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12.22.19

Teaser: People Who Work at the Home of Bill Gates

Posted in Bill Gates at 12:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When media can only cover the news months later when all English-speaking journalists are on holiday

We don't always arrest Bill Gates staff for pedophilia. But when we do, we write a police report longer than 2,000 pages about it.

Summary: A little clue of what’s to come in the ongoing series which started almost a week ago

Links 22/12/2019: Linux Random Number Generation, KTimeTracker 5.0.1

Posted in News Roundup at 10:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Many Security-Critical Military Systems Are Now Using Linux

      In a comment on the original submission, long-time Slashdot reader bobs666 remembers setting up Minix 30 years ago “for running email for a part of the U.S. Army. It’s too bad the stupid people made me stop working on the project.”

      But the world may be changing. The article notes that Linux has now already been certified to meet the three different security certifications required by the United States Department of Defense.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • The Kubuntu Focus KDE Linux Laptop Arrives

        Soft-announced earlier this week was the Kubuntu Focus as a high-end Linux laptop pre-loaded with the KDE flavor of Ubuntu. The Kubuntu Focus produced in cooperation with Mindshare Management, Kubuntu itself, and German manufacturer Tuxedo Computers will officially launch in January and begin shipping shortly thereafter while a review sample arrived in our lab today.

        The full review of the Kubuntu Focus will come in January, included here are just pictures of the laptop that arrived today to begin our testing and benchmarking journey for this Intel-powered Linux laptop manufactured by Clevo but with various optimizations for Kubuntu / KDE Linux usage.

      • My impressions using the System76 Oryx Pro

        I recently switched to using Linux for my desktop workstation again, in the form of a System76 Oryx Pro. I’d previously used an iMac primarily with Windows bootcamped onto it (for game compatibility). It took me a while to realize, but at that point, I might as well have used a Windows laptop. The iMac, for how nice and quiet it is, is pretty useless as an iMac when you just run Windows on it, so I decided to sell it and get something else, maybe even something that’s portable. After a while, I settled on the Oryx Pro.

        [...]

        The primary reason I’ve been running Windows and/or MacOS is to play Final Fantasy XIV, a MMO that unfortunately only really runs well on Windows (the official MacOS version is nothing more than a Wine wrapper). However, after a couple hours of fiddling around with Wine and Lutris, I managed to actually get the game to run, and with about 90% of the performance I’d have on Windows! This is mainly due to DXVK, a Wine tool that translates DirectX system calls to Vulkan system calls (I believe), which makes it possible to play many AAA video games on Linux. The only downside to this is that while playing the game, the fans on this laptop run at maximum speed, even though it doesn’t really get hot, just warm, but I’m willing to chalk that up to Wine or something.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • On Linux’s Random Number Generation

        I have been asked about the usefulness of security monitoring of entropy levels in the Linux kernel. This calls for some explanation of how random generation works in Linux systems.

        So, randomness and the Linux kernel. This is an area where there is longstanding confusion, notably among some Linux kernel developers, including Linus Torvalds himself.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Intel Adding DRM-Based Scaling Filter Support For Wayland’s Weston For Less Blurry Outputs

          Intel contributions to Wayland/Weston aren’t as frequent as years ago, but they continue volleying interesting work to keep pace with their graphics driver and Direct Rendering Manager subsystem advancements. Their latest work is on adding scaling filter support to libweston in order to supporting filters like nearest-neighbor for yielding less blurry outputs when upscaling.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Still Has The Upperhand On BSD Support – Core i9 10980XE Benchmarks With DragonFlyBSD + FreeBSD

        While the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X is delivering better raw Linux performance in a far majority of workloads compared to the Intel Core i9 10980XE, one of the areas where the Cascadelake-X platform and Intel CPUs still have an advantage is when it comes to the BSD support. Intel actively supports the BSDs more than AMD and in turn leads to the latest hardware generally working out fine on the latest BSDs. Here are some DragonFlyBSD and FreeBSD tests against Linux with the i9-10980XE.

        In the case of the Threadripper 3970X on the BSDs, it works fine with FreeBSD 12.1 but failed with DragonFlyBSD. Generally with new AMD platforms the latest FreeBSD releases stand good chances of working out-of-the-box but routinely are new motherboards/chipsets that play quirky with FreeBSD or lack various working driver support. On the DragonFlyBSD side the support generally isn’t there at-launch due to whatever bugs for a given launch, but are generally addressed with time, especially with DragonFlyBSD lead developer Matthew Dillon being a big Ryzen/Threadripper fan and has routinely expressed his fondness for their recent platforms. But with AMD not dedicating much in the way of visible resource helping the BSDs, new Intel hardware support is usually better positioned to work on the BSDs at launch. It’s not that no big AMD customers use BSDs but in cases like Netflix, they optimized FreeBSD themselves.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • The Sunday holiday round-up special of Linux and gaming news

        It’s Sunday, it’s chilly here and we’re feeling quite festive now at GOL. Let’s have a little round-up of some missed bits and a few reminders.

        Do you use an Xbox One gamepad and have troubles with it on Linux? A new driver for the wireless dongle is now in progress, currently supporting the later slim model but they do wish to support the old dongle too. Check it out on GitHub if interested.

        Ubisoft announced they’re funding another open source project, after already fronting cash for Blender they’re now giving money to Dear ImGui, a very good open source user interface library. I’m actually shocked at how this year, we’ve seen a sudden shift in behaviour with multiple companies suddenly announcing funding for open source projects. A good sign, one I hope continues.

      • More classics like Time Gate: Knight’s Chase and The Legacy: Realm of Terror arrive on GOG

        Thanks to the awesome power of DOSBox, even more classics are now available on GOG with Linux bundled builds available for your holiday retro gaming needs.

        Newly available titles include:

        Time Gate: Knight’s Chase – From the developers of Alone in the Dark, an epic quest of mystery and intrigue. You are William Tibbs, an American law student in Paris. Your fiancée, Juliette, has been kidnapped and transported back into time, in medieval France, where she is being held hostage. You are the reason for her kidnapping and the key to her rescue.

      • Life is Strange 2 now available on Linux

        Here is a piece of delightful news for Linux gamers: the long-awaited Linux version of “Life is Strange 2” is now releasing for Linux-based systems. Before this, the game was only available for Windows-based systems, but now it is being released for the Linux gaming community — a piece of news many of us were waiting eagerly!

        The story of Life is Strange 2 revolves around two brothers, namely Sean and Daniel Diaz, who escape from their home, fearing the police, because of a tragic accident. Along the way, Daniel identifies his telekinetic power, and the two brothers turn to their father’s home town in Mexico for safety. Indeed, it is a tale of brotherhood coupled with great action!

      • SuperTuxKart 1.1 Prepping Improved Internet Multiplayer, More Polishing

        For those looking for some family-friendly Linux gaming this holiday season, a release candidate of the Mario Kart inspired SuperTuxKart 1.1 is now available for your enjoyment… err testing.

        The SuperTuxKart 1.1 Release Candidate has big improvements to its online multiplayer support, which was one of the big additions with SuperTuxKart 1.0. Missing features for the Internet play mode have been addressed as well as adding IPv6 support, better synchronization, and a variety of other enhancements.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • Create a unique Linux experience with the Unix Desktop Environment

        When the UDE project started in 1996, the developers took on a bold name—Unix Desktop Environment (UDE)—and held high hopes of reinventing what a desktop could be. They weren’t just trying to redefine Unix desktops; they were trying to change the way users interacted with applications on their system. Windows 95 had just come out, so the idea of managing a make-believe “desktop” filled with “folders” and “windows” meant to mimic a real-world desktop had not won all computer users’ mindshare (it still hasn’t, but it does at least seem to be a reliably stable option now). There was still room for experimentation in computer user interfaces (UIs), and the UDE project introduced some truly innovative ideas.

        One of UDE’s most intriguing concepts is that its windows have no title bars or handles. All window control is performed with a hex menu that appears when a window border is clicked. Windows are moved with a middle-click and resized with a right-click.

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KTimeTracker 5.0.1 released

          Today is still December 21th, 2019 UTC and…
          I am pleased to announce the release of KTimeTracker 5.0.1.
          KTimeTracker is a personal time tracker for busy people implemented as a Qt5/KF5-based desktop application.

        • This week in KDE: it’s gonna be amaaaaaaaaaaazing

          Features and polish are coming in hot and heavy for Plasma and KDE apps! But have you heard about KDE’s wallpaper contest for Plasma 5.18? We held one of these for Plasma 5.16 and it resulted in the fantastic “Ice Cold” wallpaper, by Santiago Cézar. Now’s your chance to enter a wallpaper for Plasma 5.18, which is an LTS release, so it will be seen by millions of people for years! There are fabulous prizes by sponsor Tuxedo Computers. Check out the rules here: https://community.kde.org/KDE_Visual_Design_Group/Plasma_5.18_Wallpaper_Competition

          If you’ve got artistic talent, rev up your digital paintbrushes and try your hand at getting your work seen by millions of Plasma LTS users for years to come in our wallpaper competition: https://community.kde.org/KDE_Visual_Design_Group/Plasma_5.18_Wallpaper_Competition!

          More generally, have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved and find out more ways to help be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

          Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

        • KDE Plasma & Friends See Many Fixes + Improvements Ahead Of Christmas

          KDE developers haven’t let up ahead of the holidays in their relentless work for improving the KDE desktop and contained applications.

          KDE developer Nate Graham has once again provided a weekly overview of some of the development activity. Some of the KDE highlights for the past week include:

          - Support for including tags in the search criteria of Dolphin.

          - Support for toggling the Do-Not-Disturb mode via a keyboard shortcut with Plasma 5.18.

        • Linux App Summit(LAS’ 19) | Barcelona

          Recently, I visited Barcelona to attend The Linux App Summit as a part of the organizing team. It was designed to accelerate the growth of the Linux application ecosystem by bringing together everyone involved in creating a great Linux application user experience.

          I was very excited about the conference and my first visit to Europe. I was part of the Marketing and the PR team for the conference. The conference was scheduled from 12th to 15th Nov. I landed in Barcelona on 11th early morning and headed towards my room where I was going to stay for the next 5 days.

          The conference was organized at La Lleialtat Santsenca, a chic community center located in the Sants neighborhood. Luckily, I got a place to stay at around 100 meters from the conference location. I always prefer hostels near the conference location as they save a lot of traveling time and gives time to explore more.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Elementary OS | Review From an openSUSE User

          There are some Linux distributions that have a wide audience and there are others that focus in on a specific customer or user. If I were asked to describe who I think ElementaryOS is targeting, I would certainly say, not me. The reason being, ElementaryOS goes for a particular look and they have a specific design for how they intend that you use the interface. Straying from the interface guideline is not recommended. I reviewed this distribution as a part of the BigDaddyLinux Live Challenge.

          This is my biased review as an openSUSE Tumbleweed, Plasma Desktop user that values shaping his environment to suit his needs. Bottom Line Up Front, ElementaryOS has a clear design intent with a goal on user experience. It is a principled project that has a vision of what a human to machine interface should be and how applications should also interact and present information to the user. These guidelines, however clean they may be, are not to my liking. Although I do appreciate the work and the stubborn adherence to an ideal it does not agree with me. I prefer an interface that I can make my own and shape to my needs as they change. ElementaryOS is far too rigid and the lack of system tray makes it a non-starter and a lack of minimize button makes it annoying. There is not dark theme (but it is coming) and no option for double-click. It is almost as if Qt based applications were not even a secondary or tertiary consideration so applications that I must use are encumbered. All that said, this is me, I would never steer you away from trying ElementaryOS. I have my requirements and they may not be the same as yours.

          [...]

          Although I have a long list of things I do not like about ElementaryOS, it is really not a bad experience. There just happen to be a lot of paper cuts and the lack of built in ability to tweak the issues. Many, many desktop environments may have these small paper cut issues that gnaw at you but they also give you the ability to smooth them out by giving you access to tools to do it. I am sure, with enough time and effort, installing the right tools and tweak packages, I could have fixed all the irritations that I had with the interface. However, it is quite clear, that is not what the designers want you to do. They want you to not have certain features to fit their vision. The issue is, as I see it, ElementaryOS is targeted for those that like a specific way to work with their computer. Since I am unwilling to give up the efficiencies provided by Plasma, Elementary OS does not fit. It is too far of a step back in time for me to be comfortable here.

          Keep in mind, this is my opinion. These are my irritations and they may all be nonsense to you. I would never discourage you from trying ElementaryOS. It is unique in its style and flair with an incredibly stubborn design intent and I don’t think that should change their course at all. Whatever it is that they are trying to accomplish, I hope that they achieve those goals. Computers are supposed to be personal and developers are making it personal, as they see fit.

          I do think you should give ElementaryOS a spin, at least in a VM, maybe on a spare laptop you have laying around. See what you like about it or don’t like about it. If you think my observations and impressions are wrong, feel free to leave a comment or send an email. I only spent a couple weeks on ElementaryOS so there is a lot I don’t know. I will not continue to run it, for the time being. I will certainly give it a try again in the future.

      • New Releases

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

      • Fedora Family

      • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia released, here are the new features

          One of the best things about this update is that Linux Mint has introduced a new bug checking feature that scans the system and then recommends a suitable solution for the problem. Yes, I’m talking about the new System Report tool that works to make your Mint experience more bug-free. Not only that, but Tricia also comes with a brand new logo to freshen things up.

        • Linux Mint 19.3 “Tricia” Released. Here’s What’s New.

          The popular and user friendly Linux distribution Linux Mint brings another milestone update. Based upon Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS (Bionic Beaver), the Linux Mint 19.3 will be supported until 2023. That means, users who does fresh installs, upgrades from 19.2 will be receiving updates, security patches for next 3 years.

          Being a long term support release (LTS), Linux Mint Tricia brings enough updates with this release which would compel you to try it out.

          Here’s what’s new.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • RIP, Chuck Peddle

            never got the pleasure to have met him in person, but virtually any desktop computer owes a debt to him. Not only the computers using the the 6502 microprocessor he designed, but because the 6502 was so inexpensive (especially compared against the Intel and Motorola chips it competed with) that it made the possibility of a computer in everybody’s home actually feasible. Here just in the very room I’m typing this, there is a Commodore 128D, several Commodore SX-64s (with the 8502 and 6510 respectively, variants of the 6502 with on-chip I/O ports), a Commodore KIM-1, a blue-label PET 2001, an Apple IIgs (technically with a 65816, the later WDC 16-bit variant), an Atari 2600 (6507, with a reduced address bus), an Atari Lynx (with the CMOS WDC WD65SC02), and an NEC TurboExpress (Hudson HuC6280, another modified WDC 65C02, with a primitive MMU). The 6502 appeared in fact in the Nintendo Famicom/NES (Ricoh 2A03 variant) and Super Nintendo (65816) and the vast majority of Commodore home computers before the Amiga, plus the Atari 8-bit and Apple II lines. For that matter, the Commodore 1541s and 1571s separate and built-into the 128D and SX-64s have 6502 CPUs too. Most impactful was probably its appearance in the BBC Micro series which was one of the influences on the now-ubiquitous ARM architecture.

          • Running taskcluster tasks locally

            It can be difficult to debug failures in Taskcluster that don’t happen locally. Interactive tasks are very useful for this, but interactive tasks broke during the last migration — a relevant bug is bug 1596632, which is duped to a just-fixed bug, so maybe it works now?. I recently encountered a situation where I really needed to interactively debug something, so I decided to take the plunge and discover the answer to the question: how can I run tasks locally?

            Local tasks provide not only the advantages of interactive tasks, but also allow running against your local checkout. That makes for a much faster edit-run-curse-debug cycle, and opens up possibilities for using this in a lot more situations than the usual last-ditch efforts that interactive try server tasks are usually used for. (Or at least, that’s how I use them. And mostly don’t use them.)

      • CMS

        • Marco Zehe: WordPress accessibility team member, Gutenberg contributor

          My recent frequent blogging about Gutenberg has led to some really productive changes.

          One change is that my profile on WordPress.org now shows that I am also contributing to the accessibility effort. The accessibility team mostly consists of volunteers. And now, I am one of them as well.

      • FSF

        • Licensing / Legal

          • France to launch the Digital Labour Code open source platform [iophk: more javascript :( ]

            The Digital Labour Code platform was developed using NodeJS 10+ and published on GitHub under an Apache 2.0 licence. The platform is the result of the collaboration between the Ministry of Labour (Direction Générale du Travail) and the Regional Directorates for Business, Competition, Consumption, Labour and Employment (DIRECCTE). The development and maintenance of the platform are carried out by Beta.gouv.fr, the French government start-up network and the French Social Ministries’ incubator. Both organisations support start-ups developing online services of general interest for the French administration. In November 2018, the project was the laureate of the Public Service Transformation Fund call for projects.

      • Programming/Development

        • LLVM Begins Landing Preliminary Patches Around Intel’s JCC Erratum, GAS Support Landed

          Disclosed back in November was the Intel Jump Conditional Code (JCC) erratum affecting Skylake and newer CPUs that could lead to “unpredictable behavior” when jump instructions cross cache lines. Intel issued a CPU microcode update to address the problem at a performance cost, but with some compiler toolchain magic, it’s possible to mitigate a good portion of that impact.

        • Fedora 32 Could Make It Easier To Swap Out GCC, Other Compiler Alternative Options

          Adding to the interesting list of proposed features for Fedora 32 would be update-alternatives handling of /usr/bin/cc and /usr/bin/c++ to more easily and seamlessly allowing pointing them at alternative compilers.

          Fedora’s GCC package installs the cc and c++ symlinks to point towards the GNU Compiler Collection while this change for next year’s Fedora 32 would use update-alternatives for managing those generic symlinks.

        • scikit-survival 0.11 featuring Random Survival Forests released

          Today, I released a new version of scikit-survival which includes an implementation of Random Survival Forests. As it’s popular counterparts for classification and regression, a Random Survival Forest is an ensemble of tree-based learners. A Random Survival Forest ensures that individual trees are de-correlated by 1) building each tree on a different bootstrap sample of the original training data, and 2) at each node, only evaluate the split criterion for a randomly selected subset of features and thresholds. Predictions are formed by aggregating predictions of individual trees in the ensemble.

        • Python

          • Why your Python code needs to be beautiful and explicit

            It was in Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP) that the point was made: “Programs must be written for people to read and only incidentally for machines to execute.” Machines do not care about beauty, but people do.

            A beautiful program is one that is enjoyable to read. This means first that it is consistent. Tools like Black, flake8, and Pylint are great for making sure things are reasonable on a surface layer.

            But even more important, only humans can judge what humans find beautiful. Code reviews and a collaborative approach to writing code are the only realistic way to build beautiful code. Listening to other people is an important skill in software development.

            Finally, all the tools and processes are moot if the will is not there. Without an appreciation for the importance of beauty, there will never be an emphasis on writing beautiful code.

            This is why this is the first principle: it is a way of making “beauty” a value in the Python community. It immediately answers: “Do we really care about beauty?” We do.

          • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (ccvii) stackoverflow python report
          • Python 3.7.5 : Simple web search with google python package.
          • Python 3.7.5 : The new PyQt5 released.

            The PyQt v5.14.0 has been released with support for Qt v5.14.0.

          • How to Change the Size of Seaborn Plots

            In this short tutorial, we will learn how to change the figure size of Seaborn plots. For many reasons, we may need to either increase the size or decrease the size, of our plots created with Seaborn. One example, for instance, maybe when we are going to communicate the results from our data analysis. In this case, we may compile the descriptive statistics, data visualization, and results from data analysis into a report, or manuscript for scientific publication.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Dima Kogan: vnl-uniq

            I just added a new tool to the vnlog toolkit: vnl-uniq. Similar to the others, this one is a wrapper for the uniq tool in GNU coreutils.

      • Standards/Consortia

        • [Old] The Web Accessibility Basics

          If there’s one wish I have for Christmas from the web developer community at large, it is this: Be good citizens of the web, and learn proper HTML before you even so much as touch any JavaScript framework. Those frameworks are great and offer a lot of features, no doubt. But before you use hundreds of kilobytes of JavaScript to make something clickable, you may want to try if a simple button element doesn’t do the trick just as fine!

          Use semantics and save yourselves a lot of extra work, because all the standard elements come with accessibility for free.

  • Leftovers

    • YouTubers physically fighting each other could become a regular event

      If it draws new viewers, Dazn has plans to team up with more creators and pit them against each other in the boxing ring — and potentially in other sports as well, according to Joe Markowski, Dazn’s executive vice president of North American content.

    • Science

      • ‘Grow and prune’ AI mimics brain development, slashes energy use

        In the first study, the researchers re-examined the foundations of machine learning—the abstract code structures called artificial neural networks. Borrowing inspiration from early childhood development, the team designed a neural network synthesis tool (NeST) that re-created several top neural networks from scratch, automatically, using sophisticated mathematical models first developed in the 1980s.

        NeST starts with only a small number of artificial neurons and connections, increases in complexity by adding more neurons and connections to the network, and once it meets a given performance benchmark, begins narrowing with time and training. Previous researchers had employed similar pruning strategies, but the grow-and-prune combination—moving from the “baby brain” to the “toddler brain” and slimming toward the “adult brain”—represented a leap from old theory to novel demonstration.

    • Hardware

      • Opensource Retrocomputing: FreeMiNT on Atari ST

        When preparing the last ST Mint release, I noticed that bash needed too much memory for the ST, so I included the sash shell, cross-compiled from the Debian source package.

        Funnily enough, although the Atari hardware is physically large and heavy, working on ST Mint feels like doing embedded hardware development: you cross-compile, link with the smallest possible libc, copy stuff on a SD Card, and try to fit everything in 4MB of RAM.

      • Getting Drivers for Old Hardware Is Harder Than Ever

        You’ve never lived until you’ve had to download a driver from an archived forum post on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

        You have no idea if it’s going to work, but it’s your only option. So you bite the bullet. I recently did this with a PCI-based SATA card I was attempting to flash to support a PowerPC-based Mac, and while it was a bit of a leap of faith, it actually ended up working. Score one for chance.

        But this, increasingly, feels like it may be a way of life for people trying to keep old hardware alive—despite the fact that all the drivers generally have to do is simply sit on the internet, available when they’re necessary.

        Apparently, that isn’t easy enough for Intel. Recently, the chipmaker took BIOS drivers, a boot-level firmware technology used for hardware initialization in earlier generations of PCs, for a number of its unsupported motherboards off its website, citing the fact that the programs have reached an “End of Life” status. While it reflects the fact that Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), a later generation of firmware technology used in PCs and Macs, is expected to ultimately replace BIOS entirely, it also leaves lots of users with old gadgets out in a lurch. And as Bleeping Computer has noted, it appears to be part of a broader trend to prevent downloads for unsupported hardware on the Intel website—things that have long lived past their current lives. After all, if something goes wrong, Intel can be sure it’s not liable if a 15-year-old BIOS update borks a system.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • What Will It Take to Rid Our Store Shelves of BPA and Other Dangerous Chemicals?

        Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — A percussion of metal-on-metal echoes through the lab as empty food cans drop one by one off a conveyor belt and into rounded pockets of a rotating blue cogwheel.

      • Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act

        The basic proposal is to require the U.S. Gov’t to negotiate on Medicare drug prices for insulin and >25 of the top-125 drugs (by national spending).

        [...]

        Although not a “patent” bill, the proposal would significantly impact the market for patented drugs and biologics. What is unclear at this point is how research would shift. PhRMA estimates that the US Bio / Pharma industry spent about $100 billion on research in 2017.

      • BREAKING: Court of Appeal frames Article 3(a) test as one of “claim requirement”, but still upholds Truvada SPC invalidity

        It is the most wonderful time of the year. Or, so they say. If you haven’t been able to enjoy the glittering lights illuminating London, feast upon the myriad of Christmas markets around Europe or have an unexpected snowball fight in Central Park, there is still some Christmas cheer to bring you to your desk. That is, if you like SPC law.

        This morning the Court of Appeal ([2019] EWCA Civ 2272) dismissed Gilead’s appeal of Mr Justice Arnold’s (as he then was) September 2018 decision in Teva v Gilead finding that Gilead’s SPC protecting its combination HIV anti-retroviral drug, Truvada, was invalid. The product subject to the SPC was a combination of tenofovir disoproxil and emtricitabine. Gilead claimed that this product was protected by Claim 27 of European Patent No 0 915 894 (the ’894 Patent). Teva (and a merry band of other generic companies) argued that the ’894 Patent did not protect this combination product under Article 3(a) of the SPC Regulation. Article 3(a) requires that an SPC can only be granted if the product subject to the SPC is “protected by a basic patent in force”.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Apple open-sources HomeKit tools to speed up smart home push

              Crucially, the move doesn’t mean that HomeKit is going completely open-source, and nor does it mean that just anyone will be able to use the software to design and release their own Apple-compatible smart home accessory. Manufacturers will still need to enroll in Apple’s HomeKit MFi Program to get access to the commercial version of the Accessory Protocol Specification and to sell their devices. But open-sourcing elements of HomeKit will make it easier for manufacturers to prototype devices before spending the money to become an MFi partner.

            • Apple open-sources HomeKit Accessory Development Kit to spur adoption, grow new standard

              On Wednesday, Apple announced the formation of Project Connected Home Over IP, a consortium of companies that hope to develop an open standard that allows manufacturers to more easily build devices that work on multiple smart home platforms and assistants. That could include platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa as well as Apple’s HomeKit.

            • Apple joins Amazon, Google, Zigbee Alliance and board members, to form working group to develop an open standard for smart home devices.

              To accelerate the development of the new universal standard, Apple is open-sourcing portions of its HomeKit Accessory Development Kit (ADK). HomeKit has grown to become the most extensive, powerful and secure smart home platform available on more than a billion iOS and iPadOS devices. Built from the ground up to protect customer data, HomeKit and the Home app use innovative privacy technologies and techniques to help minimize the amount of data anyone — including Apple — can access as well as powerful security features that protect personal information. By open-sourcing its HomeKit technology, Apple will be helping to jump-start the initiative and ultimately deliver an even better experience to customers.

              Starting today, developers can use the HomeKit Open Source ADK to prototype non-commercial smart home accessories. Apple will also contribute its HomeKit Accessory Protocol to the working group.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Smart Home Tech, Police, and Your Privacy: Year in Review 2019

              If 2019 confirmed anything, it is that we should not trust the microphones and cameras that large corporations sell us to put inside and near our homes. Thanks to the due diligence of reporters, public records requesters, and privacy researchers and activists, consumers have been learning more and more about how these “smart” home technologies can be hacked, exploited, or utilized by the police and other law enforcement agencies.

              Because many technologies that record audio and video store their data on a cloud maintained by the company, police can gain access to stored content by presenting a warrant to those companies—bypassing consumers altogether. For instance, in November, police in Florida obtained a warrant for the recordings from an Amazon Echo that may have overheard a crime. This means that whether people think their Alexa is listening or not, their Alexa could be listening. Because Amazon stores and maintains that data, things said in the device’s presence can be made accessible to police via a warrant presented to the company.

            • 2019 in Review

              In November’s landmark opinion in Alasaad v. McAleenan, a federal judge ruled that suspicionless electronic device searches at U.S. ports of entry violate the Fourth Amendment. The Alasaad opinion was the perfect way to end 2019—the culmination of two years of hard work by EFF, ACLU, and our 11 clients. In another sense, it was a culmination of our decades of work explaining to the public and the courts that you don’t lose your rights when you go online or use digital tools.

              Every time policymakers or private companies tried to undermine your rights online, we were there.

            • Data on Hundreds of Millions of U.S. Facebook Users Exposed

              Information on 267 million Facebook users, including user names, phone numbers and Facebook IDs, was exposed online, according to a cybersecurity researcher.

              The data, mostly from U.S. Facebook users, was posted on a searchable database by a group that appeared to be based in Vietnam, said Bob Diachenko, the cyber threat intelligence director at Security Discovery, a Ukrainian cybersecurity website that offers news and consulting services. The Vietnamese group appeared to be charging for access to the data, but a flaw in their code inadvertently left the database open to all, he said.

            • Let’s Talk About Anonymity Online

              The 111.222.333.444 would be my IP address. With that, anyone can get a lot of information about. With just a simple google search, you can actually see in the general vicinity where an IP address originates from. For example, the public IP address for Google is 172.217.23.238. You can use services like https://whatismyipaddress.com/ to what company owns an IP and a map to where it is located. In this case, the IP for Google is probably in a datacenter in Kansas. When I look up my personal IP, the website shows a map of Prague and the company that I use for my internet provider.

              What does this mean? To any website that I visit and I don’t say who I am, I am anonymous but I am trackable. My IP address and many other things about my computer and my browser give me an unique fingerprint. From the website that I run, if I wanted, I could see a list of every IP address that ever visited, where they come from, what kind of computer they use, what browser they use, what resolution their screen is, and a lot more. A law enforcement or legal organization can easily find out who I am personally by contacting my internet service provider and then I am no longer anonymous at all. Anonymity is a very tenuous concept online. It really isn’t difficult to find out who someone is in real life if you have the means to do so.

              Now let’s change gears. You’re probably heard about Tor. I know I’ve written about it a lot here. Tor is a way to make yourself both anonymous and untrackable. Furthermore it makes your true IP address a secret so even law enforcement have a very hard time tracking down someone using it. Your ISP doesn’t know what you do online.

            • Molly de Blanc: Consent

              I was walking down the platform at the train station when I caught eyes with a police officer. Instinctively, I smiled and he smiled back. When I got closer, he said “Excuse me, do you mind if I swipe down your bag?” He gestured to a machine he was holding. “Just a random check.”

              The slight tension I’d felt since I first saw him grabbed hold of my spine, shoulders, and jaw. I stood up a little straighter and clenched my teeth down.

              “Sure, I guess,” I said uncertainly.

              He could hear something in my voice, or read something in my change of posture. “You have to consent in order for me to be allowed to do it.”

              Consent. I’d just been writing about consent that morning, before going to catch the train down to New York for Thanksgiving. It set me on edge and made more real what was happening: someone wanted to move into my personal space. There was now a legal interaction happening. “I don’t want to be difficult, but I’d rather you didn’t if you don’t have to.”

              “It’s just a random check,” he said. “You don’t have to consent.”

              “What happens if I say no?”

              “You can’t get on the train,” he gestured to the track with his machine.

              “So, my options are to let you search my bag or not go see my family for Thanksgiving?”

              “You could take a bus,” he offered.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • French President Says 33 Jihadists Killed in Central Mali

        French forces have killed 33 Islamic extremists in central Mali, French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday.

      • Episode 59 – The 2019 Bolivian Coup – Along The Line Podcast

        Along the Line, is a member of the Demcast network, brought to you by the Media Freedom Foundation. On today’s episode hosts Nicholas Baham III (Dr. Dreadlocks), Janice Domingo,  and Nolan Higdon discuss the Bolivian Coup. ATL’s  Creative Director is Dylan Lazaga.  Mickey Huff is ATL’s producer. ATL’s engineer is Janice Domingo. Adam Armstrong is ATL’s webmaster.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Catalog Retailers See Reason for Optimism After Declines

        Catalogs, those glossy paper-and-ink offerings of outdoor apparel, kitchenware and fruit baskets, are not yet headed for the recycling bin of history.

      • We Must Address the Roots of Inequality to Keep It From Killing Us

        New data from the U.S. Census Bureau confirms that the gap between the richest and poorest households in the U.S. is the largest it has been in over 50 years, and that economic power is more concentrated than ever before. Democrats and Republicans may have different interpretations of these facts, but in public health, decades of research are coming to a consensus: Inequality kills.

      • People Power in Romania Stopped a Mining Project. Now the Corporation Is Suing.

        Recently, a colorful group gathered outside a World Bank building in downtown Washington, D.C. to defend a community 5,000 miles away in Romania. Most had never met each other but when each pointed to her or his hand-drawn sign it was smiles and nods all round. And before you knew it, they were chanting slogans together as if they had done this before, including one in the Romanian language: “Uniti Salvam Rosia Montana!”

      • Buttigieg Leads 2020 Rivals in Wall Street Contributions

        The financial sector, blamed by progressives for spawning the 2008 economic collapse, is lining up behind Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • India shuts down internet in Aligarh on eve of 70-year Ayodhya land dispute verdict

        Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory confirm that India has cut internet access in in the city of Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh on the eve of a significant legal verdict. The internet shutdown is implemented by authorities a day in advance of an upcoming verdict that seeks to resolve a 70-year land dispute between Hindu and Muslim residents which centers around the city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

      • Avnish Bajaj Redux? Supreme Court of India Denies Relief to Google in Criminal Defamation Proceedings

        In its judgement in Google India Pvt. Ltd. vs M/s Visakha Industries, delivered on December 10, 2019, the Supreme Court denied to quash defamation proceedings against Google for its failure to expeditiously remove allegedly defamatory material from its ‘Google Group’ service.

        The case is significant for online intermediaries operating in India, as it holds that online intermediaries may be liable as a ‘publisher’ in criminal defamation proceedings under the Indian Penal Code in certain circumstances.

        [...]

        First, in complaints on criminal defamation filed prior to the substitution of Section 79 (that is, October 27, 2009), Section 79 does not offer any exemption from liability. This is also true for all offences not specifically traceable to a special offence under the IT Act.

        Second, online intermediaries and service providers may be held to be the publishers of (and liable for) defamatory content under Section 499 of the IPC, if, having the ability and upon being called upon to remove such content, the intermediary refuses to do so. The scope of such power and refusal are a matter of trial – for example, whether the intermediary can demand specific URLs or not. Under the prevailing norm of intermediary liability under Section 79, however, such liability would be exempt, provided the intermediary acts upon a court order or the order of an appropriate government for removal of content.

        Therefore, while the judgement may not have immediate consequences given the amended scope of Section 79, it is a crucial reminder that common law standards of criminal and civil law relating to liability for publication can easily extend to internet service providers, potentially resulting in the chilling effect on speech and overblocking, that the Supreme Court has itself warned against in Shreya Singhal v Union of India. The judgement takes us back to the infamous Avnish Bajaj case relating to obscene publications under Indian law and the imprisonment of the director of bazee.com, which in fact led to subsequently stronger intermediary safe harbour protections. It is also an apt warning, as impending regulation looms large over internet intermediaries, of the need to tread cautiously when upsetting online safe harbours and regulating online speech.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • ‘If Someone Speaks the Truth, He Will Be Killed’

        Malizaev—fearing for his family’s life, as well as his own—eventually acquiesced to the demand, recording an audio statement that was briefly posted to YouTube, apologizing to Kadyrov for bringing shame on the Chechen people. But, as Artsuev recounted, “it wasn’t enough.” Malizaev was soon asked to make a video in which he would have to use even more groveling language, a demand he rejected. Days later, Artsuev said, two men appeared at Malizaev’s house and began physically beating him. The dissident managed to call Artsuev, and the lawyer quickly hopped into his car and began driving the hundreds of miles from his home in Hamburg to Lüdenscheid. By the time he arrived, Malizaev was in the hospital.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • ‘They Did it on Purpose’: Protester Crushed Between Police Jeeps Latest Victim of Months-Long Chilean Crackdown on Dissent

        The young man was seriously injured but is expected to survive.

      • In Search of Solutions to Alaska’s Law Enforcement Crisis

        A year ago, the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica embarked on an extended reporting project investigating Alaska’s extremely high rates of sexual violence and why the problem doesn’t get better.

        We launched a deep look at criminal justice across the state and documented, for the first time, how one in three Alaska communities had no local law enforcement of any kind. We reported how in some communities, convicted criminals — including sex offenders — have been hired as police officers.

      • We Found Villages That Hired Criminals as Cops. Now Officials Want It To Change.

        The Alaska state board that regulates police officers is trying to figure out who is serving as police in remote villages and whether they committed crimes that would bar them from doing so, seeking to plug holes in oversight identified this year by the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica.

        The newsrooms reported in July that some village governments have resorted to hiring criminals, including registered sex offenders, as local law enforcement. All told, at least 14 small Alaska cities have employed some 34 police whose criminal records should have prevented them from being hired under current state regulations.

      • Alaska’s Law Enforcement Crisis Is a Public Emergency. Here’s How Experts Want to Fix It.

        Decades into a burgeoning public safety crisis, with a stubbornly high rate of sexual violence, Alaska finally may have arrived at a moment of change.

        The state board that regulates police officers is now, for the first time, working to identify and train officers who work for remote villages and ensure they meet basic hiring standards.

      • UAE: Unrelenting Harassment of Dissidents’ Families

        The United Arab Emirates state security apparatus has targeted dozens of relatives of detained Emirati dissidents and of dissidents living abroad, Human Rights Watch said today.

        Human Rights Watch documented the targeting of relatives of eight UAE dissidents. These include dissidents who have moved abroad and those currently serving lengthy sentences in the UAE. The government has revoked the citizenship of 19 relatives of two dissidents.  At least 30 relatives of six of the dissidents are currently banned from traveling;; and 22 relatives of three of the dissidents are barred from renewing their identity documents. Between 2013 and 2019, the relatives of all eight dissidents faced restrictions on their access to jobs and higher education.

      • Man who died in Sonoma deputy’s carotid hold was driving own vehicle

        Sgt. Juan Valencia, an office spokesman, told The Chronicle that a carotid restraint hold is not a choke hold, because if used correctly, it does not constrict the airway. It is used to render a person unconscious so deputies can conduct an arrest, he said, adding that “it’s not considered deadly force at all.”

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • The Year We Fought to Get Net Neutrality Back: 2019 Year in Review

        Ever since the FCC repealed net neutrality protections in 2017, we’ve been fighting to return as many protections to as many Americans as possible. In 2019, the battles in the courts and Congress both kept those committed to a free and open Internet very busy.

        The court case over the FCC’s 2017 repeal of net neutrality protections bookended 2019. At the very beginning of the year, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard the case of Mozilla v. FCC, in which civil society, local governments, and Internet companies of all sizes took on the FCC and the large ISPs. The former was arguing for protections based on how the Internet really works, the dangers posed to the public without net neutrality, and on behalf of the vast majority of Americans who supported the 2015 Open Internet Order. The latter was arguing in favor of one of the most unpopular decisions in Internet history and for the enrichment of giant companies at the expense of a free and open Internet.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Netflix Joins Another Major Anti-Piracy Coalition

        As Netflix continues to produce more and more original content, the company is also increasing its foothold in the anti-piracy community. The week, Italian anti-piracy group FAPAV announced that Netflix has joined its ranks. With this addition, it hopes to continue its anti-piracy efforts, which will have a special focus on illegal IPTV services in 2020.

    • Monopolies

      • The Visible Hand?

        This essay is part of a symposium reviewing JoAnne Yates and Craig N. Murphy’s “Engineering Rules: Global Standard Setting Since 1880″ (John Hopkins University Press).

      • Uber Ordered by Judge to Suspend Service in Colombia

        A judge at the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce, which regulates the market, ruled that Uber’s app violated competition norms, the regulator said Friday in a statement. Cotech SA, a taxi-service platform, filed the lawsuit against Uber.

        “This violates the rules that regulate the market, generates a significant advantage in the market, and generates deviation from the clientele of Cotech,” the regulator said in a separate statement.

      • Is “fake” a four-letter word; ask the rhinoceros

        “Fakes”, “deceptions”, “knockoffs” and more. Whatever you call it, our IP instinct is to condemn such activities as going over to the Dark Side. Oh, that the world would be so black and white. And when it comes to the rhinoceros, the possibility of “fake” with respect to its horns may be the last best hope to preserve this endangered species. Indeed, the story of fake rhinoceros horns is another example of the “grey” that can color our view of such behavior.

        [...]

        The basis for creating the “forgery” by Vollrath and colleagues is horsehair (the “horns” of a rhinoceros are actually composed of hairs that are tightly bound by an agglomeration of dead cells). The researchers determined that the hairs of a rhinoceros are quite similar to those taken from the tail of a horse and adjustments can be made so they are even more similar. They then developed a suitable binding matrix for the hairs. The result was “…a material that, with some polishing, looked like rhino horn.”

        The next step was, to ensure, to the extent possible, that the ensuing fake could withstand the close inspection given to the product on the black market. While DNA analysis would reveal the deception, such tests are highly unlikely to be carried out in the black-market environment. Once DNA testing is discounted, “[t]he forgeries passed other tests [Merpel notes they included scanning under an electronic microscope, heat absorption and several technical probes regarding the underlying mechanical properties] with flying colors.”

        Will flooding the market with fake rhinoceros horns achieve the desired results, namely lower prices for horns leading to less poaching? After all, given that the possibility of fake horns is public information, what may happen is that the black marketeers will be able to distinguish between genuine and fake horns on the basis of their source. If that occurs, the question will be whether the existence of fake horns will lead to a significant dysfunctioning of the market (presumably good for the rhinoceros), or create a bifurcated market where genuine horns will fetch a premium price (perhaps less favorable for the rhinoceros)?

      • TRADE SECRETS PROTECTION PROTOCOL

        In light of the recent approval of the Law on Trade Secrets, which entered into force in March 13th, 2019, which transposes the Directive on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets), the Courts of Barcelona have issued a Protocol of Trade Secrets Protection.

        This Protocol has been issued by the Commercial Courts of Barcelona on November, and responds to the need to establish homogeneous procedural practices in the procedural treatment to be given to information that may be considered as secret or confidential in the framework of a judicial procedure.

      • Safe Harbor Defense Under 35 U.S.C. §271(e)(1) Requires That the Accused Activity Is Solely for Uses Reasonably Related to Submitting Information to the FDA

        On appeal, the Federal Circuit found that substantial evidence supported the jury’s finding that fourteen batches were not manufactured “solely for uses reasonably related to the development and submission of information” to the FDA. The court rejected Hospira’s argument that the safe harbor always applies in the pre-approval context. The court also rejected Hospira’s argument that simply submitting information about a drug substance lot to the FDA brings the manufacture of that lot within the safe harbor. Evidence showed that preparing the additional batches was not an activity required for FDA approval, but was to meet post-approval stability requirements or to prepare for commercialization. The Federal Circuit also affirmed the $70 million damages verdict that was based on the profit Hospira could earn if it were in place to launch its EPO as soon as the patents expired.

      • Federal Circuit affirms Safe Harbor ruling and $70 million award in Amgen Inc. v. Hospira, Inc.

        The Federal Circuit disagreed, reasoning that because the patented inventions are methods of manufacture, the relevant inquiry was not how Hospira used each batch, but whether each act of manufacturing was solely for a use reasonably related to submitting information to the FDA. The court further emphasized that each accused activity must be evaluated separately. The Federal Circuit also found that substantial evidence supported the jury’s conclusion that the fourteen batches at issue were not manufactured “solely for uses reasonably related to the development and submission of information” to the FDA. The jury had limited the protected batches to two that were used for qualifying Hospira’s manufacturing process and equipment, and five that were used for a mandatory pre-approval inspection by the FDA. Both documentary evidence and expert testimony demonstrated that the manufacturing of the remaining batches was not required for FDA pre-approval, and was instead intended to serve as the commercial inventory of a future launch. The court focused on the differences between manufacturing required by the FDA for an approval, and drug batches made for commercial use (e.g., continued process verification) or post-approval commitments (e.g., stability testing), where only the former are protected by the Safe Harbor provision. The court further rejected Hospira’s argument that simply submitting information about a drug substance lot to the FDA brings the manufacture of that lot within the protections of the Safe Harbor, noting that “routine record retention requirements associated with testing and other aspects of the commercial production process” are not protected by the Safe Harbor. Momenta Pharms., Inc. v. Teva Pharms. USA, Inc., 809 F.3d 610, 620-21 (Fed. Cir. 2015).

      • Patents

        • Athena Diagnostics Seeks Supreme Court Review of Athena Diagnostics v. Mayo Collaborative Services

          Athena markets a test called FMUSK that functions by evaluating those antibodies. After Mayo developed two competing tests, Athena filed suit against Mayo for infringement of the ’820 patent, and Mayo moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that the asserted claims of the ’820 patent were invalid under § 101 for claiming patent ineligible subject matter. The District Court granted Mayo’s motion, and Athena appealed for a determination of whether claims 6-9 are patent eligible under § 101.

          In February, a divided Federal Circuit panel affirmed a decision by the District Court, holding claims 6-9 invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101, and dismissing Athena’s complaint for infringement under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In the panel opinion, authored by Judge Lourie and joined by Judge Stoll (with Judge Newman dissenting), the panel majority “ultimately agree[d] with Mayo that, under Mayo [Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 566 U.S. 66, 70 (2012)], the claims are directed to a natural law,” and that in the instant case, the natural law “is the correlation between the presence of naturally-occurring MuSK autoantibodies in bodily fluid and MuSK related neurological diseases like MG.” However, the majority also explained in a footnote that:

          [...]

          Athena provides five points of confusion that it contends have emerged “as courts and litigants have struggled to apply—or have misapplied—the judicially-created exceptions to Section 101.” First, Athena contends that “courts have struggled with the tension between the Federal Circuit’s striking down a diagnostic method claim that uses novel man-made molecules and this Court’s holding that a ‘molecule that is not naturally occurring’ is ‘not a ‘product of nature’ and is patent eligible under § 101.’” Second, Athena contends that “courts have struggled to apply the principles articulated in the context of the unusual facts of Mayo to more typical patent claims,” arguing that in contrast with the claims at issue in the instant case, “[t]he claim in Mayo was an oddity” because the two actions required by the claim were steps that were already performed by doctors before the patent was issued. Third, Athena argues that “courts have struggled with the level of abstraction at which to determine whether the steps of a claim ‘transform an unpatentable law of nature into a patent eligible application of such a law.’” Fourth, Athena asserts that “the Federal Circuit’s approach gives little consideration to the ‘preemptive’ scope of a claim, contrary to this Court’s guidance,” stating that the Federal Circuit “has transformed the preemption analysis into a one-way ratchet” in which claims that do not prevent others from using a natural law are nevertheless deemed to be patent ineligible. Finally, Athena argues that “courts have struggled with what it means to review a claim ‘as a whole.’”

        • New study suggests that US companies have received the greatest benefit from post-AIA proceedings

          Much has been said about the PTAB and the impact that post-AIA proceedings (IPRs, PGRs, and CBMs) have had on innovation in the US. Although data-sharing efforts by the USPTO have significantly increased the level of transparency with respect to the PTAB’s activities, there remains a great deal of confusion surrounding the PTAB due to the fact that data can be (and often is) misinterpreted and misrepresented.

          Unified’s Patent Quality Initiative aims to remedy such confusion by providing clear, objective data analyses regarding the current state of patent litigation in district court and at the PTAB. In a previous study, Unified analyzed the relationship between NPEs (non-practicing entities) and small enterprises in district court. In this report, Unified is sharing its findings with respect to the country of origin for Petitioners and Patent Owners at the PTAB.

          Since the creation of post-AIA proceedings in 2012, over 10,700 petitions have been filed. Some suggest these proceedings have somehow harmed US innovation, most often by (misleadingly) citing the PTAB’s 88% invalidity rate (in reality, that rate is about 35%, in line with previous proceedings). [1] Relevantly, Unified’s independent analysis reveals that, to date, US-based companies have received the greatest benefit from these proceedings.

          [...]

          This report includes all PTAB cases filed between September 16, 2012 and September 9, 2019. Total number of reported cases can vary based on what is included. Unified made its best attempt to eliminate mistaken or duplicative filings, hence the totals may vary slightly compared to other reporting services.

          Unified made its best effort to accurately identify US and Foreign companies through all available materials such as government records, financial reports, tax documentation, and official company websites, profiles and statements.

        • Financial Rewards Don’t Drive University Patenting

          Stanford Law Prof. Lisa Larrimore Ouellette recently published the results of an extensive study of whether university royalty-sharing arrangements with professors are beneficial. Using the variation in royalty-sharing between different universities as a natural experiment allowed Ouellette to determine the impacts of higher and lower royalty shares on patenting and development behavior.

          Contrary to earlier results, which are shown to be due to coding errors, Ouellette finds “no compelling empirical evidence that increasing university inventors’ royalty share has a significant effect on any of the outcomes one would expect to be most affected.” This, in turn, has a policy impact because royalties kept by a university are required to be reinvested in research and education, while no such requirement attaches to money shared with a professor. If royalty-sharing doesn’t drive professorial patenting, then the more beneficial outcome is likely to be achieved by keeping that money within the university where it can be used to provide additional research and educational funding.

          While Ouellette doesn’t go this far, it’s also worth remembering that the vast majority of university tech transfer offices lose money. If they lose money for their university, and if money to professors doesn’t drive desirable behaviors, it might be worth considering whether incentivizing open licensing of university-developed inventions would be more desirable than the present system.

        • Patent case: Medical Workshop B.V. vs. Sharpsight B.V., Netherlands

          In the present preliminary case the consequence of the termination of the agreement between Medical Workshop and Sharpsight was that Medical Workshop was no longer able to use the name Invitria for the sale and marketing of the ophthalmalogic product protected by a patent owned by the single shareholder of Sharpsight.

        • Principal Officers: Three En Banc Petitions in Arthrex v. Smith & Nephew

          In its decision, the Federal Circuit held that the appointment process for PTAB judges (APJs) violates the Appointments Clause of Article II of the U.S. Constitution. The court explained that these judges are principal officers under the constitution and thus, must be appointed by the President of the United States rather than merely the Head of Department. However, the court issued a cy-près ruling in an attempt to limit the upset caused by its ruling. In particular, the court invalidated a portion of the statute that limited the PTO’s ability to remove APJs from the board. According to the court, that change was enough to reclassify the PTAB Judges as inferior officers that do not need presidential appointment. Despite its proposed “cure”, the Federal Circuit held that – in this case – the PTAB decision must be vacated and reheard in front of a new panel of APJs. “We hold that a new panel of APJs must be designated to hear the inter partes review anew on remand.”

        • Self Anticipation Dooms Chamberlain Patent

          In its final written decision, the PTAB sided with the patent challenger — finding all challenged claims (18-25) anticipated by a prior Chamberlain patent, U.S. Patent No. 4,638,433 (Schindler). On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed — finding that substantial evidence supported the Board’s factual conclusion of Anticipation.

          [...]

          What’s going on here? Knowing Chamberlain’s history of pushing the limits of its IP protections, it looks to me like the company was using this new patent to extend of its old Schindler patent that was approaching expiration. Although Chamberlain may have something patentable here, that needed to be reflected in the claims.

        • Attorney Fees Designed to Deter Future Wasteful Litigation

          Id. In Octane Fitness, the Supreme Court interpreted an “exceptional case” as one that “stands out from others with respect to the substantive strength of a party’s litigating position (considering both the governing law and the facts of the case) or the unreasonable manner in which the case was litigated.” Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1749 (2014). Applying that standard, the district court noted that Blackbird’s litigation position was substantively weak; that the case was litigated in an unreasonable manner; and that fees were warranted “to deter future abusive litigation.”

          Weak Case: Although the accused device includes the bowed shape, it has several differences from the claims and the Federal Circuit found that “the exercise of even a modicum of due diligence by Blackbird, as part of a pre-suit investigation, would have revealed the weaknesses in its litigation position.” Although no motion for sanctions was filed, Blackbird was aware from early-on (the original answer) that HIM was planning to seek attorney fees and thus had sufficient “notice” to ensure its affairs were in order and correct defects in the case.

          Nuisance Offers: During the litigation, Blackbird made several offers to settle at what the Federal Circuit called “nuisance value settlement offers” ranging from $80k to $15k. Each of these were “significantly less than the cost of litigation.” On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed that low settlement offers may be considered when determining bad faith and exceptional cases. Citing Eon-Net LP v. Flagstar Bancorp, 653 F.3d 1314 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (patentee had “acted in bad faith by exploiting the high cost to defend complex litigation to extract a nuisance value settlement”).


        • Nexus: Product must be “Essentially the Claimed Invention”

          This is an important case for anyone arguing secondary indicia — not a good case for patent holders. The court here again raised the “nexus” hurdle by holding that a presumption of nexus can only be achieved by proving that the product being sold by the patentee is “essentially the claimed invention.” This is a situation where SRAM owned two patents in the same patent family — both of which covered aspects of its X-Sync bicycle chainring (gear). Each patent included elements not claimed in the other — for the court that was enough evidence to disprove coexistence.

          In its IPR Final Written Decision, the PTAB sided with the patentee SRAM — finding the claims not-proven-obvious. U.S. Patent No. 9,182,027 (Claims 1-6 and 13-19). The prior art apparently taught all of the claimed elements as well as a motivation to combine the references. However, the Board found that the commercial success of SRAM’s product tilted the balance toward non-obviousnessness.

          [...]

          Multiple Patents and Coexistence: The SRAM chainrings are also covered by a separate patent – U.S. Patent 9,291,250. The ‘250 patent is a continuation of the ‘027 patent and particularly claim “>80% gap filling” — something not claimed in the ‘027 patent at issue in this case. Despite being a continuation, the Federal Circuit found that the ‘027 patent covers a different invention — “these patents cover different combinations of chainring features. . . . [And] The same evidence of secondary considerations cannot be presumed to be attributable to two different combinations of features.” The existence of this separate patented invention covering the product proved to the court that the product was not coexistent with the first patent. The court went on to explain that even seeking patent protection on a different combination than that eventually claimed is “probative” of no coexistence.

        • Software Patents

          • Kojicast patent determined to be likely invalid

            On December 10, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 9,749,380, owned and asserted by Kojicast, LLC, an NPE. The ‘380 patent, directed to streaming multimedia content from a server to a media playing device through operation of a portable device such as a tablet or smartphone, has been asserted against Dailymotion.

          • $5,000 Cash Prize for Prior Art on Rothschild “Photo Transfer” Patent

            Unified is offering a $5,000 cash prize for the best prior art submission for US 9,936,086. The ’086 patent, generally directed to a system and method for the wireless transfer of photos between mobile devices is owned by Rothschild Patent Imaging, LLC (an NPE) and has been widely asserted in district court. As previously reported, one of these lawsuits targets the GNOME Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides completely free, open-source software solutions for the public. To protect innovation and deter future frivolous assertions, Unified is offering a $5,000 cash prize for the best prior art on this patent.

          • Multiple claims of Mobility Workx patent held unpatentable by PTAB

            On December 3, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Mobility Workx, LLC, holding as unpatentable 5 out the 7 challenged claims of U.S. Patent 8,213,417, owned and asserted by Mobility Workx, LLC (an NPE). The ’417 patent, directed to a “system, apparatus, and methods for proactive allocation of wireless communication resources,” has been asserted in the Eastern District of Texas against Verizon and T-Mobile.

          • Lighthouse “check depositing” patent challenged as likely invalid

            On December 13, 2019, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 8,590,940, owned and asserted by Lighthouse Consulting Group, an NPE. The ‘940 patent, directed to image-based check depositing technology, has been asserted in district court 33 times since July (29 of which were pending at the time of filing). The defendants in these cases are primarily banks and financial services companies such as Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Charles Schwab, AMEX, Bank of America, Capital One, Morgan Stanley, Ally Financial, JP Morgan, and BB&T.

          • Uniloc patent determined to be likely invalid

            On December 10, 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 6,519,005, owned and asserted by Uniloc 2017 LLC, a Uniloc affiliate and well-known NPE. The ‘005 patent, directed to a method for performing motion estimation, a process used in digital video compression, has been asserted against numerous streaming and multimedia companies, including Amazon, American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Bitmovin, Google, Hulu, Netflix, Roku, Sling TV, and Vudu.

          • Accelerated Memory Tech patent challenged as likely invalid

            On December 3, 2019, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 6,513,062, owned and asserted by Accelerated Memory Tech, LLC, an IP Investments affiliate and well-known NPE. The ‘062 patent, generally directed to a system for improving server efficiency, has been asserted in 6 district court cases against such companies as Hulu, Kemp Technologies, F5 Networks, Barracuda Networks, and Citrix.

          • $1,000 cash prize for prior art on IMIC “URL address lookup” patent

            On December 17, 2019, Unified added a new PATROLL contest with a $1,000 cash prize for prior art submissions for US 6,049,835. The ’835 patent, generally directed to a system and method for looking up URL addresses, is owned by Internet Media Interactive Corp. (an NPE) and has been widely asserted in district court. To protect innovation and deter future frivolous assertions, Unified is offering a $1,000 cash prize for the best prior art on this patent.

          • Honeyman Cipher “encryption” patent challenged as likely invalid

            On December 13, 2019, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 5,991,399, owned and asserted by Honeyman Cipher Solutions, LLC, a Brad Liddle entity and well-known NPE. The ‘399 patent, directed to secure distribution of information using encryption, has been recently asserted against Snap, Groupon, and LogMeIn for uploading mobile apps for authentication and distribution.

            The patent was previously asserted in 2015 and 2016 by Plano Encryption Technologies (another NPE) against banks and various other companies (State Farm, Best Buy, Etsy, Match.com, Shutterfly) before being transferred to Honeyman for the most recent campaign.

          • How Can Congress Prevent the Issuance of Poor Quality Patents? Questions for the Record for Colleen v. Chien

            This is a submission of responses by Prof. Colleen Chien to questions for the record posed by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) at a October 30th hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, entitled, “Promoting the Useful Arts: How can Congress prevent the issuance of poor quality patents?”

          • Apple patent application describes Face ID biometrics with different angles, partial faces, poor lighting

            A patent application from Apple for technology that would enable Face ID biometric matching with partial face images and in poor lighting conditions has been published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Patently Apple reports.

      • Trademarks

        • An early Christmas present: Collectives Marks *for free*

          In accordance with the Decreto Supremo No. 092-2018 / PCM, in force since September 5, 2018, till September 5, 2019, the fee for the registration applications of collective marks which were presented by associations of producers, artisans, among others, from across the country, would be waved.

        • Maradona successfully sues Dolce&Gabbana over unauthorized use of his name on a jersey

          In the case of Maradona, the expansive reading of Article 8 of the Code served the purpose of establishing a violation of Maradona’s image (or rather: name) rights.

          Yet, contrary to the court’s reasoning, the context in which the use took place does not necessarily appear to be one in which the end-goal of Dolce&Gabbana was that of free riding on the footballers’ own sport history or suggest a partnership between them.

          Rather, the fact that his name was used on a fashionable version of Maradona’s own Napoli jersey is indicative of the fact that the intention was to celebrate some of the symbols of Naples as a city, including its historically relevant sports people.

          All this said, the take-home point seems to be once again that image rights can go quite far in Italy and that unauthorized use of third-party image, likeness, etc should be done – and handled – with care.

      • Copyrights

        • Americans should definitely be worried about the EU’s new copyright rules

          Writing for Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, Reda explains why Americans should be alarmed at this turn of events: it will cement the dominance of both large platforms and large entertainment conglomerates, at the expense of upstart competitors, like EU-based online platforms that differentiate themselves through promises of better privacy or better moderation; and like small, independent labels and publishers that offer more equitable deals to creators.

          Moreover, the filters will perform in ways that are familiar to anyone who pays attention to Google’s Content ID (for Youtube) or the filters used on Facebook and other platforms: they will both overblock legitimate creative or critical media, and underblock material that actually infringes copyright.

        • Why Americans Should Worry About the New EU Copyright Rules [iophk: excellent points but why is it hosted at Medium and not Harvard?]

          Last spring, 200,000 Europeans took to the streets to protest against a new EU copyright law that risks to restrict online culture and block vast numbers of legal online communications such as memes, reaction gifs, video game reviews or remixes. It is the latest clash between a generation that has grown up with the Internet as a means of cultural expression and a much older generation of lawmakers who prioritize the interests of entertainment companies over online culture. Although the protests were sparked by EU legislation, US academics and activists should be paying close attention.

        • Does the doctrine of exhaustion apply to videogames purchased digitally? French court says oui

          On 17 September 2019, the Paris Court of First Instance (“court”) delivered its judgment in the dispute between UFC-Que Choisir (“UFC”), a consumer organisation, and a videogame distribution platform operated by Valve. Among other issues, the court was asked to decide whether subscribers to Valve’s platform should be allowed to resell videogames purchased digitally. The court answered in the affirmative, finding the principle of exhaustion to be applicable to such cases. The decision of the Paris court came only a week after Advocate General (“AG”) Szpunar stated in his opinion on Tom Kabinet that e-books purchased by downloading cannot be resold. The French court’s judgment, therefore, represents a new brick in the wall of digital exhaustion, the possibility of which under the EU copyright acquis is contested.

Openwashing Report: HomeKit and Zigbee Aren’t Open Source as Corporate Media States; It’s Just That Old GitHub Openwashing Routine

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 10:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Weekly openwashing report

Summary: Prominent examples of openwashing continue to creep in; over the past week, in news sites that habitually promote surveillance agenda, we saw lots of examples regarding Zigbee and then HomeKit

AN ASSOCIATE of ours sent a bunch of links this morning [1-3] (related to lots of media coverage about Zigbee and HomeKit), pointing out that, “if I recall correctly Zigbee has software patents, 6lowpan does not…”

Over the past few days, in Daily Links, we’ve been posting a number of news clippings regarding Zigbee. We put that under “Openwashing” for reasons explained succinctly in editorial comments (“Ed”).

“Open-Source”, note the hyphen, now means “published on Microsoft GitHub”
      –Anonymous
“Open-Source”, note the hyphen, now means “published on Microsoft GitHub”. So said this associate. Quoting the “Project Connected Home over IP” page: “The reference implementation of the new standard, and its supporting tooling, will be developed and maintained on the GitHub open source platform for all aspects of the specification. Please stay tuned for more information.”

This is yet another reminder of the harms caused by GitHub — a reminder of who’s served by GitHub.

“Openwashing and GitHub (two related things) remain massive problems and threats to Software Freedom, even if we lack time to cover both as much as we used to.”Now that Microsoft pays OSI from several directions (not just directly but also through GitHub) we don’t expect the OSI to properly enforce the “Open Source” brand when Microsoft abuses it, which it so often does. GitHub itself is proprietary software, so one wonders why OSI flaunts so proudly that logo (even several times) in its sponsorship page.

Openwashing and GitHub (two related things) remain massive problems and threats to Software Freedom, even if we lack time to cover both as much as we used to.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Apple open-sources HomeKit tools to speed up smart home push

    Crucially, the move doesn’t mean that HomeKit is going completely open-source, and nor does it mean that just anyone will be able to use the software to design and release their own Apple-compatible smart home accessory. Manufacturers will still need to enroll in Apple’s HomeKit MFi Program to get access to the commercial version of the Accessory Protocol Specification and to sell their devices. But open-sourcing elements of HomeKit will make it easier for manufacturers to prototype devices before spending the money to become an MFi partner.

  2. Apple open-sources HomeKit Accessory Development Kit to spur adoption, grow new standard

    On Wednesday, Apple announced the formation of Project Connected Home Over IP, a consortium of companies that hope to develop an open standard that allows manufacturers to more easily build devices that work on multiple smart home platforms and assistants. That could include platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa as well as Apple’s HomeKit.

  3. Apple joins Amazon, Google, Zigbee Alliance and board members, to form working group to develop an open standard for smart home devices.

    To accelerate the development of the new universal standard, Apple is open-sourcing portions of its HomeKit Accessory Development Kit (ADK). HomeKit has grown to become the most extensive, powerful and secure smart home platform available on more than a billion iOS and iPadOS devices. Built from the ground up to protect customer data, HomeKit and the Home app use innovative privacy technologies and techniques to help minimize the amount of data anyone — including Apple — can access as well as powerful security features that protect personal information. By open-sourcing its HomeKit technology, Apple will be helping to jump-start the initiative and ultimately deliver an even better experience to customers.

    Starting today, developers can use the HomeKit Open Source ADK to prototype non-commercial smart home accessories. Apple will also contribute its HomeKit Accessory Protocol to the working group.

EPO Management is Always Right

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Blog post, article, paper, whitepaper and EPO 'study'

Summary: Perception of credibility associated with power and budget may often mean a departure from the truth (to increase one’s power and budget)

Working at the Back End During the Holiday Period

Posted in Site News at 8:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free tools

Summary: Plans for the next couple of weeks and a quick look back

BACK IN SEPTEMBER and again in October [1, 2] we spoke about entertaining Devuan GNU/Linux as our server operating system. For nearly half a decade we’ve been wanting and repeatedly trying to facilitate encrypted connections. We also ran the site on a laptop, experimenting on a virtual machine with it. But for technical reasons it’s not as simple as it sounds. The will is there, but package compatibility has long been a barrier. Full updates are available until August next year (and maintenance ones until 2024), but the underlying packages are old (longterm support), including a 3.x Linux kernel.

“Believe it or not, the site has looked almost the same since 2006 (only the top banner of the blog changed somewhat).”Over the next week or two we shall be testing — besides the live site — various potential migration or upgrade routes. We’re not ruling out Cent OS (which we’ve always used) and seeing the Debian vote on init systems we’re still not sure about the future of Devuan, so it’s a bit of a case of “wait and see” (watching what happens next). It’s possible but not guaranteed that the site will be migrated to a container, but the goal is to keep the look and feel identical (no visible changes to visitors/readers). Believe it or not, the site has looked almost the same since 2006 (only the top banner of the blog changed somewhat). It’s intentional, it’s deliberate, and it is considered desirable. This is who we are; we aren’t changing. Novelty just for the sake of novelty isn’t always a positive thing or — as the famous adage goes — “newer isn’t always better” (or “less is more”).

Remember this:

Old site layout

It used to look like this:

Fort banner

Before the torch came:

Torch

It started like this (a lot simpler, 2006):

Old site

In our humble beginnings we also used this image of Ballmer and Hovsepian, who is still trying to censor — using his lawyers as recently as this year — our criticism of his deeds at Novell.

Firefox search

The tally (number of blog posts) now stands at almost 26,500. It’s possible that next year — depending on our pace — we might reach 30,000 (seems unlikely because of my job). Back in 2009 we published 3,611 posts and in 2010 3,653 posts. In 2011 I started working full time and my ‘daytime’ (actually nighttime) job slowed me down a lot. I need to work hard for a living. So what we then had was (in reverse chronological order):

  • 2019: 1,605 Posts
  • 2018: 1,565 Posts
  • 2017: 1,661 Posts
  • 2016: 1,894 Posts
  • 2015: 1,204 Posts
  • 2014: 1,204 Posts
  • 2013: 1,323 Posts
  • 2012: 1,260 Posts
  • 2011: 2,457 Posts

I think my record for number of posts per day was 29. It was a very, very long day for me. Those willing to support the work with a jar of coffee (or several, each jar makes about 100 cups!) can give us a holiday donation. It really does help to keep us going. It also makes me less financially dependent on my nighttime job (extra shifts and the like; today I work 16 hours, on shift from 5:30PM until 9AM the following morning). We won’t be resting and we will never accept corporate money because our independence is by far our biggest asset.

Understanding Thierry Breton: “Oh, Dem Golden Slippers…”

Posted in Europe, Finance at 3:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Overview

Understanding Thierry Breton

Epilogue will follow.


Breton and Macron
Exploring the connections between Macron and LVMH’s “Lord of Luxury”

Summary: “In between cutting business deals and supporting the cause of international culture relations, Bernard is very much occupied with tax and inheritance planning as befits a wealthy oligarch.”

In those far-off days between 1981 to 1995 when François Mitterrand, the champagne Socialist and scandal-ridden Machiavellian tactician, held court at the Elysée Palace, he lavished so much public money on grand schemes for the French capital and its monuments that he was often compared to the “Sun King”, Louis XIV.

A couple of decades later, the recently established court of Emmanuel “Manupiter” Macron prefers to bask in the glory of Louis Vuitton rather than that of Louis Quatorze.

The First Lady is renowned for her immaculately coutured appearances in outfits from the LVMH stable that press all the fashionistas’ buttons.

For example, while Emmanuel was busy at the G7 summit in Biarritz in August 2019 bromancing Justin Trudeau and chewing the geopolitical fat with Donald Trump, Brigitte was strutting her stuff on the G7 spouses’ catwalk and wowing the fashionista press in her latest head-to-toe Louis Vuitton outfit which she wore for her photo-ops with Melania Trump.

Trudeau and Macron
Emmanuel bromancing Justin at the G7 summit in Biarritz in August 2019

G7 Summit Biarritz in France - 26 Aug 2019
Brigitte’s LVMH outfit caused a fashionista feeding frenzy in Biarritz in August 2019

However, the First Lady’s penchant for the latest LVMH fashion accessories doesn’t always meet with approval outside of the official PR echo-chamber.

For example, on a state visit to Egypt in January 2019, Brigitte was seen sporting Louis Vuitton “Run Away” sneakers featuring patent monogram canvas together with calf leather, complete with a gold-tone metal plaque and LV Circle logo at the heel during an excursion to the 3000 year-old Abu Simbel temple of Pharaoh Ramses II.

Her choice of footwear drew criticism from diverse quarters.

Some were upset by the alleged fashion faux-pas of wearing trainers on such a formal occasion. However, back home in France, the revolting sans-culottes of the yellow-vest movement seemed to be more concerned about the expenditure of € 750 of tax-payers’ money on a pair of fancy shoes.

Expensive sneakers
“A € 750 pair of shoes at our expense”

But enough of such fripperies. It’s time to move on to more serious business.

The significance of the LVMH connection goes far beyond the First Lady’s desire to position herself in the public eye as “a dedicated follower of fashion”.

It would be all to easy to dismiss LVMH Group CEO, Bernard Arnault as a peddler of over-priced tat. But that would be a fatal underestimation of the influence of this latter-day Gallic Croesus and his significance as a global player in the interconnected worlds of business and politics.

Luxury margins
Some words of wisdom from Europe’s richest man…

At the start of his career, Bernard realised that luxury goods are “the only area in which it is possible to make luxury margins”. By acting on this insight and “following the money”, he managed to amass an incredible fortune. He is currently estimated to be one of the three richest people in the world and is vying with Bill Gates for second place.

Wealthiest-oligarchs
Real-time index on the wall, who is the wealthiest oligarch of them all?

For a brief spell back in July 2019, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index reported that Arnault had dislodged Gates from second place. Although he soon slipped back in to third place on the Bloomberg scale, a couple of months later in November 2019, the Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires List started listing him ahead of the Microsoft tycoon.

Whether Arnault is ranked in second or third place in these lists hardly matters. The point is that he has amassed sufficient financial clout to make him a force to be reckoned with both at home in France, elsewhere in Europe and further afield on a global level.

To properly appreciate his significance on his home pitch in France, it needs to be understood that Arnault’s role goes beyond that of a mere supplier of haute couture to the First Lady.

Brigitte’s connections with the Arnault family go back a long way to the days when she was a teacher of French literature at the prestigious private Jesuit school, Lycée Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, commonly known as the “Franklin” because of its location on the Rue Benjamin Franklin in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.

Brigitte’s pupils at the Franklin included Bernard Arnault’s sons, Frédéric and Alexandre. Let’s hope that she didn’t get up to any “monkey business” with them.

Brigitte is also reported to enjoy a close connection with Delphine Arnault, the half-sister of Frédéric and Alexandre, and Louis Vuitton’s vice president, after they struck up a rapport during a trip to New York in 2014 when Emmanuel was Minister for the Economy.

Ever since then Delphine has made sure that Brigitte is properly kitted out for her official photo-ops – in those days as a Minister’s wife and now as the First Lady.

Delphine Arnault
Louis Vuitton’s vice president, Delphine Arnault flanked by half-brothers Frédéric and Alexandre

Brigitte is often seen hobnobbing with the Arnaults at various fashionista love-ins such as the event held to pay tribute to the late Karl Lagerfeld at the Grand Palais in Paris on 20 June 2019.

Arnaults-and Macrons
The First Ladywith the Arnaults at an event to commemorate Karl Lagerfeld

But it’s not all champagne and catwalks for the Arnaults.

While daughter Delphine occupies herself looking after the couturial whims of Madame Macron, Papa Bernard has taken more than a passing interest in the political career of her hubby.

Shortly before the conclusion of the 2017 presidential election, the LVMH CEO expressed his confidence that the En Marche! candidate was on course to carry the day and defeat the far-right populist Marine Le Pen.

LVMH CEO
LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault expresses his confidence in a Macron victory in 2017

In June 2017, shortly after his self-fulfilling prophecy of a Macron victory, Arnault appeared at the Viva Technology conference, held in Paris where he took advantage of the occasion to congratulate the newly-elected President in person.

Arnault and Macron
Arnault congratulates Macron on his election (2017 Viva Tech conference)

In April 2018, Arnault and his wife, Hélène Mercier, were on the VIP guest list to attend a banquet at the White House to mark the French President’s state visit to the USA.

Donald’s little soirée for his French friends seems to have been the kickback for the Michelin-starred meal atop the Eiffel Tower to which the Macrons had treated him during a visit to Paris in July 2017.

Arnault in White House
Bernard Arnault and his wife attending the “$132 million dinner” at the White House in April 2018

Forbes referred to the black-tie affair with its exclusive guest list as “the $132 billion dinner”. Just in case it needs to be pointed out: Arnault’s estimated net worth of over $80 billion back in April 2018 accounted for by far the biggest chunk of the $ 132 billion dollar bottom line estimated by Forbes.

This wasn’t the Lord of Luxury’s first encounter with the Tycoon of Trump Tower. Back in January 2017, he visited the then President-Elect in New York to discuss various issues including the opening of more LVMH factories in the USA.

Arnault in White House with Trump
Bernard meets “the Donald” in Trump Tower, NYC (January 2017)

And, mirabile dictu, in October 2019 Arnault and Trump appeared together in Johnson County, Texas, to cut the ribbon at the opening of a new Louis Vuitton production facility.

Arnault with Trump at an opening
Arnault and Trump at the opening of the Louis Vuitton Rochambeau Ranch in Texas

The Washington Post commented on the event as follows:

“The ribbon-cutting was jarring in its utter nonchalance, in its unflinching fealty to corporate normalcy during these most abnormal times. Can there be neutral ground when the players are a president who has made women in general, along with immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community, feel as though they are under siege, and a billionaire mogul who reaps tremendous profits from those very people?”

Arnault and Putin
The Lord of Luxury meets the Czar of the Kremlin (November 2016)

So what’s he up to when he’s not wining and dining with the POTUS in New York or Washington or Texas?

Well sometimes the Lord of Luxury can be spotted over in the Kremlin enjoying a “flute” (of champagne) with Vlad the Pute, the Czar of the Kremlin — preferably Dom Pérignon of course.

There are no reports so far of any LVMH factories opening in Russia, but by all accounts the LVMH Foundation is heavily engaged on the artistic front in its efforts to cultivate the “close and unbreakable cultural relations between France and Russia”.

In between cutting business deals and supporting the cause of international culture relations, Bernard is very much occupied with tax and inheritance planning as befits a wealthy oligarch.

Back in 2012, when François Hollande was rumoured to be planning new taxes on the ultra-rich, the Lord of Luxury transferred his multi-billion Euro fortune out of France to a Belgian foundation and it was reported that he was seeking Belgian citizenship. However he didn’t meet the strictly applied three year residency requirement and so in the end he withdrew his application.

When news of Arnault’s plans to go into “tax exile” broke in 2012, the left-leaning Rothschild-financed daily Libération, poked fun at him with a front-page headline that screamed “Get Lost, you Rich Jerk”.

This was a jeu de mots alluding to an infamous outburst by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, one of Arnault’s political buddies. Back in 2008, Sarkozy insulted a farmer who refused to shake his hand at an agricultural show with the dismissive retort “Casse-toi, pauvre con!” (“Get lost, you poor jerk”).

Liberation story on Arnault
Libération poked fun at the would-be multi-millionaire tax exile with a word-play on Sarkozy’s infamous insult to a French farmer in 2008.

Arnault reacted in the typically humourless and litigious fashion of French oligarchs by lawyering-up and trying to sue Libération for alleged “public insult”.

Libération responded to Arnault’s attempt to SLAPP it down with another cheeky front page headline: “Bernard, if you come back all will be forgiven!”

Arnault's SLAPP
Libération chill-out response to Arnault’s attempt to SLAPP it down:
“Bernard, if you come back all will be forgiven!”

In the next and final part of the series we will look how the “DSK boys” made a comeback under Emmanuel Macron.

Stay tuned for this tale of political derring-do featuring a “rutting chimpanzee”, a rogue bodyguard and a happy ending with yet another revolving door, this time between the Elysée Palace of the French President and the upper echelons of LVMH.

IRC Proceedings: Saturday, December 21, 2019

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:37 am by Needs Sunlight

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