My workstation these days
Summary: A special number* is reached again, marking another milestone for the site
Later this week Techrights will have published 22,000 blog posts/articles. In less than 11 years that is!
We are grateful for the support not only from readers (whom we don’t rely on in any sense other than readership and spreading of the word) but also from sources. What makes the site valuable is the growing number of exclusive reports, which help shed light on previously-unknown information. Our access to a lot of EPO material is why we have been so focused on covering this institution and are likely to continue to do so in the near if not distant future. █
* ISO 22000 certification for foods comes to mind.
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Summary: Dr. Angela Merkel, arguably the most powerful woman in the world, is being warned about the consequences of Germany ignoring (and hence facilitating) the abuses of Benoît Battistelli
THREE days ago we published a copy of the letter to Merkel regarding the EPO scandals. SUEPO has just published an English translation of it. We are reproducing it below with added highlights.
International and European Public
60388 Frankfurt am Main
Office of the Federal Chancellor
Federal Minister of Justice
27 February 2017
Rights of the Staff and Staff Representatives at the European Patent Office (EPO)
Dear Federal Chancellor,
As representatives of the “International and European Public Services Organisation” (IPSO), the staff union recognized by the European Central Bank (ECB) for ECB personnel, we are turning to you to express our extreme concern with regard to the developments at the EPO with its headquarters in Munich, and with regard to its management.
The EPO, with its core task of guaranteeing patent rights, does not itself appear to be in a position any longer to recognize and respect the perfectly valid rights of its staff and their duly appointed representatives.
There are many reports on the matter, in a wide range of media; as well as a documentary (http://www.br.de/br-fernsehen/sendungen/kontrovers/traumjob-albtraum-arbeit-belastung-story-100.html) by Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) of 21 March 2016, there have been numerous articles in the national and international press (SZ, FAZ, die Welt, Le Monde, Mediapart, Libération, De Volkskrant, NRC, EI Mundo etc.) as well as countless contributions in blogs by specialists in the field of copyright (e.g. IPkat, Juve, WIPR, IAM). Prominent jurists, such as Prof. Dr. Siegfried Bross, have made strenuous appeals to the EPO to embark on a change of course.
Never before has the Management of the EPO been subjected to such a barrage of public criticism as under its current President, Mr. Benoît Battistelli. The reputation of the Office and of its host country have both likewise been tarnished by these events.
A good appreciation of the poisonous atmosphere at work was released by Politico(http://www.politico.eu/article/labor-relations-turn-toxic-in-the-european-patent-office/) in August 2015; since then, the situation has become even worse. In January 2016 Mr. Battistelli dismissed two union representatives and elected staff representatives in Munich. A third was fired on 4 November 2016 at The Hague. In all three cases, it is entirely justifiable to speak of a “witch hunt” and Kafkaesque proceedings, with gross abuses of the most fundamental legal principles for the protection of staff representatives. At the present time two further union and staff representatives are in the firing line. With the aim of de-escalation, in March 2016 the Administrative Council of the EPO approved a Resolution CA/26/16, in which Mr. Battistelli was called upon to review the existing rules and regulations with a view to achieving fair and equitable formulation and implementation. The Council urged Mr. Battistelli that until this had been achieved there should be no further investigations or disciplinary procedures initiated and pursued against members of staff and union representatives – an appeal which Mr. Batistelli has completely ignored.
For decades, Germany has been viewed as a fine example for the world with its well-functioning social model, a model which is based primarily on dialogue and negotiation, and specifically for the avoidance of inflammatory conflicts and power games. It is against this background that we call upon Germany, as an important EU Member State and host country for the EPO, at this time of direst crisis at the EPO since its creation, to take on a clear position in support and defence of the fundamental rights of the staff and their representatives. Sadly, it has been reported to us that the German representative on the Administrative Council of the EPO appears not only to have adopted a passive attitude, but actually to have repeatedly supported initiatives by Mr. Battistelli by providing further powers of authority, even though the existing rules have led to massive abuses on Mr. Battistelli’s part.
We are sure to be of one voice in our conviction that management practices such as fear, isolation, and revenge have no place in a democratic society, and especially not in a European and international institution such as the EPO. All the more important, then, that authoritarian, indeed dictatorial, attitudes, which we are experiencing at the present time at the EPO and from Mr. Battistelli, should not serve as a negative example for other European and international organizations; organizations for which, due to their functional independence, it is often difficult for staff and their representatives to demand their rights and to lay their grievances before the courts.
Mr. Battistelli’s term of office as President of the EPO still runs until 30 June 2018, provided that no successor has been found by then. Our concern is that Mr. Battistelli will leave no stone unturned in seeking to extend his period in office by means of political intrigues. Europe cannot afford such a scenario, particularly not in the current political situation. We therefore cannot stand idly by until Mr. Battistelli voluntarily takes his leave.
Please let us know what measures Germany has taken, and will be taking, to restore the rule of law, including the respecting of the rights of staff and staff representatives at the EPO, a European and international organization of which the Federal Republic of Germany is not only an important member, but also a host country.
With best regards
International and European Public Services Organisation
cc: USF, SUEPO
As far as we are aware, Angela Merkel’s government has done nothing since. Is passivity a form of complicity? █
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Also see: Independent and Untainted Web Sites About Patents Are Still Few and Rare
“The major media-particularly, the elite media that set the agenda that others generally follow-are corporations “selling” privileged audiences to other businesses. It would hardly come as a surprise if the picture of the world they present were to reflect the perspectives and interests of the sellers, the buyers, and the product. Concentration of ownership of the media is high and increasing. Furthermore, those who occupy managerial positions in the media, or gain status within them as commentators, belong to the same privileged elites, and might be expected to share the perceptions, aspirations, and attitudes of their associates, reflecting their own class interests as well. Journalists entering the system are unlikely to make their way unless they conform to these ideological pressures, generally by internalizing the values; it is not easy to say one thing and believe another, and those who fail to conform will tend to be weeded out by familiar mechanisms.”
Summary: Another timely walkthrough (journey through the past week’s supposed news) which demonstrates how several self-acclaimed/self-proclaimed “news” sites and even “blogs” operate (which helps explain why they don’t cover EPO scandals among other inconvenient — to them at least — realities)
WE NOW know that Michelle Lee is definitely the Director of the USPTO (it's officially confirmed now), so sites like IAM and Watchtroll are obviously not happy (IAM is a special case, or a case apart, which we debunk regularly). They spent a lot of effort casting doubt, attacking Lee, and even promoting replacements to her (even though she had not been fired). We will never forget what they tried to accomplish; neither should Lee.
“Therein lies the power of lobbying.”Shedding of doubt and uncertainty where there was none to begin with is a classic lobbying tactic and even Joe Mullin fell for it. He asked “Who’s in charge?” even when we already knew it was Lee and those who cited Mullin said “a FOIA request which could have been fulfilled by answering the simple question “Who is the office’s acting director?” Instead, the patent office asked for a delay until March 10, citing a section of the law that allows for delay in “unusual circumstances.””
There was no legitimate basis for doubts about her place (secured by default) other than her face not yet showing up on the official site (after Trump’s inauguration, whereupon many other faces disappeared from the site too). She was still effective in her position and signed documents accordingly. There was nothing mysterious about it. There was no scandal.
“Watchtroll is a very malicious site.”Therein lies the power of lobbying. And lots of that lobbying, as even TechDirt pointed out at one point, could be traced back to Watchtroll — a site that attacked Lee so often that we’ve lost track of the number of times.
Watchtroll (a.k.a. “IP Watchdog”)
Watchtroll is a very malicious site. It not only promotes software patents; it promotes patent maximalism, litigation maximalism, and basically a whole lot of chaos. Watch this latest nonsense from Watchtroll. It’s just incredible! This headline and the entire premise of this Watchtroll ‘article’ is completely bunk (not just false), and this is the latest example of low-quality lobbying for software patents, composed by one whose qualification is just writing (not a technical person by any stretch of imagination). With all sorts of events and other peripheral activities, Watchtroll is more than just a blog now. It’s akin to a pressure/attack/front group. IBM seems eager to use these ‘services’, no matter how nefarious. It pays off to — or there’s plenty of money in — being malicious.
“IBM seems eager to use these ‘services’, no matter how nefarious.”To break down the latest software patents brainwash, it’s just some incoherent nonsense with absolutely no connection between one thing and another. The author was just picking something random from the news (with the buzzwords of the day, “AI”), then wrongly asserting that it shows a need for software patents, even if the UK-IPO does not grant software patents. Here is an except: “Of course, not every step the government can take is a positive one, especially if it’s a backwards step, and nowhere is this more painfully apparent than in the United States. At the same time that our own federal government is evincing a great deal of skepticism as to the patentability of subject matter important to the AI sector, namely software, other nations are moving ahead with plans to improve intellectual property protections for such innovations. For example, new patent examination guidelines set to go into effect in China during early April will increase patent eligibility for software and business method inventions.”
“It pays off to — or there’s plenty of money in — being malicious.”AI moves forward in spite of patents, not owing or thanks to them. But never mind all those pesky ‘facts’ and “so called judges”. What Watchtroll is after is just some “alternative facts” or gross misinterpretations. That’s just the usual from them (when they’re not busy attacking the Director of the USPTO, the Justices, various judges and also appeal boards whose work they don’t tolerate).
Watchtroll is actually a symptom of a much broader problem. A lot of so-called ‘news’ is not at all news but PR and lobbying. The other day at IP Watch, typically a good site, we saw this guest ‘article’ from “Content Manager at Morningside IP” (apparently that’s an actual job title). She wants us to think that the whole world is about patents (guess what “IP” stands for; not patents) and here is one portion of her “content”:
If you want to know where technology is headed, a great place to look is in a patent application database like the USPTO. One of the qualifications for getting a patent granted is “novelty,” which means new, similar innovations won’t appear anywhere else. Once enough data is collected from the database, it can be used to map out and predict unique advancements in specific areas of technology.
How many things are being developed outside or irrespective of patent offices? In the field of software almost everything! So this Content Manager would be better off looking at source code in sites such as Github, rather than take the risk of willful infringement (far higher damages if found guilty) that examination/surveying of granted patents would entail.
“Why do readers out there think there is barely any coverage of EPO scandals other than in Techrights?”We are very much saddened to see the state of so-called ‘IP’ blogs and several months ago we wrote a long rant about it. There are barely any sites at all countering that sort of nonsense; Groklaw no longer operates and few good sites like Against Monopoly seem to have gone defunct quite some time back.
Why do readers out there think there is barely any coverage of EPO scandals other than in Techrights? It just doesn’t suit their business model, it does not attract advertisers and they would rather reprint “guest” posts or “sponsored” articles. It’s a lot less risky, especially from a legal standpoint. There is no money in ideology, unlike PR/marketing/advertising.
Yesterday we showed how Managing IP had set up yet another -- far from the first -- lobbying opportunity for Team UPC (that’s big money right there, with visitors paying £995 + VAT to enter) and days ago the site wrote about designs cases (not just patents), taking a short break from supposed “endorsements” of law firms and people in “IP” (we have to wonder how they turn this “endorsement” system into money, and the same goes for IAM). There was plenty of that recently and we needn’t necessarily link (feed) to it!
“There is no money in ideology, unlike PR/marketing/advertising.”Managing IP also wrote about this Sprint verdict (gigantic $140m patent case), but the above author, Joe Mullin, did a far better job covering it. He is at least balanced. To quote: “Sprint has been filing patent lawsuits over VoIP for more than a decade now, and the company may have just scored its biggest payout yet. On Friday, a jury in Sprint’s home district of Kansas City said that Time Warner Cable, now part of Charter Communications, must pay $139.8 million (Verdict Form) for infringing several patents related to VoIP technology. The jury found that TWC’s infringement was willful, which means that the judge could increase the damage award up to three times its value.”
$139.8 million in one single case. Sites like IAM would likely hail/praise it as some sort of fantastic “success story” and proof of “innovation” or whatever, rather than what it really translates into (rich people getting a lot richer).
Even IP Kat, which we once respected, appears to have devolved into a part-time front group of Team UPC, Bristows in particular (even as recently as one week ago). It no longer covers EPO scandals and some people are not entirely tolerant of the explanations/excuses. To quote some comments, “This smacks Of a dishonourable Retreat,” the following poem said:
Of a dishonourable
Some people are so angry at IP Kat for letting EPO management (basically crooks) off the hook that the write a comment like this (not sufficiently grateful to Merpel for what she did do)
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.
Shame on you, Merpel. It’s impossible not to lose all respect.
“I feel as well betrayed to see a major help leaving us,” another person wrote, “while Eponia goes deeper into its Orwellian  world…”
As EPO employee, I have mixed feelings, which cannot be understood by someone from outside I guess.
I am very thankful to The Kat for sharing well documented, precise news with a british humor. We found necessary that the outside world, and in particular the IP-world understands what the situation.
I feel as well betrayed to see a major help leaving us, while Eponia goes deeper into its orwelian world: cameras everywhere, spy softwares on our computers, a kafkaian investigation unit, directors going mad if the world “quality” is whispered, heavy recruitement despite a files shortage preparing a future all in “flexibility”, examiners working on short term contracts and distress in every corners. We are not allowed to speak.
It is not an article in one generalist newspaper per semester, which will help broadcasting the situation.
Dear Kat, I understand that you want to take some rest but WE NEED YOU.
“I cannot understand you stop covering the EPO news,” another person wrote. Are you a IP and European blog?”
Well, that’s self-censorship after intimidation (on the face of it). To quote the entire comment:
one of the commenters consider the examiners to dig their own grave. It is easy to say when you rest comfortably on your couch not knowing what it means to work in a toxic environment everyday year in year out. Even a first class IP blog like IPkat is giving up commenting the terrible situation of Eponia (pressure? threats?), how is staff supposed to have sufficient means to say no to the sick, delirious demands we get from the management? Staff is suffering and every day adds a little more, up to the day where one gets a serious illness, depression, burn out or in the worst cases commits suicide.
IPkat, I cannot understand you stop covering the EPO news. Are you a IP and European blog ? If so, not mentioning the EPO anymore simply means we are not doing your duty of informing about IP news.
Renaming your blog IPkat “passionate about IP (except EPO – too dangerous) ” would be more appropriate.
There are more comments to that effect, but it ought to suffice for now.
We used to believe, however briefly and perhaps naively, that Professor Dennis Crouch was reasonably balanced, but that has changed recently, and the last straw was reached with his anti-PTAB diatribe (negative posts in the face of improved patent quality). Earlier this month his blog wrote about CAFC as follows:
In a non-precedential opinion, the Federal Circuit has affirmed the district court’s confirmation of the arbitration award with the minor exception of interest calculation. Here, the arbitrator awards are powerful becaues they can only be overturned based upon quite “demanding standards” involving “manifestly disregard the law.” A portion of the award included what appears to be post-expiration royalties. However, the Federal Circuit held that the manifest-disregard standard is so high that even those damages cannot be vacated (one of the five patents has not yet expired).
Another new post by Dennis Crouch spoke of the same court’s history overruling lower courts (in one particular aspect), as they rightly should (including Alice these days):
This decision by Judge Moore recalls the Federal Circuit’s long history of rejecting district court claim constructions and also highlights Judge Moore’s formalistic approach to claim construction.
Now watch the blog referring as “reasonable” (as in RAND/FRAND) to payments of a ‘mere’ $30,000,000… for just two patents. To quote:
The Nebraska jury found Sprint liable for infringing Prism’s patents and awarded $30 million in reasonable-royalty damages. U.S. Patent Nos. 8,127,345 and 8,387,155.
Patents at $15 million apiece? Against just one single company? It doesn’t take a genius to see that something is seriously wrong here. How about the patent troll whom we wrote about last week, after he had made about $50 million from just one invalid patent?
“As is often the case in life, those who survive in the long run are those well funded (or greased up) by people who look to gain something from interjected bias and agenda, either lobbying, shameless self-promotion, self-censorship, or a wider combination of several/all those things.”I truly miss Groklaw myself; this is the one site about so-called ‘IP’ which I knew was written by a legal professional (paralegal) who in no way had a stake in any corporation covered, nor in advertisers. As is often the case in life, those who survive in the long run are those well funded (or greased up) by people who look to gain something from interjected bias and agenda, either lobbying, shameless self-promotion, self-censorship, or a wider combination of several/all those things. It’s a sordid world with sordid, submissive corporate media. █
“If the media were honest, they would say, Look, here are the interests we represent and this is the framework within which we look at things. This is our set of beliefs and commitments. That’s what they would say, very much as their critics say. For example, I don’t try to hide my commitments, and the Washington Post and New York Times shouldn’t do it either. However, they must do it, because this mask of balance and objectivity is a crucial part of the propaganda function. In fact, they actually go beyond that. They try to present themselves as adversarial to power, as subversive, digging away at powerful institutions and undermining them. The academic profession plays along with this game.”
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“People naively say to me, “If your program is innovative, then won’t you get the patent?” This question assumes that one product goes with one patent.” —Richard Stallman
Summary: Answering a commonly- and frequently-asked question, going along the lines of, “why is Techrights so eager to help EPO employees?” or “why is it so passionately against the UPC?”
A LOT can be said about the variety of topics we have dealt with over the years. There is an extensive record on the Web about it (nosy people can check our track record). I myself am a reasonably modest software developer, a proponent of Free/libre software, and various aspects that accompany that, e.g. privacy and autonomy. In order to operate freely and creatively (lawyers like to use buzzwords like “innovative”) developers require collaboration with peers and outsiders. We mix and match a lot of code and ensure that things rapidly improve, for collective benefit to society. I work a lot for the public sector in the UK, for example the NHS, the Ombudsman, and London’s Town Hall (GLA). I’d like to think of myself as one who works for society at large, not pursuing money but instead public services and ethics. I don’t think people out there can dispute that, as I never developed proprietary software and virtually everything that I use is Free/libre software. My wife and I contribute the little that we have to charities and we don’t make any money from our sites; we actually lose money, but it’s an idealogical endeavor. We generally promote greater collaboration among people, especially in the software sense.
“In order to operate freely and creatively (lawyers like to use buzzwords like “innovative”) developers require collaboration with peers and outsiders.”Right now we feel encouraged by the fact that the US is gradually burying software patents. It’s a much-welcomed (by developers) milestone. A decade ago it seemed unthinkable that the USPTO and US courts like the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) would demolish software patents. But as we shall show later in the weekend, that is just what is happening, still. At the same time, much to our regret, the EPO does the opposite and EPO management is lobbying very hard to expand both patent scope and the sovereignty of EPs (in the enforcement sense) to the whole of the EU. This would, if the UPC ever became a reality, mean that software patents too (these are constantly being granted these days, EPO insiders tell us) become applicable EU-wide.
A decade ago in the UK — up to around 2008 to be precise — Nokia or Symbian (before it was Nokia’s) fought for software patents in the UK (famous UK-IPO case which we covered many times before). The UPC would essentially mean British software patents from the back doors, putting at risk a lot of British software companies (there are plenty and they are small and typically vulnerable).
“The site is very specifically against software patents, and occasionally it also mentions ethical issues associated with patents on life or patents that limit humanity’s ability to save lives.”The other day we posted here a press release that we had co-authored with FFII (see FFII’s mirror and the original). We wish to warn about what UPC in the UK would entail — a subject we shall explore in greater depth later this weekend.
I was never trained or educated to understand patents (and software patents) but to code. I was never interested in patents, but I had to study these through extensive reading, over the past decade or more, out of necessity. A lot of software developers openly berate software patents (they just want copyright on their code), but are not so passionate or active about it until some patent troll hits them (sometimes they lose their job as a result).
There have been some malicious rumours about the motivations of Techrights, so let it be clarified that the site is not against patents. It never was. The site is very specifically against software patents, and occasionally it also mentions ethical issues associated with patents on life or patents that limit humanity’s ability to save lives.
“What we are hoping to accomplish is patent sanity, justice, and advancement of Europe’s interests.”The outline for weekend’s posts is based on our perceived urgency/priorities. We shall start by dealing with EPO abuses, then publish many articles on UPC ‘progress’ (lack thereof), then some unpleasant (to Battistelli et al) surprises, which we unfortunately have not had enough time to cover. We have literally dozens if not over a hundred of posts in the making, either as drafts or concepts (which we never got around to turning into drafts).
What we are hoping to accomplish is patent sanity, justice, and advancement of Europe’s interests. We are not trying to undermine anything but a self-serving element which is against democracy, against justice, and against patent sanity (typically patent maximalism for personal gain).
We are not the bad guys. We are only the “bad guys” to bad people. █
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tl;dr We prefer not to know who is sending the material
Reference: What Was New York Times Reporter James Risen’s Seven-Year Legal Battle Really for?
Summary: An updated advice or guidance for sending documents and/or information to us without getting caught by prying eyes, not even if we are legally threatened by an out-of-control institution that bends the law
THE number of leaked documents that we have received from EPO insiders is very high and we prefer not to comment about the number of leakers/sources. Last year, upon request, we published some tips for submitting leaks to us.
Some people requested further clarifications and some people have suggested improvements to the article since it was first published, as better options became available (not that our advice was altogether bad, just suboptimal or deficient). “Please help,” one person wrote to us. “I saw your article “How to Securely Provide Techrights With Information, Documents”. Could you please clarify the following in a future article?”
“We never got caught publishing anything fake, which means we have a 100% accuracy record, as far as source material goes.”The main amendments suggested to us were the sorts of sites/services to use for increased anonymity/privacy/security. These sites, as one might expect, are not well known or even mainstream. Some people wish to send images, some send plain text, some send rich text, and some send documents, scans of documents, or photographs (if not screenshots) of documents. We generally think that photographs of things are less likely to leave legible watermarks (like kerning signatures) and the same goes for plain text, so it’s probably safe to reduce everything down to images and plain text. We prefer not to know where these are coming from, even if we can manually remove personally-identifying metadata. It makes both us and our sources safer when neither side has identity information. Put bluntly, we typically prefer not to know where material comes from; we just need to know that it’s verifiable (given context and/or accompanying explanation) and then we can cross-check to ensure its authenticity. We never got caught publishing anything fake, which means we have a 100% accuracy record, as far as source material goes. We do check everything carefully before publication. We don’t wish to get tricked into publishing fake material as that would be self-discrediting and it’s a commonly-used tactic for muddying the water or poisoning the well.
“I am unsure whether it is safe to send you a .pdf document,” a person told us anonymously, “including text only.”
We don’t really need the original PDFs if there is enough to verify by; PDFs are of a clunky format type that tends to migrate with it all sorts of signatures and it drips metadata. If people can upload an image somewhere on the Web (preferably not through service such as Google’s, as they have a poor record on anonymity) and then send us a link, that ought to be enough. Remailers can be used to send us anonymous messages (or links) and we can typically cope with the input without having to even reply to the source.
“We do check everything carefully before publication.”“Anonmgur does no longer exist,” we were told, “but Anonmgur now refers to anonimag.es as an alternative. I’ve tried anonimag.es, several times, but it does not work properly.”
We got into some discussions last year about which image and text ‘bins’ are best or safest for preserving anonymity (even at the face of legal threats, which are rendered useless if logs are purged permanently). If we recommend one particular service (there are many), it will enable the surveillance lackeys at EPO to latch onto particular domains, so we prefer not to suggest just one particular service. Diversity breeds safety here.
“Thanks for updating or amending your article “How to Securely Provide Techrights With Information, Documents” so that thing become clearer for me and others,” we were told, but we decided to lay things out again, rather than modify the previous article (we rarely edit old articles, except just hours after publication).
“If we recommend one particular service (there are many), it will enable the surveillance lackeys at EPO to latch onto particular domains, so we prefer not to suggest just one particular service.”To date, the most damaging EPO leak was probably this one. It generated a lot of media coverage and caused a great stir among EPO stakeholders, who rightly felt like they had been discriminated against.
Today or last night Research and Markets published details about an upcoming one-day seminar with tips for EPO applications and another for advanced drafting. We could not help joking about it because in today’s EPO it seems like anyone can just pay under the table or lobby for preferential treatment. We are certain that many examiners have come across examples of that and we hope for more leaks to that effect.
“Like any publication out there, we strive to have impact, as do our sources.”Regarding the timing of disclosure, it’s not always immediate (upon receiving material) because we need to verify authenticity, we need to wait for relevant development/news, and sometimes there are two connected stories that we investigate at the same time and they can be fused together. Like any publication out there, we strive to have impact, as do our sources. So if we don’t release something promptly, then there is probably a reason behind it. We rarely post teasers (quite rarely we do, for a change) because the element of surprise enables us to catch the EPO’s management, for example, unprepared and unable to properly respond, distract, or undermine publication (as attempted in the past). █
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How appt [sic]…
Summary: The utter lack of participation, involvement or even intervention by German authorities serve to confirm that the government of Germany is very much complicit in the EPO’s abuses, by refusing to do anything to stop them
January 3rd (tomorrow) marks 365 days since the letter below (due to leap year) and we are hardly surprised that Heiko Maas, a rather controversial German Justice Minister (for various reasons well beyond and outside the realm of patents), is as useless as a brick. He seems to be perfectly fine with serious abuses happening in Germany, perhaps because his political party has some higher agenda or something at stake here.
We previously wrote about serious if not severe dysfunctions in the the EPO’s justice system (so-called 'disciplinary procedures'), which are akin to the Stasi (or “gestapo” as a Dutch politician called it, as it’s also akin to a "reign of terror" in his own words).
The following is text from Minister of State Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback, who was mentioned before as he had been in touch with other politicians whom Dr. Elizabeth Hardon decided to approach. In the following letter, Heiko 'don't see, don't speak, don't listen' Maas is mentioned as well (emphasis below). The letter is dated January 4th, but the discussion with Maas predates Christmas by exactly one week. To quote:
Bavarian State Minister of Justice – 80097 Munich
Dr. Elizabeth Hardon
An der Hauptfeuerwache 4
Your Ref., your communication of
su15109ml – 0.4.2 of 7.12.2015
Please quote in reply
Our Ref., our communication of
D5 – 3620 E – I – 13807/2015
4 January 2016
Demonstration by the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) on 10 December 2015 before the Palace of Justice
Dear Dr. Hardon,
Many thanks for your letter in reference, in which you provided further details with regard to the background to the SUEPO demonstration on 10 December in front of the Munich Palace of Justice. I can readily empathise with the burden being placed on you and your colleagues by the situation at
the European Patent Office which you describe. I must however ask for your understanding inasmuch as I am unable to voice an opinion in these matters, given that the Bavarian State Ministry and the Free State of Bavaria have no jurisdiction in this instance. As you are aware, the European Patent
Office (EPO) is an international organization with its own constitutional legal framework. Germany is only one of 38 contracting states, and is represented in the administrative bodies of the EPO solely by the Federal Republic.
On 8 October 2015 the Federal Government stated, in a reply to the written question submitted by a Bundestag deputy (BT-Drs 18/6301 (new), p. 23 f.), that it viewed a good working atmosphere at the European Patent Office as a very important concern. In order to improve the situation, in particular,
the climate with regard to discussion and negotiation, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) is said to have instigated a revival of the social dialogue in the Administrative Council of the EPO, and the Ministry appears to be actively concerned in improving the situation.
In the context of a discussion with the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Mr. Heiko Maas, on 18 December 2015, I expressly raised the issues concerned. The Federal Minister of Justice has given his assurance that he will also be engaging with the issues which you are currently raising.
Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback, MdL
Where is Maas? He has done absolutely nothing (zilch, nada) about the EPO scandals, which damages not just Germany’s reputation on matter such as justice within Germany but in the whole of Europe (as the vast majority of EPO employees are not German). A retired German judge has already compared this kind of attitude towards the EPO to that of the US government in relation to Guantánamo Bay.
For completeness, the letter in German (original) is shown below. █
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Summary: A look back and a quick look at the road ahead, as 2016 comes to an end
TECHRIGHTS turned 10 earlier this year (only to experience DDOS attack on the day, so planned celebrations got delayed). It also reached a milestone of 20,000 blog posts back in February.
“Nokia, being a European company, represents the growing threat of patent trolls in Europe — a threat which the UPC threatened to make ever more real and concrete.”Aside from that, in 2016 we got the EPO‘s management on the defensive. They are losing the battle (Brexit pretty much axed the UPC’s prospects, too) and in 2017 we hope to get the EPO (the one people respected) back on track.
Joe Mullin, a good journalist who has been writing a lot about patent trolls for nearly a decade, has just listed “most dramatic patent and copyright cases of 2016″, ending the list with the news that came in just before Christmas. He writes that “Nokia has backed out of the smartphone business, but is still licensing its patents, so the two companies are back at war. Nokia has sued Apple over patents in 11 different countries. Meanwhile, Apple has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Nokia, accusing the Finnish firm of working together with “patent-assertion entities”—a.k.a. patent trolls—to “maximize the royalties that can be extracted from product companies.””
“Combative attitude against us, including routine DDOS attacks, certainly toughened us and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to get truth out.”Nokia, being a European company, represents the growing threat of patent trolls in Europe — a threat which the UPC threatened to make ever more real and concrete.
In 2017 we intend to continue to write about the EPO, highlight the woes associated with patent trolls, combat software patents, and highlight patent attacks on Free/Open Source software. 2017 will be a continuation of this past year. We intend to leak more and to escalate the tone where necessary. Combative attitude against us, including routine DDOS attacks, certainly toughened us and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to get truth out. █
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Summary: Status report on the site’s issues today
Some readers have noticed and have reported to us site access issues (downtime or other difficulties). I personally have spent all day today (since 7AM and more so after 1PM) combating a bizarre kind of DDOS attack, which always came from the same network, owned by Lockheed Martin Corporation. I can say so with certainty. I spent many hours trying to tackle and properly investigate this.
I do not know what motivates this and whether some machines at the Lockheed Martin network (Fairfield, Connecticut, United States) got compromised, but all I know is that for one reason or another someone wants to drive the servers out of memory and knock the site offline. These attacks have been pretty persistent over the past 8 hours. █
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