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05.26.15

Patent Scope at the EPO is Totally Out of Control, UPC Will Make Things Worse

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.

“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”

Richard Stallman

Summary: A look at the practical issues with the EPO, where patent scope and litigation scope have been vastly extended so as to benefit multinational corporations and possibly patent trolls

TECHRIGHTS has spent almost a decade criticising the EPO for practices that in no way benefit Europeans. Submissions to officials, ombudsman etc. have been prepared as well, usually to no avail because people in power are nearly unstoppable. Sooner or later they get what they want, unless there is some kind of a huge scandal or a revolution.

Dr. Glyn Moody, who focuses on multinationals’ trade agreements these days, spotted this alert about Monsanto expecting to receive 30 European patents on food plants, whereupon he wrote that the EPO had already gone the wrong way again (expansion for the sake of expansion, despite being a public institution, funded by taxpayers). Clearly that’s the case, as just about anyone can see, but here we see not only software patents but also genetics being patented for the sake of monopoly (from abroad) on food, hence taxation of foods consisting of certain basic ingredients. “Last month,” Moody noted, “we wrote about the strange case of unpatentable plants becoming patentable in Europe thanks to a decision from the European Patent Office’s Enlarged Board of Appeal.”

“That cleared the way for companies to obtain such patents, and according to this post on the “no patents on seeds” site — I think you can probably work out where its biases lie — that’s about to happen,” Glyn Moody wrote.

“This can be some products from entering Europe as a whole (continental embargo).”Things are about to get significantly worse when the EPO gains even more power, let alone gets the power to enforce patents through a Europe-wide court which limits the impact of nations’ sovereign law and appeals systems, never mind the interests of individual citizens in each nation (the nations are economically different, so their interests with regards to patents vary a great deal).

Based on some recent bunch of posts from IP Kat, with opposition to the UPC growing weak (e.g. Italy's opposition falling) there are changes underway in the appeals system and the EPO goes ahead pushing for the UPC [1, 2, 3]. It is already presumed inevitable, the only unknowns now are some pertinent details, such as: “will it be more expensive than current litigation before national courts or does it represent value for money?”

“Passage of power to fewer hands (those handling the patent system) is going to facilitate a transfer of power to fewer globalists who are using such systems for protectionism.”The issue with the Unitary Patent is often misunderstood. This isn’t a stance against union or harmony. This isn’t a stance against the European Union. Currently, different member states have their own laws for specific reasons, some being historical or pertaining to the local industry and its interests, based on import/export. The UK, for example, has got UK-IPO. The Unitary Patent Court would take a lot of this away. It would enable litigation to be done Europe-wide, assisting the likes of Samsung and LG from Korea, Apple and Microsoft from the US, Siemens from Germany and Philips from Holland. This can be some products from entering Europe as a whole (continental embargo). Cui bono? Small companies are not going to be able to afford or bear the rising costs of patents and the totality of patents — areas of work where implementation is verboten or subjected to taxation — will only grow. This means that just like globalisation, which cheapens the vast majority for the benefit of the rich minority worldwide, a centralised system would invite abusers, who shall extort more companies in more nations, using just one patent and one single ruling. The myths about innovations and globalisation intersect (or collide); when people wrongly assume the patent system to be about resources rather than monopoly (or restriction on action, resources, etc.) it is too easy to be fooled by rhetoric. Passage of power to fewer hands (those handling the patent system) is going to facilitate a transfer of power to fewer globalists who are using such systems for protectionism. Monsanto is just one of many.

05.25.15

Süddeutsche Zeitung Says Talking Helps While EPO Management Back-stabs Other Side of the Table

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Süddeutsche Zeitung headline

Summary: German media gives the impression that there is peace and harmony now that Benoît Battistelli and his circle of power speaks to staff, but nothing is said about simultaneous (albeit covert) attacks against that staff

NOW THAT the EPO hires private spies (waste of money) to intimidate its own staff it wants us to believe that it approaches reconciliation. That’s an insulting illusion. As Merpel put it the other day, “SUEPO, the Staff Union of the EPO, has announced (see news item of 21 May) that it understands that Control Risks (who describe themselves as “an independent, global risk consultancy specialising in helping organisations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments”) has been commissioned by the EPO to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union. Merpel considers that this completely undermines any attempt at social dialogue, or moves towards union recognition. How are EPO employees to be expected to serve on the Central Staff Committee, or to represent the EPO unions, if at the same time they are to be harassed and investigated, apparently for performing this very service?”

Also, “in the meantime,” she wrote, “most of the reforms to which the EPO staff objected were being pushed through, and it began to appear as though, even if union recognition was achieved, it would be too late to achieve any of the modifications that were needed to the reforms.”

What kind of reform and negotiation is this? Benefit of the doubt given to Benoît Battistelli? Why? Control freak is what he is and there is hardly an effort to deny it, either. Is this going to be the legacy of the European Union? Autocrats who waste taxpayers’ money?

Around the same time of a report from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung there was this Süddeutsche Zeitung article from a month ago [PDF]. It said “Talking Helps”, but helps who? So far it has mostly gagged EPO critics.

Here is the article in full:

Talking Helps

For months a massive dispute has been brewing at the European Patent Office. The staff regard their basic rights as being eroded by the President. Now the opposing camps have met for the first time.

Top executives at the Patent Office are starting to worry about its reputation – and the ability to do its job

By Katja Riedel

This week something almost impossible happened at the European Patent Office – or at least that’s the way it looked to the always well-informed bloggers on IPKat. This and similar Internet forums are where the people get together who are interested in intellectual property. And over the past few months the patent scene worldwide has been watching Munich with as much excitement as concern, and the darkened windows of the headquarters of the European Patent Office (EPO) on the bank of the River Isar. It is there, for all to see, that a dispute which is as bizarre as it is bitter has been brewing between parts of the staff, supported by the union Suepo, and the President, Benoît Battistelli.

This week something has happened which even Battistelli’s most trusted lieutenants would hardly have thought feasible: It seems that a rapprochement is at least on the cards. On Wednesday the President, along with high ranking delegates from his supervisory body, the Administrative Council, met with union representatives. The Danish Chairman of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, was there, together with the German and Croatian EPO Vice-Presidents, and representatives from the unions Suepo and FFPE. The aim was to re-establish social harmony, on the Isar and in the entire international organization, with its well on 7000 staff members. This is regarded as having absolute priority for the entire organization, according to the Administrative Council.

What sounds like something obvious has up now been unthinkable. The unions and the President weren’t even getting close – they were worlds apart. Step by step, Battistelli has been implementing a major programme of reform. He wants to streamline the Office, which is actually said to be the most expensive in the world, and that means doing away with some of the perks. For example, he has changed the promotion system to a more rigid performance-related points system. Staff at the European Patent Office actually earn an average of 7600 Euro, their income is not subject to tax, their children attend an international school free of charge, and there are a lot of other benefits as well. But they are also highly specialized scientists. And they emphasize that the issue is not one of money, but of basic rights, which in the world of the EPO, with its own set of rules, do not apply, but under German labour law and that of most of the 38 individual states which are represented at the EPO are a matter of course. The right to unionize, for example. Or, if someone falls ill, not having to have an unannounced visit from a company doctor at their home. A court at The Hague, one of the EPO locations, even recently ruled that the Office was infringing basic human rights. This is a criticism which Battistelli has rejected in a public bulletin: “There is a strange rumour going around in Europe, in media, political circles, and even at national courts: That we infringe basic rights. What an accusation!”

For a long time the representative of the Member States have let the President have a free hand, among other reasons because at its heart they were in favour of the reform. The Office is preparing for the introduction of the European Unitary Patent, which will make Munich one of the most important places in the world when it comes to intellectual property. It will also be the seat of an outpost of the European Patent Court, which will decide on the fate of billions of Euros. Top ranking EPO representatives have recently become extremely concerned that the tumult surrounding Battistelli is damaging the reputation of the Office, and is taking up too much of the effort which is needed for bringing about the reforms at the EPO. And even the patent examiners, highly specialized scientists, are saying that they are concerned – about the quality of the patents. In future, more patents will have to be given the once-over, less critically, so as to be able to hold their own in worldwide competition with glittering statistics and high earnings from fees.

At the most recent meeting of the Administrative Council at the end of March, Battistelli’s back-covering finally gave way, even on the part of the German delegation. The inner circle closeted itself with Battistelli, and made it penetratingly clear to him that he needed to give up the confrontation approach, and take a step in the direction of the staff, in the interests of his own reform programme, which he is aiming to complete by the end of his term of office in 2018.

For four hours they sat together on Wednesday, and word had it afterwards from the people concerned that there were no harsh words or emotional outbursts at all. And that says a lot,
after a year with 22 days of strikes, with demonstrations at consulates on the one hand and threats of disciplinary procedures and measures against personnel who were too loud in their criticism on the other. A working group has been set up. The top-ranking gathering will reconvene at the end of May. “It wasn’t an easy meeting, but actually sitting at the same table was an important first step, and the beginning of a constructive process”, said the Chairman of the Administrative Council Kongstad, in a joint communiqué with Battistelli. The President too praised the open atmosphere. Suepo did express regret that the question of a fixed role of the unions in the EPO regulatory procedure appeared to be the sole specific point of negotiation. There was the feeling, however, that the delegates from the Administrative Council had at least understood the views of the employees. Caption:

Strike: In the past few months, the staff have repeatedly been making their voices heard at the consulates of the Member States in Munich

The EPO’s management is no negotiations partner until or unless it stops intimidating the staff of the EPO. This ought to be clear to anyone who has watched what Battistelli has done over the past couple of years.

“The European Patent Office is a Corrupt, Malicious Organisation Which Should Not Exist”

Richard Stallman

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Benoît Battistelli and Four EPO Suicides

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) article

Summary: German press article from April 2015 (with translations)

WHILE the EPO hires spies to attack journalists (not just staff), this one article (see these translations [PDF]) frames Battistelli as a peacemaker, which is wrong:

Truce at the Tax Haven of the European Patent Office

The autocratic President, Battistelli, is not a popular person. One union is even holding him responsible for suicides. Now discussions are under way.

kön. MUNICH, 24 April. Benoît Battistelli represents the French School par excellence. His autocratic management style is entirely in the tradition of the cradle of France’s elite, the Paris Institute of Political Science and School of Management for Executive State Service (ENA), where he embraced hierarchical and authoritarian thinking, with little dialogue and a lot of top-down delegation. A style like that does not always sit well, and even less so in an international organization such as the European Patent Office (EPO), with headquarters in Munich and The Hague, and with 38 European countries as members.

Battistelli, a 64-year-old Frenchman, being in office since 2010, has been dubbed the “Sun King” within the Office. The title fits: The EPO enjoys extra-territorial status with immunity, and is therefore not subject to national legislation. “Monsieur le Président” even has diplomatic status. But this authoritarian approach runs into trouble if it threatens to bring in reforms that erode privileges at the EPO, founded in 1973. The 7000 or so staff, from 30 countries, earn an average of 120,000 Euro a year, among them some 4300 highly qualified engineers, for a 40-hour working week and up to three months of holidays, a tax rate of 6 percent, and the EPO paying for medical care and children’s education.

Battistelli is out to exert more control. As of this month, he is demanding a doctor’s certificate in the event of illness and inability to work after three days, something which otherwise goes without saying in Germany. Illness numbers and time off are noticeably high. Since the start of the year, new criteria apply for assessing the performance of the staff. In this context, trouble has been brewing for more thanyear between the union SUEPO and the President, who does not recognize them as discussion partners. This has resulted in an attack on Battistelli, accusing him of joint responsibility in the suicide of staff members, among other reasons due to mobbing tactics. The aim is to drive the President from office, accompanied by strikes and demonstrations.

Last Wednesday, the reasonable approach won through. Battistelli, the Chairman of the Administrative Council Jesper Kongstad, and the two unions SUEPO and the somewhat more moderate FFPE, which represents the staff at The Hague, sat down at the same table. They talked for three hours, which is regarded as a great success. It is seen as the first step towards a “social dialogue”. According to the EPO, the ultimate aim of the Round Table is to lead to the formal recognition of the unions. The next meeting between the opposing parties is scheduled for 28 May. The SUEPO views it as positive that it has come to an “open exchange”. More is going to need to happen than simply the recognition of the unions, however; they are demanding to be integrated into the reform process.

The President has come to this understanding, with some pressure from the Administrative Council. Word has it that the Council has recognized the necessity of peace talks, and in the process has encountered an amazingly forthcoming Battistelli. It has become clear to him too that at the beginning of April a line was crossed. An article about the crisis at the EPO appeared in the French newspaper “Le Monde”. Four cases of suicide of Office employees were analyzed in almost minute detail, which occurred in three years and are said to have been attributable to depression. In March, a German employee in Munich took his own life. The SUEPO was quoted in the article as saying that they held Battistelli responsible for the circumstances, and that he was abusing the principle enshrined in the Statutes of judicial immunity. The President stated in the same article that he was “shocked” at the attempts to exploit the tragic incidents as an instrument, and to lay the suicides at his door.

The SUEPO already took up arms about the situation at the EPO last year. Reforms in personnel management and working conditions were said to have been introduced without having been examined by an independent body with regard to compatibility with fundamental rights and generally accepted principles of law. Staff can only lodge complaints about rights by way of an arbitration tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, not via national labour courts. The lack of transparency in management was criticized. Divergent opinions have been suppressed. “In structural terms, the President appears in all matters as accuser, examiner, judge, and final arbiter” is how the SUEPO describes the autocratic management style. In November 2014 Battistelli threw the union out of the EPO premises, and in February he threatened strikers with disciplinary measures.

All the more startling, then, the change just a few weeks later: In “Le Monde” “Monsieur Le Président”, whose contract was extended last year by three years, until 2018, was perfectly open about his salary of 250,000 Euro, which up to now has been one of the most closely guarded secrets. The newspaper report appears to have unleashed a shockwave. The case of France Télécom may have sounded warning bells with the President and the Administrative Council. In 2010, CEO Didier Lombard stood down after a series of suicides by several dozen employees shook the concern. And the fact also sank in that the reforms can be moved ahead in co-operation with the unions, and not at war with them. Battistelli took office with the task of putting into effect plans for renewal of the authority which had already run into difficulties. Unrest or even escalation under public gaze in an institution which acts discreetly such as the EPO could affect the success record of the President. He has in fact already scored a number of successes, and has strengthened the EPO in relation to the competing patent organizations in the United States and in Asia during his time in office. In 2014 there were 274,000 patent applications, while only 64,600 patents were actually granted, which is an indicator of the high demands involved. The more careful the examinations and screening procedures, the fewer the number of patents which can be challenged.

With a budget of 2 billion Euros, the Office finances itself from the expensive patent earnings, from which money is also distributed among the 38 Member States. Each of these has one vote, regardless of their significance, whether it be Albania or Germany, from which the most applications come. This congenital defect has contributed to the evolution of the autocratic structures. The President has always been able to bring small states into the balance, just as the controversial and power- obsessed Sepp Blatter is prone to do, President of the largest sports organization in the world, the World Football Association Fifa. The big difference with regard to Blatter is that Battistelli is able to learn – and he’s perceptive.

If Battistelli wants to make things right, he should resign, ensure the removal of his cronies (especially that gangster Željko Topić), and bring back people who were illegally fired/suspended, including regulatory staff. Restoring order and justice at the EPO would be a long process; it hasn’t even begun.

05.22.15

Microsoft Blackmails and Extorts British Politicians Over Open Standards and Free Software-Leaning Policies

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OpenDocument at 11:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Westminster Abbey

Summary: Microsoft’s digital imperialism in the UK getting defended using blackmail, reminding a lot of Brits that Microsoft is just as evil as ever before

LARGE nations are moving away from Microsoft for technical reasons. Free software is simply better, not just more ethical. Despite Microsoft’s strong influence in the Indian government, the government of India is one of the latest to put Microsoft behind. Microsoft is already using the Indian corporate media to attack India's decision, sometimes lobbying by proxy. The same has been happening in the UK, whose government probably spends far more money than any other nation in the world on Microsoft software (per capita).

“They can incite against politicians to induce resignations or firings.”One year ago, when an ODF consultation was still ongoing, we warned Cabinet Office (UK) about what now turns out to be true. No country is immune to it, not even a large and powerful nation like India, let alone the UK (which for many years occupied India)

Microsoft already attacked the government just weeks or months after the consultation and did this again later in the year (these are the cases where we found out about it, surely there is more that was never reported on). Microsoft’s FUD attacks on ODF at the time often relied on Microsoft buddies and cooperation from some goons inside the British media. We named and shamed the culprits at the time.

The Inquirer, which is not Microsoft-friendly, says in today’s headline that “Microsoft bullied MPs over government switch to open source standards”. To quote: “As reported at Bloomberg, Steve Hilton, who was the prime minister’s director of strategy until 2012, revealed at an event that Microsoft began lobbying members of parliament after the Conservative Party proposed shifting government computer systems to open standards.”

In the original report from Bloomberg, which is usually quite Microsoft-friendly, the headline says “Microsoft Threatened to Close U.K. Plants, Ex-Cameron Aide Says”. “We just resisted,” the aide is quoted. “You have to be brave.”

Have to be brave? Who is in charge of who? Are corporations from the US now controlling the British government, too? Well, that pretty much sums up Microsoft. They will retaliate and intimidate, as per their usual behaviour. They can incite against politicians to induce resignations or firings. Watch what they did to Peter Quinn, who had been supporting ODF in his state.

The British media is gradually waking up. It is being filled with more and more news reports about Microsoft’s political blackmail over ODF (the modus operandi of Microsoft’s allies at the NSA). This is going to cost them. Here is the most widely-cited (in the UK at least) report which says: “Microsoft executives telephoned Conservative MPs threatening to shut down a facility in their local area because of planned IT reforms, David Cameron’s former strategy chief has claimed.

“Steve Hilton, who worked for Cameron in opposition and for two years in Downing Street, made the allegation as he argued the dominance of corporate lobbying in the UK was leading to bad policy-making.

“Asked how the government should deal with lobbyists, he said: “You just have to fight them off. I can give you specific examples: the thing I mentioned about IT contracts. Maybe there is someone here to confirm this from Microsoft? When we proposed this, Microsoft phoned Conservative MPs with Microsoft R&D facilities in their constituencies and said, ‘we will close them down in your constituency if this goes through’.”

“There are a lot more cases like these, but they are scarcely reported on or never reported on.”Here at Techrights we are not surprised that Microsoft blackmails. It always did. Almost exactly a year ago we foresaw this and warned Cabinet Office staff that this would happen. Microsoft is not a company but a Scientology-like cult, to quote a government delegate with Microsoft experiences. Paolo Vecchi asked rhetorically: “Is anybody shocked about the fact that MS used lobbying, blackmailing and bribing to create & maintain their monopoly?”

Remember that “Microsoft loves Linux” (its CEO says that). Under the leadership of that phony, Nadella (right-hand man of Bill Gates and the real owners of the company), Microsoft is unable to decide whether it supports FOSS (pretending to anyway) or attacks it (usually secretly, in order to support the former illusion).

Surely Microsoft hates not only Linux but also FOSS and open standards, such as ODF. Recall the following older posts:

In summary, watch out for and keep an eye on Microsoft. These are lunatic bullies who are willing to get people out of their job (or make their job deprecated) if these people ‘dare’ to stand in Microsoft’s way, i.e. not fully serve Microsoft’s interests. This was reportedly the case in Bristol (UK), not just in Massachusetts (US). There are a lot more cases like these, but they are scarcely reported on or never reported on. Microsoft does this covertly and quite often indirectly, too.

Free software usage is rapidly growing in public sector in the UK and it’s easy to see why Microsoft has gone off the rails. It must be furious over migrations to FOSS, which have become a frequent occurrence here. Good and honest journalism is key to exposing Microsoft’s real behaviour. Transparency would serve as deterrent against Microsoft’s corruption.

05.21.15

More Utter Shame Unveiled at Battistelli’s EPO: Intimidation Tactics With Help From ‘Control Risks’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Risks to Battistelli’s control be dismantled?

Benoît Battistelli

Summary: The unaccountable thugs who run the EPO have hired London-based spooks to help silence their opposition and their critics

Benoît Battistelli, whose own staff (not his establishment) dislikes him greatly, can only ever pretend to have learned his lessons about the downsides of tyranny. His Napoleonic complex remains in tact and as a result of this we are going to renew our criticism of the EPO’s crooked management.

Weeks ago, seeing that there was talk about recognition of a staff union and reform (“reform of sick leave and invalidity constitutes another severe attack on both dignity and fundamental rights of EPO staff”), we decided to stay quiet, giving an opportunity of reform a chance. There was later “Union Recognition Working Group – Report on the 1st meeting of 11 May 2015″.

“Surveillance on people who cover EPO corruption (including Techrights) is now a fact, not merely a possibility.”To quote one recent bit: “In its 119th session the Tribunal delivered a total of 77 judgments, of which 24 cases involving the EPO. Of the 24 EPO cases, only one case was won by the complainant. The remaining 23 cases were dismissed, 13 summarily. This paper discusses the cases that have broader relevance and the overall implications.”

Things seemed to have calmed down a bit, but different sources have told us about at least 3 nefarious surveillance and cracking companies that EPO hired (or is said to have hired because there is disagreement on which firm/s the EPO actually hired, with Blue Coat seemingly quite likely).

Surveillance on people who cover EPO corruption (including Techrights) is now a fact, not merely a possibility. Some of these surveillance agencies need to intercept or thwart encryption, so cracking is usually within their toolset. There is now public information in SUEPO’s Web site, which says: “SUEPO understands that the company Control Risks has been commissioned by the European Patent Office to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union.”

The EPO’s surveillance on staff is an intimidation tactic. Deterrence is the goal. Too bad they don’t know how “blowback” works and how contracting abusive companies (military industrial complex-connected) hurts them in the long run, coinciding with other scandals and reinforcing a perception of corruption and lack of ethics, not to mention gross disregard for the law (Battistelli never cared much about the law, he even snubbed a Hague court’s ruling).

Here is the letter which SUEPO sent to Control Risks:

To :
Nick Allan (Regional Director)
Control Risks
Cottons Centre
Cottons Lane
London, SE1 2QG
United Kingdom
enquiries@controlrisks.com

Cc:
Crawford Gillies (Chairman),
Richard Fenning (CEO),

Dear Mr Allan,

We understand that your company has been commissioned by the EPO to investigate staff members who are elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union. You should be aware that the EPO is going through a serious crisis in its social relations, caused largely (in our opinion) by a series of controversial reforms initiated by the current President, Mr Battistelli.

The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) firmly believes that several of the reforms affront fundamental human rights. Indeed, in one case that we have been able to present to a national court, the court agreed with SUEPO (see Annex 1).

In reaction to the crisis, the EPO announced an initiative to renew the “social dialogue” (see Annex 2). This renewed social dialogue was not intended to address any of the controversial reforms, but rather to discuss the formal recognition of a Staff Union that has existed for more than 35 years and to which some 50% of the staff of the EPO are members. Although sceptical about the real intentions of the administration, SUEPO accepted the offer to talk. Yet while these talks are on-going, the Office apparently pursues one or more investigations against its newly found, but not yet formally recognized, “social partner”.

This is not the first time that staff representatives in the EPO have come under fire from Mr Battistelli. Last year several elected staff representatives and experts nominated by the staff representation have been investigated and/or disciplined. The disciplinary measures imposed by the President were significantly more severe than the proportionate measures – if any – recommended by the disciplinary committee.

We understand that Control Risks’ has a Code of Ethics and Human Rights policy. The former states that “If Control Risks has reason to believe that in undertaking an activity it would be complicit in human rights abuses committed by others, it will avoid that activity. ” The latter adds that “our employees are never to be complicit in human rights abuses.” We note that your company also adheres to the widely accepted UN Global Compact’s “ten principles”.

As indicated above, SUEPO is of the opinion that in particular the human resource policies and reforms currently implemented by the Office are repressive and serially offend fundamental human rights. For example, the unlawful restrictions on freedom of association have been confirmed by the Dutch court judgment. The right to engage in collective bargaining has never been recognized by the EPO, nor has the Staff Union been formally recognized, an apparent prerequisite (see “historic” talks) to being treated as a social partner. The list of staff grievances is long (see Annex 3) and ever lengthening.

To provide further context, you will find below further references to a selection of publicly available information about the current EPO “situation”. We cannot provide you with any of the internal material since this would be deemed to offend our EPO internal regulations, which are themselves also confidential. However, the cited documents and further information are available on our website: http://www.suepo.org/public/news

SUEPO is not aware of any wrong doing on our side, so we conclude that any investigation serves no other purpose than to intimidate, harass or simply silence Staff / Union representatives who oppose the present regime at the EPO.

We respectfully ask Control Risks to exercise due diligence by verifying both whether the commission from the EPO is “proper” and whether accepting this commission is fully in line with your company’s code of ethics.

We remain at your disposition should you wish to discuss this situation.

Yours sincerely
SUEPO Central

For information about “Control Risks” see Source Watch and see also WikiSpooks. To quote some relevant bits: “The majority of their clients are large multi-nationals; they state that more than 90 per cent of the FTSE 100 use one or more of their services [...] CRG is a member of the British Association of Private Security Companies and the Private Security Company Association of Iraq.”

There is definitely more coming. We shall keep an eye on this. As we assured at the start, this gross, crude, unethical and potentially illegal behaviour from EPO management is only going to motivate us to write more about EPO abuses, not less.

05.18.15

The EPO’s Fight to Bring Software Patents Into Europe is One Step Closer to a ‘Victory’ (for Multinationals)

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 7:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Roman empire giving up

Old cathedral

Summary: Opposition to the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is being crushed and Italy is one of the latest actors to have fallen in the battle

SO IT TURNS out that “Italy [is going] to join the UPC after decision of 5th May,” based on Benjamin Henrion’s rant. “Does Italy has a constitution?”

IP Kat backs that up in this article, showing us that Europe going the way of the dodo when it comes to patents. Four years ago we commended Italy for standing up against the this polymorphic and nym-shifting charade (Unified Patent Court is the latest name), but the EPO fought against them for years; it fought for software patents in Europe.

IP Kat‘s criticism of the EPO carries on in other ways, but the news from Italy is covered as follows: “Now it seems that the legal challenges to the new system are coming to an end but, as Merpel suggests, the biggest challenge of all remains — the challenge of making this unknown, untried, hybrid system work in practice. The patent-granting and administration work is the easy bit: all depends on the functionality of the Unified Patent Court.”

Large multinational companies will soon be suing European companies using patents Europe-wide, imposing embargoes and raising costs considerably. Patent trolls can join these multinationals in the heist. Who does the Unified Patent Court serve if not wealthy globalists?

05.13.15

Does Anyone Still View Cyanogen as Anything But a Microsoft Proxy?

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 4:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Android and Microsoft

Image from Android Beat

Summary: The marriage of convenience between Microsoft and Cyanogen helps reaffirm CyanogenMod’s status as a Microsoft Trojan horse which must be rejected

MICROSOFT is assaulting Android from numerous angles at the same time. There is no way Microsoft can compete with Android on technical merit, so Microsoft is, as usual, resorting to underhanded tactics and dirty tricks. Our recent article about Microsoft’s assault on Android says that “Cyanogen is confirmed as a Microsoft Trojan horse also elsewhere, so it’s not merely a rumour.”

Stallman asked us for additional references for that, so we provided a few [1, 2, 3], including one from Microsoft’s unofficial mouthpiece ([1] is from the original announcement). Anyone who still thinks of Cyanogen as an independent company is clearly not paying attention. The days of CyanogenMod are gone; now there’s just a proxy called Cyanogen and it is controlled by Microsoft just like Nokia was controlled by Microsoft after Elop had taken charge.

The announcement which unofficially confirmed Cyanogen’s status as a Microsoft proxy was made a few weeks ago, but we think many of the details are still not entirely clear to some negligent observers. It is not stated explicitly, but basically, CyanogenMod would push Microsoft software at the expense of Google et al. software (also Google/Android partners), turning Android into a sort of “Microsoft Android” — a term which some other sites now casually use as well. Android is facing the threat of a classic embrace extend and extinguish manoeuvre by a Microsoft proxy.

“We are having a fundamental miscommunication,” said Stallman. “The CyanogenMod I have heard of is a system distro. Various people have told me about installing in phones.”

That was well before Microsoft harnessed the popularity of CyanogenMod to attack Android, or to turn it into “Microsoft Android” (same thing which was attempted by Amazon, Facebook, and Nokia).

“You are talking about “CyanogenMod” as some sort of entity which can do things,” said Stallman. “That is a total surprise to me. What relationship exists between those two?”

One predates the other and Microsoft needs CyanogenMod to operate like a company, e.g. Cyanogen. Microsoft requires that in order to manipulate CyanogenMod in this turf war against Google and AOSP (Android Open Source Project).

“I will look at those articles,” said Stallman regarding additional links we sent to him. “Does this mean that when people install CyanogenMod on their phones, it standardly includes Skype etc?”

I recently found out that even some companies like HP preinstall Skype on Android tablets (I found out because I bought one for my parents in law). One has to wonder who pays who and what deals are silently being made, not publicly. With respect to Cyanogen’s CM12.1, I think that their latest release contains many Microsoft apps. I have not downloaded CM12.1 or anything like this to confirm it, but it seems like an inevitability. The announcement from Cyanogen (about the Microsoft deal) was made some weeks ago, so we think some of the details are still not entirely clear (they remain to be seen in practice), but basically, CyanogenMod would push Microsoft software (spyware, or ‘cloud’) into phones. We wrote additional articles about it and will continue to write as new details emerge. More Microsoft spyware and surveillance are being spotted by the media even this month, so whatever Microsoft puts on Cyanogen is likely to be as privacy-infringing as is legally allowed (if not well beyond it).

Stallman has been eager to understand what is happening here. We explained that Microsoft ‘embraces’ Cyanogen to make CyanogenMod a distro through which Cyanogen partners will spread Microsoft spyware, hoping that this adequately explains the relationship. Stallman wanted some broader context though. “It leaves the most important question unanswered,” he wrote to us. “Will the CyanogenMod distro that users install contain these Microsoft apps? Does it contain them now?”

Seeing the confusion here, we clarified a little further; CyanogenMod and Cyanogen are synonyms only in the sense that CyanogenMod (CM), previously a username of the guy who founded the company (Cyanogen), are company-product. A quick historical roundup:

  • CyanogenMod (name of person) uses AOSP (Android Open Source [sic] Project) to make his own fork/derivative of Android{tm}
  • CyanogenMod (self named, like Linus and Linux) becomes popular
  • CyanogenMod (the person) is hired by Samsung
  • CyanogenMod leaves Samsung
  • CyanogenMod establishes a company called Cyanogen
  • Microsoft sues Samsung using patents, compelling it to install Microsoft spyware (by default in Android) in order to attain settlement
  • VCs give money for Cyanogen to develop CyanogenMod
  • Microsoft ‘embraces’ Cyanogen to make CyanogenMod a distro through which Cyanogen partners will spread Microsoft spyware
  • (Coinciding with the above) After much lobbying in Europe, Microsoft paralyses Google and dubs Google apps in Android ‘anti-competitive’. This is accompanied by potential legal action.

We hope this adequately explains the relationship between CyanogenMod and Cyanogen and we hope that Microsoft’s strategy in attacking Google is better understood now. It’s an extension of the “Scroogled” PR campaign that Microsoft has sunk so much money and effort into. Microsoft, being Microsoft, is very focused on annihilating the competition rather creating its own products.

We always recommend Replicant and F-Droid, and have done so for years (even at CyanogenMod’s expense). See our articles from 2013. We sort of foresaw what is happening now, including what Microsoft does to Samsung and other Android distributors at the moment (patents as tools of extortion). According to the press in Taiwan, Microsoft now pressures companies to put Microsoft spyware in their distribution of Android or face patent lawsuits/higher patent royalties. This is extortion, blackmail, abuse of retaliatory means etc.

“I think it would help if the FSF issued some kind of statement regarding Microsoft’s behaviour,” I told Stallman, “[especially the attacks which happen] behind the scenes, countering Orwellian charm offensives that seek to paint/frame Windows as “Open Source” and insist that Microsoft “loves” [GNU/]Linux. What Microsoft has been doing recently sure increased the blood pressure levels of many Free software supporters (I wrote a lot about it this year). A high-authority, facts-based response would perhaps help counter Microsoft’s narrative.”

05.11.15

Europe is Saying Goodbye to Microsoft, Moves to ODF

Posted in Europe, Office Suites at 3:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: OpenDocument Format, or ODF as it’s commonly referred to, is spreading quickly throughout Europe after Microsoft failed to kill in in Britain last year

France, like the UK and parts of Germany, is joining the ODF revolution, making the European Union a lot more standards- and Free software-oriented. Germany, in the mean time, attacks OOXML on the basis of poor security. As a European Commission site put it the other day: “Using the proprietary OOXML document format, i.e. docx, pptx and xlsx, makes you more vulnerable to phishing and other attacks. Earlier this month, the Japanese anti-virus company Trend Micro published a blog post describing how the attack group “Operation Pawn Storm” uses spear-phishing mail messages with malicious Office documents to target the military, governments, defense industries and the media.

“Four years ago, Thomas Caspers and Oliver Zendel from the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) already presented research results stating that most spear-phishing attacks targeting specific persons or a small group of victims are using “launch actions” in Office and PDF documents to have their malicious code executed.”

We have written nearly a thousand articles about document formats and security aspects too have been covered. Now that France is moving to ODF, joining the UK and some parts of Germany, it it definitely worth revisiting this debate (more on security in our next post). Microsoft attacked ODF in Europe as recently as last year because the EU is gradually removing format lock-in (gateway to Free software), essentially saying bye-bye to Microsoft dependency. Without restrictions on choice — or contrariwise — if people are left to make rational choices, Microsoft will soon be history.

In the words of Gregg Keizer, “Office 365 customers pay Microsoft up to 80% more over long haul”, so the ‘cloud’ nonsense too (giving Microsoft one’s files, not just using Microsoft’s proprietary formats) is a big and expensive mistake, especially where taxpayers foot the bill. Microsoft is making money from corruptible officials or fools who deem Microsoft essential “and lose custody of their own data,” as iophk put it in an E-mail to us.

Prepare Microsoft to increasingly openwash itself, pretending that OOXML is “open”, Office is “open”, Windows is “open”, and so on.

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