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09.20.20

Links 20/9/2020: Flameshot Screenshot Tool 0.8, Okular Improvements and More

Posted in News Roundup at 5:49 pm by Guest Editorial Team

  • Leftovers

    • School Building Collapses In Lagos

      Lagos witnessed another building collapse on Saturday when a three-storey building at Ansarudeen Street, Ile-Epo, Ejigbo caved in.

      [...]

      “Fortunately, nobody was trapped, no injury and no fatality has been recorded. Responders to the incident scene are LASEMA, Lagos State Building Control Agency and the police (Ejigbo division).”

    • Education

      • [Old] Famous Biologist Louis Agassiz on the Usefulness of Learning Through Observation

        Pick any industry of life and you’ll find that very few people actually do the work.

        Rather than read the original study, most people cite the headline from a secondary source. Rather than spend 100 hours observing every detail of a fish, most biology students would look up the description of the fish online. When most people say, “I read an article on climate change,” what they really mean is, “I read the title of an article on climate change.”

        This is exactly why doing the boring work more consistently is actually a competitive advantage. Ignore the expert advice and pay attention to what gets results for you.

        Look, and see for yourself.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Trump EPA Denounced for ‘Disgusting’ Decision on Atrazine, Herbicide Tied to Birth Defects

        One critic warned that “this decision imperils the health of our children and the safety of drinking water supplies across much of the nation.”

      • Hospitals Serving the Poor Close as Investors and Electeds Refuse to Rescue Them

        Victor Coronado felt lightheaded one morning last month when he stood up to grab an iced tea. The right side of his body suddenly felt heavy. He heard himself slur his words. “That’s when I knew I was going to have a stroke,” he said.

      • Of smoke and masks; how do we wear masks now?

        According to local officials who work with the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, the Creek Fire smoke will likely be with Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra at least through this week and into next week – and perhaps longer than that.

        Although the smoke might get a bit less dense due to an incoming cold front and stronger winds this week, if the fire continues to grow and the winds continue to come from a south or southwest direction as is forecast for quite some time, the Mammoth area (at least) will likely be in for quite a bit more smoke, possibly into the end of the month. The most likely way the smoke will end completely is via a good, winter-like storm, which is not in the forecast at this time, said Tom Schaniel Air Pollution Control Officer with Great Basin. Until then, he said, the smoke could get lighter, it could gather at a higher elevation at times, but it will still be in the area until a large storm scours the smoke out of the region.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

            • Intel’s Cloud-Hypervisor Making Progress On Booting Windows

              The Cloud-Hypervisor project that is led by Intel open-source folks for providing a cloud-focused hypervisor written in the Rust programming language is out with a new feature release.

              Cloud-Hypervisor 0.10 was issued on Friday and this Rust-VMM based project now supports multiple descriptors with VirtIO-Block, memory zone support for finer grained control of memory allocations for the guest, sandboxing improvements with SECCOMP filters, preliminary KVM HyperV emulation control support, and a number of bug fixes.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Trump Is Wrong About TikTok. China’s Plans Are Much More Sinister.

              Since China adopted the National Intelligence Law in June 2017, all Chinese citizens and companies have been under a legal obligation to help the government gather intelligence (and keep any cooperation secret). The law allows China’s intelligence services to embed their people and devices or to requisition facilities in any premise, anywhere, for that purpose.i

              The Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party also essentially requires any company with at least three party members to form a cell tasked with carrying out the party’s wishes.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Belarusian propaganda: From courting the West to taking Russia’s cues

        About a decade ago, after a temporary falling out with Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko tried to pivot his country to the West. In this endeavor, he had help from a British PR firm called “Bell Pottinger” that once employed some of the most influential spin-doctors in the world. The campaign was a complete failure: the consultants left empty-handed and Lukashenko became an international pariah once again. In August 2020, after workers at state television and radio broadcasters in Belarus started walking off the job in protest as the police brutally dispersed opposition demonstrations, a handful of independent journalists and activists reported that whole brigades of “strikebreakers” from Russia arrived to replace these employees.

      • Amnesty International calls for investigation into video showing execution of woman in Mozambique

        Cabo Delgado is home to a $60 billion natural gas development that is heavily guarded by Mozambican military and private security.

        Loosely aligned with ISIS, the insurgents have undertaken increasingly sophisticated attacks in recent months, overrunning large parts of Mocimba de Praia, a strategic port north of the regional capital Pemba in August. Unlike in previous attacks, government forces have struggled to fully retake the territory.

      • OPINION: High time SADC deployed military force in Mozambique

        An injury to one being an injury to all, CAJ News Africa urgently calls upon the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc member states to immediately deploy a combined force to drive out Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-affiliated Ansar al-Sunna insurgents from Mozambique.

        If ever there was time to ruthlessly deal with the rubble rousing terrorists in the SADC region, it is now.

        The Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique is the epicenter of the insurgency that threatens to spill into the entire regional bloc.

      • Islamic State claims killing of French aid workers in Niger

        The six French nationals and their driver worked for international aid group ACTED and were touring the reserve, which is a popular destination for expatriates and was considered safe by the Nigerien government.

        France and other countries have warned people against travelling to parts of Niger where militants including Boko Haram and ISWAP operate.

      • Nigeria’s Kaduna State Enacts Law To Castrate Child Abusers

        The amendment to the Penal Code establishes that rapists who abuse minors under 14 years old will face castration of their genitals and the removal of the Fallopian tubes in the case of men and women respectively.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Spanish-language disinformation intensifies among Florida Latinos, worrying Democrats

        The idea that Spanish-language news cannot be trusted is being pushed by YouTube channels, like GR8 America, Sin Filtros, that urge viewers to subscribe so they can view Trump campaign events in Spanish and follow interviews that viewers “won’t see in traditional news outlets.”

        GR8 compared itself to Telemundo — which is owned by NBCUniversal, NBC News’ parent company — and Univision, saying it was the “second most followed outlet during the Republican convention on YouTube.”

        “People see the videos and the disinformation so many times that it gets to them. They feel they can’t trust the media, and that’s the most worrisome part,” Pérez-Verdía said. “Now they call Spanish-language media fake news.”

        The two largest and most established Spanish-language networks are seeing more protesters confront their reporters and question their coverage.

    • Environment

      • Around 300 Chinese vessels near Galapágos protection zone were ‘pillaging oceans for squid,’ analysis shows

        The findings are based on information captured by the Global Fishing Watch mapping tool developed by Oceana, in partnership with Google and Skytruth, a nonprofit environmental watchdog.

        “This massive and ongoing fishing effort of China’s fleet threatens the Galapagos Islands, the rare species that only call it home and everyone that depends on it for food and livelihoods,” said Oceana’s illegal fishing and transparency analyst, Dr. Marla Valentine.

        Valentine added that the findings were merely the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to the impact of mass fishing operations conducted by Chinese vessels: “The situation playing out in the Galápagos should raise serious questions and concerns about the impact China’s massive fishing fleet is having on the oceans it sails.”

      • Massive ‘Climate Clock’ Urging Governments to #ActInTime Unveiled on Metronome in New York City

        “The clock is a way to speak science to power,” says a project co-founder.

      • Energy

        • A Dying Industry is Leaving A Deadly Legacy

          An important new investigation examined the issue of the shocking state of over three million abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States.

        • Will BP Finally Succeed at Moving Beyond Petroleum? To Survive, It Must.

          The founder of SunEdison discusses what the future holds for BP and other major oil and gas companies that are looking to transition.

        • How the oil industry made us doubt climate change

          As climate change becomes a focus of the US election, energy companies stand accused of trying to downplay their contribution to global warming. In June, Minnesota’s Attorney General sued ExxonMobil, among others, for launching a “campaign of deception” which deliberately tried to undermine the science supporting global warming. So what’s behind these claims? And what links them to how the tobacco industry tried to dismiss the harms of smoking decades earlier?

      • Wildlife/Nature

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • 2020 Election Could Decide Whether US Pursues Nuclear Escalation or Arms Control

        In these final weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign, U.S. voters’ attention is being consumed by a maelstrom of crises — a merciless pandemic, a battered economy, a society ruptured by racist police violence and deadly structural inequalities, climate chaos and a fragile democracy.

      • If McConnell Packs the Court on Behalf of Minority Rule, Dems Must Expand and Reform It

        They ought to come in prepared to introduce serious reform so that our laws reflect the will of our 330 million people rather than that of a few corrupt billionaires allied with hypocritical religious fundamentalists.

      • ‘We Can, and Must, Fight’: Death of RBG Sparks Senate Showdown and Calls for Supreme Court Reform

        “The fate of our rights, our freedoms, our healthcare, our bodies, our lives, and our country depend on what happens over the coming months.”

      • Unequal Justice: Trump’s Supreme Takeover

        If the president gets to appoint another SCOTUS judge, we’ll be paying the price for decades to come.

      • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A ‘Precise Female’

        This slow talker, ruthless editor, and die-hard romantic wanted to make sure that every woman could find her best place.

      • Ginsburg’s Death Sparks Renewed Calls for Reforms to the Supreme Court

        As mourners left flowers and signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court building overnight following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death Friday evening, President Donald Trump and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to force through her replacement with just weeks until the November election while progressive lawmakers and organizers promised to fight the GOP’s hypocritical effort to shift the court right.

      • With the Passing of Justice Ginsburg, Democracy Just Got Harder, Again

        Right. Ol’ Lindsey nearly broke both legs walking that one back upon the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If Senate Republicans can seat a new Justice before the election, they will do it. If they can seat a new Justice before the end of January (in the event of a Trump loss), they will do it.

      • Groups Plan Vigil Outside Supreme Court and National Solidarity Events to Honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg

        “She gave all she could, with literally all she had. Now it’s our turn.”

      • Justice Ginsburg Should Not Be Replaced Until After the Election

        GOP senators invented a new standard in order to deny President Obama a Supreme Court appointment in 2016. Now they should abide by it.

      • Worst Damage Theory

        But when it comes to voting in an election like 2020, where the candidates have such violently competing ideologies, I think many voters will use the mental shortcut of imagining each potential presidency after 4-8 years and ask themselves which would cause the Worst Damage based on their personal values.

        This, combined with the Primacy Concern model, is what allows people to vote for people they don’t really like.

      • GOP’s Strategy for 2020 Election Looks Like an All-Out Assault on Voting Rights

        The Republican Party and its allies have relied on voter suppression tactics for decades, but this year they are pulling out all the stops.

      • Countdown to Election: 52 Days
      • Hawkins Says Climate Justice Requires Racial Justice

        (New York, NY) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for President, said that achieving racial justice was essential to the effort for effective climate action.

        Hawkins, who participated in the march for Climate Justice Through Racial Justice in Manhattan on Sunday, outlined 7 key initiatives: Green New Deal, Economic Bill of Rights, Medicare for All, Homes for all, Democratic Community Control of the Police, Reparations for African-American rights, and Honor Indigenous Treaty Rights.

        “People of color and low-income communities are the principal victims of climate change. We face this existential threat to our future since the leaders of both major parties, in exchange for campaign contributions, allow fossil fuel companies and others to pollute and exploit such communities. We can not solve climate change without system change, including ending racial injustice,” said Hawkins, the first US candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal in his 2010 race for Governor of New York.

        [...]

        Hawkins said today’s youth-led anti-racist and divestment demands in the climate justice movement were similar to the youth-led anti-apartheid movement’s divestment demands a generation ago. It was at Hawkins’ initiative that Dartmouth College students built a shantytown on the college green in the fall of 1985 demanding divestment of college funds from companies doing business in apartheid South Africa. That action sparked shantytown protests on campuses across the nation and a swelling of anti-apartheid actions across society over the next year until the US government imposed sanctions on South Africa in the fall of 1986. The apartheid regime responded by freeing Nelson Mandela and negotiating a transition to democracy. 1243 institutions have divested $14.38 trillion from fossil fuel companies to date.

        “The anti-apartheid divestment movement aroused a new generation of activists. Zephyr Teachout has said that visiting the Dartmouth shantytown when she was in high school near the college was an inspiration for her activism. We see the same happening today with youth in the climate justice movement today. It is time for New York State to listen to these young people who are fighting for their future and divest,” Hawkins said.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Mark Zuckerberg Plans to Moderate Facebook Workplace Chat

        Facebook employees have recently been wondering if perhaps Facebook—which lets politicians lie in ads, festers with extremist movements like QAnon, and by design amplifies authoritarian propaganda, misinformation, and hate speech—is actually the bad guy.

        Hey, pal, why don’t you shut the fuck up, CEO Mark Zuckerberg responds.

        According to reports in CNBC and the Wall Street Journal, Zuckerberg told employees on Thursday that the company plans to crack down on discussion of polarizing political and social issues on internal message boards. The Journal wrote that Zuckerberg said staff shouldn’t have to discuss social issues at work and outlined potential steps like establishing rules on where these discussions can pop up on the company’s messenger, making sure those conversations are monitored and moderated: [...]

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • As journalists are made to leave, Hong Kong’s global status will suffer

        The ongoing journalists’ visa war between the United States and China shows no sign of abating. Rather than easing, it seems headed towards its end game.

        It began back in February when the US State Department ordered five Chinese news outlets to register as foreign entities and forced them to reduce their staff by roughly 40 percent. Beijing promptly expelled three journalists from the Wall Street Journal, using an op-ed published by the Journal as an excuse even though the journalists had nothing to do with the piece.

      • Day 9: September 18, 2020 #AssangeCase

        New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager took to stand to testify about using WikiLeaks documents in his work. Hager published Other People’s Wars, New Zealand in Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terror, and said that WikiLeaks-released military and diplomatic files “greatly increased my understanding of the conduct of the war. It would have been impossible to write the book without these confidential and leaked sources.”

      • A Small Confession

        I have to confess that after the last court session of another tough week (and yesterday was a particularly emotional and startling court day) I went to the pub with a friend after court yesterday rather than start writing. So Friday’s report this afternoon.

      • Six Reasons Julian Assange Should Be Thanked, Not Punished

        4. For years the United Kingdom maintained a pretense that it sought Assange for criminal accusations from Sweden. The idea that the United States sought to prosecute the act of reporting on its wars was mocked as paranoid fantasy. For global society to now accept this outrage would be a significant blow to press freedom globally and to the independence of any vassal state from U.S. demands. Those demands tend to be, first and foremost, to buy more weapons, and, secondarily, to participate in the use of those weapons.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Why Do Americans Give Away So Much Control to Corporations?

        The corporate “Borg” is sucking the ready availability of the good life, decent, secure livelihoods assured by our collective self-reliance, and the freedom to shape our future out of our political economy.

      • U.S. Law Enforcement Shot At Least 115 People in the Head with Crowd-Control Weapons During the First Two Months of George Floyd Protests: Physicians for Human Rights

        PHR’s analysis finds that crowd-control projectiles are being used in cities across the country in ways that violate local, federal, and international guidelines. Shooting civilians in the head with KIPs violates widely accepted use of force principles, which forbid targeting of the head and neck and emphasize proportional response to actual threats faced by law enforcement. Furthermore, past research by PHR has shown that severe injury, disability, and death are often consequences of being shot in the head with these weapons. Such excessive and indiscriminate police responses to protests have a chilling effect on the exercise of the fundamental First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

        In light of “Shot in the Head” and related evidence, PHR calls for a ban on the use of KIPs in crowd-control situations, due both to the life-threatening injuries they can cause and their potential to violate freedom of expression and assembly.

    • Monopolies

      • One thing Apple’s and Epic’s lawyers agree on: Supreme Court’s Pepper v. Apple opinion and 5-4 vote are unrelated to Epic’s App Store case

        There are no signs of a détente between Fortnite maker Epic Games and Apple. While Apple apparently keeps the door open to whatever version of Fortnite that would bring the battle royale game back into compliance with the App Store terms, Epic is not only being very vocal in public and running an anti-Apple tournament but also pursuing a litigation strategy that appears to be all about escalation, trying to take the merits of a huge antitrust case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the coming months.

        Notwithstanding the extremely acrimonious nature of this litigation, there’s one remark that Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers made in last month’s hearing on Epic’s motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) that neither party is comfortable with. When counsel for Epic insisted on their likelihood to prevail on the merits (while the court placed the emphasis at the TRO stage on irreparable harm), Judge Gonzalez Rogers said this case was not going to be a “slam dunk” for either Epic or Apple, and reminded everyone that the Supreme Court’s Pepper v. Apple vote–which ultimately allowed a consumer class action (seeking damages for allegedly having overpaid for app downloads and in-app purhcases) to go forward before her court–was very close: 5-4.

        Representing Epic, Cravath’s Gary Bornstein distinguished Pepper from Epic a few minutes later. He noted that Epic is an app developer bringing antitrust claims against Apple over its App Store terms, while the Pepper class action complaint is about harm to consumers from what Apple withholds from app developers, and the Supreme Court ruled on whether or not that consumer class could sue for damages (with Epic not even seeking damages for now).

      • Epic Games denies Apple’s claim of Fortnite losing popularity, says usage “actually increased by more than 39%” during chosen period: court filing

        If you’re more interested in what Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said in a sworn declaration about the popularity of Fortnite, please click here to skip the part that addresses the legally more relevant questions surrounding Epic’s push for a preliminary injunction against Apple.

      • Apple accuses Epic Games of “coercing platforms for its own gain, under the guise of being ‘pro-gamer’”: PlayStation/Xbox example

        TROs are in effect for only a fortnight (whichever way one may spell it) unless the enjoined party consents to an extension. After that period, a preliminary injunction (PI) can and often does replace it, which is commonly referred to as “converting a TRO into a PI.” What makes a PI preliminary is that it’s in effect until a final judgment grants or denies a permament injunction; a TRO is even more preliminary than a PI. In this case, the court discussed a PI briefing schedule with the parties, which will culminate in a PI hearing on Monday, September 28–ten days after a deadline for Epic’s second filing in that context, its reply brief in support of its motion. Until the court’s decision on the PI motion, Apple must comply with the TRO.

        Typically, a TRO gets converted into a PI, but there are cases in which judges change mind on the basis of more elaborate briefing and in-depth analysis. With respect to the merit of the underlying case, there’s not enough time at the TRO stage to fully consider all outcome-determinative aspects of complex matters, so if a judge believes that irreparable harm is imminent, a TRO might come down just to prevent a tragedy, even though a PI might subsequently be denied. Epic is still trying to persuade the court to #FreeFortnite, but that part is again doomed to fail, given that Epic could simply publish an iOS version of the game that wouldn’t offer alternative payment mechanisms. Epic itself accepted and complied with those terms for years, and all that Apple says it wants is compliance with its longstanding standard terms. For Apple it’s certainly going to be a challenge to defeat the Unreal Engine part of Epic’s motion this time around, but such an outcome is nowhere near as inconceivable as a free pass for Epic to violate Apple’s App Store terms while litigation over whether or not those terms violate the antitrust laws is still in progress.

      • Apple attempts to debunk tale of two Epic companies in order to avoid preliminary injunction concerning Unreal Engine

        As I explained before, it’s hard to imagine that the court would not continue to consider Fortnite’s removal from the App Store to be self-inflicted harm. Apple reinforces that point nevertheless, describing Epic as “a saboteur, not a martyr,” and noting that “Epic started a fire, and poured gasoline on it, and now asks this Court for emergency assistance in putting it out, even though Epic can do so itself in an instant by simply adhering to the contractual terms that have profitably governed its relationship with Apple for years.” But the interesting question in the September 28 hearing is not going to be Fortnite–it’s Unreal Engine. Apple wouldn’t ban the engine and all apps that incorporate it, but Epic would lose access to the developer tools, which sooner or later would hurt its customers (according to Apple’s filing, Epic holds Fortnite gamers as well as Unreal Engine licensees hostage).

        What applies to both Fortnite and Unreal Engine is that Epic could just continue to do business with Apple, and on iOS, the way it used to do, by complying with the App Store terms while still being able to challenge them in court. The question for the court to decide is whether the fact that Epic holds the key to the kingdom in its hands applies only to Fortnite–the corpus delicti in a contractual sense–or also to Unreal Engine. The reason Epic obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) was just that the judge was concerned about what might be overreaching retaliation: the termination of a developer account held and used by a separate legal entity for the purpose of developing Unreal Engine.

      • Apple suspects Epic Games seeks “to reinvigorate [waning] interest in Fortnite” and notes Unity is far more popular than Unreal Engine

        This is a follow-up to my post on Apple’s opposition to Epic Games’ motion for a preliminary injunction. Like the previous one, this is about Apple highlighting facts that don’t make Epic look good. And Apple appears to have stepped up its rhetoric after weeks of Epic running an aggressive #FreeFortnite campaign and Epic CEO Tim Sweeney’s Twitter presence increasingly looking like an “I hate Apple’s App Store terms” type of campaign account. Interestingly, even though Epic is suing Google as well (for an update on that case, San Jose-based Judge Beth Freeman has declined Google’s invitation to take over the Google Play Store antitrust cases), Mr. Sweeney almost exclusively lashes out at Apple in his tweets, and actually promotes Android over iOS at times. On Twitter I read that Epic is “giving away Android devices in #FreeFortnite tournament.”

        There will be opportunities in the build-up to, and after, the September 28 preliminary injunction hearing to talk a bit more about the parties’ legal theories. However, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said in the recent TRO (temporary restraining order) hearing that the case would not be decided at this early stage. For now, it’s about Epic seeking relief before the court has had the chance to fully analyze the merits. At this point it’s just about what the parties are allowed to do while the litigation is ongoing. Epic wants to be allowed to circumvent Apple’s in-app payment system, and Apple argues (as I’ll discuss later) that Epic’s “cheating” (by not disclosing at the time of app review the existence of an alternative payment system) justifies a termination of all of Epic’s developer accounts, including the one used for Epic’s work on Unreal Engine.

      • Epic Games prefers Play Store antitrust trial to take place in San Francisco, Google in San Jose

        Epic Games v. Google is still in the very early stages. Three of the Google entities sued by the Fortnite maker are based overseas. As a result, service of process took longer: Google Asia Pacific Pte. Limited was served on September 4, 2020; Google Ireland Limited on September 6, 2020; and what procedurally matters is the latest date, September 7, 2020 (when Google Ireland Limited was served).

        By contrast, there’s already been a fair amount of activity in Epic Games v. Apple, with a temporary restraining order (TRO) in place, Epic having brought a motion for a preliminary injunction (consistent with its TRO motion), to which Apple will respond later today. Apple meanwhile filed its answer to Epic’s complaint. It may take quite a while before Google does so, especially since it appears to intend to firstly bring a motion to dismiss.

        Other than service, all that has happened so far in Epic v. Google is about the assignment of the case to one judge or another, and about whether or not Epic’s case is related to some other antitrust actions against Google in the same district. That’s obviously less exciting than motions for injunctive relief, but those little things can make all the difference to the outcome of a litigation. For example, if Oracle’s Android-Java copyright case against Google had not been assigned to Judge William H. Alsup back in 2010, it’s highly likely Google would already have lost it a long time ago, and a jury would merely have had to determine damages for past infringement while the merits were crystal clear (except to that one judge).

      • Counsel divided on impact of Avanci case dismissal

        Lawyers at an automotive company, a car supplier, a telecoms company and three firms contemplate the impact of the dismissed antitrust suit

      • Patents

        • Summer of FRAND love: a roundup of SEP cases

          Court rulings from the UK, the US and Germany point to a seismic shift in favour of SEP holders that could reshape FRAND for years to come

        • Three decisions due on Friday (9/25): FTC v. Qualcomm (en banc petition?); EU “state aid” case against Apple/Ireland (further appeal?); Nokia v. Daimler

          By sheer coincidence, three decisions will become known on Friday (September 25) in cases that this blog has previously discussed but which are otherwise unrelated. In two of those cases, competition authorities have to decie whether to turn things around after losing the first appellate decision. In one case, there would definitely be a way, but might not be the political win to keep fighting; in the other case, there would undoubtedly be a will, but there may not be a promising way. Furthermore, a German court will announce a decision on an automotive patent infringement complaint with major antitrust implications.

        • Brazil: new patent priority examination

          Starting this September 2020, the Instituto Nacional da Propriedad Industrial (INPI) adds to its lists of patent priority examination, TWO more. They are technology applications resulting from public funding and technology applications already available on the market.

          INPI already has available 14 types of priority applications, that is, procedures in place. With the two new additions, INPI has ‘16 types of priority procedure available, 14 for the general public and two for public entities’. INPI notes that the period for decisions of priority examination, counted from the application date, was done in 13.1 months (July 2020).

        • Boehmert and Gramm Lins win in Berlin over ID technology patent

          US company Credit Card Supplies, based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, owns the German patent DE 10 2004 041 434 B4. The patent protects a process for embossing 3D structures in sheet metal, which are used on hot-cold laminating presses to produce identity documents and credit cards. However, the US company claimed VTT and Bundesdruckerei had infringed its patent DE 434 B4.

          VTT Verschleißteiltechnik in Langenhagen, near Hanover, manufactures high-tech lamination plates for creating secure documents, such as passports, driving licences, national IDs, bank and health insurance cards. These products all feature integrated security components. Bundesdruckerei is a customer of VTT, using the latter’s plates to produce ID cards and passports.

          [...]

          Boehmert & Boehmert has advised Bundesdruckerei on patent filing for many years. The company develops its own technologies, such as electronic access systems. For the current infringement proceedings, patent attorney Thomas Bittner called in Munich partner and litigator Michael Rüberg. Bundesdruckerei also mandated the Frankfurt based patent team from Linklaters around Julia Schönbohm

          Patent attorney Thorsten Rehmann from Gramm, Lins & Partner specialises in mechanical engineering. Previously, Rehmann has worked for VTT for various patent applications at the EPO. VTT also retained the mixed firm for the infringement case. Gramm, Lins & Partner recently stood out for its work for Bury in the prominent dispute between Nokia and Daimler over connected cars patents.

        • Tech slams ‘crony capitalist’ PTAB rule fuelling Texas rise

          Cisco and another of the four plaintiffs in Apple v Iancu, and Facebook and others set out why the ‘capricious’ NHK-Fintiv rule had to be challenged

        • Added subject-matter and selections from multiple lists – are things getting easier?

          In T 1621/16 the Board of Appeal reversed an Opposition Division decision to revoke a patent for added subject‑matter on the basis the claims comprised multiple selections from lists of converging alternatives.

          The patentee successfully argued on appeal that lists of converging alternatives (i.e. lists of alternatives wherein each of the more preferred alternatives is fully encompassed by all the less preferred and broader options in the list) should not be considered to be equivalent to selections from lists of non-converging elements (i.e. mutually exclusive or partially overlapping alternatives). The previous EPO approach typically objected to multiple selections from non-convergent lists but allowed multiple selections from convergent lists only where alternatives having the same degree of preference were combined with each other (e.g. “most preferred”). This decision goes further and indicates that multiple selections can be made based on combinations of both more and less preferred convergent alternatives.

        • 2020 PTAB Bar Association Annual Conference Rescheduled

          After having to be postponed due to coronavirus concerns, the 2020 PTAB Bar Association Annual Conference has now been rescheduled and is going forward on September 24-25, 2020, with pre-conference sessions being held September 23, 2020. This year’s conference will not be attended in person, but it will be held virtually, making it available to all participants world-wide and may draw a wider audience than in previous years. Regardless of the format, this year’s conference promises to be just as interesting, informative and insightful as previous years.

        • Artificial Intelligence fuels TikTok’s popularity; but could that very asset prevent its sale?

          ByteDance currently owns around 3,300 published patent applications (not including design registrations) in China. Roughly one tenth of those have become granted patents. Nearly half of the patent applications relate to electric digital data processing, including primarily deep learning algorithms and traditional image processing algorithms. According to information ByteDance’s AI lab, the AI algorithms are essential for numerous TikTok features (e.g., video/face detection, keyword matching, aggregated recommendations, the assignment of certain videos for each user) and various real-time special effects developed based on the human face (e.g., cat face stickers, rain control, body slimming, leg stretching, finger bubbles, dancing machine, scene classification, beauty makeup). There are also AI algorithms that operate at a deeper level engaged in video and image reviewing, semantic analysis, machine translation, and further AI creation.

        • Unitary Patent Series Part 2: Data Considerations When Drafting

          Data are primarily required to support the requirements of sufficiency (Article 83 EPC) and inventive step (Article 56 EPC). In recent years, the EPO has applied the concept of “plausibility” when assessing both sufficiency and inventive step. The concept of plausibility has arisen from case law as a response to overly broad claims and to prevent speculative claiming. This is particularly relevant when the invention relates to a new therapeutic effect: is it plausible from the as-filed application that the therapeutic effect can be achieved?

          As established in our earlier article, the absence of any grace period provisions at the EPO means that applications must normally be filed before any clinical trial data is available, since clinical trial protocols are publicly available. Filing with no data at all is highly likely to result in lack of sufficiency and lack of inventive step objections. So, how are applicants to know how much data to include on filing?

          A simple rule of thumb is that the amount of data generally required is inversely proportional to the maturity and predictability of the technical field. It is also important to keep in mind the breadth of the desired claims, as broader claims will (usually) require more data to show an inventive step across their scope. In general, however, it is usually acceptable for applications to be filed with “proof of concept” style data to meet the (relatively low) sufficiency threshold and to establish that the technical effect is plausible. Additional data can then be filed during prosecution if there is a concern that the data are not adequate to show an inventive step across the scope of the claim.

        • [Old] Germany’s Supreme Court releases full judgment in key FRAND licensing case

          In early May, the German Federal Court of Justice (the country’s supreme court) handed down its decsion in Sisvel v Haier, the first FRAND-related case it had heard since the Court of Justice of the European Union’s landmark 2015 Huawei v ZTE judgment. Although it found in favour of Sisvel, so overturning a ruling made by the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, it did not release its reasons for doing so. Now, though, it has given the two parties its full judgment.

          IAM will provide more analysis of the case over the coming weeks, but in the meantime Sisvel has given us permision to reproduce a press release the firm put out yesterday that summarises the ruling. Note that this has been edited into IAM house style.

        • Landmark decision affirms jurisdiction of English courts to determine FRAND terms

          In a watershed decision with significant implications for the technology and telecommunications industries – and the patent community more broadly – the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has delivered its long-awaited decision in three cases, Unwired Planet International Ltd v Huawei Technologies (UK) Co Ltd; Huawei Technologies (UK) Co Ltd v Conversant Wireless Licensing SÀRL and ZTE Corporation v Conversant Wireless Licensing SÀRL. The Court has unanimously upheld lower court decisions, confirming that English courts are able to grant injunctions to restrain infringement of UK standard essential patents (SEP) and have the jurisdiction to determine fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms for worldwide SEP licences.

        • [Old] Birds-eye view of the 2018 US patent litigation landscape

          RPX has released its annual Patent Marketplace and Litigation Report. It indicates that the pendulum is beginning to swing back to favour plaintiffs in the US. The report tracks the significant changes in the US patent system over the past year, and also touches upon developments and trends in China. We have created an infographic to present the key takeaways.

        • CardieX (ASX:CDX) subsidiary granted European blood pressure patent

          CardieX’s (CDX) subsidiary, ATCOR, has been granted a new patent by the European Patent Office (EPO) for its SphygmoCor technology.

          The SphygmoCor technology enables non-invasive measurement of artery stiffness through central arterial pressure waveform and blood pressure analysis.

        • Software Patents

          • This week in IP: Podcasts, Ericsson, Banksy and more

            Wednesday, September 16 marked the end of the covered business method patent review programme, which was introduced by the America Invents Act in the US.

            The AIA says a CBM patent “claims a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service”. The term does not include patents for technological inventions.

            The programme was put in place to review CBM patents and allow petitioners to challenge patents on broader grounds than they could at inter partes review (IPR) trials.

            Use of the programme has become less common in recent years. Statistics from the USPTO found that although 1,145 IPRs were filed in FY2020, just 11 CBM review petitions were filed in the same timeframe.

      • Trademarks

      • Copyrights

        • When Covid-19 Shuttered Cinema Halls!: Should Producers Share Royalties from OTT Release of Films?

          Amongst the many films that have been released on the web so far, some big releases starring stalwarts like Irfan Khan in ‘Angrezi Medium’ (which was his last ever!) and Amitabh Bachchan in Gulabo Sitabo, are a few notable ones. If not for this pandemic, these movies would have been block buster releases, creating a stir in cinema halls. But unfortunately, nothing of this sort happened and the producers were compelled to directly release the films (or re-release as in case of Angrezi Medium after its theatrical release was cut short) on streaming services such as Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video. Clearly, the cinema hall owners lost a big share of their yearly profits, but what is unknown is how much the producers lost by not being able to showcase their multi-starrers in a cinema hall.

          In contrast with blockbuster theatrical releases, web series or films that are destined to be released on streaming services often have a small star cast with small set ups which makes the same cost efficient. This is quite unlikely for a regular, blockbuster Indian cinematograph film that has elaborate sets and a distinguished star cast to begin with and which under normal practice, is looking forward to a grand theatrical release. Consequently, the cost of producing such films is typically much higher (often, if not always) than the web series made solely for release on online platforms. Profits that producers earn in such cases is often directly related to how well the movies perform in the hall and for how long. In other words, box office earnings account for a significant portion of a producer’s earnings from a film. Having done well at the cinema halls, the producers get a second chance to recover their investments when the rights for the same cinematograph film are granted for television/digital premieres. Here again, the popularity of the film at the theatre allows them to bid high stakes for it. So, when producers of such blockbuster films are compelled to directly release such films on streaming services, they stand to lose parts of their profit that they would have otherwise earned by releasing it first in a cinema hall. A glimpse of the losses incurred by them can be viewed here. The streaming services are also aware that the producers presently have no better option than to release their films online, so they might not negotiate much with the latter. Keeping in mind the flagrant spread of the pandemic and the predictions with regard to its subsistence, it seems like the producers will have to bear with these losses for long.

        • AI Programs Are Creating Fashion Designs and Raising Questions About Who (or What) is an Inventor [Ed: Stop calling computer-generated art [sic] an “invention”, mixing different concept to encourage monopoly over mere looks and shapes]

          “Amazon is not synonymous with high fashion yet, but the company may be poised to lead the way when it comes to replacing designers with artificial intelligence (“AI”) algorithms,” Will Knight wrote for MIT Technology Review in 2017. Fast forward to 2020, and Amazon still is not rivaling the likes Prada and Chanel, but in furtherance of its “characteristically algorithmic approach” to retail and given its well-established ambitions to dominate virtually all aspects of the consumer goods market, including fashion, it is working on machine learning-driven endeavors, such as “an algorithm that learns about a particular style of fashion from existing imagery” and uses that information to generate new items in similar styles.

          Knight noted that back in 2017 that Amazon’s fashion design-specific AI initiative – a program that creates garment designs (by way of a tool called generative adversarial network) that can then be physically manufactured by humans – was still in early stages at the company’s Sunnyvale, California-based research and development hub, Amazon Lab126. In other words, the technology was hardly ready to turn out fashion designs that the $1 trillion e-commerce titan could add to its sweeping marketplace site, but assuming that the it does, in fact, get to that point (and even if it does not), the technology – and other initiatives in much the same vein – raises some interesting questions, a couple of which center on creation and ownership, namely: who actually created these designs, and thus, who maintains legal rights in them?

        • “It’s not the gay coat that makes the gentleman”: The Court of Florence rules once again on promotional materials portraying the David by Michelangelo (all dressed up, this time) and misses a chance to “unveil” the meaning of cultural heritage reproduction

          Affectionate readers of this blog will already be familiar with the Italian rules on the reproduction of cultural heritage as well as with two 2017 Court decisions that dealt with unauthorized reproductions of, respectively, the Teatro Massimo of Palermo and the David by Michelangelo (see here) (for an earlier dispute over a controversial picture of the David “bearing arms”, see here).

          Among the many Italian public entities having the right to authorise the reproduction of their cultural heritage assets, those having rights on the David by Michelangelo in particular seem to be the most aware of their prerogatives, as in early 2019 the Court of Florence was called to rule on yet another case involving this Renaissance masterpiece (the full decision is available here).

          The facts of the case are rather simple: Brioni, a prestigious Italian menswear couture brand, launched an advertising campaign (consisting of a video and some pictures) centred on a full-scale marble replica of the David by Michelangelo wearing a tailor made suit from Brioni’s couturiers.

        • Pirate IPTV Operator Hid Away With Mountains of Food to Avoid Coronavirus

          When officers from Hungary’s National Tax and Customs Administration raided a pirate IPTV provider they were unsurprised to discover large amounts of satellite and computer equipment for capturing and distributing live TV . However, what they also found was hundreds of pounds of food that had been stockpiled by the operator, who hadn’t been outside for months due to fears of catching the coronavirus.

        • YouTube Rippers ‘Flvto’ and ’2Conv’ Will Take Legal Battle to US Supreme Court

          YouTube-rippers FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com will petition the US Supreme Court to take on its legal battle with several major record labels. While the case is ultimately about alleged copyright infringements, both parties disagree on whether US Courts have jurisdiction over the sites and its owner, a matter which the Supreme Court may provide more clarity on.

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