Summary: Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyers start targeting large companies that exploit patents for intimidation and extortion, not just patent trolling
WE are gratified to learn that, based on numerous reports such as this or that, “EFF Questions Whether Software Patents Should Exist” and the “Electronic Frontier Foundation group claims that the US patent system undermines innovation by allowing big companies to intimidate and punish small start-up firms.”
They are not talking about patent trolls (as some do) but instead they are now talking about the big bullies that want to divert the debate so as to focus on the wrong culprit and merely pass a reform that helps megacorporations. Microsoft is basically a target of EFF activism, Apple too to a degree. We commend the Electronic Frontier Foundation for this change in strategy.
Here is a recent action from EFF’s Nazer: “Nazer and his fellow EFF lawyer Vera Ranieri filed court papers seeking to invalidate a patent on photo competitions. US Patent No. 8,209,618, owned by a little-known video website called Garfum.com, was used to sue four small photo websites last September that dared to ask people about their favorite photos.”
Another new piece by Sid Venkatesan from AOL uses a copyright sign as the leading image for an article about patents, showing a common misunderstanding of the vast disparity between copyrights and patents (they have almost nothing at all to do with each other). Putting aside this nitpicking, the article is titled “Software Patents Are Increasingly Coming Under Fire In Court” and it says: “Last summer, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank International in which it directed lower courts to scrutinize computer-implemented abstract methods very closely. Alice’s impact was unclear at the time the decision was issued, but lower courts have since relied on the Supreme Court’s opinion to invalidate a number of software patents in the eight months since the decision.
“This legal trend has altered the cost benefit analysis for companies that are seeking software patent protection, enforcing their existing patents, or defending themselves in litigation.”
Further down Venkatesan says: “Federal trial courts and the Federal Circuit (the court that handles patent appeals) decisions since Alice have invalidated many patents using the two-part Section 101 test applied in Alice. For example, the Federal Circuit invalidated a patent dealing with the storage of device-specific profiles, a patent on a system that provided online purchase guarantees, and a patent involving an online system of delivering content with embedded ads in quick succession.”
This is the kind of stuff that patent lawyers have been trying to hide from the public, choosing to pretend that nothing at all has changed.
In a publication called “Entrepreneur” we saw the other day more of that propaganda which equates patents to innovation — a subject we last covered some weeks ago. “They say imitation is the highest form of flattery,” says the propaganda. “That may be true in fashion, but if you are an inventor, imitation can be bad for business.”
Well, how about collaboration? “As of Dec. 1,” continues the article, “Big Blue had been issued almost 7,000 patents in 2014. After IBM, the company with the second highest number of patents issued was Korean-headquartered technology giant Samsung, with more than 5,000 patents filed. Canon, Sony and Microsoft round out the top five, according to the infographic generated with United States Patent Office data by SmartUp, a legal startup that is building an online platform connecting attorneys and clients.”
“It is abundantly clear who software patents are good for.”So what? This basically shows which companies spend the most time doing paperwork. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are innovative.
Several years ago (if not decades ago) Adobe complained about software patents but now that it is a bigger company it patents software any single day, as Steve Brachmann serves to remind us. Microsoft did the same thing when it was a small company. As Bill Gates famously said: “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”
It is abundantly clear who software patents are good for. Just watch who is hoarding software patents and creating cartels with them. Here is some nice propaganda which glorifies patents and even makes these cartels and armament with patents seem like a wonderful thing:
Whether they’re coming up with a bright idea themselves, or purchasing smaller companies that have had those bright ideas, all the big guns are active in these two key areas. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung – they’re all at it.
What do these companies have in common? Scale. But Google and Samsung (the two biggest Android players), unlike Apple and Microsoft, are not patent aggressors. They never sue rivals using software patents, they only react to lawsuits, the highest profile of which are from Apple, Microsoft, and their smaller proxies. The EFF will hopefully work to combat this. █
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“Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes.”
–Henry David Thoreau
Summary: Refuting the “new Microsoft” propaganda and some ludicrous concept that Microsoft is now “playing nice”
THE company which kick-started PRISM and works most closely with the NSA pretends to have become “open”. How ridiculous a notion! SoylentNews covered our story  and many comments there show that the large majority agrees that Microsoft is just trying to harm openness from the inside. That’s just not what corruptible journalists would have us believe.
“The company which kick-started PRISM and works most closely with the NSA pretends to have become “open”.”Dan Kedmey reminded us the other day that “Microsoft’s New App Will Help You Stalk Your Friends”, right after he had covered this bit of news about Microsoft’s “embrace and extend” at work (recall what Microsoft is doing to infiltrate Android). As Kedmey put it in his own words:
It’s acquiring apps and quickly rebranding them as Microsoft products
Acompli is the best example of Microsoft’s new playbook: In a matter of weeks, Microsoft took Acompli’s popular email app and rebranded it as Outlook for iOS and Android, to rave reviews from the tech press. Before the Acompli move, Microsoft’s iOS and Android Outlook offering was nothing more than a clunky web portal disguised as an app. It’s a safe bet that Sunrise and similar acquisitions will reappear as Microsoft-branded offerings just as quickly.
For those who deem it “good news” for Android, bear in mind that Microsoft is a surveillance company much worse than Google in many ways, as we have demonstrated over the years. Simon Sharwood said a couple of days ago that “Microsoft [is] to store deleted Exchange Online mails FOREVER”. Is anyone surprised by that? Outlook has already been banned for use by European politicians (the “app” at least is verboten for security reasons), which really says a lot about how Microsoft is viewed by security professionals. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Just when you thought Embrace, Extend, Extinguish was going away, the article explains the multi-prong attack that Microsoft is quietly working in the background. And they are relying heavily on their friends in the press. Microsoft has always had its share of shills in the press, but, with the focus on Google Android and Apple its quietly become less of a Journalist career killer to be openly Pro Microsoft. Schestowitz explains the attack as killing Linux Softly with APIs and the lock-ins they bring as more Microsoft packages and services are ported to Linux, and by getting appointments to key Linux Foundation subcommittees, by slinging dollars and software contributions.
“This anti-trust thing will blow over. We haven’t changed our business practices at all.”
–Bill Gates, 1995 (and still managing Microsoft)
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Battistelli has a Napoleonic interpretation of the word “President”
Summary: Staff of the EPO is given yet more reasons to protest tomorrow at the British Consulate, for the so-called ‘President’ of the EPO reminds everyone of the very raison d’être for the protest — a vain disregard for the rule of law
“Mr Battistelli issued today a communique in which he states that the Dutch judgement is wrong and announcing that the EPO, i.e. The President, will not follow it.
“From bad to worse,” said this one comment. The context of this comment is a Merpel update that says “Mr Battstelli’s letter comes only 3 days after a judgment by a Dutch court that criticised the EPO for limiting staff’s right to strike and for refusing collective bargaining. Under point 5.3 the Dutch court stated: “It lies in the nature of the activities of a Staff Union like SUEPO that they are allowed to criticise the (representatives of) the employer, also via internal channels.””
Battistelli, or “Batty-man” as some people call him (Batman in his own mind, if not just batty, which means “insane; crazy; eccentric.”), deserves much ridicule because he actually threatens people for exercising their rights. He seems to forget that he is subjected to European rules.
Staff that actually fears these remarks and the general behaviour from Battistelli ought to read this latest flier
[PDF]. Battistelli knows he is on his way out, hence the aggression. █
A dictator faces a trade-off between repression and building the support he needs. The problem is that the number of unhappy people increases as a function of the number of people being punished or killed, and, as Snyderwine puts it, “The ‘intimidation’ effect reduces the likelihood of a revolution while the ‘unhappiness’ effect increases it.”
”Severe censorship and the construction of firewalls is suggested as a countermeasure to avoid ‘unhappiness’ spreading via social media.”2 A further countermeasure is propaganda; dictators like to disseminate misinformation. They hope that “if censorship is strong and manipulative enough, people might not even know the things they are missing.” But this approach is doomed to fail. People talk to each other, read (foreign) newspapers and consult the internet. Sooner rather than later they will find out. And if people suffer severely enough under a dictator, they will revolt, as history has shown.
“When people lose faith in nearly everything … they are more likely to take the streets.” More
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Benoît Battistelli probing the Topić affair is akin to John Brennan probing CIA abuses
Summary: The EPO never investigated the Željko Topić affair, it only pretends to have investigated it (one small aspect, i.e. cherry-picking) using a Benoît Battistelli-controlled group
OUR ~70 articles about the EPO‘s management have so far shown misconduct and a lot of dark background when it comes to Željko Topić. They have demonstrated that EPO dissent is not to be attributed to few disgruntled employees but the institution as a whole, as well as outsiders, including some of the biggest stakeholders.
The so-called “internal investigation” of the EPO is worse than a sham. It’s a case of the EPO investigating itself, as the CIA has done after its staff had been cracking US Senate PCs — the same PCs used to investigate illegal CIA torture at the time. The EPO shows that it has become as unaccountable as the CIA. The “internal investigation” was more like a coverup and an attack on legitimate critics.
Let’s go back in time and see what this “internal investigation” actually involved. Here is Benoît Battistelli calling it “Defamation Campaign”
[PDF] before the investigation even began! Way to go, Battistelli. You had given away your bias even before the “internal investigation” began. Here is what he posted internally:
Defamation Campaign against VP 4
Note to All Staff
Over the past couple of days an obviously concerted effort has been made to attack the reputation and standing of the Vice-President of DG 4, Mr Topic. This has taken the form of anonymous letters being sent and/or made available to EPO employees.
In the face of this vicious campaign, I wish to make clear that the allegations are without any foundation. They have already been dismissed by the Croatian authorities. Furthermore, Mr Topic engaged legal proceedings some time ago in Zagreb, for criminal slander and defamation as well as for damages against parties who have published the allegations.
I believe that all EPO staff will deplore the events which have occurred and share my shock and sadness that the circumstances surrounding the anonymous letters – the postmarks, the forms of address and so on – clearly point to the involvement of persons with a connection to and precise knowledge of the EPO in Munich.
My duty is to defend every staff members by all legal means if they, through an attack to their dignity and integrity, become victims of harassment. But beyond this general principle, we cannot tolerate the behaviour of those who spread false and malicious rumours with impunity, the content of which clearly bears the mark of entrenched prejudice against our first Vice-President from a new member State.
Should any member of EPO staff be found to have played a role in the cowardly anonymous attacks against Mr Topic, he she or they will be called to account.
It was only 4 months later that there was an update on this, so one might think that a thorough investigation took place, probing Topić’s very notorious background in Croatia. But no. Look what took 4 months. Florian Andres wrote Communique PD 0/6
The investigation demonstrated that all aspects of the allegations pertaining to an alleged falsification of academic credentials are baseless.
That’s it? It does nothing at all to dispel the allegations about the Vice-President and instead deals with just one dubious aspect relating to his academic degree, extrapolating this to imply that he is totally innocent just because he didn’t fabricate his diploma. It’s like a straw man.
Communique No. 29
[PDF] was published on the very same date. Repeating this, Battistelli did a “me too”post:
The investigation concludes that the accusations concerning Mr Topic’s academic qualifications are entirely without foundation.
Ah, all right! Topić is therefore a Saint. As if that was the only accusation against him.
“It’s like a straw man.”This actually goes deeper than this and thanks to an unnamed source we are now in possession of additional
[PDF]. Our source says: “We are informed that Dr. Peter Gauweiler a member of the German Bundestag (Federal Parliament) from the Bavarian CSU submitted a query to the German Ministry of Justice in October 2013.
“According to our information, he received the following response:
«Die gegen Herrn Željko Topić erhobenen Vorwürfe sind dem Bundesministerium der Justiz – aufgrund mehrerer anonymer Schreiben – bekannt. Im Ergebnis ist es dem Bundesministerium der Justiz jedoch nicht möglich zu klären, ob die Vorwürfe letztlich begründet sind. Nach Auskunft des Europäischen Patentamtes hat allerdings in dieser Angelegenheit der Präsident des Europäischen Patentamts interne Ermittlungen aufgenommen und sogar einen Vertreter nach Kroatien entsandt, um unmittelbar vor Ort Nachforschungen zu betreiben. Nach hiesigem Kenntnisstand haben diese Ermittlungen keine Anhaltpunkte für etwaige Verfehlungen ergeben.»
“The Federal Ministry of Justice is aware of the allegations which have been raised against Mr. Željko Topić as a result of a number of anonymous letters. Ultimately, however, it is not possible for the Federal Ministry of Justice to determine whether or not there is any substance to these allegations. Nevertheless, according to information provided by the European Patent Office, the President of the EPO initiated internal investigations into the matter and even dispatched a representative to Croatia to carry out enquiries locally. According to the information currently available to us, these investigations did not yield any evidence of possible irregularities.”
But wait, they did nothing to address allegations about corruption by Topić. They cherry-picked just one aspect of many.
Our source’s observations are as follows:
1. The German Ministry of Justice seems to have a surprisingly poor level of geographical knowledge. The EPO investigators were sent to the University of Banja Luka which is actually in Bosnia & Hercegovina, not Croatia! This is because Topić who is apparently an ethnic Croat and pursued a career in the Croatian civil service, was originally born in Banja Luka in Bosnia & Hercegovina prior to the breakup of the former Republic of Yugoslavia. He studied at the University there before moving to Zagreb in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Thus allegations relating to his claim to have an MBA from the University of Banja Luka had to be investigated in Bosnia & Hercegovina – not Croatia.
2. The EPO’s internal investigation was restricted to just one specific aspect of the allegations against Topić, namely allegations concerning irregularities in his claimed academic qualifications. The various other allegations raised against Topić have never been subject to any investigation by the EPO.
3. The EPO’s internal investigation was carried out by the so-called “Internal Audit” department which is directly under Battistelli’s control. Given that Battistelli sponsored Topić’s candidacy as Vice-President, there is a clear conflict of interest here. This investigation cannot realistically be considered as an independent investigation.
4. In fact, in February 2013, Battistelli had already informed EPO staff that all allegations against Topić were completely baseless and without foundation. This claim was made by Battistelli before any internal investigation had been carried out! He also claimed that all of the allegations had been dismissed by the Croatian authorities. This is complete hogwash as a number of the alleged irregularities are the subject of pending court proceedings in Croatia.
5. The EPO’s Administrative Council was informed about Battistelli’s internal investigation at its meeting in June 2013. They apparently accepted these findings at face value and didn’t ask any questions.
The above assertions were made completely independently from Techrights, which, having received copies of these messages some time last year, reached the conclusions in (2) and (4) above, namely that it’s a biased ‘investigation’ with pre-determinded outcome of only one aspect among many. Any person with some knowledge of the Topić affair would have seen this charade for what it is because it is very shallow. Battistelli showed a very low degree of sophistication here; his attempt to whitewash Topić is self-undermining and misguided. It helps show just how corrupt this system of pseudo-oversight has truly become. If only Battistelli can invoke ‘investigation’ of his own cronies, then what kind of investigation can that ever be?
In one of the newly-presented exhibits (above) refer to the documents of “SUMMARY OF DECISIONS of the 136th meeting of the ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL”, specifically item 1.7 (emphasis added):
11. Meeting in restricted composition, without the observers and the staff and Office representatives (apart from the President), the Council
· took note of the results of an investigation recently conducted by the independent [sic] Internal audit. This investigation concerned the Vice-President DG 4, appointed by the Council.
· addressed broad issues pertaining to the social situation and the social dialogue. The Council reiterated its full support to the President in his endeavours to achieve reasonable and balanced measure.
The Internal Audit department is not “independent”, it is directly under the control of the EPO President. These inadequacies in the “internal investigation” carried out by the EPO were subsequently commented on in the Croatian press in an article published in October 2013 [
Putting aside the summary, see “MINUTES of the 136th meeting of the ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL Munich, 26 and 27 June 2013″ (the other new document) and refer to Item 1.7 on page 8/48 (emphasis added):
41. Meeting in restricted composition, without the observers and staff and Office representatives (apart from the President), the Council
- noted the outcome of a recent independent enquiry by Internal Audit concerning Vice-President DG 4, a Council appointee, and noted with great satisfaction that the enquiry had shown that all allegations against him were unfounded, and expressed every sympathy for him
- addressed various questions relating to the social situation and social dialogue, and reiterated its full support for the President in searching for reasonable and balanced measures.
Observations made by our source are as follows:
1. The minutes of the AC meeting refer to “a recent independent enquiry by Internal Audit”.
This is complete nonsense because, as we mentioned previously, the Internal Audit department is not “independent”. It is directly and exclusively under Battistelli’s control.
The appointment and replacement of the Head of Internal Audit lies completely within Battistelli’s discretion.
2. The AC “noted with great satisfaction that the enquiry had shown that all allegations against him were unfounded”.
More nonsense. The enquiry purported to have established that one specific allegation relating to Topić’s academic qualifications was unfounded. It made no attempt to investigate any other allegations against him.
There has been no further investigation of the matter by the AC since June 2013.
So, the above represents the official EPO position, i.e. an “independent” internal investigation has (allegedly) established that all allegations against Topić are unfounded.
So as far as the AC is concerned, the matter is closed.
The funny thing about all this is that before any investigation was ever carried out, Battistelli had already announced more or less the same result to EPO staff in a note issued on 26 February 2013:
“… I wish to make clear that the allegations are without any foundation. They have already been dismissed by the Croatian authorities.”
Unfortunately Battistelli never bothered to explain which “Croatian authorities” he was relying on for this assertion which appears to be incorrect.
According to in the formation which we have from reliable sources in Zagreb, a number of lawsuits, including both criminal and civil proceedings, are pending against Topić in Croatia.
In conclusion, Battistelli is a tyrant, a liar, and a revisionist. He is eager to deceive his own staff by protecting thugs whom he uses for ‘protection’.
We have a lot more coming about Topić. We received another large heap of documents and half a gigabyte of videos last night. █
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