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10.21.14

India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called ‘Charity’ to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

Posted in Bill Gates, Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents at 9:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GlaxoSmithKline logo

Summary: Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not “charity”)

THE Gates Foundation is run and controlled by a rude and arrogant sociopath masquerading as a “philanthropist”. Based on the latest news [1, 2, 3], he doesn’t like his next-door neighbours in the US and does not obey the law (he is facing fines for it), so what chance is there that he will like some strangers in a place like Africa or India and and that he will ever obey African or Indian laws? He keeps getting richer every year, but much of the press (part of which he bribes) portrays him as a giver. Bribing politicians and newspapers is not “charity”, but when you pay the newspapers they might as well paint it as anything that suits them. Besides, it’s common to just call the “bribes” something like “campaign contributions” (among other euphemisms) to make it seem lawful, ethical, and acceptable.

Earlier this year a publication that had been bribed by Gates finally dared to criticise him for something. It mostly stopped doing that after he had bribed it, so this was the exception. But it was a flawed critique. It should already be broadly and widely understood that Gates uses ‘charity’ for tax-free investments in dubious work that requires, for example, high-risk clinical trials, casting it “charity”. Making it look like “charity” has the benefit of not having to operate like a standard business and be subjected to the same rules/laws. The Gates-bribed publication correctly pointed out that Gates was “boosting his fortune by another £9.6bn last year,” but it neglected to say he he avoids paying tax. Instead it focused on Microsoft and other companies. Here is a half-truth (or half lie): “Gates says he pays his personal taxes. Great.”

No, he doesn’t.

He puts it in a shell that helps him evade tax. A shame really that writers cannot see something so obvious…

The writer carries on: “But he made all that money from Microsoft which, like other tax-avoiding technology giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, uses sophisticated systems to shift paper profits around the planet and evade the designs of governments.”

This is another half-truth (or half lie). Gates actually makes a lot of his money not from Microsoft but from investment in very controversial companies that greatly harm society. We gave dozens of examples over the years.

The author continues: “Indeed, so extreme are its methods the company was used as a case study in a Senate investigation into US corporate tax avoidance, which found one example of offshoring profits through a tiny Puerto Rico office alone saved it $4m a day in taxes.”

What about the (mis)use of charity to evade tax? Well, a Gates-funded paper would not want to mention that. Here comes some shameless fawning: “Gates has every right to do what he wants with his wealth. It is to his credit he is giving away so much, persuading other billionaires to do the same and championing causes close to his heart – although as others have pointed out, even this is not immune to tax advantages. His determination to push vaccinations and prevent malaria is laudable. But if he wants to discuss development, preach about poverty and tell nations how to spend taxpayers’ money, he should put his own house in order first.”

What a complete hogwash. There are so many factual errors in this paragraph. It’s purely marketing garbage and those being lured to read the article are going to end up indoctrinated and brainwashed, as if Gates is some kind of “saint” and the “evils” are just some large corporations that people supposedly envy (and it should be noted that Gates remains deeply involved in the law-breaking Microsoft that’s as criminal an entity as ever before). Not only Microsoft dodges tax, Bill Gates does too. To make matters worse, he exploits poor people to make even more money whilst avoiding tax. Microsoft puts offshore billions of dollars to avoid tax and Gates dodges taxation by pretending that his business is a “charity”.

“The trial is years overdue and possible belated to the point where irreversible damage is done.”Just how much of a “charity” is the Gates Foundation? Well, today we’ll turn our attention to some recent news.

Some years ago we wrote about children dying in India after Gates had experimented on them. GlaxoSmitheKline was involved and remember that GlaxoSmitheKline is very much connected to Gates in numerous ways. Well, back in August in the corporate Indian media there was this article which said: “Earlier this month, taking a serious view of the death of seven tribal girls in the context of the observation studies, the Supreme Court asked the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to explain how permissions were given.

“The SC bench of justices Dipak Misra and V Gopala Gowda asked the Centre to produce relevant files that pertained to the grant of licence for trial of the HPV vaccine in India. The court also asked the Centre to appraise it of steps taken on the report of the parliamentary committee.”

Suffice to say, the Gates apologists are trying to paint this as the anti-vaccine movement with its claims of conspiracies to infect/sell. But the truth may be somewhere in between. What we saw in India was a clinical trial with low risk of litigation (for example in case a subject dies). As Andrew Powell from Wales pointed out in the comments: “‘A wise dog never poops on his own doorstep’. A man, known for his philanthropic and ethical character, finds it essential or preferable for his American company to guinea-pig his new drugs on people living on the other side of the world. What made him rule out testing it on Harvard Sophomores?”

This is like in the movie Constant Gardener, which is a very strong movie with a long-lasting impression to be left (based on my own experience and others’).

The corporate media us usually too shy to touch such a topic because of the anti-vaccine hysteria that’s often so irrational or taken out of context where concerns are more or less valid. Based on the article above, the “committee found that the objective behind the observation studies in India primarily was to collect and record data on the effect of the vaccines on the minor subjects.”

So, it was after all a clinical trial. Unbelievable. How can Gates and his corporate partners get away with it? The legal challenge/potential trial is years overdue and possibly belated to the point where irreversible damage is done. Here is what Activist Post wrote about this along with other sites like Natural Society:

Furthermore, though absent from most mainstream U.S. media outlets, the Economic Times of India published their report in August 2014, stating that young tribal girls were tested with HPV vaccines. This involved not a handful of children, but 16,000 individuals in Andhra Pradesh, India, where they were given the Gardasil vaccine.

KP Narayana Kumar reported that within a month of receiving the vaccine, many of the children fell ill, and by 2010, five of them had died. Another two children were reported to have died in Vadodara, Gujarat, where another 14,000 tribal children were vaccinated with another brand of the HPV vaccine, Cervarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmitheKline (GSK), who incidentally, has been accused of dumping polio virus into a Belgium river.

Consent forms to administer the HPV vaccine were ‘illegally’ signed by wardens form youth hostels, showing that the Gates’ prey on the indigent without parents. For those who had parents, most were illiterate, and the true potential dangers of the vaccines were not explained to them.

SAMA, an organization in India which promotes women’s health discovered this insidiousness, and reported it, but only now will Gates and his cronies have to answer for their misdeeds. Approximately 120 girls reported epileptic seizures, severe stomach cramps, headaches, and mood swings, of those who did not die. Other girls receiving the Gardasil vaccine have experienced infertility.

To truly understand what Gates is doing here one can rent the movie The Constant Gardener (2005). It is tough to watch, but there is an educational angle/value to it. This whole thing is despicable and it helps show that Gates is above the law, internationally. He sort of “harvests” the world’s poorest people in his ruthlessly capitalistic aspiration to enhance his political power and increase his wealth. Expect Gates to pull some political strings to pull out of this court ‘nuisance’. The rich are above the law when they can typically just pay their way out. Remember that Gates was arrested as a teenager and freed on bail because his father was very affluent; this was not the last time that Gates got out of trouble with the law just because he was wealthy. It’s a systemic problem and a relatively poor country like India is unlikely to be potent enough to convict Gates. It did, however, find Microsoft guilty for tax evasion. That was over half a decade ago.

The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

Posted in Law, Patents at 7:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: Patent trolls are in the news again and it’s rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past

THE relentless attempts to redefine “patent troll” — attempts which can be largely attributed to patent trolls themselves (and their lobbyists, such as Bill Gates’ and Nathan Myhrvold’s lobbyists) — were covered here in past years and we continue to see much of the same now that politicians are said to be going after “trolls” (an elusive ‘reform’ that will go almost nowhere). The remedy will most likely necessitate some kind of scope limitation; this scope should be a debate around patents, not the aggressor’s scope or scale. The world’s biggest trolls are often not characterised in the corporate press as “trolls” at all. It is a form of propaganda or a game of words that defames small players and glorifies larger players that engage in the very same behaviour.

As the troll-tracking Steph put it the other day, we cannot rely on politicians. “I’m on record many, many times agreeing that legislation is not the way to curb patent trolling,” she explained. “It’s right there in the name of the offender: “troll”. It may slow them down temporarily, but overall, anyone called a “troll” is going to come back swinging a few months or years later with a whole new set of workarounds. It’s impossible to stay fully head of them with laws.” Whereas by going after the patents themselves would help eliminate abuse, no matter if the abuser is as large as Microsoft or as small those many no-name trolls. Nathan Myhrvold (shown above) is already seeing his massive patent troll imploding (lots of layoffs) and litigation rates have gone down considerably just after the Alice ruling. It was about patent scope. According to those who pursue reform only targeting patent trolls, “It’s been reported in a few places that a recent Lex Machina report states that patent litigation is down 40% from last year. Of course, the patent trolls are trying to use these inaccurate reports to argue that the patent troll problem is essentially solved.”

This is untrue. The reality is, the Alice ruling seemingly weakened many of them. They were reliant on software patents, based on statistics acquired some years back. It shows that by pursuing changes around patent scope we can achieve many of the overall goals; it’s a domino effect.

In other interesting news, China is said to be turning into quite the hotbed of patent trolls and Glyn Moody writes: “The Chinese government’s move is part of a larger story that recapitulates America’s own evolution from a “pirate” nation that fuelled its industrial revolution by ignoring the law and appropriating Western Europe’s patented ideas, to one using the same legal instruments against European companies.”

Here we have yet another reason to narrow the scope of patents. Trolls are a symptom of a scope too broad and China can take advantage of it. Not only trolls are impeded by elimination of “abstract” patents (which include software patents); everything in the patent system (universally) is affected by that, irrespective of the size of the plaintiff.

10.20.14

How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

Posted in Patents at 5:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Breaking down a patent lawyer’s analysis of a Supreme Court’s decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents

SHORTLY after the Alice v. CLS Bank ruling we gave several dozens of examples where patent lawyers either denied the impact of this ruling/decision on software patents or simply downplayed it. We now know that they were wrong — not necessarily lying — as software patents are being squashed by the patent office and the courts. Lawsuits have almost halved in number. The same thing happened after In Re Bilski; in sheer numbers (number of articles), patent lawyers tried to impose/project their will onto the law, overriding what’s true and what shall become legal practice. It’s rather appalling. They capture the system. Since many journalists quote these people (especially in the corporate media), it matters a lot.

“These “legal” publications tend to be more like cults of subcultures where the reality can be vastly different from that which everyone else observes.”Despite all this evidence, some patent lawyers would rather continue to ignore the facts or simply lie (at the very least distort). The other day Kelley Drye & Warren LLP published a so-called ‘analysis’ in a legal publication. These “legal” publications tend to be more like cults of subcultures where the reality can be vastly different from that which everyone else observes. David W. Long, from the Washington (DC) office of this firm, wrote this:

Patent System Benefits From Supreme Court Guidance In Alice v. CLS Bank

Benefit, right? Tell us more.

This case primarily impacts software- or computer-implemented inventions. Alice dealt with a patent on a generic computer implementing a conventional business practice of using a third-party intermediary (clearing house or escrow agent) to mitigate the “settlement risk” that a party cannot fulfill its obligation in a transaction. Each side’s consideration is exchanged once the intermediary receives the required consideration from both sides. The issue presented was whether someone could patent using generic computer components to implement “the abstract idea of intermediate settlement” that is a long-standing “fundamental practice” and “building block of the modern economy.” The Court said no.

Right. No means no. Go on then.

The short answer is: incrementally. There’s nothing earth shattering about Alice.

Except the invalidation of many software patents? Right, let’s just ignore that.

The Court applied prior decisions to a new set of facts, resulting in incremental guidance on this nuance issue. The bigger impact of Alice is that it resolved a stalemate in the Federal Circuit appeals court that is tasked with developing patent law.

CAFC has been thoroughly discredited in this area and it was found to be corrupt. It’s quite a miracle that it continues to exist, albeit some corrupt people got ousted.

Here, the Federal Circuit judges agreed that the patent claims were invalid, but they disagreed as to why and, thus, gave no guidance to practitioners. Stalemates and attendant uncertainty often happen in these gray mushy areas, so it’s significant that the Supreme Court decision breaks the stalemate to keep progress flowing.

The problem is, none of the judges (or justices) actually understands computers properly; none can write a computer program. Why are people with a fancy gown, a wooden hammer (gavel, but probably no longer a wig) deemed more competent to rule on matters such as software patents and APIs than technical folks who most likely don a T-shirt and a portable music player? Legal threatre is doing a great deal of damage to the technical community and this hurts customers (that’s everyone) too.

There has been incremental development on what is an unpatentable abstract idea, and that development should continue. So far, the Court has addressed patent eligibility in cases that involved well-known, or old, abstract ideas: Bilski was about financial hedging, and Alice was about third-party intermediaries to settle a financial contract. The really interesting question is: what do the courts do when someone develops a wholly new abstract idea?

If it’s abstract, then it does not matter if it’s new.

When someone first intuited, for example, that 2+2=4 and 2*2=4 and 22=4, this was a completely new insight. While it may have contributed greatly to society to know, it is still a fundamental building block that could not be patented from day one. If it were patented, you couldn’t build a car or anything else without paying a license fee every time that fundamental mathematical relationship was used. So we may see interesting developments in the way courts handle generic computer implementation of new abstract ideas, though such case law development will be a marathon, not a sprint.

Mathematics was not much of a new insight. It was only formalised at some later stage, using some particular notation, e.g. decimal numbers (base 10). At no stage was a patent suitable and just because we encode mathematics in binary form now (or let machines do so) does not mean we are entitled to patents.

Some patents will have this issue, but that’s par for the course since any patent might be challenged on any number of grounds, such as prior art or definiteness. The news is that Alice gave us helpful tools that practitioners can use in evaluating patents, and we will see development in this area near term. Already, we’re seeing that more district courts are invalidating patents on this ground at the motion-to-dismiss stage, which is very early in the litigation process compared to the practice before Alice.

So here he is admitting that Alice v. CLS Bank did in fact change things. Why not take this further and state that software patents are now in trouble or perpetual demise? Well, granted, as even Mr. WatchTroll himself (IP Watchdog) admitted a couple of months ago, if you tell the “legal community” that software patents (or any patent type for that matter) are going away, you’re likely to be ridiculed or chastised. The problem is, the press likes to quote people who are patent lawyers for insight on patent law.

The bottom line is, whenever reading some so-called ‘analysis’ from patent lawyers about software patents, be careful. They are not writing like journalists but more like marketing people trying to attract potential clients. In the corporate press, so-called ‘journalists’ treat these ‘marketing people’ as credible authority on these subjects.

Is It Google’s Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

Posted in America, Google, IBM, Patents at 4:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michelle Lee
Photo from Asian Pacific Fund

Summary: The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests

IT IS no longer just rumour or suspicion that USPTO nominates Lee as new director. This is possibly going to result in an appointment, showing us yet again that corporate stewards are truly in charge of the government, not just in the United States. Industrial bodies are full of “revolving door”-type scenarios and altercations.

This probably is not as bad as nominating Philip Johnson (it didn't go down well) or David Kappos from IBM (both big and vocal proponents of software patents), but it’s still not a good thing, either. As we showed in past years, Google had hired many patent lawyers rather than fight software patents; Michelle Lee may therefore be part of the problem. Not much is known about her to Wikipedia. He career at Google was very short (going back to when Google hired patent lawyers) and her career before this is not even mentioned. We wrote about her when she was appointed and even in 2012 when sources said she might lead a Silicon Valley patent office (hence software patents). According to a USPTO press releases, “Lee worked as a computer scientist at Hewlett-Packard” (a proponent of software patents). But much of the private sector stuff is usually omitted. To quote this press release: “Prior to becoming Director of the Silicon Valley USPTO, Lee served two terms on the USPTO’s Patent Public Advisory Committee, whose members are appointed by the U.S. Commerce Secretary and serve to advise the USPTO on its policies, goals, performance, budget and user fees.”

A site that acts as a CCIA front (as well as CCIA itself) and which wrote about her before has worked with Google and for Google, so no wonder it endorses Michelle Lee. CCIA is more concerned about patent trolls but not about abuse by its members (such as Microsoft), so it continues to treat only small abusive companies as the problem, e.g. for lack of evidence. Here is what the CCIA front said:

The White House announced yesterday that it’s nominating current Deputy Director Michelle Lee to be Director of the USPTO. By all accounts, she’s done a good job during a difficult time at the USPTO. This is definitely a smart move by the Administration.

How about appointing someone who is not supporting software patents and has not come from companies that accumulate software patents? Well, that might be too “revolutionary” for the USPTO and for the White House to do.

The EPO’s Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jesper Kongstad
Jesper Kongstad. Photo from the Nordic Patent Institute.

Summary: Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO’s management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO’s management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time

KONGSTAD was the subject of our coverage before. We mentioned him in previous parts of exclusive EPO scandal stories. Mr Jesper Kongstad had already been mentioned in several past posts because he’s suspected to have played a role in an inadequate appointment, potentially motivated by nepotism. The suspicion is not a one-man whisper campaign. Staff at the EPO too seems to be concerned. The EPO is not new to scandals.

As we showed some weeks ago, the EPO’s management had oversight dismantled (related original documents are to be found here) and later on we were told about a letter to Kongstad from Cobus de Swardtz [PDF], the Managing Director of Transparency International (TI), which calls itself a “global coalition against corruption”.

There was a lot more to come, but we chose to sit aside for a while, letting things take their natural course without publicising anything in particular. The silence needed to be broken when the letter was circulated internally. The following document was published some weeks ago, which basically means that its contents are freely available to quite a lot of people. We too received a copy. At the time, Transparency International had already waited a few weeks (after it sent a letter to the Chairman of the Administrative Council) and the Administrative Council did not respond. As far as we know, Kongstad never responded. Administrative Council seems to prefer to just keep quiet about it. The interesting thing is that Transparency International was invited by the EPO staff representatives to examine the governance of the EPO. This is public knowledge. Kongstad must either be very arrogant or he has something to hide.

In the future, in order to facilitate public pressure on the Administrative Council, we are going to reveal for our European readers some contact details so that they contact their national representatives on the Administrative Council in relation to the various issues concerning EPO governance. Details of the national delegates can be found in the EPO’s Web site. They are mostly the heads of national patent offices who are subject to instructions from the competent government Ministry. Any kind of public campaign should also target the corresponding government Ministries and/or Prime Ministers as that is where the buck really stops at a national level.

The following is a portion from a letter we got hold of. The letter provides some background and contains references:

EPO & Transparency

Summary

Transparency International (TI) critically examines how national political systems all around the world address corruption risks and foster integrity. They publish and encourage best practice in integrity and expose the effects of conflicts of interest and lack of transparency. Recently, TI also assessed how the EU institutions deal with ethics, how they ensure transparency and accountability, and how they ultimately prevent corruption. The Central Staff Committee suggested to the EPO Administrative Council that a similar study be done for the EPO. TI has signaled its interest in the matter. But until now the Council cloaks itself in silence.

The governance of the EPO

The EPO still has the governance system that it was created with. Oversight is in the hands of the Administrative Council. The Heads of the national delegations in the Administrative Council are almost without exception heads of national patent offices. The delegates are in a situation of conflict of interests since the EPO is at the same time the main competitor and a major source of income for the national patent offices. The meetings of the Administrative Council and the majority of its documents are not open to the public. Maybe significantly the Office has started to publish the salaries of its staff, but the salary and benefits of the President are not disclosed, not even to the Administrative Council.

The European Patent Organisation sets its own financial regulations, independent from national or European law1. Adherence to these rules is controlled by a Board of Auditors of consisting of three individuals who are appointed by and reporting to the Administrative Council, on 5-year renewable contracts. Their reports (CA/20/yy) tend to be rather mild and the (few) critical comments are routinely ignored by the Office. The most recently appointed auditor is a close co-worker of Mr Battistelli from his time in the French patent office. Maybe not surprisingly, the most recent Audit report (CA/20/14) is even milder than usual. An attempt by the Brimelow administration to strengthen the audit system through the creation of an Audit Committee2 was supported by Mr Battistelli in his function of Chairman of the Council, but annulled by him as soon as he became President of the Office3. Note that the Organisation’s immunity blocks third parties from effectively challenging its financial decisions. The Staff Committee challenged the decision of the Office to use a direct placement procedure in favour of an external consultancy. The Board of Auditors even agreed that an invitation to tender would have been justified. Even if clearly justified, the complaint was recently dismissed by ILO-AT as irreceivable4.

______
1 Article 50 EPC
2 Bossung, Otto. “The Return of European Patent Law in the European Union”.
IIC 27 (3/1996). Retrieved June 30, 2012.
3 CA/140/08 «Audit Committee: possible models», resp. CA/55/11, «Disbanding the audit committee»


Immunity, or impunity?

The lack of transparency and the lack of truly independent financial and political control would seem to pose a serious risk for the integrity of the EPO and consequently for the European patent system. This is particularly worrying at a time that the EPO is to be given the additional responsibilities for the Unitary Patent. The staff representation has repeatedly requested a discussion on, and a modernisation of, the governance of the Organisation5, thus far to no avail.

Transparency International

Transparency International is a global civil society organization that aims at stopping corruption and promoting transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society6. TI has developed a methodology to assess how well national governments ensure the integrity of their institutions. The beauty of the methodology is that it is systemic. It does not rely on leaks and/or scandals but assesses whether the necessary legislation and mechanisms are in place to prevent, detect and combat corruption, and abuse of power. They check how well these mechanisms function in practice. An adapted version of this methodology has been used to assess various EU institutions. For the EU institutions Transparency International found that the EU has done a lot to put their house in order in recent years, but that strong foundations are being undermined by complex rules, complacency, and a lack of follow-up7.

What is the Council waiting for?

With a letter dated 6 June 20148 the Central Staff Committee (CSC) again raised the issue with the Chairman of the Administrative Council. The CSC drew the attention of the Council to the report of Transparency International on the EU Institutions and suggested that a similar study be done for the EPO. We note that the EU institutions cooperated with the Transparency study. Transparency International has reacted to the letter of the CSC9. It has offered its support and experience in promoting a culture of integrity and good governance in the EPOrg. Just recently Transparency International sent a reminder of its letter to the Council.

[...]

_____
4 ILO-AT 3343
5 CA/93/07 «Governance of the EPO: a staff perspective»,
6 http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo?gclid=CJWu5eC5tsACFa7KtAodXRoA2A
7 http://www.transparencyinternational.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/EUIS_press_release.pdf
8 http://www.epostaff.org/archive/sc14139cl.pdf
9 see annex

The Transparency International story has been reported via another channel. The investigation was ignored. To quote WIPR: “A staff committee at the European Patent Office (EPO) has said its requests for the office’s governance to be assessed by a corruption specialist have been ignored, WIPR can reveal.

“The office’s central staff committee (CSC) said it had recommended to its supervisory body that anti-corruption organisation Transparency International (TI) carry out a study on the everyday running of the office, to ensure accountability.

“The CSC said its own attempts at convincing the Administrative Council (AC) were ignored, and has revealed that a letter sent directly to AC chairman Jesper Kongstad from TI has also yet to receive a response.

“TI’s letter, seen by WIPR, was sent in July this year and said the EPO’s governance has at times come under criticism.”

That basically sums up how the EPO’s management behaves; the modus operandi is to ignore or destroy any regulatory apparatus or oversight, External ones are ignored, internal ones are brutally (but almost silently) squashed.

There is probably no harm in waiting for while as there may be a follow-up by Transparency International. For the time being the situation is clear; an external audit is being ignored by the Administrative Council. Jesper Kongstad doesn’t appear to have made any response.

“For the time being the situation is clear; an external audit is being ignored by the Administrative Council.”Curiously enough, as also reported by WIPR just a few weeks later, there was a “[m]ysterious departure for EPO communications chief” (i.e. PR). “According to sources,” says the article, “a recently uncovered trademark application at the German Patent and Trademark Office in Schröder’s name bearing the words “f**k the US” may have been a contributing factor.”

A source tells us a slightly different story however. Some believe that Battistelli is planning to maneuver another French “crony” (Vincent Bénard, formerly of Airbus) into this key PR position, meaning that the previous occupant of the position, Oswald Schroeder, had to be “eliminated”. Whether he was set up or fell into a trap due to his own stupidity one cannot say for sure. “Oswald Schröder left “by mutual consent” on October 10,” says the article. It seems like he got pushed out. One just need to put some of the details found within the article together.

Battistelli’s regime can now tighten its grip and surround itself with more cronies that can perhaps push out challenges, such as Transparency International’s.

10.16.14

Another Fresh Blow to Software Patents (and With Them Patent Trolls)

Posted in Law, Patents at 4:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Another new development shows that more burden of proof is to be put on the litigant, thus discouraging the most infamous serial patent aggressors and reducing the incentive to settle with a payment out of court

THERE have been some victories recently against software patents. The patent lawyers have become either silent or rude. Well, the rude and shameless IP Watchdog is apparently upset by Steph, the patent trolls tracker who writes: “I don’t often get in fights on Twitter, but when I do, it’s with IP Watchdog because he’s a bully (only sometimes, but still) or with inventors who feel that any attempt at curbing patent trolls will adversely affect them and their ability to sue people who infringe on their ideas.”

As Pogson pointed out today, software patents are rapidly eroding in the US and last month there was an important development that Cory Doctorow draws attention to only now, spurring these remarks from Mike Masnick who wrote:

Judges Want To Make Life Harder On Patent Trolls: Want Them To Actually Have To Explain What Infringement Happened

I’d missed this one, but Cory Doctorow over at BoingBoing points our attention to the fact that, last month, the Judicial Conference voted to make a little-noticed change in patent lawsuits that should serve to make life more difficult for patent trolls. The details here are more complex than necessary, but the short version is that, under current rules, to file a patent infringement case, the initial complaint can be almost entirely bare bones: basically naming the plaintiff, defendant, patent and saying there’s infringement, but providing no real details on the infringement. That aids patent trolls, who often will file questionable lawsuits without even telling the defendant where the infringement occurs — leading defendants to have to go into the case a bit blind, and making it more appealing to just settle.

Earlier today IDG published an article by Simon Phipps. It relates to the above and days that “patent trolls have one fewer legal loophole to hide behind” (not just classic trolls, but also megatrolls like Microsoft, which often refuses to publicly disclose even patent numbers).

Things just keep getting better on this front.

10.14.14

The EPO’s Protection Triangle of Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić: Part VI

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Jesper Kongstad, Benoît Battistelli, and Zeljko Topić are uncomfortably close personally and professionally, so suspicions arise that nepotism and protectionism play a negative role that negatively affects the European public

THE scandals at the EPO are numerous and longstanding. Oversight is minimal if not inexistent and there is lots to be worried about. In this part of the series we wish to focus on Mr Jesper Kongstad. He is not quite what it seems on the surface. As we are going to show in later parts (weeks ahead), Kongstad became a target of interest in an ongoing investigation from the outside (Battistelli has already eliminated inside overnight).

“Oversight is minimal if not inexistent and there is lots to be worried about.”The Kongstad situation will today be mentioned in brief. It will be covered without yet mentioning that investigation (intentionally unnamed) as there are some ongoing developments that would be better off covered when it’s all finished and concluded. There is no longer a problem in mentioning the Kongstad situation as the information about earlier links to the Croatian SIPO is publicly accessible. Kongstad’s close links to Battistelli have also been mentioned on the IPKat blog which said three months ago: “Back in 2010, when Benoît Battistelli was first appointed as President of the European Patent Office (EPO), there was a certain lack of transparency in the election process. As a blog post by IAM Magazine reported at the time, mischievous rumours quickly emerged from the EPO staff union newsletter (PDF link) to fill the vacuum of information regarding the circumstances of Mr Battistelli’s appointment.

“Battistelli’s original contract was negotiated in secret with Mr Jesper Kongstad, the then Acting (and now actual) Chairman of the Administrative Council. It was rumoured, intriguingly, that the contract specified that Mr B’s place of employment was the Parisian suburb of Saint Germain-en-Laye (the town of which he was deputy major, the spiritual home of football team Paris Saint-Germain and the birthplace of Louis XIV, the Sun-King), and that it contained an annex granting him full pension rights at the end of his five-year contract. While Merpel, whose nine lives invariably make any sort of pension annuity unaffordable since the pension must last so much longer than expected, can see the attraction of having full pension rights after a relatively short employment stint, she wonders what advantage or reason could lie behind deeming Mr Battistelli’s place of employment to be 700 km west of where his office is actually located, if there is any substance behind that improbable rumour. The union newsletter, SUEPO Informs, also reported that Mr Kongstad refused to show the final contract negotiated with Mr Battistelli to the Administrative Council (‘AC’), despite repeated requests by its apparently quite powerless members.”

The EPO’s staff representatives have initiated contact with investigators by now. This was mentioned very briefly in the print version of the article published in “Die Welt” on the 24th of August (entitled “Stress at the Munich Kremlin”). We covered this before, so it’s not completely secret that outside investigators may be starting to show an interest in the EPO’s mysterious conduct (or misconduct).

Our sources have more to say about this. Their research indicates that the EPO President Benoît Battistelli, formerly the Director of the French INPI, and the Chairman of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, who is the current Director of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office, have long-standing professional connections with Topić. This gives rise to the suspicion that Battistelli and Kongstad are putting professional and/or personal loyalties before the public interest in this matter and are colluding to prevent any independent investigation of Topić’s appointment.

The 2009 annual report of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office records details of a study visit of senior Croatian officials of the authorities for the enforcement of intellectual property rights to the partner Danish institutions in Copenhagen and a return visit by Danish officials to the partner Croatian institutions in Zagreb. It also includes this mention of a “twinning project” between the Danish Patent and Trademark Office and the Croatia SIPO which took place in the context of a European Union Assistance Project [PDF].

The Web site of the Danish PTO confirms the existence of the Croatia twinning project. The Danish PTO website also provides evidence of co-operation between the Danish PTO and the Croatian SIPO going back as far as 2004.

A further spicy detail in this saga is the fact that Topić’s former deputy at the Croatian SIPO, Ms. Romana Matanovac Vučković, has been working as a consultant on an EU-funded project co-administered by the Danish PTO.

According to her personal Web site: “Since 2013, she has been cooperating with Pohl Consulting & Associates GmbH from Berlin and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office as a consultant in the project of legal assistance in the field of intellectual property at Kosovo, also funded by the European Union.”

The EU Kosovo project has a budget of ca. 1 million Euros [1, 2]. Ms. Matanovac Vučković was previously a deputy Director of the Croatian SIPO under Topić (ca. 2005-2008). During that period, she was also Croatia’s “alternate representative” to the EPO’s Administrative Council as confirmed by the following extract from the EPO Official Journal 2008: “During her time at the Croatian SIPO, Ms. Matanovac Vučković acted as head of an official body under the SIPO’s remit which was called the “Council of Experts on Remunerations for Copyright and Related Rights”. This appointment was controversial in Croatia and it was alleged to be unlawful due to a “conflict of interest” because Ms. Matanovac Vučković had previous worked for the Croatian Composers’ Society (HDS) and the private company “Emporion” which was involved in managing musical royalty payments. According to informed sources, her previous employment should have disqualified her from an appointment to the Council of Experts. It was claimed in the Croatian press that Ms. Matanovac Vučković only secured the position due to her connections with the Croatian President Ivo Josipović.”

Sources (in Croatian) can be found here and the English translation was published by us last week.

More information is to follow next week, reinforcing the allegation that the EPO’s abuse goes all the way to the very top.

Corporate Media Confirms the Demise of Software Patents in the United States; Will India and Europe Follow?

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 3:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gavel

Summary: It has become increasingly official that software patents are being weakened in the United States’ USPTO as well as the courts; will software leaders such as India and Europe stop trying to imitate the old USPTO?

YESTERDAY we wrote about the measurably huge decline in the number of patent lawsuits in the US. There is some more good news in the form of figures.

Andrea Peterson, writing for the Bezos-owned Washington Post, says that “Software patent approval rates sink in months following Supreme Court case”. The patent lawyers, understandably, are stressed about this. They spent so much time attacking the decision or trying to characterise it as anything but a game changer. We gave dozens of examples at the middle of this year. Here again are a couple of patent lawyers using a straw man: “it is doubtful that all software, computer-implemented and business method inventions will be affected by Alice. For example, software inventions that improve the functioning of a computer, or improve other technical fields, may still be eligible for patent protection. Still, while the full effect of Alice is yet to be determined, entities seeking to patent inventions directed to software, computer implementations, and business methods, need to ensure that inventions are sufficiently innovative and directed to concrete ideas.”

“The patent lawyers, understandably, are stressed about this.”Mike Masnick already caught the news from the morning and wrote: “The impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank continues to reverberate around the industry. We’ve already noted that courts have been rapidly invalidating a bunch of patents, and that related lawsuits appear to be dropping rapidly as well. And, now, a new analysis from a (pro-patent) law firm suggests that the US Patent Office is rejecting a lot more software patents as well.”

Software superpower India does not have software patents, but after meeting executives from Microsoft (which has enormous influence over the Indian government), Amazon, Facebook and other patent aggressors it looks like things may change. According to this article about Modi’s trip to the US:

The US-India Joint Statement signed during Modi’s visit to the US has opened the doors for two Indian laws that have been passed by the Indian Parliament. One is on patents – the Indian Patents Act – that contain some measures to keep drug prices low for the people, which the US and its pharmaceutical industries have been trying to change for the last decade. The second is on nuclear liability, again anathema to the US nuclear industry.

Here is a little something about privacy too: “The Modi visit is also important for what he did not raise with the US government. There was no mention of the NSA spying in India, which included the BJP as well. There were six political entities in the world that the NSA spied upon officially, and one of them was the BJP. India is also one of the 33 countries that have signed a 3rd Party agreement with NSA giving it access to our telecommunications and Internet infrastructure. That means India not only allowed NSA to spy on any entity or any person in India but also provided them the physical access required for such spying. Modi not only did not utter one word of protest against such spying against his own party, but also made clear his intention to continue such relationship under Defence and Homeland Security clauses of the Joint Statement.”

It is sad to say this, but India seems to be assimilating to the US system when it comes to patents and also when it comes to militarisation and surveillance.

As we showed before, the corrupt EPO is bringing Europe closer into alignment with the corporations-run USPTO while the USPTO itself is moving away from software patents these days. We covered this aspect of the situation several weeks ago.

Our next post will focus on some more scandals from the EPO.

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