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10.01.18

The European Council Fulfills Corrupt Battistelli’s Alleged Promise, Making Christian Archambeau Head of EUIPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CASDAO with ARCHAMBEAU

Summary: As predicted — if not arranged in advance — Archambeau gets the job of António Campinos; it doesn’t even look like the European Council bothered probing the matter

THE EPO scandals aren’t a thing of the past. They’re a thing of the present and future, as the Alexandre Benalla blunders serve to remind us.

“Corrupt Battistelli is said to have decided behind closed doors who would head the EUIPO, not just the EPO.”Readers may or may not still remember the role played by Belgium in the appointment of António Campinos after Battistelli had allegedly made back room deals. We summarised this recently in light of confirmatory rumours. Corrupt Battistelli is said to have decided behind closed doors who would head the EUIPO, not just the EPO. Overreach? Sure. But Battistelli understands no such concept. He thinks he owns Europe. He’s drunk on power (ENA mentality), which makes Benalla compatible with his needs.

The alleged corruption with Belgium is likely confirmed by this news from World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR), published earlier today just to say:

Christian Archambeau, the former deputy executive director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), has today become executive director of the office.

Archambeau has been serving as acting executive director of the EUIPO since the former director, António Campinos, began his term as president of the European Patent Office (EPO) in July.

On July 13, the Permanent Representatives Committee, which is responsible for preparing the work of the European Council, voted to recommend Archambeau as executive director.

A sister site of WIPR wrote about this too:

Archambeau has been acting executive director of the office since July 1. Prior to that, he worked as the EUIPO’s deputy executive director under former director António Campinos, who joined the European Patent Office (EPO) as president back in July. He originally joined the EUIPO in 2010, and before that he worked in roles including principal director at the EPO and in various management positions at the European Space Agency. He has been the favourite to take over the role since Campinos departed, and on 13 July he was recommended by the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the European Union (COREPER) to fill the vacancy. The European Council subsequently confirmed his appointment in mid-September.

“To get the job in this context it seems to require connections, nepotism. It’s not about what you know but who you know. This is why the leadership at the EPO is so full of incompetent people, mostly French friends of Battistelli and family members.”Everybody at the top is happy. Campinos took Battistelli’s chair at the EPO and gave him a CEIPI chair ‘in return’. Battistelli allegedly wants to head the UPC and a Belgian UPC manipulator must be happy to see his compatriot Archambeau — also a former Vice-President at the EPO — as head of EUIPO. Battistelli seems to have ‘arranged’ the leadership of both the EPO and an EU institution, the EUIPO. Does the the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the European Union (COREPER) care? Does the European Council care? It certainly doesn’t seem so. They just play along; no ‘funny’ questions asked. To get the job in this context it seems to require connections, nepotism. It’s not about what you know but who you know. This is why the leadership at the EPO is so full of incompetent people, mostly French friends of Battistelli and family members.

EPO Under António Campinos an Unprecedented Booster of Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NASCAR sponsorsCorporate front group, not much of a patent (examination) office anymore

Summary: The conventions upon which the EPO was founded have been thoroughly and entirely abandoned; all the EPO exists for right now is the granting of as many patents as possible and it hopes to get all the patent courts in the EU under its control, too

THE EPO recently promoted software patents in the United States, where courts say no to such patents, whereas the USPTO ignores the courts (their new Director is a lot like Battistelli; he ignores court orders or at least precedence).

“The EPO under Campinos is a patent maximalism organisation, not even distinguishable from WIPO anymore.”What about António Campinos? Well, ever since his term commenced we have been seeing a huge number of software patents ‘advocacies’, at least in official tweets. Today was a relatively quiet day, so we lack examples from today. The EPO said: “This year the Office celebrates a string of anniversaries in European patent information. They are testimony to the EPO’s staying power as the world’s leading provider of patent information.”

EPO ‘celebrates’ while staff is in chronic depression and many commit suicide. As for leadership in the world, it isn’t clear if the EPO can still claim that. All it does is promotion of low patent quality, occasional lip service to SMEs (which it discriminates against), and weekly greenwashing of European Patents. Earlier today we saw this new article which is a placement for EMW principal James Geary — an article that’s interjecting some UPC propaganda as follows:

UK-based commercial law firm EMW has noted that the patents filed for solar power, wind energy, biofuels, hydropower, geothermal energy and waste-generated energy have nearly doubled over the last five years.

[...]

Geary further noted: “However, there are concerns that the US could see a drop in patenting ‘green’ products as the Trump administration looks to cut government research spending in the industry.

“The slight rise may also be in part due to concerns about the effect that Brexit may have on the proposed European Unitary Patent system.

The Unitary Patent system is dead irrespective of Brexit and its implicit goal (amongst others) is to bypass national courts, national patent laws etc. and impose EPO-type patent standards on the whole of the EU. This may also mean — inter alia — software patenting and prosecution.

If it wasn’t bad enough that the EPO kept granting software patents in Europe (like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office doing so in spite of 35 U.S.C. § 101), now comes the Intellectual Property Owners Association with its echo chamber of patent extremists. The EPO was there too; it wrote quite a lot about this in advance, so it is hardly surprising that it’s found among the zealots, who also lobby for software patents. Suzy Madar (King & Wood Mallesons) has just published the following:

Regis Quelavoine, Director of Mobility and Mechatronics at the European Patent Office, then struck fear in the hearts of the audience, by indicating the danger of using words in a claim relating to computer implemented inventions that will put one of the 45,000 examiners (that will almost certainly have a PhD) into a frame of mind – within five minutes of considering the claims – that “this is a business method patent, how do I kill it?” instead of “this is a technical solution to a technical problem – how do I grant this application?” He said that claiming the “how“ rather than the “what“ will increase the likelihood of the application falling into the 15% or so of computer implemented invention applications that are granted. The following heated discussion from the audience suggests that great minds will differ in relation to which side of the line a claim will fall, which US attorneys seemed to think was an unsatisfactory position.

Laurence Lai, writing in Kluwer Patent blog today, shows that the EPO adopts buzzwords like “cloud computing” to justify granting software patents (other buzzwords too are being exploited). To quote:

The European Patent Office published an advance preview today of its annual update to the Guidelines for Examination which will come into force on 1 November 2018. Here are the main changes and what they mean for users of the European patent system:

[...]

6. Claim formulation for cloud computing

A new section formalises current practice that multiple claims in the same category, e.g. device or method, are allowed for claims directed to distributed computing systems which generally include a server and a client device. It is often desirable to draft separate claims for each side of a distributed system to more easily cover activities of an infringing party.

The EPO has set out that separate client and server claims, as well as one for the whole system, may be allowed to appear in one application for the same reasons as plug and socket claims – they are interrelated products. Each independent claim would have to stand on its own in terms of novelty, inventive step and clarity as normal.

Any pretense that the EPO respects the EPC should have evaporated by now. The EPO under Campinos is a patent maximalism organisation, not even distinguishable from WIPO anymore.

Links 1/10/2018: Linux 4.19 RC6 and Audacity 2.3.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Innovating Nanotechnology with Open Science and AI

    Read how Open Source techniques are driving innovation in Nanotechnology by looking into several aspects through Open Science and AI.

  • HAIKU R1 Beta 1 released (open source operating systems)

    Open source operating system HAIKU is a lightweight, fast, and relatively simple operating system that picks up where the discontinued BeOS left off when its development ceased in 2001.

    This weekend the HAIKI team released HAIKU R1 Beta 1, which is kind of a big deal when you consider that the last major release of the operating system came in November, 2012.

    I took a look at HAIKU a few months ago when it became clear that the new beta was on the way. Now it’s here, and HAIKU R1 brings a bunch of significant updates.

  • Braiins OS Publishes Open Source Firmware for Mining Rigs

    This week the software developers behind the mining operation Slush Pool have announced a new organization alongside releasing an open source operating system (OS) for cryptocurrency devices. The new offshoot company called Braiins has produced a Linux based system for bitcoin mining rigs and they plan to extend the OS to other digital currency software embedded devices.

  • Are communications service providers confident in open source networking solutions?

    Conducted by Heavy Reading, the multi-client survey spanning six segments across networking technologies – DevOps, automation, cloud native, big data and analytics, open networking performance, software-defined networking (SDN), and management and orchestration (MANO) – indicates continued and increasing importance of open source software for network transformation.

    Key findings indicate CSPs show an unexpected level of sophistication around new technologies and approaches, including adoption of open networking solutions in numerous domains and active automation of processes across operations.

    “From the number of CSPs expecting open source to be a critical component of next-gen networks, to the growing importance of emerging technologies like DevOps and cloud native, it’s encouraging to see open source continue to mature and watch real progress unfold,” said Heather Kirksey, Vice President, Ecosystem and Community, LFN.

    The survey includes responses from 150 CSP representatives across 98 discrete companies worldwide. Bringing an unprecedented look at operator perceptions and experience of open source networking technologies, the survey delivers a comprehensive look at the state of open source in networking today.

  • Challenges to Expect When Open Sourcing your SaaS Business

    In my previous article, I walked through scenarios to help you determine whether to open source your SaaS solution, and discussed the cost-benefit analysis that goes along with this decision. From an open source point of view, there’s no point in just chucking code over the wall, slapping on an open source license, and calling it a day. You want to create an inviting community where people want to collaborate and spend time-even socialize!-with you.

    John Mark Walker Chucking code over the wall accomplishes nothing, besides giving others insight into how you do things. Although that may be interesting and beneficial for them, you don’t get much benefit unless you create the pathways of collaboration and communication that unlock a thriving community. Thus, you have an inherent interest in doing this The Right Way™.

  • Open source software development trumps all others

    That’s one of the findings of a recent survey aimed at evaluating the current state of the growing DevOps industry undertaken by DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) in collaboration with Google Cloud.

    Some 30 000 respondents participated in the survey, the results of which have been published in the 2018 Accelerated State of DevOps Report.

    According to DORA, DevOps is not a software development methodology or technique but rather a software engineering culture and practice that is aimed at unifying software development (Dev) and software operations (Ops).

  • HAIKU open source operating system R1 Beta 1 released

    Those interested in open source operating systems will be pleased to know that a new release of the lightweight and fast open source operating system HAIKU has been released this week in the form of HAIKU R1 Beta 1.

    The latest release of HAIKU brings with it plenty of major updates including a package management system allowing you to easily search and install third-party apps. Together with added support for EFI bootloaders, user interface and enhancements, a new improved version of the WebPositive web browser, an updated network utility and support for streaming media to name just a few. The HAIKU development team explain a little more.

  • Scaling your developer community with plugins

    Community managers care about growth in their community, but growing development communities is hard work. It’s rare for developers to start contributing code to projects they’ve never worked with before—it’s far more likely that your developers were (or still are) users of the project, too.

    So, this is easy, right? Scale the user community, and the developer community should grow too. But, how? Attracting users isn’t easy either—there’s a reason we have marketing. Unless you have a big budget for events, materials, adverts, etc., scaling the user community isn’t much easier than scaling the developer one.

    So we have limited options for attracting users, and virtually none for the developers. What are we left with? Well, for ideas we could look to the ways users become developers.

  • Web Browsers

    • Sync your teeth into power browser Vivaldi’s largest update so far [Ed: This is a proprietary Web browser and there's no reason to use it]

      This week the Vivaldi browser received its biggest update, adding secure sync across devices and making many operations speedier.

      Vivaldi supremo Jon von Tetzchner, who co-founded Opera, the browser which invented many features taken for granted today, told us encrypted sync was the most requested feature. But it’s one of around 1,500 tweaks and improvements to Vivaldi 2.0. Version 1.0 was launched three years ago.

    • Mozilla

      • Socorro: 2018q3 review

        Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline for Mozilla’s products like Firefox. When Firefox crashes, the Breakpad crash reporter asks the user if the user would like to send a crash report. If the user answers “yes!”, then the Breakpad crash reporter collects data related to the crash, generates a crash report, and submits that crash report as an HTTP POST to Socorro. Socorro saves the crash report, processes it, and provides an interface for aggregating, searching, and looking at crash reports.

      • SFHTML5 Rust and WebAssembly Talk

        I gave a talk about Rust and WebAssembly for SFHTML5’s “All About WebAssembly” meetup. You can find the slide deck here. Use your arrow keys to cycle through the slides. Video recording embedded below.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU dico Version 2.7

      Important changes in this version:

      1. Support for virtual databases
      2. The dictorg module improved
      3. Support for building with WordNet on Debian-based systems
      4. Default m4 quoting characters changed to [ ]
      5. Dicoweb: graceful handling of unsupported content types.

    • first release of StepSync!

      StepSync allows synchronization of folders, optionally recursively descending in sub-folders. It allows thus various options of performing backups: pure insertion, updates and including full synchronization by importing changes from target to source.

    • GNUstep’s StepSync 1.0 Released For File/Folder Synchronization

      StepSync 1.0 is yet another option for those looking towards open-source options for file/folder synchronization and backups.

      GNU’s GNUstep as a reminder is the open-source implementation of Apple’s Cocoa API as well as Objective-C frameworks and other interfaces found on macOS. GNUstep is still around though in recent years we haven’t been hearing much out of the project… But this weekend StepSync 1.0 was announced.

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 15 new GNU releases!

      autogen-5.18.16
      bison-3.1
      dico-2.7
      gdb-8.2
      gnupg-2.2.10
      gnu-pw-mgr-2.4.2
      gnutls-3.6.4
      guile-cv-0.2.0
      help2man-1.47.7
      indent-2.2.12
      librejs-7.17.0
      mes-0.17.1
      nano-3.1
      parallel-20180922
      xorriso-1.5.0

    • Dragora 3.0 Alpha 2 Released As One Of The Libre GNU/Linux Platforms

      Dragora is one of the lesser known Linux distributions that is focused on shipping “entirely free software” to the standards of the FSF/GNU.

      Dragora is focused on simplicity and elegance while being a “quality GNU/Linux distribution.” With the Dragora 3.0 Alpha 2 release they continue working on transitioning to the Musl C library, restructuring of the file-system directories, transitioning over to the SysVinit init system, enhancements to the boot script, improving the initial LiveCD experience, upgrading to the GCC 8 compiler stack, adding Meson+Ninja support, improving the security, making use of LibreSSL 2.8, and a variety of other alterations.

    • Upcoming Talk: “Everyday Use of GNU Guix”

      At SeaGL 2018, Chris Marusich will present a talk introducing GNU Guix to people of all skill levels and backgrounds. SeaGL is an annual GNU/Linux conference in Seattle. Attendance is gratis.

      If you’re in the Seattle area, please consider coming! Even if you can’t make it in person, the talk will be recorded and later made available on the SeaGL website, so you can watch it at your convenience after it’s been uploaded.

  • Public Services/Government

    • CLIP OS, fighting bias and diagnosing cancer with AI, Consul open source citizen participation platform, and more news

      The National Cybersecurity Agency of France takes digital protection very seriously — so seriously, in fact, that the organization has its own secure operating system, which it’s open sourced.

      Called CLIP OS, the operating system is built on Linux and “uses a ‘partitioning mechanism’ that allows the OS to separate public and sensitive data into two ‘totally isolated’ software environments.” The agency says that CLIP OS is designed to be deployed “on both security gateways and workstations.”

      You can learn more about CLIP OS at the project’s website or on GitHub. If you want ot use it, you’ll need to compile the code yourself.

  • Programming/Development

    • Mega-bites of code: Python snakes into 1st place for cyber-attacks [Ed: Another firm pretends that Microsoft GitHub is the same as (or is) FOSS and vice versa. Very many attacks on the GPL have been based on this same lie. And calling Microsoft "top contributor"...]

      “In virtually every security-related topic in GitHub, the majority of the repositories are written in Python, including tools such as w3af, Sqlmap, and even the infamous AutoSploit tool,” the company explained on Wednesday in a blog post, adding that hackers enjoy Python’s advantages – easy to learn, easy to read, comprehensive libraries – just like everyone else.

    • RcppAPT 0.0.5

      A new version of RcppAPT – our interface from R to the C++ library behind the awesome apt, apt-get, apt-cache, … commands and their cache powering Debian, Ubuntu and the like – is now on CRAN.

      This version is a bit of experiment. I had asked on the r-package-devel and r-devel list how I could suppress builds on macOS. As it does not have the required libapt-pkg-dev library to support the apt, builds always failed. CRAN managed to not try on Solaris or Fedora, but somewhat macOS would fail. Each. And. Every. Time. Sadly, nobody proposed a working solution.

    • nanotime 0.2.3

      nanotime uses the RcppCCTZ package for (efficient) high(er) resolution time parsing and formatting up to nanosecond resolution, and the bit64 package for the actual integer64 arithmetic. Initially implemented using the S3 system, it now uses a more rigorous S4-based approach thanks to a rewrite by Leonardo Silvestri.

      This release disables some tests on the Slowlaris platform we are asked to conform to (which is a good thing as wider variety of test platforms widens test converage) yet have no real access to (which is bad thing, obviously) beyind what the helpful rhub service offers. We also updated the Travis setup. No code changes.

    • Qt 3D Studio 2.1 Released With Editor Enhancements, Better Runtime Performance

      After last month’s beta, The Qt Company is marking the start of October by officially releasing Qt 3D Studio 2.1.

    • Qt 3D Studio 2.1 Released

      We are happy to announce that Qt 3D Studio 2.1 has been released. Qt 3D Studio is a design tool for creating 3D user interfaces and adding 3D content into Qt based applications. With Qt 3D Studio you can easily define the 3D content look & feel, animations and user interface states. Please refer to earlier blog posts and documentation for more details on Qt 3D Studio.

    • Nuitka 0.6 Released For Compiling Python Code To C

      Nuitka version 0.6 was quietly released last week as the Python 2/3 compiler that converts the Python code into optimized C code.

      Nuitka continues nailing the Py2/Py3 compatibility, can effectively serve as a replacement to CPython, and still ends up linking the code against libpython while often generating faster code out of this Apache-licensed project. The Nuitka 0.6 release adds a wide array of new optimizations for the generated C code, fixes a variety of bugs, support for using clang-cl as the compiler on Windows as well as ccache support, various code clean-ups, and a variety of other improvements.

    • Code Style Checks in Python

      After starting your first Python project, you might realize that it is actually not that obvious to be consistent with the way you write Python code. If you collaborate with other developers, your code style might differ, and the code can become somehow unreadable.

      I hate coding style discussions as much as every engineer I guess. Who has not seen hours of nitpicking on code reviews, a heated debate around the coffee machine or nerf guns battles to decide where the semicolon should be?

    • Overtime Hurts Your Software & Your Team

      Another area that is closely related to professionalism is that of priorities. In almost every case where I’ve observed, or been asked, to accept overtime has come when someone messed up what the most important thing was. Somewhere, somehow, prioritization had failed. The most important and urgent work was not done at the most appropriate time. Sometimes mistakes happen or circumstances change. But, more often than not, someone got the priorities wrong.

Leftovers

  • Google could pay Apple $9 billion this year to be the default search engine on iPhones, Goldman Sachs says in new report
  • Science

    • Twitter suspended me for tweeting feminist academic research. Here’s why that’s a problem.

      As instructed, I filed an appeal, explaining that I had been tweeting about research and was confused why I was suspended. The confirmation message said that they would likely get back to me in a few days. A short while later, I received an email that said my account was suspended for violating the Twitter rules: [...]

    • Twitter suspends academic who quoted feminist STEM research

      MIT Comparative Media Studies researcher/instructor Chris Peterson is an adrent supporter of the Math Prize for Girls, and as part of his work with the organization, he’s learned about the way that STEM fields were once considered inherently feminine, while the higher-status humanities were dominated by men — it’s the subject of some outstanding feminist scholarship by Professor Maria Charles.

      Peterson tweeted a quote from Maria Charles’s work on the subject in a discussion of the upcoming Math Prize for Girls, and then found that his Twitter account had been suspended, without any explanation (he was given a chance to appeal the suspension, but has been told he might have to wait for days to find out what Twitter thought he did wrong).

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Facing Crisis, Sloan Kettering Tells Exec to Hand Over Profits From Biotech

      A vice president of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has to turn over to the hospital nearly $1.4 million of a windfall stake in a biotech company, in light of a series of for-profit deals and industry conflicts at the cancer center that has forced it to re-examine its corporate relationships.

      The vice president, Dr. Gregory Raskin, oversees hospital ventures with for-profit companies. As compensation for representing the hospital on the biotech company’s board, Raskin received stock options whose value soared when the startup went public a little over a week ago.

      The move to hand over his stake is one of several steps now underway as the cancer center tries to contain a crisis that has already led to the resignation of its chief medical officer and a review of its conflict-of-interest policies. Several board members and some executives of the nonprofit institution have maintained close ties to the health and drug industries at a time when stunning cancer breakthroughs are generating excitement among investors and spawning a flurry of biotech startups.

    • WHO Head Highlights Tobacco Plain Packaging Victory At WTO; Vaping Lobbyists Hit Geneva

      World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Dr Tedros) today hailed a dispute settlement decision at the neighbouring World Trade Organization upholding laws requiring tobacco products to be packaged without logos or designs as a way to reduce interest in smoking. Meanwhile, lobbyists for popular alternative “electronic” tobacco products such as vaping are out in force in Geneva this week.

      Dr Tedros was speaking at the opening of this week’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control conference in Geneva, and highlighted a range of efforts that are continuing to build against tobacco.

    • UN Human Rights Council Passes Resolution On Peasants’ Rights Including Right To Seeds

      The United Nations Human Rights Council last week passed a resolution on the rights of peasants, to be confirmed by the UN General Assembly in November. The resolution includes an article on the right to seeds, and in particular the right to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds, which has been a longstanding demand of peasants’ organisations. The resolution also asks that seed policies and intellectual property laws take into account the rights, needs and realities of peasants.

      [...]

      After the adoption of the resolution, it is up to the UN General Assembly to adopt this UN Declaration as a last formal step, he told Intellectual Property Watch.

      The Human Rights Council is composed of 47 member states. Iceland was elected after the United States resigned its membership in June.

      The declaration was supported by Algeria, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Egypt, Haiti, Kenya, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa, Togo, Venezuela, and the State of Palestine.

      According to the voting sheet [pdf], the resolution was approved through a vote, with 33 countries in favour, 3 against, and 11 abstentions. The three countries who voted against were Australia, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

      Among those who abstained are Brazil, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Spain, and South Korea. Switzerland, China, Kenya, South Africa, and Tunisia voted for the resolution.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Dealmaker: Al Yousef

      Today WikiLeaks publishes a secret document from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration, pertaining to a dispute over commission payment in relation to a $3,6 billion arms deal between French state-owned company GIAT Industries SA (now Nexter Systems) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The agreement was for the sale of 388 Leclerc combat tanks, 46 armoured vehicles, 2 training tanks, spare parts and ammunition. It was signed in 1993 and scheduled to be completed in 2008.

    • Spy Games

      Russia has its GRU in addition to its KGB (now FSB and SVR). The UK has its Defence Intelligence in addition to its MI6 and GCHQ. Much less high profile, Defence Intelligence is more analytical than operative – as indeed is GRU, Skripal was an analyst.

      Defence Intelligence had its proudest modern moment when it refused to endorse MI6’s pack of lies on Iraqi WMD, and earned the hatred of MI6 and of Blair and Straw as a result. This was confirmed by the Chilcot report which stated that MI6 even actually hid some of the intelligence material from the Defence Intelligence Service to prevent their rubbishing it.

      I hope you will forgive me for pointing out that the opposition of the Defence Intelligence to the Blair Dirty Dossier was first revealed in my memoir Murder in Samarkand, a decade before the Chilcot report confirmed it. It was one of the many reasons Straw attempted to block publication, and one of the many things revealed in my memoir – including of course the UK’s complicity in torture and extraordinary rendition – which the government claimed to be untrue, but in due course has been proved to be 100% accurate. As it should be, as Murder in Samarkand only recounts things I personally witnessed first hand.

    • Govt decides to abolish NSA’s office

      Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided in principle to abolish the office of the National Security Adviser and has announced that powers conferred upon the office will be gradually transferred back to the Foreign Ministry.

    • WikiLeaks Drops New Information Relating To Arms Industry Corruption & War In Yemen

      WikiLeaks, a controversial non-profit organization that publishes news leaks, secret information, and classified documents provided by anonymous sources dropped new information relating to “arms industry corruption, France, UAE, Germany and the war in Yemen” today.

      This was announced via the organization’s official Twitter account.

      Along with the announcement, WikiLeaks tweeted a link to the “Yemen Files” section of its official website.

    • New WikiLeaks Release Exposes Corruption in UAE Arms Deal Fueling War on Yemen

      The transparency organization WikiLeaks just released a new document that sheds light on the corruption behind a lucrative French/German arms deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), weapons that are currently being used to wage a disastrous and genocidal war against the people of Yemen.

      The document details a court case from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration regarding a dispute over a “commission payment” made to Abbas Ibrahim Yousef Al-Yousef, an Emirati businessman, as part of a $3.6 billion arms deal between France’s state-owned weapons company Nexter Systems (then GIAT Industries SA) and the UAE. Per the deal, which was signed in 1993 and set to conclude in 2008, the UAE purchased 388 Leclerc combat tanks, 46 armored vehicles, 2 training tanks, and spare parts, as well as ammunition.

    • CIA’s new strategy and the transformation of the US

      There’s that famous saying; “I can protect myself from my foes, but who will protect me from my friends?” Therefore, the countries of the world will protect themselves from the U.S. more easily now. For the U.S. is alone in the world, no longer having friends or foes.

      For instance, Turkey will not be astonished at the U.S. arming and deploying the PKK/Democratic Union Party (PYD) along its southern border, saying “How can a country treat its ally so?” Nor would we tell the Trump administration, which used the trial of its agent pastor Andrew Brunson to sever ties with Turkey, “Then take Brunson and give us the Gülenist Terror Group’s (FETÖ) leader Fetullah Gülen in the U.S. in return.” Because relations are not bilateral anymore.

    • To Understand Venezuela’s Crisis, Look to the Past … and the CIA

      The United States long has meddled in Latin America’s affairs

      [...]

      Chavez died of cancer in 2013, and now five years later it seems that his socialist dream, like Allende’s, has failed. Under his successor Pres. Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has descended into economic and political chaos. Hyperinflation has beset the country, with prices rising at an annualized rate of 1,000,000 percent.

      Shortages of basic necessities such as toilet paper and bread have caused mass unrest, culminating in violent protests. Now there is open talk about the need to overthrow Maduro or remove him from power, perhaps through U.S. military intervention.

      The parallels with Venezuela and Chile, however, should prompt far more skepticism from honest observers. The CIA long ago confessed to years of maneuvering to destabilize the Allende government and to coordinate the forces that would bring it to an illegal and violent end. There is ample evidence now that just such a plot is underway in Venezuela today, and that it is very likely to succeed. The best way to tell, in fact, is to study what happened in Chile.

    • Whose Side is the CIA on?

      Philip Agee was a former CIA case officer who wrote a book in 1975, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, that shed light on the CIA’s machinations in Latin American countries. In 2005, John Perkins wrote of a time in his life when he, like general Smedley Butler, was a gangster for capitalism. The book was titled Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and exposed international banking and US corporate corruption in mobster-type dealings with foreign administrations. The plan was to cajole foreign governments into accepting loans that they wouldn’t be able to pay back so überwealthy elitists could swoop in and cash in. Perkins come across, not unlike a CIA operative, as a pitiable character in his tell-all.

      Conversely, Douglas Valentine comes across as a writer with integrity intact. Valentine is the author of several books, including The Phoenix Program: America’s Use of Terror in Vietnam, which revealed the lethally and morally bankrupt, covert role of the CIA in Viet Nam. More recently Valentine has written The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World (Clarity Press, 2017).

    • Why bother teaching drone pilots about ethics? It’s robots that will kill us

      Killing comes in degrees of intimacy. At one extreme there is the example of Freddie Oversteegen, a hero of the Dutch resistance, who as a 14-year-old-girl used to pick up German soldiers and collaborators in bars, lure them into the woods, and once in a secluded spot shoot them dead. Long after the war, she told an interviewer that when seeing a man she had just shot fall, “you want to help them to get up”. At the far extreme, perhaps, were the crew of Enola Gay, who killed 80,000 civilians with one bomb, dropped on Hiroshima from miles above.

      Drone pilots are even safer and further from their victims than high-altitude bombers. They go to work at an airbase and never physically leave it. In the evenings, they go home to their families, like any other commuter, after deciding which strangers halfway round the world to kill.

      But what is the psychological effect of such a job? Neither the crew of Enola Gay nor Oversteegen thought they had acted wrongly. Both were buoyed by patriotism and widely admired for their courage. Drone pilots, however, have been less studied. The wars they fight are much less obviously just – if they are just at all.

      The Church of England has just announced a programme to help RAF chaplains offer pastoral care and support to drone pilots. The unusual thing is that they are to study ethics and philosophy in this training. Traditionally, chaplaincy work has been much more practical: about the business of surviving and maintaining morale. Frontline soldiers don’t really have time to worry about the ethics of their trade while they’re at work.

    • The 1938 Czech crisis and the situation in Malta

      On March 28, 1938, Konrad Henlein, the leader of the Sudeten German Party in Czechoslovakia, met German Chancellor Adolf Hitler during which the former was instructed to put pressure on the Czech government regarding the rights of the three million ethnic Germans who lived mostly in the Sudetenland area of the country. Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš resisted, and on May 19 he initiated a partial mobilisation in response to a possible German invasion. On May 20, Hitler presented his generals with a draft plan of attack on Czechoslovakia.

      The governments of France and Britain were intent on avoiding war with Germany. The British government demanded that Beneš request a mediator. On July 20, French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet told the Czech ambassador in Paris that while France would publicly declare its support to help the Czechoslovak negotiations, it was not prepared to go to war over the Sudetenland question.

      In Malta, a threat was being felt, be­cause if Germany was to invade Czechoslovakia, Italy might join them and attack the island. At this time, Malta was being governed by Governor Charles Bonham-Carter. During his stay in Malta he kept diaries in which he shared his thoughts about the situation in Malta and the fear of an outbreak of war at that time. In 2004, John Manduca edited and published the Governor’s diaries in a book entitled The Bonham-Carter Diaries 1936-1940. The following are excerpts from Bonham-Carter’s diary of 1938:

      “Hitler’s speech of Monday [September 12, 1938]… appeared unpleasantly threatening, and when this was followed in the evening by the news of the ultimatum by the leaders of the Sudeten Germans to the Czech government, we felt the position was really as bad as it could be.

    • ‘Munich Analogy in Relation to Russia is Complete Misreading of History’ – Prof

      This week marks the eightieth anniversary of the Munich Agreement. Concluded by Nazi Germany, the UK, France and Italy in 1938, it was designed to avoid war between the powers of Europe by allowing Nazi Germany to annex parts of the western regions of Czechoslovakia.

      However, many experts believe it opened the doors to Hitler’s aggression and paved the way for the beginning of World War II.

      Radio Sputnik discussed the role of the Munich agreement with Geoffrey Roberts, professor of history at University College Cork, Ireland and a leading British scholar on Soviet diplomatic and military history.

    • New clue in hunt for spy documents that mysteriously vanished after Britain’s infamous pact with Hitler

      This weekend is the 80th anniversary of one of the most controversial events in British history – Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s notorious Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler – and yet vast numbers of documents exclusively from that period have still not seen the light of day.

      The Independent understands that around 1,750 British intelligence reports, from a four-month period immediately before the Munich Agreement and from the three months immediately after it, are missing from the record.

    • Munich: How UK and France Sacrificed Czechoslovakia to Buy Off Hitler

      Eighty years ago at Munich Britain and France sacrificed Czechoslovakia to buy off Hitler. They rejected Russian offers of building a system of collective security, and brought Europe one step closer to the Second World War. Today Britain is again leading Western efforts to isolate Russia. Have they learnt anything?

      Unlike modern-day Western revisionists of history, who try to absolve Britain of her betrayal of Czechoslovakia in 1938, the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher believed the Munich deal was an awful blot in UK’s history. She admitted as much to the Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel in 1990. The transcripts of their meetings have been released to the National Archives in London.

    • How two spies from the KGB and CIA became BFFs

      In the summer of 1992, Jack Platt, an American, and his Russian best friend, Gennady “Genya” Vasilenko, saw each other for the first time in four years. It was a tense reunion.

      Vasilenko had spent that time in a Russian prison and believed that Platt helped put him there.

      “Why did you sell me out? Was that the plan from the beginning?” Vasilenko asked, his voice breaking with emotion.

    • 17 Years of Getting Afghanistan Completely Wrong

      The list of failed lessons from the US war on Afghanistan after seventeen years of incessant violence is a long one. Here are a few.

      We expect 17-year-olds to have learned a great deal starting from infancy, and yet full-grown adults have proven incapable of knowing anything about Afghanistan during the course of 17 years of U.S.-NATO war. Despite war famously being the means of Americans learning geography, few can even identify Afghanistan on a map. What else have we failed to learn?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange steps down as editor of WikiLeaks

      For an organization that only produces output through online and digital means the lack of Internet access makes heading the libertarian organization somewhat difficult. For this reason, the founder, Julian Assange, has declared he will step aside, leading to former WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson taking charge. WikiLeaks says, via Twitter, this is happening due to “extraordinary circumstances” due to Assange being “held incommunicado.”

    • Assange steps down as editor of Wikileaks

      Julian Assange has stepped down as editor of WikiLeaks as he continues to be denied access to the internet and other forms of communications.

      Assange, who has been living inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over six years, will continue as publisher.

    • Julian Assange Forced To Name Replacement at WikiLeaks

      Icelander Kristinn Hrafnsson has been named as Assange’s replacement. He is an “investigative journalist selected in 2010 as Icelandic journalist of the year (his third award) for his role in the Collateral Murder publishing collaboration with Wikileaks,” the statement said.

      The WikiLeaks statement also highlights the challenging circumstances under which its founder, Assange, has been held “arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorean embassy,” in which he has no access to communications with anybody “except for visits by his lawyers.”

    • Tortured Solutions: Ecuador, the UK and Julian Assange’s Fate

      The pulse of negotiations, a flurry of communications, and the person central to this is one who threatens to go nowhere – for the moment. But go somewhere these parties would wish Julian Assange to do. For six years, cramped within a space in London a stone’s throw away from Harrods, one he has made his tenuous home, a citadel of sporadic publishing and exposes; for six years, an unruly, disobedient tenant whose celebrity shine has lost its gloss for certain followers and those who did, at one point, tolerate him.

      The landlords have lost patience, and Lenín Moreno is willing to call in the arrears. He has made it clear that, whilst Assange has been subjected to an unacceptable state of affairs (“Being five or six years in an embassy already violates his human rights”), he should also be moved on in some form with the British authorities. How that moving takes place is producing a host of large, ballooning questions.

    • Julian Assange supporter trying to plan classical music concerts for WikiLeaks founder outside Embassy of Ecuador

      A Julian Assange supporter wants to coordinate classical music performances outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London to “afford some beauty” to the WikiLeaks founder inside.

      Australian-born Mr Assange has been within the building, in Knightsbridge, since 2012.

      Gordon Parnell, a 62-year-old Canadian who has lived in Mexico since 1991, said he wishes to show his support for Mr Assange, which is why he is attempting to find talented individuals or ensembles to entertain him.

    • The Attack On Julian Assange, Journalists, Democratic Rights, Labor & Imperialist War

      A public forum was held in Oakland, California on the attack on Julian Assange and Wikileaks on September 16, 2018. The effort by the US government to continue to attempt to arrest whistleblower and journalist Julian Assange is a threat to all labor, journalists and free speech rights speaker pointed out. Assange and Wikileaks exposed the criminal activities of governments and corporate crooks as well as the corrupt Democratic party who manipulated the results of the primary in last election. Speakers also discussed how governments, politicians and the billionaires who run these governments are desperate to shut Assange and to silence all whistleblowers and journalists.

      This forum also looked at the attack on Julian Assange not only as an attack on democratic rights but also part of the growing crisis in capitalism and US imperialism. It will also looked at the role of independent media and Pacifica radio on how the Julian Assange case is being covered.

    • Chelsea Manning tells how she ‘had to fight every single day’ and survive ‘intense scrutiny by guards’ through her seven years in jail over Wikileaks scandal

      A US intelligence worker who was jailed for leaking thousands of documents to Wikileaks has defended her actions in her first UK public appearance.

      Chelsea Manning, who has since been released from prison, has spoken of the ‘struggle for survival’ living as transgender through her seven years behind bars.

      Manning leaked official government documents known as the Afghan Logs, which included hundreds of thousands of classified military reports about the Afghanistan conflict from 2004 to 2009.

    • The Family of Murdered DNC Staffer Seth Rich Finally Gets an Apology

      The family of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer whose 2016 murder was twisted into a right-wing conspiracy theory, has finally received its first public apology.

      On Sunday evening, the Washington Times published a lengthy retraction and apology for a March 1st opinion column that promoted the theory that Rich and his older brother, Aaron, stole thousands of DNC documents and gave them to Wikileaks, which published a trove of hacked Democratic Party emails in the summer and fall of 2016. The retraction and apology are part of a settlement between the Times and Aaron Rich, who had sued the paper for defamation.

    • A right-leaning newspaper is finally retracting the conspiracy theories it published about Seth Rich
    • Seth Rich Family Finally Gets Apology, Retraction Over DNC-Wikileaks Conspiracy Column
    • The Washington Times publishes retraction and apology to Aaron Rich, brother of Seth
    • Newspaper Retracts Column on DNC Staffer
    • Washington Times Retracts Statements on Seth Rich Murder
    • Assange’s Defense Attorney Denounces Risks to Client’s Health

      “We are very concerned about his health: he has been locked up in the embassy for more than six years, without proper access to medical care,” said Robinson during an interview with the Catalan publication, Nacio Digital.

      The lawyer stressed her client’s wavering health, which, she said, the embassy is unable to properly moderate due to lack of proper medical equipment and facilities.

      “The Embassy is not equipped for prolonged detention to provide a reasonable environment…the prolonged uncertainty of indefinite detention deeply affects the psychological and physical trauma above and beyond the expected stressors of incarceration,” the Australian lawyer said.

      Robinson also showed concern over the “very serious” threat of Assange’s extradition to the United States for trial, “If Assange faces a trial in the US, he can not benefit from the first amendment of the Constitution, which refers to freedom of the press.

      “We can not forget that he is only an editor who published material of public interest,” Robinson said.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • What it takes to photograph a red tide outbreak: masks, VapoRub, chocolate milk and a strong stomach

      The worst red tide algae bloom in a decade has rocked Florida’s beaches in recent months, including those in Pinellas County, keeping tourists from hotels and waterfront restaurants. The organism that affects the central nervous system has killed thousands of fish, plus dolphins, turtles, seabirds and at least 100 manatees. Humans, too, can experience coughing, sneezing, tearing and itchy throats. Also, there’s that unbearable odor.

      Now, as many on Pinellas County beaches cross their fingers as the smell and rust-colored water starts to wane, we talked to the photojournalists who brought us the images of Red Tide. The demands of the job sent them toward the beaches and harbors most people were fleeing, crouching down, right in the face of a river of death to capture the right image.

    • SharkSpotter Combines AI and Drone Technology to Spot Sharks on Australian Beaches

      Four tiger sharks have now been captured and killed following two separate attacks off the coast of North Queensland last week. Despite being relatively rare, shark attacks – or the threat of attacks – not only disrupt recreational beach activities but can affect associated tourist industries.

      Shark nets are a common solution to preventing shark attacks on Australian beaches, but they pose dangers to marine ecosystems. Seeking a cost-effective way to monitor beach safety over large areas, we have developed a system called SharkSpotter. It combines artificial intelligence (AI), computing power, and drone technology to identify and alert lifesavers to sharks near swimmers.

    • Nine hurt in German police eviction of anti-coal protesters

      Nine environmental activists were injured and 34 detained in an operation to evict protesters holed up in forest treehouses in a bid to block the expansion of an open-pit coal mine, police said yesterday.

      Police officers have mobilised against fierce resistance since the middle of last week to clear the demonstrators from Hambach Forest near the border with Belgium and the Netherlands.

      Up to 4,000 police have been on the scene to remove 60 treehouses, some as high as 25 metres off the ground, housing dozens of protesters.

      The occupation began in 2012 and had until now been quietly tolerated.

  • Finance

    • 4 Ways Corporations Are Turning Us Into Jerks

      The reality is that our largely impotent outrage is the fuel that makes the publicity machine run, so they’ll keep finding ways to keep us in that state of mind. That’s healthy, right?

    • Brexit has revealed the Northern Powerhouse as a colonial enterprise

      The government is running on empty and the North is an easy thing to reach for. The Tories have long seen it as a backwards space to be tamed and profited from.

      Theresa May explained to business people in New York a couple of days ago that this country will have the lowest corporation tax of all the developed countries after it leaves the EU: The lowest business rate in the G20. So now we know.

      Ironically, early industrialism was fought by many Conservative parliamentarians as it developed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century: The upstart industrialism often ran counter to their own interests in agriculture and business – though a few (like the Lords of Bute) were shrewd enough to see the game changing.

      After escaping from this summer’s febrile parliament to the North, Theresa May’s next stop was Africa, to coax trade deals. In the nineteenth century, the East End of London was seen as ‘darkest London’, a local exotic counterpart to ‘darkest Africa’, and the north was described using similar terms of imperialist eugenics.

    • After Budget Cuts, the IRS’ Work Against Tax Cheats Is Facing “Collapse”

      Tax evasion is at the center of the criminal cases against two associates of the president, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. The sheer scale of their efforts to avoid paying the government has given rise to a head-scratching question: How were they able to cheat the Internal Revenue Service for so many years?

      The answer, researchers and former government auditors say, is simple. The IRS pursues fewer cases of tax evasion than it did less than 10 years ago. Provided you’re not a close associate of President Donald Trump, there may never be a better time to be a tax cheat.

      Last year, the IRS’s criminal division brought 795 cases in which tax fraud was the primary crime, a decline of almost a quarter since 2010. “That is a startling number,” Don Fort, the chief of criminal investigations for the IRS, acknowledged at an NYU tax conference in June.

      Bringing cases against people who evade taxes on legal income is central to the revenue service’s mission. In addition to recouping lost revenue, such cases are supposed “to influence taxpayer behavior for the hundreds of millions of American citizens filing tax returns,” Fort said. With fewer cases, experts fear, Americans will get the message that it’s all right to break the law.

      Starting in 2011, Republicans in Congress repeatedly cut the IRS’s budget, forcing the agency to reduce its enforcement staff by a third. But that drop doesn’t entirely explain the reduction in tax fraud cases.

      Over time, crimes only tangentially related to taxes, such as drug trafficking and money laundering, have come to account for most of the agency’s cases.

    • The SEC threatens to ban Elon Musk from running any public company

      So it comes as a shock that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the main regulator of America’s stockmarkets, now wants to ban Mr Musk from serving as a director or senior officer at any publicly listed company, including Tesla. After the close of trading on September 27th, the SEC filed a civil lawsuit against Tesla’s boss (but not against Tesla) alleging that he misled shareholders about his plan to take the company private. The mercurial Mr Musk had tweeted on August 7th, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”

    • Elon Musk Resigns As Chairman Of Telsa; $20 Million Fine Imposed

      According to the settlement, Musk will remain the CEO of the company and will participate in the board meeting but not as a chairman. He has also agreed to not contest for the position of chairman for the next three years. Tesla will appoint an independent chairman and Musk does not have to admit any allegations as per the settlement.According to the settlement, Musk will remain the CEO of the company and will participate in the board meeting but not as a chairman. He has also agreed to not contest for the position of chairman for the next three years. Tesla will appoint an independent chairman and Musk does not have to admit any allegations as per the settlement.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • CIA officer turned GOP lawmaker: Trump’s tariffs send wrong message to China on US technology theft

      President Donald Trump’s “random tariffs” are the wrong way to go about pressuring Chinese leaders to reform their allegedly unfair trade practices, Republican U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of Texas told CNBC on Wednesday.

      Hurd, an undercover CIA officer for nearly a decade before going into politics, prefers a more direct route.

      The White House squandered an opportunity in the spring to let Beijing know that “we’re not playing around,” he said. That’s when the U.S. was banning American firms from selling parts to China’s No. 2 telecommunications company.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • East Jerusalem Students Get Textbooks Month Into New School Year Due to Israeli Censor

      New textbooks arrived belatedly to East Jerusalem schools for the new school year due to Israeli censorship.

    • Umno denies delayed telecast an attempt to censor debates

      Umno has denied imposing a censorship on media coverage at its two-day general assembly which began yesterday.

      Party’s information chief Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said the party had even allowed online media to cover the assembly for the first time.

      This, he said, was to ensure that the party no longer blocked media coverage or controlled the content of the debates.

      “This is the first time we allowed news portals. Whatever it is, we hope that we will continue to receive cooperation from all the media until the end,” he said.

    • No censorship during the Umno General Assembly, says information chief

      There is no censorship of the media coverage for the Umno General Assembly 2018, says party information chief Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah.

      He said that the party did not block the dissemination of any information, control the content of the debates or block any coverage by the media throughout the assembly.

      “This is the first time we allowed (news portal) Malaysiakini. Whatever it is, we hope that we will continue to receive cooperation from all the media until the end,” he said during his visit to the media centre here at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on Sunday (Sept 30).

      Unlike previous years, Umno has decided that the debate session on the final day of the assembly will be a closed-door event, with a delayed telecast of the debates shown on the screens at the media centre in Bilik Mawar here.

    • Court rules against censorship of anti-terror ad

      The years-long lawsuit is over an ad based on an image created by the State Department that previously was run on county buses in the Seattle area.

      The ad was submitted to King County Metro Transit by Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and their organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

    • Kuwait-Literature-Censorship

      Kuwaitis gather on the lawn outside the National Assembly building in Kuwait City in protest against the government’s new censorship regulations on publications, which resulted in banning many books from entering the country.

    • Why Libraries Fight Censorship

      This past week the Library celebrated Banned Books. Libraries from all over the United States celebrate this week as a reminder that freedom to read is a democratic fundamental right.

    • Art Censorship at Capitol Fought at DC Circuit

      Representative of civil unrest that gripped Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, the the painting by former St. Louis teen David Pulphus depicts a horned police officer pointing a gun at a black man portrayed as a wolf holding a sign that says “Stop Kill.”

      It was hung in the heavily trafficked Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol Building as part of a high school contest that dates back to 1981. The painting by Pulphus was more than 400 paintings selected as part of a nationwide student-art competition in 2016 by a jury of constituents from the district of Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay.

    • Why digital censorship is such a risky undertaking

      There is finally a public debate about the big internet platforms policing content and suspending accounts. But it’s a serious mistake to frame the debate without mentioning the thousands of moderation decisions that have been made by such online giants as Apple, Facebook, Google-owned YouTube and Spotify.

      Internet companies have removed millions of posts and images over the past decade and suspended hundreds, perhaps thousands, of user accounts. These silenced voices span the political spectrum and the globe: Women discussing online harassment, ads featuring crucifixes, black and Muslim activists reposting messages they received, trans models and indigenous women. Platforms have taken down documentation of war crimes in Syria, Myanmar and Kashmir, arrests in North Dakota and police brutality across the United States.

    • Congressman King holds hearing on social media censorship at colleges

      “When anyone is silenced, the result is censorship and it’s plain and simple, but it takes a more sinister form, particularly in settings that claim to champion open discourse and when it’s performed quietly behind closed doors,” King said. “And also, in many cases, only the person who is censored knows what’s happened, and, even then, the person often doesn’t know how or why it’s happened.”

    • Opposition Accuses Regulatory Commission of Censorship

      “Any broadcaster which obeys this absurd decision of the commission will restrict free political speech and become a supporter of Zurabishvili’s election campaign,” he added.

      Member of the GD majority, David Matikashvili, says he agrees with the decision of the Regulatory Commission. Matikashvili believes that the opposition parties are trying to discredit Zurabishvili, which, according to him, is wrong.

      “Salome Zurabishvili is the target of a black PR campaign… They [the opposition] want to take the presidential election in a destructive direction,” he stated.

      Kakha Bekauri, the chairman of the Georgian National Communications Commission, said that the GNCC had demanded the withdrawal of several political advertisements from TV companies due to “unethicality.”

    • Censoring art does not allow for productive discourse

      Liberals and conservatives are once again screaming at each other over matters of artistic censorship. This time, they are both wrong.

      Artistic censorship in the United States has been going on since the country was founded, despite the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of expression. The publication of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” was blocked in 1921 due to a masturbation scene. In 1999, Mayor Rudy Giuliani attempted to withhold 7 million dollars of funding from the Brooklyn Art Museum due to Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary” being showcased in their exhibit. The list goes on.

    • ‘It was like tending to a disgusting baby’: life as a Harvey Weinstein employee

      My goal now is to ensure that NDAs cannot be weaponised and used to hide criminal behaviour. Law firms have been enabling questionable behaviour and making money out of these agreements. And this is not just limited to sexual harassment; it is far more insidious within our work culture. My NDA would have been unenforceable, but this was never made clear to me and I lived in fear of it for 20 years – until last year. I felt I had been criminalised and that, if I spoke, I would be the one going to jail.

    • Censorship a Trojan horse

      It’s an oft-cited maxim that the news media is the “fourth estate” upon which a healthy democracy stands.

      It ensures the three traditional powers of state — the legislature, executive and judiciary — can be critiqued, challenged and curbed from quietly drifting into the arms of corruption and authoritarianism.

      A free, fair, open and uncensored media is an antidote to state power and, for all its failings (and there are many), should be treasured as such. There are many countries around the world whose people would give anything for such a freedom.

    • China Censors Bad Economic News Amid Signs of Slower Growth

      China has long made it clear that reporting on politics, civil society and sensitive historical events is forbidden. Increasingly, it wants to keep negative news about the economy under control, too.

      A government directive sent to journalists in China on Friday named six economic topics to be “managed,” according to a copy of the order that was reviewed by The New York Times.

      [...]

      Officials are trying to clean up huge debts accumulated by local governments. Curbing debt could mean slower economic growth, as it deprives borrowers of the funds they would otherwise spend.

      China has long maintained a tight grip on the media, though the economy traditionally has been one of the freer domains of reporting. Even after China began more closely managing its economic message following market turmoil in 2015, aggressive journalists have covered the fallout of peer-to-peer online lending schemes and the problems posed by local government debt, among other issues.

    • Kickstarting a seminar series with Ada Palmer and me about the history of censorship and information control

      Science fiction author, librettist, singer and historian Ada Palmer (previously), science and piracy historian Adrian Johns, and I have teamed up to create a seminar series at the University of Chicago called Censorship and Information Control During Information Revolutions, which compares and contrasts the censorship regimes and moral panics that flourished after the invention of the printing press with modern, computerized efforts to control and suppress information.

    • Remembering The Time The CIA Shut Down Rage Against The Machine’s Message Board

      While it could be argued we’re still reeling from the effects of September 11, 2001 – not least because of the endless wars waged by the USA against an unseen enemy and increased levels of racism and Islamophobia around the globe – in the weeks after the attack, the world was very much still in a state of shock and anxiety at what had happened.

      It’s something that directly affected the music world, too. Not only did bands cancel tours, but Jimmy Eat World – who had released fourth album Bleed American less than two months before – decided to reissue it as a self-titled album in the wake of the attacks. But political rockers Rage Against The Machine found themselves in an even more extreme situation after 9/11.

      Not only was every single one of their songs featured on a list circulated by Clear Channel, of over 150 songs it deemed to be “lyrically questionable” to its network of 1,172 radio stations across the U.S., but the CIA closed down the message board on the band’s website citing ‘violent threats’ and ‘inflammatory messages’ that had apparently been posted on the forum, which was hosted by Infopop.

    • Big Brother Is Creating Two Chinas

      Even for Chinese authorities, who have long tried to limit the influence of foreign media and ideas, last week marked an escalation. In the span of a few days, authorities blocked access to Twitch, the video-game live-streaming platform owned by Amazon.com Inc.; ordered a purge of foreign content from school textbooks; and proposed restricting foreign programming — especially current-events shows — from television and online streaming sites.

      One might take the clampdown as yet more evidence of the government’s hold over what Chinese can see and read. In fact, such restrictions are only further dividing China into a society of information haves and have-nots — of cosmopolitans and everyone else. Chinese with money, especially in cities, can circumvent official controls via technology and travel. Meanwhile, rural and less-affluent Chinese are left to consume what censors deem appropriate. It’s a chronic condition that underlines existing economic and social divisions, and it’s sure to get worse.

    • A Pakistani American Startup Fighting Media Censorship

      According to the latest report by the Committee to Protect Journalists in Pakistan, fatal violence against journalists has declined, but fear and self-censorship have grown. In this era, five Pakistani American students at Harvard University have created a startup that challenges censorship using the latest block-chain technology. Their mission is “making journalism truly free.” Saqib Ul Islam visited Harvard’s innovation lab to bring us the story of a new company called “Inkrypt.”

    • How Facebook messages derailed the new life of a disgraced ex-CIA agent from Chesapeake
    • Three Ways Facebook is Increasingly Becoming a Censorship Arm of the US Government

      Facebook has lately announced a series of major steps it would take to combat fake news and the global spread of misinformation that it says could influence elections, but the more we learn about just who it is Facebook is partnering with in this endeavor, the clearer it becomes that these initiatives are not at all designed to foster independent thought and discourse, but to ultimately ensure that public online discourse doesn’t stray too far from official state narratives.

      Mark Weisbrot, a co-director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, recently slammed Facebook’s decision to work with US government-funded organizations as “Orwellian” — especially given the fact these organizations themselves “specialize in overseas propaganda.”

      Thus while claiming to fight Russian, Iranian, and other propaganda these very groups will strictly enforce an official establishment Washington and NATO view of world events.

    • Vietnam Artist Fights State Censorship

      Meet Mai Khoi, a Vietnamese musician who’s battling state censorship and standing up for human rights and democracy. She’s had her concerts raided, been evicted from her home and only performs in secret in Vietnam #SheRoars (Source: Bloomberg)

    • Maldives police remove ‘anti-Islamic idols’ in luxury resort raid

      Guests on a five-star honeymoon resort in the Maldives caught a rare glimpse of the decades-long political and religious tensions rocking this island nation when policemen – armed with axes, concrete saws and ropes – stormed the Fairmont Maldives to destroy model human figures that had been deemed un-Islamic.

      The unprecedented raid on Friday came as President Abdulla Yameen railed against what he said was a plot by the “Western-backed opposition” to undermine Islam in the Maldives in advance of a highly charged election on Sunday.

    • Frick Collection looks set to move into the Breuer building

      Police remove sculptures in the Maldives | A series of sculptures by the British-Guyanese artist James deCaires Taylor was removed by police from the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort last Friday (21 September), according to Al Jazeera. The police said that the civil court had issued an order for the resort to take down the works, which had been deemed un-Islamic because of their depiction of the human figure. In July, the country’s then president, Abdulla Yameen (who suffered an unexpected election loss on 23 September), had previously ordered the removal of the sculptures.

    • Mapplethorpe-gate: fighting disguised censorship and false moralism

      Institutions of a country that considers animal torture not only legal but appropriate for children have ultimately no moral whatsoever to forbid access to certain parts of an art exhibit due to its sexual nature.

    • Mapplethorpe Show in Portugal Sparks Censorship Controversy: Curator Resigns, Open Letter Circulates, Artist’s Foundation Disputes Charge [Updated]
    • Editorial: Censorship of Student Journalism Should Not Be Normalized
    • Vermont High School Journalists Stand Up to Censorship and Win

      Armed with a new Vermont law that protects student journalists, four high school editors have stood up to censorship and won, prompting their school to revamp its media policy.

      The Burlington High School students had posted a story on the school newspaper website that they collectively wrote on a school employee facing unprofessional conduct charges from the state. They had gotten a tip about the investigation and filed a public records request, posting the story the night of Sept. 10.

    • Apple TV drops ‘violent’ Dr Dre drama, amid censorship complaints
    • Apple TV pulls sex, violence and politics from its shows, highlighting the difficulty of being a tech firm and a content provider
    • Tim Cook reportedly shot down Apple’s Dr. Dre drama after objecting to an orgy scene and cocaine use
    • Google CEO Sundar Pichai is headed to Washington this week to discuss censorship and China
    • Google plans to send a top executive to Congress after facing criticism
    • Google CEO Pichai to Meet Lawmakers Amid Censorship Allegations
    • Internet Censorship: The Tech Giants of Silicon Valley
    • First step to censorship? Brussels touts media regulation after Sun’s ‘EU dirty rats’ story
    • King Chairs Hearing Examining Online & University Censorship of Conservatives
    • There is no epidemic of self-censorship about China
    • A new age of censorship is dawning on us
    • During Banned Books Week, reflecting on the dangers of censorship
    • EG Fisher Public Library celebrates freedom to read
    • Penguin Random House Partners With We Need Diverse Books to Celebrate Banned Books Wee
    • Los Feliz Library Teaching Children About Book Censorship
    • Celebrate freedom to read; check outsome banned books
    • Braving censorship through reading
    • Learn more about Banned Books Week at the Wellesley Free Library
    • Librarians say books not challenged as often these days
    • During Banned Books Week, reflecting on the dangers of censorship
    • Lana Del Rey: the latest casualty of BDS censorship
    • Bitcoin Cash [BCH] network gets a new feature that has a censorship resistant file storing system
    • Opinion: When does censorship go too far?

      Batman is easily one of the world’s most prominent pop culture icons. Following his 1939 debut in the 27th issue of Detective Comics, he has been featured in numerous animated, live action and print appearances. For over 79 years, the public enjoyed the exploits of Bruce Wayne’s crime fighting efforts. Readers were recently given a bit more to enjoy, though, when on the pages of Batman: Damned, Issue 1, the caped crusader decided to strip naked in an uncensored panel.

      To dissuade concern early on, it is important to note that Batman: Damned is what is referred to as a “black label” comic. Black label comics are written for mature audiences and have “R” ratings, hence DC comics is not intentionally displaying nudity to children.

      Additionally, the comics publisher has promised to censor the panel in subsequent publication of the graphic novel. While many are apathetic to the issue, merely viewing it as a comedic publication error and little more than a joke, this raises the question about censorship in modern media. When does an image or piece of work reach the point where it should be censored?

    • Retraction Watch: Potential censorship?

      Science journals are not printed on litmus paper, but here’s a case in which politics appears to have triumphed over academic freedom. When mathematicians Theodore Hill and Sergei Tabachnikov collaborated on a paper offering theoretical support for something called the “greater male variability hypothesis,” they expected controversy but not censorship. They got both.

      The hypothesis holds that in a variety of areas — from birth weight to standardized test scores — males are overrepresented at the highest and lowest ends of the spectrum. The article by Hill and Tabachnikov initially appealed to the journal Mathematical Intelligence, whose editor said she welcomed the controversial topic. That embrace proved short-lived. The journal bowed to intense pressure from critics of the article, which had been available online as a pre-print, and rescinded the acceptance. Then another publication, the New York Journal of Mathematics, contacted Hill and agreed to publish the work. Which it did, for a few days.

    • Jordan Peterson’s gamma lobsters find a new low: defending censorship

      Jordan Peterson is a Canadian academic whose mysticism-soaked misogyny revolves around the social hierarchy of some lobster species and the literal existence of witches and dragons; somehow, when this rubbish is blended with anodyne life advice for angry manbabies, it creates a potent elixir that transforms internet dudes into an army of argumentative internet assholes.

      Peterson’s principal grievance against progressive movements is that it interferes with his free speech rights (for example, he was very upset that he might have to refer to a hypothetical nonbinary student using a gender-neutral pronoun).

      But as much as Peterson loves free speech, he’s not very good at sharing. He has sued and threatened to sue numerous critics, on flimsy and absurd grounds, in ways that, in my opinion, were designed to intimidate them into silence and forced apology rather than face his deep-pocketed legal weapons.

    • MFA student’s controversial film faces censorship in her home country

      Farah Shaer’s undergraduate thesis film was banned in her home country of Lebanon.

      The MFA student recently acted in and produced “Heaven Without People,” which also faced censorship.

      The feature film, shot in Lebanon, was screened Sept. 22 at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Shaer said it follows a Lebanese family who reunites at an Easter lunch for the first time in three years. Throughout the course of the film, political differences arise between relatives, and tension takes over the meal. “Heaven Without People” reveals how national politics can impact family relationships, Shaer said. Having grown up in Lebanon, Shaer said filming there helped her authentically reflect the nation’s society, especially the importance of family.

      “The main problems in the film are about how corruption is ruining the country and how some of the younger generation is following the path of the older generation,” Shaer said. “The other side of the conflict is the younger generation who are revolting against this corrupted regime.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • New Witness and New Experts Bolster Our Jewel Case As We Fight Government’s Latest Attempt to Derail Lawsuit Challenging Unconstitutional NSA Spying

      EFF has presented its full evidentiary case that the five ordinary Americans who are plaintiffs in Jewel v. NSA were among the hundreds of millions of nonsuspect Americans whose communications and communications records have been touched by the government’s mass surveillance regimes. This presentation includes a new whistleblower and three additional expert witnesses—Professor Matthew Blaze, Dr. Brian Reid, and former Chief Technologist at the Federal Trade Commission Ashkan Soltani—along with AT&T documents and witnesses we first revealed in 2006. We also marshalled key portions of the now massive amount of public admissions by the U.S. government and the most recent example of public judicial review in the Big Brother Watch case in Europe.

      The goal is to convince a federal judge that the NSA’s current claims of secrecy should not prevent American courts from publicly evaluating the legality of how these surveillance schemes impact millions of innocent Americans.

    • Corruption, Manipulation, Censorship: Google’s Alternative 20th Birthday

      When histories of the 21st century are written, it’s certain Google will loom large. In but two decades, the company – which began life as the research project of Stanford University students Larry Page and Sergey Brin in a Menlo Park, California garage – has shaped the internet and the modern world like no other.

      Company executives and staff alike have much to celebrate on Google’s 20th birthday, September 27. Its search engine has long-enjoyed a nigh-on total monopoly in the market, while key sister products — including Chrome, Drive, Gmail, Maps, Play, and YouTube — boast over a billion users each worldwide. Smartphone operating system Android, developed by Google, also has well over two billion active users, making it the world’s largest.

      Such unprecedented multi-channel growth has produced a vast cash pile for the firm’s holding company Alphabet, which is rapidly nearing a US$1 trillion market cap, an echelon previously only ever inhabited by Amazon and Apple — if it were a country, its GDP would rank among the world’s 15 largest.

    • Suppressed History: How the CIA and NSA Helped Create Google to Spy on Citizens

      In commemoration of Google’s 20th birthday, many mainstream media organizations – and the company itself – have published condensed histories of the search engine giant, chronicling key moments in the firm’s two-decade saga. Missing from each is the story of how the CIA and other US spying agencies helped fund its creation.

      In the early 1990s, the US intelligence community launched a daring initiative — in conjunction with leading universities and firms in California’s burgenoning ‘Silicon Valley’, spying agencies sought to perfect a means of tracking the activities of groups and individuals on the then-embryonic world wide web.

      Then, a supercomputing revolution was rapidly pullulating, and the US surveillance state wasn’t prepared to sit idly by — the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA), among others, wished to direct and influence the upheaval for their own ends, creating an online milieu facilitating their desire to collect and understand vast quantities of data on private citizens.

      [...]

      To achieve these goals, the agencies would — under the auspices the National Science Foundation (NSF) — provide over a dozen grants worth several million each to teams at different universities, in order to identify sort the ‘digital fingerprints’ of individuals and groups online, linking and ranking their queries in order of importance, deciphering any meaningful patterns that emerged from the data morass, and tracking their future digital trails.

      If successful, any architecture grant recipients created in their universities would be passed to the private sector for scaling up. A vast number of tech companies of modern prominence got their ‘break’ in this manner — Google would soon become one of them.

    • Lawsuit alleging NSA spied on everyone in SLC during the 2002 Olympics is dropped
    • Did the NSA snoop on Utahns during the 2002 Games? An attorney drops his lawsuit, says we’ll never find out.

      A federal judge Thursday tossed a lawsuit filed by Utahns who allege the government used “blanket” warrantless surveillance of Salt Lake City-area residents and visitors during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

      The request for dismissal came from Rocky Anderson — the lawyer for the six plaintiffs and the mayor in Salt Lake City during the Games — who wrote in court papers that it won’t be possible for them to get to the truth of whether the National Security Agency spied on Americans and others. He says government attorneys have repeatedly refused to disclose information, citing a court rule that allows them to keep private documents and evidence if it might detail sensitive information that threatens national security.

    • Olympics Attendees Abandon Spying Suit With Sharp Rebuke

      A group of 2002 Winter Olympics attendees have dropped their suit alleging the National Security Agency illegally spied on them at the event, saying further litigation would be fruitless…

    • Ex-Salt Lake mayor says he’s dropping ’02 Olympics suit

      A former Salt Lake City mayor is dropping a lawsuit claiming the National Security Agency conducted “blanket” surveillance in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah.

      Rocky Anderson said in court documents Thursday that he’s been so stymied in his efforts to get information about the NSA’s operations that it no longer makes sense to pursue the case.

      He says federal officials have refused to answer questions, citing attorney advice and the state secrets doctrine.

    • NSA Shows Blockchain Due Diligence

      The NSA Codebreaker Challenge will take participants into the world of blockchain, with focus being on Ethereum. Details of this year’s contest should excite blockchain enthusiasts as it affirms the technology’s growing recognition and prominence.

    • NSA Codebreaker Challenge 2018 to Showcase Ethereum Blockchain Ransomware Task

      The NSA Codebreaker Challenge promises to introduce participants into the blockchain technology world. The challenge will focus on how the technology works with Ethereum. This year’s contest will excite blockchain fanatics as it confirms this technology’s prominence and growth.

    • NSA Agent Prisoned over Leak to Russian Intelligence through Kaspersky Software

      Over the past few years, the National Security Agency(NSA) of the United States has been staggered by a series of leak, resulting in the spread of digital spy tools across the internet, which caused real damage inside as well as outside the agency.

      A similar case was reported in December last year, where a US intelligence worker pleaded guilty of deliberately retaining classified national defense information at home, and exposing it in the process.

      On September 25, the 68-year old Nghia Hoang Pho has been sentenced to prison for 66 months, for transferring the confidential data to a personal computer, which allegedly has been accessed by the Russian intelligence by the means of Kaspersky software.

    • Call for wide-ranging GDPR investigation into online ads, which could kill today’s real-time bidding system

      Moreover, the knock-on effects of a decision against RTB are likely to spread beyond the EU’s borders, just as has happened with the GDPR itself. Many companies might decide to switch back to earlier forms of online advertising that were based on general information about the visitors to a particular Web site, rather than on an obsessive surveillance of everything people do online. That would be a welcome development for online privacy, which makes this call for a formal investigation of RTB worth watching closely.

    • Nearly a quarter of US households own a smart [sic] speaker, according to Nielsen

      Smart speaker love is in full effect for US consumers, with 24 percent of US households owning a smart speaker, and 40 percent of those households owning multiple speakers, according to Nielsen’s latest study.

    • Conference app for the UK’s Conservative Party leaked attendee data

      The incident has prompted numerous inquiries: Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis said in a tweet that the party was investigating the incident, while the Information Commissioner’s Office, the body responsible for upholding information rights, says that it’s aware of the incident, and that it’s “making enquiries with the Conservative Party.” The Telegraph notes that if it’s found to have violated European laws regarding data protection, the party “could face a fine of up to 4 [percent] of its income”, or £2 million. It’s an embarrassing start to the Party’s conference, which had touted the app as a way to overhaul the party’s image as an out-of-touch political party.

    • This Cafe Accepts Your Personal Data As Money

      It appears like all comes down to the privacy paradox. In a world, where people are concerned about their data misused by companies and tech giants. However, they don’t want to lose the perks right away.

    • No Cash Needed At This Cafe. Students Pay The Tab With Their Personal Data

      Ferris will turn away customers if they’re not college students or faculty members. The cafe allows professors to pay, but students have something else the shop wants: their personal information.

      To get the free coffee, university students must give away their names, phone numbers, email addresses and majors, or in Brown’s lingo, concentrations. Students also provide dates of birth and professional interests, entering all of the information in an online form. By doing so, the students also open themselves up to receiving information from corporate sponsors who pay the cafe to reach its clientele through logos, apps, digital advertisements on screens in stores and on mobile devices, signs, surveys and even baristas.

    • Ads In WhatsApp Status Are Coming Soon: Reports

      WhatsApp was originally designed to be an ad-free platform by its co-founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum. Now that the messenger is in the hands of Facebook, things are about to get really annoying with the introduction of ads.

    • WhatsApp co-founder: Facebook already had plans to serve ads on the app before acquisition

      Brian Acton – one of the co-founders of the popular messaging app WhatsApp – resigned from Facebook in 2017. And with that, he left $850 million on the table in the form of non-vested stock options. He stood against the changes Facebook’s management was trying to bring to WhatsApp, and paid the price, literally.

      Since its inception in 2009, WhatsApp never wanted to show its users any ads. Both Acton and Jan Koum – the other co-founder of WhatsApp – hated the idea of earning money that way. Their motto at the company was “No ads, no games, no gimmicks”.

    • Travellers refusing to hand over phone password at airport now face $5000 Customs fine

      Travellers who refuse to hand over their phone or laptop passwords to Customs officials can now be slapped with a $5000 fine.
      The Customs and Excise Act 2018 – which comes into effect today – sets guidelines around how Customs can carry out “digital strip-searches”.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • We are all Ayatollahs now

      Fatwas against offensive speech are now issued daily, by the Western Twitterati as much as by Eastern religious tyrants. Intolerance of so-called blasphemy against Islam and Muhammad is now as pronounced in trendy Western circles as it is in Islamic imam circles. The stunningly arrogant belief that anyone who offends one’s faith or ideology or identity deserves to be severely reprimanded – the belief that motored the Ayatollah’s death sentence on Rushdie – is now the central belief of virtually every new political movement in Western academic and public life.

      This is the true horror of the Rushdie affair: the Rushdie side won the battle – as demonstrated in the fact that Rushdie survives and his book is still widely available – but the Khomeini side won the war. The sentiment of the fatwa defeated the principled liberalism of the fatwa’s opponents. We are all Ayatollahs now.

    • Egypt’s president grows even more intolerant of dissent

      It is hard to discern truth in Egypt these days. President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s government is opaque, and there are few independent journalists to question it. Under a new law, even popular social-media accounts can be regulated as if they were newspapers, which are themselves horribly over-regulated. A pro-government television host has been off the air for weeks with no explanation. A rumour on WhatsApp claims that 22 military officers were quietly arrested this month. The facts of these stories are almost irrelevant. What matters is that the rumours circulate.

    • Note to Jeff Flake: A Limited FBI Investigation of Brett Kavanaugh Is Entirely Insufficient

      The nominee’s full record should be examined, including his many misleading and false statements to the Senate.

    • Visualizing the relative evasiveness of Kavanaugh and Ford
    • Kavanaugh’s Tell: “Revenge on Behalf of the Clintons,” Plural
    • The Kavanaugh hearing: A spectacle of political filth and reaction

      The Democratic Party has decided to wage its opposition to the reactionary Supreme Court nominee on the most degraded and right-wing basis possible.

    • Drones becoming more common at Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies
    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Paranoid Core’ By Mudhoney

      Mudhoney is currently celebrating their thirtieth anniversary and have recently released their tenth full-length album, “Digital Garbage.”

    • The FBI used a suspect’s face to unlock his iPhone in Ohio case

      As my colleague Adi Robertson noted last year, courts have ruled that there’s a difference between something like a facial or fingerprint recognition system, and a passcode that you type into your phone. As Apple and other companies have pushed for facial recognition systems, it was only a matter of time before a case like this would pop up.

    • FBI Forces Child Abuse Suspect To Unlock iPhone Using His FaceID

      According to a report by Forbes, the FBI recently forced an iPhone X owner to unlock the phone using his face. This is the first known case in which feds used the FaceID feature to get access to some suspect’s smartphone.

      Last year when Apple launched iPhone X with FaceID feature, legal questions were raised: Will law enforcement agencies force the suspects to unlock their phone by looking at it? Well, it looks like we finally have an answer.

    • NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Was Held in Isolation for a Week and No One Has Explained Why

      National Security Agency whistleblower Reality Winner was kept in isolation for a week in a Florida county jail, a move that left her “hysterical,” according to an advocate who visited her in the facility. On Monday, Winner was moved from her isolated cell into the jail’s general population, according to advocates.

      Charged under the Espionage Act and facing up to 10 years in prison, Winner, a 26-year-old former defense contractor and Air Force veteran, pleaded guilty in June to retaining and transmitting a document to a news organization. On her way to serve out the remainder of the five-year term spelled out in the plea deal, she was transferred in the middle of the night a week ago from the small rural county jail in Georgia where she has spent more than a year in custody. But, rather than being sent to a federal facility for processing, she was taken to yet another county jail in Florida for reasons that remain unclear.

    • EFF Urges Ninth Circuit to Let Criminal Defense Teams Vet Forensic Software

      You shouldn’t be convicted by secret evidence in a functional democracy. So when the government uses forensic software to investigate and build its case in a criminal prosecution, it should not hide that technological evidence from the defense. In an amicus brief filed today EFF urged the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow criminal defendants to review and evaluate the source code and developmental materials of forensic software programs used by the prosecution, to help prevent the wrong people ending up behind bars, or worse, on death row.

      The Constitution requires that defendants be given the opportunity to review, analyze, and confront the prosecution’s evidence. But in the information age, prosecutors are increasingly relying on evidence produced by proprietary forensic software programs–marketed and distributed by private companies to law enforcement–to establish key elements of their case, while still seeking to keep the source code that determines the outputs of that forensic technology a secret. This gamesmanship undermines the public’s trust in the integrity and fairness of the criminal justice system. We are told simply to take the government’s word for it that the software does what it is supposed to do.

      Ostensibly, the secrecy around proprietary forensic software is meant to prevent competitors from learning the trade secrets of the original program vendor, but it also prevents defendants and the public from discovering flaws that could send innocent people to prison or execution. Time and again, when forensic software is subjected to independent review, errors and inconsistencies are discovered that call into question its viability and suitability for use in the criminal justice system. Forensic software has no special immunity from the bugs and mistakes that plague software in other fields, something that has been amply demonstrated with errors discovered in, for instance, the software used for DNA analysis and breathalyzer tests.

    • DHS Watchdog Says CBP’s Drone Program Is An Insecure, Possibly Rights-Violating Mess

      The CBP has drones. How many, it’s not really sure. It depends on when you ask. Or how you ask. The EFF’s FOIA lawsuit against the agency caused it to suddenly “remember” it had deployed drones 200 more times than it had previously disclosed.

      The CBP’s drones are a lending library for US law enforcement agencies. An audit of the program found the CBP’s drones were more often used by others than by the agency owning them, despite this agency being charged with patrolling thousands of miles of US border — something that might be aided by some additional eyes in the skies.

      But the eyes were worthless. The Inspector General concluded it was an airborne boondoggle. The CBP wasn’t malicious, just inept. As the IG saw it, the half-billion slated for drone use would be better spent on more personnel and ground-based surveillance.

      Nevertheless, the drones continue to fly. When not straying far from the border to aid inland law enforcement agencies, the agency’s unmanned aircraft are still aloft, engaging in surveillance no one can really say for certain is 100% legal. The Inspector General’s latest report [PDF] shows the CBP has done very little to ensure its drone deployments are secure or legally-compliant.

    • Danish Jews re-enact community’s Holocaust flight to Sweden 75 years ago
    • How Denmark defied Hitler 75 years ago to rescue its Jewish population

      When an order was issued on September 25, 1943, to round up Jews, the Danish people responded with a successful effort to save them

    • Victory! Gov. Brown Expands Access to the Internet for Youth in Juvenile Detention and Foster Care

      California Gov. Jerry Brown has a signed a bill into law that opens up the Internet for youth in state care. With A.B. 2448, California now requires that all youth in juvenile hall be granted access to the Internet for educational purposes. Meanwhile youth in foster care are also ensured access to the Internet for social and recreational activities.

      The success of this bill should be credited to its author, Assemblymember Mike Gipson, and its organizational sponsor, the Youth Law Center. Together they first introduced the measure in 2017 as A.B. 811, which was passed by strong majorities in the legislature, only to die by the governor’s veto pen. This time around, Gov. Brown signed the new bill, which was narrowed at his request.

      EFF joined the effort early: we ran email actions and testified in favor of A.B. 2448 before a Senate committee. We also helped rally tech companies such as Facebook to support the bill. Ultimately, this is an enormous victory on behalf of at-risk youth who don’t have the ability to vote or travel to Sacramento to argue their case.

    • How Jeff Sessions is Attacking Immigration Judges and Due Process Itself

      The attorney general is abusing his power to force immigration judges to issue more deportation orders.

      When the government believes that someone should be deported, it usually has to prove its case in an immigration court. And although the immigration courts have long been plagued by due process problems—including the lack of any right to an appointed lawyer, even for kids—those courts have at least held out the promise of neutrality: a neutral immigration judge hears the case, and the losing party may appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

      But Jeff Sessions is aggressively working to make these courts instruments of the Trump administration’s immigration agenda. Sessions is exploiting the fact that, unlike other judges, Immigration Judges and the members of the Board of Immigration Appeals are actually the Attorney General’s employees. They are part of a sub-agency within the Department of Justice, rather than the judicial branch. And the Attorney General may—until now, in rare cases—overrule immigration court and Board of Immigration Appeals decisions on his own initiative.

      In the past, Attorneys General have used this “self-certification” authority sparingly: under the Obama Administration, for example, this power was only used four times throughout both terms. By contrast, Sessions has self-certified cases six times in less than two years, and has issued five decisions so far.

      All of them follow the same pattern: using the Attorney General’s direct control over the immigration courts to deport immigrants in greater numbers and stop them from obtaining relief to which they are entitled by law, by enacting sweeping substantive and procedural changes to the immigration system.

    • Victory! New California Law Requires Police Policy Transparency

      The people of California will now have more insight into how their local law enforcement agencies operate. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed S.B. 978, which requires local police departments to publish their “training, policies, practices, and operating procedures” on their websites starting in January 2020. That opens up access to this information to anyone, not only journalists or activists with the time, money, or knowledge to request them.

      S.B. 978, introduced by Sen. Steven Bradford, has long had EFF’s support because it helps inform everyone about how police officers are trained. Law enforcement agencies are adopting new policies about new policing technologies all the time, and the community benefits from understanding them. Newer surveillance technologies such as body-worn cameras, biometric scanners, drones, and automatic license plate readers have drawn significant public interest and concern.

      Posting policies and procedures online ensures that law enforcement agencies are more transparent about what they’re doing. Doing so also helps educate the public about what to expect and how to behave during police encounters.

    • Analyst Who Accidentally Leaked NSA Software Given Five More Years In Prison Than General Who Handed Classified Info To His Mistress

      This sentence does nothing of the sort. To those not closely watching these things (i.e., people who’d never read this press release in the first place), it may seem like the DOJ is serving up justice. But for those of us who’ve seen certain people — like General Petraeus — mishandle classified info in a much more egregious fashion (giving his mistress, and biographer, access to top secret info) and walk away from it pretty much unscathed, this statement from the DOJ is not just hollow. It’s hypocritical.

      Even the judge handling the case saw through the DOJ’s double standard. Josh Gerstein of Politico reports the judge had plenty to say about the DOJ’s prosecutorial efforts, especially in light of the fact Pho never directly gave anyone else access to the NSA’s classified hacking stash.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • California Enacts Net Neutrality Law and the Justice Department Immediately Files a Lawsuit, Tim Berners-Lee Announces His New Project Solid, MS-DOS Source Code Now Available on GitHub, Haiku R1/beta1 Released and openSUSE Will Have a Summit at SCaLE

      California enacts net neutrality law, and the Justice Department immediately files a lawsuit against California. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated “Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy. The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order.”

      Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the internet, announces his new project Solid, “an open-source project to restore the power and agency of individuals on the web”. He writes “Solid changes the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance—by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way.”

    • Calif. enacts net neutrality law—US gov’t immediately sues to block it [Updated]

      The California net neutrality bill, previously approved by the state Assembly and Senate despite protests from AT&T and cable lobbyists, imposes rules similar to those previously enforced by the FCC.

      [...]

      (UPDATE: The Justice Department filed its lawsuit against California Sunday night, the department announced. “Under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce—the federal government does,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy. The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order. We will do so with vigor. We are confident that we will prevail in this case—because the facts are on our side.” Pai issued a statement praising the Justice Department’s lawsuit against California.)

    • DOJ sues California over net neutrality law

      The lawsuit claims the California bill is “unlawful and anti-consumer” because it goes against the federal government’s “deregulatory approach to the Internet.”

    • Trump Administration Sues California Over Net Neutrality Law

      The measure signed Sunday by Brown, a Democrat, prohibits internet service providers in California from stratifying users and websites by who can pay for faster surfing speeds and service. If the law stands, broadband providers including Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. will be blocked in the state from slowing traffic on their airwaves while charging consumers for faster access.

    • California governor signs nation’s toughest net neutrality bill into law

      When the rules go into effect, likely next year, internet providers won’t be allowed to block or throttle content; they’ll have to allow all “nonharmful” devices to connect; offer paid fast lanes; charge interconnection fees; and to wiggle around these rules by, say, claiming a streaming TV service delivered over internet cables should be counted as TV delivery and not subject to regulations.

    • Creator of the World Wide Web is Creating a New Decentralized Web

      Creator of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee has unveiled his plans to create a new decentralized web where the data will be controlled by the users.

    • Tim Berners-Lee launches open source project Solid to decentralize the web and place users in control of data
    • The Inventor of the World Wide Web Plans to Start a New Internet to Take on Google and Facebook
    • One Small Step for the Web…
    • World Wide Web inventor plans a new version to bypass big tech companies
    • Web inventor Berners-Lee creates a new privacy first way of dealing with the internet
    • Exclusive: Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the World Wide Web

      Last week, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, asked me to come and see a project he has been working on almost as long as the web itself. It’s a crisp autumn day in Boston, where Berners-Lee works out of an office above a boxing gym. After politely offering me a cup of coffee, he leads us into a sparse conference room. At one end of a long table is a battered laptop covered with stickers. Here, on this computer, he is working on a plan to radically alter how all of us live and work on the web.

    • The inventor of the web has a plan to fix it
    • Tim Berners-Lee Launches Open Source Project Solid To Start A “New Internet”

      Due to the continuous torrent of data breaches and scandals like Cambridge Analytica, Tim Berners-Lee is devastated. To fight the powerful forces of the Internet, world wide web inventor has worked on a project called “Solid.”

      In collaboration with MIT, the open-source project is build to make web decentralized, snatch power from big players like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. Solid offers tools to create social applications which follow the existing W3C standards. In simple words, you will have a tremendous amount of control over your data.

    • One Small Step for the Web…

      In 2009, I said, “The web as I envisaged it we have not seen yet.” That was because people were using the web just for documents, not for the data of a big web-wide computer. Since then, we have seen a wave of open data, but not of read-write data.

      [...]

      So I have taken a sabbatical from MIT, reduced my day-to-day involvement with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and founded a company called inrupt where I will be guiding the next stage of the web in a very direct way. Inrupt will be the infrastructure allowing Solid to flourish. Its mission is to provide commercial energy and an ecosystem to help protect the integrity and quality of the new web built on Solid.

    • One Small Step for the Web…

      I’ve always believed the web is for everyone. That’s why I and others fight fiercely to protect it. The changes we’ve managed to bring have created a better and more connected world. But for all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas.

      Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible – and necessary.

      This is why I have, over recent years, been working with a few people at MIT and elsewhere to develop Solid, an open-source project to restore the power and agency of individuals on the web.

      Solid changes the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance – by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way.

      Solid is a platform, built using the existing web. It gives every user a choice about where data is stored, which specific people and groups can access select elements, and which apps you use. It allows you, your family and colleagues, to link and share data with anyone. It allows people to look at the same data with different apps at the same time.

      Solid unleashes incredible opportunities for creativity, problem-solving and commerce. It will empower individuals, developers and businesses with entirely new ways to conceive, build and find innovative, trusted and beneficial applications and services. I see multiple market possibilities, including Solid apps and Solid data storage.

    • Cloudflare gets into registrar business with wholesale domains and free privacy

      While Cloudflare had already been handling domain registration through the company’s Enterprise Registrar service, that service was intended for some of Cloudflare’s high-end customers who wanted extra levels of security for their domain names. The new domain registrar business—called Cloudflare Registrar—will eventually be open to anyone, and it will charge exactly what it costs for Cloudflare to register a domain. As Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a blog post yesterday, “We promise to never charge you anything more than the wholesale price each TLD charges.” That includes the small fee assessed by ICANN for each registration.

    • Cities, Counties Say FCC 5G Plan A Massive Handout To Wireless Carriers

      The FCC is once again being accused of blindly letting the telecom sector’s biggest companies dictate federal policy. The FCC this week voted to move forward (pdf) with a plan that the agency claims will speed up deployment of fifth-generation (5G) wireless. Under this carrier-backed proposal, cities will be limited in terms of how much money they can charge carriers to place cell technology like small cells on government property in public rights of way (traffic lights, utility poles). It also imposes strict new timelines and operational restrictions making it harder for localities to stand up to giant nationwide cellular carriers.

      On its surface, the FCC is framing these changes as a necessary shift to speed up broadband deployment and eliminate cumbersome bureaucracy as the U.S. engages in a “race to 5G” with other countries. But the upgrading of wireless networks isn’t a race, 5G itself has been aggressively over-hyped as a panacea for a broken market, and cities say the FCC’s new plan is largely about saving money for wireless carriers, while tying the hands of cities, counties and towns trying to improve connectivity to rural markets.

    • The DOJ’s New Net Neutrality Lawsuit Is A Giant Middle Finger To State Rights, Consumers, Competition & The Democratic Process

      So let’s be clear about something: the Ajit Pai FCC’s repeal of net neutrality was already a mammoth fuck you to the American public, open competition, and a healthy internet. The effort to neuter the rules was based on bogus telecom lobbyist data, lots and lots of shady behavior, and oceans of complete nonsense. And while folks like Ajit Pai like to speak loftily about his noble effort to “strip away burdensome regulations,” the reality is that killing net neutrality served one real purpose: giving natural telecom monopolies the green light to (ab)use a broken, uncompetitive broadband market to screw consumers and competitors alike.

      When the FCC killed these overwhelmingly popular consumer protections it wasn’t just killing net neutrality, it was killing the federal government’s ability to adequately hold lumbering telecom monopolies accountable on the federal level. In addition to neutering the FCC and shoveling any remaining, fleeting oversight to an FTC ill-equipped for the job, ISPs convinced the Trump administration to also try to prevent states from filling the void. As such, both Comcast and Verizon successfully lobbied the FCC to include language in the net neutrality repeal “preempting” (read: banning) states from holding giant ISPs accountable as well.

      Again the goal here is obvious: to eliminate any meaningful state or federal oversight of natural telecom monopolies, which will now be left unchecked by neither regulatory oversight nor meaningful competition.

  • DRM

    • Xbox Lost This Console Generation To Playstation And Here’s Why They Need To Plan Ahead

      Xbox and Playstation are the two big rivals in the console industry. Their parent companies Sony and Microsoft have been fighting it out for a long time, outselling each other from time to time. But this generation has a clear winner and it’s. definitely the Playstation.

      In 2013 when both the current generation consoles launched, nobody had the edge over one another, Xbox and Playstation had their own loyal fans. But Microsoft in their launch presentation put themselves in a bad spot, with predatory DRM announcements, which required users to connect to the internet using their consoles once every 24 hours to avoid getting locked out. This obviously caused massive outrage at that time, and Microsoft eventually had to remove these anti-consumer features.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Qualcomm’s Mannheim lawsuit against Apple over switch patent: Swedish patent office opinion published

      On the German Qualcomm v. Apple patent litigation front, next week (the first week of October) will have the same schedule as last week: a Mannheim trial on Tuesday followed by a Munich trial on Thursday.

      Last week’s Mannheim patent–a switch patent–may not even be infringed, but at any rate it’s rather unlikely to be valid. The opinion by the Swedish patent office–perfectly independent because Apple’s lawyers couldn’t communicate with the examiner and only got to submit two prior art references without any further explanation or documentation–that I mentioned last week is a clear thumbs-down for that patent. At last week’s trial its key finding was summarized by counsel for Apple, and a German patent litigator who is not involved with those cases (last time I saw him, he was suing Apple over a SEP) told me that those opinions are private and don’t appear in any patent register. However, someone in Sweden appears to have an inside track. My web traffic stats showed an inbound link from a Swedish-language website previously unknown to me, Feber. They obtained and published the opinion by the Swedish patent office (PRV = “Patent- och registreringsverket”), which was apparently written in English.

    • Apple Found To Violate 1 Qualcomm Patent; US ITC Will Not Ban iPhone Imports
    • ITC says Apple infringes a Qualcomm patent but iPhones shouldn’t be banned

      Apple might’ve infringed a Qualcomm patent, but that doesn’t mean iPhones should be banned from sale, a new US International Trade Commission filing said Friday.

      Qualcomm in late 2017 had asked the ITC to prevent iPhones that had Intel 4G chips from being sold because of allegations of patent infringement. Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender on Friday agreed that Apple infringed one Qualcomm patent related to power management, but it didn’t infringe two other patents, he said in a final initial determination published to the ITC’s website.

    • Qualcomm files opposition to FTC’s motion for summary judgement

      Telecommunications company Qualcomm has filed an opposition to the US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) motion for a partial summary judgment on whether it should license its wireless standard-essential patents to competitors.

      The FTC accused Qualcomm of engaging in bad faith conduct during SEP licensing to “maintain its monopoly in markets for modem chips”.

    • ITC judge finds Qualcomm’s anti-Intel patent assertion campaign against the public interest: Intel-powered iPhones shouldn’t be banned

      When the complaint was filed in July 2017, I already expressed skepticism regarding Qualcomm’s strategy of targeting only Intel-powered–not Qualcomm-powered–iPhones. While a potential shortage of supply is a major factor in the ITC’s analysis, Qualcomm basically traded one issue in for another. By targeting its only major baseband chipset competitor, Qualcomm exposed itself to allegations of anticompetitive behavior, especially since antitrust regulators around the globe had at the time of the complaint already held Qualcomm in violation of competition law because of, among other things, its refusal to grant standard-essential patent (SEP) licenses to Intel.

    • Supercell wins the patent infringement case against GREE

      On September 6 2018, Tokyo District Court dismissed the GREE’s claim against Supercell in a patent infringement case, which was previously reported here. GREE demanded JPY 100 million (approx. USD 909,000) in damages from Supercell for the patent infringement by the layout editor of “Clash of Clans”.

      In this case, the interpretation of “the whole game space … chosen by player” in Claim 6 and 8 of the subject patent (JP 5952947) became an issue, especially from the viewpoint of how a player chooses the whole game space. The judge examined the description of the specification and the response to an office action, and concluded that the player chooses a certain range of the game space, considering no other options described or suggested in the specification or the response. The judge ruled that the layout editor does not infringe the GREE’s patent, because there is no facility or action taken by a player to choose a certain range of the game space.

    • Apple Patent Reveals New Desktop System for Home & Office that uses Face ID, Landscape/Portrait Display Modes

      Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that generally relates to user interactions with a new desktop system that is ergonomically friendly and designed for multi-user environments.

    • Patent lawsuit takes aim at Apple’s encrypted iMessage and FaceTime services, VPN technology

      A lawsuit filed in federal court on Thursday alleges certain aspects of Apple products, including iMessage and FaceTime, infringe on multiple patents owned by Finnish holdings firm MPH Technologies, which attempted to license its IP to Apple in 2016.

    • Former Apple engineer fights iPhone giant for patent credit and denied cash, says Steve Jobs loved his ‘killer ideas’

      A former Apple engineer is suing his old employer to force it to acknowledge his role as the inventor of “Find My iPhone” and to compensate him for unfair dismissal.

      Darren Eastman, the inventor credited on an Apple patent for detecting battery errors (US 7877631B2), is seeking to have his name added to five Apple patent applications (US 20130326643, 20130326642, 20140364099, 20140199966 and 20140364148) related to locating lost phones and electronic ticketing, the return of 735 Apple shares he claims were unfairly taken from him, and $326,400 in damages, plus $32,640 in interest and $5,000 in attorney’s fees.

    • AT&T receives favourable appeals ruling in patent lawsuit with AMN

      The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld a summary judgement of noninfringement in favour of AT&T in its lawsuit with Advanced Media Networks (AMN).

      AT&T was sued by AMN in 2015 for allegedly infringing a US patent relating to wireless networking.

    • US Patents and the potential global monopoly effect for software

      Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court held that the Patent Act’s damages provision, 35 U.S.C. 284, allowed a patent holder to recover foreign lost profits when patent infringement liability is based on 35 U.S.C. 271(f)(2). WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., 138 S. Ct. 2129 (2018).

      Section 271(f)(2) provides that a company “shall be liable as an infringer” if it supplies certain components of a patented invention “in or from the United States” with the intent that they “will be combined outside of the United States in a manner that would infringe the patent if such combination occurred within the United States.” In contrast, the Federal Circuit has held that a company that makes or sells an entire infringing device within the United States is not liable for lose sales in foreign markets under section 271(a). Power Integrations, Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor Int’l, Inc., 711 F.3d 1348, 1370 (Fed. Cir. 2013). Thus, by allowing the recovery of foreign lost profits, WesterGeco creates a new incentive for patent plaintiffs to find liability based on sales of infringing components.

      In the wake of the Court’s opinion, however, uncertainty remains with respect to whether the sale of software will constitute sale of an infringing component. Software is inoperative alone, but rather must be combined with appropriate hardware. Therefore, it would seem to qualify as a component. In light of WesternGeco, is software developed in the U.S. also “supplied in or from the U.S.?” If that software is then installed on foreign devices abroad, does that expose the software developer to world-wide lost profit damages for infringement of a competitor’s U.S. patent?

      [...]

      In the case of software, the scenario posed by the dissent is even more prescient, as software is often developed in the U.S. and then replicated across devices worldwide. The issue of whether software may constitute an infringing component under § 271(f) was addressed by the Court over 10 years ago in Microsoft Corp. v. AT & T Corp., 550 U.S. 437 (2007), but its tension with WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp and its outmoded reasoning casts significant doubt as to whether the Court rule the same way today.

    • KOL251 | Creative Juice EP66: The Shocking Case For Abolishing Copyright Laws

      We talked about a variety of matters, from the nature of property rights, Rothbard’s view that all human rights are property rights, Locke’s labor theory of property and the Marxian labor theory of value, the history and general nature of IP rights and why IP rights are incompatible with other property rights. This was a very fast-talking, dense episode with a lot of lecturing and talking from my end, but I think we covered a lot of ground, from the foundations of law and property rights to IP law. Their shownotes: Since its beginning, the music industry has been under heavy government regulation: copyright laws control much of the economy of the music business. Today, there are many voices on the frontline arguing for the abolishment of all intellectual property, including copyright laws… Stephan Kinsella is a Patent Attorney and advocate for IP Abolishment. On this episode of Creative Juice, Circa sits down with Stephan to discuss the little-known argument against intellectual property and how it may actually be harming independent artists and creatives. “This is one of my favorite episodes of Creative Juice to date – I highly advise that you learn about this topic and take part in the discussion surrounding these laws.

    • Interview With Miguel Ángel Margáin, Director General Of The Mexican Institute Of Industrial Property

      Miguel Ángel Margáin, Director General of the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, took office in early 2013, and was in Geneva for the annual World Intellectual Property Organization General Assemblies. William New of Intellectual Property Watch sat down with him for an interview. He spoke about achievements of the office during this administration, major amendments to adhere to global treaties and changes in the NAFTA, the introduction of geographical indications, and the ascendance of IP rights in Latin America.

    • Aman Gebru: Compelling Disclosure of Traditional Knowledge in Patents

      Aman Gebru, visiting assistant professor at Cardozo Law, has a new article forthcoming in Denver Law Review about patenting traditional knowledge. Aman is on the teaching market this year in the patents and intellectual property field, but his research and teaching deal with other areas as well like contracts and international law. His proposal, if adopted, could be good for the public and some communities, but might make big pharma a bit angry.

      So-called traditional knowledge is a term of art. Gebru defines it as the “know-how, skills, innovations, and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities.” This is often referred to colloquially as “traditional knowledge” or “TK.” (5). One of the big issues in the international human rights community and the TK literature is whether it is fair for big U.S. companies to extract information from local communities that they then go on to patent and commercialize in products like pharmaceutical drugs, generally without compensation or attribution.

      Gebru taps into the literature on “information-forcing” in contract law to argue, I think quite effectively, that the patent office should compel disclosure of any “substantial” reliance by the patent applicant on traditional knowledge.

    • Copyrights

      • Another Zombie Bad Idea That Just Won’t Die: Copyright Small Claims Court Would Be A Free Speech Disaster

        Going all the way back to 2012, we were highlighting why a copyright “small claims court” might be problematic. It’s been in discussion for a long, long time. There are some legitimate complaints from copyright holders that bringing a federal case is kind of expensive. But that’s because it should be expensive. When Congress got serious about this issue back in 2016, we wrote about how it would be a huge tool for copyright trolls. Earlier this year lawyer Cathy Gellis explained how the law was a total disaster, in that it was built with the assumption that all copyright claims are legitimate ones. But that’s a laughable claim — as copyright lawsuits (and threats of lawsuits) are quite frequently used either to just shake people down for money or as a way of suppressing free speech.

        Make it even easier to sue over copyright, and you can bet that it will be used much more often — meaning with significantly more abuse.

        We also had a guest post from lawyer Robert S. Schwartz, highlighting a very important point. One of the reasons why, historically, copyright law hasn’t been as big of a concern for suppressing free speech was because of copyright toleration. That is, even though basically everyone infringes on many people’s copyrights every single day, we’ve mostly “tolerated” many infringements, because common sense tells us that the law couldn’t have been meant for such things.

      • New NAFTA Would Harm Canadian Copyright Reform and Shrink the Public Domain

        Canada currently observes the minimum term of copyright as required by the Berne Convention, which is life of the author plus 50 years. USMCA requires all signatories to agree to a term of at least life of the author plus 70 years.

        The extension of already-lengthy copyright terms will discourage new creativity in Canada. It will further prevent Canadians from accessing and using the rich pool of resources in the public domain, which means they can be used free of any copyright protections. Creativity always builds upon the past, and the public domain is our shared cultural commons used to create new works of art and science. Like a sedimentary rock, the “Commons” in Creative Commons starts with the public domain. Fulfilling our mission of protecting and expanding the public domain is why we’ve developed tools to better mark and dedicate content to CC0. We continue to advocate for changes to copyright policy that promote a robust and accessible public domain.

        During the opaque renegotiation of NAFTA, we urged negotiators to ensure that the copyright provisions in the agreement should not be expanded to create new (and likely more onerous) copyright rules. We worked with international groups to release the Washington Principles on Copyright Balance in Trade Agreements to restate the obvious fact that further copyright term extensions make no sense: “there is no evidence to suggest that the private benefits of copyright term extensions ever outweigh the costs to the public.”

        The end of copyright protection in a work allows for the production of new works. That is why term length is a balance to be struck — and one which Canada has handled well. Ian Fleming’s literary character James Bond, for example, entered the public domain in Canada on January 1, 2015. This allowed Canadian authors David Nickle and Madeline Ashby to produce License Expired, an anthology of unauthorized 007 stories for ChiZine Publications.

      • 9th Circuit Never Misses A Chance To Mess Up Copyright Law: Reopens Led Zeppelin ‘Stairway To Heaven’ Case

        Well, this is depressing. Back in 2016, we wrote about yet another copyright infringement case where we feared the impact on creativity in music. At issue was whether or not the band Led Zeppelin had infringed on the copyright of Randy Wolfe (aka Randy California) who had written the song Taurus for his band Spirit. Taurus has some similarities to Led Zeppelin’s classic “Stairway to Heaven”:

      • World’s Oldest Torrent Still Alive After 15 Years

        The world’s oldest active torrent file turned fifteen-years-old this week, a remarkable achievement. TorrentFreak catches up with the creator of “The Fanimatrix” torrent file, who saw BitTorrent as the only affordable option to share the Matrix fan film with the world.

      • BitTorrent and Tron Hope Other Clients Will Embrace ‘Paid’ Seeding

        BitTorrent and Tron hope to successfully integrate blockchain technology with the popular file-sharing protocol. The idea of adding rewards and ‘payments’ to BitTorrent is controversial, but the team stresses that all blockchain enhancements will be open source and backward compatible. They also call on third-party torrent clients to embrace their plan.

      • Amazing NCC-1701-D simulator issues final command: “all stop”

        An ambitious free-to-play fan project to build an interactive, VR-style interface of the Next Generation-era Enterprise-D has come to an untimely end after being hit with photon torpedoes—or their 21st-century legal equivalent, a cease-and-desist letter.

      • Anti-Piracy Group Wipes ‘Torrent9’ From Google With ‘Dubious’ Requests

        A ‘carpet-bomb’ of DMCA takedown requests has all but wiped Torrent9 from Google’s search results. French anti-piracy outfit SACEM targeted hundreds of thousands of URLs in a few days. An effective strategy, but one that relies on several dubious reports, including takedowns targeting open source software.

The USPTO is Hopeless, Unlike Patent Courts That Have Become the Target of Ridicule by the Patent ‘Industry’

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 4:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SCOTUS (US Supreme Court) narrowed patent scope and judges are coming under attack for merely following SCOTUS

Andrei Iancu

Summary: Donald Trump’s man at the USPTO (Andrei Iancu, whose firm used to work for Trump) is disgracing the notion that a patent office follows courts’ pattern of rulings; to make matters worse, SCOTUS appointments are nowadays made based on personal relationships/connections to billionaires (e.g. Gorsuch) rather than accurate/consistent rulings

AS A NEW month begins we look back at another good month — a month in which courts generally continued to ‘reform’ or shall we say ‘tame’ the USPTO. There have been several rulings which due to lack of time we need to mention belatedly.

Let’s begin by discussing yesterday’s advertisements from Patent Docs, a site of patent maximalists. They still focus on questionable patents, 35 U.S.C. § 102 (prior art), and the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC), basically a cabal of lawyers, speaking of laughable concepts like “Reputation Risk Management”. Last weekend we noted that Patent Docs had reached to point where it’s publishing more advertisements than actual articles. In fact, actual articles have become almost rare there (maybe once in two or three days). Sometimes the articles are completely off-topic guest posts. We’ve surveyed and compared to months back. The only ‘healthy’ blog about patents (still as active as before) is Patently-O; Watchtroll, IAM and others have ebbed away or gone completely inactive. The demise of Watchtroll started some time after May (a 30% decline in output) and IAM vanished off the radar at the end of August. Remember Bilski Blog? Once upon a time it published quite regularly. Nowadays it’s lucky if it publishes something in a whole month. Here is what it wrote some days ago in relation to Maxell v Fandango (Maxell was recently mentioned in another context). To quote Bilski Blog:

Earlier this month a federal court in California held as patent-ineligible all 28 asserted claims in three separate patents in Maxell v. Fandango Media, based on its analysis of only one “representative” claim. This was via a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court had already found, via a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss before any claim construction, another claim from another patent to be drawn to patent-ineligible subject matter. It is disconcerting to see courts take such a glib approach to invalidating claims in this way, and it strikes me that this case is a great vehicle to use to discuss the notion of a “representative” claim.

Bilski Blog, being a blog of anti-Alice patent maximalists, speaks of the above as though it’s bad news, arguing that it is “disconcerting to see courts take such a glib approach to invalidating claims in this way…”

Actually, it’s well overdue; the courts need to do something about patent maximalism and we’re very gratified to see the past few years’ developments. We hope for more of the same. It’s no secret that the USPTO granted far too many patents for a number of years if not decades. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), part of AIA, have helped improve that somewhat, albeit not sufficiently. Now that we’re past the ten millionth patent Patently-O reveals another incredibly stupid patents — a reminder that software patents are still being granted by the Office. “It is basically a computers system that gamifies your life — comparing your life score to those of your neighbors, co-workers, or others,” Patently-O wrote some days ago, adding the corresponding figures to demonstrate just how dumb this patent is. As we shall show further down, it does not seem as though the new leadership (new Director rather) is interested in tackling the issue; instead, it would rather exacerbate matters.

Just over a week ago Kansas City Business Journal published “Lawsuit alleges company paid ag tech company $7M for ‘worthless’ patents” — a symptom of an office that would rather grant than properly examine applications. Applicants should live and learn. A lot of US patents are totally bogus (some bogus to the extreme) and in retrospect some companies are entitled for compensation. This can’t possibly inspire much confidence in the system.

Another site recently spoke of SolarWinds’s IPO plans, asserting that “[t]he [software] company has 29 issued U.S. patents and 148 issued foreign patents, with expiration dates ranging from October 2026 to May 2036. The company also has 40 pending patent applications.”

Likely all of these are bunk software patents. Do they care? Do they just aim to increase the total number rather than quality and validity?

Less than a fortnight ago Watchtroll moaned that “Alice has become a train wreck for innovation. To be successful, patent practitioners must explain why the type of technology should not dictate whether there is enforceability.”

This linked to the latest (at the time) patent maximalist nonsense from Meredith Addy and it is titled “Alice at Age Four: Time to Grow Up” (implying or at least insinuating that patent justice is some kind of immaturity). We don’t want to rebut every single claim as that would take a lot of time and give more exposure to Watchtroll (those patent zealots would otherwise get little or no attention). “Grow up and face the fact software patents are unsuitable for purpose” was my response to them. It’s just another one of their anti-Alice rants and no new information (or news) is being offered to support the headline. Burman York (Bud) Mathis III, another anti-Alice person who contributes to Watchtroll occasionally, resumes the CAFC bashing (Federal Circuit smears). The EPO became notorious for attacking judges, the ITC ignores PTAB judges, and whenever the above people attack 35 U.S.C. § 101 rather than the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (e.g. for granting software patents in spite of 35 U.S.C. § 101) they reinforce the view or perception that all they care about is money, not justice. We at Techrights care about innovation and justice; we recognise that many patents are unjustly being granted and this harms innovation, sometimes quite profoundly.

“Patent rights are under attack,” Watchtroll wrote the following day, basically pointing out that Justices telling off and putting aside bogus patents is somehow an “attack”. Actually, the patent trolls and aggressors are the attackers. Who is being attacked here? And by who? How very classic a reversal of narratives.

Are the people at Watchtroll even trying to be honest with themselves? It certainly doesn’t look like it.

We should probably point out that nothing is about to change. Nothing at SCOTUS can revive software patents any time soon (or ever). The USPTO changing its guidelines won’t impact what courts are saying, as we explained a week ago. Dennis Crouch’s latest outline of SCOTUS cases is encouraging in the sense that he too is willing to reveal nothing in the face of Alice, which soon turns 4.5 years old.

Last night the patent maximalist Dennis Crouch said he was “fairly disappointed with this decision by Chief Judge Prost” (CAFC) because she’s not a patent maximlist like him. It’s a serious problem when a bunch of flaming lawyers and trolls-friendly scholars think they ‘own’ the patent system (not actual innovators), just like taxi drivers assume they ‘own’ the roads. To quote his views in full: “I am fairly disappointed with this decision by Chief Judge Prost. The Federal Circuit flipped the jury’s infringement verdict based upon its revised claim construction. Nothing strange there, except that the court did so without actually construing the term in question. Seems improper to me.”

Really? Improper? That’s like saying, “I don’t accept the judgment because you did it wrong!”

Such is the nature of patent maximalists however; we’ve been showing for years how they attacked PTAB and its judges, culminating in attacks on SCOTUS and CAFC earlier this year. If it keeps getting worse, sooner or later judges will get rather angry at these patent maximalists and rule against them just for spite.

A lot can be said about Techrights and its attitude, but we never attack judges unless they engage in clear misconduct like Rader and Gilstrap do. Judges have a job to do and in a society saturated with judge-bashing blowhards civility goes down the drain.

Looking at some recent decisions and outcomes (from courts, i.e. judges), we are very much encouraged. More US patents have been deemed “abstract” and even in district courts, which are less strict than CAFC in that regard. Here’s one from Delaware, the busiest district for patent lawsuits:

Plaintiff Guada Technologies, LLC (“Guada”) sued Defendant Vice Media, LLC (“Vice Media”), alleging infringement at least claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 7,231,379 (“the ’379 patent”). Vice Media then filed a motion to dismiss. Last week, Judge Richard G. Andrews of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruled that the claims are directed to an abstract idea under 35 U.S.C. § 101, but that a factual issue remains as to whether the claims provide an inventive concept.

The ’379 patent, entitled “Navigation in a hierarchical structured transaction processing system,” relates at a high level to navigating through a hierarchical network of “choices” (e.g., transactions, or operations where information is accessed) to accomplish a goal. In such a network, choices are arranged as nodes in a graph structure. As an illustrative example, Figure 3 of the ’379 patent is shown below, which is in the context of airline reservations.

In the ParkerVision case, as revealed by the same site, the court asserted/called “unpatentable” (35 U.S.C. §§ 102 & 103 cited) a patent not tolerated by CAFC either:

On September 13, 2018, the Federal Circuit affirmed three final written decisions of the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board that held unpatentable various claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,091,940, owned by ParkerVision. The ’940 patent, entitled “Method and System for Frequency Up-Conversion,” relates to the frequency conversion of low-frequency baseband signals to higher-frequency (e.g., radio frequency or RF) signals.

Qualcomm filed three petitions for inter partes review challenging the ’940 patent. The PTAB’s (and later the Federal Circuit’s) analysis split along whether the claims were apparatus or method claims.

[...]

The panel, which included Judges O’Malley, Reyna, and Taranto, was unmoved by ParkerVision’s position…

[...]

The panel treated the method claims of the ’940 patent in a wholly different manner, stating that Qualcomm failed to “present evidence and argument that a person of ordinary skill would have been motivated to operate Nozawa in a manner that satisfied the ‘plurality of harmonics’ limitation.” Furthermore, Qualcomm did not advance any position whether Nozawa’s device would actually output a periodic signal with a plurality of integer-multiple harmonics. Namely, the panel reiterated InTouch Techs. Inc. v. VGO Commc’ns, Inc., 751 F.3d 1327, 1346-1347 (Fed. Cir. 2014), that parties seeking to invalidate method patents must show that a skilled artisan would have been motivated to combine the teachings of the prior art references to achieve the claimed invention, and that the skilled artisan would have had a reasonable expectation of success in doing so. Instead, the panel wrote, “Qualcomm’s petitions and accompanying expert testimony solely concerned whether the fundamental frequency itself is included in the meaning of ‘harmonics.’”

In other words, with respect to apparatus claims, the Federal Circuit stated that if a prior art reference discloses an apparatus that is reasonably capable of operating as claimed, that reference could anticipate or render obvious the claims at issue. Additionally, when considering method claims, a reference is properly asserted, under 35 U.S.C. §§ 102 & 103, when there is a clear motivation to combine the references and a demonstrated expectation of success by a skilled artisan.

Judges O’Malley, Reyna, and Taranto have generally been ruling just fine. Crouch once resorted to an ugly personal attack on Judge Reyna, but what else can be expected from patent maximalists who can’t get their way?

Speaking of patent maximalists, Matthew Bultman (Law360) recently wrote about another new Federal Circuit outcome. Abstract patents are rarely tolerated by the judges and here’s another example where Alice gets cited:

The Federal Circuit on Monday upheld a finding that parts of four robotics patents were invalid under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice test, preserving a victory for Invensys Systems Inc.

Another new Alice-centric decision from this court was mentioned just before the weekend: “Gust v Alphacap #FederalCircuit 9/28/18 reverses s 1927 atty fee award against NPE AlphaC and its lawfirm Gutride (joint/sev). DCt view of crowdfunding s/w patents Alice-ineligible but no settle. P’s position “colorable.” 1927 std=”exacting.” Firm’s litigation acts not bad faith.”

What’s really noteworthy here is the consistency in which CAFC rejects abstract patents, citing Alice. Back in 2016 CAFC did not always do this. Things changed for the better around 2017 when CAFC accepted just about zero software patents. We wrote about this several times last year. Alice really took a strong(er) foothold at CAFC after Judge Mayer had ruled against software patents in Intellectual Ventures v Symantec. Nothing has been the same since. We hope things will stay the same. So do groups like HTIA, CCIA and the EFF.

Speaking of the EFF, days ago it named “Stupid Patent of the Month” for September (copy in TechDirt). It was unveiled by Daniel Nazer (EFF), who is rightly concerned that the patent office feeds patent trolls with software patents. To quote:

This month’s stupid patent describes an invention that will be familiar to many readers: a virtual reality (VR) system where participants can interact with a virtual world and each other. US Patent No. 6,409,599 is titled “Interactive virtual reality performance theater entertainment system.” Does the ’599 patent belong to the true inventors of VR? No. The patent itself acknowledges that VR already existed when the application was filed in mid-1999. Rather, it claims minor tweaks to existing VR systems such as having participants see pre-recorded videos. In our view, these tweaks were not new when the patent application was filed. Even if they were, minor additions to existing technology should not be enough for a patent.

The ’599 patent is owned by a company called Virtual Immersion Technologies, LLC. This company appears to have no other business except patent assertion. So far, it has filed 21 patent lawsuits, targeting a variety of companies ranging from small VR startups to large defense companies. It has brought infringement claims against VR porn, social VR systems, and VR laboratories.

Virtual reality was not new in mid-1999. The only supposedly new features of the ’599 patent are providing a live or prerecorded video of a live performer and enabling audio communication between the performer and a participant. Similar technology was infamously predicted in the Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978. In this sense, the patent is reminiscent of patents that take the form: “X, but on the Internet.” Here, the patent essentially claims video teleconferencing, but in virtual reality.

If this patent was to be properly (re)assessed, it would almost certainly be invalidated. Such patents are dropping like flies these days. Examiners ought to stop granting these already. The certainty associated with US patents would otherwise suffer.

Josh Landau (CCIA) is meanwhile writing about patent trolls under the euphemistic label “NPEs”:

NPEs Are Opportunistic Litigants

One finding in the paper is that, controlling for other characteristics, NPEs target defendants opportunistically—they look for defendants who either have a relatively high amount of cash or who have recently received positive cash shocks (e.g., a VC investment).

This seems reasonable—after all, why sue someone who can’t pay you anything? Except that it pairs with two other key findings in the paper. First, NPEs target cash-rich companies with smaller legal teams. And second, both large operating companies and smaller inventors who file patent infringement lawsuits don’t exhibit the same behavior with respect to targeting firms with high cash reserves and small legal teams. In fact, this behavior is not observed in any other type of litigation—only in NPE patent litigation.

In other words, NPEs and operating companies behave in fundamentally different ways as plaintiffs, ways that suggest that NPEs litigation strategies are not aimed at policing infringement but rather at targeting for financial return, regardless of the strength of the infringement case.1

When paired with the finding that NPE litigation has a negative impact on innovation at the targeted firm, this means that NPEs are more likely to target small innovators and particularly to target the small innovators who are most likely to succeed absent NPE intervention, behavior not seen as part of operating company litigation.

[...]

The evidence continues to make clear that NPEs are a tax on ingenuity and economic activity. Reforms like IPR and the Alice case have been effective in helping to reduce NPE activity.

So why are there efforts—including from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Iancu—to minimize the effectiveness of these reforms?

He’s not interested in reforms. He views them as a mistake.

Unlike his predecessor Michelle Lee, he’s not even technical. Prior to Michelle Lee there was David Kappos, who Eli Mazour (under the section “Expert Analysis”) speaks to in Law360. IBM ‘mole’ in USPTO? He’s now an IBM-funded lobbyist for software patents. He’s serving the litigation lobby and he himself works for a law firm. Mazour says: “Almost a decade before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo embarked on a mission to bring “swagger” back to the U.S. State Department, David Kappos successfully brought it to the [USPTO]…”

He brought “swagger”? Really? It was a boon for patent trolls, that’s all it was. Litigation soared.

The litigation ‘industry’ currently hope that Iancu will be another Kappos. This new article by McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. is titled “Hope From The PTO Director” regarding “Patent Eligibility” as if the sole goal of a Director is to endlessly broaden patent scope.

Forbes, we might add again, is giving a platform (even whole blogs!) to trolls and aggressors, brandishing patent propaganda every single day. Forbes is a rag of billionaires who make a living by attacking society, so trolls’ agenda seem compatible.

Watch how patent troll David Pridham (Dominion Harbor) calls the Director of the patent ‘industry’ “New Sheriff Aims To Stop Patent Thievery” (that’s the headline). So Mr. Iancu found support… from patent trolls. That says quite a lot about him.

This patent troll appears to be hiding behind yet another one of its many shells, having taken patents from Microsoft’s largest troll, Intellectual Ventures.

Peter Keros wrote about Dominion Assets LLC (we assume part of Dominion Harbor):

Expert testimony on patent royalties that is unsupported by evidence is excluded. Dominion Assets LLC v. Masimo Corp., Case No. 14-cv-03002 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 1, 2018). Plaintiff Dominion alleged infringement by Defendant Masimo of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,379,764 and 5,460,177, which are directed to radiation measurement techniques for blood concentration. Dominion presented expert testimony on a reasonable royalty. Masimo filed a motion to exclude the expert’s testimony as (1) failing to rely on a license agreement that is economically comparable to the patented invention, (2) failing to apportion damages to the allegedly infringing features, and (3) failing to tie the royalty rate to the facts of the case. The Court agreed with Masimo, excluding Dominion’s expert testimony on damages.

His blog colleague, Bryan Hart, wrote about Microsoft’s troll Intellectual Ventures and its latest CAFC ordeal:

In the recent case Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., the Federal Circuit overturned a district court’s claim construction for reading in a limitation and upheld the district court’s invalidation for indefiniteness for including a subjective term.

[...]

To show a disavowal, a defendant is often better served by focusing on the elements of the prior art rather than parsing the language of the patentee’s responses. (It’s not clear whether this strategy was available to T-Mobile here.) Heavy scrutiny of the language of the patentee’s counterarguments can often be outweighed by other intrinsic evidence. The prior art can support a more compelling story: the patentee shrank the scope of its claims because it hadto, in order to escape prior art disclosing the disavowed element.

So the patent office kept ‘producing’ patents for patent trolls — only for these patents to repeatedly get thrown out by courts. If the patent office wants to move in a positive direction, it will restrict the rules and lower the number of grants. Sometimes less is more (like higher quality or more legal certainty).

Here’s a new press release all about John Hallquist, who is (or was) a software developer. They keeping harping about “patents”, but what good are those patents they speak of in this new press release? Probably worthless after Alice, which according to Ryan Davis (Law360) keeps squashing such patents even in district courts. The article “Menu Patent In Case Against Domino’s, Others Axed By Alice” (mostly behind paywall) says that “[t]he week before a series of trials were set to begin, a California federal judge has ruled that an online menu patent asserted against Domino’s Pizza Inc. and dozens of other…”

That’s just more of the same.

Watch the anti-Alice brigade, Mr. Gross in this case, moaning about it: “No surprise, rather than give #patent owner a fair hearing at trial, D Ct judge in CA decides to lighten his caseload with a little “ALICE-AWAY ABSTRACT IDEA INVALIDATION” spray! quick, easy, no muss, no fuss, makes dockets PATENT clean!”

Go ahead and bash the court/s. Carry on. You’ll just alienate judges. For merely applying the law, based on precedence and common sense, they receive abuse and scorn. All this ridicule is counterproductive and makes the atmosphere more toxic. Remember that Mr. Gross contributes to sites of patent trolls. He’s close to patent trolls.

Notorious patent troll PersonalWeb Technologies LLC is apparently trolling news sites nowadays. Having run out of who to sue, now the troll is suing BuzzFeed. David Matthews (Law360) wrote about it as follows:

BuzzFeed Inc. has become the latest high-profile website to face an infringement suit over cloud storage patents from PersonalWeb Technologies LLC, a software developer that has filed dozens of similar suits…

The patents in question are highly notorious and they’re likely to be squashed entirely some time in the future, preventing further extortion.

Going back to patent maximalists, here’s a recent rant about the Federal Circuit. The concept of “trade secrets” causes/introduces a problem akin to secret trials that the public cannot fully see or understand. Here is what Dennis Crouch wrote:

The Federal Circuit has been releasing a substantial number of sealed opinions that stem out of confidential briefs. The Court’s usual operating procedure is to issue the opinion in a sealed form along with an order to show-cause as to what aspects of the opinion (if any) need to remain under seal.

[...]

I’ll note here that the “rights” defined by Section 1835(b) appear purely procedural — the trade secret owner gets a chance to explain its position in an under-seal filing. It does not actually prevent the court from subsequently disclosing the alleged trade secret.

Crouch has long attempted to slow PTAB down by endlessly ranting about decisions without written opinions. Will he betray the trade secret laws in an effort to discredit the court? It would backfire on his reputation if he tried…

Mind the pattern. From complaining about the law or lawmakers they have moved on to smearing courts and sometimes individual judges. Not nice…

The Federal Circuit or CAFC seems to have gotten even tougher on bogus patents (sometimes stricter than the Patent Trial and Appeal Board or PTAB), so the patent zealots will do more judge-bashing, as Watchtroll did 10 days ago when it wrote: “The Federal Circuit recently issued an opinion affirming the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) finding of obviousness of a hot-spot technology patent based on implicit disclosures in a prior art reference.”

Two days later it was looking for PTAB ‘scandals’, chastising judges for daring to change their minds. To quote: “The ’977 patent is directed to a dental implant comprising, inter alia, “a coronal region of the body, the coronal region having a frustoconical shape wherein a diameter of an apical end of the coronal region is larger than a diameter of acoronelend of the coronal region” (frustoconical limitation). The ’977 is governed under pre-AIA laws, and the undisputed critical date for purposed of pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. § 102(b) is May 23, 2003.”

AIA changed the rules and SCOTUS changed all sorts of things, including patent scope. So whatever happened beforehand may no longer be of relevance. That’s not a concept that’s difficult to grasp. Law changes over time. It can evolve or devolve (depending on different people’s perspectives). What worries us about the US is that Trump appointed a patent maximalist as Director. This Director seems not to respect courts and instead puts patent law firms first. He came from a patent law firm that had worked for Trump.

Days ago we saw this press release about two new US patents, one of which on “Methods for Decryption as a Service,” i.e. a bunk software patent (maybe the other patent is also a software patent, but we haven’t checked). What good are these bogus patents from Bluefin? Why did examiners grant such patents?

Here is another press release about bunk, invalid software patents. Nothing to brag about, certainly not in a press release. Why does the USPTO play along with this? Section 101 among other sections would likely come into conflict.

If often seems as though the sole goal is to grant as many patents as possible, making the patent system almost impossible to navigate. Mind this other new press release. “Patent Management Software Market to Witness Comprehensive Growth by 2028,” according to Patent Management Software Market hoping to Witness Comprehensive Growth by 2028. No rebuttal necessary. Just the stupid headline. Pure marketing. They offer to help “manage” a pool of millions of patents, many of which of dubious validity. Over at Watchtroll, days ago Margaux Savee, Suni Sukduang and James Murphy said that the USPTO updated its trial practice guide. Maybe they should update it to warn that many of the patents it grants are of no use in trials.

Speaking of Watchtroll, this one from Thursday was rather funny. “Patented Innovations Create the Future,” says Watchtroll, as if the innovations would not be made without those patents? That’s like saying dead people create innovations because all people die eventually…

The latest nonsense from Watchtroll (yesterday) was titled “Intellectual Property Considerations and Guidance for Start-Ups: Patents” (link).

Well, “Start-Ups” don’t need patents most of the time; they’re most threatened by patents, albeit misled on those by patent law firms (looking to just make more ‘sales’).

The day prior to this Watchtroll wrote about patents on fictional things, taking note of stuff like ‘flying cars’ (there are only prototypes to that effect and they don’t work well). To quote:

With the future of flying vehicles for personal transportation coming into more focus, we wanted to explore filings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to see the current state of flying car technologies, both in the patent grants being issued by the UPSTO as well as in the patent applications being filed at the agency.

Will the patent office try to interject some excitement by granting patents on merely theoretical things? Even things like spacecrafts from science fiction movies?

Taking stock of much of the above, it’s sometimes depressing to see the patent office (especially its management) — unlike courts — falling into the very hands of those whom officials are supposed to govern/control. Iancu was never the right person for the job.

Watchtroll will no doubt strongly reject judges, bashing them routinely (even Crouch has joined this judge-bashing ‘club’). Yesterday it squeezed out an exception to the norm, highlighting a reversal by CAFC (overturning PTAB):

The Federal Circuit recently reversed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) inter partes review decision on nonobviousness, holding that the Board erred when it did not require Synvina, the patent owner, to come forward with evidence of nonobviousness (e.g., teaching away) once DuPont, the petitioner, established the prior art disclosed an overlapping range for a claimed result-effective variable. See E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Synvina C.V., No. 2017-1977, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 26194 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 17, 2018) (Before Lourie, O’Malley, and Chen, J.) (Opinion for the court, Lourie, J.).

We wrote about this before. Several times in fact. Days prior to this Joseph Arshawsky wrote about the Federal Circuit agreeing with PTAB, which is the norm really. PTAB has squashed yet more bogus patents and CAFC affirmed, as usual:

The Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s final decision following inter partes review that claims 1-5 and 19 of the ’977 patent were unpatentable as anticipated (Nobel Biocare Services AG v. Instradent USA, Inc., September 13, 2018, Lourie, A.).

Federal Circuit coverage by Dennis Crouch — if and when it does not involve mocking judges — looks like this:

In this past summer’s Power Integrations v. Fairchild decision (Power Integrations I), the Federal Circuit held that the entire market value rule cannot be used to calculate infringement damages unless the patentee proves that the unpatented features in the accused product did not influence consumer demand. The patentee had not met that burden and so the $140 million verdict was vacated and remanded. Power Integrations, Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor Intl., Inc., 894 F.3d 1258 (Fed. Cir. June 3, 2018) (altered on rehearing)

On petition, the original panel has revised its opinion — but maintained its judgment vacating the damage award.

So nothing really changed. Generally speaking, nothing works in favour of software patents proponents and patent maximalists these days; except perhaps some public speeches by Iancu (albeit he’s not a judge or a lawmaker).

Last but not least, check out this post from Dennis Crouch. Billionaires with patents don’t actually write their own patent applications, they just take credit for work of people whom they manage (e.g. Steve Jobs) or exploit/rob (e.g. Edison). This is what Crouch wrote:

This billionaire gets no respect! Gilbert Hyatt is the named invenetor [sic] on 70+ US patents and has 400+ pending patent applications “all of which were filed prior to June 8, 1995.” That date is critical because those “pre-GATT” applications will remain in force for 17-years from their issue date (if they ever issue). These applications claim priority back to the early 1970s. For the past 10 years, Hyatt has been trying to get his cases heard by the PTAB – but has been repeatedly foiled by PTO delays and unilateral reopening of prosecution. Here, the Federal Circuit sided with the PTO in Hyatt’s generalized challenge to this practice — finding portions of his his petition time-barred and that the substance of his challenge lacked merit.

[...]

The USPTO has been quite frustrated with Mr. Hyatt. It turns out though that the frustration – lets call it that – is mutual. Under Dir. Kappos, the PTO formed a special HYATT Unit that basically did nothing — refusing to examine his applications or hear pending PTAB appeals. In Hyatt v. USPTO, 797 F.3d 1374 (Fed. Cir. 2015), the Federal Circuit sided with the PTO on the special “requirements” the PTO had placed on HYATT applications that forced him to limit each patent family to 600 claims (absent a showing that more claims were necessary) and to identify the earliest priority date for each claim (with evidence). The PTO then re-opened prosecution (rather than hearing the appeals he had filed). And, the E.D.Va. district court sided with the PTO that re-opening prosecution was appropriate. Hyatt v. USPTO, 146 F. Supp. 3d 771 (E.D. Va. 2015).

Imagine what would happen if the USPTO dealt similarly with all applicants, not just very rich people. Sadly, however, the current Director was appointed by two billionaires. One is accused of corruption and sexual crimes; the other one of graft. This basically says all one needs to know about today’s USPTO leadership.

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