03.30.16

EPO Losing Time: Two Weeks Later, Benoît Battistelli Has Made Virtually No Progress to Save Himself From Sacking

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The state of lawlessness and the perception of gross injustice persists at the EPO, with a general strike scheduled to take place next week

THE media has been rather quiet about the EPO as of late (two weeks after the latest storm), but that doesn’t mean that anything at all is improving. SUEPO‘s new (or newly-aired) Web site now has a translation of a recent report from Thomas Magenheim (11 days old).

With staff strike apparently one week away (not just a protest), the following is worth reposting.

Crisis meeting in Munich

No peace at the European Patent Office

By Thomas Magenheim 19 March 2016 – 09:47

Frenchman Benoît Battistelli is out to reform the European Patent Office. But his hard-line methods and his relationship with the staff have caused massive upset in the Office. No talk, then, of a chance for peace to be restored.

Benoît Battistelli

EPO boss Benoît Battistelli takes a hard line with the staff. Photo: dpa

Munich – No major showdown, but social peace is still far from breaking out at the European Patent Office (EPO). That at least is the way things look after the results of the latest crisis meeting of the EPO Administrative Council in Munich. The meeting was needed due to Office President Benoît Battistelli having imposed reforms with an iron hand over the past five years, and, at least in the view of staff representatives, has infringed a whole range of fundamental rights. Most recently, two leading officers of the in-house staff union were dismissed, which led to the escalation of the long-running feud between parts of the workforce and Battistelli within the trans-national organization.

Speculations about resignation

Now the Administrative Council has presented the Frenchman with an array of demands aimed at bringing the social situation back under control. There has already been speculation in various media about the resignation or dismissal of the 68-year-old Office President, and rumours of the amount of his golden handshake and names of his successor have been bandied about.

However, the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office has in fact now confirmed Battistelli in office for a further three years, until mid-2019. At the same time, the Supervisory Board has also reined him in, even if this may not last very long. Essentially, Battistelli is required, within three months, to present a reform of the internal investigation guidelines, and in future to submit disciplinary measures, such as the sacking of employees, to the Administrative Council before implementing them. The Council is insisting on fair proceedings, which implies that they were not necessarily so in the past.

The controversial dismissal of two Suepo officials, among them the Munich-based Suepo chief executive Elizabeth Hardon, is ground where the Council would rather not tread, however. As a focus of the meeting, this demand caused sharp conflict between Battistelli and the Chair of the Council, Jesper Kongstad. The Council, as the supervisory body, are taking the line with regard to new cases that the “possibility of an external examination, conciliation, or mediation” should be provided for, according to one of its resolutions. Battistelli is apparently required “to take into consideration” matters such as this; and that does not amount to a strict order.

Personnel demonstrating every month

The response among personnel representatives of the some 7000 employees has been mixed. As a means of bringing peace to the Office, however, the requirements imposed on Battistelli are apparently not being seen as adequate, if only because the disputed sacking of Hardon and another Suepo official will not now in fact be investigated by an independent party. The Suepo representatives do not want to be named, for fear of being blacklisted. This too is something that runs deep. The tense relationship could change if there were to be formal recognition of the union as a staff representative body, but that it still not forthcoming, even though the Administrative Council apparently already called on Battistelli to do this last year.

This requirement is now back on the agenda of the supervisory body, “due to serious concern about the social unrest in the EPO”. The warning from the Council is clear: Disciplinary proceedings against personnel or union representatives would make the possibility of coming to an accord even more difficult. A structural reform of the EPO Boards of Appeal is also a matter of urgency. Personnel representatives are sceptical about Battistelli falling in line this time with the wishes of the Council, and therefore of the 38 EPO Member States. The word is that real peace will only be possible if the President ups and goes. Until then, the staff are going to continue with their resistance, expressed in particular by monthly demonstrations.

Battistelli, too, has his take on reality. “The Council is satisfied with my work”, he declared in an interview with the “Handelsblatt”. He claims that he still has their full backing. His Office, as a trans-national institution, should not be considered from a purely German perspective. This applies in particular to domestic employees’ rights, which do not apply in the EPO. Comments like that do not bode well for the situation easing any time soon.

What’s noteworthy here is that a fortnight after the meeting of the Administrative Council there has been virtually no progress made by Battistelli. The arguably illegal pension cuts got canceled [EN | ES], but that’s hardly enough to even save Battistelli’s own job (let alone the staff representatives’).

With ‘Love’ Like Microsoft’s, Who Can Even Define Hate Anymore?

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Ubuntu at 8:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Or with ‘friends’ like these, who needs enemies?

BP loves puppies

Summary: Growing realisation that Microsoft is just lying to everyone while actively attacking GNU/Linux behind closed doors (secret deals, bribes, patent extortion and so on)

THIS morning there were many rants online about what Canonical had done with Microsoft in order to help sell Vista 10 and put Ubuntu inside a proprietary hypervisor, complete with keylogging, back doors, and so on. We don’t wish to spend any more time talking about the ramifications (there’s some of that in our latest daily links), but many people labeled it E.E.E. (and rightly so!). We wrote about it last night, also noting what Microsoft had been doing in China and Romania (this is being discussed further in Soylent News today)

“It has a crush on Linux, so it’s trying to crush Linux.”One particular article, sent to us this morning from a reader, says: “Relations with the Red State have come a long way since plans to ‘Dewindowsify’ were announced in 2014, suggesting that Microsoft would be turfed out in favour of a proprietary Linux-based system. This is still going on, and NeoKylin is already in use in some key government systems.”

Right, but Microsoft loves Linux. It says so. It has a crush on Linux, so it’s trying to crush Linux. Based on reports, Microsoft still actively works to undermine this massive migration. If this is a company that “loves Linux”, then we surely lost sight of what an enemy is. Incidentally, as pointing out by this same reader, IDG is pushing Microsoft propaganda again, shortly after attacking GNU/Linux with misinformation (same author). This spin boils down to, Microsoft lost and has no chance of recovery. Hence it won. This is journalism? Not even fact-checking. What next? Another “Microsoft loves Linux” article? They yank these out every other day (here is an example from last week). It’s more like a PR campaign than journalism.

“One strategy that Microsoft has employed in the past is paying for the silence of people and companies. Charles Pancerzewski, formerly Microsoft’s chief auditor, became aware of Microsoft’s practice of carrying earnings from one accounting period into another, known as “managing earnings”. This practice smoothes reported revenue streams, increases share value, and misleads employees and shareholders. In addition to being unethical, it’s also illegal under U.S. Securities Law and violates Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (Fink).

2002 story about Charles Pancerzewski, Microsoft

UPC Would Bring Software Patents to Europe and Open the Floodgates to Litigation

Posted in Europe, Patents, RAND at 7:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s not hard to imagine who would benefit from making the abstract patentable

Trojan horse

Summary: The UPC also has a FRAND angle/element to it and thus, in many cases, software patents in Europe (patent tax or lawsuits over software, which is typed and copied or distributed rather than manufactured or produced)

THE EPO‘s management, seemingly working for large corporations (not even European)*, keeps trying to undemocratically push the SMEs-hostile UPC, by extension spreading software patents in the European continent/commonwealth/nations and beyond them (the EPO is broader than that). Examiners at the EPO oughtn’t tolerate this as it jeopardises the quality of patents and damages the credibility of the EPO, along with the perceived value of European patents (EPs). We have already presented many articles, citing experts in the field, saying that UPC would bring software patents to Europe.

“Examiners at the EPO oughtn’t tolerate this as it jeopardises the quality of patents and damages the credibility of the EPO, along with the perceived value of European patents (EPs).”One subject we have been writing about for over 9 years is RAND (sometimes known as FRAND for an extra euphemism, “fair”). This new article from the Indian press (where the debate about software patents has been hot recently) speaks about “FRAND” as follows: “The past week had an article on standard essential patents (“SEPs”) by Divya Rajput, and how their licensing on Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (“FRAND”) terms helps several industries to operate and serve customers. Ms. Rajput makes several interesting points, but these points are not grounded in reality and reflect logical inconsistencies.

“We have already presented many articles, citing experts in the field, saying that UPC would bring software patents to Europe.”“There was a time when indentured servitude was considered to be a good thing. Thank God we are not living in those days. Today, it is a criminal offense. Same is true for licensing of SEPs. What was an excellent business practice in the 90s, is not a viable business strategy today. Out of the original five (Motorola, Ericsson, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, and Nortel), none remains in providing and manufacturing mobile phones. Rather, all are involved in patent licensing in some form or the other. The cross-licensing rates in those days cannot be used as a bench mark today.”

Well, based on this new report from MIP, UPC remains a Trojan horse for FRAND and thus software patents in Europe (we wrote many articles about this around 2008). To quote MIP (behind paywall): “Our latest UPC scenario looks at a case involving a standard-essential patent. Michael Carter, Nick Cunningham and David Barron consider a defendant’s options in the new court system” (see this recent example).

“…it’s imperative to rebut the claims which come primarily from patent lawyers, the EPO, and gullible journalists who just print whatever they’re told by those former two groups.”Readers should be made aware that in anti-FOSS lobbying circles (e.g. Business Software Alliance or Association for Competitive Technology) FRAND became a byword for software patents or incompatibility with FOSS. They try to phase FOSS out of existence, or simply make it arbitrarily taxable (see what Microsoft is doing to Linux and Android for instance), hence expensive and hard/impossible/verboten to redistribute. The UPC is a very dangerous thing. There is an article in German about it (just published, translations would be appreciated) and given the high (and growing) levels of misinformation in the media about the UPC, it’s imperative to rebut the claims which come primarily from patent lawyers, the EPO, and gullible journalists who just print whatever they’re told by those former two groups.
_____
* Suffice to say, the EPO is not European but an international body (exempt even from European laws). The only “European” thing about it is the staff. In spite of working for an international body, this staff is also European (EU citizens), hence should have European interests to defend, unlike the management (bossed by or made to please foreign stakeholders).

Links 30/3/2016: Torvalds in Spectrum, Fedora 24 Alpha

Posted in News Roundup at 6:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Quali Courts DevOps Community with Open Source Plugins and Libraries

    Quali hopes to forge stronger connections with the developer community by contributing plugins for its DevOps cloud sandbox platform as open source code, a move the company announced today.

  • How Open Source is Changing Data Center Networking

    Last June, AT&T went all-in on this bet, joining with the Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab) and the Open Network Operating System (ONOS) Project to form what’s now called Central Office Re-imagined as a Datacenter (CORD, formerly “Re-architected”). Its mission is to make telco infrastructure available as a service in an analogous fashion to IaaS for cloud service providers.

  • Kubernetes 1.2 Offers Rolling Updates, Persistent Volumes

    At the Google GCP Next conference last week in San Francisco, the company demonstrated how it was possible with Kubernetes to update a heavily used distributed application while keeping that app running.

    For a Kubernetes 1.2 on-stage demo, Greg DeMichillie, director of program management for Google Cloud Platform spun up a service and then used load testing software to dispatch 20,000 requests-per-second to the service.

  • Way to Go, FCC. Now Manufacturers Are Locking Down Routers

    Hey, remember when the FCC reassured us last year that it wasn’t going to lock down Wi-Fi routers? And everyone breathed a sigh of relief, because custom router firmware is actually a really good thing? Sure, it’s fun to improve your router by extending the range or making your network friendlier for guests. But open firmware is important for other reasons: it enables critical infrastructure, from emergency communications for disaster relief and building free community access points to beefing up personal security.

  • Google open source their Machine Learning System – Spokane Tech Time
  • OpenWebGIS: An open source geographic information system

    There are a lot of great geographic information systems (GIS) that run in web browsers and mobile apps, thanks in large part to the introduction of new web standards in 2010-11 and recent improvements in mobile devices.

    And yet, most existing GIS systems are half-built systems that require setup by the users, which can be difficult and inconvenient to common for users who don’t know how to code. There’s also a very limited range of free and open source options for scientific data analysis. We created OpenWebGIS in 2014 to address all of these issues in a single, ready-built solution.

  • Events

    • SxSW panel on the value of open source

      One question I get often is: “How can I build a business around something I’m giving away for free?” So, I wanted to attend the panel at SxSW this year called Don’t open source like a n00b, focused on how to make a project or product open source. We’ve seen many projects successfully do open source—like Linux, WordPress, and Koha—but how does a company like Booz Allen Hamilton jump from being a proprietary company to open sourcing their first product?

      Project Jellyfish was developed here in Austin by Booz Allen Hamilton; it’s software that can be described as a cloud brokering solution. The team there realized that many vendors are open sourcing their applications and that a lot of the new, cool stuff is being developed in the open. So, they made the decision to make Project Jellyfish open source, hoping their developers would more interested in participating. But, they still had to convince their partners to spend money to develop something they were going to give away for free.

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Happy Document Freedom Day

      Today is Document Freedom Day. As in the past 8 years we celebrate DFD on the last Wednesday of March all around the world. While the date is recommended this year DFD is being celebrated from March 16th to April 5th so far (we’ re still getting new registration as of this writing) .

    • Celebrate Document Freedom Day on March 30

      The FSFE has handed over Document Freedom Day to us earlier this year and while it took us a bit of time to get familiar with the way the current DFD website handles the events registration we have been steadily gathering more and more locations all over the world. So Document Freedom Day is happening on the last Wednesday of March, which is March 30th this year and Latin America seems very active in promoting Open Standards. We are very happy to meet new people thanks to the effort and will also celebrate our local DFD in Phnom Penh but slightly later on April 5th. If you are in the area please drop by, and if not please check the Document Freedom Day website for an event in your area. Happy DFD!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • MIT Media Lab makes open source the default

      MIT Media Lab has declared open source to be the preferred software licensing model for its projects. According to Joichi Ito, Director of the renowned interdisciplinary research laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the academic institution can achieve greater impact by sharing its work.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Paper Competition Announced for U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day 2016

      World Standards Day is celebrated annually around the world to increase awareness of the role that standards play in the global economy. To help celebrate the importance of standards, SES – The Society for Standards Professionals and the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day Planning Committee co-sponsor an annual paper competition for individuals in the U.S. standards community. The 2016 paper competition winners will be announced and given their awards at the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day, which will be held this year on October 27, 2016, at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.

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