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07.26.17

The ‘New’ IP Kat on Patents: A Front Group for Team UPC (Bristows) and CIPA (British Patent Microcosm)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bristows EPO

Summary: Another quick look at today’s output from IP Kat, which turned from a proponent of EPO staff into a proponent of Battistelli’s oppressive agenda

THERE is a lot to be criticised/said about what happened to IP Kat, a site or blog that covers various issues/themes/topics including trademarks and copyrights. As far as patents go, it’s no longer what it used to be. Coverage of EPO scandals is now suppressed as a matter of principle, since the EPO sanctioned the site about a year ago. Over 10,000 articles were blocked with the flip of a switch at the EPO, leveraging great power over the site’s operator and perhaps sending a warning sign (threats of lawsuits, like those we received from the EPO's lawyers after identical sanctions).

As a media critic myself (in areas other than patents too), I come across lots of manipulation in the media (I worked as a journalist a decade ago and saw the censorship from the inside). Today alone, for example, one can find this puff piece (borderline press release about US patents) and here is today’s example of ‘articles’ that are not. They’re just ads/spam, this time for the patent ‘industry’. It’s incredible that stuff like this even gets published, let alone in official media. Here is local media in the US turning a ‘shopping list’ of patents into a puff piece; pointless ‘article’.

“Coverage of EPO scandals is now suppressed as a matter of principle, since the EPO sanctioned the site about a year ago.”Former IP Kat insiders have expressed similar concerns about IP Kat. It’s just not what it used to be; it’s “marketing” (their word, not mine).

As an example of this, consider what was published there only hours ago. Very belatedly (almost a month too late) proponents of patent trolls and the UPC write about EPO changes. Yes, it’s one Bristows employee quoting another (Gemma Barrett and Annsley Merelle Ward) and it’s just the latest reminder that IP Kat has in many ways (especially when it comes to patent coverage) been taken over by Bristows. Comments too are being deleted (if deemed “unwanted” by Bristows) and they do the same thing in other blogs.

Among the comments on the dysfunctional patent office we have this: “In its decision Art 23 1/16 the EBA explicitely stated that it felt threatened by the President of the Office, and not protected by the Administrative Council, in a disciplinary case which a few weeks ago culminated in the dismissal by the AC of a member of the boards of appeal, in violation of Art 23 EPC. Can anybody in these circumstances reasonably expect the boards to question the new rule?”

“Comments too are being deleted (if deemed “unwanted” by Bristows) and they do the same thing in other blogs.”Then comes CIPA lobbying promotion (it lobbied for patent maximalism, before the announcement on the above came out). The next comment says: “The new rule is illegitimate. CIPA have produced an excellent position paper on this: http://www.cipa.org.uk/policy-and-news/latest-news/observations-of-cipa-on-proposals-to-exclude-organisms-produced-by-biological-processes-from-patentability/”

The next comment says: “If I understand those smart folks at CIPA correctly – its not just odd, but cat-on-hot-tin roof odd!!”

“Not the same people are writing the blog (quite a few writers left).”To make matters worse, IP Kat is now literally occupied by a top official from CIPA. It’s occupied by the patent microcosm and was even upfront about it. There are posts from CIPA on matters pertaining to patents and a lot of this invites commentary about the EPO. The latest, for example, says “that “solution” is not an option for EP patents, I’m afraid. The EPO forces applicants to delete any passages in the description that cast doubt upon the scope of the claims. See, for example, the Guidelines at F.IV, 4.4 (https://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/guidelines/e/f_iv_4_4.htm). To me, this kind of suggests that the SC and the EPO do not fully agree on the interpretation of Article 69 EPC… but then what do I know?”

It’s sad to think that just about a year ago IP Kat was still fighting for justice at the EPO. Now it does the very opposite (injustice) by pushing for the UPC, essentially helping Battistelli [1, 2]. Not the same people are writing the blog (quite a few writers left).

The Latest Lies From the EPO (Regarding Quality) and the Reason the UPC Won’t Happen (Any Time Soon at Least)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Heiko Maas saleSummary: Lies are being intentionally spread inside the EPO (from the management downwards) and sobering reality about the UPC gradually sets in

THE chaotic state of the EPO is less visible throughout the summer when most people are on holiday, but the ugliness and the manipulation persist. Earlier today someone said anonymously but in public: “There is a new article on the EPO intranet about the quality of searches and examination. Curiously, in the era of windowless hairdresser salons, the department responsible for quality control reports that quality of the EPO has never been higher. But one has to read a bit further to understand: TIMELINESS is a big part of quality and the EPO is issuing search reports and examination faster than ever. Apparently, the content of the search or examination is of little interest to the department responsible for quality control, important is that they are out fast!”

Can anyone please leak this to us?

“There’s a true danger that’s already materialising, namely low-quality patents for trolls to go crazy (or run amok) with.”EPO management lies, internally, to all the staff; yet again! How long can this go on for? The EPO’s examiners are clever people. They’re not this gullible and they know the impact of mounting pressure on their work.

There’s a true danger that’s already materialising, namely low-quality patents for trolls to go crazy (or run amok) with. They are soaring (double-digit growth) in Germany, for instance, and some have come to the UK. This is good for nobody except patent law firms and their aggressive clients. The UPC would only exacerbate such problems (if it ever became a reality), yet the patent microcosm’s front group in France, together with Benoît Battistelli, seems very eager to push forth this menace. They don’t care about European industry, only about themselves (the litigation ‘industry’).

“The UPC looks more and more like it is dead because the British government refuses to discuss it…”Incidentally, a reader informed us today regarding “JUVE Patent – UPC Special 2017″ — yet another one of those pushes from the patent microcosm or Team UPC.

“I thought this new law firm sponsored 24-pager on the UPC was something you might be interested in,” our reader said regarding this finding (link to JUVE Patent). “You will be navigated to the JUVE web app and the JUVE Patent publication will be displayed. For further instructions please read here[PDF]

And indeed, that’s just what it is: UPC marketing. We followed the links and got it.

The UPC looks more and more like it is dead because the British government refuses to discuss it (the patent microcosm calls it a “delay” as if it’s inevitable) and even a German UPC booster (self interest, knowing that patent trolls are quickly becoming a headache to German companies) has just said: “„Member state“ is mentioned how often in the text? >100 times? Yes, you could say that amendments might be necessary #UPC” (because the UK won’t be a member state anymore).

“Considering the stance on the UPC from German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, this might be indirectly connected to them turning a blind eye to EPO scandals.”Then there’s the German barrier to the UPC. SUEPO has just published a translation of this article (published a fortnight ago) and it blames, in part, Battistelli’s attack on the structure of the EPO — a subject we’ll deal with also in our next post.

Here is the full translation as HTML:

Unified Patent Court: Unknown complainant puts the brakes on ratification

Published on: 13 July, 2017

Worst Case Scenario: The people involved actually wanted the Unified Patent Court (UPC) to come into being before Brexit, but ratification by Great Britain and Germany was still not forthcoming, and the laws needed had still not been passed. Now that Great Britain has agreed, and the Bundestag has given the go-ahead (which effectively paves the way for the UPC), an unknown complainant has lodged opposition before the German Constitutional Court – and that puts the ratification process back on ice.

An unknown complainant has lodged opposition before the German Constitutional Court to put a stop to the ratification of the Unified European Patent Court, which has been years in the planning. What grounds have been put forward by the complainant are, up to now (07.07.2017), also unknown. The complaint before Germany’s highest court is a kick in the teeth for the creation of a unified patent legislation in the European Union. Brexit set back the test phase by several months, which was due to start this year, and the constitutional complaint has thrown an even bigger spanner in the workings of the timetable.

Federal Constitutional Court asks Federal President Steinmeier not to sign off on ratification

The last of the three national laws needed were passed just recently by the Bundesrat and Bundestag. That meant the national legislative process had almost been completed. The last step would have been the implementation law coming into effect with the signature of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. But at the behest of the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG), so far he has still not signed. This gives the Court the time to look into an emergency plea pending against the implementation law. It now turns out that as far back as 31 March an unknown private individual lodged a constitutional opposition. And not only against the national law, but also the agreement itself (File Ref. 2 BvR 739/17). The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) carried the story in an article on 12 June.

Unified Patent Court: The reason for the move?

The fact that the reasons for the move have not yet been officially made known means that there is a lot of speculation about what has gone awry with the workings of the law and the agreement. One of the reasons could be the reservations about the constitutional legitimacy of proceedings held before the European Patent Court, which sits in Munich. The problem is that the Executive (implementing the law) and the Judiciary (creating the law) were at one location and, in particular, had one and the same presiding person – EPO President Benoît Battistelli. Battistelli, who stands at the head of the administration and of the court division of the EPO, is said to have a personal and factual influence on the Executive and the Judiciary. And that means the investigation of EPO decisions by an independent court is not possible, or only with great difficulty.

The EPO has already had to field a lot of criticism on that count. Last year it was announced that one of the divisions was going to be relocated, so as to achieve at least a spatial separation. Among other things, the press release revealed that “The move to another service building is therefore an important step in the efforts in safeguarding the EPO opposition system in the long term, and sustaining its strength”, and “Up to now, the Boards of Appeal have been accommodated in the main EPO building on the River Isar. The expansion of their organizational independence has always been an object of discussion. Administrative autonomy of the Boards has repeatedly come up for debate at the Administrative Council.”

The putative move, which is supposed to take place within the next few months, could however also be interpreted to mean that the President is giving his critics less room for attack and at least wants to provide a sign of this by way of the separation. With regard to the institutional constitution of the Office, it will make no difference at all. Putting it bluntly: New location, same old hierarchy, same old way of working.

“Request” from the Federal Constitutional Court implies good chances of the complaint succeeding

The Federal President’s Office has confirmed that the President, “at the request of the Federal Constitutional Court of 3 April 2017, has postponed the scrutiny procedure of the approval law”. The “request” is said to have been made first orally and then in writing.
(Text quotation from FAZ article)

It is a rare event for the Federal Constitutional Court to make a request directly to the Federal President. But it gives the Court one thing above all else – time. Not only has a complaint been lodged, but in parallel also a plea for urgency, which on the one hand directly affects the future law for the Patent Court, but also the patent law reform itself.

And anyone can see that a massive project like this won’t be decided in just a couple of days.

We are reckoning on a decision in late summer at the earliest. Until then, the efforts to establish the UPC and have it ratified remain where they are – on ice.

We wrote about that a week ago. We’ll revisit the subject as soon as we are done with the next batch of Lufthansa-EPO exposés. Considering the stance on the UPC from German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, this might be indirectly connected to them turning a blind eye to EPO scandals.

Lufthansa Leaks? Nokia Leaks? Prepare for Further Digging Into EPO Scandals

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Older: Leaked: EPO Prioritises Work for Large Foreign Corporations, Discrimination Not Accidental But Centrally Planned (priority/fast lane/bypasses for large corporations)

Summary: Techrights to explore — as a matter of priority — corruption that is connected to the EPO and involves governments and corporations

THERE is no lack of stuff about the EPO for us to cover, only lack of time. Recently, in light of events in Croatia and Germany (implicating Željko Topić from the EPO), we revisited some truly serious matters, having broken some news in English and in German.

“We contacted some German publications about this, but they systematically ignore or stonewall (which says quite a lot in its own right). How long can this affair be suppressed?”It’s in the media in Croatia today, citing our reports about this EPO scandal. “Croatian media covers TechRights article about Lufthansa / Airplus affair,” one reader alerted us. There might be more on the way. “In case you haven’t seen this already,” our reader said, the matter attracts some attention, but not in Germany. We contacted some German publications about this, but they systematically ignore or stonewall (which says quite a lot in its own right). How long can this affair be suppressed? Or coverage thereof be silenced (self-censorship)? An article was published today titled “The dishonest Germans” and it was summarised by “Scandal has struck Germany’s automobile industry — and there’s a suspicion that Berlin has long turned a blind eye…”

We have actually heard from people inside large European companies — people who are typically too hesitant to pass documents for fear of identification and retribution (some of the people reading this probably know who they are). We don’t want to name these companies, but one thing we can safely reveal is that there will soon be some Lufthansa documents published here. Big scandals. Another Dieselgate? Probably nothing of that scale, but nevertheless, as a matter of priority we prepare more explosive articles about Lufthansa and the EPO. These are coming soon, possibly even before the weekend.

As a side note, we still intend to write about the ILO suppressing justice, but it’s less urgent a matter at the moment. We’ll get around to covering everything, eventually…

The Patent Microcosm Tries to Persuade the Headless USPTO to Crush Alice

Posted in America, Patents at 8:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: In another effort to bring software patents back to the US (they are currently being swatted like flies in the courts), the lobby of the patent ‘industry’ gangs up with former officials of the USPTO — now in lobbying capacity — and a new report is issued regarding Section 101

THE lobby for software patents has not grown tired, even though (or because) patents on software are pretty much worthless now. Courts and boards trash them one by one (when these are actually scrutinised by people who are not USPTO examiners).

We keep a close eye on this lobby and report on its nefarious modus operandi. They don’t want their actions to be so visible.

“We keep a close eye on this lobby and report on its nefarious modus operandi.”After constantly attacking and maybe even defaming Michelle Lee, Watchtroll publishes “The next PTO Director must grasp the fundamental fact that a patent secures a property right” (lobbying disguised as news, even entering Google News). It would be a rather benign opinion piece if Watchtroll hadn’t engaged in a nasty smear campaign to leave the USPTO void of leadership (except interim).

This same nasty site has just published “The Myth of Patent Quality” as if the notion of patent quality (like level of triviality) is simply mythology. “First,” it says, “the Patent Office was issuing bad software patents that were overly vague and impinged on big tech operations.”

They play the “rotten apple” card. It’s a classic old trick.

“It would be a rather benign opinion piece if Watchtroll hadn’t engaged in a nasty smear campaign to leave the USPTO void of leadership (except interim).”On the other side, or the opposition lobby, we have groups such as United for Patent Reform‏.

“86 biz from retailers to automakers urge Congress to preserve #USPTO’s #IPR program that helps fight #patenttrolls,” it wrote yesterday. It’s about PTAB reviews (petitions to reconsider granted patents). “Small & large businesses from automakers to printers tell Congress,” it added, that “#IPR is vital to fight abusive #patenttrolls.”

What we have here is basically a battle between practicing companies (that make things) and the patent microcosm which makes nothing and merely profits from lawsuits. This sort of chasm is not new.

“What we have here is basically a battle between practicing companies (that make things) and the patent microcosm which makes nothing and merely profits from lawsuits.”A Section 101 report [PDF] has just been issued by the USPTO, which also published a blog post about it. “New Report Presents Viewpoints on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility,” Joe Matal wrote, describing himself as “Performing the Functions and Duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO” (after Michelle Lee left).

Matal writes this:”Between 2010 and 2014, four opinions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court—Bilski, Mayo, Myriad, and Alice—significantly affected patent eligibility law. Following these rulings, the USPTO provided updated guidance to patent examiners, initiated a nationwide conversation on patent subject matter eligibility through a series of events and roundtables, and has now published a report presenting what we have learned from the public on this important issue. Some have raised concerns that the heightened bar for patent subject matter eligibility that resulted from these decisions has undermined the ability of intellectual property (IP) intensive industries to secure rights and investments in their innovations. Others have applauded the rulings for providing a useful tool in flushing out patents on technologies that they feel should not be patentable.”

“We are not sure where this is going; but we know for sure is that the likes of Watchtroll and corruptible former officials like Kappos (taking corporate money to lobby the former employer) will meddle and attempt to leverage their connections to bring software patents back, even in defiance of the US Supreme Court.”“When you only invite the patent industry, this is the kind of conclusions you get,” Henrion wrote about this report. We haven’t had time to examine it yet. Patent Buddy (pro software patents) linked to that and some people have gotten somewhat excited about it, perhaps thinking that the USPTO will magically undo Alice.

IBM’s Manny Schecter is among those who mentioned it and he promotes Watchtroll again, namely an article Robert Stoll wrote there. He “retired from the USPTO as Commissioner for Patents at the end of 2011,” by his own description/biography, but he is still meddling a lot, just like David Kappos (even while under IBM’s and Microsoft’s payroll).

We are not sure where this is going; but we know for sure is that the likes of Watchtroll and corruptible former officials like Kappos (taking corporate money to lobby the former employer) will meddle and attempt to leverage their connections to bring software patents back, even in defiance of the US Supreme Court.

07.25.17

Links 25/7/2017: KStars 2.8.0 is Out, Flash Will Die

Posted in News Roundup at 6:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Ura Design crowdfunds free design for open source projects

    Open source software is nothing new in 2017. Even now, big tech giants are exploring open source. More and more companies allow employees to contribute to open source software on company hours, if it isn’t altogether encouraged. However, design assets and work have not enjoyed the same popularity with open source licensing and use as software has. However, Albanian design agency Ura Design is helping change this.

  • Python autocomplete-in-the-cloud tool Kite pushes into projects, gets stabbed with a fork

    Kite, a San Francisco-based development tools startup, has managed to alienate developers by quietly altering open-source projects for its benefit.

    Kite makes a Python programming plugin, called Kite, for various code editors to boost developer productivity through automatic code completion and other enhancements. The company introduced its software in a private beta last year and launched in March, 2017.

  • Symphony Software Foundation paves the way for open source fintech

    Non-profit organisation Symphony Software Foundation is exploring the route to a new fintech innovation model based on secure and compliant open collaboration.

    Less than 20 months from its inception, the Foundation now counts more than 50 projects, over 100 contributors, four active working groups, and 25 member organisations as part of its ‘ecosystem’.

  • Symphony Software Foundation Sets Out to Build a New Fintech Innovation Model
  • Getting stuck on OpenStack: Overcoming the open source cloud platform’s upgrade barriers

    Some members of the OpenStack community are finding it a struggle to upgrade to newer versions of the open source cloud operating system. Could customisation be to blame?

    OpenStack is gradually gaining acceptance as an enterprise-grade framework for automating datacentre infrastructure and enabling organisations to operate a diverse array of applications and services.

  • Open-source software rapidly processes spectral data, accurately identifies and quantifies lipid species

    Lipids play a key role in many metabolic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, and stroke. So having a complete profile of the body’s lipids—its “lipidome”—is important.

    Lipidomics studies are often based on liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). But researchers have a hard time processing data fast enough, and they are unable to confidently identify and accurately quantify the lipid species detected.

  • A left-handed software user’s plea

    Can open source rescue us from right-hand domination?

    I started searching for left-handed open source gadgets and software, and I came up… empty-handed. I happened upon the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard, which, at first glance, appears to solve some of the hardships we face. Alas, even though its maker says it’s “a fully programmable, impeccably built, open source, split mechanical keyboard designed for extreme productivity and ergonomics,” all the website’s visuals are righty-centric, and three of its four add-on modules are “designed for the right side of the keyboard.” Sorry, not ergonomic for my people.

    I still believe the open source community can address these problems and bring equality to the people. We need a left-centric user interface in every piece of software and hardware. The time has come to rise up and demand equality, to walk hand-in-hand with our dexter overlords, and to never again suffer the indignities of writing at a right-handed desk or losing an arm-wrestling match against Robby the Robot.

    August 13 is International Left Handers Day. Mark your calendar, for that is the day we will raise our left hands and declare: “We have been right all along!”

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • CableLabs Powering Up Open-Source LoRaWAN Solution

      Expanding further into the world of the Internet of Things, CableLabs said it is creating an open-source LoRaWAN network solution that will support the long range, low-power wireless protocol aimed at in-building IoT networks.

      Daryl Malas, principal architect, advanced technology group at CableLabs, noted in this blog post that LoRA is a “semi-propriety” platform owned and licensed by Semtech while a closed consortium develops the LoRaWAN spec around the Semtech solution architecture.

    • CableLabs Unveils Open Source LoRaWAN Solution
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • When the hacker ethic meets old ideas about brand

      Open hiring and open ownership seem to promise a more fluid economy, where each of us as individuals has a high degree of autonomy to move around between organizations, and to participate in multiple organizations simultaneously. That could also be a net benefit for society as a whole, since knowledge drives innovation, and optimizing resource allocation drives efficiency. But what does that mean for organizational identity and longevity? Is it even possible for existing organizations to convert to such a thorough vision of openness within the current framework of fiduciary responsibility?

Leftovers

  • Garmin fenix 5x – broken by design

    Some month ago I upgrade my (European) fenix3 to a (Japanese) fenix 5x, looking forward to the built-in maps as well as support for Japanese. I was about to write a great review, how content I have been with the fenix 3 and how much better the 5x is. Well, until I realized that Garmin’s engineers seem to be brain-damaged and shipping broken by design devices: Just one word: Set an alarm on the watch, and wonder …

  • Snopes.com in Danger of Shuttering

    We had previously contracted with an outside vendor to provide certain services for Snopes.com. That contractual relationship ended earlier this year, but the vendor will not acknowledge the change in contractual status and continues to essentially hold the Snopes.com web site hostage. Although we maintain editorial control (for now), the vendor will not relinquish the site’s hosting to our control, so we cannot modify the site, develop it, or — most crucially — place advertising on it. The vendor continues to insert their own ads and has been withholding the advertising revenue from us.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Vitamins, supplements effective at boosting call volume to poison centers

      Regardless the type of dietary supplements—from vitamins, energy drinks, herbal medicines, homeopathic products, to some hormonal treatments—they usually come with big claims about boosting health and wellbeing. While those claims are questionable (and often unfounded), the products collectively do enhance one thing: the volume of calls to poison control centers.

  • Security

    • 18 year old guy arrested for reporting a shamefully stupid bug in the new Budapest e-Ticket system

      This last one was the one found by the 18 year old gentleman I started my story with. According to him, he doesn’t even know how to program yet (he’ll start the university this autumn). He just used the developer tools in the browser, that everybody has access to, saw that the price was being sent back to the server when he was about to make a purchase, and tried if he could change it. A monthly pass costs 9500HUF (about 30EUR) and he modified the price to 50HUF. When he got the confirmation that it worked and was able to see his pass in the app, he immediately emailed the BKK (the Transport Authority) that there was a serious problem. He got an email that his pass was invalidated, but otherwise they didn’t get back to him. Instead, when it got leaked out to the press, and in a few hours everyone were talking about the above issues (not just this one), BKK together with T-Sytems Hungary started to what I would call massively covering their arses.

    • How to use a password manager (and why you really should)

      Password managers remove both of these problems by generating and storing complex passwords for you. The password manager lives in your browser and acts a digital gatekeeper, filling in your login info when you need to get on a certain site. You just have to remember one (very secure!) master password for the manager itself, and everything else is taken care of for you. (For a quick introduction on creating a secure but memorable master password, check out this article.)

    • “Perverse” malware infecting hundreds of Macs remained undetected for years

      Besides the means of infection being unknown, the exact purpose of the malware is also unclear. Wardle said he found no evidence the malware can be used to install ransomware or collect banking credentials. That largely removes the possibility that Fruitfly developers were motivated by financial profit. At the same time, the concentration of home users largely rules out chances the malware was designed by state-sponsored hackers to spy on targets.

    • Exclusive: WHISTL Labs will be Cyber Range for Medical Devices

      The facilities, dubbed WHISTL, will adopt a model akin to the Underwriters Laboratory, which tests electrical devices, but will focus on issues related to cyber security and privacy, helping medical device makers “address the public health challenges” created by connected health devices and complex, connected healthcare environments, according to a statement by The Medical Device Innovation, Safety and Security Consortium (MDISS).

    • Smart fridges and TVs should carry security rating, police chief says

      Barton, the national policing lead for crime operations, proposed the idea as part of efforts to protect households from fraudsters and hackers in the era of the Internet of Things, where otherwise “dumb” devices can be put online and be interconnected for automation and smart appliance activities.

    • ‘Devil’s Ivy’ Is Another Wake-Up Call for IoT Security
    • US local govts still using Kaspersky software despite federal ban

      US local government agencies across the country are continuing to use software from Kaspersky Lab even though the federal government removed the company from a list of approved software suppliers for two government-wide purchasing contracts that are used to buy technology services.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Local governments keep using this software — but it might be a back door for Russia

      Local and state government agencies from Oregon to Connecticut say they are using a Russian brand of security software despite the federal government’s instructions to its own agencies not to buy the software over concerns about cyberespionage, records and interviews show.

      The federal agency in charge of purchasing, the General Services Administration, this month removed Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab from its list of approved vendors. In doing so, the agency’s statement suggested a vulnerability exists in Kaspersky that could give the Russian government backdoor access to the systems it protects, though they offered no explanation or evidence of it. Kaspersky has strongly denied coordinating with the Russian government and has offered to cooperate with federal investigators.

      The GSA’s move on July 11 has left state and local governments to speculate about the risks of sticking with the company or abandoning taxpayer-funded contracts, sometimes at great cost. The lack of information from the GSA underscores a disconnect between local officials and the federal government about cybersecurity.

    • Linux file manager flaw leaves security “Bad Taste” [Ed: This is more like a Windows issue. Hype with logo, brand etc.]

      recently patched flaw in the Linux-based GNOME Files file manager has been discovered that could enable hackers to create malicious Windows-based MSI files which would run malicious VBScript code on Linux.

    • The need for open source security in medical devices [Ed: Using the Microsoft-connected Black Duck to bolster the idea that only FOSS has security issues]

      Wireless and wearable technologies have brought about dramatic improvements in healthcare, allowing patients mobility while providing healthcare professionals with easier access to patient data. Many medical devices that were once tethered to patients, positioned next to hospital beds, or at a fixed location, are now transportable. Evolving from the traditional “finger-prick” method of glucose monitoring, wearable devices equipped with sensors and wireless connectivity now assist with monitoring blood sugar levels, connect with health-care providers, and even deliver medication. Critical life-sustaining devices, such as pacemakers, can be checked by doctors using wireless technology and reduce the time a patient needs to spend at the hospital while allowing the doctor to react more rapidly to patient problems.

    • Open Source Innovation Strengthens Cloudera’s Cybersecurity Solutions
    • 8 Things Every Security Pro Should Know About GDPR
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Finnish Navy: Largest nuclear sub in the world passes Finland

      The Finnish Defence Forces confirmed that the nuclear submarine Dmitriy Donskoi passed by Finland in international waters of the Baltic on Monday. The sub is powered by nuclear reactors and has a capacity to carry 200 nuclear warheads and 20 missiles.

      The Dmitriy Donskoi, cruising from its home port in the White Sea, is reportedly headed towards St. Petersburg in order to participate in a naval parade this weekend. The vessel is so large that in the relatively shallow Baltic Sea it is unable to navigate completely underwater, offering a spectacle to anyone watching the water as it passes.

    • Chinese media now trains gun on NSA Ajit Doval, calls him ‘main schemer’

      Ahead of NSA Ajit Doval’s visit, China’s state media struck two different notes with the China Daily hopeful of a peaceful resolution to the deadlock with India while the Global Times said the “main schemer’s” trip wouldn’t sway Beijing.

      In its editorial, ‘It’s never too late for India to mend its way’, China Daily pressed for exploring ways to avoid confrontation.

    • Pitching the ‘Forever War’ in Afghanistan

      In May, the founder of the mercenary-for-hire group Blackwater (now since remained Academi), Erik Prince took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to propose that the Pentagon employ “private military units” and appoint a “viceroy” to oversee the war in Afghanistan.

    • The Hidden Costs of “National Security”

      Donald Trump, of course, ran for president as a businessman who would clean house and institute unprecedented efficiencies in government. Instead, on entering the Oval Office, he’s done a superb job of ignoring chronic problems at the Pentagon, proposing instead to give that department a hefty raise: $575 billion next year. And yet his expansive military funding plans look relatively mild compared to the desires of the gung-ho members of the armed services committees in the House and Senate. Democrats and Republicans alike want to hike the Pentagon budget to at least $600 billion or more. The legislative fight over a final number will play out over the rest of this year. For now, let’s just use Trump’s number as a placeholder.

    • Boy Scouts Jamboree Compared to Hitler Youth Rally After Trump’s Speech

      The annual Boy Scout Jamboree faced comparisons to a Hitler Youth Rally following President Donald Trump’s speech at the event on Monday night. The president spoke to 24,000 Scouts ranging in age from 12 to 18, as eight presidents have before him. Unlike previous presidents, however, Trump appeared to view the event as an opportunity to slam his political opponents and the news media, call for “loyalty,” and rail against the “cesspool” of Washington, D.C., as the audience cheered.

      As he did in May while delivering a commencement speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Trump chose to focus on his own struggles in the White House and recall his victory in the 2016 election, turning an historically non-partisan event that generally focuses on public service into a campaign rally.

      The Scouts, who Trump addressed as “young patriots,” erupted in cheers of “USA! USA!” as the president brought up familiar talking points from his campaign and his first six months in office. He spoke about his effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the war on political correctness (“Under the Trump administration, you will be saying, ‘Merry Christmas again’”), and interrupted his own recitation of the Scout’s Law to bring up his well-documented need for loyalty from his administration: “As the Scout Law says: ‘A Scout is trustworthy, loyal’…we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.”

    • Boy Scouts of America Skewered for ‘Total Cop-Out’ on Trump’s Jamboree Speech

      President Donald Trump’s angry, partisan speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree on Monday evening is still stirring controversy, and has forced the Boy Scouts of America to issue a statement defending the organization’s decision to invite the president.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • A limiting factor on producing electricity in a warming world? Water.

      Unless you work at a coal, gas, or nuclear plant, you may not think about water when you think about electricity (certainly at a household level; they don’t mix). But water plays an important part in cooling many power plants, and many power plants also depend on a nearby water source to create steam that drives turbines. So the availability of water for power production is a serious consideration. Not enough water? That power plant could have to shut down. If the water isn’t chilly enough to cool the plant? Same problem.

    • Has the Moment for Environmental Justice Been Lost?

      Given how President Donald Trump has taken aim at the Environmental Protection Agency with regulatory rollbacks and deep proposed budget cuts, it may come as no surprise that the Office of Environmental Justice is on the chopping block.

      This tiny corner of the EPA was established 24 years ago to advocate for minorities and the poor, populations most likely to face the consequences of pollution and least able to advocate for themselves.

      It does so by acting as a middleman, connecting vulnerable communities with those who can help them. It heads a group that advises EPA officials about injustices and another that brings together representatives from other federal agencies and the White House to swap proposals.

      When it works, all the talk leads to grants, policies and programs that change lives.

  • Finance

    • Privatisation of public health sector only a proposal, says Health Secy

      Health advisor to Niti Aayog, Alok Kumar said that the proposal that was mooted was merely in draft stage and it is not binding on any state to enter into a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) based on the draft.

    • Rise in personal loans dangerous, Bank of England official says

      A sharp rise in personal loans could pose a danger to the UK economy, a Bank of England official has warned.
      Outstanding car loans, credit card balance transfers and personal loans have increased by 10% over the past year, the Bank’s financial stability director Alex Brazier said.
      In contrast household incomes have risen by just 1.5%, he said.

    • Bank of England warns of complacency over big rise in personal debt

      The Bank of England has told banks, credit card companies and car loan providers that they risk fresh action against reckless lending as it warned of a looming “spiral of complacency” about mounting consumer debt.

      In its toughest warning yet about the possibility of a rerun of the financial crisis that devastated the economy 10 years ago, Threadneedle Street admitted it was alarmed about the increase in the amount of money being borrowed on easy terms over the past year.

    • Unemployment in the UK is now so low it’s in danger of exposing the lie used to create the numbers

      Unemployment in Britain is now just 4.5%. There are only 1.49 million unemployed people in the UK, versus 32 million people with jobs.

      This is almost unheard of. Unemployment was most recently this low in December 1973, when the UK set an unrepeated record of just 3.4%.

      The problem with this record is that the statistical definition of “unemployment” relies on a fiction that economists tell themselves about the nature of work. As the rate gets lower and lower, it tests that lie. Because — as anyone who has studied basic economics knows — the official definition of unemployment disguises the true rate. In reality, about 21.5% of all working-age people (defined as ages 16 to 64) are without jobs, or 8.83 million people, according to the Office for National Statistics.

    • A new deal could end Bitcoin’s long-running civil war

      The price of Bitcoin surged late last week as it became clear that a proposal to expand the Bitcoin network’s capacity had the support it needed to go into effect. Supporters of the proposal hope that it will put an end to a two-year-old feud that has been tearing the Bitcoin community apart.

      The core dispute is over how to accommodate the payment network’s growing popularity. A hard-coded limit in Bitcoin software—1 megabyte per blockchain block—prevents the network from processing more than about seven transactions per second. The network started to bump up against this limit last year, resulting in slow transactions and soaring transaction fees.

    • $89 Billion AT&T, Time Warner Merger Approval Looking Likely Despite Trump Pledge To Block Deal

      Needless to say, consumer advocates and smaller competitors aren’t too keen on AT&T’s $89 billion plan to acquire Time Warner. They argue that AT&T’s long history of unethical behavior, empty promises, and anti-competitive shenanigans make it extremely likely the company will use its greater size and leverage to ill effect. They worry that AT&T will make it harder for competitors to license content necessary to compete with AT&T’s DirecTV Now streaming service, and arbitrary usage caps and other tricks like zero rating to similarly put competitors at a disadvantage.

    • More Trump Populism: Hiring a Bank Lawyer to Attack CFPB Bank Rules

      President Trump and Republicans in Congress have broadcast their every intention to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The president’s budget attempted to defund it and leading Republicans have called for its director to be fired and replaced with a more Wall Street-compliant regulator.

      But much like the bulk of Trump’s agenda, that assault remains in the aspirational phase, and the agency continues to do its work. Earlier this month, the CFPB released a major new rule, flat-out barring financial institutions from using forced arbitration clauses in consumer contracts to stop class-action lawsuits.

      Now, Trump has sent out his lead attack dog to overturn the arbitration rule — a former bank lawyer who has used the very tactic the CFPB wants to prevent.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump, Jr., and Why Spies Love Business
    • Trump voting commission wins right to collect state voter data

      What’s more, Judge Kollar-Kotelly ruled that “The mere risk of disclosure stemming from the collection and eventual, anonymized disclosure of already publicly available voter roll information” is not enough to get her to block the commission.

    • A Suggestion for Bernie: On Crimes Detectable and Not

      Bernie Sanders claims to be an anti-plutocratic populist and sometimes even a “democratic socialist” opponent of the wealthy corporate and financial Few. Let me therefore make a recommendation for Senator Sanders and his “Our Revolution” movement. Bernie should call a press conference to demand the replacement of current Congressional and Justice Department investigations of a mythical non-problem – Russia’ supposed swinging of the 2016 United States presidential election – by Congressional and Justice Department investigation of a real problem: the control of U.S. politics and policy by the nation’s biggest corporations and financial institutions. In his press conference, Sanders could cite a remarkable passage from a recent New York Times interview with the nation’s leading intellectual Noam Chomsky.

    • Hail to Our Flounder in Chief

      Fish stinks from the head, as the ancient Greeks first said, and right now there’s a 250-pound flounder stinking up the White House and all those around the place.

      Mark Shields said it well on the PBS NewsHour Friday night:

      “Everybody, I can honestly say, with rare exception, who has been associated with this administration and this president has been diminished by it. Their reputation has been tarnished. They’re smaller people as a result of it. And that’s tragic.”

      Six months in and we’ve reached a level of mayhem, compulsive lying and incompetence that defies the imagination. Just to mix the animal metaphors, there’s more bull running through Washington right now than the streets of Pamplona, and for our nation’s capital, that’s saying something.

    • Anthony Scaramucci Dreams of State-Run TV — Let’s See How That’s Working Out in Poland
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Cloudflare Wants to Eliminate ‘Moot’ Pirate Site Blocking Threat

      Cloudflare is not happy with the RIAA’s efforts to hold the company liable for pirate websites on its network. Cloudflare has asked a Florida federal court to vacate a recent order, which would open the door to widespread site blocking efforts. The CDN provider notes that the targeted domains are no longer using its services while accusing the record labels of not being upfront.

    • Scaring school children won’t keep them safe

      And while we’ll never be able to eliminate all dangers, we should be prepared to step up to ensure their safety. But we shouldn’t treat these things as routine. Rather, we should hope that, in those most grave and unlikely of circumstances, we’d show some of the bravery of Lisa Potts.

    • Moral ‘outrage’ has become a tool of bullying and censorship for self- righteous organisations

      There is considerable evidence that political debate has become more threatening, menacing and, in some cases, downright nasty. A stubbornness has developed, where people simply don’t want to listen to – or even have to tolerate – the conflicting views of others. The modern desire tends towards the reinforcement of existing and firmly entrenched opinions, with alternative positions crushed – sometimes aggressively – under the weight of popular outrage and anger.

    • Cuban Activists Say North Korea Fighting Losing Censorship Battle

      Despite North Korea’s increased efforts to prevent outside information from entering the country, international activists say technology and market forces will eventually overcome state censorship.

      North Korea is one of the most isolated nations in the world, where foreign media is prohibited and most people don’t have access to the Internet. The repressive state has even executed citizens for distributing media from South Korea, according to the Transitional Justice Working Group that documents human rights abuses in North Korea.

    • EFF Asks Court to Strike Down Unconstitutional Restraint on Our Speech

      EFF has asked a federal court to rule in its favor in a lawsuit we filed against an Australian company that sought to use foreign law to censor us from expressing our opinion about its patent. While the company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd (GEMSA,) knows its way around U.S. courts—having filed dozens of lawsuits against big tech companies claiming patent infringement—it has failed to respond to ours. Today we asked for a default judgment, which if granted means we win the case.

      It all started when GEMSA’s patent litigation was featured in our June 2016 blog series “Stupid Patent of the Month.” The company wrote to EFF accusing us of “false and malicious slander.” It subsequently filed a lawsuit and obtained an injunction from a South Australia court ordering EFF to take down the blog post and blocking us from ever talking about any of its intellectual property.

      We have not removed the post. The South Australian injunction can’t be enforced in the U.S. under a 2010 federal law that took aim against “libel tourism,” a practice by which plaintiffs—often billionaires, celebrities, or oligarchs—sued U.S. writers and academics in countries like England where it was easier to win a defamation case.

      The Securing the Protection of Our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act (SPEECH Act) says foreign orders aren’t enforceable in the United States unless they are consistent with the free speech protections provided by the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as state law. Our lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, maintains that GEMSA’s injunction, which seeks to silence expression of an opinion, would never survive scrutiny under the First Amendment in the United States and should therefore be declared unenforceable. We stood ready to defend our right to express constitutionally protected speech.

    • Puerto Rican Newspaper Cans Popular Comic Strip, Raising Concerns Over Censorship

      Pepito is known for its sharp critique of the government and of elected officials in both the governments of Puerto Rico and of the United Sates. During the 10 years it was published in Primera Hora, it earned accolades from UNESCO, the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, the Latino Book Review and the Photojournalists’ Association of Puerto Rico, among other distinctions.

    • Senators Promise to Amend Israel Boycott Bill After Backlash

      The lead author of the controversial Israel Anti-Boycott Act, Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, is open to amending the legislation to address concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union, he told The Intercept Monday evening.

      The ACLU warned last week that the measure, which targets the BDS movement, was unconstitutional and would have a chilling effect on free speech. In the wake of that warning, and a subsequent article by The Intercept, co-sponsors of the bill have begun to re-examine their support for it.

      Cardin said that the ACLU had misinterpreted his legislation, but if it needed to be clarified, he would take the steps to do so. “A lot of the co-sponsors are pretty strongly committed to the freedom of speech,” Cardin said. “We’re certainly sensitive to the issues they raise. If we have to make it clearer, we’ll make it clearer.”

      He and the ACLU, he said, disagreed about what the bill would do. “I respect greatly the ACLU. I think that many of their points are just not correct. We don’t want to do anything to infringe freedom of speech,” he said.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Global Condemnation for Turkey’s Detention of Innocent Digital Security Trainers

      The detention of a group of human rights defenders in Turkey for daring to learn about digital security and encryption continued last week with a brief appearance of the accused in an Istanbul court. Six were returned to jail, and four released on bail. In an additionally absurd twist, the four released activists were named in new detention orders on Friday, and are now being re-arrested.

      Among those currently being held in jail are Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner, digital security trainers from Sweden and Germany, who had traveled to Turkey to provide online privacy advice for a conference of human rights defenders. The meeting was raided by Turkish police on July 5, and appears to be the sole basis for the prosecution.

      The court charged Gharavi and Steudtner with “committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member.” Their co-defendants include Idil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, Veli Acu and Günal Kurşun of the Human Rights Agenda Association, and Özlem Dalkıran of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly. Four others were released on bail, but new detention orders against them were announced on Friday, with two re-arrested over the weekend.

    • All Quiet On The Tech Front As The Clock Ticks Down On Section 702 Renewal

      Things have been mostly quiet as Congress heads towards the possible renewal of Section 702 surveillance powers. The NSA, oddly, made the most noise by dropping its “about” collection because it simply couldn’t (or wouldn’t) stop harvesting US persons’ communications. As usual, privacy activists are sounding the alarm but the general level of noise at the Congressional level is nothing compared to the runup to Section 215′s renewal.

    • Surveillance Used To Give Poor Students Extra Financial Assistance Discreetly. Is That OK?

      According to the post, the program has been running for many years, but only came to light when a former student posting under the name of “Shannon” wrote an account of being selected in 2005 for additional support, published on the site Zhihu, the Chinese equivalent of Quora. His post has received over 45,000 likes so far, and the number continues to rise. As the Sixth Tone story notes, comments on Shannon’s post have been overwhelmingly positive…

      This raises a number of questions. For example, does the widespread use of surveillance in China make people more willing to accept this kind of benevolent spying, as here? Or is it simply that its use is felt to be justified because it led to additional funding that was given in a discreet fashion? More generally, how would Chinese citizens feel about this approach being rolled out to other areas of life? Since that’s pretty much what China’s rumored “citizen score” system aims to do, we might find out, if it’s ever implemented.

    • Dark Net Trap

      A mistake made in December 2014 was reported to the police in December 2016. This single minor error was enough to bring him down. The Internet is forever. Mistakes, once made, can resurface at any time. The real error was to not create a compartmented persona to handle all things AlphaBay.

    • A Wisconsin company will let employees use microchip implants to buy snacks and open doors

      A Wisconsin company called Three Square Market is going to offer employees implantable chips to open doors, buy snacks, log in to computers, and use office equipment like copy machines. Participating employees will have the chips, which use near field communication (NFC) technology, implanted between their thumb and forefinger. It’s an extension of the long-running implantable RFID chip business, based on a partnership with Swedish company Biohax International.

    • Sweden Accidentally Leaks Personal Details of Nearly All Citizens

      The data breach exposed the names, photos and home addresses of millions of Swedish citizen, including fighter pilots of Swedish air force, members of the military’s most secretive units, police suspects, people under the witness relocation programme, the weight capacity of all roads and bridges, and much more.

      The incident is believed to be one of the worst government information security disasters ever.

    • Roombas have been busy mapping our homes, and now that data could be up for sale

      Roomba owners can opt out of cloud-sharing functions within the iRobot Home app, but technically, the iRobot terms of service and privacy policy say they have the right to share your personal information. The information is buried, laden in legal language, and, as Gizmodo points out, includes this clause which could allow iRobot to sell the information without consent

    • Facebook worker living in garage to Zuckerberg: challenges are right outside your door
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • My father and press freedom are on trial in Turkey – don’t look away, Europe

      It was only after five months of detention that Cumhuriyet journalists and employees found out what charges they were facing. They are accused of links to various terrorist groups and could get sentences of between 7.5 and 43 years in prison. However, a person who turns the pages of the indictment cannot see anything other than newspaper headlines, news, reports, columns and tweets. The case at trial is therefore journalism and the freedom of the press.

    • TSA Bans Comic Books in Checked Luggage for Comic-Con

      The strange part is–while United is directing everyone to TSA for more information, United is also the only airline I can find who is enforcing this. This does not mean it is the only airline. I just don’t see any outrage from people flying other airlines.

    • Watchdog Stings Defense Dept., Obtains $1.2 Million In Military Gear With A Fake Cop Shop

      The Defense Department’s 1033 program allows local law enforcement agencies to buy military equipment. Often, the purchases are made easier with sizable grants, meaning agencies can load up on assault rifles, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and extra ammo at nearly no cost. (They can also get computers, office furniture, etc. through these grants, but if that were the extent of the program, there would be zero controversy.)

      The 1033 program is supposed to be tightly controlled and every acquisition vetted to prevent high-powered military gear from falling into the wrong hands. We’ve already noted local agencies aren’t performing much in the way of oversight, resulting in several agencies receiving suspensions for failing to account for the whereabouts of purchased gear.

    • Shocking new evidence could overturn Northern Ireland ruling that became an international blueprint for torture

      British forces in Northern Ireland used waterboarding and electric shock treatment on detainees during the 1970s, newly uncovered files show. Witness statements and internal Whitehall correspondence released for the first time last month could have significant implications for international human rights law and British-Irish relations.

      One victim of waterboarding in Belfast spoke out publicly about his experience for the first time at following the recovery of his original testimony from 1972, which recounts that he ‘felt like I was drowning or suffocating until I fell on the floor unconscious’

      The documents were revealed at an event in London to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June, hosted by Matrix Chambers, along with the Pat Finucane Centre, the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) and Amnesty International.

    • CIA Torture Psychologists Compare Themselves to Nazi Poison Gas Manufacturer as Defense

      As we know from Nuremberg, contractors are accountable when they provide unlawful means and profit from war crimes

      As the recently departed White House press secretary demonstrated earlier this year, making comparisons to the Nazi regime’s murderous use of poison gas is rarely a good idea. That’s one reason it was so surprising that ahead of a crucial court hearing this week, defense lawyers for the two psychologists behind the CIA’s torture program compared their clients to the contractors who supplied the Nazis with Zyklon B, the poison gas used at Auschwitz and other concentration camps to murder millions of Jews and other prisoners in the Holocaust.

      Psychologists James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen were the architects of the CIA’s torture program. Now, in a groundbreaking lawsuit, three survivors and victims of the torture program are seeking to hold Mitchell and Jessen accountable.

      This Friday in federal court in Spokane, Washington, Mitchell and Jessen’s lawyers will argue that they can’t be held responsible for their actions. In an extraordinary legal filing, Mitchell and Jessen claim they aren’t legally responsible to the people hurt by their methods because they “simply did business with the CIA pursuant to their contracts.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality faceoff: Congress summons ISPs and websites to hearing

      The biggest websites and the biggest Internet service providers are being summoned to Congress to testify about net neutrality.

      US Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he is scheduling a full committee hearing titled, “Ground rules for the Internet ecosystem,” for September 7.

    • [Older] What is net neutrality and why should I care?
    • Despite Republican appeals, Democrats not willing to deal on net neutrality legislation

      Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., a staunch defender of net neutrality and the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said Republicans’ offers to draft a net neutrality bill are hollow.

    • Net neutrality debate underway again, Lt. Gov. picks a side

      Broadband providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon say that allowing them to increase their profits through the use of a tiered system would enable them to invest in infrastructure. But critics of the plan say that loosening the regulations might not do that and there are no guarantees that the companies will go through with the investments.

    • Record 9 million comments flood FCC on net neutrality

      More than 9 million comments — the largest influx ever — have been filed with the Federal Communications Commission about the agency’s proposal to reverse the net neutrality rules it passed in 2015. The first public comment period ended Monday, and now a one-month rebuttal period is underway. Already, about another million additional comments have been submitted.

    • Will Reliance JioPhone clash with net neutrality principles?

      “We don’t know whether the Jio phone limits the user to a particular selected set of apps and services. If it limits users to only Jio apps, or partner apps, that would make it similar to free basics—where Facebook had tied up with a telecom operator to limit users to their selection of apps for free. The Trai ruling banned operators from giving preferential pricing to a particular set of apps. If the users are able to download apps beyond what Jio has to offer, and browse the open Internet, it would not affect net neutrality,” Pahwa said.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • RCEP Discussions on Ecommerce: Gathering Steam in Hyderabad

      Sixteen countries from Asia-Pacific are meeting in Hyderabad for the 19th round of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which takes place in India from 18-28 July, 2017. EFF is participating to advocate for improved transparency and openness in the negotiations, and to express our concerns about possible new rules on intellectual property and ecommerce that some countries are proposing for the agreement.

      RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) aimed at broadening regional economic integration and liberalising trade and investment between the 10 ASEAN economies and its trading partners including Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. The total population covered by RCEP exceeds 3 billion, and with the combined GDP of about US$ 17 trillion accounting for about 40% of the world’s trade makes RCEP the biggest mega-regional trade agreement that is under negotiation.

    • Copyrights

      • Why Fair Dealing Is Not Destroying Canada Publishing

        For the past few years, publishers around the world have engaged in a sustained campaign to hold up Canada as proof that making fair dealing more flexible for education will hurt publishers. Those efforts rarely tell the whole story: that paid access remains the primary source of materials in Canada, that educational copyright policies in Canada are primarily a function of court decisions not copyright reform (the emphasis on fair dealing came before the 2012 reforms), that global publishers were reporting marketplace challenges that have nothing to do with copyright, that Canadian publishers that supposedly stopped publishing were still in business, that court affidavits from Canadian publishers focus on many concerns other than copyright, and that a study from one Canadian publisher association highlighted issues such as open access and used book sales. University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist expands on the reality of Canadian publishing and copyright law.[1]

How the EPO’s Terrible Decisions May Implicate the Government of Germany and Lufthansa

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 6:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s also alleged that the EPO or Željko Topić bribed journalists

A. Matijevic and Topic by Lufthansa

Summary: The role played by German authorities throughout the scandal involving Željko Topić, a notorious Vice-President at the European Patent Office (EPO)

FOLLOWING the weekend’s important article in English and in German (regarding Lufthansa and the EPO) we received more feedback from informed circles.

“Some people have been systematically discouraged if not intimidated away from covering the EPO scandals. Some observers choose to believe that it’s due to fear of exposure of even broader scandals.”There is certainly a very big scandal at the EPO, possibly bigger than the EPO itself (if it really does implicate the German government). Some people have been systematically discouraged if not intimidated away from covering the EPO scandals. Some observers choose to believe that it’s due to fear of exposure of even broader scandals.

For instance, if seemingly mundane EPO scandals like nepotism lead to potentially massive scandals implicating the German government, why would the German media not choose to keep quiet under pressure from large media owners? We previously wrote about the serious issue of media ownership in Germany. There's also diversion and lies, not just blackout. Remember that a German, with proven connections to his government, will become the Chairman of the Administrative Council of the EPO in a couple of months. So what are the chances that he will pursue a deeper look into all this (the Lufthansa affair and the Vice-President in question)?

“We previously wrote about the serious issue of media ownership in Germany.”Thanks to interested circles, we are gradually accumulating more information that every EPO worker should become familiar with. It can help explain some of the tensions at the upper echelons of management. Some comments and explanations about the “Lufthansa Affair” were handed to us along with translations.

These comments relate to “claims about allegedly criminal collusion between the former Director of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office and a legal representative of Lufthansa,” our source explained.

“The comments and background information below,” our source continued, “might assist your readers in appreciating what went on in this case.”


The letter of 31 January 2007 is interesting because the lawyer acting for Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH acknowledges Rikard Frgačić as the lawful proprietor of the Croatian trademark Ž961074 and the international trademark 682268. The lawyer, Andrej Matijević, explains that the Lufthansa subsidiary is interested in getting Mr. Frgačić to waive his claim to the trademarks and he is invited to get in contact with them to discuss terms and conditions.

“…the lawyer acting for Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH acknowledges Rikard Frgačić as the lawful proprietor of the Croatian trademark…”In the second letter of 9 January 2008 which comes directly from the German head office of Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH, the company adopts a more patronising and dismissive attitude towards Mr. Frgačić. They refer to a pending trademark cancellation procedure and offer Mr. Frgačić a once-off payment of 1000 EUR if he can prove the legal validity of his trademarks and agrees to transfer them.

So what happened in between the first letter of 31 January 2007 and the second letter of 9 January 2008?

“…Lufthansa subsidiary filed its request on 16 December 2007 and Mr. Frgačić was informed about the DZIV’s intention to cancel his trademark on the very next day.”It seems that in December 2007 Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH initiated a procedure for the cancellation of the Croatian trademark.

According to Mr. Frgačić, the Lufthansa subsidiary filed its request on 16 December 2007 and Mr. Frgačić was informed about the DZIV’s intention to cancel his trademark on the very next day.

Given the usual slow pace of administrative and legal proceedings in Croatia the speed with which the DZIV took up and pursued the request from the Lufthansa subsidiary set alarm bells ringing for Mr. Frgačić.

“In its decision of 3 November 2009, the Board of Appeal found in favour of Mr Frgačić and it ordered the case to be sent back to the DZIV for correction.”The procedure initiated by Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH resulted in a decision being taken by the DZIV on 21 November 2008 in which the matter was decided in favour of the Luthansa subsidiary and against Mr. Frgačić.

Mr Frgačić had no intention of allowing himself to be cheated so easily.

So he appealed this first instance decision to the Board of Appeal for Industrial Property Rights which is an independent second-instance body that was set up in 2008. In its decision of 3 November 2009, the Board of Appeal found in favour of Mr Frgačić and it ordered the case to be sent back to the DZIV for correction.

Unfortunately it seems that instead of arriving at a happy ending as one might expect, Mr Frgačić has been “trudging through treacle” since then.

“The finger of suspicion for this state of affairs points mainly at the former Director of the DZIV.”According to what is known about the case from Croatian sources, the DZIV has done its best to stymie Mr Frgačić and to prevent a resolution of the case in his interest despite the ruling of the independent Board of Appeal in his favour. The finger of suspicion for this state of affairs points mainly at the former Director of the DZIV.

Because of his failure to obtain satisfaction at the DZIV, Mr Frgačić filed criminal complaints against those he suspected of being responsible for what he considered to be illegal acts and abuses of authority. However, due to the painfully slow and dysfunctional legal system in Croatia he does not appear to have made much progress there.

Mr Frgačić has also launched legal actions in Germany but the German courts seem to be using the administrative and legal deadlock in Croatia as an excuse for not taking any action. There may also be a question of protecting national interests as well as it would not be good for the image of German business if the allegations about Lufthansa’s subsidiary in Croatia were to be aired in public.

The “David versus Goliath” aspect of Mr Frgačić’s story captured the popular imagination in Croatia and it was the subject of a number of reports by the national television channel HRT [1, 2].

“Mr Frgačić has also launched legal actions in Germany but the German courts seem to be using the administrative and legal deadlock in Croatia as an excuse for not taking any action.”The story was also widely reported on in the Croatian media.

For example, in October 2010 an article appeared under the title “EXCLUSIVE Croatian police in anti-corruption action against Lufthansa”

This article drew forth an angry response from the then Director of the DZIV. He submitted a “request for correction” in which he tried to defend the DZIV’s actions in favour of the Lufthansa subsidiary. He also rejected Mr Frgačić’s claims that the DZIV had a covert policy of “deference” towards foreign big business interests such as Lufthansa.

The spectre of the “Lufthansa-Affair” continued to haunt the Director of the DZIV even after his departure to Munich following his highly controversial appointment as a Vice-President of the EPO in 2012. This led to the publication of a series of critical articles in the Croatian media which questioned the actions of the Croatian government in supporting the appointment.

“The spectre of the “Lufthansa-Affair” continued to haunt the Director of the DZIV even after his departure to Munich following his highly controversial appointment as a Vice-President of the EPO in 2012.”One of Mr Topić’s last acts as Director of the DZIV was to draft a “Press Release” which he ordered to be published on the official DZIV website on his last day of office at the DZIV on 30 April 2012.

In this “Press Release” he tried to settle accounts with his adversaries in his home country and to take the sting out of media reports that a number of criminal proceedings were pending against him in Croatia. Interestingly, the newly appointed EPO Vice-President did not deny that such criminal proceedings were pending against him. He just tried to dismiss them as “unfounded”:

“Concerning the aforementioned criminal charges filed against the Director General of the Office, a key fact has been omitted: criminal charges can be filed by anyone, regardless of the merits of the case and the competent authorities are obliged to start investigative proceedings in relation to any criminal charges filed, no matter how unfounded they may prove to be after the investigation has been carried out. …”

The “Press Release” went on to comment on specific cases including a first criminal charge filed by a former DZIV employee Zdenko Haluza alleging forgery of an official document by the Director which was described as the “malicious filing of a criminal lawsuit”. It was confidently predicted that due to “the evident absurdity of the criminal charges, it is more than certain that the outcome of the aforementioned proceedings will be in Mr Topić’s favour.”

“Interestingly, the newly appointed EPO Vice-President did not deny that such criminal proceedings were pending against him.”A second criminal charge filed by former DZIV Assistant Director Vesna Stilin was also ridiculed in disparaging terms as an allegedly vexatious legal action by another disgruntled former employee.

The legal action pursued by Mr Frgačić was portrayed in similar terms as an unfounded action being pursued by a disgruntled applicant and user of the DZIV’s services:

“The third criminal charge is the one filed by Mr Frgačić in the so-called “Lufthansa-Affair”. The Office emphasises that it conducts more than 10,000 procedures a year in connection with requests to grant intellectual property rights, a significant part of which are terminated by a decision not to grant the requested right because the prescribed requirements have not been met. There thus exists the inherent possibility that an applicant will be dissatisfied with the decision of the Office no matter how well supported by arguments and based on law it was. The character of the dissatisfied party will determine which legal remedies they rely on to pursue their interests and this does not exclude filing arbitrary criminal charges and making accusations about the alleged corruption of officials.”

“It is almost impossible to believe that the German Ministry of Justice is not fully informed about these matters.”The “Press Release” conveniently glosses over the fact that Mr. Frgačić had in fact won his case before the Board of Appeals for Industrial Property Rights in November 2009 and that the real source of his ongoing grievance was the subsequent failure of the DZIV to respect the decision of the independent Board of Appeals which had found in his favour.

It is almost impossible to believe that the German Ministry of Justice is not fully informed about these matters. But for some reason it does not seem to be prepared to take any action.

For example in October 2015 the German delegation seems to have colluded in a decision of the EPO Administrative Council to extend Topić’s term of office as EPO Vice-President until the end of 2018 as proposed by the EPO President Battistelli.

It can be speculated that the German authorities are worried about the possible repercussions if there was any detailed scrutiny of the “Lufthansa affair” and that they prefer to try to ignore it or sweep it under the carpet.

“It can be speculated that the German authorities are worried about the possible repercussions if there was any detailed scrutiny of the “Lufthansa affair” and that they prefer to try to ignore it or sweep it under the carpet.”Let’s not forget that German industry is still reeling from the fallout of the “Dieselgate” affair. On top of that come embarrassing revelations from a recent historical study which confirms collusion between Volkswagen and Brazil’s 1964-85 military government and shows that the German company worked hand in hand with the regime and helped it to identify and persecute its political opponents.

Under these circumstances it’s perfectly understandable that the powers that be in Germany might be keen to avoid exposure of a further potentially embarrassing scandal relating to allegations of corruption and unlawful manipulation of intellectual property rights in a smaller and economically vulnerable EU state.


Included below are translations of two letters (the originals in Croatian were published here days ago), namely a letter of 31 January 2007 from the attorney representing Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH in Croatia and a letter of 9 January 2008 which comes directly from Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH. Translations of these letters are included for future reference along with a copy of various documents referred to in the text above (either in-line or by reference).

2007 letter

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Mr. Rikard Frgačić
Kolorova 11
10000 Zagreb

Zagreb, 31 January 2007

Subject: The possibility of cancellation of the trademark “Air plus”

Dear Sir,

We are addressing you on behalf of our client Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH from Germany, which has been present for many years in Europe, offering services for planning, payment and analysis of travel expenses for business users. The company is a partner of leading European and world airlines, carriers and travel agencies.

By searching the international trademark data base we have determined that you are the holder of the right to “Airplus + Air+” Ž961074, and the international registration of the trademark 682268.

By writing this letter, we would like to explore the possibilities for voluntary cancellation of these trademarks from your side and we invite you to contact us to consider this possibility.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if anything is unclear.

Regards

Andrej Matijević

2008 letter

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH
P.O. Box 15 52 63235 Neu-Isenburg Germany

Mr. Rikard Frgačić
Kolorova 11
HR – 10000 Zagreb
Croatia

9. January 2008

Trademark “AirPlus”

Your letter of 20 December 2007, received here on 4 January 2008

Dear Mr Frgacic,

We are refer to your letter and we reply as follows:

Deutsche Lufthansa AG is neither the owner of the “AirPlus” trademark nor a party to the pending cancellation procedure against your trademark registration. Please, therefore, refrain from any future correspondence to Deutsche Lufthansa AG. The holder of the “AirPlus” trademark and the party to the cancellation procedure on our side, is exclusively ourselves, Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH.

As already attempted before the start of the cancellation procedure, we, Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH, would like to offer you an agreed settlement – without prejudice and without recognition of any legal obligation. This does not require a personal meeting and is as follows: You transfer your trademark registration entries, that is to say your Croatian trademark Ž961074 as well as your international trademark 682268 “AirPlus + A +” to us after you have proved the legal validity of these trademarks. In return, we will make you a once-off payment of € one thousand (1,000, -) gross to a bank account which you specify.

Best regards

Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH

Roland Paschek
Corporate counsel

Harry Schön
Director of Personnel & Legal Affairs

Appeal decision (2009)

Appeal decision

Appeal decision translation

TRANSLATION

REPUBLIC OF CROATIA
THE BOARD OF APPEALS
IN THE FIELD OF INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

Class: UP / Il -381-08 / 2008-010 / 0053
Docket No.: 559-09 / 1-09-008 / MHH
No. of appeal: VZ 20080053
Zagreb, 3 November 2009

The Board of Appeals appointed with the composition of Marija Šiša Hrlić, as Chair of the Board, and Krešimir Puškarić and Slavica Matešić, as members of the Panel, on the basis of Article 20 para. 2 of the Law on the Seal (Official Gazette 173/03, 76/07 and 30/09), on the occasion of the appeal of the applicant Rikard Frgačić, Kolarova 11, 10000 Zagreb, represented by the law firm Hraste & Partners from Zagreb, Ribnjak no. 40, and the appeal of the applicant Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH, Hans-Bockler-Strasse 7, D-63263 Neu-Isenburg, Germany, represented by the law firm Matijević from Zagreb, Kurelčeva 4, filed against the decision of the State Intellectual Property Office of 21 November 2008, in the procedure concerning the request for revocation of the trademark in administrative case no. Ž961074, issues the following

DECISION

1. The appeal of the applicant Rikard Frgačić, Kolarova 11, 10 000 Zagreb, is hereby accepted and the decision of the State Intellectual Property Office of the class: UP / I-381-04 / 96-010 / 1602, Urgent Number: 559-04 / 2-08-074 of 21 November 2008 is partially annulled, that is in that part which refers to point 1 and 3 of the order of the decision according to which the request of the applicant Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH, Hans-Bockler-Strasse 7, D-63263 Neu-Isenburg, Germany for the revocation of the trademark number 2961074 “Air plus” was granted.

2. The appeal of the applicant Lufthansa Airplus Servicekarten GmbH, Hans-Bockler-Strasse 7, D-63263 Neu-Isenburg, Germany, is rejected as unfounded.

3. Pursuant to point 1 of the order of this decision, the matter shall be referred back to the State Intellectual Property Office for a reconsideration of the decision on the application for revocation of the trademark number Ž961074 in relation to services for which the trademark is revoked.

4. The first-instance decision referred to in paragraph 1 of the operative part is annulled in the part where the costs of the proceedings were decided.

The text of the press release from Željko Topić was published here in English two years ago.

Patent Maximalists Continue to Warp the Debate/Media Coverage About Patents in Britain

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Whose interest (or profit) matters more?

Lockheed Martin-Funded Experts Agree: South Korea Needs More Lockheed Martin Missiles
Reference: Lockheed Martin-Funded Experts Agree: South Korea Needs More Lockheed Martin Missiles

Summary: Just like in most places, including the English-speaking media in north America, British journalists omit voices of reason or simply give the podium to those seeking to increase the number of patent lawsuits (and breadth of these)

THE media is terrible when it comes to patents. Either it’s directly composed by the patent ‘industry’ or it extensively quotes this ‘industry’ (i.e. indirect presence) when the real industry is largely ignored or intentionally overlooked. This isn’t a coincidence or an error; this is exactly the intention and funding for such media comes from the patent ‘industry’ in an effort to indoctrinate (or advertise to) the real industry.

“This isn’t a coincidence or an error; this is exactly the intention and funding for such media comes from the patent ‘industry’ in an effort to indoctrinate (or advertise to) the real industry.”In recent years nothing demonstrated this better than EPO and UPC coverage in Europe. Putting aside EPO subsidies in order to distort/corrupt the media, there are also all kinds of “blogs” which are nothing more than advertising and lobbying. Take for example the latest coverage of the UK Supreme Court on Eli Lilly v Actavis. Search for it online and the top results are from CIPA, a British lobby for patent maximalists, which wrote about it earlier this month, with comments in IP Kat pertaining to EPO “Gold Standard” etc (almost all the comments there, at least over the past week, were about that).

It’s discussed a lot online, especially in British sites (yesterday Managing IP wrote about it behind a paywall). Nothing is being said by patients or people who are directly affected by this decision (in the life or death sense, not just profit).

“It’s almost as though the actual companies that make and invent things don’t deserve a voice, only a bunch of law firms that prey on and exploit them.”Last week we wrote about very important news in the UK, yet nobody in the media covered it, certainly not Team UPC. It hoped to just bury the news. As far as we are aware, this was covered by only one news site, under the title “UK parliament debate on UPC delayed” and the article is quoting just the patent microcosm, which is a foolish thing to do because they have vested interests that aren’t disclosed. Shame about them quoting liars from Bristows on this; they try to belittle what happened and use WIPR as a platform while simply ignoring it everywhere else.

Here are some portions:

In June, the UPC’s preparatory committee announced that the court would not become operational in December this year, as previously intended.

Helen Goodman, member of parliament for Bishop Auckland in County Durham, tweeted on Tuesday, July 18: “Government withdrew motion on Unified Patent Court with no notice last night. Chaos and confusion for industry, especially for pharma and lawyers.”

[...]

He warned however that this development is another indication that the “fragile momentum behind the UPC process is easily blown off course”.

Well, British software firms oppose the UPC, but none of them is quoted above (as usual). It’s almost as though the actual companies that make and invent things don’t deserve a voice, only a bunch of law firms that prey on and exploit them.

Meanwhile, British businesses like Dyson are being dragged to the US for lawsuits. WIPR wrote about it this week; the problem is that Dyson “uses software to map” things and that alone, apparently (software patents), was enough to have Brits dragged across the Atlantic:

Robot company Mc Robotics has sued vacuum cleaning company Dyson for patent infringement.

The case was filed on Thursday, July 20, at the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Mc Robotics alleged that Dyson had infringed two patents belonging to it, which were US numbers 6,650,975 and 6,502,017.

After the UPC lobbying there’s also the threat of Dyson being dragged to various European cities by all sorts of patent trolls from all around the world, potentially invoking an embargo on Dyson products in quite a lot of countries. That would certainly be good for patent lawyers everywhere; but not so good for Dyson and its employees…

In 2017 Software Patents Are Barely Valid in the United States

Posted in America, Patents at 8:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Today’s simple reality is, even if the USPTO grants (or granted) a software patent, the prosecution certainty is notoriously low

THE past two days were spent covering Alice-type cases from the summer (so far, i.e. late May to present). As we showed, software patent cases where the patent/s got accepted/upheld were so rare; we found just one example and it was from a low court. It certainly seems sane to say that software patents lost any momentum and/or potency. Not many patent holders would be brave enough to litigate with these. Sometimes — even increasingly — the plaintiff is forced to pay the defendant’s legal fees, too.

A week ago there was this press release about Clay Cover. “He holds four software patents and has three more pending,” it said. So they’re probably worthless after Alice. Not so much to brag about.

“Unless one can settle out of court (i.e. the patents not examined by a judge at the PTAB or assessed by a court), the likelihood of software patents accomplishing anything is very low.”Last night a Microsoft-connected site wrote about Facebook and Snap, saying that the latter “Desperately Tries to Prevent Copycats” [1, 2] (copied elsewhere later, to another domain). “Ultimately,” it argued, “the hires will probably do little to nothing to stop Facebook from copying. Think about all the controversy surrounding software patents over the decades. This is an issue that the tech industry has tried to grapple with since the 1960s, with no clear conclusion. Software patents typically cover a specific way to implement an idea, not the idea itself; some argue the idea should be included in the patent. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2014 that “abstract ideas” cannot be covered by a software patent.”

Yes, that’s a good thing.

Unless one can settle out of court (i.e. the patents not examined by a judge at the PTAB or assessed by a court), the likelihood of software patents accomplishing anything is very low. This is why patent trolls, for example, tend to target small businesses that cannot afford going to court or have too small an incentive going to court (the settlement or ‘protection’ money tends to be proportional to the size of the business).

So, as long as software patents still exist (even if they are worthless) the trolls can still operate. We need them stopped too. TC Heartland is one small step towards that, but we wait for the giant leap.

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