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09.29.14

More Good News About Demise of Software Patents and Along With Them, Consequently, Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Site News at 2:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A weekly roundup of news about patents in the United States and elsewhere, with special focus on software patents

Free/libre software has much less to worry about now that software patents are getting weaker if not fewer, too. There are changes that affect not only software patents but patents as a whole. In the US, for example, patents on genes/genetics were ruled illegal not too long ago. Here is an explanation of why Australia might soon follow suit. Titled “Australian Court Disagrees With US: Claim Genes Are Totally Patentable”, the article reminds us that “Last year, the Supreme Court made an important ruling in the Myriad Genetics case, effectively saying that genes aren’t patentable, even if you can separate them out from the rest of a strand of DNA. Myriad Genetics had isolated two key genes related to breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2 and argued that only it could test for those genes, because of its patent. The Supreme Court soundly rejected that, noting that you cannot patent something in nature, and clearly Myriad did not “make” the genes. Unfortunately, as we’d noted just a few months earlier, a court in Australia had come to the opposite conclusion, saying that Myriad Genetics had legitimate patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2. That case was appealed, and there was some hope that after the US’s ruling, higher courts in Australia might see the light. Not yet apparently. An appeals court has agreed that genes are patentable Down Under, which means that such important genetic tests there are likely to be much more expensive and limited.”

Australia, quite infamously as we pointed out before, was one of the countries that succumbed to US lead on software patents, so on genetics too there might be changes afoot. Here is a timely reminder that India still wrestles with software patents, having done so for years. India is famous for its heroic opposition to patents on medicine where life is at stake.

One new article from the Indian press quotes a few people who follow this closely. One of them “said that many of the companies that work on open source software and related segments have raised their opposition while the originator companies are demanding for a patent.”

Actually, many proprietary software patents are also against software patents. It is not a FOSS issue but a CS issue (computer science, not closed source).

“Currently,” continues this article, “software is not patentable under the existing Act and it needs to be registered under copyright. Many experts think that a patent would be stringent than a copyright is and would be advisable for the innovators to protect their software from infringement.

“The draft has been issued in the public domain for comments and the government has to consult every stakeholder on it. The issuance of the guideline is in final stage, he said.

“As per the Intellectual Property Office report, about 80% of patent applications at the Indian Patent Office are filed by foreign global technology companies. In the past decade the number of applications by foreign applicants has risen from about 8,221 to 34,276, said industry leaders.”

So these patents have a strong correlation to and with digital colonialism. Why would Indians ever accept them? The multinational corporations surely want these, but what’s in it for India itself? India has fantastic software engineers of its own. It need never be dependent on multinational entities, especially for software.

Here is a US-based pro-software patents site (run by patent lawyers) saying that “Big Banks Get Software Patents Despite Alice”. It is selective and selection-centric spin. The reality, on the whole, is the very opposite. The pro-business, News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal very recently published “Hard Times for Software Patents” followed by the detailed report titled “Courts Nix More Software Patents” and “Federal Courts Reject More Software Patents”. It says what one ought to expect.

Speaking of large corporations and software patents, watch what BMC is doing. The British press said that “BMC has accused ServiceNow of violating seven of its patents (5,978,594, 6,816,898, 6,895,586, 7,062,683, 7,617,073, 8,646,093 and 8,674,992), spanning incident management, performance analytics, configuration management, discovery, orchestration and change release management.

“The company lodged its suit on Tuesday in the generally litigant-friendly US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.”

BMC is acting like a patent troll and attacks small rivals. Witness the glory of software patents! The weapon of abuses indeed, injustice galore!

Contrariwise, Van Lindberg from Rackpace (very large company) says that they have killed a software patent and potentially a troll. The title says “Another Patent Troll Slain. You Are Now Free To Rotate Your Smartphone.”

Here is more on that: “Over the last few years it’s been great to see companies like Newegg and Rackspace decide that they’re not going to give in to bogus patent troll lawsuits. As we’ve discussed, it’s almost always easier, faster and cheaper to just settle and pay up whatever the troll is asking for. That’s part of why trolling works. Fighting a patent lawsuit — even a totally bogus one (i.e., not infrigning) — on a clearly invalid patent will still cost many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. If the troll is offering to settle for tens of thousands of dollars, many, many companies will do the obvious short-term cost-benefit analysis and settle. It’s hard to directly fault them for this — but it only makes the problem worse for everyone else. Not only does it fund the patent trolls to keep suing others, often they’ll use some of that money to buy more bogus patents and shakedown companies over that new ones as well. On top of that, settling patent threats just puts a big “sucker” sign on your company, meaning that more trolls will start circling. Making a stand and saying that you will not compromise or deal with trolls actually helps in the long run by scaring off some trolls. Both Newegg and Rackspace have been getting a lot of publicity (and goodwill) for their anti-troll efforts.”

Here is a somewhat comical take on a troll that decided to attack the government. The headline says it all: “Patent Troll Told That It Can’t Sue The FTC For Merely Investigating Its Shakedown Scam”

Well, “just when US starts correcting them,” writes Dr. Glyn Moody, Europe, with the corrupt EPO, decides to “Repeat US’s Past Mistakes”:

Back in May, I wrote about a very interesting paper discussing some potential pitfalls of the new Unified Patent Court. Given the magnitude of the change that it and the unitary patent system will bring, it is extraordinary that we still don’t really know how things will work out in practice. That makes another paper called “The Unified Patent Court (UPC) in Action – How Will the Design of the UPC Affect Patent Law? ” particularly welcome, since, as its title suggests, it explores how the new UPC is likely to shape the contours of patent law in Europe.

[...]

Since the new paper appeared, there has been a further US Supreme Court ruling, Alice v. CLS Bank, that has already led to no less than 11 software patents being thrown out by lower courts. Indeed, there is every indication that the era of completely insane software patents is drawing to a close in the US. It is therefore deeply ironic – and rather frustrating – that at precisely the moment when sanity starts to break out in the US, the EU incomprehensibly decides to take exactly the same path of madness that produced so many problems across the Atlantic.

[...]

Those are all good ideas, but it’s rather depressing that we must already be thinking of ways to minimise the damage the new UPC is likely to cause Europe’s economy in general – and the world of software in particular.

In the coming weeks we will continue to show how the EPO turned rogue and corrupt. It would be foolish to adopt software patents when the US relents.

Here comes another smackdown of a troll. As Mike Masnick put it: “We recently noted that a bunch of courts had been killing off bad software patents thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank. And now, that ruling is even leading the trolls themselves to give up. Notorious patent troll Lumen View recently dropped its appeal in its case against the website FindTheBest, saying that the ruling in Alice made it clear it wouldn’t win…”

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote about this trend as a whole, saying that patent trolls are starting to get trampled. He also quotes OIN:

First, the Open Invention Network (OIN), whose members include Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony, now has more than a thousand licensees in its Linux and open-source, defensive patent pool. In an e-mail , Keith Bergelt, OIN’s CEO said, “The OIN license is becoming part of a broader set of community norms and is increasingly being integrated into the culture of open source/Linux-centric companies. It is for many the foundation around which their IP [intellectual property] strategy is built and a critical enabler of patent non-aggression and freedom to operate.”

We recently wrote about the podcasting troll winning against CBS, but this is definitely not over. As TechDirt put it: “The trial (in East Texas, of course) for CBS came first and the jury sided with Personal Audio, because that’s how East Texas patent juries typically roll. In a moment of semi-kindness, the jury awarded Personal Audio $1.3 million, rather than the nearly $8 million they supposedly requested. This story is really just a stepping stone, however. CBS has made it clear that it will appeal the case to CAFC, and given how software/business method patents are getting tossed out left and right these days, the company has a decent chance of prevailing. Meanwhile, the EFF reminds us that it’s still working hard to invalidate the patent at the Patent Office, which would help accelerate the process of killing off these bogus lawsuits.”

CBS is a bad company, but hopefully it will win on appeal.

Here is Matt Levy quoting the partly pro-software patents Michael Risch while saying: “We cannot continue the excesses of the past. Invalid patents don’t benefit innovation, they block innovation. And we have a patent system where a substantial portion of the issued patents, if not most, are invalid. And the patents in the software area are even worse.”

At the end of the day we will hopefully see patents on software universally invalidated. Until then we will have rumour mills and speculations (e.g. about prices) telling us that Free software is not free, thanks in part to lack of comprehension of what patents really are for and how they affect the industry (it’s a poor article which reveals its author’s ignorance on this subject). We have already covered this issue before (it’s about Samsung and Microsoft).

09.22.14

European Patent Office/Organisation – Suspicion of Improper Collusion Between EPO President and Chairman of the Administrative Council: Part III

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 10:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Inner circle of Battistelli

Inner circle of Battistelli [PDF]

Summary: A preliminary look at Battistelli’s reign and how regulatory powers got abolished, leaving the EPO reckless and largely unaccountable

THIS is our third (hopefully among many) outline of EPO abuses. It’s the third instalment in a multi-part series about the European Patent Organisation/Office, which is rotten to its core. EPO — like Google — has enjoyed positive public perception for too long. It’s time to shatter the myths of professionalism and innovation.

Having studied dozens of documents and articles about this topic (usually translations because the English-speaking press mostly overlooks these issues), we are shocked to see just to what extent the EPO engages in dirty tactics, conflicts of interest, and revolving doors. It’s no better than the FCC or CAFC.

Readers who saw the first Techrights article on this topic (focusing on Topić’s appointment) sent us some valuable feedback. Alex Weir, for example, told us: “I read with interest your piece on corruption in the EPO, from my personal experience there have been questions regarding the EPO and corruption in relation to EC contracts and relations with China since the late 1990s, I am sure if you dig you will come up with more evidence.”

Today’s article focuses on Battistelli, the EPO’s President. As we keep getting sent more dirt about the EPO it is hard to say just how many future articles will revolve around his own scandals, which are unique because they show how abuses can go all the way up to the top (EPO President is the highest position).

One person told us on Diaspora that “Richard Stallman has said that the EPO is corrupt a few times, before this man [Topić] was put in charge.

“Thanks for bring up the issue.

“It seems to be the fault of the European Commission,” he added, citing this as an example. Quoting Stallman: “The EU administrators said they would let each country decide whether to allow genetically modified crops, but the proposed implementation is a trap. It has legal flaws, so these one-country bans might then be overturned.

“It is not unusual for the European Commission to make treacherous proposals. For instance, the “computer-related inventions” directive was written so it would appear to rule out software patents, but in fact would have authorized them. ”

“He wrote a lot about the EC’s nasty trick at the time,” said the person about Stallman. We too covered it for years, in video form also. The EPO derives its power from an administration which in its own right is relatively immature (like the Union) and ripe for abuse.

So let’s take a look at what Battistelli is not so well known for.

“Here is a link to an interview with Mr. Paul Ernst,” said our source, “who was a member of the (now abolished) EPO Audit Committee.

“His comments on the function of the Audit Committee and its abolition may be of interest.”

Here for example (with emphasis added) is what he said about the Audit Committee:

The dissolution of the Audit Committee at EPO was justified with the argument that the Audit Committee’s tasks are already carried out by Internal Audit and the Board of Auditors (BOA). What is your view on this?

Paul Ernst: The reasoning behind the decision reveals a lamentable ignorance of the fundamental role of an Audit Committee.
The Audit Committee can be seen as an answer to the famous question „who audits the auditor?“
The Audit Committee reports directly to the Administrative Council, whereas Internal Audit reports to the President and has no right to address the Administrative Council directly.
The Audit Committee protects the independence of both audit functions and observes the coordination between Internal Audit and External Audit, and the follow-up given to audit recommendations.

The Audit Committee should also raise its voice if a significant conflict of interest is discovered, e.g. a close relationship between a member of the BOA or the Internal Auditor or the Chair of the governing body and the chief executive.
There is no other institution that plays a similar role. These are significant differences that demonstrate that the Audit Committee does not duplicate the work of the Internal Auditor nor the Board of Auditors.

“Note,” said our source about Battistelli, quoting the following part: “The Audit Committee should also raise its voice if a significant conflict of interest is discovered, e.g. a close relationship between a member of the BOA or the Internal Auditor or the Chair of the governing body and the chief executive.”

“This is precisely the situation that exists between Battistelli (chief executive) and Angermann (member of the BOA),” explains our source. “However, as there is no longer any independent Audit Committee, it cannot raise its voice in the matter … how convenient for Battistelli.

“The problems of EPO governance arising from the abolition of the Audit Committee have been noted by the French Senator Jean-Yves Leconte in an open letter which he sent to French Ministers earlier this year.”

To quote: “En supprimant de facto l’indépendance de l’audit externe des comptes (budget de l’organisation 2 000 M€) la transparence sur les évolutions de l’OEB ne sera plus de mise. Et ceci sera aggravé par l’absence de contrôle interne crédible lié à l’évolution des relations internes à l’institution” (full text of the letter is available in French).

“The point to note here,” says our source, “is that the French Government is fully informed about the various problems at the EPO but it nevertheless supported Battistelli’s re-appointment in June of this year.”

Nationalism first.

“The problems with the EPO’s audit mechanisms were mentioned briefly in a report by WIPR in June of this year,” said our source, pointing us at the article “EPO staff in Battistelli fight”. The article states: “Staff have also claimed that the “overall governance” structure has been weakened by the audit committee being abolished without the administrative council knowing, and that Battistelli has put a “previous collaborator” from the French Patent Office in the “key post” of external auditor.”

Full details of this were made available to us in the form of copies of the Administrative Council documents referred to above (for readers’ information and for future reference).

“These documents are not classified as confidential so in principle they can be made publicly available,” explained our source.

The documents are as follows:

  • CA-140-08-EN – 2008 – Audit Committee: possible models
  • CA-32-09-EN – 2009 – EPO Audit Committee: draft terms of reference
  • CA-33-09-EN – 2009 – Draft decision setting up an Audit Committee
  • CA-D9-09-EN – 2009 – Establishing an Audit Committee of the Administrative Council
  • CA-100-11-EN – 2011 – Internal appeal against CA/D 4/11
  • CA-D4-11-EN – 2011 – Decision of the Administrative Council
  • CA-55-11-EN – 2011 – Disbanding the Audit Committee

Notice the trend based on the chronology. Audit no more!

Next week we are going to show the ‘special relationship’ between Battistelli, the notorious Topić (known for corruption in his home coutry), and other administrative elements that seemingly collude to keep themselves and their networks in power, feeding off the European economy to do a disservice to Europe. In parts 4 and 5 we are going to shed more light on how the EPO was captured by hawks and wolves — people who should have never acquired such positions of power where they exploit a public institution for power and greed.

09.17.14

Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft’s Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux at 4:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Italy's flag

Summary: Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs

“Last year,” says Pogson, “I wrote about Udine using FLOSS in their infrastructure. Well, it’s in the news again.”

There were several reports recently about Turin following the footsteps of Munich and the main report surprisingly came from the CBS-owned ZDNet, albeit from a guest writer.

Well, guest writers in ZDNet (people from Italy) now tell the story of Italy moving to GNU/Linux in the public sector. It is not exactly news. Here is another one that says: “The City of Udine is moving from Windows for OpenOffice – and may soon ditch Microsoft at an operating system level too.”

That means GNU/Linux!

And if that’s not enough, Italy is now barring Microsoft from imposing the inclusion of Microsoft Windows (NSA-infested malware) in computer sales. As the FSFE reported some days ago: “Italy’s High Court has struck a blow to the practice of forcing non-free software on buyers of PCs and laptops. According to La Repubblica, the court ruled on Thursday that a laptop buyer was entitled to receive a refund for the price of the Microsoft Windows license on his computer.

“The judges sharply criticised the practice of selling PCs only together with a non-free operating system as “a commercial policy of forced distribution”. The court slammed this practice as “monopolistic in tendency”. It also highlighted that the practice of bundling means that end users are forced into using additional non-free applications due to compatibility and interoperability issues, whether they wanted these programs or not.”

Pogson added that: “When I approached the Canadian Competition Bureau on the matter, they parroted that I had no standing, not being in competition with M$. Shame on them. Who is in competition with M$ when M$ has eliminated the market? They should do their job and protect consumers and businesses from an unfair tax on goods and services in Canada. What’s your government doing to protect your freedom of choice in operating systems?”

That’s a fair point. Notice how Microsoft is using its abuses to eliminate reports about its abuses. We saw that in areas other than operating systems.

It sure looks like Germany and Italy and rapidly moving away from Windows. Perhaps all those explosive revelations about NSA espionage (especially in Germany) will accelerate the migrations. To deny bundling of Microsoft Windows with PCs is to basically protect many citizens from being malicious spied on by foreign governments.

09.08.14

Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO): Part I

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Željko Topić
Image from jutarnji.hr

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President has a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption

Who is Željko Topić? A lot of our readers probably never heard of him. The Western media has paid almost no attention to this bully, who in his own country had become the subject of much hate. His page at WIPO (patents maximalist) says “Appart [sic] of [sic] his expirience [sic] in the State Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Topić was Managing Partner in Korper, Haramija & Topic Ltd.”

Putting the poor English aside, how did this man become a top executive at the EPO? A lot of people have wondered that, including his colleagues. Wikipedia says:

Topić’s appointment as EPO Vice-President has been controversial. Following the announcement of his appointment in March 2012, a number of critical news reports appeared in the Croatian media. These reports referred to a series of alleged irregularities which were said to have occurred during his period of office as Director-General of the State Intellectual Property Office and which it was claimed had not been properly investigated by the competent state authorities.[14][15][16][17] In response, the State Intellectual Property Office issued a press release on 30 April 2012 attributing the media reports to what it called “unprofessional journalism” and dismissing the allegations raised against Topić as “arbitrary”, “unfounded” and based on “malicious accusations”.[18]

A complaint which Topić filed in reaction to an article written by the journalist Slavica Lukić for “Jutarnji list” was, however, rejected by the Ethics Council of the Croatian Journalist’s Association (Croatian: Hrvatsko Novinarsko Društvo or HND) in September 2012. The Ethics Council found that Lukić had verified the relevant information with the appropriate official institutions and that the disputed article was not written with the intention of defaming anyone but rather in defence of the public interest.[19][20]

In December 2013, a Croatian NGO Juris Protecta raised questions about Topić’s EPO appointment and submitted a petition to the European Parliament calling for an independent investigation into the matter.[21][22]

This controversial appointment goes a couple of years back and in order to understand it we needed to read dozens of pages of articles, mostly automated translations. This case has been reported on extensively in the Croatian media over the last few years, but there has been complete silence in the Western European media and no coverage at all in English-speaking media such as Australia’s and north America’s. Surprisingly, despite covering the subject of patents in Europe for nearly a decade, we never wrote about Topić. There seems to be reluctance to look into the scandals, perhaps knowing how litigiously aggressive Topić has historically been.

The corporate media should have the guts to at least mention what happened with Topić. There’s not mere speculation but well-documented (by courts) evidence — one that only local press seems to have taken an interest in. Hence it was virtually impossible to become aware of this and openly discuss this where it matters. As Topić now works in an institution which affects the European Union and the world at large, a broader debate is needed. Topić is in a position of high power and as we have shown in recent years, the EPO is full of abuses. It’s a face, it is a swindle. This latest about Topić may be just one of the lesser-known ones.

Our sources say the only coverage (so far) outside of Croatia that they are aware of has been put out by IP Watch, a site critical of patents on software and other such matters, with focus on Europe. Earlier this year the site stated:

While it’s unclear whether either of these efforts will succeed, Topić’s suitability for office “is a fairly contentious issue” inside the EPO, the source said. Given the various accusations, and apparently uncontested press reports, the general feeling among EPO staff is that there are unanswered questions about Topić’s appointment,” the source said. Employees are also dissatisfied about what they see as an inadequate official response to the situation and believe “some kind of genuinely independent investigation would be required to clear the air,” he said.

The EPO Administrative Council (AC) “has maintained complete silence” and taken no official position on the situation, which is strange given that it’s responsible for the appointment and the organ of the EPO that exercises disciplinary authority over the president and vice-presidents, the source, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retribution, said. The absence of a position was confirmed by EPO.

[...]

Topić should not have been reappointed due to his previous track record which, “if it had been properly taken into consideration, would have resulted in him being deemed unfit for public office,” Stilin said. The irregularities under his management at SIPO have not been properly investigated and the government wasn’t properly informed about them, she said. In addition, the procedure leading to his reappointment “was tainted by a whole series of flaws and irregularities, some of these involving actions which were prima facie [evidence]” of a type of person, she said.

Stilin applied for Topić’s position but was unsuccessful. Once reappointed, Topić dismissed Stilin and abolished her department, an action that was “a completely arbitrary and unjustified measure involving an egregious abuse of authority,” Stilin said. She filed a series of complaints in the Croatian courts, all of which were dismissed, after which she sought relief from the ECtHR. That case, filed in 2011, remains unresolved.

“What amazes us about this media silence,” said our sources, “is that many German journalists have been well-informed about the affair for at least a year now but due to some kind of peculiar “self-censorship” or an inability to carry out proper cross-border investigative journalism they have not managed to publish a single line about it.”

An introduction to the EPO “Topić Affair” was sent to us anonymous by a source familiar with Topić’s track record at home (Croatia) and abroad. It is written clearly enough to be quoted verbatim below:

Background

The first Director General (DG) of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) was Mr. Nikola Kopčić: http://www.forinpro.hr/index.php/our-team

He held this position from 1992 to 2002. From 1998 onwards, at the same time as he was SIPO DG, Kopčić was also a representative of his own private company (ForInPro) before the SIPO. This amounted to an undeclared conflict of interest which was in breach of official regulations. In December 2001, the Ministry of Science recommended Kopčić’s dismissal after having investigated the situation which had been brought to its attention. The decision to dismiss Kopčić as SIPO DG was taken by the Croatian Government on 10 January 2002. Kopčić was also expelled from the AIPPI (International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property) on the grounds that he had brought the Association into disrepute.

Following Kopčic’s dismissal as DG, the SIPO was under the direction of Mr. Hrvoje Junaševic from 2002 to 2004.

One of the persons instrumental in bringing about Kopčic’s dismissal was Ms. Vesna Stilin who was a career civil servant and one of the founding members of the Croatian SIPO. As an apparent act of revenge against Stilin who had also raised allegations about certain abuses of authority, Kopčic engineered her dismissal from the SIPO in 1999. However, she was reinstated at the SIPO in 2004 as an Assistant Director responsible for Copyright and Related Rights.

Appointment of Željko Topić as SIPO DG in 2004 In 2004, Željko Topić was appointed as the new SIPO DG for an initial four-year term. He had previously worked at the SIPO from about 1992 onwards but moved to the private sector in 2003 where, according to his CV, he worked in the field of “IP Management” as a Director of a company called Korper, Haramija & Topić Ltd. During his first term as SIPO DG, Topić clashed with Stilin over a number of issues including the implementation of the “Public Lending Right” (PLR) for writers in Croatia. Stilin claims that Topić blocked her efforts to implement the PLR. Stilin also raised concerns about issues falling within her remit relating to musical copyright royalties. According to press reports, she came into conflict with Topić after the Tax Office had sent an inquiry to the SIPO expressing doubts about the legality of business affairs between the SIPO and Emporion, a company involved in the collection and distribution of musical royalties which was owned by the entrepreneur Mark Vojković, a close associate of the Croatian President Ivo Josipović.

In 2008, Topić proposed Stilin’s dismissal from the SIPO inter alia on the grounds that the SIPO’s Copyright and Related Rights Department had been abolished and that, consequently, her position no longer existed. Although her dismissal was ultimately a decision of the Croatian Government, it was instigated and proposed by Topić. Stilin claims that the abolition of the SIPO’s Copyright and Related Rights Department which was invoked as a pretext for her dismissal was a completely arbitrary and unlawful act and that it was also in violation of formal undertakings which the Croatian authorities had given to the EU in the context of the CARDS Programme according to which the staffing of the Copyright and Related Rights Department was to be increased.

These matters are the subject of a number of pending criminal and civil lawsuits in Croatia. According to press reports, the real reason behind Stilin’s dismissal was because she had tried to warn the supervisory state institutions about irregularities occurring at the SIPO as well as the questionable relationship between the SIPO administration and Emporion. [1] Controversial re-appointment in 2008 Towards the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008, the SIPO was subject to a number of supervisory inspections by Government Ministries which uncovered various irregularities. In particular, an investigation by the Ministry of Adminstration which took place in response to a petition by a group of SIPO employees resulted in findings that certain contested actions by Topić entailed breaches of Labour Law regulations. There was also a budgetary inspection by the Ministry of Finance which resulted in findings that there had been various irregularities in accounting practices at the SIPO. These developments gave rise to expectations that Topić’s mandate as SIPO DG would not be renewed. However, contrary to these expectations, his mandate was renewed for a further four-year term in 2008 by the Government of Ivo Sanader.

According to Stilin, Topić’s re-appointment was supported by the then Minister of Science, Dragan Primorac as a payback for the provision of an Audi 6 Quattro which had been placed at Primorac’s disposal at the expense of the SIPO. It is alleged that this arrangement between Topić and Primorac was unlawful and represented a misappropriation of public funds. In return for the alleged “favour”, Primorac is alleged to have recommended the renewal of Topić’s mandate to the Government. However, according to the applicable statute, at the time of the re-appointment Primorac was no longer competent to make such a recommendation. This is because in March 2008 the SIPO had been transferred from the remit of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports to the remit of the Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship. It remained under the remit of the Ministry of Economy until December 2011 when it was transferred back to the remit of the Ministry of Science.

Topić’s re-appointment in 2008 was the subject of a challenge by Stilin in a lawsuit filed with the Administrative Court and which was finally rejected by the Croatian Constitutional Court. Following exhaustion of domestic remedies, the matter is currently the subject of an application pending before the European Court of Human Rights in Strassbourg.

The “ZAMP Affair” and appointment as EPO Vice-President The “ZAMP Affair” is a major contemporary political controversy in Croatia. The name “ZAMP” comes from the royalty collection management entity associated with the Croatian Composers Society (Croatian acroynm: HDS-ZAMP). The controversy concerns the management of royalty payments to musicians and encompasses various allegations of unlawful administrative acts, corruption, cronyism and conflicts of interest involving a clique associated with the Croatian President, Ivo Josipović, who was formerly the Secretary-General of the Croatian Composers Society. [2] Topić is perhaps a secondary figure in the “ZAMP affair” but as the former DG of the state institution which had the statutory responsibility for supervising the management of copyright and royalty payments, i.e. the SIPO, it is probable that his role as a “facilitator” was nevertheless a significant one. It has been claimed in the Croatian press and in an article published by the Deutsche Welle (in Croatian) that he enjoys the “protection” of Josipović. [3]

On 1 February 2012, the Croatian press reported that despite the controversy surrounding his management of the SIPO and ongoing official investigations into alleged irregularities, Topić had been re-appointed for a third term as SIPO DG on the recommendation of the then Minister of Science, Željko Jovanović. [4] Shortly afterwards in April 2012, it was reported that he had requested to be relieved of as his duties as SIPO DG in order to take up a more prestigious position as Vice-President of the European Patent Office in Munich. [5] Some of the articles published around this time referred to the fact that at the time of his appointment a number of criminal and civil lawsuits were pending against him in Croatia. [6]

“Dual Mandate” in April 2012

Topić took up office as EPO Vice-President on 16 April 2012. However, according to Croatian government records published in the official gazette “Narodne Novine”, his tenure as SIPO DG lasted until 30 April 2014. Thus for a period of around two weeks in April 2012, it seems that he effectively enjoyed a “dual mandate” as EPO Vice-President and SIPO DG.

In an article published by dnevno.hr in April 2013, it was claimed that one of his last actions as SIPO DG was to order the publication of a highly polemical four-page “Press Release” which he allegedly authored himself on the official website of the SIPO. [7] This “Press Release” concluded by expressing “grave concern that an extremely unprofessional media manipulation based on malicious accusations from a small number of people obviously driven by questionable motives can cause the reputation of a state institution and its Director to be called into question in such an outrageous manner, despite the notable results achieved by the Office and its professional reputation in the relevant national and international professional circles, which is incontrovertibly confirmed by the official reports of the European Commission, the international awards presented to Mr Topić and his appointment to a high executive function at the European Patent Office based inter alia upon the results achieved during his many years as the head of the Office.

We particularly regret that the competent institutions have also succumbed to this unprecedented pressure and have subordinated their actions to individual interests rather than objective reasoning based on relevant facts.” [8]

Despite the criticism of “unprofessional media manipulation” in the “Press Release”, the dnevno.hr article pointed out that a complaint against an article written by Slavica Lukić for “Jutarni list” which Topić submitted to the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) was dismissed by the competent “Ethics Council” of the HND in September 2012. In its conclusions the “Ethics Council” stated the following: “The Council finds that the colleague Lukić verified the relevant information with the appropriate official institutions [i.e. the Ministries of Science and Finance], so in that sense she was not under the obligation claimed by Mr. Topić [i.e. to obtain approval from him or from the SIPO]. The tone and style of the article are serious and balanced; there are no insults or muck-raking sensationalism (lit. “yellow elements”). This confirms that the article was not written with the intention of defaming anyone, but rather in defence of the public interest.” [9]

Dragan Primorac and the “Touareg affair”

One of the controversies relating to Topić’s period of office as SIPO DG, relates to alleged misappropriation of public funds to acquire expensive luxury vehicles for the use of a select group of SIPO employees and the then Minister of Science, Dragan Primorac, who exercised supervisory competence over the SIPO until March 2008. This matter was originally reported in the Croatian press in 2009 but has resurfaced recently due to a publication by the Croatian Public Sector Employees Union (SDLSN) claiming that no proper investigation into this alleged misappropriation of public funds ever took place. [10] The matter has acquired fresh relevance in Croatia in the light of pending criminal proceedings against the former Minister of Science, Dragan Primorac, in a similar case involving allegations of corruption and misuse of public funds at the National Standards Institute, another state institution which came under Primorac’s ministerial remit. In this case it is alleged that the former Director of the National Standards Institute, Dragutin Funda, provided a luxury Touareg SUV to Primorac at the expense of the Institute. The socalled “Touareg Affair” is currently the subject of court proceedings in Croatia and a hearing was held recently in May 2014. Primorac has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him whereas his co-accused, Funda, has pleaded guilty. [11] Other developments – Petition to the European Parliament In 2013, a number of letters voicing concern about Topić’s appointment as EPO Vice-President and calling for an independent investigation into the matter were submitted to the EPO’s Administrative Council by the Croatian NGO “Juris Protecta” which describes itself as an “Association for the Promotion of the Rule of Law in Croatia”. As the Administrative Council did not respond to these interventions, Juris Protecta filed a Petition with the European Parliament. The Petition has been registered with the number 2848/2013 and is expected to be examined for admissibility by the Petitions Committee during its next session, probably in September or October 2014. [12]

LINKS TO ORIGINAL CROATIAN PRESS ARTICLES

[1] Articles relating to Vesna Stilin and her dismissal from the SIPO:

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/obratila-se-linicu-zvizdacica-iz-zavoda-zaintelektualnovlasnistvo-trazi-reviziju-slucaja-emporion/605689.aspx

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/vesna-stilin-ravnatelj-dziva-topic-me-oklevetao-iprevario/

609228.aspx

[2] Articles relating to the “ZAMP Affair” and Emporion:

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/oglusili-se-na-zahtjev-eu-ne-moze-vam-samo-jednaosoba-u-hrvatskoj-biti-nadzor-za-zamp–/609083.aspx

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/sukob-interesa-josipoviceva-zena-za-sve-pise-zakoneradi-u-zampuemporionu-i-svira/605429.aspx

[3] Claims that Topić enjoys the “protection” of Croatian President Ivo Josipović:

http://www.tjedno.hr/index.php/categoryblog/1471-zampili-milijardu-kuna

http://www.dw.de/hrvatski -patent -za-autorska-prava/a-16035391

[4] Controversial renewal of Topić’s mandate as SIPO DG for a third term in 2012:

http://www.jutarnji.hr/zeljko-topic–sebi-i-kolegama-isplatio-milijun-kuna-honorara–a-vladamu-dala-jos-jedan-mandat-/1003663/

[5] Croatian press commentary on Topić’s appointment as EPO Vice-President:

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/index-doznaje–jovanovic-istrazuje-dziv-gdje-je-milijunkuna-tko-se-vozio-u-preskupim-automobilima/611883.aspx

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/nagradio-ga-pantovcak-umjesto-progona-ravnateljzavoda-koji-nadzire-zamp-promoviran/608936.aspx

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/unatoc-nadjenim-nepravilnostima-ministar-jovanovicpustio-ravnatelja-dziva-da-ode-u-mnchen-/612175.aspx

[6] Articles with references to lawsuits against Topić at the time of his EPO appointment:

http://www.tjedno.hr/index.php/categoryblog/998-protiv-topia-se-vodi-estpostupaka

http://www.jutarnji.hr/kazneni-progon-nije-ga-zaustavio–sanaderov-kadar-zeljko-topic–smijenjen-na-vlastiti-zahtjev–dobio-jos-bolji-posao/1024680/

[7] Article mentioning Topić’s last “Press Release” as SIPO DG on 30 April 2012:

http://www.dnevno.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/85582-bivsi-ravnatelj-dziv-a-zeljko-topic-zakinuojehrvatske-knjizevnike-za-milijune-kuna.html

[8] The original Croatian version of the “Press Release” dated 30 April 2012 can be found
here: http://www.dziv.hr/files/File/novosti/Priopcenje_za_javnost_30042012.pdf

[9] Dismissal of a complaint submitted by Topić to the Croatian Journalists’ Association
against Slavica Lukic in 2012:

http://www.hnd.hr/hr/Zakljucci7sjednice2012/show/66192/

[10] Articles relating to the controversy surrounding acquisition of luxury vehicles by the
SIPO originally appeared in 2009:

http://www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/strah-od-bmwa-direktor-drzavnog-zavoda-sakrioskupocjeni-mercedes/428050.aspx

http://www.nacional.hr/clanak/55956/umjesto-u-garazu-ravnatelj-svoj-luksuzni-mercedesparkira-u-arhivu

More recent articles on this subject were published in April 2014:

http://www.tjedno.hr/index.php/categoryblog/4837-uz-touareg-sporan-je-i-a6-kojim-sesluzio-bivsi-ministar

http://www.sdlsn.hr/index.php/?article=9121&category=1

http://www.dnevno.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/118172-foto-sindikalci-odabrali-zaljubljeni-pargodine-

zeljko-topic-i-njegov-a-mercedes.html

[11] A report dated 16 May 2014 relating to the recent court hearing in the “Touareg Affair” can be found here:
www.index.hr/vijesti/clanak/slucaj-touareg-dragan-primorac-se-ne-osjecakrivim/747836.aspx

[12] The Petition to the European Parliament is mentioned in the following article by
Intellectual Property Watch:

http://www.ip-watch.org/2014/05/15/epo-internal-strife-spills-over-into-europeanparliament-human-rights-court/

Here are press/news clippings [PDF] about the above items and what follows is the aforementioned petition to the European Parliament:

PETITION REF. NO.: JP-2013-0001-EPO

For the urgent attention of:
The President of the European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
B-1047 BRUSSELS

PETITION
TO THE
EUROPEAN
PARLIAMENT

Submitted in accordance with
Article 44 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
and
Article 227 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The present Petition concerns a matter which the Petitioner considers to be indicative of a serious deficiency in the governance of the European Patent Organisation.

Notwithstanding the fact that the EPO is not an organ of the EU and, as such, lies outside of the formal jurisdiction of the European Parliament, it is submitted that the European Parliament has both a legitimate interest and an obligation to ensure that proper standards of governance prevail at the EPO in consequence of the duties entrusted to the EPO by the EU under the unitary patent scheme.

The European Parliament is therefore requested to investigate the matter detailed herein and to exert its influence on the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation to take appropriate corrective action with regard to the same.


I. BACKGROUND

1. The European Patent Organisation is an international organisation established under the terms of the European Patent Convention (EPC) of 1973.
The text of the EPC is accessible online at the following URL: http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2013/e/ma1.html

2. According to Article 4 EPC, the organs of the European Patent Organisation (EPO) are
(a) the European Patent Office; and
(b) the Administrative Council.

3. The Administrative Council is the governing body of the European Patent Organisation and it is composed of delegates from the contracting states, i.e. the signatory states of the EPC. Pursuant to the provisions of Article 11 EPC, the Administrative Council is the appointing authority for senior employees of the EPO, in particular the President and the Vice-Presidents of the European Patent Office.

4. Whereas the EPO is not an organ of the EU, the EU has a legitimate interest in the proper governance of said Organisation. This interest derives inter alia from the following considerations:

(i) Article 17 (2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (hereinafter CFR-EU) states that “Intellectual property shall be protected”. The EU thus has an acknowledged statutory responsibility for protecting the intellectual property rights of its citizens.

(ii) In 2012, EU Member States and the European Parliament agreed on the so-called “unitary patent package” – a legislative initiative consisting of two Regulations and an international Agreement laying the foundation for the creation of unitary patent protection in the EU. In the context of this unitary patent scheme, the EPO has been entrusted with the task of granting unitary patents. It is also foreseen that the EPO will be in charge of centrally administering the unitary patent, levying the annual renewal fees and distributing them to the participating EU member states.

5. It is evident that the protection of intellectual property prescribed under Article 17 (2) CFR-EU can only be guaranteed in an effective manner if the institutions responsible for administering intellectual property rights are subject to proper governance.

6. Notwithstanding the fact that the EPO is not an organ of the EU and, as such, lies outside of the formal remit of the European Parliament, it is submitted that the European Parliament has both a legitimate interest and an obligation to ensure that proper standards of governance prevail at the EPO in consequence of the duties entrusted to the EPO by the EU under the unitary patent scheme.

7. The submissions which follow concern the appointment of a senior official of the European Patent Office. The Petitioner is of the view that this is a matter which raises questions about the standards of governance at the European Patent Organisation and on that basis respectfully submits that this is a matter of public interest which merits investigation by the European Parliament, in particular having regard to the observations set forth under items 4 to 6 above.

8. The Petitioner has already made two submissions to the Administrative Council of the EPO concerning the matters raised in the present Petition: a first submission in advance of the Council’s October 2013 meeting and a second submission in advance of its December 2013 meeting (Annex I). No response to these submissions has been received from the Administrative Council so far.

II. DETAILS

9. The present Petition concerns the appointment of a senior official of the EPO, namely the appointment of Mr. Željko Topić as the Vice-President of Directorate-General 4 of the European Patent Office.

10. Mr. Topić’s candidature for the aforementioned position was supported by the current President of the European Patent Office, Mr. Benoît Battistelli, and his appointment was approved by the Administrative Council of the EPO in March 2012 as announced on the official Internet site of the EPO: http://www.epo.org/news-issues/news/2012/20120328.html

11. Mr. Topić was formerly the Director-General of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). He was initially appointed to that position in 2004 and was re-appointed for a second term in 2008. Shortly after being re-appointed for a third term in 2012, he resigned voluntarily from his position at the SIPO following his appointment as a Vice-President of the European Patent Office where he took up his duties in April 2012.

12. Mr. Topić’s appointment to the EPO was the subject of much critical press coverage in his home country of Croatia. For example, an article by the journalist Ms. Slavica Lukić was
published in Jutarni List on 28 April 2012: http://www.jutarnji.hr/kazneni-progon-nije-ga-zaustavio–sanaderov-kadar-zeljkotopic–smijenjen-na-vlastiti-zahtjev–dobio-jos-bolji-posao/1024680/

Mr. Topić filed a complaint about this article with the Croatian Journalists’ Association (Hrvatsko Novinarsko Društvo). However, Mr. Topić’s complaint was dismissed by the Association’s tribunal. An English language translation of the disputed article and the findings of the tribunal are provided as an annex to the present Petition (Annex II).

13. According to the information at the disposal of the Petitioner, apart from various civil proceedings, there were at least two criminal law cases pending against Mr. Topić prior to his appointment as Vice-President of the European Patent Office. One of these cases concerned the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Ms. Vesna Stilin, a former Assistant Director-General of the Croatian SIPO, and the other one concerned matters which the Croatian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport as the government department with supervisory authority over the SIPO had failed to investigate properly despite its statutory obligation to do so. Evidence to support the foregoing assertions is provided in Annex III to the present Petition (Annex III-A1 and III-A2).

14. Concerning the first of the criminal law cases referred to above, it is noted that Ms. Stilin’s dismissal from the post of Assistant Director-General of the SIPO in 2008 was based on statements by Mr. Topić which Ms. Stilin considers to have been untrue and which prompted her to initiate criminal proceedings against Mr. Topić for defamation. In appeal proceedings held before the competent court of appeal in Croatia in December 2012, a judgment was delivered in Ms. Stilin’s favour to remit the case back to the court of first instance where it is still pending (Annex III-B).

15. Ms. Stilin additionally filed criminal charges against Mr. Topić with the Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office (Annex III-C). This case which includes a charge relating to bribery is likewise still pending before the courts in Croatia. A key accusation here is that Mr. Topić effectively “purchased” his re-appointment as Director General of the SIPO by bribing the former Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Mr. Dragan Primorac, who was responsible for proposing Mr. Topić’s re-appointment for a second term to the Croatian government in 2008 (Annex III-D). There is further extensive documentation about this matter, including a complaint which Ms. Stilin filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. A copy of this documentation can be provided on request.

16. In response to the legal actions which Ms. Stilin had initiated against him, Mr. Topić belatedly filed a private action for defamation against her at the Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb on 22 April 2013. Mr. Topić’s action was dismissed by the court which delivered its judgment in Ms. Stilin’s favour in September 2013 (Annex III-E).

17. Further documentation is available which shows that during his period of office as Director General of the Croatian SIPO Mr. Topić ignored the recommendation made by independent EU experts in field of Copyright and Related Rights in the context of the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) Programme for South-Eastern Europe (Official Reference No. 96-022 and 60343) where the EU provided Croatia with about € 2 million to assist the development of the SIPO, in particular with the aim of strengthening its Copyright and Related Rights Department. At that time the number of legal staff in the Copyright and Related Rights Department was insufficient as there were only two persons at the SIPO, including Ms. Stilin, responsible for dealing with these matters. However, instead of increasing the number of legal staff in accordance with the recommendation of experts appointed by the EU to which he had formally assented in a commitment given to the EU on behalf of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Topić proceeded to effectively abolish the Copyright and Related Rights Department, by reducing the personnel dealing with these matters to a single person. Mr. Topić’s actions in this regard were carried out without any coherent explanation and in a manner which appears to have amounted to an egregious violation of his official obligations. A copy of the relevant documentation relating to this matter can be provided on request.

18. The Petitioner respectfully submits that it would be in the public interest for the Administrative Council of the EPO to initiate an impartial and objective investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Topić’s appointment as a Vice-President of the European Patent Office and, to the extent appropriate, to exercise its disciplinary authority in the matter.

19. The Petitioner has already made representations to the Administrative Council of the EPO in this regard (Annex I). However, the Council has so far given no indication that it intends to carry out an independent investigation into the matter. The lack of any substantive response on the part of the Council leads the Petitioner to fear that it may be unwilling to take appropriate action on its own initiative to face up to its public duty in this regard.

III. RELIEF SOUGHT

In view of the foregoing, the European Parliament (hereinafter “the Parliament”) is hereby petitioned to take the following action in respect of the matter detailed above:

1. The Parliament is requested to conduct its own independent investigation into the matter.

2. Insofar as this investigation may lead it to conclude that the matter warrants further action on its part, the Parliament is requested to exert its influence on the Administrative Council of the EPO to take appropriate corrective action.

3. More specifically, the Parliament is requested to adopt a resolution calling on the Administrative Council of the EPO to conduct an impartial and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Topić’s appointment as a Vice-President of the European Patent Office and, to the extent appropriate, to exercise its disciplinary authority with regard to the same.

The Petitioner hereby wishes to assure the Parliament of its full co-operation with any investigation which it may see fit to conduct in response to the present Petition. The Parliament is further advised that Ms. Stilin, former Assistant Director-General of the Croatian SIPO, has informed the Petitioner of her willingness to co-operate with any independent investigation to be carried out under the Parliament’s authority into the matters detailed above. In particular, Ms. Stilin has indicated that she is prepared to provide copies of any relevant documentation at her disposal which might assist the Parliament in it endeavours in this regard.

In the meantime, the Petitioner respectfully remains at the Parliament’s disposal should it have any further queries or require any further assistance in order to assess the merits of the present Petition.

Request for confidential treatment pursuant to Rule 201(11) of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

In view of the fact that legal proceedings are pending in Croatia involving parties mentioned in connection with the present Petition, the Petitioner considers that it would be advisable to treat the contents of the Petition with an appropriate degree of confidentiality in order not to prejudice the interests of any of the parties to the aforementioned legal proceedings.

Accordingly, a request for confidential treatment is made pursuant to Rule 201(11) of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament.

The Petitioner notes in this regard that it has no objection to it being entered into the public record that the present Petition has been lodged with the Parliament. However, the Parliament is respectfully requested to consult with the Petitioner to obtain its approval in the case that it is intended to make any further details of the Petition public.

ANNEXES

I. Copies of submissions made by the Petitioner (Juris Protecta e.V.) to the Administrative Council of the EPO.

II. English language translation of an article by the journalist Ms. Slavica Lukić published in Jutarni List on 28 April 2012 accompanied by an English language translation of the findings of the tribunal of the Croatian Journalists’ Association dismissing a complaint filed by Mr. Topić against Ms. Lukić.

III. Copies of documents pertaining to alleged irregularities in the administration of the Croatian SIPO and related matters.

In the next part we are going to relate this to more abuses and swindles at the European Patent Office.

08.22.14

Microsoft is Still Preying on British Taxpayers, Playing Politics

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 3:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Some news from the UK showing how Microsoft uses politics to extract money out of taxpayers, irrespective of their preferences

AS one who works with the British public sector, I personally happen to know some of Microsoft’s very dirty (if not criminal) tricks. There are all sorts of ways by which one games these systems, especially by “lobbying” (to put it politely) those who make decisions. I have heard stories and also seen incidents, some of which I cannot share publicly. Microsoft simply refuses to play by the rules. To obey the law is some kind of a joke to Microsoft. Tomorrow we will give examples from Chile and Germany, but today we’ll focus on the UK.

Microsoft just loves to exploit British taxpayers. The UK is a relatively rich country that is most notorious for its excessive spendings on public IT. It is no wonder that Microsoft worked so hard to impede ODF adoption in the UK.

Microsoft is now trying to impose its surveillance ‘cloud’ (proprietary software with NSA access) on British transportation. How amazing is that? They label lock-in “modernisation”:

MICROSOFT HAS TEAMED with British internet systems installation company Telent and IT consulting company CGI in a bid to modernise London’s tube network using the Internet of Things (IoT).

Announced in a UK government blog post, the partnership will look to modernise the London Underground monitoring systems, which oversee critical rail assets with data from thousands of devices and sensors, by integrating Microsoft’s Azure Intelligent Systems Services software.

Why does the British government continue to throw away so much money, giving it to foreign companies with such a poor privacy record that they resemble moles with back doors and espionage tendencies? Local SMEs could do far better. This should be causing outrage, but there is apathy.

The NSA’ partner wants to conduct mass surveillance in London’s Tube and technical problems are sure to come. Just see LSE. Look what Microsoft had done to it before it moved to GNU/Linux.

A reader asks: “Is this just a bid or has a contract been signed?”

The article above merely links to a Microsoft marketing-esque blog.

In other news from the UK, some euphemistically-named “Microsoft Ventures” (for “the children” of course, just like the Microsoft- and Bill Gates-bankrolled Intellectual Ventures) is preying on children when not spying on them. Interestingly enough, this was posted under “Politics” by the Microsoft-friendly Condé Nast.

“Microsoft will provide funding, mentorship and workspace through its London startup accelerator, Microsoft Ventures. It will also develop a dedicated open skills badge for iDEA,” says this report. Got that? Open. Yes, lock-in is “open”.

When will Microsoft finally get out of the UK and stop pretending that it helps “the children” and “modernisation”? Lock-in in sheep’s clothing is all it is, and adding insult to injury, this is mass surveillance on British travelers (not a choice) and children who must attend schools.

08.19.14

After Microsoft’s Soft Bribe Some Non-Technical Deputy Does Not Like Free Software, Microsoft-Linked Media Responds to This Non-News by Making Bogus Claims of Munich Leaving GNU/Linux (Updated)

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich’s lead

IT has been quite a while since we last saw such an ugly propaganda effort by Microsoft. Looking carefully at where the propaganda started or came from, we can be pretty sure that Microsoft’s disgraceful and unethical PR agencies are not passive. They are exploiting non-news and something of little significance to make it sound as though something pretty big is happening. They want the public to believe, yet again, that Munich’s migration (which saved a lot of money and was defended by officials repeatedly) is a failure. Microsoft did this many times before and even tried using bribes, bogus ‘reports’, proxy attacks etc. We covered dozens of examples over the years. Munich is dangerous to Microsoft because it sets an example; it shows how a whole city can completely abandon Microsoft and do a lot better thereafter, not just for privacy/autonomy/security reasons but also for technical reasons, not to mention all the local jobs this creates (economic gain).

Microsoft Peter played a role in the propaganda, as one ought to expect. He did, however, reveal that Microsoft bribery against Munich (just like in Norway) seems likely. Microsoft likes to offer facilities in exchange for political favours. We showed how it was done before in numerous countries which were planning too abandon Microsoft. To quote Microsoft Peter: “Microsoft announced last year that it was moving its German headquarters to Munich. This move is planned to take place in 2016. While Reiter was involved in the deal that precipitated the move and describes himself as a “Microsoft fan,” he says the criticism of LiMux is unrelated.”

Everything is related. People don’t compartmentalise their minds like this.

The above is not news; we saw that almost a month ago and reports (English) about it were numerous. “One single *opinion* is causing all the articles,” a reader told us. It was true back then and it is true this week. We must remember that this is not even a new thing, as the German press covered it almost a month ago and the only new thing is Microsoft’s amplification and distortion of the opinion. The Microsoft propaganda machine kicked off; that’s what’s “news”. As we continued to observe the news over the past 24 hours we found that the propaganda pieces came mostly from Microsoft fan sites, all cheering for Microsoft and inciting against Munich’s migration to GNU/Linux. Microsoft must be very afraid after China and Russia announced their plan to abandon Microsoft, so Microsoft ‘fan’ sites (or veiled marketing sites) do their thing, distort the facts, and then post “corrections” (after pressure from readers perhaps). Here is one Microsoft fan site that corrected its propaganda piece by stating: “While the deputy mayor of Munich seems to suggest in the article that the government will strongly consider a return to Windows, it appears a final decision to move from the Linux OS has not yet been officially determined.”

Exactly, there is no news. There’s just some old opinion of one person. But don’t let facts get in Microsoft’s way. Here is the Microsoft-bribed Ed Bott (one of the worst Microsoft boosters, but one who enjoys a platform of CBS and therefore enters “news” aggregation) disseminating the propaganda to a large audience. He has not even corrected his errors yet. The propaganda remains standing the editors let it be.

For now, we are done collecting examples of this Microsoft propaganda output. It’s not news and it’s not about Munich. A deputy mayor is not Munich and his opinion does not have so much weight. He is not a technical person.

It is rather clear that a lot the propaganda about Munich originally came to the English-speaking press from people like Ed Bott (backed by Microsoft) and brought to wider attention in the CBS propaganda network. Prior to that it was possible to find incorrect reports (probably not bad translations) which dared not say that Microsoft is bribing officials again (Microsoft already tried to pay Munich to abandon its Free software project).

The first article we saw about this (in English) came from Geek.com [1] and cited this article in German. An automated translation states: “End of 2013, the Munich City Council had to switch from Windows to Linux declared to be successfully completed and announced the regular operation of Linux systems to nearly 15,000 jobs.”

OK, so what’s the fuss? The migration is complete, people are generally happy (no nightmare stories in the press), and only shoddy marketing groups like Gartner (which recommends Windows on Microsoft's behalf) continue to badmouth the migration behind closed doors, as we covered numerous years ago. Also behind closed doors, HP attacked Munich’s migration with a report (this was uncovered a couple of years ago), reminding us that HP is only pretending to be competing with Microsoft. As this rebuttal to a piece from the chronically Linux-hostile Verge reminds us, HP too is among the factors antagonising GNU/Linux:

First of all dear, The Verge, it is *not* a Chromebook Killer, because you need to understand what a Chromebook is before calling a low-end laptop with an OS no one wants as a killer laptop.

Now coming back to the news: HP is supposedly working on a low-cost Windows 8.1 laptop which will be sold for $199. It seems like ‘netbook v2′ strategy of Microsoft to hurt Linux. This time it’s not going to happen as we have a heavyweight like Google and not smaller Canonical.

I already regret buying an HP mouse yesterday afternoon. Recalling how HP tried to derail Munich’s migration to GNU/Linux (secretly) should be another reminder of the many US-based forces aligned to destroy an escape from Microsoft, the NSA, the back doors, and PRISM. Munich would have to be insane to go back to Microsoft knowing everything it knows about Microsoft and the NSA, as well as the NSA’a attacks on Germany (espionage).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. 10 years later, Munich may dump Linux for Windows

    A few years ago, Linux sites were buzzing that the city of Munich, Germany was going to kick Windows to the curb and roll out a Linux-based OS on all their government desktops. […]

Update: Munich has fired back at what it claims to be false reports:

Munich city council demonstrated to the world that an organisation employing thousands could ditch Windows and move to Linux and free software.

When the project finished late last year about 15,000 staff at the German authority had been migrated to using Limux, a custom-version of Ubuntu, and OpenOffice.

But is the council’s move to open source about to be scrapped in favour or returning to Microsoft?

No says the council, in spite of numerous reports to the contrary. Suggestions the council has decided to back away from Linux are wrong, according to council spokesman Stefan Hauf.

He said the council’s recently elected mayor Dieter Reiter has instead simply commissioned a report into the future IT system for the council.

“The new mayor has asked the administration to gather the facts so we can decide and make a proposal for the city council how to proceed in future,” he said.

“Not only for Limux but for all of IT. It’s about the organisation, the costs, performance and the useability and satisfaction of the users.”

The study, being conducted by internal IT staff at the council, will consider which operating systems and software packages – both proprietary and open source – would best satisfy this criteria. The study is not, as has been reported, solely focused around the question of whether to drop Limux and move back to Windows, he said.

08.11.14

Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

Posted in America, Europe, Patents, Site News at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EU too is besieged by corporations

EU

Summary: A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens’ interests

Some well-meaning people still focus on patent trolls, not on software patents. The world’s largest corporations engage in a coup or an occupation against policy-makers and it shows. This includes some who purport to be supporting FOSS, fair competition, etc. Melanie Chernoff, the Public Policy Manager for Red Hat, says that “North Carolina says ‘no’ to patent trolls”. To quote the article published this afternoon:

North Carolina became the latest state to take a stand against patent trolls when NC Governor Pat McCrory signed a new law last week aimed at preventing bad faith assertions of patent infringement. Patent trolls (more officially called “patent assertion entities” or “non-practicing entities”) are known for sending very vague letters, with often meritless claims, to other businesses in the hopes of extorting a settlement to avoid the nuisance of a lawsuit.

But this is not the thing to strive for. The real (core) issue is patent scope and even those who spend all their time diverting attention and/or arguing about “trolls” (front groups CCIA with its lawyers who are funded by giant corporations) increasingly — however rarely — recognise the issue of scope while still trying to shift attention to “trolls”.

The other day The Economist, widely recognised for its pro-Big Business agenda, published this article titled “Patents that kill”. To quote some of the relevant parts:

IN 1742 Benjamin Franklin invented a new type of stove, for which he was offered a patent. Franklin refused it, arguing in his autobiography that because “we enjoy[ed] great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours.”

[...]

The pharmaceutical industry makes the best case for patents (and makes the most of patents when they are approved). Medical research and development (R&D) is costly. Moreover, although a patent application must be filed straight after a drug discovery, clinical trials necessary for drug approval may take several years. This shortens the effective life of the patent. As three economists argue in a recent paper this causes problems. In order to prove the efficacy of a drug, pharmaceuticals have to match the length of a clinical trial to the expected survival time of the patients. A clinical trial for patients with metastatic prostate cancer lasts only three years compared to an 18-year-long trial for those suffering from a milder, localised prostate cancer. Since a typical patent is in force for 20 years, firms only have two years of effective patent length left to commercialise a new drug against localised prostate cancer.

Here we deal with an issue that has nothing to do with patent trolls but with patent scope.

Dealing with the issue of European approach towards software patents, Glyn Moody put the words of some British patent lawyers in a frame of mind that assures us Europe is assimilating to the US (and USPTO), not the other way around. To quote Glyn Moody: “It would be easy to assume that the European Patent Office (EPO) stands in the same relationship to the European Union as the USPTO does to the United States, but that’s actually wide of the mark.”

There is corporate control of the USPTO, which is operating against the interests of US citizens (except the top 1% perhaps). The lawyers’ blog has apparently produced “a great piece, but its gentle humor exposes a serious point about the EPO: it is literally above the law.

“That emphasizes once more that the unitary patent system has been decoupled from the normal legislative and democratic processes of the European Union, and thus will be under no obligation to take heed of the economic interests of the European citizens.”

We are soon going expose corruption at the EPO, based leaks from a source which is pursuing encryption at the moment.

Moody continues: “There is no precedent in the political history of modern democracies where important property issues affecting the economic sustainability and development of a country, and the proprietary rights and business prospects of its people, were conclusively and exclusively taken by a judicial body at supranational level. A democratic policy-making process for the determination of patents as objects of property exists, of course, in all countries of the world, including the US, whose system the UPC tries to imitate. The difference is that the US unified patent system does not escape democratic control, and the economic policies that it serves are widely debated by legislators, judges, economists, lawyers and industry players, all of whom are residents of the same country.”

Finally, says Moody: “It’s still early days for the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court, so it’s not yet clear how the new system will work, and how serious the problems will be. The danger is that Eponia might turn out to be not so much a quaint oddity in the European political landscape as a dangerous rogue state with serious negative consequences for the region’s businesses and citizens.”

The system is out of control at the moment. It gets worse as patents expand in terms of scope (especially in Europe but also in other continent) while the US merely makes baby-steps in the opposite direction, while much of the effort is being diverted towards “trolls” (small abusers), of course at the behest of large corporations, as usual in US politics as per the modus operandi.

07.16.14

Secrecy Allows British Government to be Manipulated by Microsoft for Spyware Behind Closed Doors

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 11:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keys

Summary: Dependence on malicious software from NSA ally Microsoft is highly dependent, at least in Britain, on government secrecy and vain refusal to comply with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests

Several nations have already moved away from Microsoft or expressed intent to do so within months if not years. It is not just China anymore but also Russia and amid a spying scandal in Germany it makes sense for Germany to do the same along with much of Europe, for reasons we explained some days ago. Nobody can trust a backstabbing ‘ally’ and companies which facilitate surveillance at its behalf (Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Oracle and so on).

Vista 8 is a banned by the Chinese government and this new article reminds us that “The German government has always been militant in matters of data protection. In 2013, it warned consumers against using Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system due to perceived security risks, suggesting that it provided a back door for the US National Security Agency (NSA).”

Microsoft’s very special relationship with the NSA has cost a lot and layoff are coming to Microsoft (more on that in our next post). Now that the British government tries to get away from Microsoft there is lobbying going on and the government tries to hide it. “in March,” wrote Glyn Moody, “I asked about industry lobbying against ODF in UK. I’ve heard nothing, now asked for formal review FOI”.

Moody’s request to Cabinet Office was covered here before (Moody must have learned from experience) and the latest can be found here:

Dear Cabinet Office,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of
Information reviews.

I am writing to request formally an internal review of Cabinet
Office’s handling of my FOI request ‘Open document formats’.

The response to my request is long overdue; by law, under all
circumstances, the authority should have responded by now. No
official explanation has been offered for this delay.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is
available on the Internet at this address:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o…

Thank you for your help.

Yours faithfully,

Glyn Moody

Why do UK authorities cover up Microsoft lobbying against standards? I warned their staff about such lobbying months ago.

As Moody later pointed out, “my FOI request is nearly 4 months old now…”

How obscene is that? He even wrote a whole new article about it, stating:

So GCHQ is able to to search through the UK’s entire Internet stream to find all the vaguely bad things there, but the Cabinet Office is unable to locate a few specific emails on its own servers.

Moody also says “they send PDFs that are *scans* of documents – I had to re-type the excerpts in my post…”

The CIA famously uses this tactic to discourage publication and other forms of dissemination. They’re embarrassed, they have something to hide.

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