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10.17.17

SUEPO Representatives Like Elizabeth Hardon Vindicated as Battistelli’s Detrimental Effect on Patent Quality is Widely Confirmed

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And some EPO insiders already want Christoph Ernst (below) to resign or be fired

Christoph Ernst, EPOSummary: Feedback regarding the awful refusal to acknowledge patent quality crisis at the EPO as well as the appointment of a President so close to Battistelli (who most likely assures continuation of his policies)

THE EPO saga is a show that never ends. It just keeps getting worse in all sorts of ways, much as predicted by insiders several years ago (they were trying to prevent this horror show while it was still remotely possible).

“Reckoning With The “System Battistelli”” — an article which we mentioned 24 hours ago — is now available as a PDF at SUEPO’s Web site (it’s otherwise behind a paywall at IP Watch). Having read that article, it seems to be very similar but not identical to Monika Ermert’s report at Heise (in German, translated and published by us on Monday night). The importance of this couple of reports from Ermert is that they shed some light on the otherwise-secretive proceedings. It doesn’t look particularly good for Christoph Ernst. EPO staff doesn’t seem too happy about him, either.

“After all, it’s not really difficult to find out what’s wrong rotten in and about EPO, is it? Reports, whistleblowing, all easy there to see,” one observer or insider wrote. “Maybe he’s paid to not grasp,” s/he continued. “It’s often the case.”

People like him tend to be promoted based on whether they turn a blind eye to it all. It’s the same in politics. Ethics/morals aren’t appreciated, only an illusion thereof. Apathy and loyalty/obedience is something people tend to be rewarded for (in this domain anyway).

Someone whom we know for sure is an insider told us: “Immediate resignation of Ernst would be more than appropriate. With all respect but Ernst is an insult to EPO staff. Remember, supporting Battistelli for 5 years…multiple suicides and firing/downgrading of union workers….the list seems almost endless…”

Strong words.

Earlier today Kieren McCarthy published yet another article about EPO affairs (third article in less than a week). It’s similar to what Ermert reported, including the bits about Elizabeth Hardon.

Well, Germany has become infested with patent trolls (we wrote some articles about this, the statistics speak for themselves) and crappy European Patents that should not exist are at the centre of it. Many of these are found to be invalid only after two parties spend a lot of money on lawyers (legal fees). We covered some examples of that recently (in English, not in German).

Anyway, from McCarthy’s article:

The issue of falling patent quality at the European Patent Office (EPO) has again reared its head, this time thanks to German intellectual property lawyers.

Following a testy exchange last week at an official meeting of the EPO’s Administrative Council where staff aired their grievances and were attacked by EPO president Benoit Battistelli in response, companies are now raising their concerns.

According to German newspaper Heise, a meeting at the Max Planck Institute in Munich grew heated when a group of patent lawyers used a presentation by new EPO chairman Christoph Ernst to make their views known about the “System Battistelli”.

For several years Battistelli has been aggressively pushing changes at the EPO aimed at increasing the number of patents that are reviewed and approved. The result of that drive has been a complete breakdown in communications between EPO staff and management – but that is something many consider a price worth paying in order to “modernise” the EPO and keep it in line with other competing patent authorities in the US and Japan.

The problem, as the patent attorneys told Ernst, is that despite official EPO claims stating the opposite, quality is starting to fall as a result of the changes.

[...]

That point was also made last week by a Reg commenter who complained that even though his patent application had been noted as valid by the EPO, “the brief comments given provide just one reference to another document – and that one has very little to do with the subject of my invention. Seems that a poor soul under heavy pressure to close as many open cases as quickly as possible just did that.”

A further warning was relayed by another German IP lawyer who was present at the meeting. Thorsten Bausch warned in a blog post that there is also a “catastrophic backlog of EPO appeal cases” and argued – in all caps – that “URGENT ACTION IS REQUIRED HERE! This matter should not be allowed to wait until the next EPO President takes over.”

[...]

However, Elizabeth Hardon, an EPO staffer who was controversially fired by Battistelli for resisting his reforms, was also present at the meeting and said that it is going to take a few years for a decline in quality to be officially recognised as poor patents are challenged in nullity actions.

There are a few comments there too. The first few comments are OK.

“So less appeals is an obvious result of more patents granted,” said the second comment to appear. To quote:

What rubbish!!! If EPO rejects a patent, the filer will presumably appeal. If the patent is accepted, of course there will be no appeal. So less appeals is an obvious result of more patents granted. More patents granted means either an upsurge in quality of patent filings, or a lowering of standards for accepting filings of the same quality. My money is on the second.

We have been talking about this for years. It’s not at all surprising. It was inevitable.

There are many more comments at IP Kat. Why did that blog even mention the EPO after all this time? Well, check out this comment. The comment may be why IP Kat (nowadays a primarily mouthpiece for Battistelli and UPC, as it’s connected to CIPA) belatedly mentioned Campinos, and only in a short puff piece (the comment was approved only 5 days after it had been posted). To quote: “I wonder if I am missing something here. A new EPO President has been elected and IPKat is completely silent about this development … how strange …”

It took a long time (almost a week) for this comment to appear (it appeared earlier tonight).

As usual, comments are much better than the posts at IP Kat, which is mostly used for (self) promotional purposes since the founder left.

Let’s examine some of the latest comments on the puff piece:

“Merpel welcomes Mr. Campinos to the exciting world of European Patents.”

Shouldn’t that read “to the murky world of the European Patent Office”?

Yes, it should. They refrain from even mentioning the EPO.

And what’s “exciting” about European Patents? The rapidly-declining quality?

Watch the next comment:

The Importance of Being Ernst is a farcical comedy with a Wilde plot about patent quality. This Oscar candidate will be showing at your local cinema soon(open Bank Holidays).

Not a big fan of Ernst then…

Regarding Campinos:

Another French grand commis d’ètat in disguise…

Yes, he’s French but disguised as Portuguese to give an illusion of ethnic/national diversity at the Office. He and Battistelli go quite a few years back. They know each other well.

The next comment refes to Ernst as “Senor Ernst.”

Here it is:

To that last Anonymous, I too see an increase in something you might call “Quality”. Every one of my cases glides through to issue. My clients pay the EPO fees and, in return, the EPO grants them a patent, as fast as the Applicant requires. No wonder some Applicants are happy.

So there are more crap patents, and more oppositions. And the oppositions get examined more quickly, don’t they? Trouble is, OD Decisions are less and less rigorous. Crappy, one might suggest?

Which throws the burden of maintaining “quality” on to DG3. Precisely where the AC hasn’t got a clue, and doesn’t give a toss.

The consequences of this disgraceful sacrifice of “quality” will manifest themselves long after your career and mine have ended, anon. not to mention the EPO career of Senor Ernst.

The next comment quite correctly recalls that “[t]he Portuguese AC member hasn’t exactly been particularly vocal in condemning BBs behaviour, and Campinos is clearly a member of the French school…”

We wrote about the Portuguese AC member before. Again, plenty of connections there, linking back also to Battistelli.

I agree with Max3. I see poor examination quality (sometimes to the detriment of my clients, sometimes to their benefit), disrespect for procedures and for applicants legal rights.

I also see increased productivity,and in itself that is a good thing, but not with inferior quality

The Portuguese AC member hasn’t exactly been particularly vocal in condemning BBs behaviour, and Campinos is clearly a member of the French school, so I am sceptical, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

Things get even heavier in the next comment, which says that “even under the new chairman, the AC is much more of a lapdog than a watchdog.”

To quote:

Better late than never. I was beginning to think that IPKat had given up entirely on matters pertaining to the EPC and the EPO.

On a more serious note, I am prepared to put my scepticism aside and see how Mr Campinos performs before reaching any conclusions on whether it is a good or a bad thing that he has been appointed as the next President of the EPO. In the meantime, I will be much more interested to see how another “newbie” performs: Mr Ernst, the Chairman of the AC. My hope is that the AC will grow a backbone and start taking its role as a supervisory authority more seriously.

In this regard, does anyone know the fate of CA/103/17 (https://regmedia.co.uk/2017/10/10/epo-reforms.pdf)? If the AC failed to block the heinous proposals in that document, then we will be able to say with certainty that, even under the new chairman, the AC is much more of a lapdog than a watchdog.

We imagine that many people who wrote these comments are either insiders or stakeholders (or people who used to be one and are currently the other).

In reply to the above:

you might be interested in the “Ernst” thread on the Kluwer blog, here:

http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2017/10/16/epo-all-problems-solved/

As to those who sit on the AC, and whether they are worms or vertebrates, it is well-known to be folly to commit all your troops to a battle you cannot win. This is why, until now, so many AC members have declined to challenge BB to his face. But now BB is half way out the door, those AC Members, scarred during the tenancy of the departing President, have a second chance to do the right thing, to draw a better ethical line in the sand, and collectively grasp afresh the responsibilities that come with their office. Can we be optimistic that they will seize the chance, under their very experienced new Chair? I do hope so.

And also in reply to the same:

Isn’t that document on the agenda of the next AC, despite its date – it was too late for the October meeting? It still has to go to the Budget & Finance Committee.

If someone has all these documents, please consider sending these to us. This stuff needs to be made public (not partially but wholly).

There is some troll in the comments, basically trolling EPO examiners, like at The Register‘s comments, only to receive this reply (we would rather not draw attention to it all). “Please do your housework and check FACTS before trolling,” it concluded. But replying to these merely emboldens the trolls and tends to invite yet more insults.

The latest three comments say a lot about declining patent quality and intentional denial of the facts. In case IP Kat deletes these comments (it recently deleted some UPC comments, and not for the first time) we have reproduced these below:

There is in Germany a misconceived idea that, given enough time, an Examining Division can issue a valid patent. Wrong! Inter partes proceedings are the only thing that can truly test validity. So there has to be a balance, how much time and effort to put into examination, ex parte, prior to issue. Too little, and crap patents routinely issue. Too much and EPO fees for everybody rise too high.

The EPO President must know this. The EPO AC must know this. Shame on them both, then, that they give no attention to getting the balance right. Shame on them, that they discard the jewel of the 40 years life of the EPO, namely, the vigour and “Quality” of DG3; the clarity of the Established Caselaw of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO.

There are so many hidden gems in CA/103/17 that one does not know where to start.

My preferred is however Article 14. A true masterpiece missed by many observers.
While the newcomers are to be recruited on a fixed-term basis for a couple of years (extendable, of course, to introduce flexibility and modernise the framework) the present “compulsory retirement at 68 years” sentence is now suddenly gone, so that the old lucky ones who are in the grace of Le President may enjoy the EPO as long as they like after the age of 65 (always, of course, “in the interest of the service”).

Proof, we’ll know pretty soon what kind of dog the AC is.

It’s already looking more like a lapdog than a watchdog.

The longest and most detailed comment speaks quite correctly about Ernst’s not-to-earnest record. “During the past 5 years, Dr Ernst supported ALL policies presented by Mr Battistelli,” it says. To quote the whole thing:

1 – the EPO quality figures are produced and checked by the EPO (this in all objectivy of course).

2 – Dr Ernst (new Chairman of EPO Administrative Council since this month) was former Head of the German Delegation at the Administrative Council of the EPO.

During the past 5 years, Dr Ernst supported ALL policies presented by Mr Battistelli.
Dr Ernst systematically disregarded ALL reasoned opinions he received from the Central Staff Committee and SUEPO among which those underlining :

- the risks on the health of staff generated by HR policies deliberately designed to add too much pressure with irrealistic production targets (please never forget the six suicides for which the CSC/SUEPO requested independant enquiries which were all refused by Mr Battistelli and the 7th miraculously avoided 3 weeks ago in The Hague see http://www.br.de/br-fernsehen/sendungen/kontrovers/traumjob-albtraum-arbeit-belastung-story-100.html),

- the fact this far too high production pressure de facto leads to cutting corners with regards to patent quality.

The more one speaks about something (eg sex) the less he/she actually practices it.

Dr Ernst (or is it Germany?) speaks a lot of quality but it seems they play naughthy on all grounds at EPO:

1 – with Munich and Berlin as EPO branches : over a BILLION of EPO money have been invested in buildings (and their maintenance) over the past 4 decades in Germany.

2 – with Munich and Berlin as EPO branches : 4000 EPO Staff live in Germany with their families (thousands of dependents) and spend tons of EPO money in eg houses, schools, restaurants, cars, clothes etc; hundreds of pensioners (even expats) stay in Germany when retired and continue thus to actively support the German economy.

3 – Finally last year roughly about 140.000.000 Euros went from the EPO back into the German State budget (that of the Ministry of Justice).

GELDGIER. Nothing else but money matters at EPO.

Funny though is that after years of a brutal Battistelli regime actively supported by Dr Ernst, all of sudden some wonder that the quality of EPO patents may have declined. Funny is that they find surprising that when questioned Dr Ernst has nothing convincing to answer.

The reality at EPO today is simple: hundreds of EPO staff of each site come at work every day with pain in their stomach; hundreds are in treatment with psycho-therapists; hundreds take drugs to go to bed and other drugs to stand in the morning and be able to go to work.

You bet that they produce lower quality like hell since otherwise they fear reprisal via harsch sanctions in mock trials and are being put off work. All this was said by SUEPO to no avail for more than five years. All this is known by Dr Ernst which could not care less.

Yes the quality of patent at EPO is worse off than before Battistelli’s time.

But have faith in the system: for his zealous and complacent attitude towards Battistelli Dr Ernst will soon be properly rewarded: he should get the position of VP5 which will soon be vacant (when current VP5, another competent jurist coming from the German Ministry of (in)justice), retires).

All this is a sad cynical farce. They cannot care less about the quality of patent work at EPO. Only their little interests matter, not that of the Public, much less that of true inventors.

Battistelli does not care about inventors. He just has a lobbying event named after them, and the event is all about him, not them.

The EPO has become nothing but a shrine to Battistelli, with his face and quotes plastered everywhere to glorify him like a bunch of statues in public squares. Nothing will stop that any time soon because he promoted his loyalists to top positions at the Office, in order for them to enjoy EPO budget while it lasts. They certainly make a killing. A pile of dead bodies won’t bother them.

Links 17/10/2017: KDE Frameworks 5.39.0, Safe Browsing in Epiphany

Posted in News Roundup at 8:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 20 Most Promising Open Source Solution Providers – 2017

    Open source has become an imperative part of every developer’s arsenal. The potential to gather assistance from the community and the capacity to link into a range of systems and solutions make open source incredibly powerful. As open source software becomes ubiquitous, and used by the vast majority of enterprises throughout the world, 2017 is all set for vendors of application delivery controller (ADC) to start providing improved and tighter integration packages for various open source projects, especially surrounding ADC-generated telemetry. Companies have been extensively using their analytics and machine learning capabilities for quite some time to identify actionable patterns from the collected data. With the rising demand for business intelligence, this year is foreseen to be the year of information superiority with businesses, leveraging data as a key differentiator. In the past couple of years, containers have been emerging as an imminent trend. As the business focus starkly shifts on rightsizing of resources, containers are expected to become a common phenomenon, giving businesses the ability to leverage highly portable assets and make the move into micro services much simpler. Adjacently, automation has become essential now. Mostly intensified by DevOps adoption, the automation of software delivery and infrastructure changes have freed developers to spend more time creating and less time worrying about infrastructure.

  • DevOps pros and open source: Culturally connected

    Like chocolate and peanut butter, DevOps and open source are two great tastes that taste great together. For many DevOps pros, it’s the perfect cultural and technical match.

  • Interoperability: A Case For Open Source – GC@PCI Commentary

    He continues: “An open source model allows companies to see the assumptions behind the calculation and lowers the cost of entry into the cat modeling business. More importantly, the standardized and interoperable hazard, vulnerability and financial modules included in a true open source model facilitate the collaboration of data from insurers, reinsurers, entrepreneurs, scientists, computer programmers and individuals, all of which may result in a new generation of cat models.”

  • DevOps Skills Are Key to Collaboration within Organizations

    DevOps is one of the most highly sought skills employers are seeking to fill among 57 percent of respondents in the 2017 Open Source Jobs Report, from Dice and The Linux Foundation. Specifically, firms are looking for developers (73 percent) and DevOps engineers (60 percent).

  • The origin and evolution of FreeDOS

    Over the years, developers have shared with me how they use FreeDOS to run embedded systems. My all-time favorite example is a developer who used FreeDOS to power a pinball machine. FreeDOS ran an application that controlled the board, tallied the score, and updated the back display. I don’t know exactly how it was built, but one way such a system could work is to have every bumper register a “key” on a keyboard bus and the application simply read from that input. I thought it was cool.

    People sometimes forget about legacy software, but it pops up in unexpected places. I used to be campus CIO of a small university, and once a faculty member brought in some floppy disks with old research data on them. The data wasn’t stored in plaintext files, rather as DOS application data. None of our modern systems would read the old data files, so we booted a spare PC with FreeDOS, downloaded a shareware DOS program that could read the application data, and exported the data to plaintext.

  • Uber Open Sources AthenaX, Its Streaming Analytics Platform
  • Bloomberg’s big move on machine learning and open source

    With its orange text on black interface and colour coded keyboard, the Bloomberg professional services terminal – known simply as ‘The Terminal’ – doesn’t appear to have changed much since it was launched in the early ’80s.

    But behind the retro (Bloomberg prefers ‘modern icon’) stylings, its delivery of financial markets data news, and trading tools has advanced rapidly.

    The terminal’s 315,000 subscribers globally are now able to leverage on machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing techniques developed by the company, as they seek an edge in their investment decisions. Bloomberg is also applying those same techniques to its internal processes.

    Leading the company’s efforts in the area is Bloomberg’s head of data science Gideon Mann, who spoke with CIO Australia earlier this month.

    [...]

    Behind much of Bloomberg’s recent builds has been an open source ethic. Mann says there has been a sea change within the company about open source.

    “When the company started in 1981 and there really wasn’t a whole lot of open source. And so there was a mentality of you know if it’s not invented here we’re not interested,” Mann says.

    [...]

    The organisation took some convincing, but, championed by the CTO, there has been a “huge culture change” towards open source.

    “There are two groups you got to convince: you’ve got to convince management that using open source is going to be safe and lead to better software, and then you also have to convince engineers that using open source is going to increase their skillset, will lead to software that’s easier to maintain and is less buggy and it’s going to be a more beautiful system. Once you can kind of convince those two then you’re set,” Mann says.

    The company is an active contributor to projects including Solr, Hadoop, Apache Spark and Open Stack.

  • OSIsoft to Collaborate with Dianomic as Part of Edge and Open Source Strategy
  • How open source and agility are powering enterprise IT

    Looking back over the past decade, history has certainly demonstrated that trying to predict the pace and nature of technology development is a near impossible task.

  • Events

    • Join The Linux Foundation at Open Source Summit EU for Booth Swag, Project Updates, and More

      Going to Open Source Summit EU in Prague? While you’re there, be sure stop by The Linux Foundation training booth for fun giveaways and a chance to win one of three Raspberry Pi kits.

    • Japanese TeX User Meeting 2017

      Last saturday the Japanese TeX User Meeting took place in Fujisawa, Kanagawa. For those who have been at the TUG 2013 in Tokyo you will remember that the Japanese TeX community is quite big and vibrant. On Saturday about 50 users and developers gathered for a set of talks on a variety of topics.

      The first talk was by Keiichiro Shikano (鹿野 桂一郎) on using Markup text to generate (La)TeX and HTML. He presented a variety of markup formats, including his own tool xml2tex.

    • Who knew we still had low-hanging fruits?

      We had the opportunity of explaining how we at Collabora cooperated with igalians to implemented and optimise a Wayland nested compositor for WebKit2 to share buffers between processes in an efficient way even on broken drivers. Most of the discussions and some of the work that led to this was done in previous hackfests, by the way!

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 57 – Trick or Treat?

        The best way to describe Firefox 57 is too little, too late, but better later than never. In a way, it’s a pointless release, because it brings us back roughly where Firefox was and should have been years ago. Only all this time in between was wasted losing user base.

        WebExtensions will be the thing that makes or breaks the browser, and with insufficient quality in the available replacements for those that don’t make the culling list, there will be no real incentive for people to stay around. Firefox 57 is better than earlier versions in terms of looks and performance, but that’s like saying you get 50% discount on a price that is twice what it should be. Ultimately unnecessary, just like graduating from university by the age of 68. There aren’t any major advantages over Chrome. This is essentially a Firefox that sucks less.

        So yes, on the positive side, if you do want to continue using Firefox, version 57 makes much more sense than the previous 53 releases. It has an almost normal look, some of the sorely needed security & privacy addons are available, and it offers a passable user experience in terms of speed and responsiveness. Bottom line, I will stick with Firefox for now. As long as my extensions keep working. Take care.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle Promises To Open Source Oracle JDK And Improve Java EE

      Oracle had already announced it would be moving Java EE to the Eclipse Foundation, and the announcements at JavaOne move the language further to a more vendor-neutral future. It’s worth noting that the keynote was preceded by a Safe Harbor disclaimer in which Oracle said it could not be held to plans made during the speech, so nothing is actually certain.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • U.S. makes renewable energy software open source

      As a longtime proponent of open source solar photovoltaic development, I am happy that the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has shared all the source code for System Advisor Model (SAM), its most powerful renewable energy economic analysis software.

      SAM is now SAM Open Source. It is a performance and financial model designed to help make decisions about renewable energy. This is perfect timing, as the costs of solar have dropped so far that the levelized cost of electricity for solar power is less than what you are probably paying for electricity from your utility.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Conservancy Applauds Linux Community’s Promotion of Principled Copyleft Enforcement

      Software Freedom Conservancy congratulates the Linux community for taking steps today to promote principled, community-minded copyleft enforcement by publishing the Linux Kernel Enforcement Statement. The Statement includes an additional permission under Linux’s license, the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2 (GPLv2). The additional permission, to which copyright holders may voluntarily opt-in, changes the license of their copyrights to allow reliance on the copyright license termination provisions from the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPLv3) for some cases 1.

      Conservancy also commends the Linux community’s Statement for reaffirming that legal action should be last resort for resolving a GPL violation, and for inviting noncompliant companies who work their way back into compliance to become active participants in the community. By bringing clarity to GPLv2 enforcement efforts, companies can adopt software with the assurance that these parties will work in a reasonable, community-centric way to resolve compliance issues.

    • Linux Kernel Community Enforcement Statement FAQ

      Based on the recent Linux Kernel Community Enforcement Statement and the article describing the background and what it means , here are some Questions/Answers to help clear things up. These are based on questions that came up when the statement was discussed among the initial round of over 200 different kernel developers.

    • Linux Kernel Community Enforcement Statement
    • Linux Kernel Gets An “Enforcement Statement” To Deal With Copyright Trolls

      Greg Kroah-Hartman on the behalf of the Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board has today announced the Linux Kernel Community Enforcement Statement. This statement is designed to better fend off copyright trolls.

      Among the copyright troll concerns is how a Netfilter developer has been trying to enforce his personal copyright claims against companies for “in secret and for large sums of money by threatening or engaging in litigation.”

    • An enforcement clarification from the kernel community

      The Linux Foundation’s Technical Advisory board, in response to concerns about exploitative license enforcement around the kernel, has put together this patch adding a document to the kernel describing its view of license enforcement. This document has been signed or acknowledged by a long list of kernel developers. In particular, it seeks to reduce the effect of the “GPLv2 death penalty” by stating that a violator’s license to the software will be reinstated upon a timely return to compliance.

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Senator Elizabeth Warren: Attacks on Birth Control Access Are Attacks on Women’s Freedom

      If anyone told a young woman today that she was expected to quit school after eighth grade or leave her job once she got married, most Americans would be outraged. Not fair! Women should have the same range of economic choices as men.

      Through the years, one door after another has opened, as women have become astronauts and neurosurgeons, run Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations, and started their own businesses. Sure, there’s still a lot of ground to make up, but the country has headed in the direction of greater equality for decades now.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • “Stop the Unconstitutional War in Yemen”: Rep. Ro Khanna on Growing Opposition to U.S.-Backed War

      The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war and naval blockade in Yemen has sparked a cholera epidemic that has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern world history. There are expected to be a million cases of cholera in Yemen by the end of the year, with at least 600,000 children likely to be affected. The U.S. has been a major backer of the Saudi-led war. But in Washington, opposition to the U.S. support for the Saudi-led war is growing. Lawmakers recently introduced a constitutional resolution to withdraw all U.S. support for the war. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Congressmembers Ro Khanna, Walter Jones and Mark Pocan wrote that they introduced the resolution “in order to help put an end to the suffering of a country approaching ‘a famine of biblical proportions.’ … We believe that the American people, if presented with the facts of this conflict, will oppose the use of their tax dollars to bomb and starve civilians.” We speak with Ro Khanna, Democratic congressmember from California.

    • Jesus Campos, Vegas security guard shot before rampage, appears to have vanished

      The story seemed straightforward: The unarmed security guard approached Stephen Paddock’s room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, distracting the gunman and potentially saving lives.

      With a gunshot wound to his leg, he helped point officers to the gunman’s location and stayed behind to evacuate hotel guests.

      He was hailed a hero by many, even as the story changed. Twice.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Hillary Clinton Just Told Five Blatant Lies About WikiLeaks

      As part of her ongoing “Thank God You Didn’t Elect Me” tour, Hillary Clinton made her debut on Australian television last night in an interview with the ABC’s Sarah Ferguson. Though she didn’t repeat her infamous “17 intelligence agencies” lie, which she’d continued to regurgitate long after that claim had been conclusively debunked, there were still plenty of whoppers to be heard.
      From her ridiculous claim that the aggressively protested DNC convention was “very positive” to her completely baseless assertion that Bernie Sanders “couldn’t explain his programs” during the primaries, Clinton did a fine job of reminding us all why the average American finds her about as trustworthy as a hungry crocodile. But while she has blamed her loss on James Comey and Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders and self-hating women and the media and uninformed voters and voter suppression and her campaign staff and the DNC and campaign finance laws and Jill Stein and the Electoral College and Anthony Weiner and sexism and Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton reserved the lion’s share of her deceit for the organization she hates most of all: WikiLeaks.

    • Leading Maltese political journalist killed by car bomb

      Daphne Caruana Galizia, a leading Maltese journalist who had reported extensively on government corruption, was killed in a car bombing Monday, according to TVM, the country’s public broadcaster.

      The explosion took place near her home in Bidnija at approximately 2:30 p.m., minutes after her last blog post was published.

      Caruana Galizia, 53, had spent the last year publishing stories about allegations of corruption involving Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his closest allies. The story first came to light in the Panama Papers scandal — a leak in April 2016 of more than 11 million documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.

    • Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia killed in car blast

      Daphne Caruana Galizia, one of Malta’s best known investigative journalists, was killed after a powerful blast blew up her car, local media reported Monday.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Get Ready For A New Chernobyl In Ukraine

      According to analysts from Energy Research & Social Science (ERSS), there is an 80% probability of a “serious accident” at one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants before the year 2020. This is due both to the increased burden on the nuclear plants caused by the widespread shutdowns of Ukraine’s thermal power plants (the raw material they consumed – coal from the Donbass – is in critically short supply) and also because of the severe physical deterioration of their Soviet-era nuclear equipment and the catastrophic underfunding of this industry.

    • Ophelia became a major hurricane where no storm had before

      The system formerly known as Hurricane Ophelia is moving into Ireland on Monday, bringing “status red” weather throughout the day to the island. The Irish National Meteorological Service, Met Éireann, has warned that, “Violent and destructive gusts of 120 to 150km/h are forecast countrywide, and in excess of these values in some very exposed and hilly areas. There is a danger to life and property.”

    • London’s sky turns red Monday, but we can’t blame pollution

      Residents of England awoke on Monday morning to a sky that looked very much like a scene from the movie Blade Runner—red and hazy. Fortunately this isn’t science fiction—or even pollution. Rather, it’s a combination of the rare, powerful ex-hurricane Ophelia’s winds and African dust.

      The large, extra-tropical cyclone that brought high winds and damaging seas to Ireland on Monday also produced a huge swath of powerful southerly winds that brought Saharan dust from the West Coast of Africa all the way north across the Atlantic and Western Europe into the United Kingdom.

    • More than 4,000MW of coal power slated for retirement in Texas. But why?

      Late last week, power company Vistra Energy announced that it would close two of its Texas coal plants by early 2018. In a press release, the company blamed “Sustained low wholesale power prices, an oversupplied renewable generation market, and low natural gas prices, along with other factors.”

  • Finance

    • EU commission obscures growing impacts multilateral investment court

      The European Commission published an impact assessment of a multilateral reform of investment dispute resolution. The current supranational system is known as investor-to-state dispute settlement or ISDS. ISDS gives multinationals far reaching supranational privileges to challenge government decisions.

    • You fired your top talent. I hope you’re happy.

      Instead, they played Rick like a fiddle, burned out all of his talent and skill, and once Rick was considered damaged goods, kicked his ass to the curb for the good of the company’s productivity. How brave! How heroic!

    • Russia Plans To Launch Its National Cryptocurrency Called “CryptoRuble”

      Slowly, but yes, governments across the world are giving cryptocurrencies a place in their economy. Earlier, we heard about India in talks to launch their cryptocurrency called LakshmiCoin. Soon, there might be a Russian digital money called CryptoRuble as well.

    • Financial regulator warns of growing debt among young people

      In an interview with the BBC, Andrew Bailey said the young were having to borrow for basic living costs.

      The regulator also said he “did not like” some high-cost lending schemes.

      He said consumers, and institutions that lend to them, should be aware that interest rates may rise in the future and that credit should be “affordable”.

    • Centrist MPs could save us from hard Brexit – but they’ve gone silent

      The lunatics have taken over the asylum. The Labour and Conservative conferences were proof positive that the moderates no longer hold sway. The cheers were for the zealots, whether that was John McDonnell or Jacob Rees-Mogg. And, whether from front or back benches, it is they who rule the roost when it comes to leaving the EU. So where have the centrists (and I acknowledge, as Helen Lewis has underlined, that the term is imprecise and potentially misleading, but I can think of no better one) gone? And how should they react?

    • The Koch brothers (and their friends) want President Trump’s tax cut. Very badly.

      The message from the billionaire-led Koch network of donors to President Trump and the Republican Congress it helped to shape couldn’t be more clear: Pass a tax overhaul, or else.

      As the donors mixed and mingled for a policy summit at the St. Regis hotel in midtown Manhattan last week, just a block south from Trump Tower, it came up again. And again. And again.

      “It’s the most significant federal effort we’ve ever taken on,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-aligned group with offices in 36 states. “The stakes for the Republicans, I’ve never seen them this high.”

    • I work for the DWP as a universal credit case manager – and what I’ve seen is shocking

      I work with many compassionate and thoughtful employees, who try their hardest every day to help vulnerable claimants. However, we can only act within the remit of strict guidelines which don’t offer us the flexibility we sometimes need to prevent unnecessary suffering.

      The problem is compounded by employees’ lack of knowledge about the universal credit regulations which can have an especially devastating impact on care leavers, the disabled and those with mental health conditions. It is not uncommon for charities and support workers to inform case managers – the ones whose job it is to assess people for universal credit and other benefits – of the law, rather than the other way round.

    • May’s Brexit gambit leaves Brussels mystified

      At least there was an agreement about no leaks.

      When U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last shared an intimate dinner focused on Brexit, it was a debacle. Leaks from the Brussels side claiming May was “deluded” about Brexit infuriated London, sparking condemnation on the steps of Downing Street by the PM.

    • Mystery deepens over secret source of Brexit ‘dark money’

      A number of major political donors have denied they are the source of a controversial £435,000 donation to the DUP’s Brexit campaign, openDemocracy can reveal today – with only one person refusing to distance themself from the secret donation.

      openDemocracy has investigated a list of key figures in relation to the donation, and all apart from one have either denied involvement or have made public statements indicating opposition to Brexit. The only person we contacted who has told us he will not comment is Henry Angest, a banker and longstanding Conservative party donor, who is known to be a supporter of Brexit.

    • Turns out Britain is £490 billion poorer than everyone thought

      Britain is £490 billion poorer than everyone thought.

      The Office for National Statistics has revised its assessment of the country’s accounts, and decided Britain has overestimated its international assets.

      And we owe far more to foreign investors than previously thought.

      Overall it amounts a quarter of the UK’s Gross Domestic Product.

      It comes just six weeks ahead of Philip Hammond’s first Autumn budget – and Treasury officials are reportedly braced for “gloomy” forecasts.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Fury and Failure of Donald Trump

      Metaphorically anyway, Trump supporters like Goril were right. Not one of these career politicians had the gumption to be frank with this crowd about what had happened to their party. Instead, the strategy seemed to be to pretend none of it had happened, and to hide behind piles of the same worn clichés that had driven these voters to rebel in the first place.

      The party schism burst open in the middle of a speech by Wisconsin’s speaker of the State Assembly, Robin Vos. Vos is the Billy Mays of state budget hawks. He’s a mean-spirited little ball of energy who leaped onto the stage reminding the crowd that he wanted to eliminate the office of the treasurer to SAVE YOU MONEY!

      Paul Ryan speaks at the Wisconsin Fall Fast, avoiding the the topic of Donald Trump.

      Vos went on to brag about having wiped out tenure for University of Wisconsin professors, before dismounting with yet another superawkward Trumpless call for Republicans to turn out to vote.
      “I have no doubt that with all of you standing behind us,” he shouted, “and with the fantastic record of achievement that we have, we’re going to go on to an even bigger and better victory than before!”

      There was scattered applause, then someone from the crowd called out:

      “You uninvited Donald Trump!”

      Boos and catcalls, both for and against Vos and the Republicans. Most in the crowd were Trump supporters, but others were angry with Trump for perhaps saddling them with four years of Hillary Clinton. These camps now battled it out across the field. A competing chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” started on the opposite end of the stands, only to be met by chants from the pro-Trumpers.

    • Puerto Rico Is a Symptom of America’s Rotting Democracy

      Ferocious hurricanes and other climate-fueled disasters are nature’s stress tests. They expose faulty infrastructure and systemic inequalities, to say nothing of incompetent leadership. With payments on its massive debt to Wall Street long prioritized over safe electricity, Puerto Rico’s archaic power grid was already prone to blink out in a windstorm. Then Maria hit. Help has been grudging; President Trump took eight days just to waive shipping restrictions.

    • Trump’s dumbfounding, expansive press conference with Mitch McConnell, annotated
  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Australia’s National Rape Hotline Run By Insurance Company, Who Demands All Sorts Of Private Info

      Australia is providing a fairly stunning case study in how not to set up a national hotline for sexual assault, rape, domestic abuse and other such situations. It has a service, called 1800Respect, which lets people call in and be connected to trained counselors from a variety of different call centers around the country. However, as Asher Wolf informs us, a change in how the system will be managed has created quite a shit storm, and leading one of the major providers of counselors to the program to remove itself from the program — meaning that it will likely lose government funding and may go out of business entirely.

      The issues here are a bit convoluted, but since its inception, 1800Respect has actually been run by a private insurance company, Medibank Health Solutions, who partners with organizations who can provide qualified counselors. One of the big ones is Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia (RDSVA). While it already seems somewhat troubling that a private insurance company runs the “national” rape and domestic violence hotline — it’s even more troubling when you find out that the company views the service as a profit center:

    • Big Data is watching you

      This week, MEPs on the Civil Rights Committee will vote on the ePrivacy regulation, which will determine how secure our data is when we are online. For the past 16 months, industry lobbies, including all those who collect or use citizens’ personal online data for advertising purposes, have been vigorously opposing new proposals on ePrivacy. On the other side of the debate, digital rights campaigners demand that citizens should enjoy optimum data privacy when online.

    • USA Liberty Act Won’t Fix What’s Most Broken with NSA Internet Surveillance

      A key legal linchpin for the National Security Agency’s vast Internet surveillance program is scheduled to disappear in under 90 days. Section 702 of FISA—enacted in 2008 with little public awareness about the scope and power of the NSA’s surveillance of the Internet—supposedly directs the NSA’s powerful surveillance apparatus toward legitimate foreign intelligence targets overseas. Instead, the surveillance has been turned back on us. Despite repeated inquiries from Congress, the NSA has yet to publicly disclose how many Americans are impacted by this surveillance.

    • Here’s What Might Come of NSA’s Surveillance Powers

      As the deadline to renew the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance powers looms, proposed bills and speculations of bills drive the conversation on national security versus privacy.

      Senate Republicans led by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., proposed a bill in June to completely renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) without any changes or sunset provision. Section 702, which expires at the end of the year, allows the NSA to collect data from foreign nationals without obtaining a warrant.

      Proponents of Section 702 said that it would be impossible for the NSA to protect the country effectively without the law, because of the backlog that would be created by having to go to the FISA court every time the agency wanted to spy on suspicious foreign activity.

      “This program has provided our national security agencies vital intelligence that has saved American lives and provided insights into some of the hardest intelligence targets,” said Cotton. “Section 702 also includes extensive privacy protections for American citizens. We can’t handcuff our national security officials when they’re fighting against such a vicious enemy. We’ve got to reauthorize this program in full and for good, so we can put our enemies back on their heels and keep American lives safe from harm.”

    • Surveillance “Reform”: The Fourth Amendment’s Long, Slow, Goodbye

      Over 16 years after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent repeated passage or renewal of draconian “temporary” but “emergency” domestic surveillance laws in response, it’s fair to ask: Have we officially abandoned the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights?

      With the expiration of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) less than three months away, now is a good time to review the effects of these surveillance laws in the seemingly endless “War on Terror.” But first, a quick recap of America’s embrace of mass surveillance in the post-9/11 era.

      Within six weeks of the terrorist attacks in 2001, and with virtually no serious debate, Congress passed the behemoth PATRIOT Act. The law created vast new government surveillance powers that abandoned the Fourth Amendment’s across-the-board probable cause warrant requirement. In an October 11, 2001 speech discussing the Senate version of the legislation, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) assured terrified civil libertarians that the PATRIOT Act’s five-year “sunset” clause governing 15 of the bill’s provisions would serve “as a valuable check on the potential abuse of the new powers granted in the bill.”

    • The search for painless Internet privacy gets another boost with InvizBox 2

      InvizBox, a small Irish company focused on building Wi-Fi routers with built-in Internet privacy, has successfully crowdfunded the next generation of its eponymous privacy platform. The InvizBox 2 and InvizBox 2 Pro are more than an evolution from the team’s original product, which was an open source modification of the OpenWRT router code focused on use of the Tor anonymizing network. These new devices are more powerful and faster, and they focus more on usable networking that avoids ISPs’ prying eyes (and defeating geo-blocking of online content) rather than striving to avoid the long arm of state surveillance.

      The InvizBox team is doing a livestream event today, despite the arrival in Ireland of Hurricane Ophelia—which has caused widespread closures of businesses in the country. But the project is already fully funded, which bodes well for delivery based on the team’s previous track record. Working with an industrial design team in China, InvizBox has created a much more attractive privacy tool, both aesthetically and practically.

      The original InvizBox launched two years ago in response to the somewhat poorly conceived crowdfunding launch of another product aimed at Internet privacy. Ars tested InvizBox (and its competitor, Anonabox) in 2015. An open source Wi-Fi router with built-in support for the Tor anonymizing network, InvizBox was a good implementation of an idea with some major roadblocks to wide adoption—the most obvious one being the limitations of Tor itself. Then InvizBox followed up with the InvizBox Go, which shifted the focus away from Tor and toward a more consumer-friendly and mobile-friendly form of privacy. This was a battery-powered Wi-Fi router that could act as a protected bridge to public Wi-Fi networks.

    • Supreme Court to decide if US has right to data on world’s servers [Ed: Microsoft has given NSA et al access to everything. This is a PR stunt.]

      The US government appealed, contending it has the legal right, with a valid court warrant, to reach into the world’s servers with the assistance of the tech sector, no matter where the data is stored.

    • Microsoft’s fight with the feds over foreign servers is headed to Supreme Court

      The current state of the law doesn’t mean that US law enforcement has no access to data stored on foreign servers. If domestic disclosure warrants cannot be served on the foreign servers of US companies, US law enforcement can lean on treaties with the country that the servers are based in.

    • DOJ Continues Its Push For Encryption Backdoors With Even Worse Arguments

      Early last week, the Deputy Attorney General (Rod Rosenstein) picked up the recently-departed James Comey’s Torch of Encroaching Darkness +1 and delivered one of the worst speeches against encryption ever delivered outside of the UK.

      Rosenstein apparently has decided UK government officials shouldn’t have a monopoly on horrendous anti-encryption arguments. Saddling up his one-trick pony, the DAG dumped out a whole lot of nonsensical words in front of a slightly more receptive audience. Speaking at the Global Cyber Security Summit in London, Rosenstein continued his crusade against encryption using counterintuitive arguments.

      After name-dropping his newly-minted term — responsible encryption™ — Rosenstein stepped back to assess the overall cybersecurity situation. In short, it is awful. Worse, perhaps, than Rosenstein’s own arguments. Between the inadvertently NSA-backed WannaCry ransomware, the Kehlios botnet, dozens of ill-mannered state actors, and everything else happening seemingly all at once, the world’s computer users could obviously use all the security they can get.

    • White House Cyber Security Boss Also Wants Encryption Backdoors He Refuses To Call Backdoors

      Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recently pitched a new form of backdoor for encryption: “responsible encryption.” The DAG said encryption was very, very important to the security of the nation and its citizens, but not so important it should ever prevent warrants from being executed.

      According to Rosenstein, this is the first time in American history law enforcement officers haven’t been able to collect all the evidence they seek with warrants. And that’s all the fault of tech companies and their perverse interest in profits. Rosenstein thinks the smart people building flying cars or whatever should be able to make secure backdoors, but even if they can’t, maybe they could just leave the encryption off their end of the end-to-end so cops can have a look-see.

      This is the furtherance of former FBI director James Comey’s “going dark” dogma. It’s being practiced by more government agencies than just the DOJ. Calls for backdoors echo across Europe, with every government official making them claiming they’re not talking about backdoors. These officials all want the same thing: a hole in encryption. All that’s really happening is the development of new euphemisms.

    • Facebook looks to hire people with national security clearances amid backlash over Russian meddling

      Earlier, security clearances were deactivated once an official or intelligence worker left their government job. Now, they can be carried over to private sector jobs so long as the position still requires access to classified information.

    • Facebook Is Looking for Employees With National Security Clearances

      Workers with such clearance can access information classified by the U.S. government. Facebook plans to use these people — and their ability to receive government information about potential threats — to search more proactively for questionable social media campaigns ahead of elections, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is sensitive. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment.

    • Visiting websites with your smartphone on mobile data can reveal your full name, phone number, address, and even location

      With just your mobile IP address, a website can find out all of your billing information, and even your precise location. This has been going on for years, largely behind the scenes – but recently the issue has been re-highlighted and the benefits of hiding your IP address are super clear.

    • Facebook is testing a CV upload feature as it chases LinkedIn (again)

      Facebook has been trying to push into the enterprise space for some time with Facebook at Work (now known as Workplace), and if confirmed, this would see the social network going head to head with LinkedIn owner Microsoft in the same space.

    • PureVPN Explains How it Helped the FBI Catch a Cyberstalker

      After several days of radio silence, VPN provider PureVPN has responded to criticism that it provided information which helped the FBI catch a cyberstalker. In a fairly lengthy post, the company reiterates that it never logs user activity. What it does do, however, is log the IP addresses of users accessing its service.

    • Bizarre: Swedish Minister of Justice shames ISP in public for NOT doing illegal wiretapping

      Something quite bizarre just happened on Twitter: the Swedish Minister of Justice went out of his way to lash out at the ISP most known for privacy in Sweden, criticizing the ISP for following the direct orders of the European Court of Justice instead of agreeing to covert illegal wiretapping. The Minister of Justice criticized the ISP for “not helping investigations against severe cases of child pornography”. The CEO of the ISP responded in the only way possible: “we cooperate with the police, but we also follow the law and due process”.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • COINTELPRO 2? FBI Targets “Black Identity Extremists” Despite Surge in White Supremacist Violence

      A leaked FBI counterterrorism memo claims that so-called black identity extremists pose a threat to law enforcement. That’s according to Foreign Policy magazine, which obtained the document written by the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit. The memo was dated August 3, 2017—only days before the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis killed one anti-racist protester, Heather Heyer, and injured dozens more. But the report is not concerned with the violent threat of white supremacists. Instead, the memo reads: “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” Civil liberties groups have slammed the FBI report, warning the “black identity extremists” designation threatens the rights of protesters with Black Lives Matter and other groups. Many have also compared the memo to the FBI’s covert COINTELPRO program of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, which targeted the civil rights movement. We speak with Malkia Cyril, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Media Justice as well as a Black Lives Matter Bay Area activist.

    • Week 6: Guide To NFL Players Who Protested During National Anthem

      Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started the movement of taking a knee during the anthem, filed a “grievance” against the National Football League. He alleged owners colluded to prevent him from playing another NFL game because he engaged in protest.

      “If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished,” one of his attorneys, Mark Geragos, said in a posted statement. “And athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the executive branch of our government. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation.”

    • Malta car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist

      The journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta was killed on Monday in a car bomb near her home.

      Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday afternoon when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device which blew the car into several pieces and threw the debris into a nearby field.

      A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Galizia was recently described by the Politico website as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”. Her blogs were a thorn in the side of both the establishment and underworld figures that hold sway in Europe’s smallest member state.

      Her most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.

    • Utah Senator Wants To Revive The State’s ‘Porn Czar’ Office To Combat The Threat Of Women’s Magazines

      Todd Weiler, a state Senator in Utah, has appeared on our pages before. When last we checked in with the good senator, he was quite oddly attempting to purge his notoriously prudish state from the dire threat of pornography. His plan was more than a bit heavy-handed in that it centered on mandating porn-filtering software on all smartphones under his stated theory that “A cell phone is basically a vending machine for pornography.” This tragic misunderstanding by a sitting state senator of what a phone is and exactly what its primary functions are aside, government mandates that infringe on free and legal expression are kind of a no-no in these here secular United States. Even setting constitutional questions aside, attempts like these are immediately confronted by the obstreperous demands from the public for a definition of exactly what constitutes “pornography.”

    • New York Considers Barring Agreements Barring Victims From Speaking

      In the wake of the news about Harvey Weinstein’s apparently serial abuse of women, and the news that several of his victims were unable to tell anyone about it due to a non-disclosure agreement, the New York legislature is considering a bill to prevent such NDAs from being enforceable in New York state. According to the Buzzfeed article the bill as currently proposed still allows a settlement agreement to demand that the recipient of a settlement not disclose how much they settled for, but it can’t put the recipient of a settlement in jeopardy of needing to compensate their abuser if they choose to talk about what happened to them.

      It’s not the first time a state has imposed limits on the things that people can contract for. California, for example, has a law that generally makes non-compete agreements invalid. Even Congress has now passed a law banning contracts that limit consumers’ ability to complain about merchants. Although, as we learn in law school, there are some Constitutional disputes about how unfettered the freedom to contract should be in the United States, there has also always been the notion that some contractual demands are inherently “void as against public policy.” In other words, go ahead and write whatever contractual clause you want, but they aren’t all going to be enforceable against the people you want to force to comply with them.

    • Only Nonviolent Resistance Will Destroy the Corporate State

      The encampments by Native Americans at Standing Rock, N.D., from April 2016 to February 2017 to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline provided the template for future resistance movements. The action was nonviolent. It was sustained. It was highly organized. It was grounded in spiritual, intellectual and communal traditions. And it lit the conscience of the nation.

      Native American communities—more than 200 were represented at the Standing Rock encampments, which at times contained up to 10,000 people—called themselves “water protectors.” Day after day, week after week, month after month, the demonstrators endured assaults carried out with armored personnel carriers, rubber bullets, stun guns, tear gas, cannons that shot water laced with chemicals, and sound cannons that can cause permanent hearing loss. Drones hovered overhead. Attack dogs were unleashed on the crowds. Hundreds were arrested, roughed up and held in dank, overcrowded cells. Many were charged with felonies. The press, or at least the press that attempted to report honestly, was harassed and censored, and often reporters were detained or arrested. And mixed in with the water protectors was a small army of infiltrators, spies and agents provocateurs, who often initiated vandalism and rock throwing at law enforcement and singled out anti-pipeline leaders for arrest.

    • The refuge system at breaking point

      In a small office in the Midlands the telephone rings every half hour or so. On the line are women desperate for help, trying to flee domestic violence. But there is no space in the refuge, there is almost never any space.

      “Last week”, says a volunteer, “we had a lady call; she had four children, and the closest space we could find for her was the Orkney Islands.” They do not know if the woman took the 600 miles trip to safety; she did not call back.

      An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found domestic violence refuges across England struggling under huge budget cuts. More than a thousand vulnerable women and children have been turned away from refuges in just six months.

    • Black members of Congress push for more diversity in Silicon Valley hires

      Days after two leading members of the Congressional Black Caucus got Facebook to commit to hiring a black member to its board of directors, they again pressed major tech firms to diversify the hiring of executives and rank-and-file employees.

      In brief remarks before dozens of assembled employees at the downtown offices of Hustle, a texting startup, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina) said Monday morning that they have been meeting with companies including Uber and Salesforce to improve on a longstanding issue of underrepresented minorities in Silicon Valley.

    • Court Tells Sheriff’s Dept. Shackling Kids Above The Elbows Is Excessive Force

      The ruling [PDF] restates common sense, albeit in 33 pages of legalese. It is excessive force to restrain preteens who weigh less than 60 lbs. with handcuffs meant to keep full-grown adults from moving their arms. The procedural history notes school personnel are forbidden from using mechanical restraints on students by state law. This law, however, does not forbid law enforcement officers from using handcuffs on students.

      In both cases, the students cuffed by a sheriff’s deputy had been combative. School personnel turned both students over to the SRO once it became obvious they would not be able to calm the students down. The combativeness didn’t stop once the deputy entered the picture. These would appear to be arguments in the deputy’s favor but only if other factors weren’t considered — like the students’ ages and sizes. Both children also suffered from behavioral disorders.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Google Bombs Are Our New Normal
    • FCC’s DDoS claims will be investigated by government

      The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) will investigate DDoS attacks that allegedly targeted the Federal Communications Commission’s system for accepting public comments on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to roll back net neutrality rules.

      Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) requested the investigation in August, and the GAO recently confirmed that it accepted the Schatz/Pallone request.

      [...]

      The FCC’s public comment website suffered an outage on May 8, just as the commission was receiving an influx of pro-net neutrality comments spurred by comedian John Oliver’s HBO segment on the topic.

      The FCC attributed the downtime solely to “multiple” DDoS attacks and said the attacks were “deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host.”

  • DRM

    • Linux Users Discuss DRM – Unleaded Hangout

      Today my Patreons and I discuss encrypted media extensions, digital rights management and our freedom on the Linux desktop.

    • The European Parliament Should Be Talking About DRM, Right Now!

      [Teresa Nobre, Communia Association, Link (CC-0)] The European Union is currently discussing a reform of its copyright system, including making mandatory certain copyright exceptions, in order to introduce a balance into the system. However, no one, except Julia Reda, is paying any attention to one of the biggest obstacles to the enforcement of copyright exceptions in the digital age: technological protection measures (TPM), including digital rights management (DRM). In this blogpost we will present the reasons why the European Parliament should not lose this opportunity to discuss a reform of the EU anti-circumvention rules.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Supreme Court refuses to hear case questioning Google’s trademark

        The Supreme Court declined Monday to review a petition asserting that the term “google” has become too generic and therefore unqualified for trademark protection.

        Without comment, the justices set aside a legal challenge claiming that Google had fallen victim to “genericide” and should no longer be trademarked. A lawsuit claimed the word “google” had become synonymous with the term “search the Internet” and therefore could no longer sustain a trademark. For the moment, Google will keep its trademark—unlike the manufacturers of the teleprompter, thermos, hoover, aspirin, and videotape. They were once trademarked but lost that status after they were deemed too generic.

      • JPO Issues First Decision To Register Sound Trademark Consisting Solely Of Sound Element

        On 26 September, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) announced, for the first time ever, the grant of protection to three sound trademarks consisting solely of a sound element.

    • Copyrights

      • Neighbor Sues For $2.5 Million After Renovation Looks Too Much Like Their Own House

        Copyright on home design has always been a really sketchy idea. Earlier this year, we wrote about a disturbing trend of housing copyright trolls and have had some other similar stories over time. For reasons that are beyond me, the Berne Convention requires copyright on architecture, and that creates silly situations, such as the one in Australia, where a homeowner was forced to modify their home due to “infringement.”

        And this nonsense has spread to Canada. The Toronto Star has the story of a couple, Jason and Jodi Chapnik, living in Forest Hill, Toronto (one of the “most affluent neighborhoods” in Toronto), who sued their neighbors for $2.5 million for the horrific faux pas of renovating their house to look too much like the Chapniks.

      • Over 50 Human Rights & Media Freedom NGOs ask EU to Delete Censorship Filter & to Stop © Madness

        On 16 October, over 50 NGOs representing human rights and media freedom (see the full list below) sent an open letter to the European Commission President, the European Parliament (EP) and the Council asking them to delete the censorship filter proposal (Article 13), as it would “would violate the freedom of expression set out in (…) the Charter of Fundamental Rights” and “provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications“. It is especially striking that organisations such as Reporters without Borders and Human Rights Watch, which are known to intervene for the protection of human rights in less democratic countries, have now been moved to the point where they felt the need to voice their concerns in this matter to ensure that EU citizens are safeguarded from the EU’s copyright agenda crushing their fundamental rights.

      • 56 Groups Call For Deletion Of Internet Filtering Provision In EU Copyright Proposal

        Today a range of civil society organisations sent an open letter to European Union policymakers calling for the removal of a provision they say would violate citizens’ rights by forcing monitoring and filtering of copyrighted materials.

      • 57 rights groups back anti-Article 13 letter to the European Parliament

        “The European Commission tabled a proposal that would force [I]nternet companies that share and store user-generated content, such as video or photo-sharing platforms or even creative writing websites, to filter uploads to their services,” said the group in a note to interested parties.

        “The signatories argue that the proposal would lead to excessive filtering and deletion of content, while at the same time constantly monitoring users’ activity online. These conditions would violate freedom of expression, freedom of information and also privacy. Therefore, the organisations are asking Members of the European Parliament to delete Article 13 from the proposal”.

      • Pirate Bay’s Iconic .SE Domain has Expired (Updated)

        The Pirate Bay’s iconic .SE domain name has expired and will be deactivated soon if no action is taken. This means that thepiratebay.se, which played a central part in the site’s history, is no longer redirecting to the most current Pirate Bay domain.

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Judge Bryson Rules Against Allergan After It Used Native American Tribes to Dodge Scrutiny of Patents (IPRs); Senator Hatch Does Not Understand IPRs

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 8:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

William Bryson

Summary: Having attempted to dodge inter partes reviews (IPRs) by latching onto sovereign immunity, Allergan loses a key case and Senator Hatch is meanwhile attempting to water down IPRs albeit at the same time bemoaning patent trolls (which IPRs help neutralise)

THE above judge, Judge Bryson, called it a "sham" and US Congress got involved too. It’s an old issue [1, 2, 3] that emerged a few months back. Can tribes exploit their sovereign immunity to help patent trolls and other aggressors?

As Judge Bryson sees it, this exploitation of Native Americans by patent bullies and trolls is a serious issue. The case is therefore falling apart, as reported less than a day ago by a trolls expert. To quote:

A federal judge ruled today that patents protecting Allergan’s $1.5 billion blockbuster dry-eye drug, Restasis, are invalid due to obviousness. The international drug company’s stock dropped about five percent on the news.

The ruling by US Circuit Judge William Bryson could have wide effects on the patent landscape because the Restasis patents are at the center of a novel legal strategy that involves using Native American sovereignty rights to avoid certain types of patent reviews, called inter partes reviews, or IPRs.

[...]

Restasis was approved by the FDA in 2002, three years after Allergan began the drug-approval process. Allergan had an original patent on the formulation, known in the case as the Ding I patent, US Patent No. 5,474,979, which was filed in 1994 and expired in 2014.

In a 135-page opinion (PDF) published today, Judge Bryson found that Allergan’s patents on later formulations were obvious in light of the Ding I patent, as well as two other patents known as the Sall patent and the Ding II patent.

Yes, it’s 135 pages long!

As we noted last night, next month there will be oral proceedings in a case that can determine the future of inter partes reviews (IPRs). The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will quite likely (re)affirm the authority of PTAB to invalidate patents (like Allergan’s patents) and the subject is therefore entertained a lot by the trolls’ lobby. The attacks on PTAB in the lobbyists’ media (The Hill) are quite telling. This example from yesterday speaks about the Hatch-Waxman law and says that the “2011 AIA was a solution in search of a problem.” AIA is what ushered in PTAB and it tackled a very obvious problem.

Considering who’s behind these attacks on PTAB — and their motivations — it certainly means that the “right” people worry. These latest attacks acknowledge that patent trolls are a nuisance, but they also devolve into criticisms of PTAB (that stops trolls). Here is one key portion:

The AIA was intended to stymie patent trolls that bought up patents they never intended to use. Hedge funds, individuals and companies purchased patents not with the intent to protect their manufacture of innovative products, but to sue innovators who had their own, similar patents. Stopping this practice was a laudable goal that made sense for technology like software code and cell phone hardware.

However it was never intended to be applied to pharmaceutical innovation, where the so-called Hatch-Waxman law, which created a pathway for generic drugs, had already effectively balanced the interests of brand-name and generic drug manufacturers. Especially with regard to pharmaceuticals, the 2011 AIA was a solution in search of a problem.

The PTAB alternative to the courts has been widely condemned by patent-holders in a number of industries, chiefly the innovative pharmaceutical industry, which considers it to be unfair, unnecessary and anti-innovation. (The Supreme Court will take that up next year). Other, non-stakeholder observers, including one Federal Circuit Court decision, have reservations as well, calling the panels’ actions “arbitrary and capricious.”

Actually, almost all the PTAB bashers are in the litigation ‘industry’; many are trolls or work for trolls. We have provided plenty of evidence to that effect.

Speaking of the litigation ‘industry’, watch yesterday’s article “Hatch Hints At Changes To Patent Law”. It says this:

Senator Hatch discussed venue in non-practicing entity cases, possible reforms to IPR proceedings, and recent Supreme Court subject-matter eligibility case law. While Senator Hatch essentially punted on IPRs as something warranting Congress’s attention, he did not mince words when criticizing “patent trolls” and praising the Supreme Court’s recent TC Heartland decision. But he also expressed concerns about whether the Court’s subject-matter eligibility case law has gone too far, endangering life sciences and software development companies as a result.

Senator Hatch was blunt in expressing his views on non-practicing entities. He wrote that patent trolls “extort settlements” and “have become a serious drain on our economy.” He approved of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in TC Heartland, arguing that it “put a stop to rampant forum-shopping.” He nevertheless believes that “some unanswered questions remain” in the wake of TC Heartland. He cited, for example, the need to develop an answer to what constitutes a “regular and established place of business.”

Perhaps Senator Hatch does not fully understand the importance of IPRs. These are, in very many cases, thwarting attacks from patent trolls which target literally thousands of businesses. You cannot really be against trolls and at the same time against IPRs. Unless, of course, you don’t quite comprehend the situation (perhaps because someone lobbies and deceives you).

Rumours That António Campinos Initially Had No Competition at All (for Battistelli’s Succession) Are Confirmed

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Did the EPO just get itself a ‘younger Battistelli’?

Order of succession
Reference: Order of succession

Summary: Succession at the EPO (mostly French) shows that there’s little room for optimism and Battistelli’s people are too deeply entrenched in the upper echelons of the EPO

REMEMBER the judge from Italy who wanted to become the President of the EPO? We really feel for him. He probably didn’t know that the next President of the EPO had already been chosen. The purpose of another candidate was only to give an illusion of choice or a selection process. We have been following this closely for months and for a long time there was no eligible application from anyone other than António Campinos (other applications got rejected outright). At some stage, towards the very end, we became aware of only another application. But there was no doubt in our minds António Campinos would get the job, knowing (and hearing) what Battistelli had been doing behind the scenes.

“Maybe it’s time for this Italian judge to consider an ICC investigation. He did, after all, come from ICC.”The culture of nepotism at the EPO is a serious cancer. Just watch the spectacular rise, for example, of Elodie Bergot and her husband, a longtime Battistelli ally (from INPI). We wrote a lot about that. The EPO’s recruitment process has become best known for tailoring job requirements for particular people — a classic nepotist’s trick. Battistelli lobbied countries to help rig the ‘crowning’ process. Why should EPO staff be quiet about it and tolerate any of this?

Maybe it’s time for this Italian judge to consider an ICC investigation. He did, after all, come from ICC. Immunity probably isn’t much of a barrier to ICC, which itself enjoys immunity.

“Is Battistelli going to be to the EPO what Henry Kissinger became to the US government? In other words, is only Battistelli being ejected but not Battistelli-ism?”Consider again Monika Ermert's articles about the EPO scandals (she published articles about Ernst's first chairmanship opportunity over the past few days at IP Watch and Heise).

Here is her Heise article about António Campinos, which SUEPO has just translated into English [PDF] (and French too). It’s useful (especially the latter parts) because it confirms what we reported as rumours several months back.

European Patent Office: Battistelli steps down, Campinos steps up

[photo]

António Campinos in his role as Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office 2013 in Bangkok.

Boss of the European Patent Office, Benoît Battistelli, is going. During his time in office some of his staff had dubbed him the Sun King – more of a reign. Maybe António Campinos, a Portuguese, can calm things down at the EPO.

Former chief executive of the Portuguese Patent Office, António Campinos will be the new boss of the European Patent Office. As the Munich-based authority revealed today, Wednesday, the 38 members of the EPO Administrative Council elected Campinos at their meeting directly at the first vote. Campinos is not heir to an easy throne. Campinos is due to succeed Battistelli on 1 July 2018, whose second term in office which is limited to three years will then terminate in the proper manner, according to the EPO.

Proven expert

Still ruling President of the EPO, over the past few years Benoît Battistelli has made some bitter enemies in his own institution due to a rigorous policy of economy measures and a contentious routine of monitoring his staff. He dismissed employees from the ranks of the in-house staff union Suepo who demonstrated their willingness to strike. Some of these have since then lodged proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in support of their right to strike. At the end of last year Battistelli even fired the chief staff representative at The Hague.

Campinos will be the first person representing a southern European country to head the EPO. As former chief executive of the Portuguese Patent Office he is a proven expert in the field, and was well known to the members of the Administrative Council after representing Portugal on the Council for a number of years.

Campinos’s present job as Managing Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) was plainly viewed by the EPO Administrative Council as proof of his qualifications to lead an international authority. This was lacking with the only other candidate, a judge put up for the position by Italy. Initially Campinos had had no competition at all. Battistelli himself is no longer standing for election.

Fears that he is too close to Battistelli

The EPO is emphasising above all the smoothness of the election and the seamless handover of the reins of office in the summer. By contrast, before Battistelli was elected in 2009/2010, the Member States on the Administrative Council were for months unable to agree on a candidate.

At the same time, JUVE, the publishing house for legal information, was reporting on mixed feeling among the members in the light of Campinos’s election. Some of them are afraid that Campinos is too close to Battistelli, who rapturously congratulated his successor. Nevertheless, “some of the Administrative Council clearly trust” Campinos “to resolve the conflicts with some of the staff and with the unions”, so say the experts.

Those last two paragraphs are key. Even the people inside the Council recognise that the Frenchman (yes, he's French too) Campinos is too close to Frenchman Battistelli. Maybe they’re concerned that Battistelli will sneak back into his 'pub' at the top floorof the EPO building in Munich, acting as a sort of ‘advisor’ to the much younger Campinos. Is Battistelli going to be to the EPO what Henry Kissinger became to the US government? In other words, is only Battistelli being ejected but not Battistelli-ism? We certainly think so. What’s more, a lot of recently-promoted top-level management is French amici of ‘king’ Battistelli. It’s stuffed with his people and there’s no “swamp-draining” anywhere in the foreseeable future/horizon.

EPO Stakeholders Complain That the New Chairman Does Not Grasp the Issues at the EPO (or Denies These)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

German stakeholders speak out about a German Chairman

Dr. Ernst of EPO

Summary: Some information from inside the EPO’s Administrative Council, whose Chairman is denying (at least to himself) some of the core issues that render the EPO less competitive in the international market

THE EPO crisis won’t end until or unless different strategies are adopted. Last night we wrote about the EPO having a dispute over patent quality, but at the end the Administrative Council just parroted the lies of Battistelli. It’s as if there’s no intention at all to tackle the key issues. These key issues are not even publicly acknowledged. It’s all hogwash.

“According to Dr. Thorsten Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle), the Chairman at the Administrative Council does not quite know what’s going on or is in denial about it.”This morning an EPO insider said that “Chair of AC C. Ernst being told by “Users” that he has no clue of what’s going on at the European Patent Office. Note, however, that “Users” are concerned with Board of Appeal staffing and quality. Distressed employees kindly mentioned, but does not really become an issue.”

According to Dr. Thorsten Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle), the Chairman at the Administrative Council does not quite know what’s going on or is in denial about it. Very bad it is indeed if he’s not aware of the judge being illegally put on “house ban” (whatever that is). Why isn’t Ernst bringing him back? Why does he not bring all the judges back to Munich? They were collectively punished and marginalised by Battistelli.

Some interesting inside information can be found in Bausch’s article from yesterday. It’s about Ernst and the German delegation at the EPO:

With regard to the UPC, I learnt that this is a good idea from a European perspective, even though it may occasionally lead to some disruption of the existing business models of some. All well and good. Will it come and when? On that I did not learn anything. I cannot remember Dr. Ernst using the word ‘Brexit’ even once. He did mention the German constitutional complaint against the UPCA ratification, but his only two comments were “I am afraid I must disappoint you – I cannot comment on it here since I am a member of the Ministry of Justice”, and “I hope that it will end well and that it will soon be decided”. Amen.

Turning now to the two problems mentioned above, i.e. quality and the understaffing of the Boards of Appeal, I was flabbergasted to learn that the first was not actually a problem at all – at least not for Dr. Ernst – and the second has meanwhile been solved since the vacant positions have now been filled up, as Dr. Ernst explained.

Hmm. “Die Botschaft hör ich wohl, allein es fehlt der Glaube”. (I hear your message loud and clear, but still I don’t believe it – Goethe, Faust)

[...]

But let us put quality aside and turn to the really good news. The Chairman of the EPO’s Administrative Council said – and I am not joking here! – that the understaffing problem has meanwhile been solved. He literally stated that the (vacant) positions have been filled again (“die Stellen sind jetzt wieder besetzt”).

How great!

Except that this is unfortunately simply not true.

While a few Board of Appeal chairmen were appointed (out of current board members) and a number of current board members were apparently re-appointed in the last AC meeting, the overall result was such that EPO users can only be very disappointed. Following Dr. Ernst’s speech, I asked around and quickly learnt that there have, in fact, been virtually no new appointments of technical members lately.

[...]

In any case, it cannot be denied that the large majority of the more than 20 open positions as shown by the latest complete business distribution scheme from the end of 2016 have not been filled. Just to mention one example, the pharma board 3.3.02 now (finally!) has a new chairman, but still no (zero!) technical members. Its cases go to TBA 3.3.01. The backlog of cases grows and grows. This cannot be the solution!

Dr. Ernst was confronted with this fact by some members of the audience after his speech. He seemed genuinely surprised, if not even a little embarrassed, on hearing this and said he was not aware of this.

This raises serious questions.

I assume that Dr. Ernst genuinely told the audience what he believed to be true. If so, one must wonder how on earth he could come to this view. Did somebody falsely inform the Chairman of the EPO’s Administrative Council? If so, who was it and will that have any consequences? Or did the Chairman not bother to inform himself properly? He may be forgiven for not reading this blog, but is there nobody around him telling him what is going on?

As we expected, he will probably play “aloof” or apathetic much like Kongstad. Unless he tackles the hard issues and becomes a reforming actor we can expect nothing substantial to change. The same goes for Campinos, whom we’ll revisit in the next post.

10.16.17

Another Misleading Article Regarding Patents From Rana Foroohar at the Financial Times

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Financial Times on UPC

Summary: In an effort to promote the agenda of patent maximalists, many of whom are connected to the Financial Times, another deceiving report comes out

A NEW article that’s composed by Rana Foroohar from New York worries us because it’s not the first time she spreads falsehoods. She recently did more of that and her latest says: “Critics fear Silicon Valley lobbying has weakened the defence of intellectual property and sapped innovation” (by “critics” she means the patent microcosm).

“The Financial Times actively participates in lobbying, e.g. for the UPC. Agenda is up for sale.”
      –
Foroohar writes for a large audience, namely the readers of the Financial Times which the EPO incidentally pays. The Financial Times actively participates in lobbying, e.g. for the UPC. Agenda is up for sale.

The latest nonsense from Foroohar uses false dichotomy/split (it’s not about “Big Pharma” but the patent microcosm) and quotes lobbyists like David Kappos. Unfortunately, we live in a world where big media is just a business and ‘facts’ (or ‘alternative facts’) are just a commodity to be determined by the highest bidder.

“The latest nonsense from Foroohar uses false dichotomy/split (it’s not about “Big Pharma” but the patent microcosm) and quotes lobbyists like David Kappos.”Speaking of the patent microcosm, Patently-O has just spotted that “Oral arguments for both Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, No. 16-712 and SAS Institute Inc. v. Matal, No. 16-969, have been set for November 27, 2017.”

As a reminder, Patently-O has been trying hard to ‘scandalise’ PTAB and influence this case in favour of patent trolls. The US Supreme Court will likely rubberstamp PTAB some time soon in spite of all the pressure from the patent trolls lobby and biased media including Patently-O and the Financial Times. A day earlier Patently-O presented some data about patent application pendency at the USPTO. To quote:

The chart below shows the pendency timing for issued US patents — looking particularly at the time from priority filing (including foreign priority claims) until issuance of the US patent.

This does not show anything profoundly interesting, but compared to the EPO it looks consistent. The EPO is just rushing things through and granting low-quality patents — the very same thing which the patent microcosm in the US wants. It’s all about litigation to these people.

Monika Ermert’s Reports About the Crisis at the EPO and IP Kat’s Uncharacteristically Shallow Coverage

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Good site; shame about the paywall…

IP Watch

Summary: News from inside the Council shows conflict regarding the quality of European Patents (granted by the EPO under pressure from top-level management)

THE situation behind the scenes at the EPO is hard to decipher because secrecy persists and intimidation prevails.

Earlier today, adding further to the mystique, Monika Ermert published this article about “System Battistelli” behind a paywall. To quote the only paragraph which is open access:

Considerable quality problems in the examination and processing of patent applications at the European Patent Office (EPO) were deplored by a group of patent attorneys during a visit of the new Chair of the EPO Administrative Board, Christoph Ernst, from the German Ministry of Justice, to the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research in Munich. Meant as a presentation of Ernst’s thoughts on “the future of the European patent system,” the debate developed into a harsh reckoning of the “System Battistelli.”

Some readers of ours asked if we could gain access to the full article, but we could not. One reader said that “the only way to receive the full article is by subscribing and paying the 1 year fee of 99 CHF or 86 €!”

Transparency at the EPO is crucial now. It would be nice to know what the article above said (which was new).

We have instead decided to publish a translation of another article from Ermert. She wrote also for Germany’s leading technology news site.

Translation of the article which appeared on Heise.de on the 14th of October can be found below:

Outgoing head of the European Patent Office criticised

14.10.2017 15:30 – Monika Ermert

European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich. (Picture: dpa, Frank Leonhardt)

On Friday evening, what had originally been intended as a specialist technical discussion about the future of the European patent system with the new head of the EPO Administrative Council turned into a round of severe criticism directed at the outgoing President.

The newly appointed head of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO), Christoph Ernst, Assistant Chief Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice, was obliged to listen to harsh criticism about the deteriorating quality of patent examination at the EPO as a result of the overworking of patent examiners. At the invitation of the Munich Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Innovation and Competition, Ernst presented an optimistic picture of the future of the European patent system but declared that he was willing to conduct a discussion about the quality problem with the experts.

The patent figures at the European Patent Office are rising, the Office is equipped to deal with new challenges and the EU Unitary patent is almost ready to go, according to Ernst’s optimistic message. On 1st October, he took over the Chairmanship of the Administrative Council. Prior to that, he already sat as head of the German delegation in the supervisory body of the 38 member states and he represented Germany at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Pressure to perform and toxic workplace relations

For years the EPO has been getting negative press coverage, mainly because of the severe conflict between President Benoit Battistelli who is due to depart next year and his employees and staff unions. Because of the intense pressure to perform and also psychological pressure exerted on the employees within the Office, perverse incentives have been introduced, warned Gero Maatz-Jansen from the Munich-based law firm Grüncker.

Instead of thoroughly scrutinizing patent applications, EPO staff try to get the files off their desks as quickly as possible. In the medium term, declining quality could drive the users away and cause the entire EPO system to collapse, the lawyer said with great applause from around 60 participants at the MPI event, many of whom contributed their own observations.

Evidence of deterioration in quality?

Weaker prior art citations and superficial search reports on the state of the art, as well as problems in the formal procedures underscored the fact that the work of the EPA staff was suffering. Examiners increasingly complied with the rigorous efficiency agenda of EPA CEO Battistelli by quickly rejecting applications because of minor formal flaws, said one lawyer.

Ernst called for data concerning such deficiencies to be presented. To date, there had been no real evidence of a deterioration in quality, he said. The number of oppositions against granted applications was declining slightly, as were the revocations and the “destruction rate” was negligible. “The mere fact that more patents are granted does not in itself mean that the quality is impaired,” he told the patent lawyers.

The EPO examiner and staff union official Elizabeth Hardon, who was dismissed by Battistelli in 2016, recalled that quality problems will only become apparent a number of years down the line in subsequent nullity proceedings. The staff union official expressly welcomed the fact that at the MPI event others were standing up to voice criticism of the workplace situation at the EPO. “For years nobody was listening to us,” she said.

Patent system in crisis?

According to the host, Reto Hilty, Managing Director of the MPI for Innovation and Competition, a rising number of patent applications does not provide proof of any increase in innovation, which is supposed to be what the patent system is all about. Researchers who for a long time have been talking about a “crisis of the patent system” are noting a veritable race for high numbers of applications in China, the USA and Europe.

In his speech at the MPI Ernst also referred to individual crisis symptoms. For example, there are intense discussions at the United Nations about the artificial restriction of access to vital medication by patents. However, he called the relevant UN report “one-sided” and “not pointing in the right direction.” The controversial issue of bio-patenting has not yet been resolved because the EPO is currently dealing with a new opposition proceedings against the patenting of beer. Finally, a consultation relating to patents on essential standards is one of the top priorities on the agenda of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Update, 14.10.2017 16:30:

Name of Elizabeth Hardon corrected (Monika Ermert)

One might wonder, where’s the Kat?

Well, the Kat finally wrote something about it, but it’s disappointing. “Merpel welcomes Mr. Campinos to the exciting world of European Patents,” it says.

This unusually shallow coverage from the user “Merpel” makes us wonder if it’s CIPA (Stephen) who wrote it. It’s a short post that’s repeating/parroting Battistelli’s statements (without noting that it’s Battistelli who set him up for this job) and calling Campinos “a Portuguese national” even though he is French too (like Battistelli). Merpel is not an actual person but a name used by several people who prefer to post anonymously.

Incidentally, somebody wrote this comment today regarding what Ernst means to the UPC. It says: “Interesting thoughts – one further comment – should the UPC fail or succeed in coming about, that may indicate the trend of IP in future, reflecting as it does the “in” or “out” discussions in regions and nations at present (although with an added sprinkling of complex constitutional compromise for good measure to mix things up a little). Personally a retreat to tribalism does not seem to bode well.”

The UPC will probably fail at the end; it’s stuck and won’t become a reality under Battistelli, but the one legacy Battistelli put in place is lenient grants with PPH, PACE, Early Certainty etc. Very bad for patent quality, no doubt. Earlier today Awapatent published this article about the EPO’s PPH arrangement with a former Portuguese colony (not Angola but Brazil). What this will mean when Campinos take charge remains to be seen.

Patent Troll VirnetX a Reminder to Apple That Software Patents Are a Threat to Apple Too

Posted in Apple, Patents at 4:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: VirnetX, a notorious patent troll, is poised to receive a huge sum of money from Apple and Qualcomm is trying to ban Apple products, serving to remind Apple of the detrimental impact of patents on Apple itself

AS reported in some Apple fan sites and VirnetX with its press release, Apple will need to pay about half a billion dollars for some dubious patents. It’s the latest reminder to Apple that software patents should be abolished.

There is also an attempt to ban all the ‘i’ things. That’s the latest on Qualcomm, as we noted yesterday. Even patent fanatics from IAM don’t think Qualcomm’s strategy will succeed. As they put it some hours ago:

A series of Beijing lawsuits first reported by Bloomberg on Friday are just the latest salvos in the increasingly bitter global patent war between Qualcomm and Apple. Announcing the new suits to the press, Qualcomm declared explicitly that it will seek an injunction in China to stop the manufacture and sale of iPhones.

The three cases have been filed to the Beijing IP Court. A Qualcomm spokesperson said the patents are related to power management and touch screen technologies, and made clear that they are not standard essential patents (SEPs). Apple emphasised that the rights are peripheral to the core of the dispute between the two companies, saying in a statement: “In our many years of ongoing negotiations with Qualcomm, these patents have never been discussed.” But by asserting patents not subject to a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing pledge, Qualcomm is likely to be counting on an easier path to injunctive relief – its stated goal.

Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler for Apple if software patents simply did not exist (in China too)? Many of the patents Qualcomm is using are software patents.

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