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08.10.19

Links 10/8/2019: HarmonyOS and Death of Gavin Zhao

Posted in News Roundup at 2:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

  • Leftovers

    • We’re Raising a Generation That Views Mass Murder as Normal

      When Sarah phoned me an hour later, she reminded me that teens of this generation have lived their entire lives in the shadow of mass shootings and deaths—at shopping malls, churches and synagogues, movie theaters, schools, outdoor music and food festivals, and other public places.

    • Hardware

      • China’s No. 2 player to launch 5G chip in 2020 to rival Qualcomm

        China’s second-largest mobile chip developer aims to launch a 5G chipset in 2020, far earlier than previously planned, to catch up with global leaders Qualcomm and MediaTek and tap demand from local companies looking to end their dependence on U.S. suppliers.

        UNISOC Communications’ timetable is roughly similar to those of its much bigger competitors, and marks a significant acceleration of its ambitions following the disintegration of its partnership with chip leader Intel earlier this year.

        The plan also comes amid political backing for the sector, with Beijing pushing to speed up the rollout of 5G mobile networks in the country, as well as cut China’s dependence on foreign chipmakers following Washington’s crackdown Huawei Technologies’ use of American tech.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availability)

      • iNSYNQ Ransom Attack Began With Phishing Email

        A ransomware outbreak that hit QuickBooks cloud hosting firm iNSYNQ in mid-July appears to have started with an email phishing attack that snared an employee working in sales for the company, KrebsOnSecurity has learned. It also looks like the intruders spent roughly ten days rooting around iNSYNQ’s internal network to properly stage things before unleashing the ransomware. iNSYNQ ultimately declined to pay the ransom demand, and it is still working to completely restore customer access to files.

        [...]

        But Alex Holden, founder of Milwaukee-based cyber intelligence firm Hold Security, showed KrebsOnSecurity information obtained from monitoring dark web communications which suggested the problem started on July 6, after an employee in iNSYNQ’s sales division fell for a targeted phishing email.

        “This shows that even after the initial infection, if companies act promptly they can still detect and stop the ransomware,” Holden said. “For these infections hackers take sometimes days, weeks, or even months to encrypt your data.”

      • You can easily secure America’s e-voting systems tomorrow. Use paper – Bruce Schneier

        While various high-tech solutions to secure electronic voting systems are being touted this week to election officials across the United States, according to infosec guru Bruce Schneier there is only one tried-and-tested approach that should be considered: pen and paper.

        It’s the only way to be sure hackers and spies haven’t delved in from across the web to screw with your vote.

        “Paper ballots are almost 100 per cent reliable and provide a voter-verifiable paper trail,” he told your humble Reg vulture and other hacks at Black Hat in Las Vegas on Thursday. “This isn’t hard or controversial. We use then all the time in Minnesota, and you make your vote and it’s easily tabulated.”

        The integrity of the election process depends on three key areas: the security of the voter databases that list who can vote; the electronic ballot boxes themselves, which Schneier opined were the hardest things to hack successfully; and the computers that tabulate votes and distribute this information.

      • This Teen Hacker Found Bugs in School Software That Exposed Millions of Records

        At the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas today, 18-year-old Bill Demirkapi presented his findings from three years of after-school hacking that began when he was a high school freshman. Demirkapi poked around the web interfaces of two common pieces of software, sold by tech firms Blackboard and Follett and used by his own school. In both cases, he found serious bugs that would allow a hacker to gain deep access to student data. In Blackboard’s case in particular, Demirkapi found 5 million vulnerable records for students and teachers, including student grades, immunization records, cafeteria balance, schedules, cryptographically hashed passwords, and photos.

        Demirkapi points out that if he, then a bored 16-year-old motivated only by his own curiosity, could so easily access these corporate databases, his story doesn’t reflect well on the broader security of the companies holding millions of students’ personal information.”The access I had was pretty much anything the school had,” Demirkapi says. “The state of cybersecurity in education software is really bad, and not enough people are paying attention to it.”

    • Defence/Aggression

      • UN: Monthly Afghan casualties highest since 2017

        Its preliminary findings indicate more than 1,500 civilians were killed or wounded, mainly due to a spike in casualties from insurgent attacks. It did not provide a breakdown of deaths and injuries, but said the overall number was the highest for a single month since May 2017.

      • Time for the FBI to crack down on white supremacists

        There is no doubt that if we had suffered a string of massacres on our soil carried out by Islamic radicals, we would do everything in our power to diminish and eradicate the danger — indeed, we have. The national response to racist extremists should show the same alacrity and resolve, while acknowledging that they represent a different, more difficult-to-counter threat than the old Klan did.

        In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson told FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to go after the Klan as he had done with the Communists. Running until 1971 and involving 26 field offices, COINTELPRO-White Hate targeted groups and people deemed violent threats, not their ideology per se.

      • The NYT’s Pro-War Arguments Against War With Iran

        No US institution or practice is sweepingly condemned in a comparable fashion. Carrying out an invasion of Iraq, as the US military did, and causing as many as a million deaths is not considered the conduct of a “malign actor” or “a tool of violence and military adventurism”; nor is keeping children in cages or having the world’s largest prison population evidence of a “despotic…regime.” Whatever the Times’ definition of “support for regional terrorist organizations” is, it evidently does not include backing racist groups in Libya, laying waste to Syrian cities or flooding the country with weapons that helped ISIS, or carrying out massacres in Afghanistan, or underwriting brutality in Yemen and Palestine.

        In this respect, the Times’ apparent anti-war editorials bolster the case for war against Iran: If Iran is a “despotic . . . regime” that provides “support for regional terrorist organizations” and has a military outfit that is “no doubt . . . a malign actor” and a “tool of violence and military adventurism,” readers can be forgiven for failing to rush out and organize a peace movement. And if the United States is or has none of these things—or, in the case of a nuclear weapons program and “work on missile systems,” is presumably allowed to have them—they may be confused about why the US shouldn’t bomb or invade Iran, or overthrow its government, or some combination of these.

        The editorials also muddy responsibility for the crisis, presenting what is happening as roughly equally the fault of the United States and Iran. The first editorial (5/4/19) argued that the “Trump administration is playing a dangerous game in Iran, risking a serious miscalculation by either side.” The problem isn’t so much the risk of “a serious miscalculation by either side” as it is deliberate US calculations to inflict misery on Iranians in an effort to force Iran to submit to US orders. US sanctions are severely harming Iranians, causing food shortages, undermining the healthcare system, preventing flood relief from getting to Iranians, setting off a collapse in economic growth and driving the country into a deep recession while helping to push up inflation; all of this information was publicly available before any of these editorials were published. Iran, of course, has done nothing comparable to US society.

    • Environment

      • West Africa struggles with rise in pollution

        Peter Knippertz from the Karlsruhe Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK) confirms this. Together with other scientists from 16 institutions across Africa and Europe, he’s been looking for answers to the question: How bad is the air over southern West Africa? And why?

        The concentration of dirt particles is definitely above the guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), says Knippertz. For the study, the team set up measuring stations in Cotonou and Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast. There, too, the population suffers from poor air quality.

      • Haze from fires, Indonesia’s national ‘embarrassment,’ are back

        Indonesia is experiencing its worst annual fire season since 2015, with the cross-border spread of haze once again threatening to spark a diplomatic row with neighbors Malaysia and Singapore.

      • Indonesia president threatens to sack fire fighters if forest blazes not tackled

        Indonesian farmers use fire to clear land during the dry season but they can rage out of control and produce a choking haze that spreads to neighbours such as Singapore and Malaysia.

        Indonesia has recorded the highest number of hot spots this year since devastating fires in 2015 and faces global pressure to put an end to slash-and-burn clearance of land, often to plant palm and pulp plantations.

      • As fires burn, can Indonesia avoid repeat of 2015 haze crisis?

        Emergencies were declared in six Indonesian provinces on Sumatra island and in Kalimantan last week as fires raged, while neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia issued health warnings about the air pollution that is heading their way.

      • Climate Change, Land Use Threatens World Food Supply, U.N. Report Finds

        Agriculture, forestry and other human land use accounts for about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat and cause the earth to warm, researchers found.

        The report, authored by more than 100 scientists from over 50 countries, contained dire warnings and concluded that immediate action is needed to address the threat. It was released Thursday in Geneva and is the latest publication from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

      • Without respect for Indigenous rights, climate change will worsen, UN says

        The UN’s top climate science body says land tenure of Indigenous and traditional landholders is key to slowing the climate crisis — but those groups in Colombia warn they can’t protect the forests if they can’t protect themselves.

      • Energy

        • Comment: Yes, Scientists Say we Need to Plant Trees and Eat Less Meat ⁠— But Not as a Replacement for Cutting Fossil Fuels

          After a three year wait, the UN’s official scientific advisory panel’s verdict on land and climate is here. The report is about as glum as you might have come to expect from a body tasked with documenting humanity’s ongoing descent into climate-induced havoc.

          The UN is right to highlight the crucial importance of land in both causing and curbing climate change — it has been neglected for far too long. In particular, the report’s conclusions on just how much our current food system threatens the climate, as well as how much climate impacts threaten our food supply, need a huge and sustained conversation.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • France’s illegal dumping ‘scourge’

          The death of a mayor from a town in the south of France has drawn attention to what has been dubbed a nationwide “scourge” – the illegal dumping of waste along roadsides, fields and forests across the country.

        • The World’s Largest Forest Has Been on Fire for Months

          In July, Alexander Uss, governor of the vast Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, said it was simply “pointless and maybe even harmful” to attempt to fight the wildfires that cloaked his capital city in a toxic cloud of smoke.

          Days later, President Vladimir Putin sent in the army and even Donald Trump took notice, offering his Russian counterpart U.S. help to battle the blazes. Governor Uss has since reversed his position, and is joining the fight against what Greenpeace Russia says are on track to be the worst Siberian forest fires on record.

          Temperatures in June and July were the hottest ever charted globally, with parts of Siberia where the fires are concentrated reaching 10 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) above the 30-year average from 1981 to 2010. The resulting dry conditions fed fires that torched more than 7 million hectares (17 million acres) of Siberian wilderness in just two months. Since the beginning of the year, fires have consumed more than 13 million hectares—an area larger than Greece.

        • Under Brazil’s Far-Right Leader, Amazon Protections Slashed and Forests Fall

          The destruction of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil has increased rapidly since the nation’s new far-right president took over and his government scaled back efforts to fight illegal logging, ranching and mining.

          Protecting the Amazon was at the heart of Brazil’s environmental policy for much of the past two decades. At one point, Brazil’s success in slowing the deforestation rate made it an international example of conservation and the effort to fight climate change.

          But with the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, a populist who has been fined personally for violating environmental regulations, Brazil has changed course substantially, retreating from the efforts it once made to slow global warming by preserving the world’s largest rain forest.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • GOP group targets McConnell over election security bills in new ad

        McConnell came under fierce criticism for blocking the two election security bills a day after Mueller warned House lawmakers that he believed Russia was trying to interfere in the 2020 elections “as we sit here.” The floor fight went viral after MSNBC host and former GOP lawmaker Joe Scarborough repeatedly referred to the GOP leader as “Moscow Mitch.”

      • Trump’s outgoing national intelligence deputy wishes him ‘Godspeed’ in a short letter on her resignation

        Gordon’s letter was sent to reporters by the White House on Thursday evening, amid some suggestions that she was ousted for holding opposing views.

        Gordon worked for the CIA for over 25 years prior to becoming the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s second-in-command.

      • What are click farms? A shadowy internet industry is booming in China

        In China, the world’s largest smartphone market with over 800 million users, a unique type of farm springs up in urban areas. The only crops there are smartphones.

        The operations, known as click farms, can house hundreds or thousands of iPhones and Android phones on the shelves. They are plugged in and programmed to search, click, and download a certain app over and over again. The goal is to manipulate the system of app store rankings and search results.

      • Martin Ravallion: “We have to get rid of the idea that wanting to reduce inequality makes you a communist”

        Q: Have we learned anything from the mistakes of past public policies?

        A: No. It’s very frustrating to see the lack of attention to evaluating policies. This is partly because almost none of the politicians want to hear that their programs are not working and partly because these programs are often too rigid to adapt to the evidence. There has been a lot of progress in evaluating the impact of these programs in the last 20 years, but the greatest challenge is for this to be incorporated into the political process.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Dad wants Wake schools to drop this math program. Now he’s being sued by the company.

        The provider of Wake County’s controversial new high school math curriculum is suing the Cary parent who is leading the fight to get the program dropped from the district’s schools.

        Mathematics Vision Project filed a lawsuit Thursday in a Utah state court accusing Blain Dillard of making false and defamatory statements about the MVP Math program that the company says have harmed its business. The company says it will ask a jury to issue damages against Dillard for his “intentional interference with MVP’s economic and/or contractual relations.”

      • MVP math suing Wake County parent for ‘libel and slander’ after he criticized program

        The company behind a controversial math curriculum being used in Wake County public schools has filed a lawsuit against a Cary parent, accusing him of “libel and slander” and “tortious interference with business relations” after he criticized the program.

        An attorney for the Utah-based Mathematics Vision Project, or MVP, said the company decided to sue parent Blain Dillard after he made “false statements” about the company. Dillard says he is “innocent of all allegations and can defend each and every point made in the summons.”

      • Concerned dad sued: What’s the risk for the rest of us in voicing opinions?

        “When it comes to speaking up at a board meeting, these are public meetings, there’s a reason we have them so the public is able to voice their opinions and voice their thoughts about what’s happening in their school system,” said Nicole Ligon, a professor at Duke Law School.

      • Against Literalism—’The Satanic Verses’ Fatwa at 30

        I said I would try not to focus on the external events surrounding Rushdie’s novel but the content and themes of the book are, in the end, inseparable from what happened after the book was published. Hybridity, irony, and interconnectedness once more, it seems—the fictional and the real intermingling and synthesising to form a powerful defence of openness and civility.

        The Satanic Verses is therefore not only a work of astonishing beauty but also a foundational document in the fight for culture, openness, civilisation, and civility against those who wish to see those things stifled by narrow-minded faith-based puritanism. Salman Rushdie’s life and work remind us of the importance of this battle and the necessity of remaining staunch and unyielding in the task of defending civilisation against its enemies in whatever grotesque permutations they appear.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • Threesome hookup app 3Fun was ‘a privacy train wreck’

        But it didn’t just leak location. 3Fun also gave away birthdays and private photos too. One other interesting twist: using the copious leaked data, the researchers estimate that 3Fun is a bit of a sausage fest, with men outnumbering women by four to one. So if you were hoping to have two ladies in your threeway, the odds are even less in your favour than you might have expected.

      • Luxembourg joins the fray of countries to probing Amazon’s Alexa recordings

        In case you’ve been living under a rock, it emerged earlier in the year that Amazon was keeping recordings and offering them up for transcription by external contractors. It meant in some cases they had access to crimes being committed, eavesdropped on sexy-times and other things that it would make you hurl if you stopped and thought about it too hard.

        After all the recent shenanigans surrounding voice assistant data and its use, it’s now the turn of the Luxembourg National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) to probe Amazon on behalf of the EU27 1/2.

      • The FBI wants to build a data dragnet on Facebook

        News of the FBI’s interest in Facebook comes in the same week that the president called on social networks to build tools for identifying potential mass murderers before they act. And across the government, there appears to be growing consensus that social networks should become partners in surveillance with the government.

        But so far, as the Journal story illustrates, the government’s approach has been incoherent. On one hand, it fines Facebook $5 billion for violating users’ privacy; on the other, it outlines a plan to potentially store all Americans’ public posts in a database for monitoring purposes.

      • Hearst Magazines Will Target You in Print Based on What You Read Online

        Hearst Magazines is tracking what readers click online and using those behaviors to serve the same magazine subscribers targeted ads in print.

        Called MagMatch, the offering is a product from the Hearst Data Studio and will first go live in the most recent issue of Elle magazine. But the ads could also appear in other Hearst brands, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Food Network Magazine and Car & Driver.

        [...]

        Hearst said it’s using first party data, including the buy buttons on which readers click, to inform the offering. While most subscribers aren’t logged on to the websites of Hearst brands, the company anonymously matches their behavior using third parties, Wolrich said.

      • Ring Partnerships With Police Are ‘Troubling,’ Home Security Lobbyists Say

        The Monitoring Association, a major non-profit trade organization representing home security companies, has released a statement saying it is “troubled” by partnerships between local law enforcement and Ring, Amazon’s home surveillance company.

        The statement comes after extensive reporting by Motherboard and Gizmodo has revealed the scope and nature of these partnerships, which, in part, require police to promote Ring products either implicitly or explicitly.

      • Victory! Lawsuit May Proceed Against Facebook’s Biometric Surveillance

        Biometric surveillance by companies against consumers is a growing menace to our privacy, freedom of expression, and civil rights. Fortunately, a federal appeals court has ruled that a lawsuit against Facebook for its face surveillance may move forward.

        The decision, by the federal Ninth Circuit about an Illinois privacy law, is the first by an American appellate court to directly identify the unique hazards of face surveillance. This is an important victory for biometric privacy, access to the courts for ordinary people, and the role of state governments as guardians of our digital liberty.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Terrorists turn to female suicide bombers in new trend

        The unsuspecting officers on duty welcomed them to present their case and that is when one of the women is alleged to have lurched forth and attacked the officers with a dagger while the two others attempted to burn the station down with petrol bombs. In the ensuing commotion the women were shot dead.

        Investigations revealed that Tasmin — the mastermind of the attack — was a member of the Islamic State which claimed responsibility for the attack. Her fellow alleged attackers, sisters Maimuna and Ramla, attended Ainaba madrasa as well as Markoz Noor madrasa at Sparki mosque in Mombasa where they studied religion.

      • ‘I’ve Got Nothing Over Here’: Michigan Man Deported By ICE Dies In Baghdad

        Jimmy Aldaoud was deported from the U.S. in June to Iraq, a country that his family said he had never set foot in. Two months after he arrived there, his family got word that he was found dead in Baghdad.

        Aldaoud was born in Greece, his sister Mary Bolis said, after his family fled Iraq. He didn’t speak Arabic.

      • E Lancashire halal abattoir worker hacked at sheep’s throats repeatedly

        Animal Aid, an animal welfare organisation, commissioned two freelance investigators to install covert cameras in the killing room. The investigators secretly entered the premises at night and installed the cameras which eventually provided the evidence on which the Foods Standards Agency based the prosecution.

        Mr Shaw said over two days of filming 94 per cent of the sheep killed by non-stun halal methods were not slaughtered in compliance with the welfare requirements.

      • California Judges Nuke Two More SFPD Warrants Used To Search A Journalist’s Home And Office

        The San Francisco Police Department’s “investigation” of journalist Bryan Carmody has just about finished collapsing completely. The stupid “investigation” — supposedly initiated to figure out which cop leaked sensitive documents to the stringer — has been the equivalent of a claymore mine deployed in reverse. Several claymore mines, to be more precise. With each iteration of the news cycle, the SFPD has sustained consecutive, concussive blasts to the face.

        What culminated in a raid of Carmody’s house began with a warrant seeking phone call and messaging data covering two days in February. That warrant has already been unsealed and quashed, with the judge pointing out the swearing officer did everything he could to avoid telling the court the SFPD was looking to put a journalist under surveillance.

        This warrant preceded everything else. Since that was the foundation for search warrants targeting Carmody’s home and the multiple devices SFPD officers seized from there, the rest of the investigation — along with any charges the SFPD thought it might get away with pressing — is disintegrating. Nicholas Iovino reports for Courthouse News Service that two more warrants the SFPD obtained have been tossed by judges.

      • Unsealed Warrants Show SFPD Officer Told Judges He Was Targeting A Journalist, But Judges Approved Them Anyway

        Three of the five warrants the San Francisco Police Department obtained to search journalist/stringer Bryan Carmody’s home, office, and phones have been tossed by the judges who issued them.

        The initial warrant, issued in February by Judge Rochelle East was the first be declared invalid. Judge East said the warrant application was misleading, omitting information that would have made it clear Carmody was a journalist and protected by the state’s shield law. This warrant — seeking access to phone call and text message records — has been tossed. Since everything else in the Carmody investigation stems from this illegal search, the rest of the warrants are destined for the dustbin.

        Judge East’s findings have led to two more judges tossing warrants they issued. It also has led — at least in Judge Victor Hwang’s case — to the judge possibly reading the warrant for the first time. This statement from David Snyder of the First Amendment Coalition says the warrant Judge Hwang tossed contained information about Carmody that made it clear the SFPD was targeting a journalist.

      • Christopher Davis: Networks Of Trust: Dismantling And Preventing Harassment

        David Seaward writes with the assumption that the operator is always untrustworthy. But, what if the operator was someone you knew? Someone you could reach out to if there were any issues, who could reach out to other operators? This is the case on the Fediverse, where Purism’s Librem Social operates. Within this system of federated networks, each node is run by a person or group of people. These people receive reports in various forms. In order to continue to be trusted, moderators of servers are expected to handle reports of spam, hate speech, or other instances of negative interactions from other services. Since the network is distributed, this tends to be sustainable.

        In practice, this means that as a moderator my users can send me things they’re concerned by, and I can send messages to the moderators of other servers if something on their server concerns me or one of my users. If the operator of the other node breaches trust (e.g. not responding, expressing support for bad actors) then I can choose to defederate from them. If I as a user find that my admin does not take action, I can move to a node that will take action. The end result is that there are multiple layers of trust:

        I can trust my admins to take action
        My admins can trust other admins to take action
        This creates a system where, without lock-in, admins are incentivized to respond to things in good faith and in the best interests of their users.

      • Jeffrey Epstein found dead in jail cell, according to source

        Financier Jeffrey Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in New York, officials said Saturday.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Texas AG Joins Lawsuit Against T-Mobile, Showing Bipartisan Opposition To Mindless M&As

        Despite obvious red flags regarding reduced competition and massive layoffs, both the FCC and DOJ have rushed to support T-Mobile’s $26 billion merger with Sprint. We’ve noted that the math (and history) are very clear on this front: the reduction of major telecom competitors uniformly results in much higher consumer prices as the incentive to compete in direct price competition is hugely reduced. It’s a major reason why you haven’t seen AT&T and Verizon (both lobbying juggernauts) criticizing the merger. History’s also clear: such mergers inevitably result in huge layoffs as redundancies are eliminated.

        And while the FCC and DOJ (both now run by former telecom executives, it bears repeating) are tripping over themselves to sign off on the merger, a growing coalition of states has other plans. 10 states have sued to block the deal, quite correctly noting that mindless M&As are one of the biggest reasons we all hate broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast so much. Such deals help just two class of folks: investors and executives. Everybody else pays a steep price.

      • Comcast Wireless Joins Verizon In Charging You More For HD Video

        One of the more subtle assaults on net neutrality has been the slow but steady introduction of arbitrary, often unnecessary restrictions mobile carriers will then charge you to get around. Sprint, for example, has toyed with plans that throttle all video, music, and games unless you pay extra. Verizon has also banned 4K video from its network unless you pay more for 5G (which isn’t widely available). The company also now throttles all video on its “unlimited” data plans, charging consumers even more if they want to view content in HD as the originating service intended.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Angry Apple Users Target Draconian iPhone Repair Policies

        Apple customers have long complained about the $900 billion company’s draconian restrictions on repairing broken iPhones, MacBooks, and other devices. Now, consumer advocates are turning to lobbyists to pressure legislators to etch a “right to repair” into law.

    • Monopolies

      • Uber lost over $5bn in the second quarter

        From its inception Uber has now lost a cumulative $14bn. In the most recent three months the firm recorded a large one-off expense related to share-based compensation for workers after the initial public offering. However, even the company’s preferred measure of profits, “adjusted-EBITDA” showed a loss of $656m, better than the first quarter of the year but worse than the same period a year earlier. And the rapid growth that the losses are intended to sustain seems to be faltering.

      • Amazon is now delivering packages in Southern California with its Scout robots

        Amazon has been testing its Scout delivery robots near its headquarters in Snohomish County, Washington, for a few months. Today, it announced that it’s expanding the program, and it’s set to start testing the robots in the Irvine, California, area on a larger scale.

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • Facebook has filed a laughable patent-application for the well-known practice of “shadow banning”

          Shadow-banning is a process that dates back to at least the 1980s, with Citadel BBS’s “twit bit,” which would allow users to post replies to forums that they could see, but no one else could see.

          That hasn’t stopped Facebook from claiming to have invented shadow banning in is application for United States Patent 10356024, “Moderating content in an online forum,” which claims that current/former Facebook employees Jeffrey Andrew Kanter, Mitu Singh, and Daniel Gregory Muriello “invented” a bunch of moderation techniques that have either been done before or are incredibly obvious, or both.

          Patents are a gigantic dumpster-fire, and software patents doubly so. [...]

        • Reaction as US authorises Venezuela IP protection

          Venezuelan lawyers have welcomed the US government’s announcement that IP-related transactions in the South American country will be permitted, following months of uncertainty during which use of a specially created digital currency for this purpose was banned.

        • Patents and Software Patents

          • Doctrine of Equivalents is on Revival

            On summary judgment, the district court found for the patentee Eli Lilly — holding that the ANDA filings by Hospira & Dr. Reddy infringed Lilly’s U.S. Patent 7,772,209.

            On appeal, the Federal Circuit found error’s in claim construction and consequently reversed the judgment of literal infringement. However, the court affirmed the alternative judgment of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents (DOE).

            The drug at issue is pemetrexed (Lilly brand “Alimta”) approved for treatment of inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma. The drug operates as an anti-folate (blocking folic acid from binding and being harnessed for cancer cell growth).

            The ‘209 patent does not cover the drug itself, but instead covers an “improved method for administering pemetrexed disodium to a patient in need of chemotherapeutic treatment.” I previously wrote about the patent being challenged in separate IPRs and explained that “the claimed invention calls for a pre-treatment of a patient with folic acid and vitamin B12 in order to reduce the risk skin rashes, fatigue, etc.”

            [...]

            Thus, ultimately the judgment of infringement is affirmed despite the lack of literal infringement.

          • IP Tribunal of SPC opens first circuit trial in July 2019

            Wang Yeci (‘Wang’) is the patentee of ‘a small electric submersible pump with welded motor housing (‘the patent at issue’, No ZL200910025263.7, registered on 2 May 2012)’. In comparison to existing products on the market, Wang’s patent solves the problems of large and thick housing, heavy weight, high material consumption and high manufacturing costs. As a result, the products under Wang’s patent were very popular on the market.

            In 2018, Wang filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Pengcheng water pump factory and the other four factories in the Jiangsu Nanjing Intermediate People’s Court (‘the Nanjing Intermediate Court’), alleging that the defendants had been manufacturing and selling Wang’s patented products without authorisation, which had caused Wang serious economic losses. Wang requested the court to require the defendant to immediately stop the alleged infringements and to pay damages and reasonable expenses for CNY 250,000 (approx. EUR 32,771) and CNY 300,000 (approx. EUR 39,325), respectively.

            The defendants argued that: 1) Wang had no evidence to prove the alleged infringing products fell within the scope of the patent claims at issue; 2) The patent at issue lacked novelty and inventiveness and therefore did not conform to the requirements of patentability in China. The defendants filed a request for invalidation to the Re-examination and Invalidation Department of the Patent Office of CNIPA; 3) The alleged infringing products were manufactured based on the state of the art; 4) The amount of damages claimed by Wang was too high and lacked factual or legal basis. In view of the above, the defendants requested the court to dismiss Wang’s claim in its entirety.

          • Are FRAND-disputes too complex for PI proceedings?

            Sisvel holds a SEP-portfolio relating to various wireless communications technologies. On 15 October 2013, it informed Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi of this portfolio and stated its willingness to license it on FRAND-terms. The negotiations carried on for several years but were apparently unsuccessful. Sisvel brought suit against Xiaomi in the UK on 23 April 2019 and asked the High Court to set a global FRAND-rate between the parties. PI proceedings in the Netherlands were initiated shortly thereafter, on 29 May 2019. The decision suggests Sisvel also initiated proceedings on the merits in the Netherlands, but it is unclear what is claimed there.

            Sisvel requested the District Court to enjoin all of Xiaomi’s sales in the Netherlands; or, in the alternative, to grant the injunction subject to Xiaomi’s agreement to have a FRAND-rate determined in arbitration; or, in the further alternative, to order Xiaomi to disable the patented functionalities in the phones it sells in the Netherlands.

            In a nutshell, the District Court considered (i) Sisvel’s interest in relief in these proceedings insufficiently urgent and (ii) the FRAND-dispute too complex for condensed PI proceedings. Consequently, it did not address validity, infringement or the parties’ compliance with FRAND-obligations, but dismissed Sisvel’s claims out of hand.

        • Trademarks

          • TM Attorney Sued for Allegedly Attacking TM he had Obtained for Client

            A lawyer registered a mark for Annie Sloan Interiors Ltd. (ASI) to register a mark for it, but later represented Jolie Design & Decor LCC (JDD) and Jolie Home, LLC (Jolie Home) to challenge the mark (“CHALK PAINT”) asserting genericness (apparently at the USPTO and in litigation). ASI, a former client by then, sued for breach of fiduciary duty and legal malpractice.

            Defendant moved to dismiss. The court held the complaint adequately pled breach of a fiduciary duty. Specifically, the court reasoned ASI alleged the lawyer had “breached a duty of loyalty by using knowledge gained during his representation of ASI to assist a different client in a challenge to its mark, and that its damages consist of the money expended in defending the mark and any resulting diminution in the value of the mark.”

            The court found that an agreement “waiving” (i.e., consenting) to this was insufficient because, among other things, in it ASI acknowledged the firm would be representing JDD, and made no mention of Jolie Home.

        • Copyrights

          • RIAA: Ebay and Amazon Sell a Lot of Copyright Infringing Music

            In a letter to the US Department of Commerce, the RIAA is calling for stronger measures to curb piracy and counterfeiting that takes place through online marketplaces. The music group points out that copyright infringement is widespread on many services, including Amazon and eBay, where a significant percentage of the CDs and box-sets are sold without permission.

          • Legal to share more than 16,000 movies listed on IMDB?

            The recent announcement of from the New York Public Library on its results in identifying books published in the USA that are now in the public domain, inspired me to update the scripts I use to track down movies that are in the public domain. This involved updating the script used to extract lists of movies believed to be in the public domain, to work with the latest version of the source web sites. In particular the new edition of the Retro Film Vault web site now seem to list all the films available from that distributor, bringing the films identified there to more than 12.000 movies, and I was able to connect 46% of these to IMDB titles.

            [...]

            New this time is a list of all the identified IMDB titles, with title, year and running time, provided in free-complete.json. this file also indiciate which source is used to conclude the video is free to distribute.

          • Elsevier Tries To Lie About University Of California’s Contract Negotiation; UC Shows Its Receipts

            You may recall that, back in March, we were excited to hear the news that the University of California had cancelled its Elsevier subscription, after Elsevier was unwilling to support UC’s goal of universal open access to all of its research (while simultaneously cutting back on the insane costs that Elsevier charged). Apparently the fight between Elsevier and UC has continued, and it’s getting nasty.

          • Reaping What They Sowed: Recording Industry Now Quite Upset About Copyright Run Amok

            For decades, the recording industry — mainly in the form of its lobbying bodies, the RIAA, IFPI and other similar organizations — have pushed, time and time again, for broadly expansive copyright law, in which everything possible is “owned” and everything possible must be licensed. And now we’re reaching the logical conclusion to that mess — even as many of us warned that this is where things would head, and we were laughed off by the very same recording industry as being “copyright haters.” Except, here we are, now, with musicians afraid to even mention their heroes for fear of being sued.

            It’s all creating a massive chilling effect on music, and has backed the recording industry into a corner. Perhaps it’s finally time for the recording industry to just admit that it went too far in pushing for everything to be covered by copyright and that everything must be licensed. Perhaps it should start using that massive lobbying power to change copyright laws in a manner that increases fair use and puts basic building blocks of music into the public domain for anyone to use. Perhaps it should admit that not everything needs to be “property,” and that creativity often flows from someone inspired by another musician to create a similar sounding song. And that’s a good thing.

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