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10.19.17

Links 19/10/2017: Mesa 17.2.3, New Ubuntu Release, Samsung Flirts With GNU/Linux Desktops

Posted in News Roundup at 6:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • NVIDIA ups Competition Using Open Source Collaboration

    Let’s imagine that you are a company with a very successful if nuanced product. Graphics accelerator chips, for example.

    Hypothetically speaking, imagine that you find an interesting use for your chip in a rising market defined by a burgeoning technology. If you need an example, just use deep learning AI software.

    Now, let’s say this proves to be a massive windfall for your company, raising its stock prices tenfold in just three short years.

    What do you do with this fortunate turn of events?

    Do you start designing your own AI chips based on your original design and remain one of the top competitors in this new market, or do you go open source and give your chip architecture designs to the public?

  • Open Source Initiative Welcomes Cumulus Networks As Premium Sponsor

    The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the internationally recognized home of the open source software movement working to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, announced today the generous sponsorship of Cumulus Networks. Cumulus joins OSI’s growing community of corporations that recognize the importance of not only investing in open source software projects and development, but also building a diverse ecosystem that promotes collaboration, enables innovation, and ensures quality.

    Cumulus Networks has a strong tradition of internally-driven development of original open source software, including most notably, contributions to the Linux kernel that complete the data center feature set for Linux such as Virtual Routing and Forwarding (VRF), MPLS, MLAG infrastructure, multicast routing features, etc. Cumulus’ most recent open source effort is FRRouting, co-developed by a group of contributing companies in the open networking space, to enhance routing protocols. Cumulus Networks has also been a key driving member of the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) with contributions to the Open Compute Project, Prescriptive Topology Manager–which simplifies the deployment of large L3 networks–and ifupdown2, a rewrite of Debian’s tool for configuring networks that greatly simplifies large, complicated networking configurations.

  • Let’s dig into how open source could KO the Silicon Valley chat silos

    There’s never been a better opportunity for the world to start untangling itself from the giant Silicon Valley data harvesters than now. Last week, we revealed a plan to embed open-source chat into three quarters of the world’s IMAP servers.

    And this may be an important development. Maybe.

    Google, Yahoo!, Apple and Microsoft handle around half the world’s email, some 2.5 billion users, while open-source IMAP servers handle the rest, around 2.5-3 billion. Of these the Dovecot open-source server, part of the German business Open Xchange, is installed on 75 per cent of boxes. Quietly drop IM into the mix, and you’ve given the world a reason to leave WhatsApp.

  • Open source, agility powering enterprise IT

    Looking back over the past decade, history has certainly demonstrated that trying to predict the pace and nature of technology development is a near impossible task, writes Quentin Barnard, lead architect at redPanda Software.
    While analysts, business leaders and policymakers have certainly made wise predictions, businesses and individuals have to remain agile, responsive and open-minded to a wide possibility of outcomes and developments. It is also helpful, however, to reflect on key trends that have emerged in recent times — and to use this information to prepare for the years ahead.
    For software developers and development houses, several prominent themes emerged in 2017.

  • Events

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Copyleft is Dead. Long live Copyleft!

      As you may have noticed, we recently re-licensed mgmt from the AGPL (Affero General Public License) to the regular GPL. This is a post explaining the decision and which hopefully includes some insights at the intersection of technology and legal issues.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Crowdsourcing the way to a more flexible strategic plan

      Trust the community. Opening a feedback platform to anyone on campus seems risky, but in hindsight I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The responses we received were very constructive; in fact, I rarely received negative and unproductive remarks. When people learned about our honest efforts at improving the community, they responded with kindness and support. By giving the community a voice—by really democratizing the effort—we achieved a surprising amount of campus-wide buy-in in a short period of time.

      Transparency is best. By keeping as many of our efforts as public as possible, we demonstrated that we were truly listening to our customers and understanding the effects of the outdated technology policies and decisions that were keeping them from doing their best work. I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that everyone is an agent of innovation; we just needed a tool that allowed everyone to make suggestions.

      Iterate, iterate, iterate. Crowdsourcing our first-year IT initiatives helped us create the most flexible and customer-centric plan we possibly could. The pressure to move quickly and lay down a comprehensive strategic plan is very real; however, by delaying that work and focusing on the evolving set of data flowing from our community, we were actually able to better demonstrate our commitment to our customers. That helped us build critical reputational capital, which paid off when we did eventually present a long-term strategic plan—because people already knew we could achieve results. It also helped us recruit strong allies and learn who we could trust to advance more complicated initiatives.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • MakerBot Labs: new experimental 3D printing platform is MakerBot’s olive branch to open source community

        New York 3D printing company MakerBot has launched MakerBot Labs, an experimental platform with open APIs, custom print modes, and an online resource-sharing site. The platform purportedly allows users to “push the limits” of 3D printing.

      • MakerBot attempts to embrace the open-source community with its new Labs platform

        The topic of open source has been a touchy one for MakerBot over the past decade. The one-time 3D-printing darling was the subject of some serious smack talk among the maker community when it stopped disclosing machine design in 2012 — a departure from the company’s roots as in the open-source Rep-Rap community.

        Announced this week, MakerBot Labs doesn’t mark a full return to those roots, but it does find the company carving out a niche for the DIY community that was once a driving force in its rapid growth.

        “I understand the history,” CEO Nadav Goshen told TechCrunch during a phone call this week, “This is one step in the direction. It’s a step to understand that there are limitations to openness. Openness for us doesn’t mean we have to compromise on quality or ease of use. We’re trying to take responsibility for both.”

      • Reform is a DIY, modular, portable computer (work in progress)

        Want a fully functional laptop that works out of the box? There are plenty to choose from. Want a model that you can upgrade? That’s a bit tougher to find: some modern laptops don’t even let you replace the RAM.

        Then there’s the Reform. It’s a new DIY, modular laptop that’s designed to be easy to upgrade and modify. The CAD designs will even be available if you want to 3D print your own parts rather than buying a kit.

        You can’t buy a Reform computer yet. But developer Lukas Hartmann and designer Ana Dantes have developed a prototype and are soliciting feedback on the concept.

  • Programming/Development

    • New neural network teaches itself Go, spanks the pros

      While artificial intelligence software has made huge strides recently, in many cases, it has only been automating things that humans already do well. If you want an AI to identify the Higgs boson in a spray of particles, for example, you have to train it on collisions that humans have already identified as containing a Higgs. If you want it to identify pictures of cats, you have to train it on a database of photos in which the cats have already been identified.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • C-sections might be relaxing the evolutionary pressure against big babies

      Theoretical biologist Philipp Mitteröcker is intrigued by the puzzle of dangerous human childbirth. Unlike other species, human babies are often too big for the birth canal, leading to dangerous—and possibly fatal—obstructed labor. Last year, Mitteröcker and his colleagues published a mathematical model that showed how the mixture of evolutionary pressures acting on humans would inevitably lead to an ongoing risk of obstructed labor in our species.

      The model also suggested that C-sections are changing the rules of the game by increasing the likelihood that large babies and their mothers survive childbirth and pass on genes that promote this head/pelvis mismatch. The model predicted that we’d see an increasing risk of obstructed labor (and need for C-sections) over generations—but there was no real-world evidence of that happening.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • President Trump admits he’s trying to kill Obamacare. That’s illegal.

      Modern American history has never seen as full-scale an effort to sabotage a valid law as we have with President Trump and the Affordable Care Act — a law whose legality has been upheld twice by the US Supreme Court.

      The president has a legal obligation, under Article II of the US Constitution, to “take Care that the laws be faithfully executed.” That means he must make sure that our laws are implemented in good faith and that he uses his executive discretion reasonably toward that end.

    • Insects Are In Serious Trouble

      The bottles were getting emptier: That was the first sign that something awful was happening.

      Since 1989, scientists from the Entomological Society Krefeld had been collecting insects in the nature reserves and protected areas of western Germany. They set up malaise traps—large tents that funnel any incoming insect upward through a cone of fabric and into a bottle of alcohol. These traps are used by entomologists to collect specimens of local insects, for research or education. “But over the years, [the Krefeld team] realized that the bottles were getting emptier and emptier,” says Caspar Hallmann, from Radboud University.

      By analyzing the Krefeld data—1,503 traps, and 27 years of work—Hallmann and his colleagues have shown that most of the flying insects in this part of Germany are flying no more. Between 1989 and 2016, the average weight of insects that were caught between May and October fell by an astonishing 77 percent. Over the same period, the weight of insects caught in the height of summer, when these creatures should be at their buzziest, fell by 82 percent.

    • Herbal remedies embraced by naturopaths, alt med widely linked to liver cancers

      Naturopaths and other gurus of “alternative medicine” love to tout the benefits of traditional herbal medicines. For instance, Aviva Romm—a Yale-educated doctor who publicly defended Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site Goop then later called it a “caricature of everything alternative health for women”—sells her own line of unproven herbal remedies. Billionaire Susan Samueli—who donated $200 million dollars alongside her husband so the University of California, Irvine, could open an “integrative” medicine program—promotes homeopathy, naturopathy, and runs an active consulting practice versed in Chinese herbs.

      Herbal remedies are often seen as harmless, soothing treatments that tap into the ancient wisdom of traditional healing. While that may be the case for some, there are also those that cause cancer—and sometimes it’s nearly impossible to tell one from the other.

  • Security

    • Google and Apple yet to fix Wi-Fi hole in a billion devices

      The WPA2 security protocol has been a mandatory requirement for all devices using the Wi-Fi protocol since 2006, which translates into billions of laptops, mobiles and routers. The weakness identified by Mathy Vanhoef, a digital security researcher at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium, lies in the way devices running WPA2 encrypt information.

    • The Flawed System Behind the Krack Wi-Fi Meltdown

      No software is perfect. Bugs are inevitable now and then. But experts say that software standards that impact millions of devices are too often developed behind closed doors, making it difficult for the broader security community to assess potential flaws and vulnerabilities early on. They can lack full documentation even months or years after their release.

    • Factorization Flaw in TPM Chips Makes Attacks on RSA Private Keys Feasible

      Security experts say the bug has been present since 2012 and found specifically in the Infineon’s Trusted Platform Module used on a large number of business-class HP, Lenovo and Fijitsu computers, Google Chromebooks as well as routers and IoT devices.

    • ROCA: RSA encryption key flaw puts ‘millions’ of devices at risk

      This results in cyber criminals computing the private part of an RSA key and affects chips manufactured from 2012 onwards, which are now commonplace in the industry.

    • Infineon RSA Key Generation Issue

      Yubico estimates that approximately 2% of YubiKey customers utilize the functionality affected by this issue. We have addressed this issue in all shipments of YubiKey 4, YubiKey 4 Nano, and YubiKey 4C, since June 6, 2017.

    • Microsoft remains tight-lipped about 2013 internal database hack [sic]

      A secretive internal database used by Microsoft to track bugs in its software was compromised by hackers [sic] in 2013.

    • Exclusive: Microsoft responded quietly after detecting secret database hack in 2013

      Microsoft Corp’s secret internal database for tracking bugs in its own software was broken into by a highly sophisticated hacking [sic] group more than four years ago, according to five former employees, in only the second known breach of such a corporate database.

    • WPA2 flaw’s worst impact on Android, Linux devices

      The flaw in the WPA2 wireless protocol revealed recently has a critical impact on Android phones running version 6.0 of the mobile operating system and Linux devices, a security researcher says.

    • Why the Krack Wi-Fi Mess Will Take Decades to Clean Up

      But given the millions of routers and other IoT devices that will likely never see a fix, the true cost of Krack could play out for years.

    • ‘All wifi networks’ are vulnerable to hacking, security expert discovers

      WPA2 protocol used by vast majority of wifi connections has been broken by Belgian researchers, highlighting potential for internet traffic to be exposed

    • Kids’ smartwatches can be ‘easily’ hacked, says watchdog

      Smartwatches bought for children who do not necessarily need them can be hacked [sic], according to a warning out of Norway and its local Consumer Council (NCC).

    • John Lewis pulls children’s smartwatch from sale over spying fears

      The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) revealed that several brands of children’s smartwatch, have such poor security controls that hackers [sic] could easily follow their movements and eavesdrop on conversations.

    • Google’s ‘Advanced Protection’ Locks Down Accounts Like Never Before

      Google hasn’t shared the details of what that process entails. But the CDT’s Hall, whom Google briefed on the details, says it will include a “cooling-off” period that will lock the account for a period of time while the user proves his or her identity via several other factors. That slowed-down, intensive check is designed to make the account-recovery process a far less appealing backdoor into victims’ data.

    • NSA won’t say if it knew about KRACK, but don’t look to this leaked doc for answers

      Given how involved the NSA has been with remote and local exploitation of networks, systems, devices, and even individuals, many put two and two together and assumed the worst.

      What compounded the matter was that some were pointing to a 2010-dated top secret NSA document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, which detailed a hacking tool called BADDECISION, an “802.11 CNE tool” — essentially an exploit designed to target wireless networks by using a man-in-the-middle attack within range of the network. It then uses a frame injection technique to redirect targets to one of the NSA’s own servers, which acts as a “matchmaker” to supply the best malware for the target device to ensure it’s compromised for the long-term. The slide said the hacking tool “works for WPA/WPA2,” suggesting that BADDECISION could bypass the encryption.

      Cue the conspiracy theories. No wonder some thought the hacking tool was an early NSA-only version of KRACK.

    • You’re doing open source wrong, Microsoft tsk-tsk-tsks at Google: Chrome security fixes made public too early [Ed: Says the company that gives back doors to the NSA and attacks FOSS with patents, lobbying etc.]
    • Why Open Source Security Matters for Healthcare Orgs [Ed: marketing slant for firms that spread FUD]

      Open source software can help healthcare organizations remain flexible as they adopt new IT solutions, but if entities lack open source security measures it can lead to larger cybersecurity issues. A recent survey found that organizations in numerous industries might not be paying enough attention to potential open source risk factors.

      Half of all code used in commercial and Internet of Things (IoT) software products is open source, but only 37 percent of organizations have an open source acquisition or usage policy, according to a recent Flexera report.

      More than 400 commercial software suppliers and in-house software development teams were interviewed, with respondent roles including software developers, DevOps, IT, engineering, legal, and security.

    • Focusing on Healthcare Open Source Security Awareness [Ed: More Flexera marketing in the form of scare-mongering]
    • Adobe patches zero-day vulnerability used to plant gov’t spying software

      Adobe has patched a zero-day vulnerability used by the BlackOasis APT to plant surveillance software developed by Gamma International.

      On Monday, researchers from Kaspersky Lab revealed the new, previously unknown vulnerability, which has been actively used in the wild by advanced persistent threat (APT) group BlackOasis.

    • IoT Cybersecurity: What’s Plan B?

      In August, four US Senators introduced a bill designed to improve Internet of Things (IoT) security. The IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017 is a modest piece of legislation. It doesn’t regulate the IoT market. It doesn’t single out any industries for particular attention, or force any companies to do anything. It doesn’t even modify the liability laws for embedded software. Companies can continue to sell IoT devices with whatever lousy security they want.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Abuse of RESTEasy Default Providers in JBoss EAP

      Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP) is a commonly used host for Restful webservices. A powerful but potentially dangerous feature of Restful webservices on JBoss EAP is the ability to accept any media type. If not configured to accept only a specific media type, JBoss EAP will dynamically process the request with the default provider matching the Content-Type HTTP Header which the client specifies. Some of the default providers where found to have vulnerabilities which have now been removed from JBoss EAP and it’s upstream Restful webservice project, RESTEasy.

    • “Security concerns” lead to LTE service shutdown on Chinese Apple Watches
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Saudi Airstrike Kills Entire Family In Yemen, Including Children

      The latest in a long line of disastrous airstrikes by Saudi warplanes across Yemen, officials reported an airstrike on Tuesday night in the northern Jawf Province, destroying a single civilian home, killing six civilians and critically wounded another.

      The civilians killed were an entire family. The slain included the parents and four of their daughters. The lone survivor, who was injured, was their only son. Saudi officials gave no indication why the house was destroyed.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Chinese Army Documents Leak Set To Embarrass Beijing

      For centuries, sinologists have struggled with the question of authentification of documents.

    • The death of a crusading journalist rocks Malta
    • Insider Threat Program Training and Trump’s War on Leaks: A Chilling Combination for Whistleblowers

      The Trump administration has declared a war on media leaks and called for the U.S. federal workforce and contractors to receive “anti-leak” training. The centerpiece of Trump’s anti-leak campaign, aside from early morning tweet-storms railing against leakers and media, is the National Insider Threat Taskforce.

      The Insider Threat Program is not Trump-era creation. In then-secret testimony to Congress in 2012, Directorate of National Intelligence official Robert Litt touted the original Insider Threat Program as a highlight in administrative efforts to “sanction and deter” leaks. In the past, Insider Threat Program training has improperly included “WANTED”-style images of whistleblowers pictured alongside actual spies and mass murderers.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Funding for War vs. Natural Disasters

      I have an aunt who lives in paradise – Paradise, California, that is. But in 2017 it has been anything but, as the communities surrounding Paradise have been evacuated on two separate occasions due to natural disasters and crumbling infrastructure. In February, torrential downpours caused the Oroville Dam to fail, washing out homes, businesses, memories and lives. And now they are dealing with devastating wildfires that have killed dozens, displaced thousands, and are being fought by firefighters, some of whom are only making minimum wage and working 70 straight hours.

      The fires in California are just the latest natural disaster to inflict suffering on Americans, as the people in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas can attest, following massive hurricanes over the summer.

    • Nearly 400,000 Gallons of Oil Spew Into Gulf of Mexico, Could Be Largest Spill Since Deepwater Horizon

      Last week, a pipe owned by offshore oil and gas operator LLOG Exploration Company, LLC spilled up to 393,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, reminding many observers of the Deepwater Horizon explosion seven years ago that spewed approximately 210 million gallons of crude into familiar territory.

      Now, a report from Bloomberg suggests that the LLOG spill could be the largest in the U.S. since the 2010 BP blowout, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

      While at a much smaller scale than the nation’s worst accidental oil spill, the Delta House floating production facility, located about 40 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, released between 7,950 to 9,350 barrels starting from Wednesday to Thursday due to a fractured pipeline.

    • First floating wind farm, built by offshore oil company, delivers electricity

      The 30MW installation, situated 25km (15.5mi) from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, will demonstrate that offshore wind energy can be harvested in deep waters, miles away from land, where installing giant turbines was once impractical or impossible. At peak capacity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 20,000 Scottish homes.

      The installation, called Hywind Scotland, is also interesting because it was built by Statoil, a Norwegian mega-corporation known for offshore oil drilling. Statoil has pursued offshore wind projects in recent years, using the company’s experience building and managing infrastructure in difficult open sea conditions to its advantage.

      Hywind Scotland began producing power in September, and today it starts delivering electricity to the Scottish grid. Now, all that’s left is for Statoil and its partner company Masdar to install a 1MWh lithium-ion battery, charmingly called “Batwind,” on shore. Batwind will help the offshore system regulate power delivery and optimize output.

  • Finance

    • Brexit might not happen and would leave us poorer and weaker, says ex-MI6 chief

      Brexit might not happen, Britain’s former spymaster has claimed.

      Ex-MI6 chief Sir John Sawers made the bombshell casual remark at a public meeting in Parliament.

      Brexit, he warned, could leave Britain “poorer and weaker” and cost us influence over sanctions on states like North Korea – “assuming it goes ahead”.

      Sir John, who as ‘C’ was the public face of MI6 from 2009 to 2014, told a House of Lords EU Committee: “The vehicle through which we have conducted sanctions regimes for the last 20 or so years has been the EU.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Ditch neoliberalism to win again, Jeremy Corbyn tells Europe’s centre-left parties

      Jeremy Corbyn has warned centre-left parties across Europe that they must follow his lead and abandon the neoliberal economics of the imagined “centre ground” if they want to start winning elections again.

      The Labour leader was given a hero’s welcome at the Europe Together conference of centre-left parties in Brussels, where he was introduced as “the new Prime Minister of Britain” and received two standing ovations from a packed auditorium.

      Continental centre-left leaders are looking to Mr Corbyn’s Labour as a model to reinvigorate their movement. Across Europe from France to Germany, Austria to Netherlands, and Spain to Greece, once powerful social-democratic parties have been reduced to a shadow of their former selves – with Labour a notable exception.

    • ‘Where hatred of the media can lead’ — Jonathan Freedland warns that Corbynistas could murder journalists

      Of course, when it comes to Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, we’ve come to expect nothing but stupid smears from Freedland. This is the man who has played a leading role in whipping up hysteria over the wave of antisemitism that has supposedly swept over the Labour Party since Corbyn’s election as leader. Freedland’s Guardian comment piece on last month’s party conference (“Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place”) was a typical exercise in political dishonesty which has been thoroughly demolished by Jamie Stern-Weiner (“Labour Conference or Nuremberg Rally?). Now, not content with slandering the left as Jew-haters, he wants to portray us as potential murderers too.

    • LEAKED MEMO REVEALS WHITE HOUSE WISH LIST

      Since federal courts first enjoined President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban, lawyers for his administration have been at pains to insist that anti-Muslim animus is not a driving force of policymaking in his government.

      But an internal White House document, obtained exclusively by Crooked Media, suggests that the reach of Islamophobia among Trump administration aides and advisers stretches far beyond the four corners of the travel ban, into the budget-writing process, where the White House’s full agenda comes together. The document also reflects the extent to which White House policymaking process, conducted in the shadow of the media circus around Trump himself—from family planning to federal hiring to nutritional assistance—is defined by ideological extremism, and tempered by incompetence.

      Policymakers in Trump’s White House argue that the U.S. should refrain from influencing curricula and “other touchier-feelier programs” at foreign institutions that receive federal funds to educate young girls—except in “muslim countries, where we need to do a check of the curricula at the schools we’re supporting to weed out jihadism.”

    • Republican fight against municipal broadband heats up in Michigan

      A state lawmaker in Michigan wants to prevent cities and towns from using any government funding to provide Internet service. Michigan Rep. Michele Hoitenga, a Republican from Manton, last week submitted a bill that says cities and towns “shall not use any federal, state, or local funds or loans to pay for the cost of providing qualified Internet service.”

    • Trump Just Graded His Response To Puerto Rico Disaster

      President Trump is on track to repeat some of the greatest scandals of his predecessors, but with far less tact and competence. The investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is looking more and more like a possible Watergate, the deaths of four American soldiers in Niger is increasingly being referred to as Trump’s Benghazi, and the damage inflicted on Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria and the president’s subsequent botched response is clearly his Hurricane Katrina.

      Trump failed to properly stock the island territory with adequate supplies and personnel and then dragged his feet sending more after the hurricane struck. He failed to immediately waive the Jones Act, causing a bottleneck that choked off relief to the island, because he was more worried about the business interests of shipping conglomerates than suffering Americans.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Incentivizing Better Speech, Rather Than Censoring ‘Bad’ Speech

      This has gone on for a while, but in the last year especially, the complaints about “bad” speech online have gotten louder and louder. While we have serious concerns with the idea so-called “hate speech” should be illegal — in large part because any such laws are almost inevitably used against those the government wishes to silence — that doesn’t mean that we condone and support speech designed to intimidate, harass or abuse people. We recognize that some speech can, indeed, create negative outcomes, and even chill the speech of others. However, we’re increasingly concerned that people think the only possible way to respond to such speech is through outright censorship (often to the point of requiring online services, like Facebook and Twitter to silence any speech that is deemed “bad”).

      As we’ve discussed before, we believe that there are alternatives. Sometimes that involves counterspeech — including a wide spectrum of ideas from making jokes, to community shaming, to simple point-for-point factual refutation. But that’s on the community side. On the platform side — for some reason — many people seem to think there are only two options: censorship or free for all. That’s simply not true, and focusing on just those two solutions (neither of which tend to be that effective) shows a real failure of imagination, and often leads to unproductive conversations.

    • UK Gov’t Considering Redefining Social Media Services As Publishers To Make It Easier To Control Them

      Like seemingly every other government on the planet, the UK government wants internet companies like Google and Facebook to do more. Everyone has an axe to grind, whether it’s not enough censorship, or the wrong kind of censorship, or the innate desire to hold companies accountable for the actions of their users. The voluntary moderation efforts made by these platforms always fall short of politicians’ ideals. These legislators believe — without evidence — that perfectly moderated services are just a couple of button pushes away.

      Because the things governments complain about are actually the words and deeds of users — rather than the companies themselves — pushes for “more” have limited effect. This doesn’t make governments happy. This is a “problem” that needs “solving,” apparently. And officials in the UK think they have an answer. They’ll just arbitrarily redefine services until they’re more easily pushed around.

    • Twitter further tightens abuse rules in attempt to prove it cares

      Company updates rules on hate speech, revenge porn and violent groups to counter perceptions social network is not doing enough to protect users

    • Engineer/hero/entrepreneur Limor “ladyada” Fried was kicked off Facebook and no one will tell her why

      Fried, who was the first woman engineer to appear on the cover of Wired Magazine, discovered that her account had been terminated when she tried to login and got a cryptic error message. After contacting the company and privately messaging Facebook’s CTO, Fried still has not been told why she was banned.

    • Facebook bans @adafruit ‘s Ladyada… @facebook @finkd

      Facebook banned our founder Ladyada. Nothing public, just trying to log in and manage our company page. We reached out to the people including the CTO, no reply, so that’s that.

    • Civility or censorship? Candidates bash Dayton schools’ request

      Eight candidates are running for four seats on Dayton’s seven-member school board.

      Dayton Public Schools is facing criticism for trying to steer tonight’s school board candidate forum away from “bashing” of Superintendent Rhonda Corr, current school board members or fellow candidates.

      DPS spokeswoman Marsha Bonhart sent an email Sunday night to the eight candidates running for four seats on the school board. It was a follow-up on earlier communications about the Dayton Education Council candidate forum scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. today at DPS’ Ponitz Career Technology Center.

    • Watercooler Wednesday: #MeToo, censorship in the classroom

      Plus, a Mississippi school will not longer require students to read the classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The book was recently pulled after complaints about the language, which includes racial slurs, but should it have been?

    • Millennials don’t fear censorship because they plan on doing all the censoring

      Matt Ridley’s fine recent Times column was hardly the first to raise the alarm about the pseudo-Soviet intolerance of the left emerging from university campuses. Yet he began with arresting statistics: ‘38 per cent of Britons and 70 per cent of Germans think the government should be able to prevent speech that is offensive to minorities.’ Given that any populace can be subdivided into a veritably infinite number of minorities, with equally infinite sensitivities, the perceived bruising of which we only encourage, pretty soon none of us may be allowed to say an ever-loving thing.

      We won’t rehash the whole trigger warning/safe spaces nonsense. But I am baffled by what seems a broad millennial distrust in, if not militant opposition to, freedom of speech — now disastrously disparaged as a dastardly ploy of the far right, which has happily co-opted the battle cry. Let’s not let Milo Yiannopoulos own it.

    • Privatix: Fighting Internet Censorship with a Fully Autonomous Network.

      Governments today are targeting our basic freedom of expression on the internet. It seems like the only way to squash civil unrest is by cutting off the country from internet access. Government censorship in China has prompted a sizeable number of the Chinese population to switch to Virtual Private Networks. It is unclear for how long this cat and mouse game will go on. The same can be said for cryptocurrencies. The Chinese government is tightening the screw on cryptocurrencies. The only way they will be allowed to operate in the Chinese mainland is through government regulations and licensing. Given the nature of a majority of cryptocurrencies today, it is no secret that a number will fail to meet the requirements to be licensed.

      It’s only a matter of time before other countries follow this Chinese trend, if they are not doing it already. Such a situation will influence people to migrate to VPN services and overcome government-imposed discipline and rein over the internet. Since the general public can’t tell whether a VPN service is made up of sub-standard encryption codes at face value, they are compelled to abide by government restrictions.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Wireless Carriers Again Busted Collecting, Selling User Data Without Consent Or Opt Out Tools

      A few years ago, Verizon and AT&T were busted for covertly modifying wireless user data packets in order to track users around the internet. Verizon used the technology to track browsing behavior for two years before the practice was even discovered by security researchers. It took another six months of public shaming before Verizon was even willing to offer opt out tools. And while the FCC ultimately gave Verizon a $1.3 million wrist slap, it highlighted how we don’t really understand the privacy implications of what mobile carriers are up to, much less have real standards in place to protect us from abuse in the modern mobile era.

      While notably different in scope and application, these same companies were again caught this week collecting and selling user information without user consent or working opt out tools.

    • Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Case Involving US Demands For Emails Stored Overseas

      The Supreme Court has granted the government’s request for review of Second Circuit Appeals Court’s decision finding Microsoft did not have to turn over communications stored overseas in response to US-issued warrants.

    • Canada’s ‘super secret spy agency’ is releasing a malware-fighting tool to the public [Ed: let's pretend that crackers are actually defenders -- a classic reversal of narratives]

      The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) rarely goes into detail about its activities — both offensive and defensive — and much of what is known about the agency’s activities have come from leaked documents obtained by U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and published in recent years.

    • The government is snooping into our lives more than we thought, making privacy hard to come by
    • UK spy agencies share social media data with foreign governments, say critics
    • Safeguards permit GCHQ to share huge databases on public, court hears
    • On Butter and Triangulation

      At the end of May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in Europe. It creates a whole set of new responsibilities that are causing concern for businesses across the EU. It has effects outside Europe as well, because it will control the way businesses located in Europe can share data across borders, both within their company and with other companies.

      While businesses are complaining about the new bureaucratic burden the Regulation creates, some privacy activists think it offers an absolute minimum level of protection in the emerging meshed society. This is not necessarily because of the way obviously confidential information is stored and used.

      It seems obvious why we should be concerned about big chunks of personal data, but why should we care about protecting small details such as our date of birth, parents’ names, postal code and so on? Why does it matter when we’re asked for them by someone with no need to know them?

    • Are you sharing the same IP address as a criminal? Law enforcement call for the end of Carrier Grade NAT (CGN) to increase accountability online

      On 13 October 2017, the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU and Europol held a workshop attended by 35 EU policy-makers and law enforcement officials, to address the increasing problem of non-crime attribution associated with the widespread use of Carrier Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) technologies by companies that provide access to the internet. The workshop was supported by experts from Europol’s partners: Proximus, CISCO, ISOC, the IPv6 Company, and the European Commission.

    • Powerful and pervasive artificial intelligence is coming: now is the time to talk about its impact on privacy

      An exception is work from Privacy International (PI), in the form of a response to an inquiry about AI carried out by a specialist group within the UK’s Parliament. Although the word “privacy” occurs nine times in the 77-page document published by the committee, the references are depressingly superficial, and there is no attempt to explore the complex privacy issues that AI raises. Privacy International’s submission is more concrete. It singles out four specific problems for privacy that the widespread use of AI will bring: [...]

    • It Takes Just $1,000 to Track Someone’s Location With Mobile Ads

      A team of security-focused researchers from the University of Washington has demonstrated just how deeply even someone with modest resources can exploit mobile advertising networks. An advertising-savvy spy, they’ve shown, can spend just a grand to track a target’s location with disturbing precision, learn details [...]

    • How to stop your mobile phone number and location from being sold

      Smartphone users are becoming aware that their phone number and location isn’t private when they use the internet on their data plans thanks to the selling of your mobile advertising id (MAID). According to Wired’s Andy Greenberg, it only costs $1,000 to track someone online. When you visit a website on your smartphone, both the site itself and advertisers on the site can view your mobile IP address which they can then tie to your mobike advertising id. Since the IP address is given by your telecom from the cell tower, your IP address when you’re using 4G or 3G will always be tied back to your billing information. [...]

    • In Facebook We Antitrust
    • WhatsApp now lets you stalk your friends in real-time
    • Opinion : In Quest of Privacy in the Digital Age
    • EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: First review shows it works but implementation can be improved

      The report will be sent to the European Parliament, the Council, the Article 29 Working Party of Data Protection Authorities and to the U.S. authorities. The Commission will work with the U.S. authorities on the follow-up of its recommendations in the coming months. The Commission will continue to closely monitor the functioning of Privacy Shield framework, including the U.S. authorities’ compliance with their commitments.

    • First Annual Review of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield

      Officials from across the United States Government, the European Commission, and EU data protection authorities gathered in Washington D.C. to conduct the first annual review on 18 and 19 September 2017.

      The report reflects the Commission’s findings on the implementation and enforcement of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework in its first year of operation.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • USCIRF delegation pays visit to American pastor imprisoned in Turkey

      Two delegates from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) paid a visit to American Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey last week, almost a year to the day when he was detained by the authorities over allegations of terrorism and espionage.

      USCIRF Vice Chairwomen Sandra Jolley and Kristina Arriaga went to Kiriklar Prison in Izmir, Turkey last week to visit Brunson, who has been imprisoned since Oct. 7, 2016 over his alleged links to the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is being blamed for organizing a 2016 attempt to overthrow the Turkish government.

      “The government of Turkey has fabricated charges against Pastor Brunson, largely based on purported ‘secret testimony.’ He should be released immediately.” Arriaga contended.

    • Overnight Tech: Senate bill expands disclosure rules for online political ads | Sex trafficking bill faces resistance from Silicon Valley | Twitter to crack down on harassment, abuse | Privacy shield passes annual review
    • Gabriel Fernandez: Mother’s boyfriend beat eight-year-old to death because he thought he was gay, court told

      An eight-year-old boy endured unimaginable abuse before his death including being forced to eat cat litter and being bound and gagged, a court heard.

      Gabriel Fernandez’s mother Pearl and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre allegedly tortured the child in the months leading up to his death in 2013.

      Gabriel was sprayed with pepper spray, forced to eat cat faeces and regularly gagged, bound and beaten, according to testimony from Gabriel’s older brother Ezequiel, who was 12 when his brother was killed.

    • These wealthy institutions are quietly financing white nationalism

      The connection between Breitbart, a far-right website, and the white nationalist movement was hardly a secret. Steve Bannon, who served as Executive Chairman of the publication before and after serving as Trump’s chief strategist, called Breitbart “the platform for the alt-right,” a euphemism for white nationalists and their sympathizers. These extreme, bigoted viewpoints are frequently reflected in the site’s writing, which has included anti-immigrant screeds, sensationalized reporting of “black crime,” and other fringe viewpoints and conspiracy theories.

      But a recent exposé published by BuzzFeed News revealed in stunning detail Breitbart’s deep connection and collaboration with white nationalists.

    • Use A Landline To Talk About Criminal Activity? The Government Can Seize The House Around It

      The Intercept has obtained a leaked asset forfeiture guide for seizures performed by ICE. (It has, unfortunately, chosen not to share the original document. Then again, the last non-Snowden leak it published appears to have helped out the document’s source.)

      For those familiar with the process of civil asset forfeiture, the contents of the guide are mostly unsurprising. Despite the document dating back to 2010, ICE did confirm the version seen by The Intercept is its most recent guidance. ICE is allowed to seize property without bringing charges or securing convictions — something still permitted by federal law (your state laws may vary) and greatly encouraged by the new head of the DOJ, Jeff Sessions.

    • Viral video of man being dragged from United flight gets officers fired

      Two aviation security officers involved in the April incident in which a 69-year-old doctor was violently removed from a United Airlines flight have been fired. The doctor, David Dao, suffered a broken nose, the loss of two teeth, and a concussion in an event that went viral on the Internet after it was captured by passengers’ mobile phones.

    • Judge shocked to learn NYPD’s cash forfeiture database has no backup

      As part of an ongoing legal battle to get the New York City Police Department to track money police have grabbed in cash forfeitures, an attorney for the city told a Manhattan judge on October 17 that part of the reason the NYPD can’t comply with such requests is that the department’s evidence database has no backup. If the database servers that power NYPD’s Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS)—designed and installed by Capgemini under a $25.5 million contract between 2009 and 2012—were to fail, all data on stored evidence would simply cease to exist.

    • Ex-workers: Supervisors at Tesla factory routinely called us the n-word

      In a new lawsuit, three former Tesla workers claim that they were routinely harassed and subjected to racial epithets during their time at the Fremont, California, factory.

      The men, who are all African-American, allege that shortly after they began work in 2015, their co-workers and superiors began taunting them and called them “n****r” on a regular basis.

    • The Muslim Ban Loses in Court Again

      Another day, another pair of court losses for President Trump’s outrageous and illegal Muslim Ban.

      Yesterday, federal courts in Maryland and Hawaii rejected the latest iteration of the ban the president promised as a candidate and has been trying to put in place ever since. Just like its predecessors, Muslim Ban 3.0 violates the Constitution, federal statutes, and our bedrock values of religious neutrality and tolerance.

    • Home Office issues visa to stranded Royal Navy pilot’s wife

      The Home Office has issued a visa and apologised to the wife of a Royal Navy pilot left stranded in the US while her husband serves in the UK.

      Marianne Rawlins, 34, has been granted a UK visa to join her husband, Lt Simon Rawlins, after the UK Visa and Immigration department initially ruled her application was not straightforward and required extra information.

      The American said she had been sleeping on friends’ couches and spent thousands of dollars on rental accommodation and business costs in the US after she packed up her life and belongings in the expectation of joining him.

      The Home Office announced on Thursday evening that it had approved her visa application and apologised for the disruption. Mrs Rawlins said: “I am pleased that our ordeal has come to an end and am hopeful this process will help other families in the future.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Big ISPs Lobby To Kill Attempts At More Accurate Broadband Mapping

      For years, the FCC’s “Form 477″ data collection program has required that ISPs provide data on where they provide broadband service. Said data then helps determine the pace of broadband deployment and level of competition in key markets, informing FCC policy and broadband subsidy application. Unfortunately, this data collection process relies heavily on census block data, which doesn’t always clarify which specific addresses in these large segments can actually get service. This has proven handy for ISPs looking to obfuscate their refusal to upgrade broadband networks in many areas.

    • FCC delays Sinclair-Tribune review to allow for more public input

      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is allowing more time for the public to weigh in on the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed takeover of Tribune Media.

    • The Cable Industry’s Ingenious ‘Solution’ To TV Cord Cutting? Raise Broadband Rates

      In a healthy, competitive market, cable providers would respond to the growing threat of streaming video competition by lowering prices, improving their historically awful customer service, and giving consumers more flexible cable bundles.

      But because these same cable operators enjoy a growing monopoly over the uncompetitive broadband market — they don’t have to do that. Instead, they’ve found that the easiest response to added competition on the TV front is to impose a relentless array of rate hikes on captive broadband customers. There’s a myriad of ways they accomplish this, ranging from misleading hidden fees that jack up the advertised price (something they’re being sued for), to usage caps and overage fees (which let them not only charge more money for the same service, but hamstring streaming competitors via tricks like zero rating).

    • Charter accuses its employees of cutting cables 125 times during strike

      Charter Communications last week sued a workers’ union, alleging that its members have repeatedly sabotaged Charter’s network in New York City during a strike that began in March.

      “On over 125 occasions, Charter cables, including both coaxial and fiber optic cables in both secured and unsecured locations at sites throughout New York City, have been deliberately cut or damaged, thereby denying thousands of subscribers access to cable, Internet, and voice service and interfering with their ability to contact emergency services, and forcing Charter to devote hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours to investigating and repairing its property,” Charter alleged in its complaint filed in the New York State Supreme Court.

  • DRM

    • Denuvo’s DRM now being cracked within hours of release

      When we last checked in on the state of Denuvo copy protection in PC games, the latest version of the best-in-class DRM provider had provided about a month’s worth of usable piracy prevention for survival-horror title 2Dark. Fast forward to the current holiday season, and major Denuvo releases are being publicly cracked within a day of their launch. We’re certainly a long way away from the days when major cracking groups were publicly musing that Denuvo-style DRM might soon become unbeatable.

      This week’s release of South Park: The Fractured but Whole is the latest to see its protections broken less than 24 hours after its release, but it’s not alone. Middle Earth: Shadow of War was broken within a day last week, and last month saw cracks for Total War: Warhammer 2 and FIFA 18 the very same day as their public release. Then there’s The Evil Within 2, which reportedly used Denuvo in prerelease review copies but then launched without that protection last week, effectively ceding the game to immediate potential piracy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Adidas Opposes Turner Broadcasting’s ELEAGUE Logo Trademark Because Of Lines

        eSports, the once fledgling video game competition industry, has undergone several milestones in rapid succession as it grows into a true entertainment player. Once relegated to online streaming broadcasts, mostly run out of a few Asian and Pacific Island countries, eSports is now regularly broadcast on American television, including by ESPN. From there, it was a fairly natural progression for universities to take notice and begin organizing school eSports teams, as well as offering scholarships for eAthletes.

    • Copyrights

      • New Copyright Trolling Operation Lowers The Settlement Demands And Calls Them Fines To Improve Conversion Rate

        As much more attention has been brought to copyright trolls and the unethical manner in which they operate, it was inevitable that the tactics of the trolls would begin to shift. For some of us, it was immediately obvious what a PR problem these trolling operations faced. It all comes down to the “settlements” offered in a copyright troll’s letters. The amounts, while designed to look small compared with the threat of a lawsuit, still tend to be quite high. Certainly the amounts make no sense when compared with the costs of simply viewing a movie or television show, which is the natural standard that lay person is likely to set. For that reason, some trolls, such as RightsCorp, have already started down the path of lowering settlement offers to levels that are more likely to cause the accused to simply pay up. Also, the fact that these letters, with all of their threatening language, even refer to the offers as “settlements” rings much closer to extra-judicial extortion than anything resembling justice.

        Well, it seems that one copyright troll is attempting to correct against both of these concerns. Rights Enforcement, contracted by the studio behind the movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard, is sending out letters to those it claims pirated the film with a much-reduced amount of money requested. And these requests are being called “fines” as opposed to “settlements.”

      • THE JUDGE’S CODE

        On May 18th, 2012, attorneys for Oracle and Google were battling over nine lines of code in a hearing before Judge William H. Alsup of the northern district of California. The first jury trial in Oracle v. Google, the fight over whether Google had hijacked code from Oracle for its Android system, was wrapping up.

      • Recommendation on measures to safeguard fundamental rights and the open internet in the framework of the EU copyright reform

        Together with a group of scholars active in copyright issues, Professor Martin Senftleben (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) has published a Recommendation on measures to safeguard fundamental rights and the open internet in the framework of the EU copyright reform.

      • Google Asked to Remove 3 Billion “Pirate” Search Results

        Copyright holders have now asked Google to remove more than 3,000,000,000 allegedly infringing links from its search engine results since it began publishing records. A new milestone for sure, but not one celebrated anywhere. While Google sees it as confirmation that the DMCA process is working, copyright holders still have plenty of work to do.

      • Movie industry orders Google to ‘delist’ piracy websites in France

        Google has been ordered to delist all of them them, while four ISPs have been told to block user access, like ISPs do in this country. Those ISPs are Free, Numericable, Bouygues Telecom, and Orange. While the Google name is thrown around casually, also-rans like Bing don’t get a look in.

      • Google Asked to Delist Pirate Movie Sites, ISPs Asked to Block Them

        Google and several French ISPs are being asked by the movie industry to take action against four ‘pirate’ sites. Among them is a massively successful clone of Zone-Telechargement, France’s largest pirate site before it was shut down in 2016. While the ISPs are being asked to block access to the platforms, Google is required to delist them from search results.

Some of the USPTO’s Most Ridiculous Patents Are Scrutinised by “Above the Law” While Dennis Crouch Attempts to Tarnish Alice

Posted in America, Patents at 6:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Whereas Charles Duan (below) compares patents to monopolies

Charles DuanSummary: Controversies over patent scope and level of novelty required for a patent; as usual, public interest groups try to restrict patent scope, whereas those who make money out of abundance of patents attempt to remove every barrier

THE declining quality of European Patents (EPs) is a real issue at the EPO. But that pales in comparison to some of the patents granted by the US patent office. USPTO patents include a method of swinging a swing, for example. Sideways. Yes, it’s a patent!

“Ever tried swinging from side to side on a swing instead of back & forth? Turns out, that method is patented,” United for Patent Reform wrote, linking to this article from earlier this month. It’s a pretty infamous patent which we mentioned here before.

“There’s also a patent for the “comb-over”,” one person reminded me today. This too we mentioned here a very long time ago.

From the article at “Above the Law”:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted some pretty ridiculous patents over the years. It makes me wonder about the quality of patents they’re not granting. If you’re interested in patent policy, you should really read the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) “Stupid Patent of the Month” column (EFF actually has the Mark Cuban Endowed Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents), which is exactly what it describes itself to be: an incredible collection of outrageous, low-quality, obvious claims that USPTO somehow deemed worthy of monopoly protection. While some of these have since been revoked or overturned, just remember that they were once granted. Note that the Supreme Court in recent years has—often unanimously—overturned several patents, clarifying patentability criteria, which should impact the number of stupid patents being granted. And, I note that the collection of ridiculous patents below does not include items that actually meet patentability thresholds, but are just crazy ideas; instead, they cover things that probably should never have been granted a patent to begin with.

How about the other picks from the EFF?

“Unfortunately, the negligent USPTO will issue patents to people like this. Here’s one on a mundane training regime,” the EFF’s Daniel Nazer wrote about this patent and there’s more in Twitter (in this thread, for context).

Why did the examiners at the USPTO accept these applications and how did that slip through the system without adequate safeguards? This is why things like PTAB (to be covered separately) are required.

Earlier today we also stumbled upon this truly ridiculous article from the National Law Review. It wants us to think of methods as objects and the headline is a loaded question: “Why Can’t A Method Be Sold, Just Like Any Other Invention?”

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office guidelines do not currently allow patentees to directly claim software inventions, thereby encouraging use of other claim types such as method claims. As a result, the patent office has issued many patents with method claims directed to software inventions. But patentees who rely on method claims to protect their software inventions — and indeed all patentees with method claims — face a significant obstacle that has been imposed by the Federal Circuit.

Specifically, the Federal Circuit has held for purposes of infringement that method inventions are not considered made or sold even if they are necessarily used by or embodied in products that are made or sold. This has the effective result of helping infringers to exploit patented method inventions by selling products that make use of the invention — even in ordinary and expected usage of the product — while evading legitimate attempts by the patentee to remedy the infringement. Below, we suggest that the Federal Circuit’s position is incorrect and unnecessarily hampers protection and enforcement of method inventions, disproportionately affecting software. The Federal Circuit should change course and clarify that methods can be sold just like any other invention in certain circumstances.

The first paragraph says “software inventions” three times. It’s obvious that people who never developed software can’t quite grasp that programming isn’t “invention”.

We assume that many law professors still deliberately misunderstand software development and incidentally, there’s this new article today about Judge William H. Alsup of the northern district of California learning how to code in order to better understand the Oracle v Google case (copyrights and patents).

Earlier today Dennis Crouch wrote about the Federal Circuit, claiming that on Alice the “Turnstile Keeps Spinning” even though nowadays (this year) the court almost always invalidates software patents. It’s becoming more consistent over time, but to lobbyists like Crouch (promoting patent maximalists’ and trolls’ agenda) it’s a “Turnstile”, apparently. To quote:

In a split opinion, the Federal Circuit has affirmed the district court’s judgment on the pleadings – R. 12(c) – that the asserted claims of SSI’s four patents are invalid under Section 101 for claiming an abstract idea. U.S. Patent Nos. 7,566,003, 7,568,617, 8,505,816, and 8,662,390. (Claim 14 of the ‘003 patent – covering a method for validating entry to a city bus or train – is reproduced below).

[...]

As the Supreme Court has done in its 101 analysis, Judge Linn linked his work back to cases such as Le Roy, Mackay, and Funk Bros. The language of those cases focus on “fundamental truths” and “hitherto unknown phenomenon of nature.” In Benson and Alice, the court also explained “Phenomena of nature, though just discovered, mental processes, and abstract intellectual concepts are not patentable, as they are the basic tools of scientific and technological work.”

For Judge Linn, a method of charging a bank-card at a bus-turnstile does not fit into those expansive definitions.

Judge Linn’s opinion recognizes that his concern directly stems from the Supreme Court’s approach in Alice and Mayo. He writes: “The problem with this test, however, is that it is indeterminate and often leads to arbitrary results.” His solution is that the two part test should not be “applied in a legal vacuum divorced from its genesis” and the three exceptions should be treated consistently. Patents should not be struck down simply because they “seemingly fail the Supreme Court’s test.” Rather, the focus should be on whether the patents “attempt to appropriate a basic building block of scientific or technological work.”

The solution for Judge Linn: Focus on the language of the claims and each limitation when determining whether a claim is directed to an abstract idea – “a basic building block of scientific or technological activity” or instead to a “tangible application” that serves a “new and useful end.”

Crouch is hoping to scandalise Alice like he does PTAB. Earlier this year it became ever more evident that Crouch is more like an activist (for trolls) than a scholar. He’s no longer good at concealing it. Earlier today he published a guest post by Charles Duan of Public Knowledge. This, for a change, gave an illusion of balance, comparing patents to monopolies:

Are Patents Monopolies? It Depends on the Relevant Century

The question of whether patents are monopolies is one of ongoing debate. But an important aspect of that debate is the correct meaning of the word “monopoly.” A change in the word’s meaning over the last few centuries can explain at least some of the differing opinions on the question.

Today, the word “monopoly” refers to a concentration of economic market power in a single firm or entity. But up through the early 19th century, that was not the accepted definition. In that time period, a monopoly was a government grant of an exclusive right, more akin to a franchise or government contract.

As we showed earlier this year, Crouch keeps misleading the readers about what patents are. He uses the language of patent maximalists.

Microsoft’s Software Patents Aggression in Court (Corel Again)

Posted in Corel, Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents at 5:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s tendency to not only abuse the competition but also to destroy it with patent lawsuits as seen in Corel’s case

THE Corel section of our site has not been updated for a very long time. The wiki page was last updated 8 years ago.

If the company is still around, then it’s certainly not doing much, but its legal case apparently persists and it’s not just about antitrust. Remember Microsoft’s abuses against Corel back in the 1990s and how Microsoft derailed Corel’s GNU/Linux business?

The patent case, as it turns out, is still going on. As usual, the lawyers get paid for this and it devours the company’s budget. Bonnie Eslinger has just published “Corel Says Microsoft Expert Overestimated Patent Damages” at Law360 (mostly behind paywall). To quote:

Corel Corp. asked a California federal judge Wednesday to nix some damages estimates proposed by Microsoft Corp. in its suit over infringement of nine software patents, saying one estimate overstates how much it would have cost Corel to design its home office software in a noninfringing way.

Wednesday’s decision comes as the tech rivals head toward a February trial date over damages related to infringement of Microsoft’s patents, which Corel admitted to in an amended answer to Microsoft’s complaint.

Remember that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer threatened Sun over OpenOffice, demanding payment per download (for patents). Microsoft has always been aggressive with patents, even well before the Novell deal. Do not think for a moment that Microsoft has profoundly changed.

The Spanish Supreme Court Rejects the EPO’s “Problem and Solution Approach” While Quality of European Patents Nosedives

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SIPO and Battistelli
Reference: Loose Patent Scope Becoming a Publicity Nightmare for the EPO and Battistelli Does a China Outreach (Worst/Most Notorious on Patent Quality)

Summary: European Patents (EPs) aren’t what they used to be and their credibility is being further eroded and even detected as such

EARLIER this year an EPO stakeholder said that s/he had received better service from the Spanish patent office than from the EPO. That comment became widely cited in the sense that several other people referred to it later. Spain is not exactly renowned for high patent quality or even an abundance of patents.

“SIPO is an atrocious patent office which unfortunately reaffirms the view/perception that China makes low-quality things.”In our view and our long-term assessment, the world’s worst patents are being issued in China (SIPO), where even software patents are explicitly and unequivocally allowed (unlike the USPTO where such patents were born).

SIPO is an atrocious patent office which unfortunately reaffirms the view/perception that China makes low-quality things. Earlier today the EPO said that “SIPO [had] changed how often and when it publishes its patents. Read here more about the change…”

“Battistelli aspires for what we called “SIPO Europe” just under a year ago.”As EPO workers ought to know, Battistelli is close to SIPO — to the point of inviting Chinese officials to his home town in France (for professional work). Battistelli aspires for what we called “SIPO Europe” just under a year ago.

According to this blog post from three days ago, the “Spanish Supreme Court clarifies that “problem & solution approach” is not legal doctrine” (which is a big deal).

To quote:

For many years, Spanish Courts have considered the “problem & solution approach” developed by the European Patent Office (“EPO”) to be a very useful tool for the purpose of trying to make an objective assessment of inventive activity. Unlike in other jurisdictions such as Germany, in Spain this method has become the natural instrument used by the Courts to examine inventive activity. Its use in judicial decisions, including those emanating from the Supreme Court, is so frequent that in a recent case, one of the parties alleged that it had become legal doctrine. In particular, that party, in an appeal filed before the Supreme Court, alleged that in its judgment of 29 December 2014, the Court of Appeal of Navarre had infringed this legal doctrine because it had failed to apply the “problem & solution approach.”

[...]

All in all, the main teaching of this judgment is that although the “problem & solution approach” is a very valuable method, other methodologies may be used.

The subject was incidentally brought up again in comments on a bunch of event (echo chamber) reports from Bristows. One comment spoke of “making a scapegoat out of the EPO’s “Problem and Solution Approach”.”

Thanks for that Report, which I read with a sinking feeling in my stomach, that panellists are creating unnecessary difficulties and misunderstandings and (as usual) making a scapegoat out of the EPO’s “Problem and Solution Approach”. Why is this ever the case, I wonder.

My point is that what disclosure you need to include in the original patent filing for Europe is not what the Panel Chair said it was.

The reaction from the USA, that such drafting imperatives (stating “the problem”) are incompatible with drafting for the USA, might be right. But, gentle readers, what if “stating the problem” is not actually required?

The way I see it, the EPO explores obviousness by toggling between the technical features recited in the claim and the technical effects they deliver. In his definitive book on drafting in Europe and the USA, Professor Paul Cole equates patentability with “A difference, that makes a difference”. If I may state it in other words “A new combination of technical features that delivers a technical effect”. What one needs in the original application, therefore, is not only a disclosure of the features but also of the effects delivered by that specific combination of technical features. No more than that.

Do the courts of the USA punish drafters and patent owners for saying in the application as filed what effects one gets with the claimed feature combination? I suspect not. But if they do, it is not helping to achieve the aims of the patents clause of the Constitution of the USA, to “promote the progress” of Useful Arts ie technology.

Amirite? Or do you disagree with me? Will other readers comment, please.

Watch the response:

Agreed re the “no more than that”. Also I thought a technical effect canhelp in the US too (Enfish) or did I misunderstand?

A US view of Paul Cole’s Fundamentals of Patent Drafting (I haven’t seen one?) and whether US practice has since moved on/changed would be helpful. I believe a copy of the book is still given by CIPA to students joining the patents profession in the UK.

CIPA is now instrumental in running IP Kat (which is why, we often assume, IP Kat no longer covers EPO scandals).

And again from the original commenter:

It occurs to me that some readers might retort, in reply to my posting above, that EPC Rule 42 “Content of the Description” makes it mandatory to recite “the problem” in the application as filed. I have two thoughts on that.

First, when was a patent application ever refused by the EPO, or an issued patent ever revoked, for the reason that the application as filed failed to disclose “the problem”?

Second, if you read the text of Rule 42, after reading my posting above, and with knowledge of the EPO’s Problem and Solution Approach to the analysis of obviousness, you can discern the beautiful clarity and simplicity of the EPC’s substantive law of patentability, how it optimises, in a First to File context, the promotion by the patent system of progress in the useful arts.

Sadly, the EPC is history. We have lost count of how many times Battistelli blatantly violated the EPC. It’s not even funny. It’s a very serious matter. Don’t expect Campinos to be much different or hold Battistelli accountable for it. He is, after all, not an Italian ICC judge.

Europe is Being Robbed by Team Battistelli and the UPC/PPH Would Make Things Worse

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Campinos and Battistelli in 2011
Battistelli and his French successor

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) has put litigation at the forefront, having implicitly decided to no longer bother with proper patent examination and instead issue lots of patents for judges and lawyers to argue about (at great expense to the public)

THE EPO has become a pariah organisation. All it cares about is money and patents’ legitimacy does not matter at all. As everyone from the inside (e.g. examiners) ought to know, patents don’t magically help money (or wealth) grow on trees. There are economic aspects to it and the general equation does not say that the greater the number of granted patents, the better off society will be. That’s just a dangerous mythology, typically perpetuated by the patent ‘industry’ (e.g. litigators, patent trolls, Team UPC).

“If trolls are described as “SMEs”, then sure… the EPO is their dream come true. They can run amok blackmailing real SMEs for ‘protection’ money, knowing these real SMEs cannot afford or justify a legal battle over crappy patents (invalidated only at enormous cost to the defendant).”Nowadays the EPO has a true fetish. It’s called “SMEs”. Those are probably the EPO’s biggest victims — biggest in terms of their suffering. If trolls are described as “SMEs”, then sure… the EPO is their dream come true. They can run amok blackmailing real SMEs for ‘protection’ money, knowing these real SMEs cannot afford or justify a legal battle over crappy patents (invalidated only at enormous cost to the defendant).

The EPO posted three tweets about these old lies regarding SMEs on Thursday morning and the night before (from another account). These three [1, 2, 3] have all appeared before midday today (we have not checked since). If one searches the Web for “EPO” and “SME” (we’ve tried this), the search results page will be dominated by EPO propaganda rather than leaks about how the EPO actively discriminates against (and directly harms) SMEs. That’s called “googlebombing”. They identify some kind of negative publicity and then do whatever they can to drown it out.

We generally assume that EPO insiders know all this. It seems to be common knowledge among examiners.

“The EPO has become just a cash cow for French men in suits and they externalise all the costs to the public (those who get sued using dubious EPs).”Earlier today the EPO also wrote that “Latin American PPH agreement enters into force.”

Without getting down/delving into all the technicalities, what it generally means is even more hastened patent examination. The EPO cares not about quality but about “prosecution” (the P in PPH).

The EPO has become just a cash cow for French men in suits and they externalise all the costs to the public (those who get sued using dubious EPs). There is already a lot of suffering inside the EPO; I occasionally hear from those who suffer outside the EPO due to patent trolls taunting them.

Does the EPO care? Does Team Battistelli care? Naaaa. It doesn’t even know what the word “care” means, judging by the way ordinary EPO staff gets treated by them (sometimes driven to suicide).

To ensure that patent quality remains low at the EPO (not detecting errors), Battistelli has already sent BoA (the appeal boards) to exile and watch what the EPO wrote a few hours ago: “The Boards of Appeal commenced operations at the new location. If you don’t know the details yet, have a look here…”

Don’t expect Ernst or Campinos to reverse this travesty. These boards are still grossly understaffed and skyrocketing costs have made appeals unaffordable to most (especially SMEs). They are being driven to extinction by inducing lower demand.

“As we argued at the start, the EPO has become a pariah organisation. Those who refuse to see it are either preoccupied with something else or are paid (possibly by the EPO) to turn a blind eye.”It sometimes looks like the EPO is now broken beyond repair. It has become a liability rather than an asset to Europe. Even the USPTO, according to some law firms, is more strict than the EPO these days (and that says a lot). As this one comment put things this morning: “The situation outline by “Still Examiner” is one which has been de facto situation in the USPTO. The difference is that in the US, the request for continued examination is available allowing applicant to continue the prosecution. It seems to me that the EPO MUST introduce such a procedure to compensate for the push for a streamlined examination.”

The more interesting comment comes after it and asks: “Firstly, where is all of the additional income going, especially within the EPO?”

Well, ask Battistelli. He’s wasting millions of “dark money” building himself a secret ‘bar’ at the top floor and he’s gifting Team Battistelli with all sorts of massive bonuses.

What else is happening to the money? Well, maybe ‘gifts’ (bribes) to buy delegates’ support and control the media, organise lobbying events and pay lawyers to intimidate bloggers like yours truly. That too is where some of the money goes. Maybe they also buy fake Twitter "followers"; we already know that they pay for journalists’ flight tickets (they told us), in order to cover EPO lobbying events that cost several millions of euros (for just one afternoon!). The ‘king’ likes a good show. He is always, by definition, the star of the show. He thinks he’s Alfred Nobel.

Anyway, here is the comment in full:

In the light of the comments on this thread (and on other blogs / sites that more directly address the issue of quality at the EPO), I find it interesting to mull over the following points.

EPO fees have certainly not been reduced in recent years (in fact, they have gone in the opposite direction). However, the level of service provided by the EPO in return for fees paid by applicants has, despite the valiant efforts of many examiners, pretty much fallen off a cliff.

With grants and “efficiency” (ie cases “disposed of” per year) driven up under the current EPO management, it is clear that the net income from fees (ie gross income minus the costs of conducting the tasks for which those fees were paid) will be significantly increased for both the EPO and the EPC Member States.

This raises a number of questions.

Firstly, where is all of the additional income going, especially within the EPO?

Secondly, for how long will applicants continue to accept having to pay premium level fees for bargain basement level service?

Thirdly, where is the voice of the professional associations in all of this? I would have thought that at least the epi ought to be complaining long and hard (and publicly!) about the all too obvious drop in quality. And if they are not doing this, then why not?

At the end of the day, it is clear that a majority of EPC Member States are addicted to the fee income, and so care more about maintaining that income than they do about maintaining standards at the EPO (whether standards on quality or on fundamental issues of human rights). There is nothing to suggest that the Member States will change this of their own free will. Not even being dragged before the European Court of Human Rights has shamed them into taking action. But they will listen to those that pay the fees upon which they rely.

As we argued at the start, the EPO has become a pariah organisation. Those who refuse to see it are either preoccupied with something else or are paid (possibly by the EPO) to turn a blind eye.

Team UPC Continues to Promote Illusion of UPC Progress Where There’s None

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 11:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Bristows LLP is Still Trying to Attach Wings to the UPC and Distract From Serious (Likely Fatal) Barriers to It

Bristows EPO

Summary: The core members of Team UPC in the UK spread obvious falsehoods in the media, probably in an effort to attract ‘business’ (consultation regarding something that does not exist)

WE HAVE not forgotten about UPC; it’s just that there’s nothing to say about it as nothing is happening. Even the EPO barely mentions it any longer. Marks & Clerk has long been absent and Bristows had not said anything in weeks! Until yesterday. If this is all they have to show, then they’re running out of material. It’s worth seeing the comments in the tweet about it. The UPC is dead.

“The Unitary Patent is a pipe dream. It probably won’t happen.”“Draft UPC legislation reaches final stage in Scottish parliamentary process,” Bristows wrote, which almost makes it sound (or feel) like there’s finalisation of some kind. The usual deception from Bristowsfor the purpose of money.

But towards the end Gemma Barrett from Bristows confesses that “[t]he Parliament is now in recess (from 7 October to 22 October inclusive),” reminding us that the latest push is just this illusion of UPC progress. Nothing is happening in England and Ireland has virtually given up even on a referendum on the subject.

The Unitary Patent is a pipe dream. It probably won’t happen. More complaints are being submitted this month in Germany and judging by this report from yesterday, the EU is no longer a friend of “Big Pharma” (which wanted the UPC in order to impose broad injuctions). To quote:

EU To Get Rid Of Big Pharma-Friendly SPCs

Extended monopoly protection by the Regulation EC 469/2009 concerning the supplementary protection certificate (SPC) mechanism for medicinal products has led to spiralling prices in Europe for lifesaving medicines, while exhausting the national budgets and depriving patients of fair access to treatments. The EU Commission should repeal the SPCs and put in practice the recommendations signed on 8 September 2017 by thirty-three civil society organisations, in alignment with the final report of the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines.

Having watched the UPC (and similar things which predate it) pretty closely for about a decade, we can honestly say that we’ve never really seen this much of a lull. Even recent events regarding patents say nothing about the UPC. The last we saw of it was in today’s marketing from Graham Burnett-Hall and Sarah Routledge (Marks & Clerk), who are spreading half-truths and lies about UPC at IAM. They have just published this FUD/advertisement in the form of an ‘article’/Q&A (scaring people to attract business).

It comes from IAM (EPO mouthpiece) and here is the part about UPC:

Q: Has your jurisdiction signed the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court? If so, when do you expect it to be ratified?

The United Kingdom has signed the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. [wrong] Ratification of the UPC Agreement and Protocol has been delayed by the 2017 General Election. [wrong] The Conservative Party, which was in government before the election, lost seats in the election, but remains the largest party in Parliament and has formed a minority government and is continuing the ratification process [wrong]. Ratification is most likely to take place in Autumn 2017 [wrong].

Q: Will your country play host to one or more divisions of the Unified Patent Court?

The United Kingdom will host both a local division of the UPC [wrong] and a branch of the central division [wrong], both of which will be located in London [wrong].

The London seat of the central division will [wrong], in particular, hear cases relating to pharmaceuticals, life sciences, chemicals, medical devices and agriculture/food.

For further information on the role and scope of the UPC, please click here [SPAM].

[...]

This article first appeared in Intellectual Asset Management Magazine. [Battistelli’s mouthpiece]

The number of false statements above (marked by us in bold) is truly extraordinary. It’s like they live in an alternate universe and look for readers gullible enough to call them (for business) to seek advice regarding a non-existent system. It disgraces the legal profession.

António Campinos: A True EPO Reformer or More of the Same?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…Will fit right in at Battistelli’s 'pub' at the top floor

António Campinos and Željko Topić

Summary: More unfortunate reminders that Campinos and Battistelli don’t quite diverge on the big issues, they’re just more than two decades apart in age (but the same nationality)

THE stakeholders of the EPO would like to think that things will improve when António Campinos settles in next summer. But that’s too optimistic in our assessment.

Earlier today we shared this ritualistic old photo op of Campinos and Battistelli. “Another Campinos photo-op from the archives,” a reader told us, comes “[f]rom Croatia – check out the photo.”

“What kind of “social dialogue” can they hope for with the likes of Željko Topić in the mix?”We have shared this photo in this site before, but here is the page which says: “On the occasion of attending The Forty-Ninth Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of the World International Property Organization (WIPO) held in Geneva, the MoU concerning bilateral cooperation between the two Offices was signed on 27 September 2011, on behalf of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) by President Antonio Campinos and on behalf of the State Intellectual Property Office by Mr. Željko Topić, Director General of SIPO Croatia.”

SUEPO’s message to staff is rather different from the message to the media because it considers reservations to be rather “dangerous” for diplomatic purposes.

Earlier today SUEPO linked to this new article titled “SUEPO confirms position on Campinos election” and it says:

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) has confirmed that it’s “ready to embark on a road to fruitful cooperation” with new president of the European Patent Office (EPO) António Campinos.
Last week, a source close to SUEPO said that the staff union was willing to work with Campinos, provided there was a “respect by top management for the rule of law”.

In a letter from SUEPO, it states that the vacancy for the position listed “unprecedented requirements: to lead the EPO with modern management techniques and an outstanding ability to engage in social dialogue”.

“We believe this indicated the [Administrative Council’s] desire to re-establish harmonious working conditions and to dissipate the atmosphere generated over the past year.”

What kind of “social dialogue” can they hope for with the likes of Željko Topić in the mix? Years ago he said “SUEPO has no standing in this Office. SUEPO has no role to play in this Office.”

Juve Has Confirmed That António Campinos is French

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And Kluwer Patent Blog found this photo from six years ago

Campinos and Battistelli in 2011
Photo ops like these aren’t going to help either of them

Summary: The relationship between Campinos and Battistelli has a nationality aspect to it, not even taking into account the interpersonal connection which goes a long way back

THE EPO‘s focus right now is on the new Chairman and the upcoming (next) President. The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO – Part III will be published some time soon, maybe tomorrow or in the weekend. We’ll cover the INPI connection.

In the meantime, someone has just told us about this new article. Here are some key bits from it:

Heavy task lies ahead of Antonio Campinos as future EPO president

[...]

Apparently, EPO member states think the Portuguese Campinos is the right man to tackle the problems. A diplomatic source told Kluwer IP Law he is seen as a person ‘who will be able to improve social relations and enter into dialogue with workers and unions, after a period of very effective reforms by Benoit Battistelli, which have led to increased productivity.’ The German legal website JUVE quotes a Spanish trademark expert as saying Campinos (who was born in France and, according to JUVE, has the French as well as the Portuguese nationality) is ‘an experienced IP lawyer and a pleasant and passionate director, who is committed to the EUIPO staff.’

[...]

The Techrights blog, which has been reporting for years on the problems at the EPO, is not convinced at all that Antonio Campinos will be an improvement and has pointed at the close ties between the current and the new EPO president, who have known each other for a long time.

We did not notice (at the time) Juve reporting this. So what we did not have a “100%” confirmation for can now be ascertained. Campinos is French. Thus, out of 4 EPO Presidents (in a row) 3 are French. Quite a diversity, no? Might as well call the next President “Antoine”.

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