Links 9/10/2018: Plasma 5.14, Flatpak 1.2 Plan

Posted in News Roundup at 1:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • How Linux Is Changing The Face Of End-User Computing
  • DT’s Clauberg Sounds Warning on Profusion of Industry Groups

    A senior technology executive at Deutsche Telekom has warned the telecom sector it must avoid duplicating effort through the mishmash of industry associations and groups that have sprung up in recent years.

    Axel Clauberg, a vice president at the German operator, told an audience of telecom executives at this week’s SDN NFV World Congress that some groups would have to form partnerships to ensure they do not gobble up telco resources.

    “We have limited resources we can contribute into these organizations and the worst for me would be an overlap between organizations and duplication of efforts,” he said during a keynote presentation in The Hague. “Sometimes we have to step back and think about where we need to partner.”

    Clauberg’s warning follows a mushrooming of industry associations in the past decade as operators have wrestled with the technical and skillset challenges that surround the rollout of software-defined and virtualized networks.

  • Databricks Launches First Open Source Framework for Machine Learning

    Databricks recently announced a new release of MLflow, an open source, multi-cloud framework for the machine learning lifecycle, now with R integration.

    Databricks recently announced a new release of MLflow, an open source, multi-cloud framework for the machine learning lifecycle, now with R integration.

    RStudio has partnered with Databricks to develop an R API for MLflow v0.7.0 which was showcased at the Spark + AI Summit Europe.

    According to a release issued by the company, before MLflow, the machine learning industry did not have a standard process or end-to-end infrastructure to develop and produce applications simply and consistently.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • TenFourFox FPR10b1 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity 10 beta 1 is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). This version is mostly about expanded functionality, adding several new DOM and JavaScript ES6 features, and security changes to match current versions of Firefox. Not everything I wanted to get done for this release got done, particularly on the JavaScript side (only one of the ES6 well-known symbols updates was finished in time), but with Firefox 63 due on the 22nd we’ll need this period for sufficient beta testing, so here it is.

        The security changes include giving document-level (i.e., docshell) data: URIs unique origins to reduce cross-site scripting attack surface (for more info, see this Mozilla blog post from Fx57). This middle ground should reduce issues with the older codebase and add-on compatibility problems, but it is possible some historical add-ons may be affected by this and some sites may behave differently. However, many sites now assume this protection, so it is important that we do the same. If you believe a site is behaving differently because of this, toggle the setting security.data_uri.unique_opaque_origin to false and restart the browser. If the behaviour changes, then this was the cause and you should report it in the comments. This covers most of the known exploits of the old Firefox behaviour and I’ll be looking at possibly locking this down further in future releases.

      • Mozilla Firefox Collabs With Windows 10 Action Center for Push Notifications

        Similar to other browsers, Firefox supports push notifications but for some reason, it never used the Microsoft Windows 10 Action center for notifications. However, that is about to change with the in-development Mozilla Firefox build 64, as reported by Tech Radar.

        The browser is getting updated soon to support Windows 10 Action Center for notifications. The aim here is to improve the overall user experience and make it seamless to access your notifications from Mozilla Firefox.

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.3 Offering Some Performance Improvements

      Since the release of DragonFlyBSD 5.2 this past April there have been many improvements to this popular BSD operating system, including on the performance front. I recently wrapped up some fresh benchmarks of DragonFlyBSD 5.3-DEVELOPMENT for seeing what the performance is looking like in what will eventually be released as DragonFlyBSD 5.4.

      A lot of recent DragonFlyBSD coverage has been around its support/optimizations for Threadripper 2 with lead DragonFlyBSD developer Matthew Dillon being a big fan of these new high-core count CPUs. In this article though tests are being done from an Intel Xeon “Skylake” CPU for looking at the performance work outside of that scope.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Programming/Development

    • 4 best practices for giving open source code feedback

      In the previous article I gave you tips for how to receive feedback, especially in the context of your first free and open source project contribution. Now it’s time to talk about the other side of that same coin: providing feedback.

      If I tell you that something you did in your contribution is “stupid” or “naive,” how would you feel? You’d probably be angry, hurt, or both, and rightfully so. These are mean-spirited words that when directed at people, can cut like knives. Words matter, and they matter a great deal. Therefore, put as much thought into the words you use when leaving feedback for a contribution as you do into any other form of contribution you give to the project. As you compose your feedback, think to yourself, “How would I feel if someone said this to me? Is there some way someone might take this another way, a less helpful way?” If the answer to that last question has even the chance of being a yes, backtrack and rewrite your feedback. It’s better to spend a little time rewriting now than to spend a lot of time apologizing later.

    • 6 tips for receiving feedback on your open source contributions

      In the free and open source software world, there are few moments as exciting or scary as submitting your first contribution to a project. You’ve put your work out there and now it’s subject to review and feedback by the rest of the community.

      Not to put it too lightly, but feedback is great. Without feedback we keep making the same mistakes. Without feedback we can’t learn and grow and evolve. It’s one of the keys that makes free and open source collaboration work.

    • What was your first open source pull request or contribution?

      Contributing to an open source project can be… Nervewracking! Magical. Boring?

      Regardless of how you felt that first time you contributed, the realization that the project is open and you really can contribute is quite awesome.

    • Stop hiring for culture fit: 4 ways to get the talent you want

      If you’re looking for talented people you can turn into cultural doppelgängers—rather than seeking to align productive differences toward a common goal—you’re doing it wrong.

    • Who was the first computer programmer?

      Ada Lovelace, daughter of the English poet Lord Bryon and Anne Isabella Noel Byron (née Milbanke), was arguably the world’s first computer programmer. Her notes on Babbage’s Analytical Engine, published as additions to her translation of Luigi Menabrea’s Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage contain an algorithm for computing Bernoulli numbers.

      Some biographers downplay, or outright dismiss, Ada Lovelace’s contributions to computing, but James Essinger, author of “Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age” is a firm supporter of Lovelace’s place in the history of computing.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘The CIA introduced LSD into American society. They weaponised it’

      It was eight years ago in a train station car park. Alan Glynn’s name came up on my phone and I answered immediately, hoping to hear gossip from the set of The Dark Fields, the movie adaptation of his 2001 debut novel, which was shooting in Philadelphia and New York at the time.

      “They want to change the title. To Limitless.”


      “I’m not going to let them.”


      “I can’t stop them though, can I?”

      You might have heard of Limitless. It starred Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, it grossed $161 million (€139 million) and it was that rare thing: a cinematic adaptation that did more than justice to its ingenious source material.


      The allure of MDT-40, Glynn’s mind-enhancing wonder drug that will not only unleash your full potential but induce other humans to engage favourably with you, is less equivocal in Under the Night.

      “It’s a broader application of what a drug like that might be able to do, it’s more positive. There’s a sense now that humans can and will be able to transcend what we think of as human limitations, the rate of technological development is so fast and so staggering that we will actually be able to do things that 20 years ago seemed like science fiction.”

    • Why some people are worried about drug patent protections in the new NAFTA

      A win because it would fend off competition from generics for a few extra years. That, of course, means a loss for makers of lower-price meds known as biosimilars. In Canada, they’d have to wait an extra two years to get to market, and that would keep prices high, said Jim Keon of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association. He said some U.S. biologic drugs make a billion dollars every year in Canada alone.

      “If you could introduce a biosimilar effectively into the market, the savings could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, just on that one product alone,” Keon said.

  • Security

    • Google+ social network shut down after data leak exposed

      Alphabet, the parent company of Google, will shut down the Google+ social network after confirming on Monday that data from up to half a million user accounts may have leaked due to a bug in the system.

    • Google+ shutting down after data leak affecting 500,000 users

      Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai knew of the glitch and the decision not to publicly disclose it, the WSJ reported. Based on a two-week test designed to measure the impact of the API bugs before they were fixed, Google analysts believe that data for 496,951 users was improperly exposed. According to the report:

    • RIP, Google+: long ailing and finished off by a security bug

      One bright spot in all this: the defect in Google+ was discovered through “Project Strobe,” a serious privacy and security audit of every Google product.

    • Project Strobe: Protecting your data, improving our third-party APIs, and sunsetting consumer Google+

      Many third-party apps, services and websites build on top of our various services to improve everyone’s phones, working life, and online experience. We strongly support this active ecosystem. But increasingly, its success depends on users knowing that their data is secure, and on developers having clear rules of the road.

    • Google+ Is Shutting Down After Data Breach

      Google has decided to shut down the consumer version of its failed social network Google+. This news comes in the wake of a previously undisclosed security flaw that exposed the data of the profile of users.

      The bug in question remained active between 2015 and 2018, and Google discovered it in March; during this period, the flaw affected more than 500,000 users. However, Google claims to have no evidence that suggests that any external developer or app had access to the data.

    • Google Concealed Data Breach Over Fear Of Repercussions; Shuts Down Google+ Service

      Google opted in the Spring not to disclose that the data of hundreds of thousands of Google+ users had been exposed because the company says they found no evidence of misuse, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Silicon Valley giant feared both regulatory scrutiny and regulatory damage, according to documents reviewed by the Journal and people briefed on the incident.

      In response to being busted, Google parent Alphabet is set to announce broad privacy measures which include permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+, a move which “effectively puts the final nail in the coffin of a product that was launched in 2011 to challenge Facebook, and is widely seen as one of Google’s biggest failures.”

    • Google+ is Dead, Survived By Better Privacy Controls

      Earlier this year, Google started a project to review third-party developer access to Google accounts through the use of APIs. It found a security breach surrounding Google+, and is now shutting the service down, at least for consumers.

      The long and short of the issue is that there was a security hole that allowed third-party developers to access Google+ users’ account data, including name, email address, occupation, gender, and age—even if the account was set as private.. This isn’t particularly sensitive data, but regardless, a breach is a breach.

      The bug was discovered in March of 2018, but was presumed to have been open since sometime in 2015. To make matters slightly more troubling, Google only keeps this particular API’s data log for two weeks…so the company has no way of knowing which users were affected. Presumably, however, some 500,000 users were on the list.

    • How does TLBleed abuse the Hyper-Threading feature in Intel chips?

      A new side-channel attack called TLBleed abuses the Hyper-Threading feature of Intel chips. Researchers say there is a high success rate of TLBleed exploits, but Intel currently has no plans to patch it. How does TLBleed work, and what are the risks of not patching it?

    • Trusting the delivery of Firefox Updates

      Providing a web browser that you can depend on year after year is one of the core tenet of the Firefox security strategy. We put a lot of time and energy into making sure that the software you run has not been tampered with while being delivered to you.

      In an effort to increase trust in Firefox, we regularly partner with external firms to verify the security of our products. Earlier this year, we hired X41 D-SEC Gmbh to audit the mechanism by which Firefox ships updates, known internally as AUS for Application Update Service. Today, we are releasing their report.

      Four researchers spent a total of 27 days running a technical security review of both the backend service that manages updates (Balrog) and the client code that updates your browser. The scope of the audit included a cryptographic review of the update signing protocol, fuzzing of the client code, pentesting of the backend and manual code review of all components.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #180
    • Security updates for Tuesday
  • Defence/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • To fix the climate crisis, we must face up to our imperial past

      There are many ways to see colonialism. A breakneck rush for riches and power. A permanent pillage of life. A project to appropriate nature, to render it profitable and subservient to the needs of industry.

      We can see colonialism as imposition, as the silencing of local knowledges, and erasure of the other. Colonialism as a triple violence: cultural violence through negation; economic violence through exploitation; and political violence through oppression (2).

      Colonialism was not a monolithic process, but one of diverse expressions, stages and strategies. Commercial colonialism, centred around ports, differed from settlement colonialism. But its common factor is that colonialism took states to seek access to new lands, resources and labourers. Impelled by God, fortunes or fame, with almost limitless ambition, countries and companies scrambled to acquire control of land. New territories were seen as business enterprises. Local inhabitants were either obstacles to be removed or workforces to be subjugated.

  • Finance

    • Amazon is reportedly planning checkout-free shops in the UK

      Amazon Go, for those unaware, is a store without checkouts – not even those automatic ones that yell about unidentified items in baggage areas. Instead, you scan in on your smartphone when you enter the store, and then just take items off the shelf and walk out the store. Your phone will register your exit, and your card will be charged later. Here it is being demoed by some impossibly good-looking people buying healthy things, rather than a six-pack of Stella and a scratch card.

    • Facebook’s UK tax bill rises to £15.8m – but it is still just 1% of sales

      The social media giant’s accounts show that while Facebook increased its UK income by more than 50% in 2017, its pre-tax profits increased by only 6% to £62.7m. The Silicon Valley-based company’s UK taxable profits were reduced by a £444m charge for unexplained “administrative expenses”.

      Globally, Facebook made $20bn (£15.3bn) of profit on total sales of $40bn last year, meaning it converted half of its sales into profits. However, in the UK only 5% of sales were converted into UK-taxable profits.

    • Huawei Says U.S. Blacklisting Will Only Raise U.S. Networking Hardware Prices And Delay 5G Deployment

      So we’ve noted for a while now how the U.S. government has deemed Chinese hardware vendor Huawei a nefarious spy for the Chinese government, and largely blackballed it from the U.S. telecom market. From pressuring U.S. carriers to drop plans to sell Huawei phones, to the FCC’s decision to ban companies from using Huawei gear if they want to receive federal subsidies, this effort hasn’t been subtle. But there’s numerous problems with the Trump administration’s efforts here, ranging from protectionism to blistering hypocrisy.

      While it’s certainly possible Huawei helps the Chinese government spy on American consumers en masse, nobody has been able to provide a shred of actual public evidence supporting that allegation. That despite an eighteen month investigation by the White House finding no evidence of actual spying on U.S. consumers. Also ignored: the fact that U.S. hardware vendors like Cisco routinely like to hype this threat to scare gullible lawmakers toward protectionism and providing Cisco an unearned advantage in the network and telecom market.

      Even if you want to ignore those facts and still claim Huawei routinely spies, you’d have to ignore the fact that countless hardware, including gear made by U.S. companies, contains an ocean of Chinese-made parts that could just as easily be used to spy on Americans. The reality is that China doesn’t even need Huawei to spy on Americans. The internet of broken things sector alone provides millions of new potential attack vectors annually that are often exploited by intelligence agencies.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Heidi Heitkamp was ready to vote ‘yes’ on Kavanaugh. Then she watched him with the sound off.

      Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was ready to vote ‘yes’ on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

    • Facebook ads for Kavanaugh confirmation targeting swing states
    • New Partnership Will Help Us Hold Facebook and Campaigns Accountable

      We launched a new collaboration on Monday that will make it even easier to be part of our Facebook Political Ad Collector project.

      In case you don’t know, the Political Ad Collector is a project to gather targeted political advertising on Facebook through a browser extension installed by thousands of users across the country. Those users, whose data is gathered completely anonymously, help us build a database of micro-targeted political ads that help us hold Facebook and campaigns accountable.

      On Monday, Mozilla, maker of the Firefox web browser, is launching the Firefox Election Bundle, a special election-oriented version of the browser. It comes pre-installed with ProPublica’s Facebook Political Ad Collector and with an extension Mozilla created called Facebook Container.

    • Let Us Know About Voting Problems During the Midterm Elections

      The election is only 28 days away. If you’re planning to vote, either on Nov. 6 or during your state’s early voting period, we need you to be our eyes and ears as we look for voting problems across the country.

      We’re on the lookout for any problems that prevent people from voting — such as long lines, registration problems, purged voter rolls, broken machines, voter intimidation and changed voting locations.

    • Obama endorses DSA’s Ocasio-Cortez, along with CIA Democrats

      Last week, Barack Obama endorsed several hundred Democratic Party candidates running in key state and congressional midterm races around the country. “Today, I’m proud to endorse … Democratic candidates who aren’t just running against something, but for something,” declared the former US president.

      Most politically significant among Obama’s endorsements was Democratic Socialists of America member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for Congress in New York. In response to Obama’s endorsement, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a courteous “Thank you, [Barack Obama]. Time to bring it home this November. Help us organize for healthcare, housing, education, and justice for all.”

      This effective reverse endorsement by Ocasio-Cortez for Obama, whom she has never criticized, is also a declaration of solidarity with the Obama administration’s policies. The administration oversaw the bailout of Wall Street and a massive transfer of wealth to the corporate and financial elite; an attack on health care fraudulently packaged as a reform; the deportation of 3 million immigrants, more than any president before him; and eight years of unending war, including drone assassinations and the expansion of the intelligence apparatus’ spying on the population.

    • Election Experts: We Need You

      Electionland is gearing up for the midterms, and we’re looking for experts in election administration and election law to be part of an expert database. We’d love to have you participate. Our goal is to ground real-time coverage of elections in fact and context — you could be a huge part of helping us achieve it.

      Electionland 2016 was the largest-ever collaborative journalism project around a single event, with more than 1,000 journalists and technologists participating. We covered the voting experience on Election Day — from long lines to equipment failures to voter intimidation. We sifted through thousands of call-center records, social media posts and text messages, referring real problems to local journalists who covered the issues in real time. You can read an entire case study about it here.

    • The Hidden Money Funding the Midterms

      Allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used a blind spot in campaign finance laws to undercut a candidate from their own party this year — and their fingerprints remained hidden until the primary was already over.

      Super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited sums of money in elections, are supposed to regularly disclose their funders. But in the case of Mountain Families PAC, Republicans managed to spend $1.3 million against Don Blankenship, a mustachioed former coal baron who was a wild-card candidate for a must-win West Virginia Senate seat, in May without revealing who was supplying the cash.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance fits a brutal new pattern

      Their alarm shows just how widely the crackdown is being felt. Whatever the ultimate fate of Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia’s new zero-tolerance approach to dissent is being broadcast loud and clear.

    • Silicon Valley-Loving Saudi Prince at Center of Scandal Over Missing, Possibly Murdered Journalist

      On October 2nd, 2018, Saudi journalist-in-exile and frequent critic of the country’s ruling monarchy Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain routine documentation for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz. He was never seen leaving—and, according to the New York Times, Turkish officials are anonymously confirming that investigators believe he was killed inside. Other sources said he may have been later dismembered to smuggle his body out of the building.

      Much remains unknown about what happened inside the embassy. The Times noted that Turkish officials have been reluctant to publicly accuse the Saudi government of killing Khashoggi, and the Saudi government has been adamant no such thing happened. It’s possible that instead of being brazenly murdered, Khashoggi was the subject of a brazen kidnapping. The Washington Post’s sources, however, said one source relayed that investigators believe a 15-man Saudi assassination team arrived in Turkey as part of a “preplanned murder.” And the incident has put Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the day-to-day ruler of the kingdom who has promoted himself as a reformer and robot-loving tech innovator while simultaneously cracking down on dissent, right in the spotlight.

    • Media owner Jeff Bezos snapped laughing with Saudi prince accused of having a journalist murdered

      Bezos is pictured with the same Saudi prince whose regime journalists and the Turkish government believe has murdered a Washington Post contributor.

      Jamal Khashoggi entered a Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain official recognition that he’s divorced his ex-wife. Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée waited outside for 11 hours, but the dissident journalist reportedly never returned.

      Turkish officials insist that’s because a 15-man Saudi hit squad murdered him. They say they have “concrete proof”, although they haven’t yet provided any. Saudi Arabia said the allegations were “baseless”. Meanwhile, journalists familiar with Khashoggi are treating a Saudi-planned murder as the most likely story. Middle East Eye editor and former Guardian chief foreign writer David Hearst called it “a murder that comes straight out of a scene of Pulp Fiction“.

    • These columns allegedly spurred Saudi Arabia to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi

      Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia for self-imposed exile in the US after he was allegedly warned to stop tweeting, and his al-Hayat newspaper column was canceled. The 59-year-old started writing for the Washington Post’s opinion section in 2017, and has more than 1.6 million Twitter followers.

    • Polytechnic University students end hunger strike after school backs down over censorship row

      Three students at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have ended a 44-hour-long hunger strike after the school agreed to their demands on Sunday.

      The students were protesting the university’s decision to take back parts of the “Democracy Wall,” a campus bulletin board. The decision was made after the student union refused to remove messages supporting Hong Kong independence, which started appearing on the wall in late September.


      Since September 24, the student union converted parts of the Democracy Wall to a “Lennon wall” in commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the Umbrella Movement, during which a similar wall was set up in Admiralty.

    • ‘Goblin Slayer’ Reveals Major Censorship Changes

      The Fall 2018 anime season is packed to the brim with major returns and premieres, but the standout among these new releases is the mysterious Goblin Slayer. Setting itself up to be the darkest series of the season, the premiere unleashes a gross level of brutality.

      But there were a few changes from the brutal events of the manga, which were major, but the anime was more effective with its scenes thanks to the censorship of a certain traumatic event.

    • Myanmar: Censorship board bans nude scenes in film about Austrian painter Egon Schiele

      The European Film Festival in Yangon cancelled screenings of an Austrian movie about painter Egon Schiele after the Myanmar censorship board banned scenes in the film containing nudity on 21 September, reported Frontier.

      The Goethe-Institut in Yangon was due to show the film Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden as part of the 27th annual European Film Festival on 22 and 30 September. But when the censorship board said it wanted to censor the film’s nude scenes, the screenings were cancelled.

      “We want to keep our independence and we do not accept censorship in our institution, therefore we decided not to screen the movie at all,” Franz Xaver Augustin, director of the German cultural association Goethe-Institut Myanmar, told Frontier.

    • We’ve got a front-row seat for Europe’s internet censorship plan

      The EU’s wide-ranging plan for indiscriminate internet censorship has progressed from a vote in the European Parliament and now reps from the EU will meet with reps from the 28 countries that make up the EU to hammer out the final text that will be put to the Parliament for what might be the final vote before it becomes law.

      Normally this next phase — the “trilogues” — would be completely secret. But a European Court of Justice recently ruled that the public has a right to know what happens behind the trilogues’ closed doors, and Julia Reda, the German Pirate Party MEP who led the fight over censorship in the new Copyright Directive, has promised to publish all the documents from the trilogues. It’s a European first.

    • Thomas Goolnik Gets Google To Forget Our Story About Him Getting Google To Forget Stories About Thomas Goolnik

      You’ll recall, of course, that prior to the GDPR, there was a big case against Google in the EU that created, out of thin air, a “right to be forgotten” (perhaps, more accurately, “a right to be delinked”) saying that for certain classes of information that showed up in Google’s search index, it should be treated as personal data that had to be delinked from that user’s name as no longer relevant. This never made any sense at all. A search result is not like out-of-date customer database info, yet that’s how the Court of Justice in the EU treated it. Unfortunately, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect earlier this year, the “right to be forgotten” was even more officially coded into law. We’ve noted recently, there have been a few attempts to use the GDPR to delete public information on American sites, and now we at Techdirt have been hit with what appears to be just such an attempt.

      This particular attempt goes back to some previous attempts under the pre-GDPR “right to be forgotten” setup. We need to dig into the history a bit to understand the details. You see, soon after the floodgates opened on delinking names from Google, we wrote about an article in the NY Times discussing how five of its articles had been delinked via RTBF claims. It was not 100% clear who had made the requests, but we did highlight some of the names and stories, including one where we called the removal “questionable.” It involved a NY Times article from 2002 about a legal action by the FTC which went after a group of companies allegedly run by a guy named Thomas Goolnik. The companies — TLD Network, Quantum Management and TBS Industries — were accused of “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” by selling domains that did not exist at the time (specifically, they were trying to sell domains using top level domains that did not exist, including .sex, .bet, .brit, and .scot.)

    • Federal Court Dumps Another Lawsuit Against Twitter For Contributing To Worldwide Terrorism

      The lawsuits against social media companies brought by victims of terrorist attacks continue to pile up. So far, though, no one has racked up a win. Certain law firms (1-800-LAW-FIRM and Excolo Law) appear to be making a decent living filing lawsuits they’ll never have a chance of winning, but it’s not doing much for victims and their families.

      The lawsuits attempt to route around Section 230 immunity by positing the existence of terrorists on social media platform is exactly the same thing as providing material support for terrorism. But this argument doesn’t provide better legal footing. No matter what approach is taken, it’s still plaintiffs seeking to hold social media companies directly responsible for violent acts committed by others.

      Eric Goldman has written about another losing effort involving one of the major players in the Twitter terrorism lawsuit field, Excolo Law. Once again, the plaintiffs don’t present any winning arguments. The California federal court doesn’t even have to address Section 230 immunity to toss the case. The Anti-Terrorism Act allegations are bad enough to warrant dismissal.

    • Prize a defeat for Australian censorship – Manus refugee

      Mr Boochani regularly contributes to the Guardian and the Saturday Paper in Australia but said other publications supported the Australian government’s efforts to restrict information about its offshore detention regime.

      “The Australian government couldn’t keep two thousand people, including children and women, in a harsh prison camps on Manus and Nauru without systematic censorship,” Mr Boochani said.

      “I have many experiences working with the media in Australia and also internationally over the past five years and I know that the government always tries to manage the information and censor the situation,” he said.

      “But after five years I think they are defeated because international media and public opinion are aware completely of what the government has done on Manus and Nauru.”

      The Guardian reported that the award’s organisers paid tribute to Boochani’s “commitment to condemning a fact which has been intentionally kept out of the spotlight”.

    • China flexes its political muscles in Africa with media censorship, academic controls

      When he announced another US$60-billion in financing for Africa last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised that the money had “no political strings attached.”

      But a series of recent incidents, including cases of media censorship and heavy-handed academic controls, have cast doubt on that promise. China’s financial muscle is rapidly translating into political muscle across the continent.

      At a major South African newspaper chain where Chinese investors now hold an equity stake, a columnist lost his job after he questioned China’s treatment of its Muslim minorit

      When he announced another US$60-billion in financing for Africa last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised that the money had “no political strings attached.”

      But a series of recent incidents, including cases of media censorship and heavy-handed academic controls, have cast doubt on that promise. China’s financial muscle is rapidly translating into political muscle across the continent.

      At a major South African newspaper chain where Chinese investors now hold an equity stake, a columnist lost his job after he questioned China’s treatment of its Muslim minorit

    • Metea Valley High student journalists move on from censorship debate

      Two student journalists at Metea Valley High School in Aurora say their work was censored when administrators prevented them from airing a broadcast story about a new restaurant because of footage showing alcohol.

      But student reporters for “The Mane,” a show that airs every two weeks, say they’ve made their case and it’s time to move on.

      Instead of continuing to push to air their review of VAI’s Italian Inspired Kitchen + Bar or taking legal action, reporters Triya Mahapatra and Laurel Westphal say they’re on deadline and focused on their next stories.

    • How the Ugandan media has borne the brunt of censorship for decades

      But for many in the media this was nothing new, as intimidation and violence is an almost daily threat. Uganda is now ranked 117th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index, five places lower than in 2017.

      Uganda has a long history of media censorship. The country’s first post independence head of government, Milton Obote who became prime minister in 1962, banned the intellectual Rajat Neogy’s Transition magazine. Idi Amin overthrew Obote in 1971 – during his regime, key journalists disappeared without trace.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • US Whistleblowers Launch Intelligence Startup in Europe

      William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe had been working on a technology that could help to prevent terrorist threats. With over 30 years of experience in the National Security Agency (NSA), the pair worked relentlessly on systems and protocol that would aid security enhancement to millions of people across the country and further across the world.

    • From NSA Whistleblowers to Analytics Entrepreneurs

      A pair of NSA analysts who blew the whistle on the spy agency’s misuse of their security and privacy controls have come out of retirement to form a startup providing data analytics services based on a proprietary “decision intelligence” framework.

      Whistleblowers Bill Binney and Kirk Wiebe announced they are launching Pretty Good Knowledge to provide “strategic advisory and project services” to commercial and government clients. Those services include real-time decision intelligence that scales.

      The partners said they have completed prototype projects over the last year involving European government agencies and financial services companies.

      Since leaving NSA, Binney and Wiebe have been working with data scientists “on how to conduct data analysis in ways which are more powerful in producing relevant results, while respecting the law and the human right to privacy,” according to the startup, which emerged on Monday (Oct. 8).

    • NSA whistleblowers come out of retirement to launch data intelligence startup

      If you’re looking for an ordinary story of Silicon Valley startup founders, then keep looking, because Bill Binney and Kirk Wiebe aren’t your run-of-the-mill tech presidents. The two men spent decades at the National Security Agency before making their legacies known as whistleblowers when they alerted politicians, and ultimately the public, to an abusive spy program called Trailblazer.

      Though Binney and Wiebe had developed their own safer prototype that they say could have identified and prevented the 9/11 attacks, the NSA chose to ignore the model in favor of the more expensive and less efficient Trailblazer.


      As data companies become bigger and more influential – the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates international revenues for big data businesses will grow to more than $203 billion by 2020 – Pretty Good Knowledge wants to position itself as a helping hand that can reveal important insights into a given operation.

      “Most organizations are wasting money trying to manage more data than they can handle. Others are missing out on business value by not utilizing the data they already have,” said Wiebe, the Director of Analytics at Pretty Good Knowledge. “At Pretty Good Knowledge we work closely with you to make the impact of data on your business measurable, meaningful and scalable.”

    • The Total Censorship Era: Chinese Journalists Reflect on Their Experiences

      On September 9, Hong Kong-based Initium Media published a lengthy article by freelancer Jiang Yannan which included several oral accounts from journalists and media employees working in various publications and websites in China. In their interviews, they discuss the current state of journalism in China and how the increasing restrictions on the media under Xi Jinping are impacting their day-to-day work. These accounts provide valuable firsthand details about dealing with propaganda directives, sensitive words on internet platforms, and other forms of censorship that they face as a matter of routine. One interviewee asks, “Right now, the scariest thing is that we don’t know where the ‘bottom line’ is. In the end, how low will it go?”

    • China’s New Cybersecurity Regulations Allow Unfettered Police Search, Inspections of Internet-Service Providers

      Beijing is expanding its draconian measures to police the internet to include service providers and any company that uses the internet in China, according to a recent announcement by Chinese state media.

      The latest “internet safety supervision and inspection regulations” announced by China’s Ministry of Public Security were reported by China’s state-run Xinhua on Oct. 4.

      Chinese internet-service providers include China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile.

    • DHS and GCHQ join the China spy BS brigade

      Last week Bloomberg unveiled a weighty report which pointed the finger at the Chinese government for an in-depth and delicate espionage campaign which would have shaken the telco industry’s global supply chain. By allegedly compromising motherboards produced by Super Micro, the security protocols and trade secrets of more than 900 companies have been directly compromised. Who knows how wide the web could spread when you look at the indirect implications, partners who use the infected networks or collateral damage.

      While the claims have been refuted by all the parties involved, including Apple and AWS, and despite confidence from the DHS and the National Cyber Security Centre, a division of GCHQ, without a denial from the body likely to be conducting the supposed investigation, the CIA, or a flat-out rejection from the White House, there is still an air of possibility.

    • Facebook’s security is so bad it’s surprising Zuckerberg hasn’t deleted his account

      This latest blunder also builds on our picture of Facebook as unreliable and undependable, but this time it’s because they can’t protect us, not because they won’t. The Cambridge Analytica story was shocking but unsurprising: it revealed that Facebook didn’t care about our data, except insofar as it could sell it off, packaging it up for the consumption and use of the highest bidder. While it was scandalous that data-hungry, advertiser-friendly Facebook had even allowed such a feature as the one that allowed people to click away their friends’ data, it was in line with their data-hungry, advertiser-friendly MO. The truth about the social network, only vaguely obscured, became clear –Facebook was happy for advertisers to leach our data, to look the other way, as long as it kept advertisers’ happy – but we kept on using it, taking more personal care. Being on Facebook, for those of us who remained, hasn’t felt the same since.

    • How to get all your stuff out of Facebook before deleting it

      Ronald Langeveld has had enough, but realized you have to do more than simply quit: you gotta get years of your stuff out, too. He posted instructions on exfiltrating all your photos, comments and posts before ridding yourself of Facebook.

    • The USMCA, international trade and your digital rights

      While the USMCA will primarily impact North American residents, there are a number of changes that could have greater implications for the broader digital community. The deal also highlights key negotiating priorities for member countries, which may be reflected in future global trade agreements.

    • Walmart Patent Wants To Monitor Your Health & Stress Levels While You Shop

      The patent states that “the shopping cart, upon being moved, ‘wakes up’ from being in a low-power or ‘sleep’ state mode.”

      Then, readings on temperature, pulse, speed, and the force at which someone grips the handle or pushes the cart would be used to create a baseline of the customer’s condition.

    • Internet Australia asks Dutton to consult widely on encryption bill

      Internet Australia, a not-for-profit that claims to represent Internet users in the country, has urged Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to interv ene in what it characterises as “the inadequate consultation process” over the encryption bill that was presented to Parliament last month.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Tech workers are downing tools and refusing to work on unethical projects

      It’s part of a wider movement to formulate an ethical basis for technical work (here’s a list of more than 200 university tech ethics syllabi) and a sense among established and new engineers that their work has an all-important ethical dimension.

    • Tech Workers Now Want to Know: What Are We Building This For?

      Across the technology industry, rank-and-file employees are demanding greater insight into how their companies are deploying the technology that they built. At Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce, as well as at tech start-ups, engineers and technologists are increasingly asking whether the products they are working on are being used for surveillance in places like China or for military projects in the United States or elsewhere.

      That’s a change from the past, when Silicon Valley workers typically developed products with little questioning about the social costs. It is also a sign of how some tech companies, which grew by serving consumers and businesses, are expanding more into government work. And the shift coincides with concerns in Silicon Valley about the Trump administration’s policies and the larger role of technology in government.

    • China’s “Missing” Actress Fan Bingbing Back in Beijing After Secret Detention

      On Wednesday, China’s tax authorities slapped Fan with a fine equivalent to about $130 million (nearly 892 million yuan) for tax evasion and other offenses. She then issued her first public statement in months — a groveling apology to the Communist Party of China and the public at large, admitting to all wrongdoing and begging for forgiveness.

      A central issue that remained unclear, however, was where Fan had been during the intervening months, and whether she had regained her freedom. The star, usually a ubiquitous presence at glamorous events of East and West, still hasn’t been seen in public since July 1.

    • Shuffled Between Jails By Bureau Of Prisons, Reality Winner Hasn’t Been Outside For Weeks

      More than a month ago, former NSA contractor Reality Winner was sentenced to federal prison. Yet, instead of directly transferring Winner to the facility where she will serve her sentence, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has shuffled her around from county jail to county jail for the past weeks.

      Winner was charged with violating the Espionage Act after she mailed a copy of a classified report from the NSA on alleged Russian hacking of voter registration systems to the Intercept. She accepted a plea deal on June 26 and was sentenced to five years and three months in prison on August 23, which was the longest sentence ever for a person accused of an unauthorized disclosure.

      As of October 8, Winner is at Grady County Jail in Chickasha, Oklahoma, which is a facility the Bureau of Prisons uses for overflow when there are not enough beds. She has heard she could be at the facility for up to 30 days but hopes she will be on a bus to Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, on October 9, where she will serve the bulk of her sentence.

      Winner said she tries “not to dwell on the negative,” but also declared, “We keep saying it can’t get any worse, and it seems like they’ve taken that as a challenge,” when referring to Grady County Jail.

      “It’s one filthy warehouse, eighty-plus women. One shower. Couple toilets. There’s no services. No programs. No recreation. We’re just in here 24/7,” Winner shared.

    • Texas Panel Faults Lab Chemist in Bryan Case for “Overstated Findings” and Inadequate DNA Analysis

      An influential state commission issued a highly critical assessment on Friday of a second key player in the murder conviction of Joe Bryan, saying a Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab chemist had “overstated findings, exceeded her expertise and engaged in speculation” when she testified in 1989.

      In a report issued at its quarterly meeting, the Texas Forensic Science Commission also found that the now-retired chemist, Patricia Retzlaff, failed to do thorough analysis of key DNA evidence in 2012, after a judge allowed such testing.

    • US Told Vilnius Unable To Submit Information On CIA Secret Prison – Prosecutor’s Office

      Washington did not give Lithuania the information on alleged illegal transfer of people across the border to be kept in secret jails run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Lithuanian Prosecutor’s Office said on Monday.

      The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in May that Lithuania and Romania were knowingly hosting CIA secret prisons in 2000s.

      “In response [to the prosecutors' request], it was said that the United States is not able to supply the required information or responses to the questions of Lithuanian prosecutors,” the statement of the Prosecutor’s Office read.

      According to the prosecutors, the preliminary trial is ongoing.

      “The prosecutor’s office is stressing that all circumstances can be determined and assessed only after all the necessary information has been collected,” the statement read.

      The Lithuanian Prosecutor’s Office noted that the requests were sent to the United States, Poland and Romania as well as other states in 2015.

    • Zambia’s journey to Chinese slavery and colonization

      So much has been said past weeks about a possible takeover of our great country, Zambia by the Chinese, an impossible thing to imagine, there has been the issue of Chinese policemen, then Chinese nationals seen driving state owned Zesco vehicles, could this be a sign that we are already bought as a people, and that we are headed for slavery and potential re-colonization? Well let’s break this down, and to do this we will have to take a peek into both African Slave trade and colonization.

      I will first deal with the results of both slavery and colonization before talking about how we got to that point.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The IP cases the US Supreme Court will rule on this term

      The Supreme Court has already taken on one patent case and two copyright cases. We preview those and ask what other intellectual property cases have a chance of being granted cert

    • A 2012 Connecticut Informal Ethics Opinion that is a Doozy!

      But, when it’s not clear: I’ve written about this issue a few times, and there are six or so cases where lawyers have been sued, disqualified, or a privilege has been lost. (Search for DePuy on patentlyo and you’ll find the last of these).

      So, that brings me to Connecticut Informal Ethics Opinion 2012-02, here. It says that even if the agreement says “Company A’s lawyers don’t represent Company B, or its employees” in-house lawyer for Company A has an attorney client relationship with Company B and its employee-inventors. Company A’s lawyer can never be adverse to Company B in the same/related matter.

    • The Role of Objective Indicia in Non-Obviousness Doctrine

      In 2014, Nash Manufacturing, Inc. (“Nash”) brought its wakeboarding invention, the “Versa Board,” to market. The Versa Board had several holes on the top surface of the board that allowed users to attach handles or foot bindings in various configurations, but Nash warned its users against having the handles attached to the board while standing. If a user theoretically ignored Nash’s warnings, the user could attach the handles and foot bindings in a configuration that paralleled the method of riding that ZUP described in the ZUP Board patent.

      ZUP filed an infringement claim against Nash. Nash counterclaimed, seeking a declaration of non-infringement and invalidity on obviousness grounds. ZUP presented evidence of secondary considerations to the district court. However the district court found the claims obvious in light of a combination of six prior patents involving water recreational boards. Images of some of the prior art patents are shown below.

    • Trademarks

      • Fiji Government to contest ‘Bula’ trademark by US bar, says it is a ‘blatant case of heritage-hijacking’

        Tensions have grown in recent weeks after Florida-based Ross Kashtan trademarked the common Fijian greeting for his bar Bula on the Beach, sparking heated online debate and a petition by those seeking to protect the word.

        Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji’s Government was “shocked and outraged” and described the bula trademark as a “blatant case of heritage-hijacking”.

        “We would never give permission for anyone — particularly someone outside of Fiji looking to profit — to effectively claim ownership of bula, a word so deeply-rooted in our national identity that it has become synonymous with Fiji itself,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.


        “It will be really good as well for the trademark office in America and also trademark offices around the world — with the support of WIPO in Geneva — that there should be some sort of guidelines that have to be developed so that questions needed to be asked to business people who want to trademark words, or music, or designs, or whatever they want to trademark, that it’s not theirs.”

        The Fiji Government’s move comes after a Fiji opposition MP, Niko Nawaikula, said he would consider taking the fight to the United Nations’ mechanisms of redress for indigenous peoples.

        The word bula, or combinations of words including bula, have been trademarked at least 43 times in the United States, as well as in other countries, including Australia.

        The ABC sought comment from the Bula bar but were asked to make all requests via their website.

    • Copyrights

      • WIPO Broadcasting Treaty Unfit For Needs, Might Jeopardize Access To Culture, Scholar Says

        World Intellectual Property Organization delegates have been negotiating a treaty aimed at protecting broadcasting organisations against signal piracy without success for the last two decades but has started to show signs of movement at the UN agency. A seminar held by a civil society group last week explored the potential implications of such a treaty on access to culture. At the event, a well-known copyright specialist argued that the current draft treaty being discussed, intended to update a 1961 treaty, does not take into consideration changes that took place since then, and in particular the transformation of broadcasting in the digital age.


        In the Rome Convention, this is exactly why neighbouring rights for phonogram producers and broadcasting organisations were justified, he said. Both industries, at the time, required huge up-front investments and both were vulnerable to piracy. From the emergence of broadcasting in the 1930s, the industry required massive investments for a number of things such as the production, recording, broadcasting studios, and transmission infrastructures. “It was a very expensive operation,” he said.

        However, with the proliferation of low-cost and high-quality digital recording technologies, the technical costs of radio and television production costs “dramatically” fell, and with the broadband internet, the costs of distributing audiovisual content are approaching zero, he said.

        In 2018, “all you need to be in broadcasting is a smartphone, a microphone, a headset, and a broadband internet connection with access to a radio or a television streaming channel,” according to Hugenholtz. He went on citing the numerous video channels on the internet, such as YouTube, and the social medial and “countless” radio stations and podcasts available online.

        Many of those low-budget or no-budget broadcasts reach a sizeable audience and make substantial amounts of money without the incentive of broadcasters rights, he said.

      • New Copyright Exceptions Treaty Proposed By Civil Society; Seeking Country Support

        Negotiations on possible exceptions to copyright for specific actors such as libraries, archives, universities and research institutions at the World Intellectual Property Organization have been stalling for years. Last week, a group of civil society organisations published a proposed draft treaty text for copyright exceptions for educational and research activities. Now they are seeking support from WIPO members to shoulder the text.

        Limitations and exceptions to copyright will be discussed again at the 37th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, which will take place from 26-30 November.

Greg Reilly Inadvertently Makes a Case for Replacing/Improving the Patent System With a Wiki, Editable by All as Society Moves Forward

Posted in America, Patents at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Greg Reilly, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
Reference: Greg Reilly

Summary: Editable patents make a lot more sense in the age of the Internet and the World Wide Web; companies that rode the wave of the Net are themselves changing their patents on the go, sometimes because they simply attempt to dodge an evolving patenting criterion which nowadays looks down on software patents

IT SHOULD not be so surprising that some EPO and USPTO insiders, examiners included, know the limits of their occupation and the downsides of what they do, e.g. passing ‘weapons’ to patent trolls that create nothing but extract millions if not billions of dollars from those who do. Some even told us that, in their view, something like a Wiki in this Internet era (literature in the old sense of the word is dying) would be more suitable for supporting progress or “innovation” (that latter term is favoured among patent merchants).

Posted on Sunday (7th of October, 2018) was this new paper from Greg Reilly (IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law). Trying to make patents non-static, realising that many US patent claims are bunk and the patents themselves fake (as affirmed later by courts), is nothing new. It’s already done to a certain extent in several patent offices, with edits made before and after granting, sometimes after Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs).

The abstract says: “Patent claims traditionally have been freely amendable to overcome a finding of unpatentability. For that reason, the Patent Office’s restrictive approach to amendments in new post-issuance review proceedings created by the America Invents Act provoked strident criticism; generated administrative, statutory, and constitutional challenges; and fractured the Federal Circuit. This Article supplies the comprehensive evaluation of the costs and benefits of patent claim amendments, both in examination and post-issuance, surprisingly missing in the literature.

“The results are mixed. Amendments in initial examination are less clearly warranted than commonly thought, with the costs – primarily problematic drafting incentives – often overlooked and the benefits often overstated given other tools to protect patentees’ legitimate claim scope. Conversely, post-issuance amendments are more justified than often thought, with competitors’ reliance interests overstated, patentees’ reliance interests understated, and strategic behavior possible on both sides. Resolving the ambiguity in the optimality of claim amendments depends on a normative view of where to place the risk of error – hindering protection and incentives for inventors when warranted amendments are denied or hindering competition and follow-on innovation when unwarranted amendments are allowed.

“This provides important policy insights. First, because claim amendments invoke the patent system’s basic trade-off between innovation and competition, they offer a promising, but underutilized, tool for Congress to adjust this balance. Second, given the ambiguity in the justifications for claim amendments, the long-standing liberality towards amendments, and the Patent Office’s historically-limited role, the Patent Office probably should not adopt an overly restrictive approach to post-issuance amendments without clearer direction from Congress, despite having the power to do so. Third, the best policy for post-issuance amendments may be a discretionary, case-by-case approach rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach that is likely to generate significant errors.”

Not too long ago a reader told us that Amazon had modified its more controversial patents. Instead of these patents being thrown out Amazon was given a chance to ‘correct’ these on the go, defeating the whole purpose and essence of the patent system. Should we start editing millions of patents, adding version numbers to each? Or editions (like in books)? It’s absurd. Maybe one should accept that the way things are currently being done is rather antiquated; it’s suitable for the age of libraries, a residue of an era when literal transportation of books was the means of “technology transfers”.

Speaking of Amazon, recall its record on patents; the company is about surveillance and delivery rather than manufacturing (it doesn’t really produce anything itself). Amazon captures data, worldwide, for the security state to process (AWS). Alexa/Echo etc. (with the Amazon logo added to them) are listening devices connected to Amazon’s back end (like AWS) for processing. All the manufacturing is left for China to do (merchandising is Amazon’s core business) while Amazon staff is treated as worse than slaves. We previously gave examples of Amazon’s patents on oppressing its workers (putting them in cages, shackling them with surveillance wristbands etc.) and the latest creepy Amazon patent is this from the news:

If Amazon follows through on a pair of patent applications, future fulfillment centers could be transported on their rounds by trains, ships or trucks and deliver their goods with autonomous drones flying out from the tops of shipping containers.

The on-demand system for package delivery is covered in two applications that were filed a year and a half ago but published just today. The inventors are principal software engineer Brian Beckman and intermodal program manager Nicholas Bjone.

Other patents on Orwellian fiction [1, 2] now include “autonomous police car patent,” to quote the former, with the latter being titled “Walmart Patent Wants To Monitor Your Health & Stress Levels While You Shop” (associating patents more and more with oppression).

Things need to change in order to improve the public image of patent offices and patents in general.

The USPTO’s Principal Issue is Abstract Patents (or Patent Scope), Not Prior Art Searches

Posted in America, Courtroom, Google, Patents at 6:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Obviousness (§ 103), prior art (§ 102) and scope (§ 101) not the same issue

Some coloured papers

Summary: In spite of the fact that US courts prolifically reject patents for being abstract (citing 35 U.S.C. § 101) Cisco, Google, MIT, and the USPTO go chasing better search facilities, addressing the lesser if not the wrong problem

THE conundrum associated with prior art is an old one. How can one search and identify similar past work? By what terms? By which means? Literature? Internet? What if the terms used aren’t the same? This is why examiners tend to be domain experts. Many are doctors and professors. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can attract quite a few of them, including the wife of the previous patent ‘chief’ at Patent Progress.

“Google is a private firm and it is itself a prolific patent applicant. That’s a potential conflict.”The principal issue at the USPTO isn’t prior art, however, but patent scope, judging by the number of US patents being ejected by the courts based on that criterion, e.g. 35 U.S.C. § 101. It’s a bit disappointing to see Google getting involved at patent offices in various capacities like searches, translations etc. Google is a private firm and it is itself a prolific patent applicant. That’s a potential conflict.

This morning we spotted Susan Miller’s article from yesterday (titled “Patent Office gets search help from tech industry heavyweights“). CCIA represents “tech” but a lot of “big tech” so the interests of small firms isn’t always in the mix. This is why the CCIA’s (or Patent Progress‘) Josh Landau was reasonably OK with this wrong 'solution' in yesterday’s post (titled “Cisco, Google, MIT, and USPTO Team Up To Create Prior Art Archive“) which said:

One of the biggest problems in patent examination is actually finding prior art. When it comes to patents and patent applications, that’s relatively easy—examiners have access to databases of all patents and applications, and they’re well-trained in searching those databases. But when it comes to non-patent prior art—product manuals, journal articles, standards proposals, and other such technical documents—that prior art is harder to find. Examiners are correspondingly less likely to cite to non-patent prior art.

Cisco and MIT, with some help from Google and the USPTO, are trying to help solve that problem. Their solution? The Prior Art Archive, a publicly accessible archive created with contributions from technical experts and industry stakeholders, designed to preserve and make searchable exactly the kind of non-patent prior art that’s currently hard to locate.

This is, as we’ve already explained over the weekend, the wrong ‘solution’ tacking the wrong ‘problem’. What we really need to explore is how to compel the USPTO to stop granting software patents that courts and sometimes inter partes reviews (IPRs) would invalidate anyway. How can examiners be made to realise that abstract patents are a thing of the past? The choice of the new Director isn’t helpful. He gives the examiners guidelines that limit their ability to reject abstract patents.

“The choice of the new Director isn’t helpful. He gives the examiners guidelines that limit their ability to reject abstract patents.”“Abstractness is not the malleable concept the Supreme Court thinks,” Peter Kramer wrote yesterday in Watchtroll. Still that sort of court- or SCOTUS-bashing in Watchtroll? These patent maximalists would also literally patent mathematical equations and paintings if they could…

There’s no point bashing judges and Justices; it would only further alienate them. SCOTUS is fine with a decision against patent maximalism, based on yesterday’s post from Patent Docs. It refuses to assess and decide on Regeneron Pharmaceuticals v Merus:

Last week, the Supreme Court denied certiorari to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in its appeal of the Federal Circuit’s decision in Regeneron Pharmaceuticals v. Merus that affirmed the District Court’s decision that the claims of Regeneron’s patent-in-suit were unenforceable due to inequitable conduct in the patent’s procurement. In so doing the Court passed up the opportunity to consider whether the split panel’s decision was consistent with the Federal Circuit’s own inequitable conduct jurisprudence, most recently handed down en banc in Therasense, Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson and Co., 649 F.3d 1276 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (en banc). The Court also deigned not to consider for the first time in over 70 years a doctrine stemming directly from a trio of its own decisions (specifically, Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. v. Hartford-Empire Co., 322 U.S. 238, 250-51 (1944); Precision Instrument Mfg. Co. v. Auto. Maint. Mach. Co., 324 U.S. 806, 814 (1945); and Keystone Driller Co. v. General Excavator Co., 290 U.S. 240 (1933)). Under the circumstances it is prudent for patent practitioners (prosecutors as well as litigators) to consider the lessons of the Federal Circuit’s Regeneron decision.

We have meanwhile learned that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) filed by Comcast have helped Comcast “Get Two More TiVo Patents Invalidated,” to quote this headline from a new article that says:

The U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board has once again sided with Comcast in its intellectual property battle with TiVo, invalidating two more of the latter’s patents.

The patents include No. 9,172,987, “Methods and Systems for Updating Functionality of a Set-top Box Using Markup Language”; and No. 8,713,595, “Interactive Program Guide Systems and Processes.” (No. 9,172,987 was ruled invalid on Sept. 7, while No. 8,713,595 was invalidated in an earlier Aug. 27 ruling.)

35 U.S.C. § 101 makes patents like these “fake” (enshrined as patents but not deserving this status). Fake patents or abstract patents surface in press releases all the time (examples from yesterday [1, 2] courtesy of OneTrust) and crushing them one by one would be expensive, not just time-consuming. It would be better if such patents never got granted in the first place.

“It would be better if such patents never got granted in the first place.”In the following new example, the Federal Circuit “found that the claims are directed to the abstract idea of “locating and sending product information in response to a request”,” based on yesterday’s article from Patently-O (reaching the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) with a patent case is extremely expensive). To quote:

The Federal Circuit has issued its R.36 Affirmance Without Opinion in the eligibility dispute: Product Association Tech. v. Clique Media Group (Fed. Cir. 2018). In the case, C.D. Cal Judge Wu dismissed the case on the pleadings under R.12(b)(6) — finding that the claims of U.S. Patent 6,154,738 invalid as a matter of law on subject matter eligibility grounds. In particular, the court found that the claims are directed to the abstract idea of “locating and sending product information in response to a request” and fail to include anything beyond the excluded idea sufficient to transform the claims into a patent-eligible invention. I’ll note here that I believe the invention is the brain child of retired patent attorney Charles Call, and is part of a family of five patents.

Another new example from CAFC involved the typical Newman dissent and the following final decision, citing obviousness rather than prior art:

In a split decision, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that the ZUP Board patent claims were invalid as obvious under § 103(a) because a person of ordinary skill in the art would have had a motivation to combine the prior art references in the method it claimed and further held that the district court properly evaluated ZUP’s evidence of secondary considerations. See KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex Inc., 550 U.S. 398 (2007) and Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1 (1966).

The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court’s conclusion that the ZUP Board patent merely identified known elements from prior patents (food bindings, handles etc.) and combined them. Further, the Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that ZUP’s purpose in so combining (helping riders maneuver between positions by focusing on rider stability) had been a longstanding goal of the prior patents – a goal predictably shared by many inventors in the industry. The Federal Circuit further concluded that because ZUP presented only minimal evidence of secondary considerations, ZUP did not “overcome” the strong showing of obviousness established by application of the other three Graham factors to the facts of the case. Chief Judge Prost authored the majority opinion that was joined by Judge Lourie.

As we said at the start, prior art seems like less urgent a matter and Google might give a false sense of prior art not existing. In our humble view, Google would be wiser to help examiners identify abstract patents and cut off the applicants as soon as possible. It would actually be a favour to applicants because nobody wants to brandish a patent (and potentially spend a lot of money on litigation) only to discover this patent is fake and rejected by courts at all levels.

António Campinos Makes Excuses for Granting European Patents on Software in Spite of the EPC

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Empty rhetoric again from the ‘low-profile’ President in his third blog post (in more than 100 days)

EPO frame and shredder

Summary: Continuing the horrid tradition of Battistelli, António Campinos sends patent quality — the one aspect which the EPO was once renowned for — down the drain (or down the shredder, for lack of a better and more timely metaphor)

THE quality of patents granted by the EPO used to be very high; examiners were given a lot of time to study applications and strictly assess every aspect; more than one examiner would deal with a given application, so there was opportunity for verification or peer review. Gone are those days because it’s all about “production” now, where “production” is directly harmed by the concept of quality control. What the Office nowadays calls “quality” is speed; by that definition, top quality would be INPI, i.e. immediate grant with no real scrutiny whatsoever.

“What the Office nowadays calls “quality” is speed; by that definition, top quality would be INPI, i.e. immediate grant with no real scrutiny whatsoever.”After being criticised for further lowering patent quality at the EPO António Campinos writes this fluff in Battistelli’s old blog (warning: epo.org link) — a blog which he hardly even touched. He again added an image of himself, the hallmark of Battistelli. As if it’s all about the person. I’ve almost never uploaded images of myself to articles in Techrights. Anyway, almost immediately the EPO promoted this blog post (as it had done for Battistelli, unlike for the site’s news section). And while António Campinos drones on about patent quality the EPO continues promoting software patents in defiance of the EPC. It does this on a daily basis and this latest example once again calls abstract patents “AI”. “Our Patenting #ArtificialIntelligence conference offered a discussion platform in view of the rapid evolution and spread of AI in the IP world,” it said yesterday.

In his blog post Campinos said that “later in December we are planning a conference on Blockchain to evaluate questions surrounding the patentability of this fast-evolving technology.”

Surely he knows these are software patents and hence fake patents. Software patents like these are null and void even in the US; they’re merely symbolic to actual courts. Here’s a new example from the news:

Chinese multinational conglomerate Alibaba has applied to patent a blockchain system with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The system, as explained in the patent application filed Thursday, would allow an intervention in a smart contract — computer protocol intended to digitally facilitate or enforce negotiation of a contract — in case of illegal activity.

Blockchain has unique features — openness, unchangeability, and decentralization — but it does not integrate certain practical processes that are usually associated with real-life transactions. For instance, the patent application explains there is real life “administrative intervention” activity, like “when a user performs illegal activities, a court order may be executed to freeze the user’s account.” This kind of an intervention with smart contacts cannot be carried out in the existing blockchain systems.

This is pure software. It should be rejected.

Sadly, however, the EPO no longer even pretends that it objects to software patents. As noted in Mondaq yesterday (article by Caroline Day, Joseph Lenthall, Matthew Howell and Natasha Fairbairn from Haseltine Lake LLP), the EPO just goes ahead with “Computer Implemented Inventions” (i.e. software patents in Europe through the EPO, albeit by another name). To quote “New Guidelines For Examination At The EPO”:

The Guidelines for Examination at the EPO have been significantly revised with the updated version due to come into force on 1st November 2018. The revisions relate to Computer Implemented Inventions, Inventive Step assessment in Opposition, Unity and more.

Haseltine Lake LLP wrote about the soaring number of oppositions at the EPO only months ago. SUEPO amplified them at the time.

It seems to have become a battleground wherein many fake patents are being challenged by outsiders nowadays. They don’t like what’s happening, so oppositions are being filed. Mondaq also published the following yesterday, under the headline “New EPO Guidelines Clamp Down On Scatter Gun Inventive Step Attacks In Opposition Proceedings”; Joseph Lenthall from Haseltine Lake LLP wrote about the EPO trying to curb oppositions to fake patents (just what Battistelli wanted) using the new guidelines (Campinos):

The EPO’s problem-solution approach for assessing inventive step of a patent includes determining the “closest prior art” as the first of a three stage approach. The obviousness of the claimed invention is then determined starting from this document. The closest prior art, therefore, plays a pivotal role in the assessment of inventive step at the EPO.

The current revision to the relevant section of the EPO Guidelines aims to curb Opponents arguing that several documents can be considered the closest prior art and making several inventive step attacks, each starting from a different document. Understandably, Opposition Divisions tend to see such a scatter gun approach as procedurally inefficient, as well as creating more work to review and make a decision on these attacks.

The Guidelines therefore now state that application of the problem-solution approach starting from more than one prior art document as the closest prior art is only required where it has been convincingly shown that these documents are equally valid starting points.

In principle, this is a noble attempt to focus opposition proceedings and the avoid many of the weak attacks from Opponents. However, it is not clear that this addition will provide much procedural efficiency. In particular, the Guidelines imply that the Opposition Division need not consider inventive step attacks from close (but not the closest) prior art documents. We can therefore anticipate that arguments over the selection of the closest prior art may be more detailed both in written and oral proceedings.

If the EPO continues to drift in this same trajectory, it will go down the bin of history. A patent office that disregards the quality of patents will grant fake patents that courts will reject, harming legal certainty.

As noted by Campinos yesterday, they are “planning a conference on Blockchain” by which to legitimise software patents that are disguised using such glorified terms. A few days ago EPO officials had met and then bragged with WIPO (huge proponents of any kind of patents and also serial violators of human rights); the EPO pushed it again in Twitter (late yesterday), having added a group photo with Lutz in it. “EPO fosters international co-operation during WIPO Assemblies,” it said and Banana IP’s “IP News Center” (pushed as press release/blog into Google News) added: “The main focus areas of the co-operation plan will include areas of patent law and patent examination guidelines, examination quality, data exchange, classification, search tools and machine translation along with a joint study on Computer-implemented inventions.”

Yes, a “joint study on Computer-implemented inventions.” (software patents)

This is the pattern. They try to completely legitimise patents on algorithms. The EPC is dead.

The EPO under Campinos may not be seeing as many protests (not as many as before), but when it comes to patent quality it’s more of a cesspool than ever before.

Antibody Patents Should Not be Allowed (Nor Should CRISPR Patents)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“…currently there is an apparent tension between the USPTO guideline with which antibody patents are granted and the case law with which the validity of existing antibody patents is determined. The antibody “exception” of the USPTO written description guideline says that a claim for an isolated antibody binding to an antigen satisfies the written description requirement even when the specification only describes the antigen and does not have working or detailed prophetic examples of antibodies that bind to the antigen. United States Patent and Trademark Office, Revised Interim Written Description Guidelines Training Materials (1999) at 59–60 [hereinafter Training Materials]; United States Patent and Trademark Office, Written Description Training Materials, Revision 1 (March 25, 2008) at 45–46 [hereinafter Revised Training Materials]. In Centocor v. Abbott, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) held that a patentee cannot claim an antibody unless the specification describes it, even if he/she fully characterizes the antigen, and the court vacated a $1.67 billion jury verdict, the largest patent infringement award in U.S. history. The relationship between Centocor and the USPTO guideline is not clear. Although many commentators generally agree that Centocor at least restricts the scope of the antibody exception, they disagree over interpretation of the post-Centocor antibody exception.” (Source: “Written Description Problems of the Monoclonal Antibody Patents after Centocor v. Abbott”)

Summary: The patent extremists are still trying to patent life (and/or nature) and their arguments typically boil down to, “there’s money in it, so why the heck not?”

THE EPO and USPTO both grapple with a lobbying campaign from corporations which strive to ‘own’ life and nature. Depending on the integrity of the management at these offices, the lobbyists might get their way, whereupon the public will justifiably protest. Sometimes EPO staff will protest as well. A decade ago the EPO saw many such protests (farmers, examiners and more).

“Nature isn’t an invention.”Over at Watchtroll, patent firms (Karen Carroll and Sharad Bijanki, the authors, are both in the patent ‘industry’) have published (just yesterday) “The Evolution of Antibody Patents” and every morsel of common sense says patents on this should be verboten (we wrote about this in relation to the EPO). Also published Monday by Patent Docs was this advertisement for an event on “Antibody Patenting after Amgen v. Sanofi” (covered here before).

Sure. Let’s patent life too, they argue. A couple of patent attorneys, Ainslie Parsons and Carmela De Luca, recently covered something to that effect, albeit this time in relation to CRISPR patents.

Why is it even an open question (still) whether such patents should be granted? The answer from any sane and sober person should be “no!” or “no way!”

Nature isn’t an invention. Nature is arguably “prior art”. Need we remind readers of the scenes shown below?

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

Software patents protest against EPO

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