices by stopping “gaming of regulatory and patent processes by drug makers to unfairly protect monopolies,” as well as increasing price transparency and promoting biosimilars and generics. But to do this, his administration will take on what it sees as “freeloading” on US innovation by foreign governments, and addressing “unfair” intellectual property and market access policies in trade agreements.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Windows Under Attack as NSA Exploit Usage Skyrockets

      EternalBlue, the stolen NSA exploit that was used to create the infamous WannaCry ransomware, is back in business, only that this time usage appears to skyrocket, according to security vendor ESET.

      Researcher Ondrej Kubovič notes that while WannaCry attacks have dropped, EternalBlue is still around, and the first months of 2018 brought a worrying increase in the number of attacks based on this exploit.

      EternalBlue is an exploit stolen from the NSA by hacking group Shadow Brokers in April 2016. It takes advantage of a vulnerability in the Windows Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, and Microsoft shipped patches even before the flaw went public.

      But this doesn’t mean that attackers have stopped searching for targets. The researcher says cybercriminals are scanning the Internet for exposed SMB ports and are trying to compromise the host with an exploit that eventually allows for payloads deployed on the target machine and leading to different outcomes.

      “Interestingly, according to ESET’s telemetry, EternalBlue had a calmer period immediately after the 2017 WannaCryptor campaign: over the following months, attempts to use the EternalBlue exploit dropped to “only” hundreds of detections daily,” the researcher notes.

      “Since September last year, however, the use of the exploit has slowly started to gain pace again, continually growing and reaching new heights in mid-April 2018.”

    • Microsoft Says It Won’t Fix a Bug Causing BSODs on Windows 10

      A bug causing Windows machines to crash when a USB drive is inserted won’t get a patch from Microsoft, despite the issue said to be affecting all versions of the operating system, including the newly-launched April 2018 Update.

      Security researcher Marius Tivadar says in a post on GitHub that he first reported the problem to Microsoft in July 2017 after discovering that a USB drive running a handcrafted NTFS image can cause any system to crash even if locked.

      “Microsoft was very responsive regarding my disclosure 1 year ago, but they didn’t issue a security patch,” Tivadar explains.

    • Purism’s FSP Reverse Engineering Effort Might Be Stalled

      Purism has been working on reverse-engineering the Intel Firmware Support Package (FSP) module but it looks like that work may have taken a turn.

      A Phoronix reader tipped us off this morning that the Intel FSP reverse-engineering information made public by Purism has now been retracted. The past several months Purism has been working on reverse-engineering the Intel FSP to free the system further to run on only open-source code rather than still having the Intel binary-only module paired with Coreboot. Their big focus this year has been on figuring out the actual silicon initialization code inside the FSP. Purism’s Youness Alaoui was very close to finding out this information at the start of April and he wrote a lengthy blog post outlining his reverse-engineering work.

    • Google will soon require OEMs to roll out ‘regular’ Android security patches
    • Will Blockchains Include Insecurity by Design?

      Ask any journalist to pick an adjective to use in connection with standards development and the answer will invariably be “boring.” But according to a recent New York Times article (yes, it also used that word – as well as “wonky”), the process of creating standards just became a whole lot more interesting – at least when it comes to the blockchain. The reason? A standards working group may have been infiltrated by state actors bent on embedding security flaws into the very standards being created for the purpose of preventing attacks.

      And why not? The power of a successful standard comes from the fact that vendors have to adopt it in order to sell a given product or service, such as a WiFi router or a USB device. Indeed, laptops and smart phones include hundreds of standards, each of which is essential to a given function or service. As I noted last week, the blockchain will need standards, too, in order for it to take hold in multiple areas. Some of those standards will be intended to make the blockchain more secure.

    • 6 Things You Should Do to Secure Your NAS
    • Packets over a LAN are all it takes to trigger serious Rowhammer bit flips

      For the first time, researchers have exploited the Rowhammer memory-chip weakness using nothing more than network packets sent over a local area network. The advance is likely to further lower the bar for triggering bit flips that change critical pieces of data stored on vulnerable computers and servers.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Greek Police Uncover Plan to Kill Russian National Arrested in Greece – Source

      “The Greek law enforcement received intelligence on plans to prepare an assassination via poisoning with the help of criminals. The head of the prison and the prosecutor of the city of Thessaloniki summoned Vinnik and informed him about the plot to poison him, and special security measures were taken in connection with that,” the source said.

    • Report: Bitcoin money laundering suspect spared from prison poison plot

      Greek law enforcement has disrupted a plan to murder a Russian man arrested in Greece last year, who American authorities believe laundered billions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin through BTC-e, a shady Bitcoin exchange that the suspect is also accused of creating.

    • Iran Deal Partners Mull How to Confront ‘Renegade’ U.S.

      What can the five remaining signatories to the Iran nuclear deal do now that the Trump administration has trampled on Security Council Resolution 2231 and its 13 binding decisions, adopted under Article 41 of the United Nations Charter, which codified the Iran nuclear deal into international law? Sooner or later, the other 14 members of the Security Council, especially Britain, China, France and Russia, must decide how to confront their renegade permanent member, the United States.

      Otherwise, the Council may lose its unique authority to prevent and resolve conflicts.

      Specifically, the question they may soon have to confront will be how they can protect the resolution and the companies that comply with it when doing business with Iranians, given that Iran is subject once again to new U.S. sanctions.

      The first broadside against the companies of U.S. allies that are doing business with Iran came minutes after President Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, on May 8. Richard Grenell, his ambassador to Germany (and spokesman for the U.S. at the UN from 2001-2008), tweeted, “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”

      The reaction was immediate, but it was outrage, not compliance, that German diplomatic and business leaders expressed.

    • Trump’s Iran Debacle: What Will Germany and Russia Do?

      In the wake of Donald Trump’s thoroughly unsurprising decision to scuttle the Iran nuclear accord, two countries that may be most in the hot seat are Germany and Russia. The big question now is whether their mutual discomfort leads them to find common cause.

      Angela Merkel’s plight is especially painful. Not only are Germany’s extensive business links with Iran at risk thanks to Trump’s decision to re-apply sanctions, but the German chancellor’s political fortunes have taken a beating thanks to years of American incompetence in the Middle East.

      In Libya, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton devoted two weeks during the 2011 Arab Spring to persuading Qatar to join the anti-Gaddafi coalition, only to stand by and watch as the oil-rich emirate seized the opportunity to distribute some $400 million to murderous Salafist rebels spreading anarchy from one end of the country to the other. The result was a failed state that soon turned into a jumping-off point for hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees making their way to Germany and other parts of the European Union.

    • Trump picks billionaire military contractor to lead intelligence board

      President Trump on Friday announced that Stephen Feinberg, a New York billionaire who owns the giant military contractor DynCorp International, will chair a White House executive board that reviews the effectiveness and legality of foreign intelligence.

      [...]

      Feinberg, who has no previous experience working in government intelligence, is the first person that Trump has appointed to the board.

    • Media Debate Best Way to Dominate Iran

      The debate in the New York Times and Washington Post over President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran deal, revolves around which tactics America should use to dominate Iran.

      At one end of the spectrum of acceptable opinion is the view that President Trump was correct to withdraw from the deal because it supposedly failed to handcuff Iran to a sufficient degree. At the other is the far more common perspective, which is that Trump should have remained in the deal because it is an effective tool for controlling Iran.

      [...]

      The Washington Post (5/9/18) ran an incoherent piece by US national security advisor John Bolton saying that Trump needed to take the US out of the Iran deal because, since its implementation, Iran has not “focus[ed] on behaving responsibly.” In other words, he opposes the nuclear accord because Iran has proven itself too immature for the freedom from US control that Bolton wrongly suggests it is offered under the JCPOA.

      Commentators who differed on Trump’s decision nevertheless shared the premise of those in favor of taking the US out of the deal, which is that Iran belongs under imperial stewardship.

      Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security advisor, defended the Iran nuclear deal in the Times (5/8/18) on the grounds that it “has served American interests.” “By withdrawing from the deal,” she writes, “we have weakened our ability to address [America’s] concerns” with Iranian policy.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Sarah Palin praises WikiLeak’s Julian Assange; ‘He’s all about freedom’

      Sarah Palin on Thursday expressed her appreciation for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, notwithstanding his website releasing the Republican politician’s personal emails nearly a decade earlier during her failed campaign for vice president.

      The former Alaska governor praised Mr. Assange during an interview with One America News, a right-leaning cable network, reversing course after harshly condemning WikiLeaks over its past publications.

      “We do have a little bit of history,” Mrs. Palin said with respect to the WikiLeaks chief. “He leaked or published somehow my private emails, and I was so ticked off at him and I thought he was just such a foe — until I started figuring out where he was headed.”

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How the Saudis Wooed Donald Trump

      All it took was flattery, arms, and a little bit of cash.

    • If Trump Is Laundering Russian Money, Here’s How It Works

      Shell companies, pseudonyms, shady lawyers, and secrecy: The president’s and his lawyer’s business practices match the classic pattern of suspicious activity.

    • Senate intelligence panel seeking Sam Nunberg communications with Stone

      Roger Stone said he’s “pleased” former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg is now choosing to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller after initially saying he would refuse to comply with a subpoena.. (File Photo)

    • Senate investigators request interview with Nunberg, communications with Stone

      The Senate Intelligence Committee is requesting a closed-door interview with onetime Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg and that he turn over communications he had with GOP strategist Roger Stone.

      The panel made the formal request to Nunberg on Thursday, CNN reports, asking him to provide any communications with Stone regarding Russia, its hacking efforts during the 2016 election and WikiLeaks as the committee probes Russia’s interference in the race.

    • Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg summoned to meet with Senate panel

      The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested that former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg turn over any communications with longtime Trump political adviser Roger Stone that mention Julian Assange, Russia, Wikileaks, and hacking.

      Nunberg told ABC News that he received a letter request from the committee on Friday to submit the documents by May 24. He was also asked to appear before the committee in a closed interview.

    • Steam Yanks Another Developer’s Games Over Fake Reviews Posted By Employee

      Astro-turfing and fake reviews continue to be plagues upon the online marketplace, creating a wave of distrust with the public when it comes to properly assessing any business via online means. It’s impossible to know how big or small a problem this is, which only adds to the distrust in the public, forcing them to assume the worst. All that being said, Valve has actually been pretty good about policing reviews on its gaming platform, Steam, and also making a big public stink about instances in which it has had to take action against developers for trying to game the review system. Studios have had their games pulled from the store entirely, such as when Digital Homicide and Insel Games each had their respective titles pulled. Given that Valve made sure the volume was turned up when it took such actions, one would think that game studios ought to have gotten the message by now.

    • Revealed: rebranded D-Notice committee issued two notices over Skripal affair

      Spinwatch can reveal that the Skripal affair has resulted in the issuing of not one but two ‘D-Notices’ to the British media, which are marked private and confidential. We can also disclose the contents of both notices, which have been obtained from a reliable source.
      Spinwatch can reveal that the Skripal affair has resulted in the issuing of not one but two ‘D-Notices’ to the British media, which are marked private and confidential. We can also disclose the contents of both notices, which have been obtained from a reliable source.

      That two notices were issued has been confirmed by the ‘D-Notice’ Committee. The Committee, which is jointly staffed by government officials and mainstream media representatives has recently changed its name to the ‘Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) Committee’. The use of the word ‘advisory’ is no doubt a bid to discourage the public from thinking that this is a censorship committee. However, the DSMA-Notices (as they are now officially called) are one of the miracles of British state censorship. They are a mechanism whereby the British state simply ‘advises’ the mainstream media what not to publish, in ‘notices’ with no legal force. The media then voluntarily comply.

      Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury and discovered collapsed on a park bench in the late afternoon of Sunday 4 March. Less than three days later on 7 March, the first and – until now undisclosed – notice was issued.
      That two notices were issued has been confirmed by the ‘D-Notice’ Committee. The Committee, which is jointly staffed by government officials and mainstream media representatives has recently changed its name to the ‘Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) Committee’. The use of the word ‘advisory’ is no doubt a bid to discourage the public from thinking that this is a censorship committee. However, the DSMA-Notices (as they are now officially called) are one of the miracles of British state censorship. They are a mechanism whereby the British state simply ‘advises’ the mainstream media what not to publish, in ‘notices’ with no legal force. The media then voluntarily comply.

      Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury and discovered collapsed on a park bench in the late afternoon of Sunday 4 March. Less than three days later on 7 March, the first and – until now undisclosed – notice was issued.

    • We read every one of the 3,517 Facebook ads bought by Russians. Their dominant strategy: Sowing racial discord

      The Russian company charged with orchestrating a wide-ranging effort to meddle in the 2016 presidential election overwhelmingly focused its barrage of social media advertising on what is arguably America’s rawest political division: race.

      The roughly 3,500 Facebook ads were created by the Russian-based Internet Research Agency, which is at the center of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s February indictment of 13 Russians and three companies seeking to influence the election.

      While some ads focused on topics as banal as business promotion or Pokémon, the company consistently promoted ads designed to inflame race-related tensions. Some dealt with race directly; others dealt with issues fraught with racial and religious baggage such as ads focused on protests over policing, the debate over a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and relationships with the Muslim community.

      The company continued to hammer racial themes even after the election.

      USA TODAY Network reporters reviewed each of the 3,517 ads, which were released to the public this week for the first time by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The analysis included not just the content of the ads, but also information that revealed the specific audience targeted, when the ad was posted, roughly how many views it received and how much the ad cost to post.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Zuckerberg’s Invasion and Evasion
    • Thousands of Facebook ads bought by Russians to fool U.S. voters released by Congress

      The Facebook ads varied in their effectiveness and reach, with some only being shared a few hundred times, others seen hundreds of thousands or more than 1 million times. They ran just over two years starting in June 2015, increasing in volume in October and November 2016, just before and after the presidential election, but also showing spikes in April and May of 2016 and also April and May of 2017.

    • UK regulator orders Cambridge Analytica to release data on US voter

      He said the ICO’s letter was “pretty extraordinary” and “proved what we’ve been saying for a long time: this is not a normal company. To have the audacity to say that American voters are no different than jihadis hiding in a cave is pretty shocking”. He said that it was the fact that it was a British company that had processed US voters’ data in the UK in an act of “digital colonialism” that had originally inspired him to ask the company for his data back.

    • Hollywood Offers Ominous Visions of Facial Recognition’s Future

      Facial recognition technology stars in three recent Hollywood movies: Isle of Dogs, Ready Player One, and Black Panther. In Wes Anderson’s stop-motion near-future Japan, a corrupt mayor uses the technology to capture the Little Pilot who only wants to save his dog. In Steven Spielberg’s dystopic America, a megalomaniacal billionaire uses drones equipped with face scanners to find one of the movie’s heroes as she drives her van through an impoverished futuristic cityscape. And in Ryan Coogler’s Wakanda, the royal technologist’s team uses her facial recognition tool to identify intruders in the kingdom.

    • Company That Handles Prison Phone Calls Is Surveilling People Who Aren’t in Prison

      Sen. Ron Wyden has revealed shocking surveillance practices by Securus, a prison technology company.

      Securus, one of the country’s largest providers of phone services to incarcerated people, is known for its shady, cruel, and sometimes illegal business practices. It has charged exorbitant rates for prisoners’ calls, limited family and friends to video-only “visits” with incarcerated loved ones, and violated attorney-client privilege by recording phone calls between prisoners and their attorneys.

      This week, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) revealed even more troubling practices that undermine the privacy and civil liberties of millions upon millions of Americans. In letters made public on Friday demanding action from the Federal Communications Commission and several major telecommunications companies, Wyden described Securus’ ability to obtain and share the cell phone location information of virtually anyone who uses a phone.

      The letters report that Securus provides correctional facilities with the ability to access real-time location data for virtually any individual in the country — without making sure that officials have obtained a warrant or proper consent.

    • Senator Wyden Demands Answers from Prison Phone Service Caught Sharing Cellphone Location Data

      Do you use Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile? If so, your real-time cell phone location data may have been shared with law enforcement without your knowledge or consent.

      How could this happen? Well, a company that provides phone services to jails and prisons has been collecting location information on all Americans and sharing it with law enforcement—with little more than a “pinky promise” from the police that they’ve obtained proper legal process.

      This week, Sen. Wyden called out that company, Securus Technologies, in a letter to the FCC demanding the agency investigate Securus’s practices. Wyden also sent letters to the major phone carriers asking for an accounting of all the third parties with which they share their customers’ information as well as what they think constitutes customer consent to that sharing.

      Wyden called on the carriers to immediately stop sharing data with any and all third parties that have misrepresented customer consent or abused their access to sensitive customer data like real-time location information.

    • How a Mugger Helped Create the NSA’s Post-9/11 Surveillance Program

      It was just another quiet Tuesday in October 2013 when a startling call from a reporter arrived on Stephen Sachs’ phone. The reporter was with an outlet that Sachs had never heard of—Wired—and he was asking about a Supreme Court case, Smith v. Maryland, from decades ago. The career lawyer had practically forgotten about it. But the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been secretly relying on Smith, which began as a late-night robbery in Baltimore in 1975, to justify a massive surveillance program at the National Security Agency.

      The 1979 Smith decision “was a routine robbery case,” he told David Kravets. “To extend it to what we now know as massive surveillance, in my personal view, is a bridge too far.” Specifically, Smith had become a critical linchpin in the third-party doctrine.

      Today, the third-party doctrine works like this: If Alice calls Bob using Verizon, the fact that this call went over Verizon’s network means that a third party (Verizon) was brought into the mix. Under this logic, neither Alice nor Bob can claim a privacy interest over the fact that the call took place. So, Verizon can disclose this metadata (who called whom, when, and for how long) to the police with little difficulty. In short, the government claims (and the Supreme Court agreed in 1979), that there was no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in numbers disclosed to a phone company.

    • Hey Alexa, What Are You Doing to My Kid’s Brain?

      Among the more modern anxieties of parents today is how virtual assistants will train their children to act.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Handbook of Tyranny: stark infographics on human cruelty
    • WaPo Positions Support for Torturer as Vote for Feminism

      As the war over Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency has waged on this week, we’ve been gifted an incredible batch of corporate media apologias for the CIA’s decades-long legacy of torture, extrajudicial killings and civil liberties violations. Perhaps most remarkably, these outlets have spent hundreds of words arguing that Haspel should be confirmed as the next director of the CIA—despite having overseen a black site prison where detainees were brutally tortured, and directing the destruction of evidence of this illegal and inhumane practice—because it’s the feminist thing to do.

      This was the perfect line for the Trump administration’s Haspel push—a notion informed both by the Republicans’ elementary understanding of identity politics and their obsession with calling out perceived liberal hypocrisy: After all, how could any self-respecting Democrat vote against a woman to usher the United States’ international spying apparatus into its next no doubt sinister phase?

      White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders made this point plainly in a tweet last week, saying: “Any Democrat who claims to support women’s empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite.”

    • 5 Things Gina Haspel Wouldn’t Say About CIA Torture — and Why It Matters

      Haspel was far from forthright, regularly evading questions or giving only vague answers. Some takeaways from the hearing.

      President Trump’s nominee to be CIA director, Gina Haspel, faced pointed questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday morning. Senators asked about her role in the agency’s torture program and its cover-up, including her role in the destruction of dozens of videotapes documenting torture.

      Haspel, however, was far from forthright, regularly evading questions or giving only vague answers.

    • CBP Sued For Seizing $41,000 From Airline Passenger, Then Refusing To Give It Back Unless She Promised Not To Sue

      Another case of asset forfeiture is the subject of a federal lawsuit. Like many others, the plaintiff has obtained the assistance of the Institute for Justice in battling the government for the return of seized assets. In this case, a US citizen saw $41,000 of hers disappear into the government’s custody when she attempted to take it to her hometown in Nigeria to start a medical clinic.

      [...]

      On top of that, the reporting must be done at the time of the flight, but the office where the reporting is handled is not even located on the airport’s property, much less in the terminal. And then there’s the petty grubbiness of the CBP officers’ actions — like their decision to cut open her bag to access the cash, rather than use the key she provided them, and threatening to harass and detain her in the future any time she decides to board an international flight.

    • The government took $41,000 from this Texan at a Houston airport six months ago. They never gave it back.

      For nearly a decade, Anthonia Nwaorie dreamed of starting a medical clinic in her hometown in Southern Nigeria.

      Last October, the 59-year-old nurse was boarding a plane in Houston with medical equipment, supplies, and about $41,000 in cash — which had taken her years to save — when Customs and Border Protection officials stopped her.

      “The officer started asking me questions: How much money do you have? How long have you been in the United States?” she remembered. “I felt like a criminal that had just run the red light.”

      Nwaorie said she was detained for hours. She missed her flight to Nigeria and the customs officers seized all her money. Lawyers at the Institute for Justice, an Arlington, Virginia-based public interest law firm, say her case demonstrates just how abusive the practice of civil forfeiture — which allows the government to take property that is believed to be tied to a crime — can be.

    • Injured Amazon worker describes high-tech dystopia inside Texas warehouse

      Every time workers leave the facility, they are subjected to an invasive search. “You wait in line with a bucket like at the airport,” she said. A worker is required to take off belt, shoes, and hat. Bags are sent through a conveyor belt and the worker goes through a full body scan. “If you set it off, you have to go through a second search, and they wand you front to back.”

      In a 10-hour shift, workers are permitted two 15-minute breaks and one 30-minute break for lunch. To go outside on a break, workers must submit to the search and go through the security line. “The lines to get outside on your 15-minute break are 20 to 30 deep on each line, and there are only two lines.” Meanwhile, the breaks are timed from “scan to scan” at a worker’s station, and workers are admonished, “Not one second more.”

    • CIA & Army veteran has the best response to Gina Haspel confirmation obfuscation
    • Ex-PM Najib banned from leaving Malaysia

      Najib Razak is barred from travelling overseas, just days after his party’s shock election defeat.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality dies June 11th

      The US Senate has forced a vote, scheduled for next week, to overturn Pai’s decision. If the Senate is successful, the House of Representatives will have to take similar measures before Pai’s framework is overruled. Of course, that’s not to say Donald Trump won’t veto it once it lands on his desk. In the interim, a handful of states have passed their own bills upholding Title II provisions.

    • It’s Official: the FCC Has Released the Date the Net Neutrality Repeal Will Go Into Effect
    • AT&T Cans Exec Over Cohen Payment Kerfuffle, Pretends This Kind Of Influence Peddling Isn’t Perfectly Routine

      As you’ve probably seen, AT&T was recently exposed for paying $600,000 into a shady shell LLC operated by President Trump’s “fixer” Michael Cohen. Initially, AT&T tried to claim that the company had simply hired Cohen for “insight” into President Trump. Given AT&T could easily gain said insight into Trump from any number of its lawyers, lobbyists, and above-board consultants (not to mention the ocean of politicians and regulators in its back pocket), the idea they’d pay a dubious NYC “fixer” for such insight never really carried much weight.

      It seems fairly obvious at this point that AT&T was probably paying Cohen for additional access to the President. A leaked document provided to the Washington Post makes it clear that AT&T hoped to gain some advantage in its business before the FCC (net neutrality, privacy, protectionism, protecting its monopoly power), and its efforts to gain regulatory approval for the company’s $86 billion Time Warner merger…

    • T-Mobile Hires Ex-FCC Commissioner To Claim Its Competition-Killing Merger Will Be Really Great For…Farmers

      As we’ve discussed, the looming Sprint T-Mobile merger is going to be decidedly ugly for American consumers. Global history has shown repeatedly that when you reduce the number of total competitors from four to three, you proportionally reduce any incentive to truly compete on price. Analysts have also predicted that anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 retail, management, and administrative employees will lose their jobs as the bigger company inevitably eliminates redundant positions. Of course like any American merger, the two companies’ CEOs have spent much of the last week trying to claim the exact opposite.

      Still, it’s going to be an uphill climb for Sprint and T-Mobile to sell regulators on the deal, even for an administration that seems to take pride in undermining consumers and small businesses.

    • Tim Karr on Net Neutrality Fight, Mark Trahant on Indian Country Today

      As we record the show on May 10, the FCC has posted notice that net neutrality rules—the ones that keep service providers from favoring websites that give them money, and slowing down or “throttling” your access to websites that don’t pony up—will disappear on June 11. This should come as a surprise to all of the media outlets that told you that net neutrality already died on April 23. So: What, exactly, is going on? And, since abandoning the fight for an open internet is not an option, what do we do now? We talk net neutrality with Tim Karr, senior director of strategy and communications at the group Free Press.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Brazilian Superior Court Of Justice Stops Patent Term Extension Attempts

      To summarize the last decade of Brazilian Superior Court of Justice judgements on patent term extension matters, two conclusions can be reached: (1) in Brazil, big pharma/agrochemical companies are much like Charles Dicken’s famous character Oliver Twist: “Please Sir, I want some more!”; and (2) while IP lawyers should be commended for their creativity in attempting to obtain patent term extensions, the STJ has consistently ruled against such attempts, always noting that a patent impacts several actors of society: (i) the inventor; (ii) the patent holder; (iii) the State; (iv) consumers; (v) competition; and (vi) the environment. The proper solution for such cases cannot be favorable only for a party (or two).

    • Trademarks

      • Rap or Pap? Dr. Dre Loses Trademark Battle With Dr. Drai, A Gynecologist

        I trust that readers of this site young and old will be familiar with Dr. Dre. The wildly famous rapper has made hit records, produced some of the biggest names in hip hop, been a mogul in the music hardware space with his headphone line, and performed countless pelvic exams on women throughout the American northeast.

        Wait, that last part can’t be right. Surely I was legitimately confused by the existence of Dr. Drai, an OB/GYN in Pennsylvania who dared attempt to get a trademark on his name for his doctor-ly practice. It seems that Dr. Dre has been locked in a trademark opposition with Dr. Drai going on three years, arguing that the absurd example of faked confusion above is actually likely to happen for real.

    • Copyrights

      • Minnesota Judges Refuse To Unmask Defendants For Copyright Troll Strike 3

        With copyright trolling a business model in full force across the world, we’ve noted that there has finally started to be some pushback against these tactics. In Europe, both courts and ISPs have begun wising up to the notion that IP addresses are an incomplete and faulty piece of “evidence” at best, with both government and industry also finally beginning to question just where user privacy should fit into all of this. In America, unfortunately, copyright trolls have all too often been able to unmask customers through ISPs based on court orders pretty much at will. Strike 3 Holdings is one such troll, with the company being partially responsible for a number of piracy lawsuits shooting out of the gate in 2018 at record speed.

EPO Staff Deprived and Denied Basic Rights, Even Justice, But Almost Nobody in the ‘Mainstream’ Wants to Talk About It

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Concentration of media ownership
Reference: Concentration of media ownership (German media keeps deliberately silent about the EPO scandals)

Summary: Why the European Patent Office (EPO) scandals in Munich and in The Hague are barely mentioned as much as they ought to be mentioned

THE EPO is a "cash cow" to Germany, so large/established media such as Spiegel should not be expected to cover EPO scandals. As for smaller publishers in Germany, that’s another story, but their audience is limited and is sometimes a ‘niche’ (like JUVE for jurists).

“The EPO is a “cash cow” to Germany, so large/established media such as Spiegel should not be expected to cover EPO scandals.”A few weeks ago some German media covered EPO scandals pretty well (there’s more of that to come), but there has been nothing since. Pretty much nothing. Nobody wants to even consider writing about the passage of EPO budget/marketing to Battistelli’s other employers. As if there’s nothing to see there…

This isn’t only because the EPO passed some of its budget to the media (a form of 'soft' bribe, with emphasis on Dutch and German publishers) but also because many publishers do not wish to ‘rock the boat’ too much, wrongly assuming that EPO is the same as the EU and that by turning a blind eye to abuse they’d be doing a better service to society. That ‘greater good’ delusion more or less…

“As for smaller publishers in Germany, that’s another story, but their audience is limited and is sometimes a ‘niche’ (like JUVE for jurists).”If Techrights is one among the very few sites willing to keep a pair of eyes on the ball, then so be it. We’ve grown almost tired of informing so-called ‘corporate journalists’, hoping that they too will join. They don’t. They rarely do. One of them explained to me in person (in a coffee shop) that the publisher strongly objects to that. So even if some reporters try to do their job, instructions from up above obstruct publication. Even the BBC did this. They essentially spike stories. The only publication which does its job in the UK seems to be The Register and occasionally Private Eye too. Coming from the UK yesterday, having been put through the PR wires by ResearchAndMarkets.com, is this spammy press release [1, 2] about “The Formal Requirements of the European Patent System” (this is what shows up in news feeds). This does not cover UPC — a dead project more or less. But it also fails to tell the full, agonising story. Law firms have some kind of conspiracy of silence among them; they’d rather not speak about the EPO crisis, for fear that a mere mention of it would exacerbate demand/business. This is partly the reason IP Kat ceased covering EPO scandals.

Watch this new puff piece from Finnegan’s Sanam Habib and Leythem A. Wall (one of the biggest law firms in Europe). They fail to talk about the massive quality decline reported at the EPO (by the examiners themselves!). Instead, these patent maximalists are far too busy sucking up to the managers who demolish the Organisation; they advertise their misguided policy as follows:

In recent years the European Patent Office (EPO) has launched a number of initiatives to increase efficiency and timeliness.

Since the introduction of these Early Certainty schemes, the EPO has received mixed feedback with some users expressing concerns regarding possible adverse effects of accelerated examination.

We have written a great deal about Early Certainty and why it’s a bad idea. Examiners assert that a proper, thorough examination is needed before a meaningful assessment can be made (premature assessment is almost like guesswork and it sets improper expectations for both applicant/s and examiner/s).

Do not expect law firms to participate in exposing abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO) or the European Patent Organisation (also EPO). They are an integral part of it, especially Team UPC, and they fear that putting their employer’s name next to that (visibly or not, the latter being “Merpel” for example) would cause retaliation from Team Battistelli. It’s really that bad.

Märpel, in the meantime (we’re guessing it’s an anonymous EPO employee), has a new post in which s/he “notes that the regulations allow the President of the EPO to decide as he so wishes, which seriously limits what can be revised.”

From the post:

In the previous article, Märpel found out that Guido Raimondi, President of the European Court of Human Rights, finds that the way justice is administered at the EPO is no ground for action. As readers know, the EPO justice system is first based on an internal system for which President Battistelli uses his discretionary rights to reject cases as he sees fit followed by a revision procedure at the AT-ILO. It is quite important to note that AT-ILO is not an appeal court, but rather a “Revisionsgericht”. It will not reopen proceedings, only check whether the regulations were correctly applied.

Märpel notes that the regulations allow the President of the EPO to decide as he so wishes, which seriously limits what can be revised.

Märpel further notes that a condition for revision is that the means of the internal procedure must be exhausted. Considering that the length of the internal procedure is in the hands of the EPO and that there is no recourse against an inordinately long procedure, this also seriously limits what can be revised.

Those words from Guido Raimondi were posted last week by SUEPO and they relate to our article about ILO — an article on which “Dick Whittington’s Cat” remarked: “the Director-General of the ILO (of which the Tribunal is a judicial organ) offered ILO expertise on social dialogue to assist the EPO in the dialogue between the administration and staff union.

“This is the kind of atmosphere one might expect in North Korea or China.”“This offer was not taken up by the EPO.”

Obviously. Mind the next comment:

Yes, the EPO President must be shaking in his boots with such strong statements from the ILO as “Should there be no significant change for the better within a reasonable time frame, and if, for example, final decisions in all of the EPO cases currently subject to its internal procedures result in a large number of complaints to the Tribunal, other, more fundamental, measures would need to be foreseen”.

What kind of “more fundamental measures” do you believe the ILO could possibly implement to deal with the backlog of cases from the EPO? Would any of those measures impinge upon the EPO President, in the sense of pressuring him to earnestly address the social problems at the EPO? Or would it be more likely that those measures would still further reduce access to justice for EPO employees?

If you have any doubt that it would be the latter outcome, then just consider the offhand manner in which the ILO reports recent reforms of the EPO’s internal appeals system:
“in particular, the reform provides for the appointment of an external Chair and Vice-Chairs to the Appeals Committee and to the Disciplinary Committee respectively, which is intended to increase the perception of independence and professionalism of these committees. The three appointees to the Appeals Committee, whose role and procedural prerogatives as Chair and Vice-Chairs of the Appeals Committee were strengthened, started their three-year mandate in October 2017. Other measures introduced with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of the internal appeals system include: a guided amicable settlement procedure, a “test-case” procedure aimed at setting a precedent for similar appeals; the consolidation of internal appeals; the possibility for the Appeals Committee to sit in parallel chambers in reduced composition to accelerate the treatment of internal appeals; the introduction of a registration fee for internal appeals, which may be reimbursed if the appeal is successful; and the possibility to award procedural costs and damages”.

If the ILO-AT were seriously concerned for the proper functioning of the EPO’s internal appeal system, then one might have expected at least some kind of comment upon the fact that the most likely, practical effect of these “reforms” is that EPO employees will be dissuaded from filing appeals (ie they will REDUCE the chances of EPO employees being provided with access to justice).

For example, if one considers past performance of the Appeals Committee – and the vanishingly small chances of that Committee ruling in favour of an appellant – then it is clear that the introduction of an appeal fee (that will only be reimbursed if the appeal is successful) will have a dissuasive effect upon even those appellants having strong grounds to challenge a first instance decision.

Also, given the fact that all members of the Appeals Committee are now appointed by management, and that all members of that Committee need not be present for cases held in “reduced composition”, for whom will the appointment of an external Chair provide an increased PERCEPTION of independence? Certainly not EPO employees who have paid any attention to how the Committee has operated in practice!

To be fair, the ILO did acknowledge that it is committed to examining “several new complaints challenge the legality of the new composition of the Appeals Committee with respect to the members appointed by the staff”. But what reassurance can EPO employees take from this knowledge? The ILO has already established a precedent for simply kicking complaints to the back of the queue when it has been found that the contested decision was made by an Appeals Committee that was “improperly composed”. The ILO’s refusal to rule on the merits of the case in such circumstances – or to at least make an award to the complainant – amounts to nothing more than justice delayed … which can be the same as justice denied.

So, there are two possible outcomes to the new complaints: either complaints dismissed or complaints referred back to the EPO (to be decided again by a “properly composed” Appeals Committee). The effects for the complainants: justice denied. The effects for the EPO: at worst, an administrative headache. These are not the kind of outcomes that are capable of encouraging the EPO to provide proper access to justice. Indeed, there is a strong chance that EPO management might view the outcome as meaning that an “improperly composed” Appeals Committee is an excellent way to dissuade employees from filing appeals – and to add years to the time that it will take for a final ILO-AT decision on the merits to be issued in pending cases.

Of course, there is an alternative solution that would prove highly effective in bringing the EPO management to heel: threaten to kick them out of the ILO-AT system. That would remove the “fig leaf” of access to justice / human rights that the ILO-AT provides the EPO, and so enable the ECHR to step in. Worth thinking about …

The EPO is currently in a very bad situation. The media gags itself, EPO stakeholders are afraid to speak out against EPO management (JUVE offers them anonymity in some surveys, such as one showing 0% support for Battistelli), staff is very much afraid amid growing surveillance at the Office, and staff representation is understandably terrified (another member of staff got 'corcoranised' less than a week ago, as confirmed to us days later). This is the kind of atmosphere one might expect in North Korea or China.

The EPO’s ‘Inventor Award’ Scam: Part II

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 12:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Andane Remmal

Summary: The sorts of people whom Battistelli’s EPO grants awards to are sometimes literal frauds and sometimes people who, according to domain experts, did not even deserve the patent they got a prize for

THE EPO is a highly abusive organisation. We’d go further and say corrupt, albeit that typically leads the EPO to trying to SLAPP us. We have never ever seen anything remotely like it at the USPTO, which is reasonably professional. We focus on patent scope there (this has improved in recent years). The USPTO maintains neutrality on patents; no rankings or “awards” (a form of special endorsement)…

EPO insiders can’t stop talking about next month’s event, which will be the passage of EPO budget to Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

As one comment put it a couple of days ago: “Hadn’t you noticed that the EPO is currently under the – I am almost tempted to add “totalitarian” – political control of the deputy mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye?”

Does nobody in the mainstream media see the problem with that? It’s not only against the rules (for public servants in international institutions); putting aside the passage of EPO money to Saint-Germain-en-Laye…

“Does nobody in the mainstream media see the problem with that? It’s not only against the rules (for public servants in international institutions); putting aside the passage of EPO money to Saint-Germain-en-Laye…”The remark is in the fifth comment by the way, responding to “MaxDrei” (mentioned/quoted here in relation to its context).

But this post is not about the scandal of Battistelli’s ‘alleged’ misuse of budget or even the award to a literal fraud (whom the EPO now tries to distance itself from — very, very belatedly). This post relates to our first part, which spoke about Morocco, a former French colony which Battistelli seems to be oftentimes leveraging for political agenda. This post is about award for EP1879655B1 (“Advanced [sic] Scientific [sic] Developments” [sic] led by Mr. Remmal).

How much of an invention was it really? Someone who is familiar with this scientific domain looked more closely at it. I should disclose that it’s well outside my field of specialty, so I mostly rely on others for this assessment, which was carried out anonymously.

“How much of an invention was it really?”“It is about the mentioned patent granted to Remmal,” told us a source, “who got the EPO inventor award last year.

“In my opinion there was a lot ado about nothing in the Gazette.”

There was an article about it the Gazette, in French even! [Page 1, Page 2]

“In the present case I am not questioning the probity of Mr. Remmal,” our source said, “but he is definitely NOT the genius that the EPO makes out of him.

“Clinical phytotherapy is a research field since the early 70s. Synergistic effects were investigated with antibiotics alone, and are the basis of aromatherapy. Yet the combination of essential oils and antibiotics and corresponding synergistic effects have been disclosed in 2003 already. See this publication: Bacterial resistance modifying agents from Lycopus europaeus.”

From the Abstract: “As part of an ongoing project to identify plant natural products which modulate bacterial multidrug resistance (MDR), bioassay-guided isolation of an extract of Lycopus europaeus yielded two new isopimarane diterpenes, namely methyl-1alpha-acetoxy-7alpha 14alpha-dihydroxy-8,15-isopimaradien-18-oate (1) and methyl-1alpha,14alpha-diacetoxy-7alpha-hydroxy-8,15-isopimaradien-18-oate (2). The structures were established by spectroscopic methods. These compounds and several known diterpenes were tested for in vitro antibacterial and resistance modifying activity against strains of Staphylococcus aureus possessing the Tet(K), Msr(A), and Nor(A) multidrug resistance efflux mechanisms. At 512 microg/ml none of the compounds displayed any antibacterial activity but individually in combination with tetracycline and erythromycin, a two-fold potentiation of the activities of these antibiotics was observed against two strains of S. aureus that were highly resistant to these agents due to the presence of the multidrug efflux mechanisms Tet(K) (tetracycline resistance) and Msr(A) (macrolide resistance).

Our source continued to stress “that predates the priority date. (2005). Note that this document wasn’t cited – unfortunately – in the search report. This document does not quote carvacrol, carveol or alpha-ionone as constituents of essential oils. But carvacrol and carveol were already known at that time for their antibiotic effect . I see no inventive step there. In my opinion the inventor of the year 2017 was awarded a prize on the basis of an unduly granted patent.”

Research into this has gone on for at least a week. It’s not a rushed judgment. As our source put it, having consulted others as well, “the more I look into the Remmal case, the more I believe we have explosive material. I had the document I referred to double-checked by a specialist and yes I can say that the granted claims do not have the required inventive step.

“But there is more than that. The company owned by Mr.Remmal, Advanced Scientific Developments, is an asset management firm (gestion de valeur mobilere).”

On the day of the priority date (13/5/2005) Mr. Remmal filed 4 applications, namely:

  • US20080171709A1: Pharmaceutical composition comprising an antiviral agent, an antitumoral agent or an anti-parasitic agent, and active agent selected among carveol, thymol, eugenol, borneol and carvacrol.
  • US20080214568A1: pharmaceutical combination comprising an antifungal agent and an active substance selected from carveol, eugenol, thymol, borneol, carvacrol, and alpha- and beta-ionones.
  • US20080171768A1: pharmaceutical composition containing an anti-parasitic agent and an active ingredient selected from carveol, thymol, eugenol, borneol, carvacrol, alpha-ionone, or beta-ionone.
  • US20080214518A1: pharmaceutical composition comprising an antibacterial agent and an active ingredient selected from carveol, thymol, eugenol, borneol and carvacrol.

“The last one in its EPO version is the patent on which Remmal received the “inventor” award,” our source remarked. “On all 4 patents the addition of essential oils exhibits a notable synergistic effect, not only with antibiotics but also with antifungal, anti-parasitic, anti-tumoral, antiviral agents. If all this was true, Mr. Remmal would deserve a Nobel prize, not just a dubious EPO inventor award prize.”

“I have also checked the publications by Remmal,” the source noted. “The number and scope of the publications is an indicator of a scientist’s activity. Here is a list. What I see are many publications in the field of essential oils and their medical uses. All these papers are published by Remmal at al but none deals with the use of essential oils in combination with other medications. I find very awkward that none of the publications addresses the subject for which the EP patent was applied for.

“To close the subject, an article published just after Mr. Remmal was awarded the EPO inventor prize [is] a very touching article that looks more like self promotion. I don’t want to judge someone without having an in-depth knowledge of the situation, but considering all the facts I have made my opinion and it is not positive. Frankly, I believe that Remmal is just another troll. What do you think?”

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