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03.27.16

Links 27/3/2016: Mageia 6 and Parsix GNU/Linux 8.10 on Their Way

Posted in News Roundup at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Celebrating 17 Years of The Apache Software Foundation

    The Foundation’s commitment to fostering a collaborative approach to development has long served as a model for producing consistently high quality software and helping advance the future of open development. The ASF’s collaborative leadership, robust community, and meritocratic process serve as best practices widely embraced by organizations and individuals alike.

  • OpenToonz
  • OpenToonz Is The Open-Source Version of Toonz, The Software Used For Creating Futurama And Asterix
  • Web Browsers

    • NoScript Beginner’s Guide

      This NoScript Beginner’s Guide has been designed to provide new Firefox or NoScript users with information on how the browser add-on works. I have published a guide for regular users in 2014 which you may find useful as well.

      NoScript is a long standing security add-on for Firefox that is rated highly on Mozilla AMO and quite popular with more than 2.3 million users.

      It is often confused with ad-blockers, and while it does that to, it is much more than that and the ad-blocking is more of a side-effect of the extension’s functionality than something it has been designed for.

  • Databases

    • Playing with Dalmatiner DB

      Dalmatimer DB is an open source time series database built on top of riak-core and ZFS. It re-uses the logic from riak-core to handle the logic of where data is located but implements its very own database optimised for metrics

  • BSD

    • FreeNAS 9.10-RELEASE is available

      This is an interim release between the 9.3 series and 10 (which is still a few months away), using the same UI and middleware that everyone is used to from 9.3 but with new OS underpinnings, specifically FreeBSD 10.3-RC3.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • G’MIC 1.7.0 (Standalone Software And GIMP Plugin) Has Been Released

      As you may know, G’MIC (GREYC’s Magic Image Converter) is a editing tool, that can be used with GIMP or as a standalone application, being available for both Linux and Windows. G’MIC provides a window which enables the users to add more than 500 filters over photos and preview the result, in order to give the photos some other flavor.

    • PSPP 0.10.0 has been released

      I’m very pleased to announce the release of a new version of GNU PSPP. PSPP is a program for statistical analysis of sampled data. It is a free replacement for the proprietary program SPSS.

  • Licensing

    • Dr Stoll: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the GPL

      My Free Software journey starts with The Cuckoo’s Egg. Back in the early 90s a family friend suggested I might enjoy reading it. He was right; I was fascinated by the world of interconnected machines it introduced me to. That helped start my involvement in FidoNet, but it also got me interested in Unix. So when I saw a Linux book at the Queen’s University bookshop (sadly no longer with us) with a Slackware CD in the back I had to have it.

  • Programming

    • Don’t Pick a Programming Language Because It’s the ‘Most Profitable’

      An ultra-common and generally bullshit theme that can be found across the internet from Business Insider to coder forums to anywhere else that aspiring programmers and coders may lurk is that of the “most profitable” programming language. Where should “you,” as the stereotypical case of just-anyone wanting to get into code to make better and easier money, be best off spending your limited attention and financial resources? It is a bogus question that gets at sickly heart of programming hype—a phenomenon that rests mostly on the notion that a few weeks of online learning or a code bootcamp will make someone into a coveted resource.

    • There is no “my” in open source

      If you use Node, you’ve probably been following this week’s story between Azer Koçulu, Kik and npm.

      A brief rundown: Azer made an npm module called “kik”, which shares its name with a company. Kik asked him to rename the module, and Azer refused, so npm intervened and reassigned it to Kik.

    • The papa of Perl

      Perl 6 has been 15 years in the making, and is now due to be released at the end of this year. We speak to its creator to find out what’s going on.

      Larry Wall is a fascinating man. He’s the creator of Perl, a programming language that’s widely regarded as the glue holding the internet together, and mocked by some as being a “write-only” language due to its density and liberal use of non-alphanumeric characters. Larry also has a background in linguistics, and is well known for delivering entertaining “State of the Onion” presentations about the future of Perl.

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • DuPont’s Deadly Deception

      The major industrial enterprise E. I. du Pont de Nemours has been hiding studies on the deleterious effects the chemical C8 has on health for decades. C8 is a major surfactant component of Teflon, used in hundreds of different products including clothing, and furniture. C8 and other perfluorooctonoic acids (PFOA) are associated with a wide range of severe health problems from low levels of exposure like ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, as well as kidney cancer. DuPont continued producing C8 despite knowing its toxicity.

    • Monsanto’s Pesticide Linked to Kidney Disease That is Killing Thousands

      Monsanto’s use of a toxic pesticide, glyphosate, has been linked to rampant kidney disease in farmers and, according to a Vice News article, the death toll “has reached the tens of thousands.” Glyphosate, commonly known as RoundUp, is a weed killer that is made and used by Monsanto that “can become highly toxic to one’s kidneys when mixed with ‘hard water’” wrote Neha Shastry of Vice News.

  • Security

    • Stealthy malware targeting air-gapped PCs leaves no trace of infection [Ed: Windows]

      One of the major failures of the Stuxnet operation was its designer’s inability to maintain control of the computers that were infected by the self-replicating malware. What’s more, the Stuxnet code was also easily dissected by researchers, allowing them to eventually figure out it targeted industrial control systems. Gauss, another piece of malware spawned from at least some of the same developers as Stuxnet, didn’t make the same critical mistakes. Its mystery warhead was encrypted using a key derived from a single computer that has yet to be publicly identified.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US Stealthily Expands Its Military Presence Across Africa

      In recent years the US has quietly ramped up its military presence across the African continent, even though “officially” the US has only one permanent base, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. Since the US opened that base, shortly after September 11, 2001, it has grown from 88 acres with 900 military personnel to around 500 acres with 5,000 military personnel. Camp Lemonnier is currently undergoing a $1.4 billion upgrade, expanding everything from aircraft maintenance hangars, ammunition shelters, and runway extensions to accommodation facilities.

    • Police Find And Detonate Explosive Device At Trump Supporter’s Home After He Threatened Muslims

      William Celli, a 55-year-old man from California, will spend 90 days in jail after being caught in possession of an explosive device and threatening to kill Muslims. Celli took a plea deal that places him on probation for a further three years and bans him from operating an active Facebook profile.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Fossil Fuel Light Pollution May Drown Out the Stars at Texas’ McDonald Observatory

      In Fort Davis, Texas, in the Davis Mountains, the McDonald Observatory, a “multi-million dollar facility” (Santoro), is being threatened, as light pollution from hydraulic fracturing and fossil fuels, has been increasing the sky’s brightness by up to 30%. The “Trans-Pecos Pipeline” project, if implemented early in 2016, is expected to contribute further to that trend. As a result, some of the darkest skies in the United States are being endangered. Furthermore, the projected pipeline project would negatively impact “one of the largest intact bioregions in the country,” according to Alyce Santoro’s report. It would also run through one of the few remaining areas in Texas that is unscathed by fossil fuel extraction and exploration.

    • Asia loses its appetite for coal

      Asia, the world’s biggest coal market by far, is showing signs of turning its back on what is the most polluting of fuels, shelving or cancelling a large number of coal-fired power plant construction projects.

      Four Asian countries – China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam – together account for about 75% of an estimated 2,457 coal-fired power stations at present planned or under construction around the world.

    • We’ve Barely Begun to Tap the Sun’s Mighty Power

      It seems like every few weeks there’s some new measurement of how successful solar power is in the United States. In early March, industry analysts found that solar is poised for its biggest year ever, with total installations growing 119 percent by the end of 2016. This week, federal government analysts reported that in 2015, solar ranked number three (behind wind and natural gas) in megawatts of new electricity-producing capacity brought online. That rank is even more impressive when you consider that each individual solar installation is fewer megawatts than a wind turbine, and far fewer than a natural gas plant; that means solar panels are popping up like crazy across the country.

    • Who can save Poland’s oldest forest from environmental disaster?

      Polish ecological organizations are up in arms over plans to reintroduce large-scale logging in the protected Bialowieza forest in the east of the country, in response to a massive spruce bark beetle infestation there.

    • Past emissions cause mounting climate havoc

      Climate change has reached the point where it may outstrip the quickening efforts to slow it by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, scientists say.

    • Investors Could Drag Exxon Kicking And Screaming Into A Low Carbon Economy

      First, the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that the company has to allow shareholders to vote on a climate change resolution. Then, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced it would divest from fossil fuels — and took the opportunity to hit Exxon specifically for misleading investors about the risks of climate change.

  • Finance

    • High Court Asks Administration to Weigh in on Predatory Lending Case

      A SUPREME COURT order this week forces the Obama administration to make a decision: either save consumers tens of billions of dollars at the expense of debt collectors, car loan specialists, and student lenders, or defend those financial entities.

    • Banning boycotts: is history repeating itself?

      The UK government’s recent attempts to legislate against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions are reminiscent of Thatcher during South African Apartheid.

    • TPP Under Fire in the U.S. As Other Signatories Advance Towards Ratification

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is taking a beating in the ongoing U.S. presidential election cycle, leaving some observers to wonder if it can survive such a political backlash against trade agreements. But as the leading candidates seem to compete for who can bash U.S. trade policies the hardest, other countries have been pressing forward to ratify the TPP since the deal’s signature in February.

      In the U.S., chances are close to nil that the TPP could get ratified anytime soon. The White House is still seeking congressional support for the massive 12-country deal but the political environment could not be any more unfavorable. Presidential candidates are pointing to trade agreements as the root cause of economic inequality. For the Obama administration, things look grim in Congress as well. More and more lawmakers are coming out against the TPP, while others who had long championed the deal are now holding back their support over their stance that some of the provisions do not go far enough to protect certain industries. The soonest the TPP’s ratification vote may happen is during the “Lame Duck” period after November’s election.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Back to the Future: The Unanswered Questions from the Debates

      The nuances of foreign policy do not feature heavily in the ongoing presidential campaign. Every candidate intends to “destroy” the Islamic State; each has concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korea, and China; every one of them will defend Israel; and no one wants to talk much about anything else — except, in the case of the Republicans, who rattle their sabers against Iran.

      In that light, here’s a little trip down memory lane: in October 2012, I considered five critical foreign policy questions — they form the section headings below — that were not being discussed by then-candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Romney today is a sideshow act for the current Republican circus, and Obama has started packing up his tent at the White House and producing his own foreign policy obituary.

    • ‘A Broadcasting Operation Washes the Hand of the Owning Corporation’

      Journalist Ben Bagdikian died March 11 at age 96. He was a crucial influence on FAIR’s work, not only for his classic book The Media Monopoly, now called The New Media Monopoly and in its seventh printing, but also for the spirited journalism that preceded that work, including pushing the Pentagon Papers into print and going undercover as an inmate at a maximum security prison, and all the thoughtful, humanistic work that followed. He was a friend to us, and we’ll miss him.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Superdelegate Advantage

      Who are these Democrats, imbued with such power? Reason TV put together this instructional cartoon to help sort it all out.

    • Bernie Sanders Gets Big Boost With Landslide Wins in Washington, Alaska Caucuses

      Bernie Sanders won caucuses in Washington and Alaska by wide margins on Saturday to close the delegate lead against Hillary Clinton. Sanders captured 73 percent of the vote in Washington, which had 101 pledged delegates at stake, and 82 percent of the vote in Alaska, which had 16 pledged delegates.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • The Hubris of Investigators

      Policymakers who understand those themes will reject reported legislation that would mandate backdoors in your technology, or otherwise force tech companies to ensure the FBI’s access to everyone’s communications. Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, and Richard Burr, R-NC, have threatened to introduce a proposal along those lines, which would place millions of people at risk, overlook several key facts, and resign a need for long overdue—and increasingly vital—transparency into law enforcement excesses.

    • Glenn Greenwald: U.S. Government Wants Ability to Access the Communications of Everyone, Everywhere

      Web-exclusive interview with Glenn Greenwald on the debate over encryption and the Apple-FBI battle.

    • Tories and Lib Dem rivals in unofficial ‘coalition’ over GCHQ parking problem in Cheltenham

      RIVAL politicians are working in parallel to solve the ongoing parking issue in streets around GCHQ in Cheltenham.

      People who live in Hester’s Way and Fiddlers Green, and the councillors who represent them, are unhappy about employees and external contractors parking cars in residential roads causing disruption and congestion.

    • NSA’s domestic spying violates US Constition: Journalist

      “It’s high time that someone in the US Congress took some direct action against the NSA for their intrusion into Americans’ privacy and violation of their Second Amendment rights,” said Mike Harris, the financial editor at Veterans Today.

      “The NSA was never meant to be a domestic spy organization; the NSA was meant to gather foreign intelligence, not to spy on the American citizenry,” Harris told Press TV on Saturday.

      “This is in direct violation against the Second Amendment of free speech and the Fourth Amendment to be safe and secure in one’s housing,” he added.

      A couple of US lawmakers have called on the NSA to abandon its planned expansion of domestic spying.

  • Civil Rights

    • Saudi Arabia Cracks Down On ‘Peaceful Dissent,’ Sentences Journalist To Five Years In Prison

      Saudi Arabia sentenced a journalist to five years in prison over a series of tweets, in what human rights organizations are calling the latest crackdown on free expression by the oil-rich kingdom.

      In addition to spending five years in prison, Alaa Brinji was sentenced to an eight-year travel ban and a 50,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (about U.S. $13,300) fine. Brinji is a prominent Saudi journalist who was arrested in May 2014 and initially held in solitary confinement and without access to a lawyer. According to Amnesty International, Brinji’s crimes don’t fit the bill.

    • Does The United States Still Exist?

      Historically, a government that can, without due process, throw a citizen into a dungeon or summarily execute him is considered to be a tyranny, not a democracy. By any historical definition, the United States today is a tyranny.

    • Open Letter to the International Community about the political situation in Brazil

      We, professors and researchers from Brazilian universities, hereby address the International Academic Community to report serious breaches in the rule of law currently taking place in Brazil.

    • America’s Astounding Human Rights Hypocrisy in Cuba

      Our American president’s long-overdue visit to Cuba was a great thing for many reasons.

      But maybe our elected officials should cease their hypocritical yapping about the human rights situation in Cuba until they come clean about what’s happening here in the United States.

      To be sure, there is much to say about how this authoritarian regime has handled dissent. The details abound in the corporate media.

      But the idea of the United States lecturing Cuba or any other country on this planet about human rights comes down somewhere between embarrassing and nauseating.

    • Hey Albany, New Yorkers Deserve Paid Family Leave

      American workers have it hard. We put in more hours at work than any other workers in the industrialized world, and we are given — and take — fewer vacation days.

      At the same time, we’re also one of only three countries across the globe (the other two are Papua New Guinea and Suriname) that does not provide paid family leave. For American workers, being unable to leave work to care for a newborn baby or a seriously ill family member is an all too familiar scenario.

    • With Nuisance Laws, Has ‘Serve and Protect’ Turned Into ‘Silence and Evict’?

      When Nancy Markham called 911 multiple times between March and August 2014 because of her abusive ex-boyfriend, the single mother didn’t know that her calls for help would only lead to more fear and insecurity. Instead of serving and protecting her, the police department of Surprise, Arizona, tried to silence and get Markham evicted from her rental home — all because of an ill-conceived nuisance ordinance the city passed in 2010.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Kim Dotcom Fights For “Mega Millions” in U.S. Appeals Court

        Megaupload’s legal team was back in court this week in an effort to reclaim an estimated $67 million in assets previously seized by the U.S. Government. Megaupload’s appellate counsel refuted the claim that Kim Dotcom and his former colleagues are fugitives, noting that the District Court ruling violates due process.

03.26.16

Finishing Icahn’s and Ballmer’s Job: Microsoft Wants to Kill Yahoo! and Exterminate GNU/Linux in Datacentres

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Search, Servers at 11:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft uses its money to interfere with and/or take over the competition

“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements.”

Microsoft Confidential

“I’m going to f—ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to f—ing kill Google.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

Summary: Microsoft’s war on GNU/Linux and against Google is still alive and well, and Microsoft uses its money (what’s left of it) in an effort to get its way and basically undermine (or E.E.E.) the competition

According to this second-hand report from Sam Dean about Microsoft's DCOS buddies, “Microsoft has been rumored to have had its eyes on owning the company” (company behind DCOS, which is proprietary). 8 months ago we wrote about the real reason Microsoft veterans were investing in Mesosphere.

“8 months ago we wrote about the real reason Microsoft veterans were investing in Mesosphere.”What we basically deal with here is another Xamarin, again funded by people from Microsoft, only to be the subject of Microsoft acquisition (or attempted acquisition) later on. Microsoft actually did try to take over DCOS and make it its anti-GNU/Linux proxy. It’s half way there now because there are financial strings now. Dean cites a Microsoft booster (Matt Weinberger) as saying that “Microsoft is investing millions in a $1 billion startup that rejected its acquisition offer” (the headline).

To quote Weinberger: “Last year, reports emerged that Microsoft tried to buy Mesosphere, a hot cloud computing startup, for $150 million, only to get shut down.”

“What we basically deal with here is another Xamarin, again funded by people from Microsoft, only to be the subject of Microsoft acquisition (or attempted acquisition) later on.”So that’s a fact. At Mesosphere they ‘just’ took Microsoft money and hence strings, so it’s clear whose agenda will be served. EEE against GNU/Linux must be noted here. To quote further: “Mesosphere is announcing a new $73.5 million “strategic” investment, led by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and with Microsoft listed as a “significant participant.””

It’s time to treat Mesosphere as a Microsoft proxy; little less, only more.

In related news, Microsoft is killing Yahoo again. Yahoo is not totally dead yet; it’s now run by a lady from Google, so the company apparently needs to die or be hijacked again by Microsoft. Microsoft Peter (Peter Bright) and Swisher make it abundantly clear that Microsoft is still a predator, not a real company. Based on Microsoft Peter’s article: “After Microsoft’s failed bid to buy Yahoo, the two companies signed agreements that would see Microsoft providing both search technology and advertising to Yahoo. While the terms of this deal have changed, with Redmond losing its exclusive arrangement last year, Yahoo nonetheless remains an important partner. Bing’s market share continues to grow each quarter, and Yahoo’s use of Bing search results is a key part of this success. [note: that’s a Microsoft lie/revisionism from Peter Bright]

“It’s time to treat Mesosphere as a Microsoft proxy; little less, only more.”“Redmond is keen to protect this important deal. Offering a private equity firm a billion or two in cheap financing would enable the company to preserve this partnership, while being substantially cheaper than buying the company itself. In spite of its previous interest, sources within Microsoft tell Swisher that it has no interest in buying Yahoo this time around. Companies that are interested are believed to include AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, along with a number of private equity firms.”

The New York Times, having come up with an eye-catching headline (unlike the spin from Microsoft Peter), says the “Entire Yahoo Board Would Be Ousted”. This sounds like the same thing which Microsoft did with Icahn almost 8 years ago.

“This sounds like the same thing which Microsoft did with Icahn almost 8 years ago.”The spin from Microsoft Peter says “Microsoft said to be wanting to help out Yahoo buyers with its own cash”; iophk responded with “if you twist the word ‘help’ enough.”

Another reader of ours laughed and wrote in IRC “mafia “help”” (hey, maybe they can send in Icahn again!).

Raiders, proxies, corporate coups — a Microsoft specialty. Maybe they’ll actually become a technology and software company one day. We covered in great detail what Microsoft had done to Yahoo! in the past in order to convert it from a third (or second) contender in search engines into just another ‘department’ of Microsoft. Microsoft did the same thing to Cyanogen (now a Trojan horse against Android/Google), Nokia, and it also ‘helped’ Novell (only to see the company dying within a few years, as expected, leaving the patents to Microsoft).

“…Microsoft is unmistakably still going after Yahoo after killing the vast majority of it.”Looking at another report about this, titled “Microsoft Tells Possible Yahoo Buyers It Would Consider Backing Bids With Big Bucks”, Microsoft is unmistakably still going after Yahoo after killing the vast majority of it.

It “looks like Yahoo is selling out,” said Mark in our IRC channels earlier today, adding that “they are looking to sell their core business; I’d say they are on the way out in any case; they lost what… 4 billion dollars last year?”

“Microsoft is the touch of death to almost everything…”
      –Mark, #techrights
This is like classic Microsoft revisionism, however, e.g. for one to claim Yahoo was all along down and still going down (or that Microsoft tried to save them and help them). They were doing reasonably well before 2008 (like Nokia or Novell) and they do extremely poorly now; Microsoft’s intention has a lot to do with it. That’s like saying Novell failed in spite of Microsoft or that Microsoft tried to rescue Novell.

XRevan86 notes that “moving to Bing for Yahoo! was a total disaster.” It was indeed; it was a one-way relationship that destroyed the very core of Yahoo! and turned it into a vassal of Microsoft. There was no way back after that. The company was in a freefall.

“Microsoft is the touch of death to almost everything,” Mark concluded.

Corporate Media Lies About ‘Market Share’ of Vista 10 the Same Way It Did About Vista

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 10 at 10:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Both were terrible in terms of acceptance, so rigged statistics (biased by selection) come to Microsoft’s rescue and wrongly generalised/extrapolated!

Digital Analytics Program (DAP)
Pro-Microsoft sites (the above is a Microsoft advocacy site) have a new ‘source’ to lean on, just like the Microsoft-connected Net Applications

Summary: New examples of Microsoft-leaning brainwash, telling us that Vista 10 is a “success”, just like “Microsoft loves Linux”

AS we noted here the other day, Vista 10 is now being compared to Vista (even in the corporate media). Both are massive failures that Microsoft prefers to forget about. Just look at the latest financial results; it’s chaotic. At the same time, Microsoft is desperate to convince the public to adopt (if not force the public to adopt, as in the case of Vista 10, through covert ‘updates’, not just secret OEM deals) based on the false perception that “everyone else is doing it!” and it’s “inevitable” (or something along those lines).

“Digital Analytics Program (DAP) is quite meaningless and not a proper indicator of market share (never mind if inside the US or outside of it).”Microsoft must be frustrated that people aren’t as gullible as Microsoft needs them to do. The ordinary people know that Vista 10 is terrible and many people actively avoid it by all means possible (even if that means not buying a new PC, or only buying a Chromebook or something along these lines). Microsoft’s ability to fool the public is surely eroding. The typical folks know they don’t need Windows anymore and they know that Microsoft cannot love FOSS. As Christine Hall has just put it: “As for Microsoft’s continuing open sourcing? There’s nothing new here, move on. When Redmond loves Linux and open source enough to quit suing open source projects over patents it claims it has — that will be news.”

We were rather disturbed to find this new IDG brainwash titled “Windows 10 passes 20% share in the U.S.”

“The title and the summary say very different things,” iophk wrote to us. “This reeks of desperation.” Did the editor at IDG choose this misleading lie? IDG equates “Digital Analytics Program” with “share in the U.S.” What next? Digital Analytics Program (DAP) is quite meaningless and not a proper indicator of market share (never mind if inside the US or outside of it).

“Don’t be so shocked that DAP is Microsoft Windows-powered and even distributes MS Word files (rather than ODF or PDF).”“For the first time,” says this article, “Windows 10 accounted for more than one-fifth of the visits to sites tracked by the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), which mines traffic to more than 4,000 websites on over 400 different domains maintained by U.S. government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service and the National Weather Service.”

Don’t be so shocked that DAP is Microsoft Windows-powered and even distributes MS Word files (rather than ODF or PDF). Something doesn’t smell right. DAP has been used to disseminate other pro-Microsoft talking points at IDG (same writer). A lot of government employees are simply forced to use Windows and are not given a choice of browser, version, etc.

Next up: let’s judge the market share of GNU/Linux in the US based on universities’ research departments.

Patents Roundup: SCOTUS, U.S. Code § 101, CAFC, PTAB, and Software Patents in the Far East (Australia, Korea, Taiwan, China)

Posted in America, Asia, Australia, Law, Patents at 9:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents are still an issue not just in East Asia but also in Australia, though not in New Zealand

Granting patents on numbers, numerical operations, logical operations and input/output

Summary: An outline of recent news regarding software patents, patent trolls, and other such aspects which have considerable impact on Free software development

SCOTUS

“The Supreme Court should review an appeals court decision,” attorneys told Bloomberg BNA, “to clear up uncertainty about patenting natural discoveries that is chilling innovation.”

One must realise that the logic of “more patents mean more innovation” is based on false reasoning and wishful thinking from self-serving patent lawyers.

“One must realise that the logic of “more patents mean more innovation” is based on false reasoning and wishful thinking from self-serving patent lawyers.”A lawyers’ site, at around the very same time, wrote that “Sequenom Throws Diagnostic Method Patents At Mercy Of Supreme Court” (this isn’t about software patents but also rather abstract patents).

“It comes as no surprise,” says this site, “that Sequenom has filed a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court, asking the Court to review the Federal Circuit decision that upheld the district court decision that held its diagnostic method claims invalid for failing to satisfy the patent eligibility requirements of 35 USC § 101. With no relief from Congress on the horizon, this filing puts at least the near-term future of diagnostic method patents at the mercy of the Supreme Court. Will the Court agree that its § 101 jurisprudence has been taken too far, or will it decide that diagnostic methods really cannot be patented?”

“Watch patent lawyers who are vocal proponents of software patenting still moaning about Alice.”Patently-O wrote: “The discovery here was that fetal DNA can be found floating around the blood of the pregnant mother and that the fetal DNA can be selectively amplified by focusing on the paternally inherited portion of its DNA (rather than the maternally inherited). Sequenom’s patent claims two simple steps: (1) amplifying paternally inherited DNA from a plasma sample taken from a pregnant female and then (2) detecting the presence of the DNA.”

“This week,” wrote one patent lawyer. “Patents Asserted in 4 US Dist. Cts. Survived Alice/101 Challenges; DE High Ct. Rejected Mayo/Prometheus Test.”

“It’s encouraging to see the long-term effect of the Supreme Court‘s decisions in 2014.”Any patent lawyer would be delighted about such news. Watch patent lawyers who are vocal proponents of software patenting still moaning about Alice. They are incapable of patenting software after Alice and they still try to find new tricks around the new rules.

It’s encouraging to see the long-term effect of the Supreme Court‘s decisions in 2014.

Federal Circuit

Alluding to the Federal Circuit (Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit), the home and origin of software patents, people from Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP wrote about a case we covered here before. The recent Lexmark case was also touched upon again by Patently-O; that was just a few days ago. Patently-O actually covers a lot of CAFC-related matters these days [1, 2] (the latter being Mag Aerospace Industries, Inc. v. B/E Aerospace, Inc.) and this article by Dennis Crouch says that “Shaw Industries v Automated Creel Systems[1] involves several interesting issues involving inter partes review proceedings.”

“Well, actually, in many cases (often overlooked by the pro-patents circles), PTAB rightly invalidates patents erroneously granted by the USPTO.”Another newer CAFC article by Dennis Crouch says: “All three patents (all claims) were challenged in covered business method reviews and found by the PTAB to be ineligible under Section 101 (abstract ideas). In addition, two of the same patents (a subset of claims) were challenged in inter partes review proceedings, but in those cases the PTAB sided with the patentee and found the ISE had failed to prove invalidity (either obvious or anticipated).”

Well, actually, in many cases (often overlooked by the pro-patents circles), PTAB rightly invalidates patents erroneously granted by the USPTO. Let’s look at some new examples.

PTAB

As we noted here before, the relatively new PTAB is crushing many software patents. Patently-O did cover the following example several days ago, noting: “In a straightforward decision, the Federal Circuit has affirmed the PTAB’s decision that Cree’s claimed down-shifted LED invention would have been obvious in light of a combination of three prior art patents.[2] The basic problem with LED lighting is that it is easy and cheap (these days) to get blue light, but harder to produce light across the spectrum – especially reds. Cree’s patented approach used a blue LED that is wrapped in a “down-converting luminophoric medium.” The basic idea is that the blue light energy is absorbed by the medium and then released as white light. These Fluorescent and phosphorescent materials were already known and commercially available.”

Perhaps the biggest news regarding PTAB right now concerns Uniloc, which is a notorious patent troll; IAM still calls patent trolling “licensing market” (gotta love their euphemisms, as they make trolling sound so legitimate). As a trolls expert put it:

Patent that cost Microsoft millions gets invalidated

[...]

One of the oldest and most profitable patent trolls, Uniloc, has been shot down. Its US Patent No. 5,490,216, which claims to own the concept of “product activation” in software, had all claims ruled invalid by the Patent Trademark and Appeals Board (PTAB).

The process through which PTAB eliminated the patent is called an “inter partes review,” or IPR. The IPR process, created by the America Invents Act, is an increasingly popular and effective way for defendants to challenge patents outside federal courts.

The PTAB case against Uniloc’s patent was filed by Sega of America, Ubisoft, Cambium Learning Group, and Perfect World Entertainment. The board found that every claim in Uniloc’s patent was anticipated or rendered obvious by an earlier patent.

“The PTAB decision is inconsistent with two prior rulings by the Federal Circuit and with the opinions of seven patent examiners who previously upheld the validity of the ’216 patent in multiple reexaminations,” Uniloc president Sean Burdick told the Kansas City Business Journal, which reported the decision earlier this week. “Ultimately the PTAB gave undue credibility to a lone expert opinion that was authored by petitioners’ counsel. Congratulations to [opposing law firm] Erise IP for pulling wool over the eyes of the Patent Office.”

What’s noteworthy here isn’t the name of the troll or even Microsoft; it’s about PTAB killing software patents, just like a lot of courts after Alice. That’s great news. Inherently, the core issue is patent scope and software patents in particular.

Venue Act

A small step towards countering patent trolls by limiting venue shifts (a la Venue Act/VENUE Act [1, 2]) was mentioned the other day at MIP but in reference to CAFC. “The Federal Circuit ruling in Acorda v Mylan and AstraZeneca v Mylan,” MIP explained, “gives branded pharmaceutical companies more flexibility in their choice of where to file suit against generics” (as if that’s a good thing). CAFC was also mentioned by more vocal patent maximalists, who constantly bemoan the difficulty now associated with getting software patents (or successfully suing with them).

“Inherently, the core issue is patent scope and software patents in particular.”More noteworthy, however, was the mentioning of the Venue Act in corporate media (GOP-leaning). This attracted some strong reaction from Twitter [1, 2, 3]. Basically, unsurprisingly, right-wing news sites don’t like the Venue Act. “It is time to confront the bias against patent owners in patent ‘reform’ legislation,” wrote the author, later noting: “The absence of any acknowledgment that reform of the PTAB is just as pressingly important as venue reform by those pushing for the VENUE Act is a massive elephant in the room. Unfortunately, it is unsurprising. But this is only because it is the latest example of a strikingly one-sided, biased narrative of the past several years about patent “reform.””

It oughtn’t be so shocking that GOP-leaning papers such the Washington Times are against reform. We wrote about the GOP stance on patent reform many times before.

Software Patents in Australia

“It oughtn’t be so shocking that GOP-leaning papers such the Washington Times are against reform.”A country heavily influenced by the US (see trade agreements for recent evidence) apparently still allows software to be patented (we wrote a great deal about it in past years). As patent lawyers put it the other day (in International Law Office): “In the last few years three subject matters have been lurking on the fringes of patentability: methods of treatment, genes and software. The US Supreme Court has confirmed that, at least for the moment, none of these is eligible for patent protection.(1) In Australia, the High Court recently considered methods of treatment (which are generally patentable)(2) and isolated naturally occurring genes (which are not).(3) Now the High Court may have the opportunity to consider the extent to which software is properly the subject of patent protection in Australia.”

There is a software patents story coming out today. It’s coming from Patentology. It is titled “Upaid v Telstra – Here’s How We Deal With NPEs in Australia!”

To quote the article: “Upaid Systems Ltd is a ‘non-practising entity’ (NPE) – sometimes referred to as a ‘patent troll’ – which sued Australia’s largest telecommunications carrier, Telstra Corporation Ltd, back in August 2013 for the alleged infringement of two Australian patents relating to making online purchases of goods and/or services from mobile devices. More specifically, Upaid alleges that various subscription operations performed in relation to Telstra’s MOG online music streaming service (formerly Bigpond Music) infringe its patents when conducted using a mobile device. [...] As Upaid has discovered to its detriment, the Australian Federal Court Rules require substantial detail to be provided in relation to the activities said to constitute infringement. In short, in this country it is nowhere near enough to run around pointing fingers at alleged infringements on the basis that they might look, walk and quack a little bit like a claimed duck. You need to provide sufficient information, at the outset, to inform the accused infringer fairly precisely of the case they will be required to answer.”

“Yes, that’s what the US has been plagued with, and what UPC threatens to bring to Europe. Patent trolls just love software patents. Everyone is rendered sue-able (or possible to secretly settle with).”What we have here is a patent troll in Australia using software patents. Sounds familiar? Yes, that’s what the US has been plagued with, and what UPC threatens to bring to Europe. Patent trolls just love software patents. Everyone is rendered sue-able (or possible to secretly settle with).

Software Patents in China

International Law Office has this analysis from Taiwan about patent assignment and other such matters. China is increasingly relying on patent bubbles to put up or make up an illusion of growth (or piles of paper). It’s the mistake the USPTO has made by lowering standards. Too many patents are now suspect and the patent system simply lost credibility. Courts overrule it aplenty.

Take note of this new article from Lexology whose headline says “China Again Fastest-growing Origin for EPO Applications”. This is based on EPO lies (Mandarin-only patents), as we noted here before [1, 2]. As this new comment from the same day put it, “I can rely on EPO Examiners. But can I rely on EPO management? I’m not sure.” They have different goals; one group wishes to do proper examination and the latter — inflation, ‘growth’ (however it gets measured), and so on. One group is scientific (like climate change scientists), whereas the latter is recklessly capitalistic (like oil companies) without boundaries, without long-term thinking.

“China is increasingly relying on patent bubbles to put up or make up an illusion of growth (or piles of paper). It’s the mistake the USPTO has made by lowering standards. Too many patents are now suspect and the patent system simply lost credibility. Courts overrule it aplenty.”Well, patent lawyers just want patents in China (more money for them because it’s a big country), so in Lexology on Saturday we found this article titled “Patenting Software in China: What Do You Need to Know”. This also covers the EPO, despite software patents not being allowed in Europe. To quote: “This article provides practical tips of protecting software inventions in China, as well as discussions with trends in practice and comparisons among different patent offices, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), European Patent Office (EPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).”

Software Patents in Korea

Patent troll MPEG-LA, according to this article from IAM (very softly-worded when it comes to trolls), gets patent tax money in Korea (indirectly). Again, this is all about software patents. Wherever software patents are foolishly being tolerated the patent trolls quickly flock and tax everyone. It’s detrimental to whole economies and the tax is overlooked by almost everyone.

“Wherever software patents are foolishly being tolerated the patent trolls quickly flock and tax everyone.”Isn’t it sad that the US, which made software patenting possible in the first place (CAFC), is still influencing other countries on that matter, having them blindly accept software patents simply because the US does, as if US law is now universal law?

“America is much more than a geographical fact. It is a political and moral fact – the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality.”

Adlai Stevenson

Links 26/3/2016: Docker Reaches Out to Proprietary, Slacklive

Posted in News Roundup at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 18F pushes for an even more open ‘open source’ rule

    The government startup that develops all of its code in the open wants the rest of government to follow suit.

    Following the March 10 publication of a new draft Federal Source Code policy, the General Services Administration’s 18F penned a response to one of federal CIO Tony Scott’s questions.

  • Events

    • FOSSASIA 2016
    • Containers Microconference Accepted into 2016 Linux Plumbers Conference

      The level of Containers excitement has increased even further this year, with much interplay between Docker, Kubernetes, Rkt, CoreOS, Mesos, LXC, LXD, OpenVZ, systemd, and much else besides. This excitement has led to some interesting new use cases, including even the use of containers on Android.

      Some of these use cases in turn require some interesting new changes to the Linux plumbing, including mounts in unprivileged containers, improvements to cgroups resource management, ever-present security concerns, and interoperability between various sets of tools.

  • Databases

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • ignuit 2.24.1 released

      Mostly a maintenance release to keep the package in decent order. A “Category Properties” dialog has also been added to the program.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Toonz goes open source, Apple open sources CareKit, and more news
    • Open Hardware

      • Promising use of 3d printing

        A team in China, saved a 9 month old baby with a 3d printed Heart. My first thought was how many poor cancer and kidney / liver sufferers could benefit IF (hopefully only when not if) this becomes something that is the new medical norm, and then the reality of cloning and using this to revive less than desireable individuals (like violent offenders) also came to the forefront. I can only hope a reasonable and sane minded (if that can truly be quantified and agreed on) body can regulate this in a way where everyone wins.

  • Programming

    • NPM fiasco even caught Brendan Eich off guard

      The managers of the popular NPM registry, which houses JavaScript packages, want to assure the community that everything is OK, despite the calamity caused this week by the removal of a small package. NPM’s predicament, though, brought criticism from JavaScript founder Brendan Eich, who stressed a need to improve the module system.

      Upset over a naming issue, a developer decided to unpublish his modules on the registry, including left-pad, and as a consequence shut down several dependent programs, such as the Babel compiler. The module itself consists of only 17 lines of code, but modules that relied on left-pad could no longer be installed.

    • Apple’s Swift Programming Language Comes To Linux

      Apple has finally brought its Swift programming language to Linux. At this moment, this open source programming language supports Ubuntu 14.04 and 15.10. This port is relatively new and the Swift Core Libraries will be included later in Swift 3 release.

    • GitLab upgrade takes aim at Kubernetes

      GitLab claims to have smoothed deployment to Kubernetes and introduced “confidential issues” in the latest release of its code management platform, 8.6.

      Top of the list of features in the latest rev is deployment from GitLab CI direct to Kubernetes, with the integration of Redspread’s CLI tool Spread. GitLab said this will allow deployment to Kubernetes without the need for additional scripts – although you will need to use GitLab Runner 1.1 which should be “released as stable” tomorrow.

      The vendor has also put limits on exactly how open it wants to be, in the shape of “confidential issues”. These means the “issue” will only be visible to the project members and the issue raiser.

Leftovers

  • 6 Things Only A Sewage Treatment Plant Knows About Your Town

    The magic of the modern world is that you don’t have to see where your shit goes after you flush it. But your excrement isn’t immediately whisked away by gnomes or teleported directly into deep space — it heads to the wastewater treatment plant, where actual human beings have to deal with it. This is even harder than it sounds.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • ‘You Wouldn’t Use It for a Purely Humanitarian Drop’

      The expert explains that “for high-altitude, high-accuracy drops, the US military uses a technology known as the Joint Precision Airdrop System,” which includes “a sort of probe that’s dropped prior to the cargo to take readings of wind speed and direction.” That’s important, because something dropped from 20,000 feet takes five or six minutes to reach the ground, and is blown by the wind during that time.

    • After Brussels, ISIS’s strategy

      There are three reasons for the change in strategy, two of them straightforward. First, attacks such as those in Paris and Brussels are designed to have a maximum impact, especially via the media, across the world. This demonstrates its potential as a movement with global impact and also incites further military action against it from the west. The latter point highlights ISIS’s long-term aim from the start: to provoke war in order to present itself as the true guardian of Islam under attack from the pernicious “far enemy” of the west.

    • Erik Prince in the Hot Seat

      Blackwater’s Founder Is Under Investigation for Money Laundering, Ties to Chinese Intel, and Brokering Mercenary Services

    • Brussels attacks preventable as Turkey shared intelligence, NSA whistleblower Snowden says

      The United States National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden said on Friday that the Brussels attacks were preventable as the information on terrorists was shared with the Belgian authorities by Turkey.

      Speaking at a panel on privacy via video conference, published by The Intercept, Snowden said that the attack was preventable through traditional means, not mass surveillance. Snowden’s comments came about as he was criticizing the western governments’ mass surveillance programs on citizens.

      An allied intelligence services, in this case Turkey, warned Belgium that this individual was a criminal that they were involved in terrorist activities, Snowden said.

    • Whistleblower Edward Snowden claims Belgian spies could have stopped Brussels attacks
    • Snowden: ‘The Brussels Attack Was Preventable’
    • Snowden: US Government ‘Completely Unrestrained’
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Action shuts down Newcastle coal exports

      Community members have taken direct action to interrupt coal exports from Whitehaven’s Maules Creek mine this morning. One woman has occupied a coal line, stopping trains from entering the coal export terminal at Kooragang Island in Newcastle.They have taken a stand to preserve the remaining ecosystems & Aboriginal Sacred Sites in the Leard State Forest where the Maules Creek mine is situated.

      Front Line Action on Coal is calling for an end to the coal industry and a shift into renewable energy sources stating that the coal industry and the Maules creek mine are detrimental to the environment, the Aboriginal cultural heritage of the local Gomeroi nation, native wildlife, ecology, water resources & community health.

  • Finance

    • Teachers claim wide opposition to forced academy plan

      The government could be forced to retreat on plans to compel every school in England to become an academy because of an emerging broad-based opposition, the National Union of Teachers claims.

      The union’s leader Christine Blower said there could be a rapid reversal, as happened with disability payments.

      The NUT’s conference is to vote on industrial action against the plans.

      But Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has told another union there is no “reverse gear” on the reforms.

      “I want to be clear, there will be no pulling back,” the education secretary told the NASUWT teachers’ union, which is also holding its annual conference this weekend.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship

    • Amos Yee Said to be Missing for at Least Three Months

      On Facebook a public account identifying as Mary Toh, mother of Singaporean blogger Amos Yee, stated that Amos Yee has been missing for at least three months.

    • Amos Yee’s mother: Amos Yee has disappeared

      We all know that Amos was arrested not because he offended religious groups, but for political reasons, making fun of Lee Kuan Yew when he had just died. After Amos was released from jail, he continued to make videos which became very popular, condemning the PAP government, and saying that Amos had offended Islam was just another excuse to arrest and silence him. Although he wasn’t charged and was only asked to show up for an investigation, he knew that if the investigation continued, he would definitely be charged and sentenced, and this time since it was a repeated offence, probably sent to 3 years of RTC, which is why he chose to run away from home.

    • Ignorant Bigot Arrested In UK For Tweeting About Being An Obnoxious Ignorant Bigot

      Matthew Doyle appears to be not just an ignorant bigot, but a proud ignorant bigot. But… it still should be concerning that he’s been arrested for the crime of saying ignorant bigoted stuff on Twitter. Doyle is apparently a PR guy in the UK, who claimed on Twitter that he had “confronted” a Muslim woman on the street demanding that she “explain” the attacks in Brussels. She allegedly told him “nothing to do with me,” which, frankly, is a much more polite response than he deserved…

      [...]

      Still, even if he is a clueless, ignorant bigot, it should be very concerning that he’s been arrested for posting on Twitter. And, yes, I know the UK doesn’t respect free speech in the same way that the US does. And I know that the UK has a history of arresting people for tweets. But, still… really?

    • Church-State Group Sues Connecticut Town For Censorship
    • Pro-Bible district ‘reconsidering’ religion-in-schools policy after being forced to distribute books on Satan and atheism
    • Atheist group calls Greene County Commission’s prayer policy unconstitutional
    • FFRF Continues Objecting To Commission’s Prayer, Hints At Potential Lawsuit
    • Conn. City Sued After Banning Anti-Religion Banner From Park
    • Espousing freedom of speech, and practising censorship
    • France Still Thinks It Regulates Entire Internet, Fines Google For Not Making Right To Be Forgotten Global

      This isn’t necessarily surprising, but it is incredibly stupid. As you hopefully recall, in the summer of 2014 the EU Court of Justice came out with a dangerous ruling saying that a “right to be forgotten” applied to search engines and that Google needed to “de-link” certain search results from the names of individuals. We’ve discussed at great length the problems with this ruling, but it continues to be a mess.

      Last summer, French regulators began to whine about Google’s implementation of the right to be forgotten, saying that it should apply worldwide. Google, instead, had only applied it to its EU domainspace. That is, if you were on Google.fr, you wouldn’t see those results, but Google.com you would. Since Google tries to default you to the right top level domain for your country, that would mean that most people in the EU would not see the results that people wanted censored. But French regulators still demanded more. Google responded, telling the French regulators that this was crazy, because it would be a threat to free speech globally. If Google had to moderate content globally based on the speech laws of a single country, we’d have the lowest common denominator of speech online, and a ton of ridiculous censorship. Furthermore, Google pointed out that 97% of French users were on the Google.fr domain, so demanding global censorship was pointless.

  • Privacy

    • Italy’s Council of State mars launch of new eID

      Italy’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, has spoiled the launch of SPID, the country’s new eID solution, launched on 15 March. Nine days later, the court upheld an earlier ruling that a EUR 5 million capital requirement for eID service providers is an unreasonable impediment to small and medium-sized service providers.

    • On the Impending Crypto Monoculture

      A number of IETF standards groups are currently in the process of applying the second-system effect to redesigning their crypto protocols. A major feature of these changes includes the dropping of traditional encryption algorithms and mechanisms like RSA, DH, ECDH/ECDSA, SHA-2, and AES, for a completely different set of mechanisms, including Curve25519 (designed by Dan Bernstein et al), EdDSA (Bernstein and colleagues), Poly1305 (Bernstein again) and ChaCha20 (by, you guessed it, Bernstein).

    • How the US Military Fails to Protect Its Soldiers’ Emails

      Many government agencies, including the US military, are leaving the emails of soldiers and government employees potentially in danger of being intercepted by spies and hackers by failing to implement a commonly used encryption technology.

      In the wake of the revelations of mass surveillance brought forth by Edward Snowden, the movement to promote the use of encryption technology across the internet has been seemingly unstoppable. Even the White House jumped on the “encrypt all the things” bandwagon this year, asking all government websites to use HTTPS web encryption to improve the security and privacy of their users.

    • Apple Asks Judge Overseeing NY iPhone Case To Wait Until More Is Known About FBI’s New Magic Unlocking Trick
    • FBI Denies It Lied About Ability To Crack iPhone, Also Suggests Cellebrite Rumor Is Wrong

      It’s difficult to take much of that at face value — especially as the government continues to push for similar court orders in other cases. And especially as Comey has been whining on and on about “going dark” for well over a year and a half now. At the very least, it does seem clear that the FBI failed to truly explore all possible options. As some iPhone forensics folks have noted, if this were truly a brand new solution, the FBI would need a hell of a lot more than two weeks of testing to make sure it really worked.

      In the meantime, I’d heard from a few folks, and now others are reporting as well, that the assumptions that many had made about the Israeli company Cellebrite providing the solution are simply not true — along with the idea that the solution involves reflashing the chip. The FBI itself now says it’s a “software-based” solution.

    • A Conversation on Privacy

      The balance between national security and government intrusion on the rights of private citizens will be the topic of a panel discussion featuring renowned linguist and MIT professor Noam Chomsky, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald. Nuala O’Connor, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, will act as moderator.

    • Why are there no brothels in Cheltenham? Because of GCHQ blackmail fears, says Jeremy Clarkson

      GCHQ is the reason that Cheltenham has no brothels according to an article in the Spectator by former Top Ger host Jeremy Clarkson.

      The presenter and journalist spent some time at the Cheltenham Festival last week, and in the right-wing political magazine he writes that in a taxi journey to a dinner party in an outlying village he learned that brothels were quickly shut down by police.

    • NSA Will Spy for Local Cops Under New Obama Administration Rules

      New rules under development by the Obama administration will take data collected by the NSA, supposedly for “counter-terrorism” and put it into the hands of other federal agencies and even your local law enforcement for everyday use.

      Proponents of federal spying inevitably defend any objection to mass warrantless surveillance by playing the terrorism card.

      The NSA must be able to sweep up virtually everybody’s electronic data to protect America from terrorist attacks, so the argument goes. This carries a great deal of weight, especially in the wake of tragic bombings in Paris and Brussels. Many Americans brush off the constitutional violations and invasion of privacy inherent in NSA spy programs because they honestly believe they only target terrorists.

    • NSA must end planned expansion of domestic spying, lawmakers say

      Two members of the House Oversight Committee, a Democrat and a Republican, have asked the director of the National Security Agency to halt a plan to expand the list of agencies that the NSA shares information with.

      Representatives Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Ted Lieu (D-California) wrote in a letter to NSA Director Michael Rogers on Monday that the reported plan would violate privacy protections in the Fourth Amendment, since domestic law enforcement wouldn’t need a warrant to use the data acquired from the agency.

    • Think the NSA Can’t Hack an iPhone Without Apple’s Help? Think Again.

      We speak with Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept, which has obtained a secret, internal U.S. government catalog of dozens of cellphone surveillance devices used by the military and by intelligence agencies that offers rare insight into the spying capabilities of federal law enforcement and local police across the country. The catalog includes details on the Stingray, a well-known brand of surveillance gear, and other devices, some of which have never been described in public before. Scahill says the catalog represents a trove of details on surveillance devices developed for military and intelligence purposes but increasingly used by law enforcement agencies to spy on people and convict them of crimes.

    • Former NSA head to FBI: ‘Get over’ Apple dispute

      A former head of two intelligence agencies had a clear message on Friday for the government as it tries to get Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

      “Get over it,” said Gen. Michael Hayden, a former head of the National Security Agency and the CIA under President George W. Bush. “Understand that no matter what we do with Apple, it’s going to get harder and harder to get content.”

      Apple is currently defying a court order directing the tech giant to create software that would let FBI investigators unlock an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two terrorists who killed 14 people in California last year.

    • Once Again, The Brussels Attacks Were An Intelligence Community Failure, Not An ‘Encryption’ Problem

      After the Paris attacks late last year, we noted that it was clear that they were evidence of an intelligence community failure, rather than an “encryption” problem — which kind of explained why the intelligence community quickly tried to blame encryption. But, as we noted, most of the attackers were already known to the intelligence community and law enforcement — and there’s still little evidence that they used any encryption.

      It’s looking like the Brussels attacks are showing the same pattern. First, there were reports that Belgian law enforcement was well aware of the attackers and their connections.

    • A new bill seeks to kill anonymous ‘burner’ phones by requiring registration

      A bill proposed in congress this week would require that all users provide identification and register prepaid ‘burner’ phones upon purchase.

      Earlier this week we reported that burner phones are what kept Islamic extremists a step head of law enforcement in the days and weeks leading up to the Paris attack. While it’s not clear this bill is related to that revelation, it is a sign of the times and the US government’s clear-cut mission to put a stop to privacy anonymity as it relates to mobile devices.

  • Civil Rights

    • Senator Wyden Warns That The Justice Department Is Lying To The Courts; Also Still Worried About Secret Law

      We’ve been noting for years: when Senator Ron Wyden says that (1) there’s a secret interpretation of a law that is at odds with the public’s understanding of it, or (2) that government officials are lying, you should pay attention. It may take a while, but it always comes out eventually that he’s absolutely correct. For at least five years now, we’ve been posting semi-regular updates to Wyden calling out the government for its secret interpretations of the law, and some of that was proven entirely accurate thanks to the Snowden revelations concerning how the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act had been interpreted. However, since the Snowden revelations, Wyden has made it clear that that’s not all. In particular, he’s spoken about a Justice Department legal opinion, written by John Yoo, that Wyden insists is important and should be revealed.

    • Some Thoughts On What, Exactly, The DOJ’s ‘Inaccurate Assertion’ Might Be Concerning Secret Legal Opinion

      Back in November, ACLU sued to get that memo. The government recently moved for summary judgment based on the claim that a judge in DC rejected another ACLU effort to FOIA the document, which is a referral to ACLU’s 2006 FOIA lawsuit for documents underlying what was then called the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” and which we now know as Stellar Wind. Here’s the key passage of that argument.

    • Egyptian Student Deported for Threatening Donald Trump on Facebook

      A 23-year-old Egyptian aviation student in California has agreed to self-deportation the U.S. after a Facebook post threatening Donald Trump was turned over to the FBI, leading to a Secret Service investigation of the student, and ultimately his detention by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE).

      On February 3, Emadeldin Elsayed posted an article about Trump on Facebook along with the comment: “I literally don’t mind taking a lifetime sentence in jail for killing this guy, I would actually be doing the whole world a favor.” The Secret Service interviewed Elsayed the following day, according to his lawyer. Looks like someone spends a lot of time monitoring posts on Facebook for freedom.

    • Aviva Chomsky on Obama in Cuba, Mark Weisbrot on Argentina’s Right Turn

      This week on CounterSpin: Cuba is not so much a country for elite US media as a cartoon; but Barack Obama’s visit—the first by a sitting US president since Calvin Coolidge—offered a chance to revisit some of the conventional wisdom on Cuba and what media blanded out as years of “historical baggage.” We talk about what would really need to change to “normalize” US/Cuba relations with historian and activist Aviva Chomsky, author of The Cuba Reader, among other titles.

    • Court stops FCC’s latest attempt to lower prison phone rates

      The first stay was issued March 7 and prevented the FCC from implementing new rate caps of 11¢ to 22¢ per minute on both interstate and intrastate calls from prisons. But the stay—which remains in place while the prison phone companies’ lawsuit against the FCC is still pending—did not disturb an earlier “interim” cap of 21¢ to 25¢ per minute that applied only to interstate calls, those that cross state lines. The order also didn’t specifically object to the FCC changing its definition of “inmate calling service” to include both interstate and intrastate calls.

    • Long lines at airports a terror target, experts say

      The Brussels bombings have highlighted an inherent problem in airline security, say anti-terrorism experts: the crowds of waiting passengers caused by the need to check for weapons and bombs inadvertently creates its own terrorism target.

      “Airport security is front-loaded as much as possible towards prevention of an event taking place on an airplane,” said Bill Jenkins, a terrorism policy expert with the Rand Corporation. But making it impossible for terrorists to get on a plane doesn’t prevent them from trying a different attack. They then look for other “mass casualty” targets, such as the airport terminal.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Netflix Reveals It Throttles AT&T, Verizon Customers To Save Them From Usage Caps, Overage Fees

      So to be clear: Netflix should have been more transparent about what it was doing and provide users with better controls (desktop users can adjust streaming quality rather easily), especially if it’s going to lecture ISPs on transparency. That said, given Netflix’s positions on net neutrality and usage caps, you’re sure to see the story blown up into more than it is by ISPs and their various mouthpieces, who’ll likely either call this a net neutrality violation itself (it’s not; throttling yourself isn’t like throttling a competitor, and users have a choice of streaming services) or continue the industry claim that Netflix is a shady villain that treats giant, lumbering telecom duopolies unfairly.

      But the crux of the problem here remains usage caps, not Netflix. Sure, Netflix isn’t being entirely altruistic. Annoyed customers banging their heads against usage caps watch less streaming video, which for many fixed-line ISPs like Comcast is the entire point. For wireless carriers it’s obviously different, with the goal being to drive consumption however possible. But the fact that a company was forced to offer a lower quality service — instead of competing to provide the best stream possible — shows how arbitrary usage caps by their very nature distort and damage markets. And that’s before you even get to the anti-competitive implications of zero rating.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • EU consultation on IP enforcement; FFII submission

      Indeed! EDRi has prepared a very helpful answering tool. The deadline to submit responses using this tool is 7 April. However, you can use the Commission’s tool to respond until 15 April 2016.

    • Namespaces, Intellectual Property, Dependencies And A Big Giant Mess

      There’s been a bit of a mess in the programming world, the past few days, that you may have missed if you don’t pay close attention to certain circles of the internet, but it’s fascinating on a number of different levels. The mess began when people at the messenger app Kik, realized that someone else, a guy named Azer Koculu, had a module on NPM named “kik.” Some background: NPM stands for Node Package Manager — and that’s exactly what it is: a package manager/repository for programmers to share and reuse javascript code, useful for folks using node.js (a server side javascript environment). This is a good thing as it allows for fairly easy opportunities to share code and build on the work of others without having to reinvent the wheel.

    • Copyrights

      • Police Raid Usenet Service, Arrest Operator, Seize Data

        A France-based Usenet provider says that his service has been raided and shutdown by the police. The 5,000 user ‘Newsoo’ service appears to have been a labor of love for its owner, but all data is now in the hands of authorities after he was arrested. A long-standing complaint by anti-piracy outfit SACEM appears to have been the trigger.

      • Time Warner, Defenders Of Copyright, Forced To Pay Up For Copyright Infringement

        You can almost set your watch that any company or group that comes out vehemently in favor of restrictive copyright protection under the guise of protecting artists will be found to be in violation of copyrights and acting in a manner demonstrating clearly that zero care is given to the well-being of artists. The most recent example of this is Time Warner. Recall in the past that the massive media company has regularly sued music startup groups, pimped the six-strikes agreement with Hollywood, worked with Rightscorp to milk money out of accused infringers, and back a ways waged a war unpopular with its signed musical artists against YouTube. This, all done by Time Warner in the name of advocating for artists and creators, was done even as we learned just to what lengths Warner Music has gone to make sure it paid artists as little as possible.

Ingve Björn Stjerna’s New Book About the Unitary Patent (UPC) and Why It’s Important

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UPC is antidemocratic and the public is not being consulted at all about it

“It`s not the voting that`s democracy; it`s the counting.”

Tom Stoppard

UPC
Credit: ZBM patents

Summary: Roundup regarding the Unitary (or Unified) Patent Court, the latest incarnation of a long-going and nym-shifting effort to transform Europe’s patent law, culminating in the publication of a detailed new book from Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna

THE UPC is not a new thing. It’s just the latest name of an old thing. I have personally been writing about it for many years and so have few people (other than patent lawyers and politicians) including Ingve Björn Stjerna. Going back to the Charlie McCreevy days (around 2008) and the Michel Barnier days (around 2010), it should quickly become abundantly clear that no matter how much resistance Europeans put up to stop this antidemocratic process, it just keeps coming back, usually with a new name that nobody knows anything about. Earlier this week MIP published this interview with Carol Arnold of Shell (yes, that Shell). Unsurprisingly, this covered the UPC. It said that “plans for the UPC have been met with mixed feelings. As the procedure for judge selection continues, many remain optimistic about the Court, while others become increasingly fearful about the prospect of forum shopping and patent abuse.”

We have already written many dozens of articles about the UPC, in addition to hundreds more about the same thing under another name (e.g. “Community patent”). What will it take to stop this injustice? Well, in our experience, the best way to deal with this issue is simply inform people, whereupon those who promote this thing become too shy to promote it in public (it’s career suicide) and everything cools down until the next rename, accompanying a new lobbying push.

Dr Ingve Björn Stjerna from Düsseldorf, Germany (we have mentioned him here several times in the past, e.g. [1, 2, 3]) was often cited here for his detailed analyses of the UPC. Not too surprisingly, based on some blog posts, he now has a book which costs nearly $100. As a patents-centric blog put it the other day, “German attorney and Certified Specialist for IP Law Ingve Stjerna is known to our readers as an alert and critical commenter of the UPC legislation process (see posts here, here, here, here, here) and constitutional issues. I do not know what was the reason to abandon the Opt-Out-fee but I think that Ingve’s convincing arguments might have played a role.”

Some of these helped show the role of Battistelli in UPC lobbying (even half a decade ago). So much for EPO as merely a patent office; it intervenes in policy.

Here is the cover of the book:

Ingve book cover

Stjerna’s book is already having some impact. Pro-UPC circles seem a tad worry. One who has criticised the lack of UPC transparency and some legal shortcomings says: “New book on #UPC – ‘The Parliamentary History of the European “#UnitaryPatent”‘ by Dr Ingve Björn Stjerna” (linking to the reviews/purchase page).

When a UPC critic (even if diplomatic/polite) writes a whole book it really means something because never before was there such an extensive body of information about the UPC in one single place. This book on the “unitary patent package” might actually give politicians — if not patent lawyers too — something to think about before blindly accepting the UPC as something beneficial because “unity” or “community” or some other euphemisms along those lines (calling it “Corporate patent” or “Wider litigation patent” wouldn’t be so wise, would it?).

See the new article titled “One Patent Law, Two Economic Sectors: Is The One-Size-Fits-All Patent Law Still Workable?” Another reason why the UPC would be a complete mess, impractical to implement, unworkable in practice and so on? It needs to be abolished before it even becomes a reality — something which would devastate Battistelli and his ilk, that’s for sure.

UPC critics are more widespread then we are generally led to believe because pro-UPC meetings are often restricted to boosters (e.g. by prohibitive costs to attend). Having written about the UPC boosters from Bristows recently, some input was sent to us anonymously. We wrote: “The Bristows folks presently act, e.g. in their blogs, as though Bristows is now a ‘think tank’ (part of the conspiracy of patent lawyers who try hard to make the UK join the UPC). This is a scandalous sham given that the British public is never at all consulted; it’s a sort of collusion, a TTIP/TPP-like corporate heist (with ISDS), and an attack on British democracy (for profits of those who are already super-rich, obviously).”

“Quite right,” a reader told us. “But they’re not the only ones and the British is not the only democracy being mocked here. Keep your eyes open, there’s a lot to be said about this very aspect. For the time being you may find interesting the comment section of this article by Ms Ward.” (she is from Bristows)

I clarified my singling out of Bristows as follows:

Yes, I read all the comments in IP Kat (via RSS feed, usually simplified HTML).

A lot of commenters in IP Kat are themselves patent lawyers and I don’t share their view on the benefits of UPC, not as a programmer anyway.

I singled out Bristows because they’re more vocal than the rest this way and if put under the limelight they might need to tone it down a bit, at least for their reputation (which is the only thing they go by).

I didn’t mention Annsley Merelle Ward, I don’t want to make it too personal. But it’s not just her anyway.

As seen with TPP, companies and people shy away from publicly promoting when the response from the public becomes harsh.

“Informing the public is particularly difficult in this case,” our reader stressed. “While anyone has at least some vague understanding of what TTIP or TPP are about, this is far more difficult with regard to patent litigation and its planned centralisation via UPC. Those having that insight and expertise are also the same people seeking to profit from the new system, so you will rarely find any well-founded critical voice. Bristows may be unusually loud, but others are far deeper involved and pulling strings in the background more discretely.

“An unusually revealing impression about law firm arguments in favour of the new system can be found in the comment section here, maybe you have seen this already.”

This seems to have involved Wouter Pors of Bird & Bird The Hague (a UPC booster) and Ingve Stjerna. To quote Stjerna:

Truly a remarkable statement from Mr Pors.

If a partner of an international law firm declares that the law should adopt to the circumstances “where needed”, this speaks for itself. I always thought that, at least in states abiding by the Rule of Law, it was the law setting the standards and forming the framework for legislative activity on “what is needed”.

For Mr Pors, an end which he deems desirable seems to justify the means, even if this involves sacrificing some very fundamental democratic rights and principles, e. g. transparency. I am not sure whether such legislation can really be called “progress”, as Mr Pors claims.

We shall see what the European Court of Justice’s position is.

Like Mr. Pors, Mr. Battistelli also seems to believe that the “end which he deems desirable seems to justify the means,” as it applies both to the UPC and growing the number of patents (irrespective of quality and public interest). “Coming back to the idea of measuring the quality of the EPO’s output,” wrote another reader to us regarding the recent criticism of the EPO's questionable claims about 'results'. “There are two quality parameters which would be really informative:

  • How many granted EP patents were later found by a national court to be invalid for reasons which were avoidable (ie which arose because the EPO search or examination was flawed)?
  • How many EP applications were refused by the EPO which a national court would have ruled to be valid?

“However, the EPO will never take the trouble to measure such meaningful parameters, because they’re happy with numbers which mean little but which can be generated with practically zero effort.”

One must remember that when dealing with non-scientists in this system (not the examiners) statistics are scarcely/barely grasped and policy is not facts-based. A lot of the UPC promotion seems to boil down to self interest — not of scientists but of people who are milking science for their bottom line in the form of applications, litigation, etc. We cannot simply allow these people to dictate policy.

Battistelli is Trying to Save His EPO Job After Getting Called Out, But Doesn’t Give Back Busted Union Leaders Their Jobs; Strike Imminent

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Lawfulness at the EPO” — a protest scheduled for the start of April

Fair trial

Summary: In spite of the Administrative Council’s request for justice, Battistelli and people in his circle continue to make merely symbolic moves, like signing a laughable deal with a union nobody cares about and now making a slight amendment in one among many disciplinary cases (past and present) against staff representatives at the European Patent Office (EPO)

THE illusion of "justice" at the EPO severely damaged the credibility of the whole Organisation, not just the Office. It is therefore unsurprising that the Council assertively asked Battistelli to repair this damage by restoring at least the perception of justice — something which probably isn’t in the École nationale d’administration (ÉNA) syllabus.

In our previous post (Request for Review) we showed a letter from the Chairperson of SUEPO in Munich (recently re-elected). Earlier that day we had mentioned a concession. It didn’t show a softer side of Battistelli but a Battistelli who is increasingly afraid because his sense of omnipotence is significantly eroded. As one person put it: “This decision is all the more remarkable that is the first example under Mr. Battistelli’s rule that the president has taken a step back.

“…it seems now obvious that the present management has the intention to survive all this at all cost!”
      –Anonymous
“Not only was the decision revised to the advantage of the individual but also the letter does not contain any form of threat in conclusion – as most presidential communications did so far.”

This should not be mistaken for softness, however, as actions speak louder than words and virtually no action has been taken to undo the damage already caused. “Last week’s meeting with the Office management,” for instance, “had given no sign that this review had even been considered by the President.” That’s according to people close to the action (or inaction rather).

“In essence [Battistelli] maintains the dismissal but cancelled the 20% reduction of pension. In substance it rejects the existence of any procedural flaws and all the arguments presented by the defendant qualifying them as allegations and reiterates the appropriateness of the sanctions decided. [...] the offer to use external insight to review the case, requested both by the AC and staff, has been ignored. [...] it seems now obvious that the present management has the intention to survive all this at all cost!”

That would be terrible, as HR errors (or horrors) have throughly poisoned (or stacked) the management ranks, making the EPO a miserable place for people to work in, hence a discouragement to job applicants and a place incapable of attracting new talent, only losing existing talent. This would seriously harm Europe in the long run because as the USPTO serves to show with its appalling examination standards, spurious litigation and an atmosphere of fear is now prevalent nationwide there. Rather than becoming renowned for innovation and well known for science (like CERN or NASA, the latter being increasing de-funded) it is becoming notorious for patent trolls and aggression with lobbying by large multinational corporations such as IBM or Microsoft (busy blackmailing Asian companies just like Apple).

Perhaps the key point here is that there’s an HR (human) issue and unless the management gets replaced, not much will change. The crisis is guaranteed to only deepen. As one comment put it last night: “In order to save himself and his squalid team for the future glory of the Unitary Patent, Mr Battistelli now steps back on the excess punishment which in a sadistic move he imposed upon the staff representatives: Els gets back her 20% of pension (please remember that no long ago, against the unanimous opinion of the disciplinary commmittee, she was downgraded, so her pension is less any way); Jon will probably be reinstated “in an act of grace” because he has a 5 children. Do not make yourself any illusions: this is not justice but a move to save his a… The squalid representatives at the AC will believe they have regained control of the situation and tamed the President. He will continue as before exerting his mad authority and destroying the good working atmosphere and the reputation of what used to be a model International Organisation. The best employees will retire earlier or look for another job elsewhere. What remains is a bunch of servants at the management level and a mass of humiliated examiners fighting against each other for step advancements and bonuses. Attorneys and their associations have been silenced, bloggers neutralised, press has been bought. In a few week nobody will care any more about the EPO.”

“Not too surprisingly, in light of the (in)action above, the Office-wide (i.e. multinational) strike will happen and it seems like a matter of “when”, not “if”.”Battistelli “decided to reduce Hardon’s sentence by reinstating her pension rights,” one reader told us, “while confirming her dismissal.”

“The thing smacks of a diversionary tactic,” this reader told us (similar tactic to the FFPE-EPO MoU). “It’s like if he’s throwing a bone to the AC to keep it quiet. The Prince may be unfair, but he’s magnanimous.”

Not too surprisingly, in light of the (in)action above, the Office-wide (i.e. multinational) strike will happen and it seems like a matter of “when”, not “if”. Here is a letter from a solicitor:

Dear Sirs or Madams,

on behalf of the initiators of the strike “Lawfulness at the EPO” I send you the following message:

Dear members of the CSC

We, the initiators of the recent call for strike, entitled “Lawfulness at the EPO”, would like to thank you for agreeing to act as the contact point for discussions with the office, and for all the work you have done so far to support the strike call.
The Administrative Council and your meetings with the EPO’s management have now taken place and have failed to yield significant progress. We are sure, therefore, that the 754 signatories to the petition for the call for strike, and the 3701 colleagues who voted yes will be expecting an immediate reaction from us.

The call for strike stipulates that a one-day office-wide strike should take place in March. It is no longer possible to organise a strike in March, but we would like the strike to happen at the earliest opportunity. Taking the Easter holidays into consideration, we believe that the week of 4 to 8 April would be that opportunity. Our preference would be for a mid-week strike, on 6 April. If for any reason we need to exclude 6 April, then 7 April would also be acceptable.
Thank you in advance, as our representatives vis-à-vis both the office and the staff, for setting the wheels in motion to fix the strike date and to ensure that a maximum number of staff follow the call for what could be a crucial day in the history of the EPO.

We kindly ask you to publish this letter so that all staff can read it and know the position that the strike initiators are taking.

Your colleagues,

The initiators of the call for strike “Lawfulness at the EPO”

With best regards

[redacted]

For future record, not an endorsement in any shape or form, the letter from Battistelli is shown below. We were tempted to post a response to some of the most nonsensical parts of it (I have read many documents related to this, so I’m capable or responding to some points), but it would be very time-consuming a task given the length of the letter.

European Patent Office | 8029B MUNICH | GERMANY

By courier

Ms E. Hardon
An der Hauptfeuerwache 4
80331 München

Decision of the President – file number RR 2016-0020

Dear Ms Hardon,

On your request for review dated 28 January 2016 against the President’s decision dated 15 January 2016 following the disciplinary procedure D8/2015,

the President takes the following

Decision

Your request is partially granted. The decision to dismiss you, in accordance with the Disciplinary Committee’s opinion is maintained. However no reduction of pension rights will apply.

Rationale

Receivability

Your request for review is treated as receivable insofar it relates to the aforementioned decision of 15 January 2016.

As far as the earlier decision to downgrade you is concerned, it is noted that the matter is currently pending before the Administrative Tribunal of the International


Labour Organisation and you cannot hereby attempt to reopen another procedural route against said decision.

Procedural Objections and Merits

It has been concluded that your request for review is unfounded in all respects.

Having reviewed your submissions, it is concluded that the disciplinary procedure is not tainted by any procedural or any other flaw and that your rights as defendant have at all times been observed by the Office and the Disciplinary Committee.

Your specific procedural objections filed with your request for review and also those previously articulated in a letter dated 02.12.2015 sent on your behalf by RAin Okyay, have been reviewed carefully.

As regards your allegations of bias, there are no grounds to shed doubts on the Disciplinary Committee’s impartiality. In particular, the participation of Mr C. McGinley as a member of the Disciplinary Committee following the drawing of his name at the lots was fully lawful. Contrary to your assertions at paragraphs 24-25 of your request for review, no conflict of interest could be established. Mr McGinley transparently disclosed the background of the episode you invoke to the Disciplinary Committee, which accepted these explanations after balancing them against your objection. The Committee unanimously concluded that there were no reasons to recuse Mr McGinley from his capacity in the Committee and you have not brought forward any new argument in your request for review which could justify concluding otherwise.

Concerning the procedural means at your disposal, you have provided no new arguments to undermine the conclusion that the investigation and disciplinary procedure followed due process. It is particularly noted that you have chosen not to avail yourself of the opportunity given to you of attending a further oral hearing scheduled for 8 January 2016. Moreover, whereas you criticise the


review procedure at your disposal, you do not really bring forward any elaborated as well as substantiated argumentation in support of your position.

As to your allegation that you have been subject to institutional harassment, it is hereby strongly rebutted: the situation you find yourself in results from your own deliberate choice of an unacceptable behaviour as per the applicable standards of conduct, which you regretfully continue to try to justify. Your serious misconduct cannot however be left unpunished.

With regard to the first set of charges the following is noted:

The investigation against you under C-62b was a separate matter from the investigation C-62 concerning a member of the Board of Appeal. The material gathered in support of case C-62b was sufficient to substantiate the charges brought against you. The President of the Office has full disciplinary authority under Art. 10 EPC overall staff for which he is the appointing authority, including yourself. There is no conflict with any other independent procedure initiated by or pending before the Administrative Council. It was noted, when reviewing your submissions, that the Disciplinary Committee reached the same conclusion, unanimously, in para. 44-45 of its opinion.

As regards the content of the C-62b file, the following is noted:

Before the delivery of the preliminary findings of the Investigative Unit, you were duly invited to an interview with the aim to hear your comments on the matter. You decided however not to avail yourself of it. As a result the preliminary findings were drafted without any defence comments from your side.

On 16.11.2015 the President received these preliminary findings pursuant to Art. 4 (7) of Circular No. 342. These findings had already been sent to you earlier on the same day and you were provided with a deadline of seven days to submit your comments, in compliance with Art. 18 (1) of Circular No. 342. You were thereby given a second opportunity to be heard. The preliminary findings


showed clear evidence of serious misconduct relating to an organised campaign of destructive attacks upon the reputation of the EPO, its governing bodies and individuals. There were thus sufficient grounds for the Investigative Unit to inform the President thereby giving him the opportunity to protect the Office’s interests. It is also noted that in this second opportunity to be heard you submitted your written comments in response to these allegations, but, after considering those comments, these allegations were still regarded as well-founded and justified disciplinary action. It is thus concluded that the rights of the defence were fully respected.

Throughout the investigation and the disciplinary procedure you had every opportunity to defend yourself as you wished and to rely upon or submit evidence to rebut the allegations made. You enjoyed the support of a number of lawyers and your rights both as respondent and defendant were fully respected. Contrary to your assertions, there are no grounds to believe that the accusations were “patched together”, inadequate or manipulated by the Office. It is apparent from the disciplinary file that there were several incidents of severe misconduct which were brought to light during the investigations. There was no reason to bring them before the Disciplinary Committee in separate or parallel procedures. It is worth noting also that some of the conduct subject of these charges occurred and continued during the actual proceedings and therefore fell naturally within the competence of the specific Disciplinary Committee.

In reviewing your submissions, it is again noted that the Disciplinary Committee reached the same conclusion, stating in para. 5 of its opinion that the use of Art. 4 (7) of Circular No. 342, “did not impact on the substance of D 8 /2015, and indeed the Defence had ample opportunity to present their case during the Hearing”.

As regards your claim from para. 16 of your request for review, you seek to invoke a separate procedure pending before a different body and against a different staff member, with its own factual background. The findings of the Enlarged Board of Appeal in that separate procedure are not relevant to your


case. It is not considered appropriate for the Office to make any further comments on that matter save to point out that the decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeals you have attached to your request is related to confidential proceedings. The Office observes with concern that in a case where you have been found, by the unanimous opinion of its Disciplinary Committee, to have breached the fundamental rules of confidentiality of your employment, you continue to show a disregard for the conditions of confidentiality governing documents pertaining to an internal confidential process. It is noted that you persisted in referring to that document at the oral hearing of the Disciplinary Committee despite repeated warnings from the Chair of the Disciplinary Committee to desist. Your legal representative, similarly, and despite warnings regarding the confidential nature of this material, persistently cited from it (para. 7 of the Committee’s opinion). The Office is thus obliged to reserve its right to take any appropriate steps under the Service Regulations as regards this wrongful, unauthorised disclosure.

Moreover, in response to paragraph 16 of RAin Okyay’s letter of 02.12.2015, it is worth emphasising that the Investigative Unit did not access or survey your private e-mail account as specified by Ms Okyay. It merely relied upon information already available to it from 2014 HTML snapshots of an anonymous account of the subject staff member in case C-62 – in this respect, the fact that the date of 2015 appears is merely linked to the access/printing date for the HTML file for this report, and does not signify the date when it was obtained.

During the entire process, as explained also before the Disciplinary Committee and as fully endorsed by its members, all investigative steps were in any event covered in their entirety by the permission of the Data Protection Officer of the Office and thus all evidence collected was fully admissible in the investigation and disciplinary procedures.

II.

As regards the second set of charges concerning your threatening behaviour towards other elected staff representatives, it is worth recalling that while staff


and union representatives benefit from a degree of latitude when exercising their freedom of expression in that role, they are bound by the standard of conduct applicable to all Office employees as international officials. A breach of such standards, whatever the forum in which it occurs, is a matter of legitimate interest to the Office as employer. Misconduct of staff and union representatives indeed cannot be considered solely a matter for handling by the staff and union representation. Hence your contention that the investigation into your conduct and subsequent disciplinary action breach the principles of confidentiality and freedom of association is misplaced (see ILOAT Judgment No 54, consideration 6).

The fact that the statement giving rise to the disciplinary procedure was made during a meeting of the Local Staff Committee in Munich is therefore not, without more, an answer to the charge made. The statement was made in the premises of the Office and amongst employees of the Office who all remain protected and bound by the ServRegs and Circular No. 341 at all times, regardless of their function or area of activity. The Office moreover has a legal obligation to protect those present from intimidation including by your words or actions and any verbal or physical threats.

It is noted that the Disciplinary Committee took great care, as it made clear in paragraph 4 of its Opinion, to consider only matters which went well beyond any reasonable definition of the duties of a staff or union representative. Your suggestion that your behaviour was normal as part of a lively discussion cannot be accepted.

Having reviewed your submissions in paragraphs 17 to 25, it remains the Office’s position that the statement which you made, twice, to your colleagues and the accompanying hand gesture, threatened the dignity of your colleagues, Contrary to what you suggest, your statements and the accompanying hand gesture have been sufficiently evidenced throughout the investigation and disciplinary proceedings. It is further considered that the statement was made in full knowledge that it would stand to impair their ability to fulfil their functions as


elected representatives on behalf of other employees, and in furtherance of employer-employee relations. It was the Office’s clear duty to investigate such an incident, and respond to it appropriately.

The Disciplinary Committee’s opinion also supports the Office’s decision to investigate this incident. It advised that you had behaved in ways which were “incompatible with [your] duties as a staff member and as an elected staff representative” (para. 66 – 69 of its opinion). Under these circumstances, your grave misconduct is not excused or materially mitigated by your holding a representative post (see also the ILOAT case law J. 87 and 969).

III.

As regards the third set of your charges, you repeat your opinion in your request for review that no confidentiality was warranted in the present case and that your actions were justified to enhance transparency in a public-service organisation. It is considered that your submissions fail to understand the gravamen of this charge. You were at all times obliged, pursuant to Art 5, 14(1) and 20 ServRegs and Art 4 of Circulars No. 341 and 342 to respect the confidentiality obligations which are fundamental to any staff in investigation and disciplinary procedures. The Disciplinary Committee considered this point fully and has concluded, unanimously, that there was clear and undisputed misconduct. You not only admitted such misconduct but endorsed it openly, and declared your intention to persist with this behaviour in the future (para. 74, 79-81).

The Office maintains that these fundamental breaches of your duty of trust and confidence as an employee have been conclusively proven.

It cannot be argued, as you do, that staff has a “legitimate interest” to be fully informed not only about the initiation of investigation or disciplinary procedures but also about the details of such procedures when they concern staff or union representatives. It is on the contrary in the interest of both Office management


and staff representation to ensure that investigation and disciplinary proceedings are handled with all due confidentiality.

Lastly, as regards the Office’s decision to terminate your service with a 20% reduction of your pension rights pursuant to Art. 93 (2) (f) in fine, the Office observes that the Disciplinary Committee’s recommendation is, of course, not, binding upon the President. Reference is made by way of example to the fact that when rejecting the conclusions and recommendations of an internal Disciplinary Committee, a President of an international organisation is obliged to provide adequate reasons for so doing.

The Office has provided sufficient reasons in its decision (cf. inter alia Parts IV and V) to explain why, contrary to the Disciplinary Committee’s recommendation, it considers the reduction is proportionate to the number and seriousness of the breaches established. The President underlined, inter alia, the repeated nature of the misconduct, its extent, the lack of any contrition or regret from your side, the public damage to the reputation of the Office and, further, the fact that you had already been sanctioned with a downgrading for a similar disciplinary misconduct in 2014. Those circumstances clearly show conduct evidencing a breakdown in the relationship of mutual trust and confidence necessary for the maintenance of the employment relationship, indeed they go well beyond such conduct in their seriousness and potentially damaging effect and hence the Office expressly rebuts the allegations that the sanction was disproportionate and arbitrary.

This having been said, after a comprehensive reassessment of your case and taking into account the length of your contribution to the Office’s service and commitment towards staff representation albeit unfortunately in the recent years through improper means which went far beyond any acceptable limits, I have decided on an ex gratia basis to partially grant your request for review and cancel the 20% reduction of your pension rights. However your unacceptable behaviour fully warrants dismissal and the decision of 15 January 2015 is thus maintained to that extent.


Means of redress

This decision constitutes a final decision within the meaning of Article 113 of the Service Regulations.

Yours sincerely,

Benoît Battistelli

There is too much nonsense to respond to in-line without it taking a long time (and pulling a lot of references to support the response), but those who have followed this site long enough will instantaneously see the flaws. It might be enough to fool some who are inside the Council (too busy to follow it all along and read all the exchanges) and this is probably what Battistelli is counting on. For instance, Battistelli’s letter (or someone’s letter with Battistelli’s name added to) says Hardon has “chosen not to avail [her]self of the opportunity given to [her] of attending a further oral hearing scheduled for 8 January 2016.” Members of the Council (Administrative Council) must learn the whole farcical nature of the so-called ‘disciplinary’ procedure (not compatible with European law, human rights etc.) in order to understand why Hardon, with proper legal advice/consultation, doesn’t walk into the lion’s den. There is no justice there, it’s only a amphitheater like in old Rome.

“I am not interested in power for power`s sake, but I`m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

03.25.16

“The Decision of the President [Battistelli] to Overstep the Recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee is Arbitrary and Shows Bad Faith.”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It also highlights the fact that EPO management lied to all staff about its union-busting activities

Summary: A letter sent from Elizabeth Hardon to Benoît Battistelli shortly after her unjust dismissal, which is part of a wider-spread campaign across EPO branches to crush the unions and replace them with pseudo (management-leaning) unions

THIS morning we mentioned that the EPO ‘generously’ gave back to a staff representative her pension for which she worked and she’s totally entitled/eligible for (as per the rules). She did not get her job back (she ought to), but here is what happened behind the scenes in order to make Battistelli relent a little and then attempt to recover. There’s no generosity at all from Battistelli, just an effort (however minuscule) to salvage a morsel of credibility after making a mockery of justice itself. What do scientists and lawyers (people who work for the EPO) think of this business school graduate and his epic (mis)handling of science and law?

Here is the letter sent to Battistelli:

TO Benoît Battistelli, President of the EPO
FROM Elizabeth Hardon, Staff Representative (SUEPO, MSC)
RE Dismissal with 20% reduction of pension
DATE 28 January 2016

1. With a letter dated 15.01.2016 I was informed of the decision to dismiss me with immediate effect and to reduce my pension by 20% (ANNEX 1).

2. The above letter indicated that the legal means of redress against the decision is a request for review in accordance with Article 109 ServRegs.

3. Therefore I herewith file a request for a review of the above decision pursuant to Art. 109 ServRegs. The request is filed within 3 months of the decision and hence is receivable.

4. I file this request under protest for the following reasons.

5. According to Article 10(1) ServRegs “A request for review shall be compulsory prior to lodging an internal appeal …” Decisions following a disciplinary procedure are not subject to review by an internal appeal (Art. 110(2)(a) ServRegs) and should therefore logically not be subject to the review procedure.

6. Moreover, the review procedure is a pre-litigation dispute resolution mechanism whose claimed purpose is to come to an early, informal resolution of conflicts. This may be possible before a disciplinary procedure, but is highly unlikely after a disciplinary procedure.

7. I note in the passing that even at the best of times, the review procedure seems ineffective. The external auditors of the EPO reported that only about 4% of the requests reviewed by them were successful (CA/21/15)

8. The investigations against me were initiated by Ms Bergot, PD HR and right hand of the President. The decision after the disciplinary procedure has been taken by the President himself. Under the circumstances it seems highly unlikely that anything that I can submit will make any difference.

9. The requirement to go through a review procedure is thus procedurally incorrect and merely serves to delay my access to the Tribunal.

10. Given that there seems no chance of an impartial and objective review of the disputed issues, I will not expand on the many other formal errors made in my procedure. I merely refer to the letter of my lawyer dated 02.12.2015 (ANNEX 2).


11. The accusations against me were set out in a document sent to me on 17.11.2015, signed (on every page) by Ms Bergot, and are as follows:

(a) Acting as an accomplice in a campaign to disseminate information and opinions detrimental to the EPO, its proper functioning and its reputation as well as the reputation of its employees (based on investigation C-61b),

(b) threatening colleagues at a meeting on 10.12.2104, and at a subsequent meeting, asserting in threatening terns that those volunteering for the posts of members of the Internal Appeals Committee (IAC) would suffer serious harm (based on investigation C- 071/2015), and

(c) disregarding (i) the express instruction of my employer and (ii) my concurrent obligation under Art. 4 of Circulars No. 341 and No. 342 to keep the investigation C-011/2015 confidential.

12. Concerning the first allegation (acting as accomplice to the suspended DG3 member) it is surprising that the alleged conspiracy was only “discovered” almost a year after the investigations that led to the suspension of the DG3 member had been closed and at a moment when the initial accusations in my case (a purported harassment campaign against a staff representation colleague in The Hague) were not being confirmed by the external investigators of Control Risks.

13. The allegations in the investigation C-61b were sent to me on 09.11.2015 (at 17.44h). The summary of the findings relating to the investigation was sent to me for comment on 16.11.2015. The deadline for comments was 23.11.2015. A disciplinary procedure based on those findings was initiated on 17.11.2015, i.e. the day after I received the “preliminary” findings and well before the deadline set for my comments. Ms Bergot apparently received the “summary of findings” even earlier because the copy in my disciplinary file is dated 13.11.2015. In other words: Ms Bergot was informed of the findings barely four (!) days after I was informed of the accusations and well before I was able to comment.

14. The timing of events gives the strong impression that the additional accusations were patched together with haste in order to make up for the failure of Control Risks to confirm the earlier accusations.

15. Concerning the accusations themselves, the Enlarged Board of Appeal found in the reasoning for its decision of 17.09.2015 the allegations against the DG3 member unsubstantiated to the extent that neither the accused nor the Board could understand what exactly he was accused of (points 7.10-7.12 of the reasoning; ANNEX 3). If the “evidence” provided in the case of the DG3 member was identical or similar to mine, I understand the position of the Enlarged Board of Appeal.

16. I furthermore strongly deny “having acted as an accomplice in a campaign to disseminate information and opinions detrimental to the EPO, its proper functioning and its reputation as well as the reputation of its employees”.

17. Concerning the second allegation (threatening colleagues at a meeting on 10.12.2104) I first note that the complaint was not lodged by any of the persons allegedly affected but by Ms Bergot (PD HR), in a wider investigation targeting the staff representation and


accusing its members of harassment. The investigations were started at a time when the administration, represented by Ms Bergot, and the staff representation found themselves increasingly in conflict. This in itself raises questions about the credibility and good faith of the accusations pursued by Ms Bergot.

18. The meeting of 10.12.2014 was a meeting of the Munich Staff Committee. Policy discussions within the Committee are confidential. The investigation launched by Ms Bergot obliged the members of the Staff Committee to breach that confidentiality. This is inappropriate and in my opinion constitutes misconduct.

19. ILO-AT judgment 3106 states that the principle of freedom of association “ … precludes interference by an organisation in the affairs of its staff union or the organs of its staff union (see Judgment 2100, under 15). A staff union must be free to conduct its own affairs, to regulate its own activities and, also, to regulate the conduct of its members in relation to those affairs and activities. The same principle obviously applies to other staff associations, like the Staff Committee.

20. In other words: the investigation into the activities of the Staff Committee and my subsequent punishment on the basis of my alleged behaviour in a meeting of the Staff Committee are in breach of fundamental principles of freedom of association.

21. The relevant discussion within the Staff Committee was triggered by a letter of the President inviting individual members to “volunteer” as a staff representative in the Internal Appeals Committee (IAC). At the relevant time two of the previous members had been suspended and/or were facing disciplinary proceedings. With that invitation the President was trying reconstitute the IAC while avoiding any discussion with the Staff Committee concerning the problems in the functioning of the IAC. The invitation was in breach of the Service Regulations that do not foresee “volunteers” selected by the President but only nominations by the Staff Committee (Art. 36(2)(a) ServRegs).

22. The invitation of the President was controversially discussed within the Munich Staff Committee. However, the tone and contents of the discussions never went beyond what could fairly be expected from a lively policy discussion in an international environment. I emphatically deny having threatened or intimidated anybody.

23. The external investigators held that the exact wording of my allegedly threatening statement could not be determined. The wording relied on by the disciplinary committee is based on the assertions of only one (!) of the seven witnesses. The selective presentation of “facts” and the many procedural short-cuts taken by the disciplinary committee raise serious doubts about its impartiality and objectivity.

24. In that context I note that in an earlier video-conference discussing Patent Administration matter, a Principal Director who was subsequently a member of my disciplinary committee in the present case shouted at me “SUEPO is a cancer, a CANCER!” thereby making it impossible for me to speak. I left the room in distress.

25. Art. 5 ServRegs, interpreted by the administration as requiring from employees of the EPO “the highest standard … of integrity” throughout their employment in the Office, should apply a fortiori for members of the disciplinary committee who are called to judge upon their colleagues. The above mentioned aggression was not considered to disqualify the Principal Director concerned from participating in my disciplinary


committee and acting as rapporteur. In contrast, my alleged “threat”, that did not have any visible impact on the person(s) concerned, is considered to merit a severe disciplinary measure. The lack of consistency and double standard being applied here is obvious.

26. Concerning the third allegation (breach of confidentiality) I maintain that in a well-run public service organisation transparency would be the norm, and confidentiality only requested in circumstances that justify such a request. The desire of the administration c.q. Ms Bergot to cover up its wrongdoing in the form of unjustified and spurious investigations and disciplinary actions against the elected staff representation is not a valid reason for demanding confidentiality. Moreover, staff has a legitimate interest in being informed about such attacks, in particular when the administration simultaneously makes public claims to the effect that it is seeking a social dialogue.

27. The Disciplinary Committee found me guilty of the majority of the charges. It recommended the penalty of dismissal. The Disciplinary Committee explicitly stated that in view of my many years of positive contribution to the EPO there would, however, be no justification for a reduction of my pensionable rights and that the standard conditions of dismissal should be applied. The President nevertheless decided on a 20% reduction of my pension. The decision of the President to overstep the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee is arbitrary and shows bad faith.

28. The recent investigations and the disciplinary procedure against me are not my first. I have already been investigated and downgraded for alleged harassment despite a unanimous recommendation of the disciplinary committee in my favour. At the time the alleged offense was a single sentence expressing a common opinion (belief) within the Munich staff representation that was contained in a confidential e-mail sent to a small group of people (17 persons, including myself) via a suepo.org address.

29. The repeated investigations against me (now 3 in total), the fabricated accusations and the total disproportionality of the sanctions are indicative of a process of institutional harassment against me. The permanent, unexplained and seemingly unjustified, house-ban1 further illustrates the apparent desire of the administration to inflict maximum damage upon me and to isolate me from staff.

REQUESTS

30. I request the above indicated decision as well as the earlier decision to down-grade me to be quashed. I also request full reimbursement of my legal costs as well as moral and/or exemplary damages for the prejudice suffered.

______________
1 «I remind you that you remain excluded from entering the Office premises at any time », Yann Chabod, letter dated 25.01.16

The part about “a process of institutional harassment against me” is reminiscent of older letters.

How can justice be expected to happen in secret when the EPO management shamelessly lies to the staff about the process?

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