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08.16.18

Links 16/8/2018: MAAS 2.4.1, Mesa 18.2 RC3

Posted in News Roundup at 4:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • How to install Linux apps on your Chromebook

      Chromebooks are great because they’re simple: there’s a lot you can get done with web services without exposing yourself to the troubles and security issues that plague more complex platforms.

      But if you need to do a bit more with your Chromebook, you have a few options. Most Chromebooks these days allow you to install apps from the Google Play Store, which should fill most productivity gaps. If not, you’ll soon have one more option: installing Linux apps. To be clear, you’ve been able to install Linux apps on Chromebooks for years because Chrome OS is Linux. But, it’s about to get much easier.

    • Top 5 Features Still Missing From Chrome OS

      Google’s Chrome OS gets a lot of things right, and the platform has evolved considerably over the years. Not only does it offer an always up-to-date version of the Chrome browser, but there are also Android apps, stylus input, and even Linux support on some devices. However, Chrome OS is far from perfect. You have to make compromises if you choose to live with a Chromebook, but you shouldn’t have to make quite this many. Here are the top five things Google should fix.

    • Walmart’s selling an all-aluminum Chromebook with a comfy keyboard for just $220

      If you’re not considering a Chromebook when you’re shopping for a notebook, you’re doing it wrong. Google’s low-cost laptops are typically light, fast, secure, and have almost everything you need for remote work a.k.a. the Internet. Today, you can get in on the action for a great price. Walmart is selling the Acer Chromebook 14 (CB3-431-C6ZB) for $220. That’s about $30 to $40 cheaper than you’d usually pay for this laptop.

  • Kernel Space

    • Crypto Updates Sent In For Linux 4.19 Kernel, Speck Is Still In The Kernel

      The Linux kernel’s crypto subsystem updates were sent out today with its new feature work for the Linux 4.19 kernel. One change we were curious to see was whether they were going to nuke the Speck cipher code, but they did not.

      Back during Linux 4.17, the Crypto updates added the Speck block cipher (and in 4.18, file-system encryption support with Speck was added) which has come under fire since Speck was developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and it’s speculated that it could be back-doored by the agency but at the very least can’t be a fully trusted for encryption.

    • The Big Networking Update Sent In For Linux 4.19, Including 802.11ax Bits

      David Miller sent in the networking subsystem updates today for the Linux 4.19 kernel merge window.

    • New round of 64-bit ARM Patches Merged into Linux 4.19 Kernel, Includes GCC Stackleak Plugin Support

      A new round of changes for 64-bit ARM architecture (ARM64/AArch64) were just loaded into the Linux 4.19 kernel merge window, and its generally some pretty good stuff being included.

      The 64-bit ARM space on Linux as been fairly busy, and there’s likely more to come before Linux 4.19 kernel is released.

    • 64-bit ARM Changes For Linux 4.19 Has “A Bunch Of Good Stuff”

      Will Deacon submitted the 64-bit ARM (ARM64/AArch64) changes on Tuesday for the Linux 4.19 kernel merge window.

    • Why Locking Down the Kernel Won’t Stall Linux Improvements

      The Linux Kernel Hardening Project is making significant strides in reducing vulnerabilities and increasing the effort required to exploit vulnerabilities that remain. Much of what has been implemented is obviously valuable, but sometimes the benefit is more subtle. In some cases, changes with clear merit face opposition because of performance issues. In other instances, the amount of code change required can be prohibitive. Sometimes the cost of additional security development overwhelms the value expected from it.

      The Linux Kernel Hardening Project is not about adding new access controls or scouring the system for backdoors. It’s about making the kernel harder to abuse and less likely for any abuse to result in actual harm. The former is important because the kernel is the ultimate protector of system resources. The latter is important because with 5,000 developers working on 25 million lines of code, there are going to be mistakes in both how code is written and in judgment about how vulnerable a mechanism might be. Also, the raw amount of ingenuity being applied to the process of getting the kernel to do things it oughtn’t continues to grow in lockstep with the financial possibilities of doing so.

      The Linux kernel is written almost exclusively in the C programming language — while the most significant reasons that the kernel needs to be hardened arise from aspects of this programming language.

    • GSoC Final Report

      Nothing lasts forever, and this also applies for GSoC projects. In this report, I tried to summarize my experience in the DRI community and my contributions.

    • VKMS Coming In Linux 4.19 Is One Of The Best GSoC & Outreachy Projects Of The Year

      One of the student summer coding projects that ended up being a cross between Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and Outreachy was the VKMS driver to provide a virtual KMS implementation for headless systems and other interesting use-cases.

      Rodrigo Siqueira applied to GSoC 2018 to work on the long talked about “VKMS” driver while separately Haneen Mohammed had applied to Outreachy with a similar goal. Given the overlap, they worked together to get the Virtual KMS driver working. These summer student coding projects are drawing to a close and this initial driver is being sent sent into Linux 4.19 via the DRM tree. Not bad considering most GSoC/Outreachy projects introducing new code don’t make it mainline so quickly, if ever.

    • Scheduler utilization clamping

      Once upon a time, the only way to control how the kernel’s CPU scheduler treated any given process was to adjust that process’s priority. Priorities are no longer enough to fully control CPU scheduling, though, especially when power-management concerns are taken into account. The utilization clamping patch set from Patrick Bellasi is the latest in a series of attempts to allow user space to tell the scheduler more about any specific process’s needs.

      Contemporary CPU schedulers have a number of decisions to make at any given time. They must, of course, pick the process that will be allowed to execute in each CPU on the system, distributing processes across those CPUs to keep the system as a whole in an optimal state of busyness. Increasingly, the scheduler is also involved in power management — ensuring that the CPUs do not burn more energy than they have to. Filling that role requires placing each process on a CPU that is appropriate for that process’s needs; modern systems often have more than one type of CPU available. The scheduler must also pick an appropriate operating power point — frequency and voltage — for each CPU to enable it to run the workload in a timely manner while minimizing energy consumption.

    • Linux 4.18.1
    • Linux 4.17.15
    • Linux 4.14.63
    • Linux 4.9.120
    • Linux 4.4.148
    • Linux Kernel 4.18 Gets First Point Release, It’s Now Ready for Mass Deployments

      Linux kernel 4.18 was released on Sunday, August 12, 2018, by Linus Torvalds, and it’s currently the most advanced kernel series available for Linux-based operating systems. The first point release, Linux 4.18.1, is now available, which marks the Linux 4.18 kernel series as stable and ready for mass deployments.

      All Linux OS vendors are now urged to adopt the latest Linux 4.18 kernel series for their operating systems on supported architectures as it brings various new features, improvements, and updated drivers for better hardware support. Linux kernel 4.18.1 is now available for download from kernel.org or our software portal.

    • GNU Linux-Libre 4.18 Kernel Officially Released for Those Who Seek 100% Freedom

      Following in the footsteps of the recently released Linux 4.18 kernel series, the GNU Linux-libre 4.18 kernel is now available for those who don’t want to run any proprietary firmware on their Linux-based operating system or the GNU operating system.

      Including pretty much the same new features and enhancements as Linux kernel 4.18, the GNU Linux-libre 4.18 kernel cleans up the new psp-dev crypto and icn8505 touchscreen drivers, removes the atom isp driver, and adjusts numerous others.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Embedded Linux Conference Europe tackles tech’s diversity problem

        The Linux Foundation has posted session descriptions for the Embedded Linux Conference Europe and OpenIoT Summit Europe, to be held Oct. 22-24, in Edinburgh, with topics ranging from RISC-V to deep learning to workplace diversity.

        Even if you can’t make it to Edinburgh Oct. 22-24 for the Embedded Linux Conference Europe (ELCE) and co-located OpenIoT Summit Europe, the session descriptions are a good place to find clues about what’s hot in Linux and open source embedded technology. To be sure, the Linux Foundation offers a heavy dose of sessions on Linux Foundation projects such as Zephyr or Yocto Project, but it’s still a very inclusive collection from across the industry.

      • 10 Reasons to Attend ONS Europe in September | Registration Deadline Approaching – Register & Save $605
      • Linux Foundation Zephyr Project Attracts IoT Developers and Tech Giants

        The Linux Foundation has always been committed to welcoming companies and organizations of all sizes as part of its heritage and ongoing vision for opening technology for all to experiment with and to build things.

        The Zephyr Project, an open source project to build a real-time operating system (RTOS) for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced last week they grew their community of contributors with support for more than 100 developer boards and the addition of six new members.

        These industry and academic leaders include Antmicro, DeviceTone, SiFive, the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, The Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (ICCS) and Northeastern University.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Begins Teasing Their Discrete Graphics Card
      • Mesa 18.2-RC3 Released With Two Dozen Fixes

        Mesa 18.2 as the next quarterly feature release to the contained OpenGL/Vulkan drivers is about two weeks out if all goes well, but today for testing Mesa 18.2-RC3 is now available.

      • DRM Updates Sent In For Linux 4.19 With New VKMS Driver, Intel Icelake Work

        David Airlie has submitted the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) updates for the Linux 4.19 kernel merge window with these various open-source graphics/display driver updates.

      • NVIDIA are working towards better support for NVIDIA Optimus on Linux

        Thanks to a little Twitter tip, we’ve learned today that NVIDIA are indeed working to provide better support for NVIDIA Optimus on Linux.

        Currently, if you have a laptop with NVIDIA Optimus the official NVIDIA driver gives you the option between using the Intel GPU or switching over to the NVIDIA GPU. It doesn’t handle it like you would expect it to on Windows, where it would offload the work to the more powerful NVIDIA GPU. Not an ideal situation, to switch between the two GPUs and from when I had a laptop with one (some time ago) it required logging out before it would take effect.

      • libinput’s “new” trackpoint acceleration method

        This is mostly a request for testing, because I’ve received zero feedback on the patches that I merged a month ago and libinput 1.12 is due to be out. No comments so far on the RC1 and RC2 either, so… well, maybe this gets a bit broader attention so we can address some things before the release. One can hope.

        [...]

        Because basically every trackpoint has different random data ranges not linked to anything easily measurable, libinput’s device quirks now support a magic multiplier to scale the trackpoint range into something resembling a sane range. This is basically what we did before with the systemd POINTINGSTICK_CONST_ACCEL property except that we’re handling this in libinput now (which is where acceleration is handled, so it kinda makes sense to move it here). There is no good conversion from the previous trackpoint range property to the new multiplier because the range didn’t really have any relation to the physical input users expected.

    • Benchmarks

      • The Linux Benchmarking Continues On The Threadripper 2950X & 2990WX

        While I haven’t posted any new Threadripper 2950X/2990WX benchmarks since the embargo expired on Monday with the Threadripper 2 Linux review and some Windows 10 vs. Linux benchmarks, tests have continued under Linux — as well as FreeBSD.

        I should have my initial BSD vs. Linux findings on Threadripper 2 out later today. There were about 24 hours worth of FreeBSD-based 2990WX tests going well albeit DragonFlyBSD currently bites the gun with my Threadripper 2 test platforms. More on that in the upcoming article as the rest of those tests finish. It’s also been a madhouse with simultaneously benchmarking the new Level 1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) vulnerability and the performance impact of those Linux mitigations on Intel hardware will start to be published in the next few hours.

      • An Early Look At The L1 Terminal Fault “L1TF” Performance Impact On Virtual Machines

        Yesterday the latest speculative execution vulnerability was disclosed that was akin to Meltdown and is dubbed the L1 Terminal Fault, or “L1TF” for short. Here are some very early benchmarks of the performance impact of the L1TF mitigation on the Linux virtual machine performance when testing the various levels of mitigation as well as the unpatched system performance prior to this vulnerability coming to light.

      • Phoronix Test Suite 8.2 M2 Released With Offline Improvements, L1TF/Foreshadow Reporting

        The second development snapshot of the upcoming Phoronix Test Suite 8.2-Rakkestad to benchmark to your heart’s delight on Linux, macOS, Windows, Solaris, and BSD platforms from embedded/SBC systems to cloud and servers.

      • AMD’s New Threadripper 2990WX Much Faster On Linux Than Windows 10
      • A Quick Look At The Windows Server vs. Linux Performance On The Threadripper 2990WX

        One of the frequent requests/comments stemming from the launch-day Windows 10 vs. Linux benchmarks on the new AMD Threadripper 2990WX were questions about whether this 32-core / 64-thread processor would do better with Windows Server given Microsoft’s obvious tuning of that Windows flavor to high core/thread counts… Well, here are some initial figures with Windows Server 2016 and a Windows Server 2019 preview.

        Given the immense interest and speculation about the Windows Server performance on the AMD Threadripper 2990WX, to see if it would give Linux better competition relative to Windows 10, I ran some initial benchmarks so far. I am still doing some more Windows vs. Linux exploration and benchmarking (a lot of other interesting tests from this new hardware) while for today are the Windows Server 2016/2019 results alongside the other operating system tests on this 2990WX system.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • PSA: Workaround for a working MTP

        KDE Connect is awesome, we all know that. But sometimes you still want (or need) to acces the files on your Android phone via a good old USB cable. And to do so, you need a working implementation of the MTP protocol.

        Many people on bugzilla complain that the MTP support in Plasma is just broken. And indeed the MTP implementation we have has always been ignoring a fundamental limitation of MTP: the protocol doesn’t allow parallel operations, unlike the old Android USB mass storage did. In practice, if more than one process spawns an mtp ioslave, everything breaks.

      • Museum Day, or, the Benefit of Skiving Off

        Tomorrow, there’s the fund raiser training session. Given that we’ve been raising funds for Krita since time immemorial (our first fund raiser was for two Wacom tablets and art pens so we could implement support for them, the second to let Lukas Tvrdy work on Krita for a couple of months and after that, we’ve had the kickstarters), that might seem superfluous. But I’m still hoping to learn lots. After all, it’s not like we’re exactly awash in money.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • How to navigate your GNOME Linux desktop with only a keyboard

        Almost ever since I first started using Linux, I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect window manager.

        My first experience with Linux was in the late 90s, and I first tried installing it on my own in the early 2000s. Like many converts, my previous experience was largely with Windows, and so my early mission was to find an experience that closely replicated Windows, or at least let me interact with it in a familiar way.

        [...]

        So I’ve been making a concerted effort to learn the GNOME keyboard shortcuts, and honestly, it hasn’t been as hard to stick with them as I had thought. Just like any other set of keyboard shortcuts, the trick is to practice them a bit, and then do what you can to discourage you from slipping back into your old ways. I set my mouse just a wee bit further away, and when practical, will flip the switch on the bottom when I’m in a keyboard-heavy activity so I’m not tempted by muscle memory.

        The other trick is to have a good cheat sheet handy, posted up somewhere that you can easily see it. I made my own for GNOME, and I’ve created a version of it that you can download too.

        The GNOME project turns twenty-one years old this month, but as it keeps growing and evolving to keep up with the changing needs of computing environments, it wouldn’t surprise me if I’m still using it twenty-one years from now. And if you are too, I hope you will have taken the time to learn the keyboard shortcuts by then.

      • GNOME Celebrates Its 21st Birthday By Releasing GNOME 3.29.91

        Today marks 21 years since the GNOME desktop environment project was started by Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena. Coincidentally, released today is GNOME 3.29.91 that is the GNOME 3.30 desktop’s second beta release.

      • GNOME 3.29.91 released

        GNOME 3.29.91 is now available!

      • GNOME 3.30 Desktop Environment Gets Beta 2 Release Ahead of September 5 Launch

        Coming two weeks after the first beta release, the highly anticipated GNOME 3.30 desktop environment received a second beta release today as Michael Catanzaro informed us via an email announcement. This beta 2 release is tagged as GNOME 3.29.91, and it marks the Software String Freeze stage in the development cycle.

        But it doesn’t look like it was an easy release for the GNOME Release Team, as Michael Catanzaro reports build failures for several components, including GNOME Boxes, which didn’t make it for this second beta release. As a consequence, numerous components weren’t updated in this beta 2 release.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Zorin OS 12.4 Released, Available to Download Now

        The latest update to the popular Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, Zorin OS 12.4 boasts of being “more secure and compatible than ever before.”

        “This new release brings together the latest software updates, bug fixes, performance enhancements and hardware support out of the box. Zorin OS 12.4 introduces an updated hardware enablement stack,” say the Zorin devs.

      • Major Zorin OS Linux Release Is Coming This Fall Based on Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS

        Shipping with the updated HWE (Hardware Enablement) stack from the recently announced Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS point release, which is powered by the Linux 4.15 kernel from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), as well as an updated X graphics stack, Zorin OS 12.4 brings all the latest software and security updates from the Ubuntu repositories, along with performance enhancements and bug fixes.

        “Zorin OS 12.4 introduces an updated hardware enablement stack. The newly-included Linux kernel 4.15, as well as an updated X server graphics stack,” reads the release announcement. “In addition, new patches for system vulnerabilities are included in this release, so you can have the peace of mind knowing that you’re using the most secure version of Zorin OS ever.”

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Turns 25! Here are Some Interesting Facts About Debian Linux

        One of the oldest Linux distribution still in development, Debian has just turned 25. Let’s have a look at some interesting facts about this awesome FOSS project.

      • 25 years and counting

        When the late Ian Murdock announced 25 years ago in comp.os.linux.development, “the imminent completion of a brand-new Linux release, [...] the Debian Linux Release”, nobody would have expected the “Debian Linux Release” to become what’s nowadays known as the Debian Project, one of the largest and most influential free software projects. Its primary product is Debian, a free operating system (OS) for your computer, as well as for plenty of other systems which enhance your life. From the inner workings of your nearby airport to your car entertainment system, and from cloud servers hosting your favorite websites to the IoT devices that communicate with them, Debian can power it all.

        Today, the Debian project is a large and thriving organization with countless self-organized teams comprised of volunteers. While it often looks chaotic from the outside, the project is sustained by its two main organizational documents: the Debian Social Contract, which provides a vision of improving society, and the Debian Free Software Guidelines, which provide an indication of what software is considered usable. They are supplemented by the project’s Constitution which lays down the project structure, and the Code of Conduct, which sets the tone for interactions within the project.

      • DebConf 18 – Day 3

        Most of Japan is on summer vacation now, only a small village in the north resists the siege, so I am continuing my reports on DebConf. See DebConf 18 – Day 1 and DebConf 18 – Day 2 for the previous ones.

      • Derivatives

        • Hands-on with Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 Beta

          I have been out of touch for the past six months, because I accepted a teaching position in Amsterdam. The amount of time that required, and the weekly commute from Switzerland (yes, really, weekly), was vastly more than I expected, and left me no time to do justice to my blog. But now I am back again, and determined to manage my time more effectively and keep up with blogging.

          Although I haven’t been writing, I certainly have been keeping up with news and developments in the Linux world. What really inspired me to get busy and write again was the announcement of LMDE 3 (Cindy) Beta. Hooray! How long have we been waiting for this? It feels like years. Oh, that’s because it has been years.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu, Debian, RHEL, and CentOS Linux Now Patched Against “Foreshadow” Attacks

            Both Canonical and Red Hat emailed us with regards to the L1 Terminal Fault security vulnerability, which are documented as CVE-2018-3620 for operating systems and System Management Mode (SMM), CVE-2018-3646 for impacts to virtualization, as well as CVE-2018-3615 for Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX). They affect all Linux-based operating system and machines with Intel CPUs.

            “It was discovered that memory present in the L1 data cache of an Intel CPU core may be exposed to a malicious process that is executing on the CPU core. This vulnerability is also known as L1 Terminal Fault (L1TF). A local attacker in a guest virtual machine could use this to expose sensitive information (memory from other guests or the host OS),” reads the Ubuntu security advisory.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 8 hurdles IT must overcome if they want open source success

    Open source software has the potential to drive innovation and collaboration across an enterprise, and can transform the way developers work together.

    “Open source is now part of the evaluation criteria when deciding on a software platform, so much so that it is expected,” said Matt Ingenthron, senior director of engineering at Couchbase. “In this way, open source has somewhat faded into the background in a positive way. Just like no consumer would inquire if a mobile phone had internet access or text messaging, choosing an open source solution is almost always an option.”

  • Sprint calls on open source analytics to prevent cyberfraud

    Mobile phone-related fraud is big business. Fraudsters, hackers, and other bad actors employ creative techniques to compromise networks, hijack user information, and piece together customer identities that are then sold for big bucks on the dark web. To protect its customers, Sprint needed to transform the way it detected and blocked fraudulent activity.

    “In the mobile phone business, there’s no markup on selling devices — our bread and butter is the network and the services that are delivered on that network, through the devices,” says Scott Rice, CIO of Sprint. “Identity theft is a huge problem and the ability for nefarious actors to use that theft of information to impersonate our customers means we were eating the costs of the devices and the costs of services delivery.”

  • Open Source Platform Delivers LDAP Integration

    The latest release of InfluxData, an open source platform for metrics, events, and other time series data, adds LDAP integration, new advanced analytics, and self-healing capabilities in the time series database platform. According to the company, time series data, collected and stored with InfluxData’s Time Series database platform is integral to observability and is becoming mission critical for organizations. Enhancements to InfluxEnterprise make it easier for administrators to keep this mission critical data available and secure by checking and verifying every requested action. This includes creating databases, storing data and running queries – against a user’s stored authorizations and role.

  • YOYOW-WeCenter Special Edition Release: Free and Open Source

    The YOYOW-WeCenter Special Edition, customized and developed by YOYOW and based on WeCenter Q&A community framework, has been released on GitHub. Compared to regular WeCenter frameworks, YOYOW is providing free open source services and will be continually iterating products and will be introducing an incentive mechanism. Each Q&A community can directly integrate into YOYOW’s bottom layer network and enjoy the network services provided by YOYOW.

  • Events

    • Using AI on patents

      Software patents account for more than half of all utility patents granted in the US over the past few years. Clearly, many companies see these patents as a way to fortune and growth, even while software patents are hated by many people working in the free and open-source movements. The field of patenting has now joined the onward march of artificial intelligence. This was the topic of a talk at OSCON 2018 by Van Lindberg, an intellectual-property lawyer, board member and general counsel for the Python Software Foundation, and author of the book Intellectual Property and Open Source. The disruption presented by deep learning ranges from modest enhancements that have already been exploited—making searches for prior art easier—to harbingers of automatic patent generation in the future.

    • Diverse technical topics from OSCON 2018

      The O’Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) returned to Portland, Oregon in July for its 20th meeting. Previously, we covered some retrospectives and community-management talks that were a big part of the conference. Of course, OSCON is also a technology conference, and there were lots of talks on various open-source software platforms and tools.

      An attendee who was coming back to OSCON after a decade would have been somewhat surprised by the themes of the general technical sessions, though. Early OSCONs had a program full of Perl, Python, and PHP developer talks, including the famous “State of The Onion” (Perl) keynote. Instead, this year’s conference mostly limited the language-specific programming content to the tutorials. Most of the technical sessions in the main program were about platforms, administration, or other topics of general interest, some of which we will explore below.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 42
      • Dweb: Building a Resilient Web with WebTorrent

        WebTorrent is the first torrent client that works in the browser. It’s written completely in JavaScript – the language of the web – and uses WebRTC for true peer-to-peer transport. No browser plugin, extension, or installation is required.

        Using open web standards, WebTorrent connects website users together to form a distributed, decentralized browser-to-browser network for efficient file transfer. The more people use a WebTorrent-powered website, the faster and more resilient it becomes.

      • Bitslicing, An Introduction

        Bitslicing (in software) is an implementation strategy enabling fast, constant-time implementations of cryptographic algorithms immune to cache and timing-related side channel attacks.

        This post intends to give a brief overview of the general technique, not requiring much of a cryptographic background. It will demonstrate bitslicing a small S-box, talk about multiplexers, LUTs, Boolean functions, and minimal forms.

      • Firefox Security Add-on on 222k Devices Found Sending Browsing Data to Remote German Server

        There is a popular browser add-on which is installed by 222,746 Firefox users according to Mozilla’s own statistics of add-on downloads. According to a German security blogger, Mike Kuketz, and the author of uBlock Origin, Raymond Hill, this particular add-on has been spying on users’ activity by tapping into their browser histories and keeping track of the web pages that they visit. This add-on is the Web Security extension for the Mozilla Firefox browser.

        Web Security is designed to protect users from online phishing and malware attacks that could potentially steal personal information. This comes across as ironic as the extension is found to be unethically keeping tabs (pun intended) on your own information, evading your privacy without your consent. The reason that this news is hitting the stands so massively is that the add-on was publicized by Mozilla itself in a blog post just last week. The add-on boasts fantastic reviews and that’s why it is used so widely by so many people too.

      • Time Dilation

        I riffed on this a bit over at twitter some time ago; this has been sitting in the drafts folder for too long, and it’s incomplete, but I might as well get it out the door. Feel free to suggest additions or corrections if you’re so inclined.

        You may have seen this list of latency numbers every programmer should know, and I trust we’ve all seen Grace Hopper’s classic description of a nanosecond at the top of this page, but I thought it might be a bit more accessible to talk about CPU-scale events in human-scale transactional terms. So: if a single CPU cycle on a modern computer was stretched out as long as one of our absurdly tedious human seconds, how long do other computing transactions take?

      • Add-on Recommended By Mozilla Caught Logging Users’ Browsing History

        According to the reports by Mike Kuketz, an independent security blogger from Germany and uBlock Origin, an add-on named “Web Security” has been caught collecting users’ browsing history.

        [...]

        Soon after this discovery by Hill, Kuketz added a post on his blog about the same extension pointing to the same strange behavior of the add-on. A user on Kuketz’s blog decoded the garbled data and found that the add-on was collecting users’ browsing history and sending it to a German server.

  • Oracle

    • Oracle open sources Graphpipe to standardize machine learning model deployment

      Oracle, a company not exactly known for having the best relationship with the open source community, is releasing a new open source tool today called Graphpipe, which is designed to simplify and standardize the deployment of machine learning models.

      The tool consists of a set of libraries and tools for following the standard.

    • Oracle open-sources Graphpipe to make it easier to deploy machine learning models

      Oracle today open-sourced Graphpipe, a tool created to make it easy to serve machine learning models in the cloud made by popular frameworks like TensorFlow, MXNet, Caffe2, and PyTorch. Graphpipe was designed to simplify the deployment of machine learning for use on mobile apps and IoT devices, as well as web services for end users or AI for internal use at companies.

      “Graphpipe is an attempt to standardize the protocol by which you speak to a remotely deployed machine learning model, and it includes some reference servers that allow you to deploy machine learning models from existing frameworks very easily in an efficient way,” Oracle cloud architect Vish Abrams told VentureBeat in a phone interview. Prior to joining Oracle, Abrams led efforts at NASA to open-source the OpenStack cloud computing platform.

    • Oracle open sources GraphPipe, a new standard for machine learning models

      Machine learning is expected to transform industries. However, its adoption in the enterprise has been slower than some might expect because it’s difficult for organizations to deploy and manage machine learning technology on their own. Part of the challenge is that machine learning models are often trained and deployed using bespoke techniques, making it difficult to deploy models across servers or within different departments.

    • Oracle offers GraphPipe spec for machine learning data transmission

      Oracle has developed an open source specification for transmitting tensor data, which the company wants to become a standard for machine learning.

      Called GraphPipe, the specification provides a protocol for network data transmission. GraphPipe is intended to bring the efficiency of a binary, memory-mapped format while being simple and light on dependencies. There also are clients and servers for deploying and querying machine learning models from any framework.

    • Oracle releases GraphPipe, an open-source tool for deploying AI models

      Major tech firms regularly open-source internal software projects, but it’s not often that Oracle Corp.’s name comes up in this context. Today marked one of those occasions.

      The database giant this morning released GraphPipe, a tool for easing the deployment of machine learning models. Development on the project was led by Oracle cloud architect Vish Abrams, an open-source veteran who previously worked at NASA as part of the team that created the OpenStack data center operating system.

    • Oracle Open Sources GraphPipe for ‘Dead Simple’ Machine Learning Deployment
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • How a civic hacker used open data to halve tickets at Chicago’s most confusing parking spot

        Matt Chapman used the Freedom of Information Act to get the City of Chicago’s very mess parking ticket data; after enormous and heroic data normalization, Chapman was able to pinpoint one of the city’s most confusing parking spots, between 1100-1166 N State St, which cycled between duty as a taxi-stand and a parking spot with a confusingly placed and semi-busted parking meter.

        After surveying the site and deducing the problem, Chapman contacted the alderman responsible for that stretch of North State Street, and, eight months later, the signage was cleaned up and made more intuitive.

        Followup data analysis showed that Chapman’s work had halved the number of parking tickets issued on the spot, with 600-odd fewer tickets in the past 20 months, for a savings of $60,000 to Chicago motorists.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Bluespec, Inc. Releases a New Family of Open-Source RISC-V Processors

        Bluespec Inc. has released Piccolo, its first in a family of RISC-V open-source processors provided as a vehicle for open innovation in embedded systems.

        Piccolo is a 3-stage RV32IM processor whose small “footprint” is ideal for many IoT applications. The repository (https://github.com/bluespec/Piccolo) contains a royalty-free synthesizable Verilog core that can be easily integrated and deployed into an ASIC or FPGA. Bluespec, Inc. will actively maintain Piccolo. It also offers commercial-grade tools for the customization and verification of RISC-V cores. Configurations will be continually added to provide the full spectrum of embedded controller features. Companies or universities interested in contributing to the Piccolo project should contact Bluespec, Inc. (add contact – RISC-V open source support).

  • Programming/Development

    • File Indexing In Golang

      I have been working on a pet project to write a File Indexer, which is a utility that helps me to search a directory for a given word or phrase.

      The motivation behind to build this utility was so that we could search the chat log files for dgplug. We have a lot of online classes and guest session and at time we just remember the name or a phrase used in the class, backtracking the files using these are not possible as of now. I thought I will give stab at this problem and since I am trying to learn golang I implemented my solution in it. I implemented this solution over a span of two weeks where I spent time to upskill on certain aspects and also to come up with a clean solution.

    • How Agile helps non-technical teams get things done

      What are the best ways for governments to improve effectiveness and efficiency? At San Jose City Hall, we’re getting traction with an unconventional approach: agile for non-technical teams. Public servants who do everything from emergency management to parks programs are finding that Agile methods help them with that most basic of challenges: Getting things done amid frequent interruptions and evolving priorities.

      Last September, I proclaimed, “Scrum is the best thing that’s happened to our government team.” Our innovation team of five had discovered that planning and delivering work in small increments enables us to stay focused, aligned, and continuously improving. We didn’t yet know if our experience would be replicable by other teams in our organization. We offered Agile training for 10 colleagues to see what would happen.

      Nine months later, 12 teams and more than 100 staff members throughout our organization are using Agile methods to organize their work. Notably, the spread of Agile among city teams has been largely organic, not driven by top-down mandates.

    • Top Linux developers’ recommended programming books

      Without question, Linux was created by brilliant programmers who employed good computer science knowledge. Let the Linux programmers whose names you know share the books that got them started and the technology references they recommend for today’s developers. How many of them have you read?

      [...]

      Linux was developed in the 1990s, as were other fundamental open source applications. As a result, the tools and languages the developers used reflected the times, which meant a lot of C programming language. While C is no longer as popular, for many established developers it was their first serious language, which is reflected in their choice of influential books.

      “You shouldn’t start programming with the languages I started with or the way I did,” says Torvalds. He started with BASIC, moved on to machine code (“not even assembly language, actual ‘just numbers’ machine code,” he explains), then assembly language and C.

      “None of those languages are what anybody should begin with anymore,” Torvalds says. “Some of them make no sense at all today (BASIC and machine code). And while C is still a major language, I don’t think you should begin with it.”

      It’s not that he dislikes C. After all, Linux is written in GNU C. “I still think C is a great language with a pretty simple syntax and is very good for many things,” he says. But the effort to get started with it is much too high for it to be a good beginner language by today’s standards. “I suspect you’d just get frustrated. Going from your first ‘Hello World’ program to something you might actually use is just too big of a step.”

Leftovers

  • Aretha Franklin, The Queen Of Soul, Has Died At 76

    Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul and a music legend who enjoyed a career longer than many of her successors, died Thursday. She was 76.

    Her publicist confirmed her death to the Associated Press, saying she died in at her home in Detroit from advanced pancreatic cancer.

    “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart,” her family said in a statement. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family.”

  • Science

    • Children are susceptible to peer pressure from robots

      In a study published today in the journal Science Robotics, researchers from Germany and the UK demonstrated that children are susceptible to peer pressure from robots. The findings, say the researchers, show that, as robots and AIs become integrated into social spaces, we need to be careful about the influence they wield, especially on the young.

  • Hardware

    • As one Samsung factory opens and another may close, shifting supply chain means different IP risks [Ed: Very, very, very, very, very slow news day for the patent trolls' lobby, IAM. So they write about Samsung shifting factory location as though it's about patents; but it's not. Not even remotely...]

      Where is the biggest smartphone factory in the world? If you guessed Shenzhen, or anywhere else in China, you’re wrong as of last month. Samsung in July opened what has been dubbed the world’s largest smartphone factory in Noida, just outside of Delhi. Meanwhile, South Korean media this week reported that Samsung may be on the verge of shuttering its smartphone factory in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin. The news comes as the top global handset maker ramps up production in other parts of Asia.

    • Physical Home Cluster Setup

      Dell inspiron with extra Intel Pro/1000 Dual port Server Adapter

      3 Nodes Dell Poweredge 610 ( each with a different Solid State Drive)

      Juniper SRX 220 Router

      Tenda 8 port Gigabit Desktop switch

      The whole thing is housed in a StarTech.com 12U Adjustable Depth Open Frame 4 Post Server Rack

      Here’s what it looks like:

  • Health/Nutrition

    • A Contractor Knowingly Sold US Troops Defective Earplugs For Years. Now They’re Paying For It

      A defense contractor has agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle claims that it furnished U.S. service members with earplugs that it knew were defective, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday. The settlement suggests that pure greed may be partly to blame for the military’s “silent epidemic” of hearing loss.

    • Veterans Group Sues to Block VA Shadow Rulers

      A liberal veterans group is suing to block the influence of three outside advisers who have been secretly influencing the Department of Veterans Affairs from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida.

      ProPublica reported last week that the advisers — Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach doctor Bruce Moskowitz and Washington lawyer Marc Sherman — have been shaping VA personnel and policy decisions despite having no official role or relevant expertise.

      The trio, sometimes referred to as the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd,” is failing to disclose its activities as required by federal law, according to a lawsuit filed today in federal court in Washington, D.C., by VoteVets, a liberal activist group that says it represents 500,000 supporters.

  • Security

    • Three More Intel Chip Exploits Surface
    • Spectre-like “Foreshadow” Flaw In Intel CPUs Can Leak Your Secrets
    • Intel Foreshadow exploits: How to protect yourself from latest chip vulnerability

      Like the Spectre and Meltdown exploits earlier this year, the new L1TF / Foreshadow vulnerabilities allow for a form of speculative execution attack. Unlike those earlier exploits, these affect modern chips with SGX architecture extensions, designed to protect data and applications from interference.

    • L1TF Explained in 3 Minutes from Red Hat
    • Linux Kernel TCP Vulnerability 2

      On the week of July 15th, researcher Juha-Matti Tilli disclosed a vulnerability in the Linux kernel to the kernel maintainers, the National Cyber Security Center – Finland (NCSC-FI), CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC), and Akamai. The vulnerability, CVE-2018-5391, is a resource exhaustion attack triggered by a specially crafted stream of IP datagrams that cause expensive processing within the Linux kernel. This vulnerability is similar to the Linux TCP vulnerability announced August, 6th, 2018.

    • Two Linux bugs let remote attackers knock out network devices with low-traffic attacks

      The US CERT Coordination Center posted an alert about the security issue, tagged with the ID CVE-2018-5391, and notes the issue affects versions 3.9 and above of the Linux kernel.

    • Security updates issued for VMware, Samba, Internet Key Exchange, and Linux

      US-Cert announced updates and patches for VMware, Samba, Internet Key Exchange, and Linux kernel, respectively, to address a host of vulnerabilities.

      The VMware security updates fixed vulnerabilities in vSphere, Workstation, Fusion, and Virtual Appliances which could allow an attacker to obtain sensitive information if exploited, according to an August 14 advisory.

      The Samba Team released security updates to address several vulnerabilities which if exploited could allow threat actors to gain control of an affected system.

    • Microsoft, Intel Warn of ‘Foreshadow’ CPU Security Attacks [Ed: A Microsoft booster's take]
    • Intel Issues Security Advisory on L1 Speculative Execution Attack Method [Ed: Also a Microsoft booster's take]
    • Protecting Our Customers through the Lifecycle of Security Threats [Ed: Intel's face-saving take]
    • QEMU 3.0 Brings Spectre V4 Mitigation, OpenGL ES Support In SDL Front-End

      QEMU 3.0 is now officially available. This big version bump isn’t due to some compatibility-breaking changes, but rather to simplify their versioning and begin doing major version bumps on an annual basis. As an added bonus, QEMU 3.0 comes at a time of the project marking its 15th year in existence.

      QEMU 3.0 does amount to being a big feature release with a lot of new functionality as well as many improvements. Changes in QEMU 3.0 include Spectre V4 mitigation for x86 Intel/AMD, improved support for nested KVM guests on Microsoft Hyper-V, block device support for active mirroring, improved support for AHCI and SCSI emulation, OpenGL ES support within the SDL front-end, improved latency for user-mode networking, various ARM improvements, some POWER9 / RISC-V / s390 improvements too, and various other new bits.

    • How the L1 Terminal Fault vulnerability affects Linux systems

      Announced just yesterday in security advisories from Intel, Microsoft and Red Hat, a newly discovered vulnerability affecting Intel processors (and, thus, Linux) called L1TF or “L1 Terminal Fault” is grabbing the attention of Linux users and admins. Exactly what is this vulnerability and who should be worrying about it?

    • Flaw discovered in Intel chips, allows attackers to steal cloud data [Ed: Intel deserves to go bankrupt for selling billions of chips with defects and back doors in them (no accident, they put the ME there consciously)]
    • Theo on the latest Intel issues

      Theo de Raadt (deraadt@) posted to the tech@ mailing list with some background on how the latest discovered Intel CPU issues relate to OpenBSD.

      [...]

      These 3 issues (CVE-2018-3615, CVE-2018-3620, CVE-2018-3646) together
      are the currently public artifacts of this one bug.

    • OpenBSD chief slams Intel , says more CPU flaws likely to be found

      The head of the OpenBSD project, Theo de Raadt, has warned that more flaws related to speculative execution in Intel CPUs are likely to be found and that the two vulnerabilities found by Intel, as a result of examining the Foreshadow bug — found by two independent teams — are cause for much worry.

      De Raadt told iTWire that Foreshadow was “the wrong name. It is one of three side effects of a very poor Intel decision”.

      And he added in a mailing list post, “CVE-2018-3615 (Foreshadow) is by receiving the most press which is amazing considering it is by far the most boring of the 3, since very few few people give a rat’s ass about SGX – who cares if SGX is broken when the CPU can’t run your OS safely? Some convincing press agencies were hired, I guess, and have performed a masterful job of distracting.”

    • New family of new speculative execution bugs, Foreshadow, adds to Spectre-Meltdown misery

      Three newly discovered speculative execution vulnerabilities found in Intel CPUs may turn out to be more serious than their Spectre and Meltdown cousins, because this time the side-channel attack bugs affect microprocessors that support Intel Software Guard Extensions, as well as virtual machines running on the same third-party cloud as the susceptible device.

      The new family of Spectre-like flaws, dubbed Foreshadow (CVE-2018-3615) and Foreshadow-NG (CVE-2018-3620 and CVE-2018-3646), were independently uncovered by two separate research teams — one from imec-DistriNet-KU Leuven in Belgium, and the other from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, and University of Adelaide and CSIRO’s Data61 in Australia.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Cisco, Huawei, ZyXel, and Huawei patch Cryptographic IPSEC IKE Vulnerability
    • 11-year-old shows it’s child’s play to mess with elections

      At the DefCon Voting Village in Las Vegas last year, participants proved it was child’s play to hack voting machines: As Wired reported, within two minutes, democracy-tech researcher Carsten Schürmann used a novel vulnerability to get remote access to a WinVote machine.

      This year, it was literally child’s play: the DefCon village this past weekend invited 50 kids between the ages of 8 and 16 to compromise replicas of states’ websites in the so-called “DEFCON Voting Machine Hacking Village.”

    • Election Websites, Back-End Systems Most at Risk of Cyberattack in Midterms

      Both adult and kid hackers demonstrated at DEF CON how the hackable voting machine may be the least of our worries in the 2018 elections.

      Two 11-year-old budding hackers last week at DEF CON in Las Vegas used SQL injection attack code to break into a replica of the Florida Secretary of State’s website within 15 minutes, altering vote count reports on the site.

      Meanwhile, further down the hall in the adult Voting Machine Hacking Village at Caesars Palace, one unidentified hacker spent four hours trying to break into a replica database that housed the real, publicly available state of Ohio voter registration roll. He got as far as the secured server — penetrating two layers of firewalls with a Khali Linux pen testing tool — but in the end was unable to grab the data from the database, which included names and birthdates of registered voters.

    • How Netflix Secures AWS Cloud Credentials

      Netflix has long been the poster child for being an “all-in-the-cloud” organization. The streaming media service relies on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for infrastructure and computing resources that it uses to operate.

    • Researchers Reveal Security Vulnerabilities in Tracking Apps

      Millions of users around the world regularly install tracker apps on their Android devices to help them keep track of friends and loved ones. Some of those tracker apps, however, contain vulnerabilities that could potentially enable an attacker to track the users of the apps.

      Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology detailed 37 vulnerabilities found in 19 mobile tracking apps in a session at Defcon in Las Vegas on Aug. 11. The researchers responsibly disclosed the flaws to Google and noted that, as of the time of their presentation, 12 of the apps had been removed from the Google Play store, leaving seven still publicly available and vulnerable.

      “In this project it was very easy to find vulnerabilities,” security researcher Siegfried Rasthofer said. “There were no sophisticated exploits.”

    • Reconsidering Speck

      The Speck cipher is geared toward good performance in software, which makes it attractive for smaller, often embedded, systems with underpowered CPUs that lack hardware crypto acceleration. But it also comes from the US National Security Agency (NSA), which worries lots of people outside the US—and, in truth, a fair number of US citizens as well. The NSA has earned a reputation for promulgating various types of cryptographic algorithms with dubious properties. While the technical arguments against Speck, which is a fairly simple and straightforward algorithm with little room for backdoors, have not been all that compelling, the political arguments are potent—to the point where it is being dropped by the main proponent for including it in the kernel.

    • WireGuarding the mainline

      The WireGuard VPN tunnel has been under development — and attracting attention — for a few years now; LWN ran a review of it in March. While WireGuard can be found in a number of distribution repositories, it is not yet shipped with the mainline kernel because its author, Jason Donenfeld, hasn’t gotten around to proposing it for upstreaming. That changed on on July 31, when Donenfeld posted WireGuard for review. Getting WireGuard itself into the mainline would probably not be all that hard; merging some of the support code it depends on could be another story, though.

      WireGuard implements a simple tunneling protocol allowing network traffic to be routed through a virtual private network provider. It has been developed with an eye toward smallness, ease of verification, and performance, rather than large numbers of features. It is, according to the patch posting, “used by some massive companies pushing enormous amounts of traffic”. Some effort has gone into making WireGuard widely available, an effort that has helped to create a significant user community. But the ultimate way to make this kind of software widely available is to get it into everybody’s kernel; that requires upstreaming.

    • Putting Stickers On Your Laptop Is Probably a Bad Security Idea

      Mitchell said political stickers, for instance, can land you in secondary search or result in being detained while crossing a border. In one case, Mitchell said a hacker friend ended up missing a flight over stickers.

    • Video Shows Hotel Security at DEF CON Joking About Posting Photos of Guests’ Belongings to Snapchat

      But the room check captured on video suggests the walkthroughs are subject to abuse by hotel personnel who may use them as opportunity to snoop on guests or take and post images for amusement. And accounts of other searches that involved hotel security staff refusing to show ID or showing insufficient ID, and displaying bullying and threatening behavior to guests in occupied rooms, raises questions about the legality of the searches and the tactics and training of security personnel.

    • Researchers in Finland detect vulnerability in password management software

      Researchers identified a security gap in more than 10 applications used by millions around the world, including an app used by Finland's population registry.

    • How to Protect Your PC From the Intel Foreshadow Flaws
    • AT&T Sued After SIM Hijacker Steals $24 Million in Customer’s Cryptocurrency

      It has only taken a few years, but the press, public and law enforcement appear to finally be waking up to the problem of SIM hijacking. SIM hijacking (aka SIM swapping or a “port out scam”) involves a hacker hijacking your phone number, porting it over to their own device (often with a wireless carrier employee’s help), then taking control of your personal accounts. As we’ve been noting, the practice has heated up over the last few years, with countless wireless customers saying their entire identities were stolen after thieves ported their phone number to another carrier, then took over their private data.

      Sometimes this involves selling valuable Instagram account names for bitcoin; other times it involves clearing out the target’s banking or cryptocurrency accounts. Case in point: California authorities recently brought the hammer down on one 20-year-old hacker, who had covertly ported more than 40 wireless user accounts, in the process stealing nearly $5 million in bitcoin.

      One of the problems at the core of this phenomenon is that hackers have either tricked or paid wireless carrier employees to aid in the hijacking, or in some instances appear to have direct access to (apparently) poorly-secured internal carrier systems. That has resulted in lawsuits against carriers like T-Mobile for not doing enough to police their own employees, the unauthorized access of their systems, or the protocols utilized to protect consumer accounts from this happening in the first place.

    • Voting Machine Vendors, Election Officials Continue To Look Ridiculous, As Kids Hack Voting Machines In Minutes
    • Security updates for Thursday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Mexico’s Tlatelolco Massacre, and Its Echoes Today
    • Mental Illness does not Explain Terrorism

      If we truly want to get to a place where we can live in a society that treats mental health seriously and effectively we need to have the ability to have tough conversations. Following the Danforth shooting we need to be able to speak openly and honestly about Islamic terrorism, guns, crime, mental health, fentanyl and policing without getting into shouting matches.

    • ‘Ultimate Form Of Civilization Jihad’ Planned For This Michigan City

      Sterling Heights is unique in that it is home to not only a growing Muslim community but one of the largest concentrations of Chaldean Catholic Christians in the U.S. These Christians fled persecution in Iraq. Word of the open house spread quickly among Chaldeans and other Christians when a flyer showing the targeted church started circulating in the area last week.

    • Ceuta Onslaught: How Gaddafi’s Grim Prophecy for Europe is Coming True

      “Now listen, you people of NATO,” Gaddafi said on the eve of NATO’s invasion of Libya in 2011. “You’re bombing a wall which stood in the way of African migration to Europe and in the way of al-Qaeda terrorists. This wall was Libya. You’re breaking it.”

    • Honour Killing in UP : Brother beheads sister, waits for police with blood-soaked knife

      Her father Kallu Gazi and brother Aas Mohammad were very annoyed with her eloping with Abid whom they disliked. About a week ago, Aas Mohammad had publicly announced in the colony that he would behead her sister for daring to go against the family members.

    • “Girl With A Book” Frightens Extremists: Malala On Pak School Burning

      According to Dawn, Diamer Superintendent Police (SP) Roy Ajmal said 12 schools, including only-girls schools were set on fire. He also said that in a few cases, books were also thrown out and torched.

      Dawn quoted local police officer Mohammad Bashir as saying that the attack on schools took place near Chilas before dawn on Friday, however, no casualties were reported as the schools were closed when the attack took place.

      Police added that no group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

    • Amnesty accuses Turkey of ‘turning blind eye’ to abuses in Afrin

      Amnesty International says Turkish forces in the northern Syrian city of Afrin are giving Syrian militias “free rein” to commit serious human rights abuses. The group alleges torture, forced disappearances and looting.

    • Syria: Turkey must stop serious violations by allied groups and its own forces in Afrin

      Research released today reveals that residents in Afrin are enduring a wide range of violations, mostly at the hands of Syrian armed groups that have been equipped and armed by Turkey. These violations include arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and confiscation of property and looting to which Turkey’s armed forces have turned a blind eye. Some of these groups, and Turkish armed forces themselves, also have taken over schools, disrupting the education of thousands of children.

    • Russian-backed separatists are using terrifying text messages to shock adversaries — and it’s changing the face of warfare

      Russian-backed separatists are “adept at identifying Ukrainian positions by their electrometric signatures,” US Army Col. Liam Collins wrote in late July.

    • Linguistic Contortions in Gaza

      News outlets have performed torturous linguistic contortions to avoid stating the simple fact that Israel is shooting hundreds of demonstrators with live ammunition, killing 30 and injuring close to 2,000. An Associated Press headline (4/6/18) said, “Palestinian Protesters Burn Tires, Sending Smoke Billowing at Gaza/Israel Border; Israeli Troops Fire Back Sporadically.” That’s a logical impossibility: Israeli forces cannot “fire back” at people who aren’t firing at them. The sentence rests on the absurd assumption that burning tires is the same as shooting people.

    • Man who destroyed Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star charged with felony vandalism

      The man who allegedly used a pickaxe to vandalize President Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has reportedly been charged with vandalism.

    • Israeli Military Clears Itself of Wrongdoing in 2014 Gaza War’s ‘Black Friday’

      Known as “Black Friday,” Israel’s assault on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Aug. 1, 2014, was one of the deadliest and most scrutinized episodes in the 50-day war that summer.

      On Wednesday, the Israeli military cleared itself of wrongdoing in the bitterly contested episode. It published the conclusions of the examination into its conduct as Israel eased some restrictions on Gaza and moved to shore up the fragile cease-fire agreements that ended that war.

      Human rights groups like Amnesty International have said there was “strong evidence” that Israel carried out war crimes in Rafah by killing scores of Palestinians, most of them civilians. Some accused the Israeli military of firing in revenge, disproportionately and indiscriminately, after Hamas militants abducted a soldier, Lt. Hadar Goldin.

    • Whatever happened to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan?

      The troops waging America’s 17-year-old war in Afghanistan are confronting a puzzle: What has become of the enemy who drew them there?

      Al-Qaeda, the group whose September 11 terror attacks provoked the U.S. invasion in 2001, has shrunk to relative obscurity among the military’s other missions in Afghanistan, supplanted by newer threats such as a local branch of the Islamic State. And it is a matter of debate how much al-Qaeda’s remaining Afghan presence still focuses on launching attacks overseas, according to current and former military officers and government officials, experts, and Afghans from areas where the group operates.

      Only a small portion of the 15,000 American troops in Afghanistan are involved in the counterterrorism mission that the military calls its “core objective” there. Even fewer of those are hunting al-Qaeda, whose presence in the country has dwindled after years of drone strikes. Instead, U.S. special operations forces are focusing on the Afghan branch of ISIS, a less secretive group that in some way offers an easier target.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Wikileaks served via twitter

      The US Democratic National Committee (DNC) has subpoenaed Wikileaks via Twitter.

      Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, the DNC’s law firm, filed a motion to serve Wikileaks through Twitter and first-class mail on 20 July. The motion was granted by US District Court Judge John Koeltl on 6 August.

      On 10 August, Cohen Milstein tweeted to Wikileaks from a newly created account linking to legal documents hosted on a website that appears to have been created for the purpose.

    • Democrats Tweet-Serve Subpoena to WikiLeaks

      The Democratic National Committee’s vendetta against WikiLeaks, Russia and pro-Trump political operatives took an unconventional turn recently when the political party served WikiLeaks with a subpoena over Twitter.

      A law firm representing the DNC notified WikiLeaks it had been sued simply by mentioning the document publisher in a tweet and dumping the associated legal URLs to fill out the rest of the tweet. “By Court order, you are being served with the following legal documents,” the law firm said August 10.

    • Are Summons Just Getting Tweeted Now? Analyzing the Legal Issues With Serving Formal Papers on Social Media

      Last Friday, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) served WikiLeaks via Twitter. While the microblog service is extremely popular within the White House these days, it’s one of only a handful of instances when it has been used for such an official purpose, maybe except that time when the U.S. Secretary of State found out he had been fired in a presidential tweet.

      So, the law firm representing the DNC in its civil lawsuit against WikiLeaks officially served the legal documents on the case to WikiLeaks by tagging its official account in a post. Notably, the account seems to have been created specifically for that purpose, as it is relatively new and has no other tweets.

    • Courage announcement

      We thank Naomi Colvin for her work as Courage Director over the last year, including the successful campaign to resist Lauri Love’s extradition to the US, which was widely publicised in the UK and abroad. Naomi joined Courage in 2014. We wish her all success.

      Courage defends those who are subject to serious prosecution or persecution. It is designed to increase the power of defence campaigns through mutual aid, sharing basic financial and internet infrastructure and solidarity.

    • The White House Is Terrified As Omarosa Is Giving Trump The WikiLeaks Treatment

      Omarosa’s decision to slowly leak out her taped conversations is exactly what Trump and WikiLeaks did with the Russian hacked Clinton emails, and it is terrifying the White House.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Group aims to help resolve DAPL protest warrants

      An organization formed to provide legal help to opponents of the Dakota Access oil pipeline is launching an effort to help protesters with criminal warrants resolve their cases.

      There are about 100 outstanding warrants issued for people from 25 states.

    • Dead fish, birds, manatees, even a whale shark. Toll from worst red tide in decade grows.

      And while red tide is an annual event, Ruane sees the severity of this year as a chance to educate his constituents about the risks of over-fertilizing, not addressing pollution from stormwater run-off and the need for long-term fixes to the Everglades. He’s also hoping to convince the Corps — he took the agency’s South Florida deputy commander Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds on a tour Tuesday — to speed up changes in managing the lake and reconsider flushing water to the coasts.

      It should also serve as a wake-up call, Baroon said.

      “Wildlife is the canary in the coal mine,” she said. “It’s the thing telling us your environment is very unhealthy and as a human species you need to do something about it.”

    • Germany’s car industry can’t build its own battery cells

      Later this year, Audi will sell an electric vehicle that can keep up with Tesla’s performance and range. Mercedes, Volkswagen, and BMW will follow soon, as they are set to regain technological leadership, especially when it comes to luxury cars. But even if they do, they will be depending on suppliers from China, Korea, or Japan to deliver one crucial part of their EVs: the battery cells. As it turns out, Germany’s automotive industry is not able to build those highly needed components. At least, not anymore.

    • Gruesome Faroe Islands whale cull turns the sea RED as fishermen force hundreds ashore to butcher them

      Horrific photos reveal the aftermath of a brutal killing of a pod of whales on a remote Arctic island.

      The animals are rounded up and slaughtered by villagers several times a year in a tradition that has caused outrage across the world.

      One of these culls happens every summer where thousands of pilot and beaked whales are massacred in bays across the Danish-owned Faroe Islands as inhabitants prepare for the harsh winter months ahead.

      Images show fishermen driving herds into shallow waters that have already been stained red by the blood of previously slaughtered animals.

      The water is littered with dozens of corpses many of which can be seen with massive gashes on their bodies where people have hacked at them.

  • Finance

    • Where do people get money to buy California homes these days? Often, from mom and dad

      Back in 2011, about one in four FHA loans in California included down payment money from relatives. Today, it’s one in three.

    • Japan regulator reportedly looking into whether Apple secretly crushed an App Store competitor

      Japan’s Fair Trade Commission is looking into whether Apple improperly pressured Yahoo Japan to shut down a game streaming platform that competed with the iOS App Store, according to Nikkei. Yahoo Japan’s Game Plus service allowed people to stream full games made for other platforms and to play HTML5 games on mobile phones, which would have allowed iPhone owners to get games without going through the App Store.

    • Apple probed in Japan over anti-competitive behavior

      Yahoo told multiple business partners that it was forced to cut back because of pressure behind the scenes from Apple. The Japanese company relies on the U.S. tech giant for part of its profits in the form of sales through the App Store.

    • Uber reportedly lost $891 million in the second quarter of 2018 as growth slows

      Bloomberg characterized the report as Khosrowshahi embracing the company’s “growth above profit” ethos. But it has cast a spotlight on some of Uber’s more expensive, trouble-prone projects. Specifically, the company’s beleaguered self-driving car operation is said to be losing as much as $200 million a quarter, The Information reported today. And Bloomberg noted that Uber is being urged by investors to off-load the unit.

    • Uber CEO Embraces Losing Money With Revenue Growth Slowing

      Nearly a year into Khosrowshahi’s tenure, Uber reported on Wednesday a second-quarter loss of $891 million. While it’s a 16 percent improvement from a year earlier, the loss follows a rare profit posted in the first quarter, thanks largely to the sale of overseas assets.

    • Tencent Slumps After First Profit Drop in at Least a Decade

      The very government that has favored Tencent as a technology champion is now directly hurting its results, with the bureaucratic shakeup in Beijing blocking its path to making money from games. The Shenzhen-based company relies on new content to draw and keep users on its WeChat messaging service, over which it sells in-game items and advertising to a billion-plus users. Tencent hasn’t been able to cash in on the world’s most popular games, including Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

    • ‘There’s an Alternative to the Hierarchical, Top-Down Capitalist Corporation’

      No, you know, it’s always struck me as bizarre, even if you are a great lover of capitalism, our system, and you just think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Even if you’re like that, if that’s your point of view, the fact is that places, like, I don’t know, let’s pick one: the People’s Republic of China—for the last 25 years, that economy, which is organized in ways that are different from the one we have here in the United States, that People’s Republic of China has achieved the most rapid economic transformation from poor country to superpower economically, that we have ever seen in the history of the human race. OK…. That alone would mean we ought to be exploring, in our classrooms, in our media: What’s that about? How did they accomplish that? That’s something that most of the world’s people dream of, and so it’s an important matter.

      And now you add another couple of other considerations. That it’s the largest country by population on this planet. And it is a superpower, has nuclear weapons and all of that. And you’d say, any rational person would understand: Of course we have to look at that model of how you do economics, how you organize an economic system, to ask the logical, rational question: not necessarily that we must copy them, but are there things about what they do, and how they organize, that we might be able to learn something from?

    • More Than One Million Labour Leave Voters Have Abandoned Brexit, Says Gordon Brown

      Gordon Brown has said more than one million Labour supporters who voted for Brexit have now changed their mind, as pressure grows on Jeremy Corbyn to back a second EU referendum.

      The former prime minister said on Wednesday that the country was “losing hope” and had been “immobilised by divisions”.

      “Remain voters are despondent, fearing that we have moved from a soft Brexit to a hard Brexit to a no-deal Brexit,” he told the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

      “But leave voters believe that none of the Brexit options- a Norway-style deal, a Swiss-style deal or the Canadian option – can deliver what they were promised and now feel betrayed.

      “Our country is often accused of being stuck in the past. The problem this time is that we are stuck in the present – and, as each day passes, becoming less and less optimistic about the future.”

      Brown said polling, including a survey from Hope not Hate that suggested 21% of Labour leave votes had changed their mind, meant more than one million of the party’s supporters had abandoned Brexit.

      Labour’s internal arguments over Brexit are set to come to a head at its annual conference in September.

      Corbyn is facing a move by pro-EU members to hold a vote committing the party to holding referendum on Theresa May’s final Brexit deal.

    • Fox Business Took a Shot at Denmark. Denmark Fired Back.

      An anchor, Trish Regan, called the country a warning about socialism, mentioning it alongside Venezuela. The Danish finance minister led an angry response.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump ends Obama-era rules on US-led cyberattacks: report

      The memorandum required that an extensive interagency process take place before the U.S. government embarks on any cyberattacks. Trump reversed the rules to try and ease some of those restrictions, which critics argued were detrimental to launching the attacks quickly, according to the Journal.

    • Trump Strikes Back at ‘Ringleader’ Brennan

      There’s more than meets the eye to President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearances that ex-CIA Director John Brennan enjoyed as a courtesy customarily afforded former directors. The President’s move is the second major sign that Brennan is about to be hoist on his own petard. It is one embroidered with rhetoric charging Trump with treason and, far more important, with documents now in the hands of congressional investigators showing Brennan’s ringleader role in the so-far unsuccessful attempts to derail Trump both before and after the 2016 election.

      Brennan will fight hard to avoid being put on trial but will need united support from from his Deep State co-conspirators — a dubious proposition. One of Brennan’s major concerns at this point has to be whether the “honor-among-thieves” ethos will prevail, or whether some or all of his former partners in crime will latch onto the opportunity to “confess” to investigators: “Brennan made me do it.”

    • Trump-Media Logrolling

      Today, hundreds of newspapers, at the initiative of The Boston Globe, are purporting to stand up for a free press against Trump’s rhetoric.

      Today also marks exactly one month since I was dragged out of the July 16 Trump-Putin news conference in Helsinki and locked up until the middle of the night.

      As laid in my cell, I chuckled at the notion that the city was full of billboards proclaiming Finland was the “land of free press“.

      So, I’ve grown an especially high sensitivity to both goonish behavior toward journalists trying to ask tough questions — and to those professing they are defending a free press when they are actually engaging in a marketing exercise.

      As some have noted, the editorials today will likely help Trump whip up support among his base against a monolithic media. But, just as clearly, the establishment media can draw attention away from their own failures, corruptions and falsehoods simply by focusing on Trump’s.

      Big media outlets need not actually report news that affects your life and point to serious solutions for social ills. They can just bad mouth Trump. And Trump need not deliver on campaign promises that tapped into populist and isolationist tendencies in the U.S. public that have grown in reaction to years of elite rule. He need only deride the major media.

      They are at worst frenemies. More likely, at times, Trump and the establishment media log roll with each other. The major media built up Trump. Trump’s attacks effectively elevate a select few media celebrities.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • FCC shuts down Alex Jones’s flagship radio station

      The Austin American-Statesman reported Wednesday that the pirate radio station, Liberty Radio, was hit with a $15,000 fine and at least temporarily pulled from the airwaves.

    • Austin pirate radio station, flagship for Alex Jones, faces $15k fine

      A pirate radio station that serves as controversial host Alex Jones’ Austin flagship has been knocked off the city’s airwaves – at least temporarily – and the Federal Communications Commission has levied a $15,000 penalty that the station’s operators are refusing to pay.

    • Google Needs To Come Clean About Its Chinese Plans

      Eight years after Google initially took a stand against Internet censorship by exiting the Chinese search market, we are disappointed to learn the company has been secretly re-considering an extended collaboration with the massive censorship and surveillance-wielding state. According to an Intercept report released at the beginning of the month, Google is working on a censored version of its search service for release in China.

      In 2010, EFF and many other organizations praised Google for refusing to sacrifice the company’s values for access to the Chinese market. At the time, this move followed public backlash and several attacks on Google’s infrastructure that targeted the personal data of several prominent Chinese human rights activists. Google’s departure from China showed that strong core values in fundamental human rights could beat out short-term economic gain in the calculus of an Internet company.

      But now it seems the company has reversed course.

      This news comes amid other reports of American tech giants compromising values to enter or remain within China: Facebook has piloted a censored version of its own platform, and Apple recently faced criticism for moving its customers’ data into China-hosted servers, and adding code to filter the Taiwanese flag emoji in Chinese locales.

      Within China, Google’s direct competitor, Baidu, has been facing a significant amount of social, regulatory, and economic backlash over recent advertising malpractice, such as monetizing questionable medical advertisements, heavily deprioritizing non-Baidu services, and allegedly promoting phishing sites. There may well be a growing demand for competition within the Chinese search engine market.

    • Court Says CBP Likely Violating First Amendment By Forbidding Photography Of Publicly-Viewable Border Crossings

      Another (partial) win for the First Amendment, the ACLU, and American citizens. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a decision forbidding the photography of CBP officers at border crossings. (h/t Mitra Ebadolahi)

      The CBP seems to have a problem respecting the First Amendment rights (along with several other rights) of American citizens when engaged in its border patrolling and protecting. This same appeals court recently allowed the heavily-harassed citizens of an Arizona border town to move forward with their First Amendment lawsuit against the agency, ruling that the CBP acted arbitrarily when dealing with protesters and activists documenting checkpoint activity. The record clearly showed the CBP removed people it didn’t like from its imaginary zone of exclusion while allowing other random citizens more aligned with the CBP’s open harassment of American citizens to venture inside the ad hoc DMZ to harass citizens documenting harassment.

      [...]

      The decision does not hand the plaintiffs a complete victory. It does shift the burden of proof back on the government and instructs the lower court to allow the case to proceed to see if the government can actually offer up anything supporting its random time/place restrictions that border on total violation of established First Amendment principles. The appeals court seems inclined to believe the CBP cannot simply forbid photography of publicly-viewable enforcement activities by members of the public. We’ll have to see what the lower court does on remand, considering it already granted the government a free pass once, because National Security > Established Constitutional Rights, apparently.

    • I’m Alex Jones x Infinity Worse (on Twitter)

      Twitter just suspended Alex Jones for a week after he called on millions of people to pick up weapons to attack the press. I am still in the dark about what I said on Twitter that is x Infinity worse, as mine is a permanent suspension.

      Anyway, I hope with Alex Jones (and me) gone, your Twitter is better, kinder, more… ideologically pure. @jack seems to be on a campaign ahead of the midterms to make Twitter less politically diverse, so I hope that is good for you, not to have to block all those nasty contrary opinions and all. Soon enough it’ll be just down to what the Party wants you to read and for most people that is a comfortably numb place to be. I wish you well! You will learn, as I have, to love Big Brother. Twitter will help you learn.

      [...]

      Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis held people must discuss and criticize unpopular ideas, that free speech is not an abstract virtue but a key element at the heart of a democratic society. Even the fact that speech is likely to result in “violence or in destruction of property is not enough to justify its suppression.” Brandeis concluded “the deterrents to be applied to prevent violence and disruption are education and punishment for violations of the law, not abridgment of free speech.”

      Free speech is not an ends, it is a means, in a democracy. Shame on Twitter, et al, for treading on that mighty concept. Free speech is messy, and it is our essential defense against fascism, whether from the left or the right.

    • Video Games In Germany Can Now Maybe Kinda Sometimes Have Swastikas

      As you likely know, Germany has some very restrictive laws surrounding how and when Nazi iconography can appear in the country. This has resulted in a heavily-policed artistic community, particularly when it comes to video games, which has produced some fairly funny happenings about games accidentally going to Germany chock full of Nazi stuff and other funny happenings in which the game makers make a show of doing as little as possible to get around the law. In the realm of other media, such as movies, the German government has put in place a review process to make sure that the use of Nazi symbols furthers the artistic or historical accuracy of the entertainment. Video games have not had such a review system. And, look, on some level this sort of attempt by Germany to restrict the use of these hateful symbols is understandable. The kind of global embarrassment that comes with committing the worst genocide in history is the sort of thing that leaves a mark. But we’ve also pointed out that these German laws aren’t so much stamping out fascist thought as they are putting the government’s collective head in the sand as some kind of grand virtue signal to the planet.

    • TLS 1.3 is Coming – an Opportunity for Amazon, Google and Microsoft to End Censorship

      A new standard for cryptography is on the horizon, called Transport Level Security 1.3 (TLS 1.3).

      TLS 1.3 is a major update to cryptography, and fundamentally changes how websites and services will handle negotiating and executing encrypted services.

      Among the big improvements are faster handshakes with websites (meaning faster page load times), new ciphers (new and stronger types of encryption) and new hash functions (types of verification to check if data is genuine). It also features privacy improvements such as reducing the amount of metadata that is exposed to eavesdroppers, as all metadata that isn’t needed for the routing around the web itself is now hidden behind encryption.

    • A Free Press Works for All of Us

      ProPublica does not have an editorial page, and we have never advocated for a particular policy to address the wrongs our journalism exposes. But from the very beginning of our work more than a decade ago, we have benefited enormously from the traditions and laws that protect free speech. And so today, as the nation’s news organizations remind readers of the value of robust journalism, it seems fitting to add our voice.

      ProPublica specializes in investigative reporting — telling stories with “moral force” that hold government, businesses and revered institutions to account. There are few forms of journalism more vulnerable to pressure from the powerful. What we publish can change the outcome of elections, reverse policies, embarrass police or prosecutors and cost companies boatloads of money. The main subjects of our work, in most cases, would much prefer that our reporting never appear or be substantially watered down.

    • Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors

      In a recent tweet, US Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) warned that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart.” His solution: “These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

      Yes, odd as it might seem, Senator Murphy believes that the future of America can only be secured by suppressing information and discussion he doesn’t like. That sentiment seems to be going around. David McCabe of Axios reports on a leaked policy paper from the office of US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). Two of its most dangerous proposals:

      “[N]ew federal funding for media literacy programs that could help consumers sort through the information on online platforms. ” In other words, well-financed government propaganda to make sure we hear what Mark Warner wants us to hear (and think what he wants us to think about what we hear elsewhere).

    • ‘Towering’ opponent of censorship John Calder dies aged 91

      Described as “at the forefront of postwar publishing and a towering figure in the fight against censorship,” the Canadian-born Calder founded his own company in 1949, now part of Alma Classics. Calder Publishing published Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky as well poetry, novels, criticism and plays of Beckett.

      Alma Books’ founder Alessandro Gallenzi told The Bookseller that Calder died on Monday morning (13th August) at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh after suffering a rapid decline in health over the past few weeks.

      Gallenzi described Calder, who was a publisher, bookseller and author himself, as “a passionate publisher and a fiercely independent man”.

    • Edinburgh festivals: Calder, publisher who helped beat censorship, dies aged 91
    • Lester Holt talks Twitter censorship
    • Why Did Facebook Purge TeleSUR English?
    • Analysis: teleSUR censorship shows that the press can never be free in a world of social media superpowers
    • Five examples that show internet censorship is as much a threat to the left as the right

      The banning of right wing controversialist Alex Jones from multiple social media platforms last week was a cause of celebration for many liberals, but should those on the left really be so complacent about creeping censorship?

      So far, the evidence suggest that there is indeed plenty for the left to worry about when it comes to corporations like Facebook and Twitter and their alliances with government censors.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • IA concerns over privacy, security issues with encryption law

      Internet Australia has raised serious privacy and security concerns about the Australian Government’s proposal to introduce a new cyber encryption law, warning the draft law seeks unprecedented expansion of powers to access citizen’s devices.

    • US gov staffers are officially banned from using Huawei and ZTE devices

      Trump, who famously made a cameo in Zoolander, this week signed the Defense Authorization Act into law. The bill, which goes into effect over the next two years, introduces a ban on devices and equipment used to route or view user data made by Chinese manufacturers including Huawei and ZTE.

    • Brazilian data protection is strong step forward, action needed on enforcement

      Brazil’s newly passed data protection law is a huge step forward in the protection of user privacy. It’s great to see Brazil, long a champion of digital rights, join the ranks of countries with data protection laws on the books. We are concerned, however, about President Temer’s veto of several provisions, including the Data Protection Authority. We urge the President and Brazilian policymakers to swiftly advance new legislation or policies to ensure effective enforcement of the law.

    • Here’s What Happens When We Allow Facial Recognition Technology in Our Schools

      Facial recognition technology — unregulated, prone to error, and poorly understood — is being rapidly rolled out in schools.

      The idea of facial recognition technology conjures up scenes from books and films set in dystopian futures in which freedom and liberty have been forfeited in exchange for the illusion of security. From 1984 to Minority Report, these are worlds where everyone is suspect, and no one is safe.

      Today, you don’t need to look to fiction to imagine these consequences. Facial recognition technology — unregulated, prone to error, and poorly understood — is being rapidly rolled out in the institutions where we should place the most trust: our schools.

      In recent weeks, the NYCLU sounded the alarm after the Lockport City School District received $4 million in state funds to purchase facial recognition technology. More recently, RealNetworks announced that it is offering its facial recognition technology to any K-12 school in the country for free, claiming it’ll make schools safer.

      This is a dangerous path that schools should think twice about.

      We will do just about anything to protect our children. Promises of an omnipotent machine correctly identifying and stopping potential perpetrators make facial recognition technology alluring to parents and educators. And from the perspective of cash-strapped school districts, obtaining this technology for free can seem like a no-brainer.

      But facial recognition technology does not make our schools safer. In fact, facial recognition technology is especially prone to sabotage: For 22 cents, you can purchase a pair of cardboard glasses to fool it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Pope Francis changes church’s teaching on the death penalty

      “Consequently the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide,” reads the new text, which was approved in May but only published Thursday.

    • Afghan child bride killed by husband in revenge: Officials

      After the other girl in the arrangement was killed by her own husband, Hameya’s husband began to torture her in revenge and eventually killed her, Shahabi told AFP.

    • Saudi Arabia arrests two more women’s rights activists: rights group

      “The arrests of Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah signal that the Saudi authorities see any peaceful dissent, whether past or present, as a threat to their autocratic rule,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.

    • Court Strikes Down New Hampshire Law That Disenfranchised Voters Over Handwriting

      Judge finds the state’s signature-match process to be “fundamentally flawed.”

      On Tuesday, a federal judge struck down a New Hampshire law that disenfranchised hundreds of voters each general election because of their handwriting. The law in question required election moderators to compare the signature on a voter’s absentee-ballot application to the signature on an affidavit that the voter sends with the absentee ballot. If the election official felt that that the signatures did not match, they would simply throw out the vote.

      In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Landya McCafferty called the process, “fundamentally flawed,” finding that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because the law did not provide voters with notice and an opportunity to be heard before they were disenfranchised.

      Under the law, New Hampshire voters were not informed of the decision that their signatures do not match or given an opportunity to address it before their vote is discarded. This is exactly what happened to our client Mary Saucedo, a 95-year-old woman who is legally blind and requires the help of her husband Gus to fill out her ballot. In 2016, an election moderator determined that Mary’s signatures did not match and threw out her vote without notification. It was one of the rare times Mary was not able to participate in the democratic process since 1944, when she first voted in a presidential election.

      Disenfranchisement does not only violate individuals’ constitutional rights — it can impact close elections. At least two voters at the Laconia Rehabilitation Center were disenfranchised during the 2016 general election because of the signature-match law. The Senate District 7 race — which covers Laconia — was decided by only 17 votes and, in fact, was subject to a recount. During the recount, the secretary of state took the position that he did not have the authority to overturn the moderator’s decision to reject these ballots due to “signature mismatch.” As the court noted, “[T]he likelihood of error . . . is only compounded by the lack of meaningful review or oversight.”

      The court also agreed, “It cannot be emphasized enough that the consequence of a moderator’s decision—disenfranchisement—is irremediable.”

    • ‘Journey for Justice’ Caravan Launches Cross Country Trek

      The Trump Administration, with Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as its willing lightning rod, is in the process of dismantling key aspects of the U.S. political asylum program. To that end, the administration has begun to zero in on what is known as Temporary Protected Status(TPS). TPS was established by Congress in the Immigration Act of 1990. It’s a humanitarian program that mandates that the United States should suspend deportations to countries that have been destabilized by war, civil conflict, or natural catastrophe.

      According to the National TPS Alliance, if the trump Administration manages to crush the program, over 450, 000 people would face possible deportation, putting them in harm’s way, facing extreme violence and possible death.

      In response, a national grassroots coalition of refugee and immigrants rights activists will caravan from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. Those who are directly affected by Trump’s extreme anti immigrant policy–the TPS recipients themselves will lead the Journey for Justice Caravan.

    • When Sarah Sanders and the ACLU Teamed Up for Voting Rights

      As the midterm elections approach, Republican state officials and lawmakers have stepped up efforts to block students from voting in their college towns. Republicans in Texas pushed through a law last year requiring voters to carry one of seven forms of photo identification, including handgun licenses but excluding student IDs. In June, the GOP-controlled legislature in North Carolina approved early voting guidelines that have already resulted in closing of polling locations at several colleges. And last month, New Hampshire’s Republican governor signed a law that prevents students from voting in the state unless they first register their cars and obtain driver’s licenses there.

      One nationally prominent Republican, however, once took the opposite stance on student voting. As an undergraduate at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee — now White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — sued to allow students to vote after being one of more than 900 purged from the county’s rolls.

      “It’s almost like taxation without representation,” she said at the time. “They thought that because we were young that they could walk all over us, but obviously that’s not the case.”

      Illustrating the adage that politics makes strange bedfellows, the 2002 lawsuit paired a then-20-year-old Sanders with the American Civil Liberties Union. It began, as disputes over student voting often do, with a town-and-gown conflict. Reversing the usual pattern, a Democrat rather than a Republican instigated the student disenfranchisement.

    • Prisons Switch Device Providers; Render $11.3 Million Of Inmate-Purchased Music Worthless

      Because of the tablets, inmates will have to return the players, and they can’t transfer the music they already purchased onto their new devices.

      The corrections system is switching to JPay. Unfortunately, nothing else is switching. Money isn’t easy to obtain in prison, meaning most of this suddenly useless music was purchased with funds from friends and family at inflated prices. The prison system comes out of it OK. It has collected $11.3 million on the sale of worthless infinite goods to a literally captive audience.

      Now, with a lucrative JPay contract in effect, inmates are out millions of dollars in digital goods. The only options to keep what they purchased means shelling out more cash for the opportunity to put their purchased music completely out of reach.

    • Boy, 8, Runs into Street, Gets Hit By Car. Judge Must Decide: Was Mom at Fault for Not Being With Him?

      A very sad story in England had a good court outcome the other day: The mother of a boy who ran into the street and got seriously injured by a car (at age 8) was found NOT guilty of his accident — something the insurance company had accused her of, because she wasn’t with him at

    • “Unite the Right 2″ Showed the Growth of Anti-Fascism and the Police Response

      August has seen a rash of confrontations as far-right ensembles — from open white nationalists to radical right anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT groups — hit the streets and are met by massive community contingents. The story has evolved from one of opposing street contingents to a mass anti-fascist upswell in cities around the US — a point that has been eclipsed by allegations of massive police overreach on protests meant to halt the rise of the far right.

      Last weekend saw far-right activists convene in Washington, DC, on the one-year anniversary of the first “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. An estimated 40 “alt-right” supporters turned out for “Unite the Right 2,” and counter-protesters showed up in larger numbers. “Their rally happened, but it was clearly [outnumbered] 300 to 1,” said Scott Brown, an organizer with Shut It Down DC, the coalition which coordinated the actions across Washington, DC, on August 11 and 12.

      Last year’s “Unite the Right” rally was intended to be the high-water mark for a racist movement moving toward ascendancy. Donald Trump’s presidency offered a huge opportunity for the “alt-right” and the larger white nationalist movement to access recruits, but as conservative moderates started to turn on them, they needed to see exactly where they stood among the right. That event on August 12, 2017, brought out a thousand people from a range of organizations, from the National Socialist Movement to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to various “alt-right” fraternal projects.

    • WikiLeaks Wonders if ‘Bloody Gina’ Had Sexual Response to Torture

      CIA Director Gina Haspel is facing a new wave of criticism over the excessively colorful description of enhanced interrogation techniques under her supervision at a Thailand black site in 2002, which prompted WikiLeaks to ask whether the current CIA chief “has a sexual response to torture.”

      New CIA documents, declassified at the request of the National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental research institution, and released on August 10, have shown the agency’s director Gina Haspel in a new light.

    • Our Vision for Achieving Gender Justice In the Trump Era and Beyond

      The ACLU has been fighting gender discrimination since its founding. Under the leadership of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the 1970s, the Women’s Rights Project was instrumental in knocking down the vast majority of laws that explicitly treated women differently from men and in establishing constitutional protections against discrimination on the basis of sex.

    • Bill Proposes Greater Accountability for New York Prosecutors Who Break the Law

      Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has a bill before him that would create a commission to bring a greater measure of accountability to prosecutors who withhold evidence, suborn perjury or commit other ethical violations that undermine justice. It would be the first of its kind in the country and conceivably create a model for other states to follow.

      The bill, passed overwhelmingly by the Senate and Assembly in June, authorizes the governor, the Legislature and the state’s chief judge to pick 11 people to investigate allegations of misconduct. The panel, when it sees fit, could issue warnings and recommend sanctions, or even firings, to the governor.

      Now, prosecutors are overseen like any other lawyer — by disciplinary committees attached to the state’s appellate courts. But ProPublica’s 2013 analysis found that even when convictions are thrown out as a result of harmful misconduct on the part of prosecutors, the appellate courts often fail to refer them to disciplinary committees.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • United Kingdom: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals v Kymab, Court of Appeal of England and Wales, Civil Division, [2018] EWCA Civ 1186, 23 May 2018

      Following the Court of Appeal’s decision that two of Regeneron’s patents were valid and infringed, it refused to grant Kymab permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, but held that the injunction against Kymab should be stayed, subject to certain conditions, whilst Kymab applied directly to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal.

    • Qualcomm’s Settlement With Taiwanese FTC Ignores Broken Promises

      Last week Qualcomm reached an agreement with the Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission (TFTC), overturning the $778 million penalty the TFTC levied in October. Qualcomm promised to invest $700 million in Taiwan and commit to certain process safeguards over their licensing arrangements with handset makers. In exchange, the original TFTC ruling is wiped away. Qualcomm will not be required to pay the majority of the fine and—far more important—Qualcomm can continue to ignore license requests from other baseband chip manufacturers.

      As covered before, the ability to refuse to license competitors—in violation of Qualcomm’s commitment to license their standard-essential patents on non-discriminatory terms—is an anti-competitive act that provides Qualcomm with the ability to raise competitors’ costs and obtain more than the value of their patents in licensing.

    • Registration No Longer Constitutes Legitimate Use Defence in Turkey

      Turkey has welcomed the new Intellectual Property Code (the IP Code) numbered 6769. This came force on January 10 2017.

      One of the major changes in the new IP Code is an explicit provision in Article 155 preventing later dated IP registrations being submitted as a defence in infringement actions.

    • Germany: Feldmausbekämpfung, Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZB 18/16, 27 March 2018

      The Federal Court of Justice held that in utility model registration proceedings, the utility model department must examine whether one of the grounds for refusal listed in Sec. 2 Utility Model Law exists.

    • Pappalardo v. Stevins (Fed. Cir. 2018)

      Last week, in Pappalardo v. Stevins, the Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part, vacated-in-part, and remanded a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida granting a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant-Appellee Samantha Stevins, in which Ms. Stevins sought to dismiss an amended complaint filed by Plaintiff-Appellant Michael Pappalardo for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Mr. Pappalardo had filed suit against Ms. Stevins asserting state law claims of fraud and negligent representation and seeking a declaratory judgment naming him as sole inventor of U.S. Patent Application No. 15/275,597.

      As alleged in Mr. Pappalardo’s complaint, he met Ms. Stevins at a pharmaceutical products trade show, where he disclosed to her a product related to liquid and solid cannabis delivery systems. As also alleged in the complaint, Ms. Stevins indicated that she had access to funding from a network of investors for the product, and the two entered into a business relationship to commercialize the product. The complaint further alleges that Ms. Stevins recommended filing the ’597 application, which names Ms. Stevins as a joint inventor. Mr. Pappalardo’s complaint further alleges that Ms. Stevins attempted to independently exploit his technology, and he responded by filing suit against her asserting claims of fraud and negligent representation and seeking declaratory judgment of sole inventorship. The District Court dismissed the declaratory judgment claim on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction to hear claims for correction of inventorship for a pending patent application, and dismissed the state law claims on the grounds that they were contingent on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s determination on the ’597 application.

      [...]

      The District Court had also determined that it lacked diversity jurisdiction over Mr. Pappalardo’s state law claims. The Federal Circuit noted, however, that because the District Court had original jurisdiction over a federal question in the declaratory judgment claim, it could have exercised supplemental jurisdiction to hear the state law claims because they were so related to claims in the action that they formed part of the same case or controversy. The Federal Circuit also noted that because that authority is generally discouraged where a court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction, and because the District Court stated that it was “hard-pressed to find that [Mr.] Pappalardo has adequately plead[ed] damages and causation—both elements needed to state an actionable claim for fraud and negligent misrepresentation—with the requisite particularity,” the Federal Circuit would interpret that statement as a decision declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. The Federal Circuit therefore affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of the state law claims.

    • Trademarks

      • Honey badger don’t care – transforming trademark infringement into artistic or expressive works

        African honey badgers became well known in 2011 for their feisty nature. At the peak of their popularity, a multitude of cars were plastered with bumper stickers decorated with such catchphrases as “honey badger don’t care”, “honey badger don’t give a s***” and other variations on that theme. The impetus behind the now-infamous honey badger is the humorous soundtrack recorded over a National Geographic video about African honey badgers and their prey, titled The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger, which was written and produced by comedian and writer Christopher Z Gordon.

      • International report – Dressing up a brand against lookalikes: part one

        The launch of any fashion brand is usually preceded by clearance and the registration of one or more trademarks. However, this is not always the case and a trademark registration does not always provide the necessary scope of protection against copycats. This drives the need for unconventional means of brand protection.

      • Disney Finds It’s Not So Easy to Sue Over Knockoff Characters at Birthday Parties

        Does Disney really want to go to trial to prevent knockoffs of Darth Vader, Iron Man and Elsa and Anna from Frozen from showing up at children’s birthday parties? If the studio really wishes to continue a lawsuit over unlicensed characters, it may need to after experiencing a setback against Characters for Hire, LLC.

        On Thursday, a New York federal judge refused to grant summary judgment in favor of Disney in its ongoing case against Nick Sarelli, alleged to run a “knock-off business … built upon the infringement of Plaintiffs’ highly valuable intellectual property rights.”

        What’s more, U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels threw out most of Disney’s trademark claims against a defendant who will send out individuals dressed as “The Princess” (meaning Leia) or “Big Hairy Guy” (meaning Chewbacca) for special events.

        Daniels recognizes some similarity, but isn’t buying that Disney and Sarelli compete in the same business nor that Sarelli’s customers are likely to be confused. The judge makes the point that it’s “adults, not children” who plan parties and there’s no evidence of actual confusion.

      • Disney Gets Early Loss In Trademark, Copyright Suit Against Unlicensed Birthday Party Characters

        Late last year, we discussed a lawsuit brought by Disney against Characters For Hire, a small company that sends costume characters to children’s birthday parties. Those characters, as we said at the time, are barely-altered clear homages to storied Disney-owned characters, such as Dark Lord (Dearth Vader) and Big Hairy Guy (sigh, Chewbacca). While Disney sued over both trademark and copyright, the alterations to the characters and the very clear disclaimer Characters For Hire puts on its site and documents meant the chances for confusion as to Disney’s affiliation was always non-existent. When you add that the changes in the characters and the medium in which they were offered at least partially put us in the idea/expression dichotomy zone for copyright law. That part of the law essentially says copyright applies to specific expressions (written stories, film, music, and sometimes characters), but not general ideas (a Dark Lord, a, sigh, Big Hairy Guy).

      • Elected Official Files Business, Trademark Registrations Using Name Of Website That Frequently Criticized Her

        Becker has gone after Edwards and Wedge LIVE! as well, claiming the site is funded by “realtors” using “dark money.” The contentious relationship has escalated in recent months, with the formation of an activist group by Edwards that opposes the policies and zoning changes Becker would like to institute. Edwards also asked readers to comment on proposed plans during the public comment period, leading to Becker receiving negative responses by readers of his site.

        All of this has now culminated in an intellectual property war without the knowledge of one of the participants. A public notice of a business registration was spotted by a Wedge LIVE! Fan while reading the analogue version of the local paper. This was passed on to Edwards, who had no idea his site’s name was being turned into a business by a subject of his criticism.

    • Copyrights

      • Berlin Court: ‘framing’ of copyright protected images not a communication to the public

        Just when you think all has been said about linking, framingand communication to the public, another judgment shows up and proves you wrong. This time, a legal dispute between the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (DDB = ”German Digital Library”, the German content provider for Europeana) and the Verwertungsgesellschaft Bild-Kunst (VG Bild-Kunst), a German collecting society for visual artists, gave the Higher Regional Court of Berlin the chance to further clarify what constitutes a communication to the public, and what does not.

      • Automated ‘Content Protection’ System Sends Wave Of Bogus DMCA Notice Targeting Legitimate URLs

        Topple Track’s failures came to the EFF’s attention because it targeted one of its URLs, supposedly for infringing on artist Luc Sky’s copyright for his song “My New Boy.” The page targeted by Topple Track discusses the EMI lawsuit against MP3Tunes — one that has been on the EFF’s site for eight years. If Luc Sky even exists (the EFF could find no info on the artist/track), the discussion of a long-running legal battle certainly didn’t contain an unauthorized copy of this track.

        Presumably Topple Track has customers. (The “Luc Sky” dead end isn’t promising.) If so, they’re being ripped off by DMCA notices sent in their names that target tons of legit sites containing zero infringing content. The URLs targeted have no relation to the name/title listed as protected content and it’s impossible to see how an algorithm could do the job this badly. There’s obviously no human interaction with the DMCA process Topple Track employs, otherwise none of the DMCA notices listed would even have been sent to Google.

        What did we say about trust?

      • Judge Rules Photographer Owned Marilyn Monroe Photo Copyright, Fair Use Moves to Trial

        U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer of the Southern District of New York recently entered an opinion and order in a copyright case involving the famed “Last Sitting” photographs of American movie star Marilyn Monroe. Although the case will continue to proceed towards a trial, Judge Engelmayer resolved various issues in the case including a determination that the owner of the copyrights to the Last Sitting photographs is the trust of the now-deceased photographer who took the photos and not Condé Nast, the publisher of the magazine Vogue where the photographs first appeared in 1962.

      • Facebook Bans Ads for Kodi Boxes Because Pirates Are Ruining Everything

        A line added to Facebook’s commerce policies this week specifically bans “Promoting the sale or use of streaming devices with Kodi installed,” though the policy does allow the sale of remote controls and keyboards that support the app.

        We’ve been over this a few times: Kodi is not a piracy application. It’s an open source video player that happens to support add-ons, and a few third party developers happen to make add-ons for pirating TV shows and movies. Another group of people and companies sell “fully loaded” Kodi boxes, which are basically small computers with Kodi installed alongside a bunch of piracy add-ons.

      • Facebook Bans ‘Promotion’ Of Kodi Boxes, Even If They’re Perfectly Legal

        If you haven’t noticed, the entertainment industry has a new, terrifying bogeyman. Over the last year or two, pressure from entertainment industry lobbying groups has resulted in an all-out war on streaming video devices (aka computers) that run Kodi, the video streaming software. Kodi has technically been around since 2002, first as Xbox Media Player, after which it became the Xbox Media Center until 2014. The XBMC Foundation then renamed the software Kodi, and it became popular as an easy way to store and stream content, including copyrighted content, from hardware running Kodi to other devices in or out of the home.

        For years now, tinkerers everywhere have built custom-made PCs that use the open-source Kodi platform. In more recent years, outfits like Dragonbox or SetTV have taken things further by selling users tailor-made hardware that provides easy access to live copyrighted content by not only including Kodi, but integrating numerous tools and add-ons that make copyright infringement easier. Driven largely by clearly-terrified entertainment-industry execs and lobbyists, numerous studios, Netflix and Amazon have tried to sue these efforts out of existence.

        Even the FCC has tried to help the entertainment industry in this fight, demanding that Ebay and Amazon crack down on the sale of such devices. Since the FCC lacks authority over copyright, it has instead tried to justify its involvement here by focusing on these devices’ illegal use of the FCC approval logo. It’s another big favor to the entertainment industry by the Pai FCC, who you’ll recall killed efforts to help make the traditional cable box sector more open and competitive.

      • Irony Alert: Disney (Yes, DISNEY!) Whines About ‘Overzealous Copyright Holders’

        Here’s one that might create a bit of a stir. The history of the 20th century and maximalist, ever expanding copyright is often associated with one particular company: Disney. I mean, the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) is regularly called the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” and Tom Bell once created this lovely Mickey Mouse Curve showing how copyright terms always seemed to expand just before the original movie starring Mickey, Steamboat Willie was about to enter the public domain…

      • Telling the Truth About Defects in Technology Should Never, Ever, Ever Be Illegal. EVER.

        Congress has never made a law saying, “Corporations should get to decide who gets to publish truthful information about defects in their products,”— and the First Amendment wouldn’t allow such a law — but that hasn’t stopped corporations from conjuring one out of thin air, and then defending it as though it was a natural right they’d had all along.

        Some background: in 1986, Ronald Reagan, spooked by the Matthew Broderick movie Wargames (true story!) worked with Congress to pass a sweeping cybercrime bill called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) that was exceedingly sloppily drafted. CFAA makes it a felony to “exceed[] authorized access” on someone else’s computer in many instances.

        Fast forward to 1998, when Bill Clinton and his Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a giant, gnarly hairball of digital copyright law that included section 1201, which bans bypassing any “technological measure” that “effectively controls access” to copyrighted works, or “traffic[ing]” in devices or services that bypass digital locks.

        Notice that neither of these laws bans disclosure of defects, including security disclosures! But decades later, corporate lawyers and federal prosecutors have constructed a body of legal precedents that twist these overbroad laws into a rule that effectively gives corporations the power to decide who gets to tell the truth about flaws and bugs in their products.

        Businesses and prosecutors have brought civil and criminal actions against researchers and whistleblowers who violated a company’s terms of service in the process of discovering a defect. The argument goes like this: “Our terms of service ban probing our system for security defects. When you login to our server for that purpose, you ‘exceed your authorization,’ and that violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.”

      • Europeans Take “Upload Filter” Protests to The Streets

        Following massive protests, the EU copyright reform plans were sent back to the drawing board last month. This means that the proposal will be opened up for changes, also to the controversial “upload filter” text. In support of this effort and to show critics that the opposition is real, the protests will soon move beyond the web, to the streets of several European cities.

USPTO Craziness: Changing Rules to Punish PTAB Petitioners and Reward Microsoft for Corruption at ISO

Posted in America, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 7:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mr. Iancu and his colleagues do not appear to understand (or care) that they are rewarding Microsoft for epic corruption at ISO and elsewhere

No-OOXML

Summary: The US patent office proposes charging/imposing on applicants that are not customers of Microsoft a penalty; there’s also an overtly and blatantly malicious move whose purpose is to discourage petitions against wrongly-granted (by the USPTO) patents

THE previous post spoke about how the Federal Circuit rejects software patents, as does the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). An inter partes review (IPR) is almost guaranteed to thwart any software patent if it is applied to one (not a cheap process, but a lot more affordable than a court battle, which can only be initiated by patent holders).

“Iancu was a pick of the notoriously corrupt Trump, whose firm had previously worked for Trump. Coincidence?”It is no secret that Director Iancu wrote articles in support of software patents and software patents are not valid anymore, based on what the SCOTUS has decided. This means that the person whom Trump put in charge of the patent office in inherently is disagreement with patent courts. An untenable situation? Iancu was a pick of the notoriously corrupt Trump, whose firm had previously worked for Trump. Coincidence?

Either way, everything we have seen so far confirms our worst fears — that Iancu would work for the patent microcosm rather than for science and technology. The patent system was conceived to serve that latter group, not a bunch of lawyers, but things have changed since conception and nowadays the Office is adding yet more fees that make expensive lawyers a must to some. With prohibitive costs, too (maybe $200 per hour). Punishing poor companies, obviously.

Docket Navigator has been covering quite a few 35 U.S.C. § 285 cases/motions lately, with some being successful, i.e. when some troll or bully made bogus claims it was punished financially for it. Those are the courts doing so, not the Office. In Phigenix, Inc. v Genentech, Inc. (based on this latest Docket Report), the court ended up considering the argument regarding frivolous patent lawsuits. Will the court make it more expensive to the abuser? That remains to be seen. “Following summary judgment,” Docket Navigator wrote, “the court granted defendant’s motion to join plaintiff’s founder/inventor as a necessary party and pursue attorney fees against him under 35 U.S.C. § 285.”

Upcoming changes at the USPTO do not look promising however. For at least three reasons.

Firstly, the patent microcosm is being shielded from competition. “It is no secret to anyone in the industry; the unauthorized practice of law is rampant, and OED does nothing to stop it,” Gene Quinn (Watchtroll) said yesterday. Terms like “unauthorized practice of law” (used both in the body and headline of Watchtroll) imply that it’s illegal to represent oneself too. The patent and litigation ‘industries’ want a monopoly on this activity. A form of corruption surely? Consider Iancu’s professional background and how he might view this.

Secondly, this Trump appointee would have loved to abolish PTAB and destroy patent quality, but SCOTUS and CAFC are not allowing that to happen. He’ll still try though. He might even ignore Oil States and try to just price IPRs out of reach. Here’s what Kevin E. Noonan, a patent maximalist, wrote a couple of days ago

On August 8th, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued revisions to its Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Guide (see “Trial Practice Guide Update”), first promulgated in 2012 as part of the Office’s implementation of inter partes review (IPR), post-grant review (PGR), and covered business methods review (CBM) proceedings established under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). As discussed in an accompanying memorandum from USPTO Director Iancu, this update is part of the Office’s plan to issue updates periodically, on section-by-section, rolling basis; the Director anticipates further future updates “to take into account feedback received from stakeholders, changes in controlling precedent or applicable regulations, or the further refinement of the Board’s practices over time.”

In addition to being a resource for petitioners and patent owners, the Guide has as its purpose “to encourage consistency of procedures among panels of the Board,” akin to the role of the MPEP with examiners. As with the practice of having “expanded panels” to promote consistency in decisions, this function further limits the extent to which APJ’s activities are consistent with an independent adjudicatory arm of the USPTO.

It’s just a pretext for price hikes, as Michael Loney noted in a couple of articles. The first one spoke of changes to the process:

AIA Trial Practice Guide changes attracting the most attention are patent owners getting sur-replies and the opportunity to present a brief sur-rebuttal at the oral hearing, giving them the final word in PTAB proceedings

That should not take long, should it?

Thirdly, and finally, there is the most ridiculous thing of all. The USPTO will apparently punish people for using non-Microsoft binary (OOXML) format. How is this not corruption at USPTO? Microsoft used corruption to impose OOXML on the world, now USPTO punishes those who use standards! OOXML is not really a standard; it has binary blobs in it and Microsoft bribed officials and delegates for it. Here are the details:

The USPTO is seeking across-the-board fee increases, as well as a new fee surcharge for filing in a non-DOCX format and an annual active patent practitioner fee

So they are making it more expensive yet again (25%) in an effort to suppress IPRs. Battistelli used the same tricks as Iancu. He kept raising the costs of appeals (against bogus patents) in an effort to reduce patent quality and hide all this.

Iancu’s proposed fee hikes for PTAB IPRs obviously harm small businesses the most. Who benefits? Microsoft. Who else benefits? Lawyers. But that pretty much sums up what this leadership became, even in direct defiance of US courts as high as the Supreme Court. We hope that these proposals will be imminently challenged.

The Demise of US Software Patents Continues at the Federal Circuit

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 6:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Courts decline and the judiciary rejects such patents, leading to a decline in such patent grants as well

A decline

Summary: Software patents are rotting away in the United States; it remains to be seen when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will truly/fully honour 35 U.S.C. § 101 and stop granting such patents

THE situation in 2018 is probably worse for software patents than it has ever been (except before such patents were introduced, a few decades after software itself had emerged). The Federal Circuit continues to affirm inter partes reviews (IPRs) undertaken by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) at the USPTO in (re)assessing software patents, so why does the USPTO still grant any such patents? That merely harms confidence is US patents and collectively reduces their value.

“That merely harms confidence is US patents and collectively reduces their value.”As we often note here, the USPTO continues granting far too many abstract patents because of tricks like calling these “apparatus” (examples from yesterday) and buzzwords like “AI”. In spite of knowing courts would void these, examiners let them be. See this day-old survey of newly-granted patents; many of them sound very abstract and here's why they're still being granted. There’s more money in granting than in rejecting, but what would be the fate of the office if it kept granting patents only for them to be rendered invalid later?

“it seems like CAFC is pretty consistent in such rulings and it’s therefore unsurprising that the patent microcosm attacks CAFC and its judges. These maximalists cannot think of any other strategy.”In the United States’ patent courts — not Office (PTO) — software patents are pretty much dead, but it’s expensive to show this. Invalidation rates are already very high (if it gets to district courts and/or PTAB) and if one is wealthy enough, then CAFC offers even higher invalidation rates for software patents. It’s about access to justice. All about money. It’s just better for the rich, deep-pocketed firms. That in its own right is a profound issue.

In any case, there’s some good news this week as CAFC decides to throw another bunch of software patents by the wayside. Dennis Crouch has mentioned a Microsoft case, Enfish, in relation to this. The patents are on database software (they’re inherently a kind of software and the same goes for blockchains) and as one might expect these too are bunk. CAFC agrees as usual. Quoting Crouch:

On appeal here, the Federal Circuit affirms a lower court ruling that the claims of BSG’s three asserted patents are invalid as ineligible under 35 U..S.C. § 101. U.S. Patent Nos. 6,035,294, 6,243,699, and 6,195,652.

The claims relate to indexing a database according to “relative historical usage information.” Thus, in an automobile database with a “model” parameter, the system could display index by the popularity of the various models. In the claims, the popularity is measured by prior users of the system. Note here – the claims don’t technically require indexing by the frequency, only being able to access that information.

[...]

Enfish was a similar case — also involving a self-referential database structure. That case, the court determined that the focus was on database function and machine efficiency. Here, on the other hand, the historical information is stored just like any other data. “The claims do not recite any improvement to the way in which such databases store or organize information analogous to the self-referential table in Enfish or the adaptable memory caches in Visual Memory.”

This is fantastic news for software developers who wish to develop in peace without nuisance patent lawsuits.

Patent maximalist [1, 2] Matthew Bultman (Law360) wrote about these patents being invalidated at around the same time. To quote:

The Federal Circuit on Wednesday ruled three indexing software patents that BuySeasons Inc. was accused of infringing are invalid for claiming nothing more than an abstract idea, upholding a ruling from a judge in the Eastern District of Texas.

The appeals court, in a precedential opinion, found U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III correctly granted BuySeasons summary judgment that each of the asserted claims in Plano, Texas-based BSG Tech LLC’s patents are invalid.

They tried Texas, as usual.

Bultman’s Law360 colleague, RJ Vogt, wrote about another case, one filed by Mirror Worlds Technologies LLC, probably not even a real company based on its registration. To quote Law360‘s article:

A New York federal judge has ruled that Mirror Worlds Technologies LLC failed to show that Facebook Inc. infringed three of its patents covering digital data organization technology, finding that the social media giant’s news feed and other features did not use a “main stream” as described by the patents.

The patents, issued between 1999 and 2012, protect the “Scopeware” system for file sharing, which organizes emails, documents, calendar items, software and other data into searchable chronological streams designed to replace traditional “desktop” folder interfaces that…

Finally, yesterday in PR Newswire (a press release by Diebold Nixdorf) CAFC was said to have voided another bogus patent granted by the USPTO:

Diebold Nixdorf (NYSE: DBD) announced today that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the decision issued by the International Trade Commission (ITC) against the company in a patent dispute against Nautilus Hyosung. The Federal Circuit agreed with Diebold Nixdorf that Hyosung’s sole remaining patent in its case against the company is invalid and unenforceable. The Federal Circuit’s decision is a victory for the company, reversing the judgment of the ITC that Hyosung’s patent was valid and infringed by Diebold Nixdorf.

The patent found to be invalid, U.S. Patent No. 8,523,235, relates to certain automated teller machines (ATMs) with Diebold Nixdorf’s ActivMedia™ module. The underlying investigation at the ITC began with four patents, but Hyosung dismissed three of the patents after Diebold Nixdorf provided evidence that Hyosung had simply copied technology that had already been introduced by Diebold Nixdorf and other prominent manufacturers.

[...]

In that first ITC Investigation, the administrative law judge found that nearly all of Hyosung’s deposit automation-enabled ATMs and modules infringe two Diebold Nixdorf patents. In fact, the administrative law judge specifically noted evidence showing that “Nautilus had knowledge of Diebold’s patented technology, copied it, and encouraged its customers to use it in an infringing way.” Diebold Nixdorf intends to seek damages in a jury trial in U.S. District Court for Hyosung’s infringement.

Notice the trend. Also notice what the ITC had done before CAFC got involved.

We’ve not cherry-picking cases here; it seems like CAFC is pretty consistent in such rulings and it’s therefore unsurprising that the patent microcosm attacks CAFC and its judges. These maximalists cannot think of any other strategy.

Almost Two Months After the ILO Ruling Staff Representative Brumme is Finally Back on the Job at EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A photo of Ion Brumme

Summary: Ion Brumme (above) gets his position at the EPO back, owing to the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILO-AT) ruling back in July; things, however, aren’t rosy for the Office as a whole

THE EPO‘s peculiar affairs with justice go quite some while back. Things culminated in early 2015 when the EPO’s management refused to obey a Dutch court’s ruling regarding SUEPO. Aside from that, the EPO had become notorious for its kangaroo courts — a staged notion of justice (or mere ‘theatre’) as later confirmed by ILO-AT.

“Even a petition regarding patent quality needed to be made anonymous and it did not receive sufficient press coverage (not as much as it deserved anyway).”Well, belatedly (as was the case with Judge Corcoron) the EPO is complying with court rulings from ILO-AT. It is “better late than never,” the saying goes, but they had to eventually do it, even cursorily, otherwise it would count as eternal contempt of the courts.

IPPro Patents wrote about Ion Brumme, naming Aurélien Pétiaud, Michael Lund, Laurent Prunier and Elizabeth Hardon. If someone can pass to us the full message from Brumme, that would be appreciated. The article contains many fragments from it, but not the original in its entirety. To quote a couple of portions:

European Patent Office (EPO) president António Campinos must “give back the staff their voice”, according to Ion Brumme, chairman of the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) Munich section.

Brumme was speaking in a message circulated to SUEPO on the day (15 August) he returned to active duty at the EPO following his dismissal two and a half years ago.

In the message Brumme revealed he had returned to the office after the International Labour Organisation (ILO) exonerated him and his colleague Malika Weaver.

Brumme specifically addressed Campinos, asking him to “stop the persecutions of union officials and staff representatives”.

“Some are still undergoing unnecessary disciplinary procedures and ILO complaints. You can put an end to this chapter. Give back the staff their voice, their pride and their dignity.”

[...]

“At present, the staff representation still has a number of staff representative casualties such as Aurélien Pétiaud, Michael Lund, Laurent Prunier and Elizabeth Hardon. One, in particular, is Laurent Prunier, who has been dismissed in The Hague. He is awaiting trial in front of the ILO.”

“I would like to ask all of you to stop supporting me financially and if you want start supporting Laurent instead. He is in a far more precarious position than me.”

It might be too late to save the Office. ILO, the European Parliament etc. failed to act on time and union-busting goes more than 3 years back. It left the staff oppressed and unable to speak. Even a petition regarding patent quality needed to be made anonymous and it did not receive sufficient press coverage (not as much as it deserved anyway). That’s how bad things became.

Oppositions at the EPO went through the roof, but some (like IAM) are trying to spin that and yesterday Managing IP (a UPC and Battistelli proponent) said:

Data published by Haseltine Lake reveals trends in European patent oppositions in 2017, as well as data on opponents, opposed patents, IPC subclasses and decisions

The rest is behind the usual paywall, which is difficult to get around. The figures presented by Haseltine Lake were cited by SUEPO in the past in relation to declining patent quality.

The EPO is making life (career-wise) difficult to departing examiners. “Trauma will ruin the health or even the family,” Brumme warned after he had been sacked by Battistelli, having to live off donations for a number of years (he has many kids to look after). Someone told us that he was very cautious and reluctant to be seen or mentioned (e.g. by Team Battistelli), especially in relation to these donations that helped sustain him and his family.

Mind this relatively new comment about privacy issues that we wrote about before, especially three years ago (more times since):

can also reassure you that there is no confidentiality at all from the EPO part!
I used to be a patent examiner in a national patent office and applied to EPO a couple of times in the past…few days after submission my boss in the national office started mobbing as he was made aware of my job application. And “coincidentally” my boss used to be a friend of EPO’s “big boss”

They are spying in order to ‘intercept’ job seekers. This means that any career at the EPO can be a career ender.

The good news is that Brumme has a source of much-needed income again; on the downside, as he points out, the EPO staff has lost its voice. Ever since the decisions from ILO-AT (late July) SUEPO has said very little. Its site has barely been active.

08.15.18

Links 15/8/2018: Akademy 2018 Wrapups and More Intel Defects

Posted in News Roundup at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Former OSS Executive Eren Niazi Named Open Source Evolution CTO

    Open Source Evolution, visionaries and creators of enterprise custom software, announced today that former OSS founder, Eren Niazi has been named CTO. A 20-year technology veteran, Niazi has been focused on developing custom enterprise open source software for corporate transformations to open source.

    Eren is the original visionary/creator who pioneered the OSS movement and envisioned a world where the enterprises used open source software for large scale data center deployments. Consequently, the OSS technologies Niazi developed have become the model for global industry storage solutions.

  • How To Get An Open Source Developer Job In 2018
  • Tesla to make driverless software open source

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk has told a hacker conference in Las Vegas that he plans to “open source” the software his company uses to secure autonomous-driving features from hacks or takeovers, eventually allowing other carmakers to use it.

    Musk tweeted, “Great Q&A @defcon last night. Thanks for helping make Tesla & SpaceX more secure! Planning to open-source Tesla vehicle security software for free use by other car makers. Extremely important to a safe self-driving future for all.”

  • DarkHydrus Relies on Open-Source Tools for Phishing Attacks [Ed: If there was reliance on something proprietary, the headline would not even mention it; that's because its sole goal is to demonise Open Source, associating it with criminal activity. This actually impacts proprietary software from Microsoft, complete with NSA back doors.]
  • Progress Open Sources ABL Code with Release of Spark Toolkit

    Previously only available from Progress Services, the Spark Toolkit was created in collaboration with the Progress Common Component Specification (CCS) project, a group of Progress® OpenEdge® customers and partners defining a standard set of specifications for the common components for building modern business applications. By engaging the community, Progress has leveraged best practices in the development of these standards-based components and tools to enable new levels of interoperability, flexibility, efficiencies and effectiveness.

    [...]

    It is compatible with the latest version of OpenEdge, 11.7, and is available under Apache License 2.0. More components are expected to be added in the future.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Rustfmt 1.0 release candidate

        The current version of Rustfmt, 0.99.2, is the first 1.0 release candidate. It is available on nightly and beta (technically 0.99.1 there) channels, and from the 13th September will be available with stable Rust.

        1.0 will be a huge milestone for Rustfmt. As part of it’s stability guarantees, it’s formatting will be frozen (at least until 2.0). That means any sub-optimal formatting still around will be around for a while. So please help test Rustfmt and report any bugs or sub-optimal formatting.

      • Welcome Amy Keating, our incoming General Counsel

        Amy joins Mozilla from Twitter, Inc. where she has been Vice President, Legal and Deputy General Counsel. When she joined Twitter in 2012, she was the first lawyer focused on litigation, building out the functions and supporting the company as both the platform and the employee base grew in the U.S. and internationally. Her role expanded over time to include oversight of Twitter’s product counseling, regulatory, privacy, employment legal, global litigation, and law enforcement legal response functions. Prior to Twitter, Amy was part of Google, Inc.’s legal team and began her legal career as an associate at Bingham McCutchen LLP.

      • Building Extension APIs with Friend of Add-ons Oriol Brufau

        Please meet Oriol Brufau, our newest Friend of Add-ons! Oriol is one of 23 volunteer community members who have landed code for the WebExtensions API in Firefox since the technology was first introduced in 2015. You may be familiar with his numerous contributions if you have set a specific badge text color for your browserAction, highlighted multiple tabs with the tabs.query API, or have seen your extension’s icon display correctly in about:addons.

        While our small engineering team doesn’t always have the resources to implement every approved request for new or enhanced WebExtensions APIs, the involvement of community members like Oriol adds considerable depth and breadth to technology that affects millions of users. However, the Firefox code base is large, complex, and full of dependencies. Contributing code to the browser can be difficult even for experienced developers.

        As part of celebrating Oriol’s achievements, we asked him to share his experience contributing to the WebExtensions API with the hope that it will be helpful for other developers interested in landing more APIs in Firefox.

      • L10N Report: August Edition

        After a quick pause in July, your primary source of localization information at Mozilla is back!

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • This powerful free office program can replace Microsoft Office

      Even better, as we said, LibreOffice can open and edit the documents you made in Office and can save new files in Office formats. LibreOffice is also compatible with the most popular document formats, not just Office documents. It’s also compatible with OpenDocument Format (ODF) and you can even sign PDF documents without having to involve your printer!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Musical Space: Open Source Music

      The term “open source” was coined 20 years ago this month by some software engineers who had the radical idea of allowing their code to be freely shared, copied and modified by anyone else. They realized they could make more money by giving away their product instead of selling it, and selling the support services instead. The open source model is a growing part of the arts, and nowhere more than in music. Recordings make so little money that creators now offer them for free and make their money from live shows instead.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Hobbyist 3D prints open source CNC machine for under $200

        Hobbyist and Reddit 3D printing community contributor Marioarm has built an “almost fully” 3D printed CNC machine for milling electronic chipboards.

        Marioarm built the Cyclone PCB CNC machine with 3D printed parts downloaded from file sharing sites such as Thingiverse and the GitHub repository Cyclone PCB Factory. With minimal, prefabricated parts, the project in total cost Marioarm under $200 to build.

  • Programming/Development

    • [Older] Julia 1.0 release Opens the Doors for a Connected World

      Today Julia Computing announced the Julia 1.0 programming language release, “the most important Julia milestone since Julia was introduced in February 2012.” As the first complete, reliable, stable and forward-compatible Julia release, version 1.0 is the fastest, simplest and most productive open-source programming language for scientific, numeric and mathematical computing.

    • This Week in Rust 247
    • BARR-C Aims to Make Us Better Programmers

      Look up “panacea” and you’ll find a bunch of C programming tools. Everyone and his dog has ideas about how to create better, more reliable C code. Use an ISO-certified compiler. Follow MISRA C guidelines. Write the comments first. Agile Programming. Energy crystals. The late-night remedies never end.

      Or, you could learn from the master. Michael Barr does embedded programming. He’s got a Masters in electrical engineering; was an adjunct professor of EE/CS; was Editor-in-Chief of Embedded Systems Programming magazine; founded consulting company Netrino to teach people how to write better code; then founded Barr Group to do it again. The man knows a few things about writing embedded software, mostly by watching his clients and students doing it badly. There’s no substitute for experience, and this guy has collected decades worth of it.

      So it’s no surprise that he’s come up with his own little black book of programming pointers. These are the rules, guidelines, and suggestions gleaned from years of reviewing other peoples’ bad code and then fixing it. Best of all, a PDF download of the book is free. If you’re a traditionalist, you can buy the paperback version from Amazon.

Leftovers

  • In Defense Of Slow News

    Many years back, I remember seeing Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, being interviewed about that site (which at the time was on its way to becoming the first “mainstream” tech news blog). I’m paraphrasing, and possibly misremembering, but what stuck with me was that he suggested that, as a blog, you basically had to focus on one of three things to succeed: being first, being funny, or being insightful. And he had chosen “being first” as the strategy for TechCrunch — trying to break news as quickly as possible. And while that makes sense as a business strategy if you can do it, it had absolutely no appeal to me for how we ran Techdirt. We always hoped to focus on adding more insight into various issues, than breaking news. That’s not to say we don’t break news every so often, but it’s certainly not the focus.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Flint, Michigan Still Has Polluted Water: Here’s How To Help

      Perhaps the biggest lesson to take away from Flint’s water crisis is this: Don’t for a second think this couldn’t have been your town. This didn’t happen on some faraway island or in a Third World country, but right in America’s own backyard. “From every objective measure that is out there, Flint’s water is like any other US city with old lead pipes,” adds Virginia Tech’s Siddhartha Roy, one of the researchers who brought the scandal to light. So take note and stay in the fight, because if you don’t and your elected officials one day decide that your water looking and smelling like orc blood isn’t their problem, you’ll spend a really long time picking chunks out of your teeth after every brushing. And if that sentence isn’t enough for you to take an interest in local politics, we don’t know what will.

    • Illinois Lawmakers Search for Solutions for Children Stuck in Psychiatric Hospitals

      Illinois lawmakers Tuesday heard testimony from nearly a dozen doctors and child welfare advocates describing circumstances facing children who languish in psychiatric hospitals even after they had been cleared for discharge — circumstances so harrowing that some children chose jail over another night at a psychiatric facility.

      State Sen. Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield, called for the Senate Human Services Committee hearing following a ProPublica Illinois investigation that revealed that hundreds of children in care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spent weeks or months at a time locked in psychiatric hospitals after doctors had cleared them for release.

      The investigation, published in June, found that children in DCFS care were trapped inside psychiatric hospitals between 2015 and 2017 for a total of more than 27,000 days beyond what was medically necessary. During that time, the state spent nearly $7 million on unnecessary psychiatric care for children as young as 4.

      And the problem, ProPublica Illinois found, has only been getting worse. In 2014, only 88 psychiatric admissions were not medically needed compared with 301 last year.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • How Militaries Should Plan for AI

      Today we are publishing a new EFF white paper, The Cautious Path to Strategic Advantage: How Militaries Should Plan for AI. This paper analyzes the risks and implications of military AI projects in the wake of Google’s decision to discontinue AI assistance to the US military’s drone program and adopt AI ethics principles that preclude many forms of military work.

      The key audiences for this paper are military planners and defense contractors, who may find the objections to military uses of AI from Google’s employees and others in Silicon Valley hard to understand. Hoping to bridge the gap, we urge our key audiences to consider several guiding questions. What are the major technical and strategic risks of applying current machine learning methods in weapons systems or military command and control? What are the appropriate responses that states and militaries can adopt in response? What kinds of AI are safe for military use, and what kinds aren’t?

      Militaries must make sure they don’t buy into the machine learning hype while missing the warning label.

      We are at a critical juncture. Machine learning technologies have received incredible hype, and indeed they have made exciting progress on some fronts, but they remain brittle, subject to novel failure modes, and vulnerable to diverse forms of adversarial attack and manipulation. They also lack the basic forms of common sense and judgment on which humans usually rely.

    • ‘Do We Deserve to Kill?’ The Answer Is ‘No’ After Nebraska’s Latest Execution

      Nebraska’s fentanyl execution was only possible because the state delayed Moore’s execution for nearly four decades — depleting his will to fight.

      “The death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit,” as Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, frequently explains. “The real question of capital punishment in this country is, ‘Do we deserve to kill?’” For those of us who are most familiar with the legal deficiencies and human cruelties of capital punishment, the answer is a resounding no.

      Nebraska’s execution of Carey Dean Moore this morning proves the point.

      As a society, we have determined that a death sentence requires that our process for determining who is guilty, for determining whom should be executed, and for executing humanely are transparent and above reproach. By any standard, Nebraska should not have had the authority to kill Moore today with an experimental fentanyl drug protocol.

      Moore’s case is remarkable for several reasons. First, he has spent 38 years on death row, the longest known period between death sentence and execution in American history. Second, six years ago, he gave up all appeals and refused to fight for his life.

      On the surface, it may appear that Nebraska could execute Mr. Moore without judicial oversight or safeguards because Moore agreed to be executed. But looking more deeply, we know Moore’s decision to stop fighting for his life is the result of Nebraska holding him for decades on death row without executing him.

    • Defense Inspector General to Investigate Military’s Toxic Open Burning

      The Department of Defense’s internal watchdog is launching an investigation into the military’s heavily polluting practice of open burning and detonating hazardous explosive materials on its properties, as well as its frequent reliance on federal contractors to carry out that work.

      The inquiry, announced Aug. 10 on the website of the department’s Office of Inspector General, will examine whether the department’s practices are legal, and whether the contractors charged with handling dangerous materials — often close to the public — have proper oversight.

      “Robust oversight of these contractors is essential for protecting the health and well-being of all who work and live near these installations,” Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire wrote to ProPublica in an email. “But it is clear that this oversight did not take place.”

    • 10 Questions on Secret Israeli Report Over 2014 Killing of Four Children on Gaza Beach

      Findings raise questions about decision-making process that led to shooting at children when they didn’t pose a threat. This requires clarification on use of drones, IDF’s open-fire policy and responsibility of those involved

    • Police take former MEIO director- general’s statement over CIA letter

      Police have taken the statement of the former Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO) director-general Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid on a letter she wrote to the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

      Without revealing when Hasanah’s statement was taken, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said police had also called several other MEIO officers to assist investigations.

      He said police would also be taking the statements of several MEIO officers in Washington.

      “We will later send the investigation papers to the deputy public prosecutor for further action,” he told reporters after Bukit Aman Monthly Assembly here yesterday.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • DNC lawsuit against WikiLeaks served via Twitter

      The Democratic National Committee has used Twitter to serve a lawsuit against WikiLeaks that accuses the website of participating in a conspiracy to hack into DNC emails and denigrate Hillary Clinton.

      U.S. District Judge John Koeltl of Manhattan granted the motion to serve via Twitter and mail on Aug. 6. The DNC’s law firm, Cohen Milstein, served the suit on Aug. 10 through a Twitter account that was apparently created for that purpose, report CBS News, Gizmodo and TechCrunch.

      The DNC had told the court in a July 20 motion to allow the alternate service that WikiLeaks “has more of a virtual than a physical presence.” The motion cited a California case in which a federal court allowed service via Twitter of a suit against a Kuwaiti national accused of financing ISIS activities.

      The DNC had not been able to serve the lawsuit by other methods, the motion said. DNC lawyers tried sending emails to an address provided on the WikiLeaks website and contacting lawyers who had represented WikiLeaks in other matters. The emails were returned as undeliverable, and the lawyers who responded said they no longer represented WikiLeaks and were not authorized to accept service.

    • Mueller investigation seeks to implicate WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in “Russian interference”

      The investigation headed by Special Counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller into alleged “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election has entered a new stage.

      Mueller is seeking to substantiate the case he advanced last month—as part of the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers—that Trump campaign insider Roger Stone and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange were part of a conspiracy to hack and publish emails sent by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairperson John Podesta (see: “In run-up to Trump-Putin summit, Mueller charges 12 Russian officers with DNC email hack”).

  • Finance

    • ‘There is a Strong Reason for All Americans to Feel more Economically Insecure than they Did Before the Great Recession’

      Last September, elite media were heralding numbers suggesting that incomes were up among middle class Americans, but tiptoeing around the fact that the rising tide was not lifting all boats. Dedrick Asante-Muhammad is Senior Fellow, Racial Wealth Divide, at the group Prosperity Now. He told CounterSpin about a report he co-authored, called The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide Is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class, from Prosperity Now and the Institute for Policy Studies. I asked why they chose to focus on racial disparities in wealth.

    • Why Isn’t Blockchain Technology Adoption Soaring?
    • Almost 80% of US workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Here’s why

      But the official rate hides more troubling realities: legions of college grads overqualified for their jobs, a growing number of contract workers with no job security, and an army of part-time workers desperate for full-time jobs. Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.

      Blanketing all of this are stagnant wages and vanishing job benefits. The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Although the US economy continues to grow, most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • If Collusion Is in the Eye of the Beholder…

      …then the person observing gets to decide what collusion is, right?

    • ‘People are terrified’: Trump staffers live in fear of Omarosa’s next tape

      A daily trickle of revealing internal conversations between staffers. Growing anxiety about what one might have once said. No sense of how long it will go on.

      Omarosa Manigault Newman’s slow release of secretly taped conversations from inside the Trump campaign and White House is having the same effect on staffers as the daily dumps from WikiLeaks had on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, when chairman John Podesta’s emails were trickled out during the final stretch of the race.

    • Trump-Omarosa feud rooted in her allegations of racism
    • The Latest: Omarosa tells AP: ‘I will not be silenced’

      Omarosa Manigault Newman declared “I will not be silenced” by the Trump campaign.

      Manigault Newman spoke to The Associated Press hours after the president’s campaign announced it was filing an arbitration action against the former aide alleging she broke a secrecy agreement.

      In an interview with AP, Manigault Newman said she believes the action was intended to keep her from telling her story. She says she “will not be intimidated.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • What You Should Know Before Buying a Wired Security Camera System

      One huge benefit of having a wired security camera system is that you don’t need to connect it to the internet to use it—unlike most Wi-Fi cams, which require an internet connection to do anything.

      The downside to an off-the-grid camera system, however, is that you won’t be able to access it remotely from your phone if you’re away from home. Instead, you can only view and manage your camera system from the DVR box and the connected monitor and peripherals.

    • Australian Gov’t Floats New Batch Of Compelled Access Legislation With An Eye On Encryption

      The Australian government is looking to revamp its compelled access laws to fight encryption and other assorted technological advances apparently only capable of being used for evil. It’s getting pretty damn dark Down Under, according to the Department of Home Affairs’ announcement of the pending legislation.

      [...]

      There’s the limitation of lawmaking. Lawbreakers break laws and they’re not going to stop just because you’ve told them not to with a government mandate. Legislation [PDF] like this does little more than make life more difficult for service providers and device makers while undermining the privacy and security of millions of law-abiding citizens.

      The explanation sheet [PDF] notes the government is not seeking to mandate encryption backdoors. That being said, it would like providers of encrypted services/devices to leave the door cracked open so the government can step inside whenever it feels the need to look around.

    • A quick reminder on HTTPS everywhere

      HTTPS Everywhere! So the plugin says, and now browsers are warning users that sites not implementing https:// are security risks. Using HTTPS everywhere is good advice. And this really means “everywhere”: the home page, everything. Not just the login page, or the page where you accept donations. Everything.

      Implementing HTTPS everywhere has some downsides, as Eric Meyer points out. It breaks caching, which makes the web much slower for people limited to satellite connections (and that’s much of the third world); it’s a problem for people who, for various reasons, have to use older browsers (there are more ancient browsers and operating systems in the world than you would like to think, trust me); domain names and IP address are handled by lower-level protocols that HTTPS doesn’t get to touch, so it’s not as private as one would like; and more. It’s not a great solution, but it’s a necessary one. (Meyer’s article, and the comments following it, are excellent.)

    • Turning off Location History Won’t Help You! Google Will Track You Anyway

      The “location history” option on Google accounts claims in its description to be responsible for collecting data on a user’s movements, but it turns out that switching it off still won’t help if someone wants to track you down via your account.

    • Google tracks your movements, like it or not
    • What you can do to prevent Google—and others—from tracking your phone
    • EBGAP: Error Between Google and Privacy
    • Google tracks users who turn off location history
    • Google can track your location in ways you may not expect. But you can turn it off.
    • Australian parliament will debate bill to weaken encryption by end of 2018

      Australia’s government will debate proposed legislation before the end of this year that could force Apple and other companies to introduce backdoors into their products and services, such as the iPhone or iMessage, under the guise of assisting with national security and law enforcement investigations.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Iowa Supreme Court Thinks Things Are Too Tough For Bad Cops, Adopts Qualified Immunity Defense

      The Iowa Supreme Court has decided to lower standards for law enforcement officers in its state. The ruling [PDF] issued earlier this summer gives state officers the opportunity to dismiss lawsuits against them by asserting qualified immunity. Prior to this decision, there was no qualified immunity defense state actors could raise in court. They were actually forced to actually defend themselves in court, making it easier for plaintiffs’ claims to survive an early motion to dismiss and bringing them closer to justice. (via Bleeding Heartland)

      The case — Baldwin v. City of Estherville — involves an arrest for a crime that didn’t exist. It involves driving an ATV through a city-owned ditch, something that’s illegal under state law but not under the City of Estherville’s laws. An arrest for something that wasn’t actually illegal was followed by this lawsuit. It’s a weird origin for a Fourth Amendment lawsuit, but the outcome makes holding officers accountable for their misdeeds much more difficult with the court’s addition of qualified immunity to local government’s litigation toolbox.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • On Thursday, Ajit Pai Has To Explain Why His FCC Made Up A DDOS Attack And Lied To Congress

      So FCC boss Ajit Pai will need to don some tap-dancing shoes this Thursday, when he’ll be forced to explain to a Senate oversight committee why his agency not only made up a DDOS attack, but lied repeatedly to the press and Congress about it.

      As we recently noted, e-mails obtained by FOIA request have proven that the FCC completely made up a DDOS attack in a bizarre bid to downplay the fact that John Oliver’s bit on net neutrality crashed the agency website last year. A subsequent investigation by the FCC Inspector General confirmed those findings, showing not only that no attack took place, but that numerous FCC staffers misled both Congress and the media when asked about it.

      Pai initially tried to get out ahead of the scandal and IG report by issuing a statement that threw his employees under the bus while playing dumb. According to Pai’s pre-emptive statement, the entire scandal was the fault of the FCC’s since-departed CIO and other employees who mysteriously failed to alert him that this entire shitshow was occurring (you can just smell the ethical leadership here)…

    • Ajit Pai grilled by lawmakers on why FCC spread “myth” of DDoS attack

      Today, four Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Pai “demanding to know when he and his staff learned that the Commission had provided inaccurate information about why its comment system went down during the net neutrality repeal public comment period,” the Democrats said in an announcement.

    • Court Rejects Ajit Pai’s Bid To Reduce Broadband Subsidies For Tribal Areas

      For a while now we’ve been noting that while Ajit Pai professes to be a huge proponent of “closing the digital divide,” most of his policies are doing the exact opposite. Pai’s attacks on net neutrality, for example, will likely only act to drive up broadband prices for everyone as ISPs enjoy their newfound ability to creatively abusive captive customers in uncompetitive markets. And Pai has repeatedly attempted to fiddle with FCC data collection methodology with an eye toward obfuscating the industry’s competitive failures (be that skyrocketing prices or poor coverage).

      That’s of course when he hasn’t been busy slowly-but-surely gutting programs designed to help bring broadband to the nation’s less affluent areas.

      One of Pai’s core policies has been a relentless attack on the FCC’s Lifeline program. Lifeline was created under the Reagan administration and expanded under the George W. Bush administration, and provides low-income households with a measly $9.25 per month subsidy that low-income homes can use to help pay a tiny fraction of their wireless, phone, or broadband bills (enrolled participants have to chose one). The FCC under former FCC boss Tom Wheeler had voted to expand the service to cover broadband connections, something Pai (ever a champion to the poor) voted down.

      Traditionally this program had broad, bipartisan support and was never deemed even remotely controversial. But ever since Trump and Pai stumbled into town, the current FCC has slowly waged war on the program. For example Pai’s FCC voted 3-2 last November to eliminate a $25 additional Lifeline subsidy for low-income native populations on tribal land. Pai’s FCC also banned smaller mobile carriers from participating in the Lifeline program, a move opposed by even the larger companies (Verizon, AT&T) Pai’s FCC normally nuzzles up to.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Joinder of Inventor/Principal of Patentee to Assertion of Fees for Exceptional Case Liability

      A while back, I suggested here that defendants start thinking, early on, about joining sole-shareholders (and the like) of asset-less patentees if 285 liability was an issue. In a recent case, the district court allowed joinder of such a person, finding he was a necessary party under Rule 19. (I seriously doubt that is correct (what is the claim against the person being joined?), but Genentech managed to convince a judge to join such a person in Phigenix, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., (N.D. Cal. Aug. 13, 2018) (here). (I’ve also written about counsel’s liability under 285, and the conflicts it can create, here.)

    • France: Upset in practice of the seizure: withdrawal of the seizure order due to lack of impartiality of the patent attorneys

      On March 27th, 2018, the Court of Appeal of Paris issued a decision on withdrawal of the seizure order on the grounds that the principle of impartiality had been violated since the patent attorneys (“CPIs”) assisting the bailiff wrote a report on the probability of the infringement annexed at the seizure request.

      It will thus be advisable to rely on a patent attorney which did not know the case at all in order to practice a seizure without taking the risk of a withdrawal of the order.

      [...]

      The decision of the Court was appealed. We will see if the French Supreme Court will follow the reasoning initiated by the Court of Appeal regarding the lack of impartiality of the patent attorneys who previously acted as experts in the context of the seizure.

      The scope of this decision could be moderated since, in this case, several factual arguments on the drafting conditions of the expert report with the assistance of the seizing party were raised as reported above. In this context, if the patent attorney who prepared a preliminary report for the seizing party had access to some information about the alleged infringing material may not be considered impartial, we may ask ourselves what the measure of impartiality should be. The decision of the Court of Appeal does not set a clear limit on this point; it does of course reiterate that patent attorneys are independent and from that point of view are allowed to assist during seizures.

      Therefore, in order to avoid withdrawal of a seizure order, the seizing party will not refer in its request to a patent attorney who intervened previously as an expert in the same case, e.g. as an expert having participated in a private expert report filed as supporting evidence for obtaining the seizure as in the present case. The risk would be the characterization of the impartiality of the designated patent attorney and, correspondingly, the possible withdrawal of the seizure order. Whether this position would extend to any type of private expertise is unknown; hopefully the Supreme Court will provide guidance.

      We would recommend to use a patent attorney who had no relationship with the seizing party beforehand for assisting during seizures.

    • New survey highlights emerging trends in IP operations management

      The day-to-day tasks of managing a global IP portfolio form the backbone of any IP strategy. The most high-level corporate IP policy can falter if a company lacks robust operations processes for securing and maintaining patents and other rights. In a recent survey, Clarivate Analytics set out to investigate how organisations approach these management tasks, and what challenges they face. This month’s guest piece from the firm breaks down some of the key findings and what they may mean.

    • China: Supreme People’s Court Provides Guidance on Amendment and Inventiveness Evaluation for Markush Claims

      A Markush claim is a type of claim commonly used in chemical and pharmaceutical fields. On December 20, 2017, in Beijing Winsunny Harmony Science & Technology Co., Ltd. v. Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd, (“Daiichi Sankyo Case”), the Supreme People’s Court (“SPC”) resolved a long standing-split among Chinese courts regarding the interpretation and amendment of Markush claims. In combination with examination practice in China, this article will discuss the guidance of the Daiichi Sankyo case and provide strategic suggestions for readers’ reference.

    • Apple’s Declaratory Judgment Backfires, Turns Into $145.1M Damages Verdict Wi-LAN

      Though this is not the only lawsuit fought out between Wi-LAN and Apple, this particular action began in June 2014 when Apple filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment of invalidity on the ‘145 and ‘757 patents along with three other Wi-LAN patents.

    • Tesla IP chief jumps to automotive rival

      Jeff Risher has left his post as Tesla’s head of IP to join rival electric car manufacturer Faraday Future as vice president, technology and IP. According to his LinkedIn profile he joined Faraday last month after a little more than two years at Tesla where he was chief IP and litigation counsel. Prior to that he spent almost a decade at Apple, most recently as director of patent licensing and strategy.

    • USA: BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. v. Aquestive Therapeutics, Inc., United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, No. 2017-1265, 31 July 2018

      The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has granted BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc.’s motion to remand to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board a consolidated appeal of the Board’s final decisions upholding the patentability of three Aquestive Therapeutics patents for water-soluble drug-dosage films incorporating anti-tacking agents.

    • Jury Finding of Willful Infringement Does Not Satisfy Section 287 Notice Requirement

      Following remand, the court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment to preclude plaintiff from seeking pre-suit damages and rejected plaintiff’s argument that the jury’s willful infringement finding satisfied plaintiff’s obligation to establish actual notice.

    • Design Protection In Europe

      A design is defined in the Community Design regulation and in the Design directive as the outward appearance of a product or a part of a product which results from the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture, materials and/or its ornamentation. In order to qualify for protection, designs must be new and must have individual character. Furthermore, a design shall not subsist in features of appearance of a product which are solely dictated by its technical function. Designs make a product attractive and appealing; hence they may add significantly to the commercial value of a product and increase its marketability. Design protection is a significant element of IP law. Designs as unique creations with individual character require and deserve protection against imitators just as copyrighted works or trademarks.

    • California jury awards LED company $66m in trade secrets case

      Chinese competitor Elec-Tech found to have stolen trade secrets related to Lumileds technology for making high power LEDs used in flash phones and headlights

    • Copyrights

      • Bruce Lee’s Estate Gets Stiff Roundhouse Kick After Trying To Block Theater Company’s Trademark

        Those steeped in ownership culture often have the wrong idea when it comes to trademark laws. In the minds of some, trademark laws can be used like publicity rights laws, wherein a famous somebody — or that somebody’s heirs — can use that fame to control all uses of references to that somebody for ever and ever. That, of course, is not how trademark laws work. Instead, trademark law is designed to protect the public from confusion by allowing some monopolistic use of names and terms in some markets and only if actual commerce is taking place.

        This is a lesson the management company of the late renowned martial arts star Bruce Lee has now learned the hard way. Bruce Lee Enterprises attempted to both block the trademark registration for production company Barisons in the UK, which applied for a mark covering its forthcoming Jun Fan: the Bruce Lee Musical, and also to apply for a “Jun Fan” mark in the theatrical designation itself. Jun Fan, if you’re not aware, was the birth name of Bruce Lee.

      • Facebook Bans Kodi Boxes And Other Jailbroken Devices

        Kodi has gained quite a notorious reputation as the users continue to stream illegal content from it. Recently, Facebook expressed their criticism of illegal video streaming content by banning Kodi boxes and other jailbroken or loaded devices.

        Adding Kodi to the list of the prohibited content, Facebook has put up a post explicitly stating that posts promoting the sale of illegal video streaming devices, jailbroken devices, wiretapping devices would not be entertained on the platform.

      • SevenTorrents Shuts Down After 10 Years; Transfers Database To WatchSoMuch

        The disappearance of websites in the torrent world is very common. While many services shut down and pirates move on to their alternatives, sometimes sites also transfer their data to other sites.

        A similar retirement development (Via: TF) has recently taken place in the case of SevenTorrents. If you’re only familiar with biggies like The Pirate Bay, YTS, or KAT, let me tell you that SevenTorrents has been around for more than ten years; just last year only, it served more than 5 million visitors.

      • Disney (yes, Disney) declares war on “overzealous copyright holders”

        On the other hand, they’re right, and this is exactly what fair use is for: to allow for third parties to comment on copyrighted works and their creators, especially when the creators object. Sure, maybe Disney could buy licenses to the Michael Jackson videos they’re quoting in this doc, but if the Jackson estate objects because Disney is portraying Jackson in an unflattering light, do we really want to give them a veto? Shouldn’t the discussion of culturally significant figures be the subject of legitimate debate, without partisans (whose own income is dependent on maintaining the reputation of the dead entertainer) being able to decide who can criticize that figure and how?

Antiquated Patenting Trick: Adding Words Like ‘Apparatus’ to Make Abstract Ideas Look/Sound Like They Pertain to or Contain a ‘Device’

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apparatus

Summary: 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101) still maintains that abstract ideas are not patent-eligible; so applicants and law firms go out of their way to make their ideas seem as though they’re physical

THE examiners at the USPTO have been instructed (as per Section 101/Alice and examination guidelines) not to grant abstract patents, which include software patents. This means that applicants and the law firms whom they pay to ‘game’ the system will go out of their way to rephrase things, making life harder for examiners.

RichmondBizSense‘s patent listings, published only a few hours ago, include “Method and apparatus for context based data analytics” (analysis or analytics using algorithms).

“We certainly hope that examiners are clever enough to spot these tricks; the underlying algorithms do not depend on a device and aren’t strictly tied to any; they can run on any general-purpose computer.”Notice how they titled it; “apparatus” is just the same old trick (like “device”) for making abstract ideas seem physical. Lawyers’ tricks like these fool the examiners. “Device”, at least in the EPO, is the weasel word quite often used to make patents look less “as such” (or “per se” as they phrase it in India). We certainly hope that examiners are clever enough to spot these tricks; the underlying algorithms do not depend on a device and aren’t strictly tied to any; they can run on any general-purpose computer.

Watchtroll’s latest attack on 35 U.S.C. § 101 (this time Jeremy Doerre again, for the second time in a week) shows that patent quality is the real threat to these maximalists/extremists. They dislike justice, love litigation, and Section 101 is therefore a threat to them. Maybe they will just attack SCOTUS again later this week. Judge-bashing has become pretty common at Watchtroll.

Janal Kalis, another patent maximalist, wrote about “apparatus” this week:

The PTAB Affirmed an Examiner’s 101 Rejection of Claims for an Apparatus for Material Analysis: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017010532-07-31-2018-1 …

Maybe the applicant thought that a generic/broad word like “apparatus” would be enough; maximalists like that word, but in this particular case it fooled neither the examiner nor the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), even without an inter partes review (IPR). There are many more like this; it’s quite the norm these days, tackling software patents and other abstract patents at the examination level with help/affirmation from PTAB.

Yesterday Dennis Crouch wrote about PTAB and an examiner rejecting a lousy Facebook patent. He probably (cherry-)picked it because this time, for a change, the Federal Circuit did not fully agree; it reversed and remanded the decision.

“Maybe the applicant thought that a generic/broad word like “apparatus” would be enough; maximalists like that word, but in this particular case it fooled neither the examiner nor the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), even without an inter partes review (IPR).”To quote: “Facebook’s U.S. Patent Application No. 13/715,636 claims a method for displaying a set of images after reshuffling or resizing the images. The Examiner rejected Claim 1 (below) as anticipated; and that rejection was affirmed by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Now on appeal, the Federal Circuit has reversed and remanded — finding that the USPTO had too loosely interpreted the prior art.

“The claimed image rendering process begins with a sequence of images. Each image is assigned a “first position” within an “array of contiguous image elements” — in other words, the images are put in a particular order. When a user adjusts the position or size of an image — there may be a need for reshuffling of the images into “second positions.” The claimed method includes a requirement that the reshuffled sequence “be contiguous.” — i.e., no gaps in the array.”

How is that not abstract? Never mind prior art, which was the basis for the original rejection…

Open Invention Network (OIN) Member Companies Need to Become Unanimous in Opposition to Software Patents

Posted in Law, OIN, Patents at 3:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OIN still going with the flow of millionaires and billionaires who fund it, not Free/libre software developers

Opposition

Summary: Opposition to abstract software patents, which even the SCOTUS and the Federal Circuit nowadays reject, would be strategically smart for OIN; but instead it issues a statement in support of a GPL compliance initiative

THE USPTO is still granting software patents, never mind if courts continue and persist in rejecting these. OIN still generally supports software patents, albeit shyly. It doesn’t talk about that ‘too’ much. Just look at the member companies of OIN, especially founding members; some of these companies actively pursue their own software patents and IBM is blackmailing companies with these.

“OIN still generally supports software patents, albeit shyly.”Yesterday OIN issued this press release [1, 2] under the title “Open Invention Network Member Companies Unanimous in Support of GPL Cooperation Commitment” and what’s odd about it is that they talk about software licences rather than patent licences. The GPL is dealing with copyright (mostly), albeit GPLv3 indirectly deals with patents too. So it’s interesting that OIN now talks about the GPL rather than patent policy. From the opening paragraph:

Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that its eight funding members – Google, IBM, Red Hat, SUSE, Sony, NEC, Philips, Toyota – have committed to rejecting abusive tactics in the enforcement of open source licenses by adopting the GPL Cooperation Commitment. The unanimous support of OIN’s funding members to this commitment reflects the strong belief that responsible compliance in open source licensing is important and that license enforcement in open source ecosystems comes with a cultural expectation that all parties will behave reasonably. OIN encourages each one of its over 2,500 licensees, as well as all participants in the open source community, to follow the example of the OIN funding members and adopt the GPL Cooperation Commitment.

Well, if you support GPL, dear OIN leadership, you will also push for abolishing software patents. As things stand at the moment, serial GPL infringer Microsoft uses software patents against OIN members. This malicious company is still pursuing such patents — abstract patents with which it is blackmailing companies. To give an example from yesterday’s news, Microsoft now uses/rides the “blockchain” hype [1, 2] to patent software. “To this end,” said one article, “Microsoft filed two patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office back in June last year. The report came to light Thursday via a report published by the Office. [...] A trusted execution environment could also be very crucial in the verification of blockchain transactions on a common network or platform. This is especially reliable in the environment where the various pre-authorized transactions must interact.”

“Maybe if OIN bothered putting its weight behind the movement to abolish such patents, there would be better legal certainty/security for “Open” things (OIN stands for “Open Invention Network” after all, so surely it should care).”This is so obviously software and our next post will deal with examiners failing to reject these sorts of patents. Maybe if OIN bothered putting its weight behind the movement to abolish such patents, there would be better legal certainty/security for “Open” things (OIN stands for “Open Invention Network” after all, so surely it should care).

President Battistelli ‘Killed’ the EPO; António Campinos Will ‘Finish the Job’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reducing jobs, only months after outsourcing jobs at EU-IPO (sending these overseas to low-salaried staff, even in defiance of EU rules)

Closed

Summary: The EPO is shrinking, but this is being shrewdly disguised using terms like “efficiency” and a low-profile President who keeps himself in the dark

THE number of granted patents continues to decrease (a steady decline) at the USPTO, representing improvements (restrictions) imposed there by the courts. We’ll say a little more about that later.

“These people don’t care about scientists, whom they merely view/perceive as “human” “resources” (not to mention who has been put in charge of “human resources”).”At the office in Munich, however, patent maximalism reigns supreme. The agenda has nothing to do with science and technology; the management lacks background in science and technology. The President is a former banker and his predecessor is a politician. These people don’t care about scientists, whom they merely view/perceive as “human” “resources” (not to mention who has been put in charge of “human resources”). It’s all about money. All. About. Money. Short-term gain. What doesn’t count to them is the long-term survival of their ‘company’ (it’s actually not a company but an institution with a monopoly, which should not strive for profits but instead serve public interests).

“The official announcement is that target per examiner still increases, but the EPO shall have less examiners. Recruitment is halted and retirement shall not compensated.”
      –Märpel
Anyway, Märpel says that the EPO is “closing shop.” (that’s her headline). It is not literally but metaphorically doing so; it was ‘killed’ by Battistelli and his friend António Campinos (French successor of choice) ‘finishes the job’.

Here are some details from last night (some of this is new to us):

As discussed in the last post, the EPO experiences difficulties in finding candidates. Recruitment is stopped.

The tipping point was last spring, when President Battistelli had a project to move all staff to 5-years contracts. That project shocked the staff, especially staff from Germany. They spread the news to their friends and relatives, far beyond the borders of the Office: in Munich, even the lay person on the street knows that there is a problem at the big building near the Isar. Märpel was actually surprised to hear that message from distant relatives, even her doctor!

The project was put on hold, but this will not be sufficient to undo the damage done to the reputation of the EPO as an employer. Nowadays, prospective employees know that work contracts with the Office can be changed any moment to their disadvantage.

[...]

Instead, one of the first announcements of President Campinos was that the target for 2019 shall be lower than the one for 2018 (that announcement is not public but was told in several meetings). Why that surprising announcement when each preceding year saw the target increase by stunning numbers? The official announcement is that target per examiner still increases, but the EPO shall have less examiners. Recruitment is halted and retirement shall not compensated.

This is, in general, how institutions get diminished. Maybe Campinos hopes to covertly reduce the size of the workforce without having to announce layoffs, instead relying on people to leave (because their salary gets halved), their now-limited contract ending and so on. The net effect is the same.

What if this office wound up being just a big pile of stakeholders’ money (tied to toxic mortgages), lots of low-quality patents (of questionable validity), no high-quality staff, and a construction site?

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