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03.11.17

Why Techrights is Nowadays Focused on the EPO and UPC (Unitary Patent)

Posted in Europe, Patents, Site News at 7:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“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.

03.02.17

Supplying Techrights With Leaked Material

Posted in Site News at 2:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

tl;dr We prefer not to know who is sending the material

What Was New York Times Reporter James Risen’s Seven-Year Legal Battle Really for?
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).

01.02.17

365 Days Later, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas Remains Silent and Thus Complicit in EPO Abuses on German Soil

Posted in Site News at 2:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How appt [sic]…

Heiko Maas

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
80331 Munich

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

Date
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.

Best regards
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.

Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback letter

12.31.16

2016 in Review and Plans for 2017

Posted in Site News at 9:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A look back and a quick look at the road ahead

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.

11.17.16

Techrights Under DDOS Attack From Lockheed Martin Corporation’s Network

Posted in Site News at 3:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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.

11.08.16

Celebrating Our 10th Birthday

Posted in Site News at 12:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Quick remarks on today’s (or yesterday’s) milestone, which happens only once in a decade

Some geeks’ media has already noticed that, as we pointed out several days ago, this site turns 10. I wasn’t planning much for it, but my wife surprised me with some stuff she bought yesterday and hid somewhere in the house. She then took some photos that she wanted me to publish.

Techrights cake

Techrights cake

We have a lot of EPO coverage on the way, so stay tuned. We’re quite badly backlogged as a matter of fact, we have piles of stuff we are eager to publish and will only eventually — somehow — get around to publishing. The anniversary was technically yesterday, but the site had technical issues due to rogue traffic (or DDOS), forcing me to stay indoors to manually stave it off.

11.04.16

Techrights Turns 10 This Monday

Posted in Site News at 5:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ten

Summary: Tenth anniversary for Techrights when this weekend ends; plus, some statistics…

STARTING with focus on Novell and its patent deal with Microsoft, the site was registered and born 10 years ago (not exactly today but a few days from now).

Perfect record of never exposing or causing problems for our sources (of which there were plenty) is something we take pride in. We value and protect our sources. We intent to maintain this perfect record.

“Perfect record of never exposing or causing problems for our sources (of which there were plenty) is something we take pride in.”Never publishing anything fake is another achievement of ours. We do verify the credibility of sources and authenticity of material we receive. We also anonymise everything and strip metadata all the time. We thankfully have the technical skills and we don’t rely on a third party or Big Company for hosting (these can leak/spill out IP addresses to unwanted hands). We never retain logs older than 4 weeks. They get deleted for good.

In that sense, we have done better than Wikileaks (another kind of site) where sources like Elmer and Manning got caught but nothing fake was published in 10 years. Their site is only about a month older than Techrights.

Techrights officially turns 10 on the 7th of this month and is actively or passively pursuing new leaks which can be sent anonymously.

We don’t plan anything big for the anniversary; we’ll probably just do a small wine celebration in the house (wife and I).

“We never retain logs older than 4 weeks.”Regarding statistics, there are nearly 30,000 pages in the site now, aside from attachments, multimedia and various documents. The site is about 40 GB in ‘weight’ and is powered by several servers with 8 cores each. We recently had to make expensive upgrades in order to better cope with attacks.

We are not actively asking for donations (which are possible) because we wish to maintain 100% financial independence. This means that I run this site at my own expense, for no profit, only loss (because it’s the ethical and moral thing to do). I separately work full time in order to earn money and pay the site’s bills. This has always been the case.

10.21.16

Disruption to Site’s Service

Posted in Site News at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A technical note about why Techrights has not been publishing many articles recently

WE HAVE A LOT to publish (drowning in material). We have a lot to publish specifically about the EPO, but I am home-bound due to the site being overloaded with crap traffic (some things cannot be automated and must be done manually in order to keep the site available). A series we are trying to publish (see part one and its addendum) is well overdue, but as I stated a couple of nights ago, it is difficult to even keep the site online (since just over a week ago when the Kongstad series had hit the Danish press). The site is having severe issues whenever I go to sleep and I have had to cancel many things, making a lot of personal sacrifices for this. I slept only 2 hours 2 nights ago.

We are, sooner or later, going to publish all that we intended to publish. All this mess only makes me ever more eager to get it out of the way (or put it out in the open).

Some people ask us about the issues. One message we received a few hours ago said: “I notice that there are a lot of 503 messages with Varnish at Techrights lately. I suppose that is because of a DDoS of the backend server or just of key daemons (esp MySQL). The DDoS is usually an indication that you are on the right track and that the recent posts are effective and timely.”

As of today, for example, “European Patent Office” (e.g. 145.64.134.245) is hammering Techrights (IPs are being banned by our defenses, but it’s not enough). As we stated here before, we are not sure if it’s their filtering equipment that does this (we explained the technical reasons it might be so). We’re managing to keep Techrights afloat only by banning lots of IP addresses and it’s usually not enough. My wife and I monitor the server and intervene almost 24/7. I canceled the gym today.

Among the IP addresses banned today for excessive access (requests) we also have 155.201.34.7, which belongs to:

NetRange: 155.201.0.0 – 155.201.255.255
CIDR: 155.201.0.0/16
NetName: PRWATERHOUSE
NetHandle: NET-155-201-0-0-1
Parent: NET155 (NET-155-0-0-0-0)
NetType: Direct Assignment
OriginAS:
Organization: PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PRICEW-16)
RegDate: 1991-11-22
Updated: 2012-02-24
Ref: https://whois.arin.net/rest/net/NET-155-201-0-0-1

“PriceWaterhouseCoopers” is Battistelli’s liars for hire (the so-called ‘social’ ‘study’). They are still hammering the site today, for the second day in a row in fact. Whether it’s abuse or abusive traffic (or excessive requests that may be related to this article which tarnishes their image) we leave others to decide on. “PricewaterhouseCoopers” was automatically banned from the site for traffic abuse, but the addresses keep changing and our system automatically bans them.

We have had yet another IP address auto-banned for traffic floods that render the site unaccessible. Here is the report (notice the number of attempts, in a short period of time):

The IP 155.201.34.7 has just been banned by Fail2Ban after
216 attempts against VARNISH.

&showARIN=false&showNonArinTopLevelNet=false&ext=netref2
#

NetRange: 155.201.0.0 – 155.201.255.255
CIDR: 155.201.0.0/16
NetName: PRWATERHOUSE
NetHandle: NET-155-201-0-0-1
Parent: NET155 (NET-155-0-0-0-0)
NetType: Direct Assignment
OriginAS:
Organization: PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PRICEW-16)
RegDate: 1991-11-22
Updated: 2012-02-24
Ref: https://whois.arin.net/rest/net/NET-155-201-0-0-1

Also:

The IP 164.143.240.34 has just been banned by Fail2Ban after
183 attempts against VARNISH.

person: DCS Gov
address: PricewaterhouseCoopers UK
address: 161 Marsh Wall
address: Docklands
address: London
address: E14 9SQ
address: United Kingdom
phone: +44 207 583 5000
fax-no: +44 207 212 2921
nic-hdl: DCS17-RIPE
mnt-by: AS1849-MNT
created: 2005-09-09T14:46:07Z
last-modified: 2005-09-09T14:46:07Z
source: RIPE # Filtere

I have to go to work now, but when I finish I intend to work hard (well into the weekend), with the goal is releasing many EPO articles (if the state of the site/server permits). Stay tuned and be sympathetic not to Battistelli and his goons but to those trying hard — at a great personal cost (and pro bono) — to expose them.

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