US Patent Trolls Epidemic and Microsoft/Intellectual Ventures’ Latest Contribution to That

Posted in America, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 5:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Managing’ the competition using software patents…

Bill and Nathan

Summary: Some of the latest developments in the United States, where the number of lawsuits is high, potency of software patents is on the decline (at the courts at least), and Microsoft too explores the potential of patent extortion, just like patent trolls (shown above are Bill and Nathan, two close friends from Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures, respectively, although there are strong connections and clear financial overlap)

“Out of the 47 patent lawsuits filed today, 37 were filed by patent trolls,” said United 4 Patent Reform (that makes it 79% of lawsuits). No doubt it’s a big issue, but how many of these were using software patents, which the USPTO loves so much in spite of court rulings?

“That’s a lot of lawsuits and it doesn’t even count any of the secret settlements, which not only patent trolls are reaching with their victims but also companies like Microsoft sign as a form of covert attack on Linux.”Is the patent bubble bursting or is this just premature optimism? According to the patent maximalists from IAM, who have a patents review for 2015 (composed by patent lawyers) and some Asian angle (sanitised as usual): “The number of patent litigation cases in the US dropped dramatically in the first three months of this year, reaching levels not seen since 2011 – the year when the America Invents Act was signed into law. A total of 947 new patent lawsuits were filed between January and March, according to data from Unified Patents, down from 1,554 in the fourth quarter of 2015. That is the lowest number since the third quarter of 2011 when 924 new cases were filed.”

That’s a lot of lawsuits and it doesn’t even count any of the secret settlements, which not only patent trolls are reaching with their victims but also companies like Microsoft sign as a form of covert attack on Linux. Incidentally, new potential patent attacks from Microsoft against Linux have been brought to our attention a couple of hours ago. Having destroyed Yahoo, Microsoft now wants its patents (just like Novell with CPTN). Not too long ago an article from BI, citing News Corp. (more of a tabloid in this case), claimed: “The report said that companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, and LinkedIn have been closely following Yahoo’s sales process because they realize the intrinsic value of the company’s massive patent portfolio, which includes 6,000 intellectual properties in the field of mobile, data, and advertising technology.”

We already saw how Microsoft weaponised MOSAID (since then renamed to Conversant, an IAM sponsor) using Nokia’s patents, after Microsoft had hijacked Nokia. This too was an attack on Linux, e.g. in Android and ChromeOS form (distribution).

“Having destroyed Yahoo, Microsoft now wants its patents (just like Novell with CPTN).”As we noted a bunch of days ago, the Supreme People’s Court of China is increasingly concerned about what goes on in the patent litigation space (China is about as lenient as the US when it comes to patent examination) and MIP has just written a new report about it. Writing about PTAB, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board which is invalidating a lot of software patents these days, MIP says that it is “likely help to reduce the rate of institution of trials” and that the “USPTO dropping a proposed pilot programme” (the USPTO is an obstacle to any form of change that jeopardises near-zero quality control).

It sure looks as though right now the US remains too ripe a platform for patent trolls and extortion because of software patents, ease of litigation (including preferential venue/court selection), and various other factors that we covered here before. According to this new report a “Jacksonville tax software company thwarts patent infringement lawsuit,” but that comes at a high cost. To quote: “A Jacksonville tax preparation software company has emerged victorious in a lawsuit that claimed it violated another company’s patents for computerized tax preparation.

“The lawsuit was filed in February 2015 by Aatrix Software Inc. based in Grand Forks, N.D., against Greenshades Software Inc. claiming the Jacksonville firm infringed on two patents. Those patents essentially covered filings to the Internal Revenue Service for payroll taxes.”

“We already saw how Microsoft weaponised MOSAID (since then renamed to Conversant, an IAM sponsor) using Nokia’s patents, after Microsoft had hijacked Nokia.”So it had to pay patent lawyers for a whole year because of two software patents which were invalid (bogus) all along, owing to USPTO incompetence (if not institutional corruption). How many firms can even afford to do this? Many would just settle to dodge the legal fees, which certainly serve nobody except lawyers (at both sides, plaintiff and defendant alike).

In other news about patents, the Intellectual Ventures-connected Rovi is suing Comcast and patent maximalists indicate that it’s filed, as usual “in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division. In the complaint filed, which is quite detailed and very long (174 pages), Rovi is asking for a preliminary injunction, a finding that Comcast’s infringement is willful and deliberate, a finding that the case is exception and attorneys fees are appropriate, as well as damages for the infringement.”

“Europe already has patent trolls (Joff Wild denies that they exist). IAM probably wants more of them because they pay IAM.”Take this with a barrel of salt because it comes from the propaganda site of Quinn (pro-software patents spin), who now accuses courts of doing an improper job because they follow SCOTUS (Quinn, like Kappos, thinks he knows better than the Justices, and they both get paid for this shameless spin).

Going back to IAM, it turns out that Ericsson’s shell game with patent trolls is getting harder to follow as the shell is renamed for the third time (Ericsson’s patents becoming Openwave, then Unwired Planet, now something else). To quote IAM (which as usual neglects to say what Unwired Planet really is): “Speaking to IAM after the most recent UK decision, Teksler gave no hint that the firm’s position would soon change so dramatically. In quotes not included in the blog piece published on 29th March, he stated that he was looking forward to a further UK trial slated for October that would focus on how Unwired Planet reached its FRAND licensing rates. “We are hopeful that the court will confirm our approach and provide a much needed FRAND licensing framework for the industry,” he told IAM editor Joff Wild. Whether that trial now goes ahead remains to be seen.” Europe already has patent trolls (Joff Wild denies that they exist). IAM probably wants more of them because they pay IAM.

European Patent Office Half Empty Today

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What the EPO would look like with EPO-FFPE and the likes of them promoted to management roles amid brain drain [1, 2, 3, 4]

EPO-FFPE speech

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) is in so sordid a state that nearly half of all the workers were willing to take a salary cut and not show up at work, as an act of protest against Benoît Battistelli’s lawlessness

THE EPO was headless today as Benoît Battistelli left the country and his yellow union was flown in to do some propaganda and incite against SUEPO (see photograph above). Thankfully, they spoke to just 0.1% of the staff. Quite a success, eh? Worth the flight tickets which Battistelli reimbursed them for?

“Waiting for the king (in his own mind) to resign is misguided as Battistelli lives in a fantasy world.”Either way, based on this report, the number of absentees is huge. To quote The Register: “An estimated 2,700 employees – 40 per cent of all staff – at the European Patent Office went on strike Thursday, representing a significant challenge to EPO president Benoît Battistelli. [...] The strike is just the latest in a heated fight between staff and EPO management: a fight that the administrative council has given Battistelli until its next meeting in June to start resolving. Last month, Battistelli received a zero per cent confidence rating in a staff survey.”

Yes, well, it’s a crisis when your boss has zero per cent confidence rating and maybe it’s a sign that he needs to be sacked (possible in about a week). Waiting for the king (in his own mind) to resign is misguided as Battistelli lives in a fantasy world.

“An earthquake would be needed for the Administrative Council [...] not to support my major proposals.”

Benoît Battistelli

Samsung to Potentially Challenge Design Patents in the US Supreme Court While Filing Patent Applications for Designs

Posted in America, Apple, Courtroom, Law, Patents, Samsung at 3:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Defensive, offensive, or just outright dumb and unnecessary? Hypocritical for sure.


Summary: Dumb patents on very dumb/trivial ideas (like gate-locking, or slide to unlock) still a subject which the higher US courts deem worthy of Supreme intervention (while Samsung itself joins the problem with new patent filings)

KOREAN giant Samsung, the market leader in the Android space, is an attractive target for patent lawsuits, even though conventionally Korean companies aren’t combative patent aggressors themselves (they don’t deserve the pricey defendant’s treatment). There’s no escaping the aggressors for Samsung, which even got attacked using EPO patents on software and designs (Samsung won as the EPO patents turned out to be bogus, i.e. erroneously granted).

“There’s no escaping the aggressors for Samsung, which even got attacked using EPO patents on software and designs (Samsung won as the EPO patents turned out to be bogus, i.e. erroneously granted).”Samsung is pursuing design patents of its own now, based on the latest news, e.g. [1, 2, 3] (we found more than a dozen articles about this one) and Apple’s attack on Samsung using design patents is still a subject of discussion, even 2.5 weeks after it was news. This one new blog post says: “Oral argument has not yet been scheduled, but I imagine it will be held sometime in October or November after the Court returns from its summer recess. For now, at least, it seems likely that the Court will still consist of only eight, not the full complement of nine, justices.”

By extension, a lot of design patents will be considered/assessed by SCOTUS, but why were they being granted in the first place? Designs are often covered by laws other than patent law. In the context of patents it’s common for callback functions, i.e. software (behaviour), to be incorporated into the static (visual i.e. plottable) design.

“In the context of patents it’s common for callback functions, i.e. software (behaviour), to be incorporated into the static (visual i.e. plottable) design.”As we pointed out here a long time ago, design patents are in many cases just a subclass of software patents, hence they both need to go away. MIP does not quite agree and in a very recent post about “design rights” (not quite the same as design patents) it said: “After attending the recent INTA/AIPPI conference on “Designs: Into the Future”, James Nurton summarises what there is to love about designs – and also a few reasons not to love them. On the following pages, we also look in depth at the recent Trunki decision in the UK and the pending Apple v Samsung case in the United States”

The Trunki case has been mentioned many times in our daily links. It’s truly dumb and some might call it outrageous. But it’s not about patents. There is hardly a connection/parable here. Either way, to conflate or interject it into the Apple v Samsung would only mislead.

The United States Still Has Software Patents Because of USPTO Greed, Incapacity for Criticism/Change

Posted in America, Patents at 3:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The USPTO’s previous Director now a kind of lobbyist who works for software patents proponents, including his former employer

Kappos PAI

Summary: Criticism of US patent scope, which still leaves room for software patents because of corporate resistance to change/reform, motivated by USPTO maximalism (trying to grow numbers irrespective of quality)

THE USPTO is the main remaining barrier to abolition of software patents. The US Supreme Court already ruled on the subject, but the USPTO, which is powered by greed (just see what former Director Kappos is doing these days), refuses to obey the courts until it must, as it damages the USPTO’s reputation and valuation of patents.

“Innovation needs no patent protection,” a new article from The Hindu (published moments ago), speaks specifically about software patents in India and says (specifically citing the US as a problem): “The lack of clear boundaries in software means that even law-abiding software developers who intend not to violate another’s patent have no clear means of avoiding it. With 15,000-plus e-commerce patents (2010) in the U.S. alone, it is not possible to eliminate the risk of a patent infringement lawsuit. Frivolous lawsuits by U.S. patent trolls account for nearly 38 per cent of all patent litigation in the U.S. The problem of software patents ends up increasing the cost of software for all of society.”

“Actually, considering the original idea behind patents, secrecy oughtn’t be needed (nor protected).”If patents are about publication, which is what they were about in the first place (at time of their inception), how come so much secrecy and even talks of an appeal to the US Supreme Court, SCOTUS (regarding secrecy)? According to this new article: “Given the dissenting opinion in this case, a further appeal to the Supreme Court is not inconceivable. Unless and until that happens, however, communications between a patent applicant and their patent agent that are directly related to the preparation and prosecution of a patent are entitled to privilege. The difficulty will be in recognising when the line is crossed and, in grey areas, it is very likely that we will continue to see attorneys copied into correspondence.”

Actually, considering the original idea behind patents, secrecy oughtn’t be needed (nor protected). Why should SCOTUS resources be wasted on such matters? Besides, as we have already shown for nearly 2 years, the USPTO hardly cares what SCOTUS says. Courts continue to smash software patents to pieces, whereas the USPTO continues granting software patents. As this new article/blog post points out today, the issue is further complicated by the notion of computer-generated patent applications and minds as computer metaphors. “Courts now routinely,” says the author, use a particular subcategory “to invalidate claims for software inventions that “can be performed in the human mind, or by a human using a pen and paper.””

“Nobody benefits from all this red tape except monopolists and their lawyers (the monopolists already have them among staff, and the legal costs scale fine with their huge business base).”We saw such wordings before (“pen and paper” analogies), even in court rulings. The second aforementioned article (both from Bilski Blog) notes: “As the AlphaGo-like computers continue to help human predict the unpredictable and make fast breakthroughs, it also raises important questions about inventorship and challenges our present patent system. To have a well-functioning patent system in the digital age may require a rethinking of inventorship by our courts and legislature.”

Nobody benefits from all this red tape except monopolists and their lawyers (the monopolists already have them among staff, and the legal costs scale fine with their huge business base).

“Patent systems without restrictions on scope are bound to become just filing systems that are ultimately obsolete.”According to another new article from today, Uber gives yet another reason for a boycott as it pursues software patents to ensure monopoly whose overall (societal) cost would be huge. “It’s unclear how Uber’s new patent could affect Lyft’s application of its own “Prime Time” dynamic pricing feature,” wrote the author, “if at all. In recent years many in Silicon Valley have argued the process for obtaining software patents is flawed.”

Later today we are going to to touch several related matters. Patent systems without restrictions on scope are bound to become just filing systems that are ultimately obsolete.

On Day of Strike FFPE-EPO Reaffirms Status as Yellow (Fake/Management-Leaning) Union, Receives ‘Gifts’

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 12:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“It’s like singing to empty tables or a gallery full of ghosts”Frank Sinatra (audio link)

FFPE-EPO yellow union meeting

Summary: FFPE-EPO (pictured above) does a terrible job trying to come across as a legitimate union by receiving ‘gifts’ from management and flying over to do a show on a day of strike

It has become quite a spectacular circus at the EPO. This international body, which calls itself the ‘European’ Patent Office (because the workers are European), increasingly resembles — not only in the labour rights sense — some kind of mining corporation in an underdeveloped country. The only thing missing now is an actual assassination of a union leader.

“It has become quite a spectacular circus at the EPO.”We have seen several photos from the EPO today (day of strike [1, 2]), but the above photo is priceless. Watch the venue. It’s virtually empty. It’s a good thing Battistelli is away (chilling with his bodyguards in London) because he’s trying to influence/change laws in other countries, taking those countries down to his own level. What’s seen above requires some explanation or context. For those who are not familiar with FFPE-EPO, see previous articles of ours such as the following 10 (there were more):

  1. In the EPO’s Official Photo Op, “Only One of the Faces is Actually FFPE-EPO”
  2. Further Evidence Suggests and Shows Stronger Evidence That Team Battistelli Uses FFPE-EPO as ‘Yellow Union’ Against SUEPO
  3. “FFPE-EPO Was Set up About 9 Years Ago With Management Encouragement”
  4. Fallout of the FFPE EPO MoU With Battistelli’s Circle
  5. The EPO’s Media Strategy at Work: Union Feuds and Group Fracturing
  6. Caricature of the Day: Recognising FFPE EPO
  7. Union Syndicale Federale Slams FFPE-EPO for Helping Abusive EPO Management by Signing a Malicious, Divisive Document
  8. FFPE-EPO Says MoU With Battistelli Will “Defend Employment Conditions” (Updated)
  9. Their Masters’ Voice (Who Block Techrights): FFPE-EPO Openly Discourages Members From Reading Techrights
  10. Letter Says EPO MoU “Raises Questions About FFPE’s Credibility as a Federation of Genuine Staff Unions”

Less than a week ago FFPE-EPO published the following. As one person put it: “It must be hoped when dealing with patent applications, Mr van der Bijl develops higher standards of intellectual level than what can be seen with such pathetic prose hereunder:”

A first quick reaction to a publication about the MoU

Submitted by S van der Bijl on Fri, 01/04/2016 – 15:01

In a publication dated 31 march 2016 SUEPO wrote the following:

“The result is known: Mr Battistelli sent the Investigative Unit after his would-be “social partner” on the basis of vexatious and absurd accusations, thereby demonstrating bad faith. When questioned about the investigations during one of the meetings, Mr Battistelli cynically asked why we felt concerned. Under such circumstances meaningful talks are not possible and SUEPO pulled out. However, a small staff union (about 75 members) in The Hague did sign the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).”

There are a lot of interesting things to remark about this paragraphe. Let’s have a close look at the circular 341 “Policy on the prevention of harassment and the resolution of conflicts at the EPO”. Article 12 states the following:

1. Upon receipt of an allegation, the investigation unit shall carry out an initial review to assess whether the alleged conduct would, if proven, amount to harassment.
2. This initial review shall establish whether the allegations falls within the remit of the investigation unit. it shall not include any fact finding, or any assessment of the credibility of the allegation. It shall not prejudice the outcome of the future investigations.
3. Under normal circumstances, initial reviews shall be completed no later than 2 months from the date of receipt of the allegation.
4. If as a result of the initial review, the investigation unit finds that the allegation, if proven, would not amount to harassment, it shall close the investigative process. The investigative unit shall inform the complainant and the contact point for conflict resolution in writing of the outcome of the finding.
5. If the complainant is also the victim of the alleged harassment, he/she shall also be provided with a summary of the considerations which led to the decision.
6. If the investigative unit determines that the allegation, if proven, would amount to harassment, it shall evaluate and investigate it in accordance with the provisions below.

An investigation can therefore not be initiated by the president unless he is the victim or the witness to a case of harassment. If the investigation unit was asked to do an initial review it means that a staff member complained about being harassed!

SUEPO claims that this staff member, obviously not being president Batistelli, made a vexatious and absurd (or false) accusation against staff representatives. In other words there was no harassment and in any case, even if there was, this staff member accused the wrong persons. Obviously this staff member accusing SUEPO reps was therefore behaving in bad faith, or at least that is what SUEPO claims.

The investigation unit however studied the case and concluded that there was a case of harassment, informed the persons concerned (according to article 12(4)) and started an investigation (according to article 12(6)). So according to the statement of SUEPO above the wrong behaviour and lies of the complaining staff member were apparently believed by the investigation unit and this investigation unit, knowing that the accusations were wrong (“demonstrating bad faith”) continued nevertheless with an investigation knowing there was no harassment case that could possibly be proven. So, the whole, or at least a substantial part of the investigation unit was involved in a complot to help accuse falsely some union representatives as well.

The alleged complot is getting much bigger now. Then there is an investigation which included also an outside company specialised in such investigations. At this point only the president can intervene and to protect information gathering and the complainant order suspensions (Article 14(2)). So now the president, the PD responsible for personnel and an outside company are all entering in the complot to knowingly falsely accusing union reps.

According to article 15(1) of Circular 341 a Report of the findings is drafted and send to the complainant and the subject of the investigation. Both parties can make additional comments in writing. They probably both did. Apparently the investigation unit and the assisting outside company find the union representatives guilty and recommends that disciplinary procedures should to be started.

The president follows the recommendation and sends it to the disciplinary committee. The disciplinary committee is composed of members nominated by the staff representation and of members nominated by the president of the EPO. The disciplinary committee recommend unanimously that the allegations are proven and recommends a certain sanction to be applied. This means now the entire disciplinary committee, including staff reps, is now included in the complot of sanctioning union reps for something that never happened at all. In the mean time, complainants get harassed for having dared to complain, but of course this also did never happen.

Finally on the basis of the allegations, that never happened, and the harassment of complainants, that also never happened, and the results of the investigation, which were fabricated (by the same investigation unit?), the president takes a decision to apply a heavy sanction.

We will see what ATILO will decide relatively soon but suppose that the ILO tribunal decides to keep the sanction and to follow the disciplinary committee then would that mean that ATILO is also involved the complot of fabricating vexatious and false accusations against union reps.

The main question for you is of course: DO YOU BELIEVE THAT???

And then there is another small detail in the paragraph. FFPE EPO did not sign the proposed MoU. We signed a very different MoU then the one initially proposed. It took a whole year to get to an acceptable formulation for a MoU and the involvement and approval of the central FFPE in Brussels to get to an acceptable MoU of which we are of course very proud even if on some specific details it could be improved.

What’s worth noting about the above, in the words of one reader: “a new star is born: Samuel van der Bijl, chairman of FFPE-EPO.org, a “pseudo unionist” working hard at… defending the EPO President…. how touching! One question though: how come Samuel van der Bijl is so well informed about by nature highly confidential matters such as investigations?”

Chalk this up as another example of gross privacy violations and incompetence of EPO management. They previously did the same thing with journalists in order to defame critics. A lot of the above is made up or ‘sexed’ up. It’s the modus operandi in this wave of union-busting actions.

“EPO has provided funds for their flight tickets to MUC as well as granted time deduction to Samuel van der Bijl and Aldert de Haan who – on a day of office-wide strike – dared to come to Munich to speak to… non striking staff….”
What’s in the photo at the top? “It’s about the FFPE Union meeting held today in Munich,” the person who sent/leaked it to us explained. “It’s hilarious,” one regular reader told us, “comical and pathetic at the same time! EPO pays for two flight tickets for FFPE officials and 8 Munich non-striking staff attended.” These photos are apparently being passed around quite quickly right now. Internally, might one argue, they “went viral!”

As one person put it, “since they signed the crap MoU produced by Team Battistelli one may hope that as a return, EPO has provided funds for their flight tickets to MUC as well as granted time deduction to Samuel van der Bijl and Aldert de Haan who – on a day of office-wide strike – dared to come to Munich to speak to… non striking staff. And the result is above expectations: no less than 8 non-striking staff attended (among which one close-to-Bergot-staff-rep Christophe Poizat). FFPE: The EPO management’s supportive union!”

EPO is on Strike, Battistelli Escapes to London With His Bodyguards for More UPC Lobbying, FTI Consulting Goes for Brussels

Posted in Deception, Europe, Law, Patents at 10:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Billion-dollar handshakes: A 1% kind of meeting for the advancement of elite interests…

Neville-Rolfe and Battistelli

Summary: With trillions of dollars at stake (over the long run) the rich and the powerful, many of whom evade tax, continue to work behind closed doors (through agents or middlemen) in an effort to change the law in their favour while ordinary people are either uninformed or furious

THE EPO became an instrument of the rich and the powerful (perpetuating their wealth and power), which definitely isn’t what its creators foresaw or had in mind (way back in the EPC days).

Battistelli’s expected trip to London is starting to bear fruit (see this morning’s tweet from Neville-Rolfe) and maybe he can also pay a visit to his London lawyers who are threatening me (two legal firms in London).

“Battistelli’s expected trip to London is starting to bear fruit (see this morning’s tweet from Neville-Rolfe) and maybe he can also pay a visit to his London lawyers who are threatening me (two legal firms in London).”Techrights is quite frankly disgusted by Battistelli’s visit to the UK. He is not British, yet he is bending British law, and at the EPO he makes a mockery of British law while stomping on an Irish judge. To deport or extradite Battistelli would require him to be poor and less well-connected [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. These people, just like in Croatia, can seemingly get away anything. It’s all about one’s status; that’s why people like Julian Assange have an arrest warrant against them (also in London, where he continues to expose/publish rich people’s secrets) and Battistelli is treated like some kind of celebrity.

As we showed several weeks ago, Battistelli is expected to do some UPC lobbying over here. Now we have Bristows LLP staff (Annsley) doing an ‘article’ on Brian Cordery (Bristows LLP). The London-based IP Kat did what seems more like an ad, including UPC PR from Bristows LLP. What gives? Sites outside the UK do the same thing [via] because few people who work for very affluent people stand to gain from it.

Techrights is quite frankly disgusted by Battistelli’s visit to the UK. He is not British, yet he is bending British law, and at the EPO he makes a mockery of British law while stomping on an Irish judge.”The other day we saw a legal firm citing Jane Lambert [1, 2], a loud proponent of the UPC. Lambert is used to spreading around the impression that irrespective of UK membership in the EU the UPC is inevitable, or some nonsense along those lines. Here we have lawyers quoting other lawyers for ‘support’: “Hopefully the United Kingdom won’t jeopardize the Unitary Patent project with a vote to withdraw the European Union, says Jane Lambert, barrister from 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square in London. ‘However, it could still continue without us’, Lambert told Kluwer IP Law in an interview.”

This ‘interview’ is more like PR or lobbying. It’s designed for perception-setting. Greedy patent lawyers in the UK lick their lips over the UPC, but at whose expense? They don’t mind crushing democracy (the public is not consulted at all) because it’s all about serving themselves and their very affluent clients. Many doubts about the UPC persist, even from people who are within this system. To quote this one new comment:

Final thought – is the Baroness’ interpretation of “European patent” (e.g. meaning just an EP(UK), and not the whole bundle) consistent with the prevailing interpretation of the opt-out scheme?

That is, if “European patent” in Article 83(3) UPCA is interpreted to mean the whole bundle, then how on earth is it that the same term is interpreted to mean something different in the context of Article 26 UPCA?

Another comment says: “The U.K. implementation is nonsense on stilts, but that is what is to be expected when you get a politically driven compromise that resulted in a UPC Agreement and UP Regulation that was not understood by those agreeing it. Let’s see what the courts make of it. It will be particular fun when someone is found infringing by the UPC for acts that a national court would not find infringing. This is the inevitable result of how the UK is proposing to implement the UPC and UP. The fundamental tenets are fundamental. The mental implementation will be fun and mental.”

These are the words of people who actually work in this field. Another comment says:

As far as I can figure, implementation of the UPP will mean that, instead of one (national) law applying to one patent in any given country, there will instead be at least three different laws of infringement to choose from.

For cases brought before the UPC, there will be two possible laws of infringement, namely: (1) for EPUEs, the national law applicable to EPUEs in the Contracting Member State identified under Articles 5(3) and 7 of the UP Regulation; and (2) for not opted-out EPs, Articles 24 to 29 of the UPCA, plus (if necessary) provisions from laws specified in Article 24 of the UPCA.

If we accept the view of the Preparatory Committee (as set out in their interpretative note on Article 83 UPCA), the national courts will, for both opted-out and not opted-out EPs, apply a different (third) law of infringement – i.e. the national law applicable to opted-out EPs.

There are plenty of EP applications that, at present, could qualify for unitary effect. For those applications, therefore, the applicable law will depend upon all of the following factors:
- whether a request for unitary effect is filed (possible up to 3 months after grant); and, for non-unitary (parts) of patents in Contracting Member States of the UPCA
- whether an opt-out is filed, whether the patent is effectively opted out via the commencement of a national court action during the transitional period and whether an opt-out, once filed, is later withdrawn.

Thus, for such patents, all three different laws of infringement are current possibilities. Further, there are many situations in which the law that will actually be applied will not be known unless and until a court action is commenced. This could even affect patents for which unitary effect is requested – as there remains a possibility for that unitary effect to be cancelled and for a national court action to commence.

As such, this situation reminds me of Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment – as we will not know what the result is (i.e. applicable law of infringement) until we “open the box” (i.e. litigate) and find out what the court decides. For such “Schrödinger’s patents”, the possibilities for clever tactics and forum-shopping abound!

The situation could be particularly confusing for those MSs (such as Germany and France) where there is no distinct national law applicable to EPUEs. Whilst the UK’s implementation clearly has its (arguable) flaws, you have to give the IPO credit for attempting to improve matters by providing specific laws for EPUEs and opted-out EPs.

Nevertheless, I have to laugh when I look at recital 25 of the UP Regulation – which appears to assume that introduction of the UPP will improve legal certainty. Much like what happened with the “Bolar” provision, the Commission clearly underestimated the ability of the Member States to create chaos from order!

Right now, as we pointed out before, the EPO’s foreign PR agency (FTI Consulting with a huge budget) is sponsoring UPC propaganda events.

Based on the following E-mail sent around Brussels a few hours ago, over here in Europe this US-based firm (FTI Consulting) promotes similar agenda using events:

From: “Utta Tuttlies [EACD]” [redacted]
Date: 7 Apr 2016 12:13
Subject: Invitation: EACD meets the EU – Expert panel discussion – 28th April 2016
To: [redacted]

Dear [redacted],

The EACD cordially invites you to the second edition of EACD meets the EU which will take place on April 28th from 18.00 to 20.30 at FTI Consulting in Brussels. The expert panel discussion will focus on “How can communication help with boosting investment in Europe?”.

Boosting jobs, growth and investment is the no.1 priority of the Juncker Commission. With the Investment Plan for Europe, concrete steps have been taken at EU level to bridge the investment gap that emerged as a result of the economic crisis. How can communication help these efforts? How can investment projects and investors find each other? What can be done to improve business confidence? How can the role of different stakeholders such as the EU institutions, national and local governments as well as banks, companies and investors be communicated?

We hope to welcome you to this event! We also invite you to stay up-to-date and engage with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #EACDmeetsEU!

With best regards,

Utta Tuttlies
Board Member
European Association of Communication Directors

Head of Press & Communications
S&D Group, European Parliament

Meet Our Panelists

We are delighted to announce our panelists who will come together to share their thoughts about how to promote investment in Europe. Bela Dajka, Head of Corporate Communication at the European Commission will moderate the session.

Luc Van den Brande, Member of the Committee of the Regions, Adviser to European Commission President Juncker for the outreach towards citizens
Miguel Gil Tertre, Member of the Cabinet of Vice-President Katainen, European Commission
Matteo Maggiore, Director of Communications, European Investment Bank
Ezio Fantuzzi, International Relations and Media, Asset Management and Real Estate, Generali Group

Venue & Registration

The event will take place at FTI Consulting, 23 Avenue Marnix, 1000 Brussels, Belgium and will be free of charge, compliments of the EACD and our partner, FTI Consulting.

To register, please go to:http://www.eacd-online.eu/activities/calendar/eacd-meets-eu-how-can-communication-help-boosting-investment-europe

Should you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email at info@eacd-online.eu.

About Our Partner

FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 4,400 employees located in 26 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The Company generated .76 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2014. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com and connect with us on Twitter (@FTIConsulting), Facebook and LinkedIn.

Your Contact

Dear [redacted],

We hope to welcome you in Brussels for this event. Should you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at info@eacd-online.eu.

With best regards,

Stefanie Schwerdtfeger
EACD Coordination Team
37, Square de Meeûs
B-1000 Brussels
Tel +32 (0)2 219 22 90
With more than 2,300 members from 42 countries, the European Association of Communication Directors is the leading European network for in-house communicators. In addition to central events such as the European Communication Summit, the EACD hosts Regional Debates and Coaching Days across the European continent, where participants have the chance to meet with their peers from the region and share communications-related experience and ideas with colleagues who also work on an international level.
If you wish to not receive further information on the EACD please unsubscribe here: http://reply.wm13.de/www.eacd-online.eu/unsubscribe/204617

FTI Consulting only pretends to be European (just like many corporations and lobbyists with offices in Brussels or London); it’s actually based in the US. That's where a lot or European patent law (including, potentially, the UPC if it ever becomes a reality) seems to be discussed these days. Talk about loss of sovereignty.

There are very powerful forces that engaged in law laundering (e.g. secrecy laws to indirectly help hide tax evasion) and UPC is one of those things. ISDS in TPP/TTIP is beyond our scope of coverage. Battistelli’s trip to the UK is a disgrace. It happens to coincide with culmination of anger at his Office. People don’t show up at work. There’s a strike.

Links 7/4/2016: Ubuntu Touch OTA-10, MariaDB Improvements

Posted in News Roundup at 8:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Science

    • Exactly How Much Does It Cost in Electricity To Keep Our Mobile Addiction Going

      Found a really cool study by ZD Net that has occasionally no doubt made all of us ponder. I’ve had a thought that the total electricity consumed by a mobile phone from its recharging is worth less than one dollar (or one Euro actually) per year but that was an ancient number from very hazy sources. Now we have a fresh study by ZD Net who did it on a phablet-screen iPhone 6 Plus. They measured that it consumes 19.2 wh (watt hours) per night of recharging. In a year it amounted to 7 kwh (kilowatt hours). And by current US electricity costs that amounts to 84 US cents ie $0.84 to keep the iPhone on for a year in electrical costs.

  • Hardware

    • NVIDIA DGX-1: World’s First Supercomputer For Deep Learning And AI

      NVIDIA, the leading maker of GPUs, has announced DGX-1 — the world’s first dedicated supercomputer for deep learning AI applications. This beast delivers 170 teraflops performance, thanks to 8 Tesla P100 deep learning GPUs and high-end Intel Xeon processor.

    • Inside Nvidia’s Pascal-powered Tesla P100: What’s the big deal?

      So there it is: the long-awaited Nvidia Pascal architecture GPU. It’s the GP100, and it will debut in the Tesla P100, which is aimed at high-performance computing (think supercomputers simulating the weather and nuke fuel) and deep-learning artificial intelligence systems.

      The P100, revealed today at Nvidia’s GPU Tech Conference in San Jose, California, has 15 billion transistors (150 billion if you include the 16GB of memory) and is built from 16nm FinFETs. If you want to get your hands on the hardware, you can either buy a $129,000 DGX-1 box, which will gobble 3200W but deliver up to 170TFLOPS of performance when it ships in June; wait until one of the big cloud providers offers the gear as an online service later this year; or buy a Pascal-equipped server from the likes of IBM, Cray, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, or Dell in early 2017. The cloud goliaths are already gobbling up as many of the number-crunching chips as they can.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Assad-Oriented Shia Militia May Have U.S. M-1 Abrams Tank

      Perhaps the most fundamental flaw in the flailing U.S. anti-ISIS strategy is the belief that any group willing to fight ISIS must support at least some U.S. goals, and that any group not ISIS is better in the long run than ISIS.

    • All Those Evil Violent Video Games Apparently Failed At Turning Kids Into Deviant Murder-Terrorists

      We all know that society is going straight down a hellish toilet bowl. We know this mostly because everyone says so. Violence is rampant, sex is carried out with all the care of discussing the weather, and generally we’re squashing morality like it was a bug walking across the concrete. And we all know who the real culprits of all this immorality are: teenagers.


      Huh. Turns out we were the little shits and today’s kids are better on lots of moral questions. It’s almost like societal progress produces tangible results. But the really interesting part is in the wider table that compares all kinds of questions and results for today’s youth with the youth of yesteryear.

    • The Wacko Right Nexus

      The Quilliam Foundation is a group led by people who claim to be former Islamic jihadists who have now reformed. It is the go-to organisation for the BBC and Murdoch’s Sky News whenever Islamic matters, and particularly terrorism, are aired on the media. It is presented, quite falsely, as a neutral and technocratic organisation.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Edward Snowden lambasts Cameron for sudden privacy u-turn
    • Snowden mocks British PM for terming Panama Papers leak ‘private matter’

      Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower, has expressed surprise at British prime minister’s statement that his father’s implication in the list of high-profile tax avoiders was “a private matter”.

      According to Panama Papers, the late Ian Cameron’s Blairmore Holdings Inc company, set up in the 1980s, managed tens of millions of pounds for the wealthy but has never paid tax on UK profits.

    • Private matter? That’s rich! Edward Snowden deals Cameron a Twitter takedown

      David Cameron has been called out for hypocrisy by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden after the PM, who has presided over a raft of new surveillance powers, claimed his late-father’s tax affairs are “a private matter.”

      In response, Snowden, who exposed the extent of GCHQ and NSA mass surveillance, tweeted: “Oh, now he’s interested in privacy.”

      Leaks suggest Ian Cameron did not pay British taxes on his estate for 30 years.

    • Panama Papers: Edward Snowden ridicules David Cameron over privacy

      Edward Snowden has drawn attention to David Cameron’s apparently new interest in privacy, in the wake of questions about his family’s tax affairs.

      The Prime Minister avoided questions about his tax situation, following mentions of his father Ian Cameron in the “Panama papers”. Mr Cameron has looked to argue that his tax affairs are not public and so shouldn’t be discussed.

    • Why the Panama Papers Matter

      In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers. His position as a United States military analyst gave him access to information that he felt should not be hidden from the public. The papers he copied and distributed to the New York Times contained evidence showing that what the government was telling the public it was doing in Vietnam was not true. They sent more troops than they said they were sending. They told the public that the war was winding down when in fact they were broadening their reach in Vietnam. The Pentagon Papers had proof that more than one administration during the Vietnam War put their desire for reelection ahead of ending the war.

    • Recent Global Leaks, From Snowden To The Panama Papers

      Founded in 2006 and launched a year later by Australian ex-hacker Julian Assange, WikiLeaks begins releasing secrets such as operating procedures at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, and the contents of US politician Sarah Palin’s personal e-mails.

      In April 2010, the video of a US helicopter strike in Baghdad that killed two Reuters staff and others puts WikiLeaks back in the headlines.

      It follows up in the summer with two massive releases of tens of thousands of internal US military documents relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, detailing cases of abuse, torture and civilian deaths.

    • Panama Papers leaks show change doesn’t happen by itself, says Edward Snowden

      A trove of leaked data about offshore tax havens in Panama highlights more than ever the vital role of the whistleblower in a free society, says one of the tech era’s most prominent figures to expose state secrets, Edward Snowden.

      The former U.S. intelligence contractor said Tuesday that the so-called Panama Papers, which were given to journalists by an anonymous source, demonstrate that “change doesn’t happen by itself.”

      “The media cannot operate in a vacuum and … the participation of the public is absolutely necessary to achieving change,” the ex-National Security Agency analyst said during a video conference from Moscow.

      Snowden was speaking from exile on a panel organized by Simon Fraser University examining the opportunities and dangers of online data gathering.

    • Information Wants to Be Free: Famous Leaks Through the Ages

      At 2,600 gigabytes, the Panama Papers were the biggest data leak in history — a massive information dump that exposed the shady dealings of billionaires, celebrities , sports stars and world leaders.

      In this case, it was somebody with access to the records of the Panama City-based Mossack Fonseca law firm who steered some the 11.5 million records to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the U.S.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

    • Snowden says Panama Papers show whistleblowers ‘vital’ to society

      Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor responsible for the release of thousands of classified documents detailing the American government’s use of mass surveillance, says the Panama Papers show the role of the whistleblower in a free society has become “vital.”

      Mr. Snowden, who is living in Russia under political asylum, made the comments via video link during a sold-out event hosted by Simon Fraser University on Tuesday night.

      Mr. Snowden said the Panama Papers reveal “the most privileged and the most powerful members of society are operating by a different set of rules.”

    • Highlights from Edward Snowden’s Vancouver address

      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden brought a rousing call to arms to Vancouver Tuesday night, when he spoke live via weblink to a captivated audience at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

      “Technology has been used as a sword against people but it can also be used as a shield,” he told the sold-out theatre.

    • Edward Snowden says Panama Papers show whistleblower role is ‘vital’

      The release of the Panama Papers shows that the role of whistleblowers is more important than ever, Edward Snowden told a sold out crowd in Vancouver Tuesday night.

      The NSA whistleblower appeared via live weblink at the SFU-hosted event, which took place at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

      Although the event was scheduled months ago, Snowden’s speech in Vancouver was timely, coming on the heels of the release of the Panama Papers that has embarrassed politicians and businessmen, exposed global corruption and tax evasion, and led to the resignation of the prime minister of Iceland.

    • The Panama Papers: leaktivism’s coming of age

      The theory that leaking information is an effective form of social protest is being put to the test like never before. It could give rise to capitalism’s greatest crisis yet

    • Leaks that shook the world

      The Panama Papers are the latest in a long line of leaks that have had political repercussions across the globe.

      Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked what became known as the Pentagon Papers in 1971. They detailed how war in Vietnam had been escalated by the US from 1945 to 1967.

      The Watergate scandal was one of the biggest political controversies of the 20th century, prompting President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974. A source known as “Deep Throat” helped bring the burglary of the Democratic National Committee to light, which the Nixon administration tried to cover up.

      In 2010, whistle-blowing website Wikileaks released US State Department cables that the American government considers critical for its national security.

    • Snowden tells Vancouver audience Panama Papers leaker hasn’t contacted him

      Like most tech wizards, Edward Snowden says he’s more of a night person.

      But the famed U.S. whistleblower was pushing that stereotype to its outer limits Tuesday (April 5) when he addressed a Vancouver audience via live-stream from Russia, where it was about 5:20 a.m. local time.

    • Edward Snowden is touring Australia (sort of)

      Edward Snowden, the most controversial whistle-blower not to don an umpires uniform, is set to embark on a speaking tour of Australia. He will, however, not be present in the flesh.

    • NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks to Vancouver crowd via videolink
    • Edward Snowden appearing via video link at Queen Elizabeth Theatre tonight
    • Panama Papers: Could Pirate Party Co-Founder Birgitta Jónsdóttir Become Iceland’s Next PM?

      Iceland’s Pirate Party has seen a surge of support following the publication of the Panama Papers, which led to the resignation of the country’s prime minister.

      Leaked documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed that Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore company with his wife, which he failed to declare when he entered Parliament. He is accused of concealing millions of dollars’ worth of family assets. We speak to the group’s co-founder, former WikiLeaks volunteer Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who is now a member of the Icelandic Parliament.

    • Iceland government appoints new PM, to call early elections

      Iceland’s government named a new prime minister and called for early elections in the autumn on Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson quit to become the first global politician brought down by the “Panama Papers” leaks.

      It was unclear whether the naming of Fisheries Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson to head the government or the call for early elections would satisfy the thousands of Icelanders who in street protests this week demanded the government resign immediately for early elections.

      Gunnlaugsson quit as prime minister on Tuesday after leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm showed his wife owned an offshore company that held millions of dollars in debt from failed Icelandic banks.

    • A rerun of 2009? No, we Icelanders are much angrier this time

      The farce currently playing out in Icelandic politics hit new heights yesterday.

      Tuesday began well. The leaders of the two coalition parties met for the first time after the notorious broadcast in which the Icelandic people watched their prime minister’s hypocrisy exposed.

      Bjarni Benediktsson, the leader of the Independence party – the coalition partner of the ruling Progressive party – had strongly intimated before the meeting that his party would pull out of the coalition agreement, which would lead to new elections. The nation held its collective breath.

      Shortly after that meeting ended the prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, wrote a cryptic status on his Facebook page that appeared to be a veiled threat to his coalition partner. Paraphrased, it went something like this: “If you do not continue to support me in the good works I have performed for this nation I will make the president dissolve the parliament nyah nyah.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption

      They also include at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’d been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.

    • Trump reveals plan to finance Mexico border wall with threat to cut off funds

      Republican says the key to wall’s financing is forcing Mexico to make a one-time payment of $5-10bn or halt money transfers from immigrants to family at home

    • Here’s the Price Countries Pay for Tax Evasion Exposed in Panama Papers

      READING THE many stories based on the giant leak of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca — notorious for its prolific creation of shell companies to hide assets of wealthy malefactors — you might well ask: How much tax revenue do the world’s governments lose thanks to this kind of financial engineering?

    • ‘Panama Papers’ Law Firm Helped CIA Operatives, Gun-Runners Set Up Shell Companies

      After journalists started naming names in the massive document dump known as the Panama Papers, which details the shadow networks of shell companies and tax havens used by the super-rich, many wondered why Americans went unmentioned in the international scandal. Now, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has implicated the CIA as one of the players of this secret — if technically legal — game of hiding money from tax collectors.

    • Panama Papers vs NSA: How big is the latest leak?

      The Panama Papers created a global stir, not only for detailing how rich and powerful people hide their wealth, but for the sheer size of the data involved.

      But is it, as Edward Snowden claims, bigger than his leaked NSA data? And how does it compare to the fallout from U.S. diplomatic information released by Chelsea Manning via WikiLeaks?

    • Panama Papers Reveal How the Well-Connected Wage Economic War

      It has been 45 years since Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers revealed unknown details of how the U.S. was waging war in Vietnam. This week, the release of what are known as the Panama Papers is showcasing how some of the world’s wealthiest and most corrupt leaders in business and government are, in their way, declaring an economic war on the world’s citizens.

    • The Panama Papers: public interest disclosure v the right to private legal advice
    • FT post on the Panama Papers: public interest disclosure v the right to private legal advice
    • David Cameron’s father sought legal advice on best tax havens

      David Cameron’s father took detailed legal advice about the pros and cons of different tax havens before the fund he had helped set up was transferred to Ireland, the Guardian can reveal.

      A leading international law firm wrote an analysis of the Cayman Islands and Bermuda as possible places to host Blairmore Holdings Inc, as it considered whether to “migrate” the investment fund from Panama.

      Blairmore was moved in June 2012 to Ireland – another tax haven with many of the advantages of offshore jurisdictions.

    • Cameron stepped in to shield offshore trusts from EU tax crackdown in 2013

      David Cameron intervened personally to prevent offshore trusts from being dragged into an EU-wide crackdown on tax avoidance, it has emerged.

      In a 2013 letter to the then president of the European council, Herman Van Rompuy, the prime minister said that trusts should not automatically be subject to the same transparency requirements as companies.

    • Where does David Cameron’s money come from?

      Downing Street has had a torrid week fending off questions about David Cameron’s finances in the wake of the Panama Papers leak. At first, No10 said it was a private affair – a knockback that provoked even further scrutiny of his family’s wealth and how it was earned. The prime minister now says neither he nor his family will benefit from any offshore funds now or in the future. But what of the past? Here, the Guardian sets out how the Camerons made a fortune from inherited wealth and family companies.

    • David Cameron ‘argued to water down transparency rules over trusts’

      Downing Street has defended a move by David Cameron to water down the effect of EU transparency rules on trusts despite warnings it could create a loophole for tax dodgers.

      The Prime Minister successfully argued in 2013 for trusts to be treated differently to companies in anti-money laundering rules, The Financial Times revealed.

      It comes after Mr Cameron came under intense pressure over his family’s tax arrangements following the Panama Papers data leak, which reportedly included details about his late father Ian’s tax affairs.

    • David Cameron challenged on benefits from father’s tax haven money #PanamaPapers

      DOWNING STREET are refusing to provide transparency surrounding David Cameron’s financial interests amid the widening scandal over the global tax haven industry.

    • Panama Papers: David Cameron faces questions over father’s off-shore fund in Jersey

      David Cameron is facing further questions over his links to offshore investment funds, after it emerged that his late father was involved in a second company based in a tax haven.

    • David Cameron personally intervened to prevent tax crackdown on offshore trusts

      David Cameron personally intervened to prevent EU transparency rules affecting offshore tax trusts despite warnings it could create a loophole for tax dodgers, it has emerged.

      The Prime Minister sent a letter that successfully argued for trusts to be treated differently to companies in anti-money laundering rules.

    • No 10 defends timing of pro-EU leaflets announcement amid pressure on PM

      Vote Leave campaigners accuse Downing Street of trying to deflect attention from Panama Papers revelations

    • David Cameron avoids question on benefiting from father’s tax affairs

      David Cameron has ducked a question about whether his family stands to benefit from offshore assets linked to his late father, after his tax affairs came under scrutiny following the Panama Papers data leak.

      The prime minister gave a carefully worded reply saying he had no offshore trusts, funds or shares, after giving a speech about the EU in Birmingham.

      Dowing Street later revealed that his wife, Samantha, benefits from shares related to her father’s land, but insisted that neither she nor the Camerons’ children currently benefit from Blairmore, an offshore investment fund set up by the prime minister’s late father.

      Cameron’s first direct intervention into the controversy came in response to a question posed by Sky News.

    • Immigrants Shouldn’t Be Locked Up for Being Poor

      In the federal criminal bail system, judges are required to consider someone’s financial ability to pay a bond and determine if alternative conditions of supervision — check-ins, travel restrictions — are enough to get the person to show up for court.

    • Microsoft, Amazon, others excel at offshore tax dance [Ed: IRS is after Microsoft]

      The invisible web of connections by which the rich get a sweeter deal is starting to be exposed. How America reacts is huge — especially for one of the top users of offshore tax havens, Microsoft.

    • Nokia to cut thousands of jobs following Alcatel deal [Ed: Microsoft killed Nokia]

      Telecom network equipment maker Nokia NOKIA.HE is planning to cut thousands of jobs worldwide, including 1,400 in Germany and 1,300 in its native Finland, as part of a cost-cutting program following its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent.

      Finland’s biggest company has cut thousands of Finnish jobs over the past decade as its once-dominant phone business was eclipsed by the rise of smartphone rivals. The phone business was eventually sold to Microsoft MSFT.O, which has continued cutting jobs in the recession-hit country.

    • U.S. readies bank rule on shell companies amid ‘Panama Papers’ fury

      The U.S. Treasury Department intends to soon issue a long-delayed rule forcing banks to seek the identities of people behind shell-company account holders, after the “Panama Papers” leak provoked a global uproar over the hiding of wealth via offshore banking devices.

    • U.S. readies bank rule on shell companies amid ‘Panama Papers’ fury

      F. Scott Fitzgerald apparently never told his Parisian drinking buddy Ernest Hemingway, “Ernie, the rich are different from us,” only to be rebuffed by the legendary comeback, “Yes, they have more money.” Like so many famous anecdotes, that one was cooked up years after the fact (probably by Fitzgerald’s posthumous editor, the literary critic Edmund Wilson). One reason that apocryphal exchange possesses such enduring cultural resonance is that both observations are true, and what sounds like a contradiction is not a contradiction after all.


      Those are explosive charges, and one should of course be cautious in characterizing a powerful law firm that has tried to deny or deflect most of these allegations in a vigorous if laborious rebuttal, published in full on the Guardian’s website. In a long-winded letter signed by Carlos Sousa, the firm’s public-relations director, Mossack Fonseca insists it “does not foster or promote illegal acts,” respectfully disagrees with the conclusion that it sought to help anyone avoid paying taxes or launder dirty money, and claims to “have operated beyond reproach in [its] home country and in other jurisdictions” for 40 years. Furthermore, if any of its clients misused its services or did anything illegal, the firm professes itself deeply shocked and distressed (I am paraphrasing, but not by much). In short, Mossack says it did nothing wrong or at least didn’t mean to, and has recently added 26 new hires to its “compliance department” to ensure it continues to do nothing wrong in the future.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Sanders Wins Wisconsin Primary, Extending Streak

      Meanwhile, Sanders was whipping up crowds across Wisconsin. On Sunday, he was back in Madison, at the University of Wisconsin’s basketball arena. He couldn’t fill the entire arena this time around, but he still managed to draw 4,400 people—even though he’d just been in town a week prior. He brought in a host of national talent to whip up the crowd: Actors Shailene Woodley and Rosario Dawson spoke, while indie-rock band Best Coast played a short set. But perhaps more telling was a band of local singers, who regularly protest Gov. Scott Walker through song in the state capital and who performed pro-union songs before the national acts on Sunday.

    • Hedge Funds are Part of a Tricky Money Maneuver to Put Hillary in the White House

      But two hedge fund billionaires backing a Republican candidate pales in comparison to the tens of millions of dollars flooding into Hillary Clinton’s campaign from other hedge fund billionaires – including money flowing into a joint fundraising committee called the “Hillary Victory Fund” that is sluicing money to both Hillary’s main candidate committee, Hillary for America, as well as into the Democratic National Committee and 33 separate state Democratic committees, which has some observers crying foul.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Chinese censors spring into action to erase mentions of Panama Papers from the web

      The leaked 11.5 million files, spanning 2.6 TB of data, include references to the relatives of at least eight current or former Chinese officials, says the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Chinese censors have now gone into overdrive, working overtime to eliminate all mentions of this from Chinese websites.

    • LATEST VIDEO – York webcast video censorship row resolved – deleted scenes will be restored

      The deleted scenes from a City of York council webcast will be put back into a recorded version that sits on the council website. It follows a huge row where a group of councillors have accused council officers of censorship.

      The leader of the council, Chris Steward, has been informing everyone tonight that the webcast should be reinstated in full tomorrow.

    • China ramps up Panama Papers censorship after leaders’ relatives named

      Chinese censors have stepped up their censorship of websites, ordering all content related to the Panama Papers to be scrubbed as new revelations emerged of how relatives of some of the country’s top leaders had used secretive offshore companies to store their wealth.

    • Egypt arrested people for their Facebook comments. Now it’s trying to block Facebook itself [“Blocking all of Facebook is not all bad, selective blocking though is censorship.” -iophk]

      In recent months, the Egyptian government has arrested or jailed several people for posting comments on Facebook that it considered inflammatory. Now, it seems, the government and some lawmakers are going after Facebook itself.

      Parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel-Al has called for new legislation to “control the excesses” of Facebook. Another lawmaker, Gamal Abdel Nasser, wrote in a statement this week that “people who use Facebook to write highly dangerous things to our national security should be arrested.”

    • Steam Censors Pirate Bay Links in Chat Client

      Steam users who want to share a link to The Pirate Bay from the built-in chat client will be disappointed, as mentions of the popular torrent site are being censored. Links to various torrent and file-sharing sites are actively stripped from discussions, presumably because Valve doesn’t appreciate some of the content that’s shared through the site.

    • US trade secrets bill passed unanimously in Senate [Ed: Shock horror! Rich politicians pass laws that protest rich people]
    • Apple granted patent on real-time censorship technology

      According to Business Insider, Apple has been granted a patent on a new technology that would allow for audio streams to be audited and edited for explicit content in real-time, as outlined in a recently published patent application.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Panama Papers Endanger Anonymity of ‘Pirate’ Sites

      Described as one of the largest leaks in history, the Panama Papers reveal where some of the wealthiest people in the world hide their fortunes. However, offshore companies are also widely used for anonymity, as the listing of two Megaupload defendants reveals. This could spell trouble for quite a few file-sharing sites and services that hide behind offshore companies.

    • Another Privacy Canary in the Coal Mines?

      That speculation seems appropriate given how we learned of the opinion in the first place. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has repeatedly warned that the OLC’s opinion on common commercial service agreements is critical to understanding the ongoing cybersecurity debate and contains a legal interpretation that is “inconsistent with the public’s understanding of the law.” Sen. Wyden has a history of alerting the public to the government’s reliance on secret law. The last time the senator warned that the executive branch’s secret legal interpretation would shock the public, it turned out he was referring to the NSA’s unlawful bulk collection of call records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The facts underlying his warnings roared into public consciousness with the first Snowden disclosure publicized in June 2013.

    • Law Enforcement Raids Another Tor Exit Node Because It Still Believes An IP Address Is A Person

      An IP address is not a person, even less so if said IP address traces back to a Tor exit relay. But that’s not going to stop the “authorities” from subjecting people with no knowledge at all of alleged criminal activity from being subjected to raids and searches.

      It happened in Austria. Local police seized a bunch of computer equipment from a residence hosting a Tor exit node. ICE — boldly moving forward with nothing more than an IP address — seized six hard drives from Nolan King, who was also running a Tor exit relay.

      Those more familiar with Tor suggested ICE’s “upon information and belief” affidavit statements should probably include at least a little “information” and recommended law enforcement check publicly-available lists of Tor exit nodes before conducting raids based on IP addresses. ICE, however, vowed to keep making this same mistake, no matter what information was brought to its attention.

    • Destroying Reputations And Hacking Elections For Fun And Profit

      Although rather forgotten now, one of the most troubling Snowden revelations appeared in 2014, and concerned GCHQ’s “dirty tricks” group known as JTRIG — the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group. Put simply, its job is to “manipulate, deceive and destroy” reputations. Of course, it would be naïve to think that GCHQ is alone in using these techniques. We can safely assume all the major spy agencies engage in similar activities, but what about other players? To what extent might ambitious politicians, for example, be using these dirty tricks to slime their opponents — and to win elections unfairly?

      If a long and fascinating feature in Bloomberg is to be believed, the outcome of presidential elections in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela were all influenced and possibly even determined by the work of one man, a certain Andrés Sepúlveda, using similar methods to those employed by JTRIG. It’s a great story, and well-worth reading in full. What follows are some of the details that are likely to be of particular interest to Techdirt readers.

    • OnionScan: Tool To Check If Your Dark Web Site Really Is Anonymous

      Sarah Jamie Lewis is an independent security researcher who has devised a tool called OnionScan to locate the loopholes in dark web sites. This will allow system admins to find flaws in their websites and minimize the chance of the leakage of their server’s real IP address.

    • Highlights from Edward Snowden’s Vancouver address

      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden brought a rousing call to arms to Vancouver Tuesday night, when he spoke live via weblink to a captivated audience at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

      “Technology has been used as a sword against people but it can also be used as a shield,” he told the sold-out theatre.

      “To what do we owe a greater loyalty – to the law or to justice?”

      Addressing everything from the recently leaked Panama Papers to the best way to keep your personal data private, Snowden was certainly hard-hitting and at times felt radical.

      But his sense of humour and candour was also clear from the start, when host CBC senior correspondent Laura Lynch thanked him for getting up early at around 5 a.m. Moscow time.

    • Snowden: Surveillance is about “social control,” not terrorism

      “To whom do you owe a bigger loyalty: to the law, or to justice?”

      Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who gained international fame after leaking classified documents to journalists at The Guardian, reflected on his choice to risk his safety and his life to expose the actions of the American government, which included monitoring private phone calls and emails. “Eventually, you have to make an individual decision, a moral decision, a decision of conscience,” he said.

      As the last entry in the Spring 2016 President’s Dream Colloquium on Big Data, Snowden spoke to a crowd of roughly 3,000 people at a packed Queen Elizabeth Theatre, with even more watching via live webstream. Charged with three felonies and unable to return to his home in the United States, Snowden is currently living in Russia on a three-year temporary asylum.

    • NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks to Vancouver crowd via videolink

      NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden is speaking about the Panama Papers, an unprecedented leak of files showing how the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax havens, via video link in Vancouver.
      Snowden is giving a keynote speech called “Big Data, Security and Human Rights” at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, hosted by Simon Fraser University.

    • UK Police Flagging Uncharged Arrestees As Possible National Security Threats To Keep Their Biometric Data From Being Deleted

      Rules are rules, except when they aren’t. UK law enforcement’s biometric database has strict rules governing the retention of data not linked to suspects facing charges. The system automatically deletes the data when a file is flagged as closed, which happens automatically when a person is released without bail. At this point, “problems” develop, as The Register’s Alexander J. Martin explains.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Using The All Writs Act To Route Around The Fifth Amendment

      USA Today’s Brad Heath has dug up another use for the FBI’s now-infamous All Writs Act orders: skirting the Fifth Amendment. In a 2015 case currently headed to the Appeals Court, the government is attempting to use All Writs to force a defendant to unlock his devices.

      The order finding Francis Rawls guilty of contempt contains a footnote pointing to the government’s use of an All Writs order to force Rawls to unlock his devices — and, one would think — allow the government to dodge a Fifth Amendment rights violation.

    • Former CIA/NSA Chief Hayden Fantasized About Assassinating Edward Snowden

      The spy chief under the George W. Bush administration says that assassinating the whistleblower was something he considered during his ‘darker moments.’

    • Using The All Writs Act To Route Around The Fifth Amendment

      USA Today’s Brad Heath has dug up another use for the FBI’s now-infamous All Writs Act orders: skirting the Fifth Amendment. In a 2015 case currently headed to the Appeals Court, the government is attempting to use All Writs to force a defendant to unlock his devices.

    • ‘There’s Never Been a Drug Law That Wasn’t Tied to Race’
    • John Yoo’s Two Justifications for Stellar Wind

      Because I’m a hopeless geek, I want to compare the what we can discern of the November 2, 2001 memo John Yoo wrote to authorized Stellar Wind with the letter he showed FISA Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on May 17, 2002. The former is almost entirely redacted. But as I’ll show, the two appear to be substantially the same except for small variations within paragraphs (which possibly may reflect no more than citations). The biggest difference is that Yoo’s memo appears to have two pages of content not present in the letter to Kollar-Kotelly.

      What follows is a comparison of every unredacted passage in the Yoo memo, every one of which appear in exactly the same form in the letter he wrote to Kollar-Kotelly.

      The first unredacted line in Yoo’s memo — distinguishing between “electronic surveillance” covered by FISA and “warrantless searches” the President can authorize — appears in this paragraph in the letter.

    • Citizens On Terrorist Watchlist – Including A 4-Year-Old Boy – Sue Government For Violating Their Rights

      A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Virginia challenging the government’s terrorist watchlist. Eighteen plaintiffs — including a 4-year-old boy who was placed on the watchlist at the age of 7 months — claim their placement on the watchlist is discriminatory and has deprived them of their rights.

      The government’s super-secret watchlist for suspected terrorists is, for the most part, the end result of the collective hunches of hundreds of intelligence and law enforcement employees. Despite the lack of anything approaching evidence, people are shrugged onto the watchlist at an alarming rate. The lawsuit points out that only 16 people were on the government’s “No Fly” list in 2001. By 2013, the list had 47,000 names on it.

    • US among world leaders in death penalty, surpassed only by Saudi, Iran & Pakistan – Amnesty

      With 28 killings in 2015, the US is the only country in the Americas and among OSCE members to be on the list of top executioners published by Amnesty International, coming right after Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.

      At least 1,634 people were put to death in 25 countries in 2015, Amnesty International said. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan account for nearly 90 percent of those.

      The US, it appears, had more executions than Iraq last year – 28 in six states: Texas (13), Missouri (6), Georgia (5), Florida (2), Oklahoma (1) and Virginia (1).

    • Death rows: the toll of the ultimate punishment

      THERE was an alarming increase in the use of capital punishment across the world last year. At least 1,634 people were put to death by shooting, beheading, lethal injection or hanging according to figures from the human-rights organisation Amnesty International. This is a 50% increase on 2014 and is the highest number for 25 years, mainly due to a surge in three countries: Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, in which 90% of all executions took place. Actual figures are likely to be much greater. China is believed to execute thousands of people, but the numbers are kept a state secret.

    • U.S. executions down in 2015, but nation remains in global top five

      Capital punishment continued its steady decline in the United States last year, with death sentences and executions dropping to levels unseen for decades. But despite this shift, the country remains among the world’s leaders in the death penalty, putting more inmates to death in 2015 than most other nations.

    • Court’s Decision on Recording Police Erodes First Amendment Rights and Transparency While Inviting Violence

      A federal district court in Pennsylvania recently issued a terrible joint decision in Fields v. City of Philadelphia and Geraci v. City of Philadelphia, holding for the first time that “observing and recording” police activities is not protected by the First Amendment unless an observer visibly challenges police conduct in that moment. The right to record police activities, under both the First and Fourth Amendments, is an increasingly vital digital rights issue. If allowed to stand, Fields would not only hamstring efforts to improve police accountability, but—given disturbing patterns across the U.S.—could also lead to unnecessary violence.

      Criticism of the Fields decision emerged quickly, but focused mostly on its artificial distinction between what counts as protected “expression” under the First Amendment and what does not. Unfortunately, that fallacy is merely one among several that pervade the decision.

    • Court Says Prosecutor’s Lies Means Man Can Have His Money Back, But Not His Life

      Not only did the government not disclose this close working arrangement between prosecutors and Dvorin’s co-defendant, but it allowed him to perjure himself by affirming under oath that no such agreement was in place.

      The government did the right thing… as far as that went. It admitted to the Brady and Napue violations and allowed the sentence to be vacated. But that didn’t take Dvorin off the hook. All it did was set him up for a second trial.

      It was at this point that the district court decided to get to the bottom of the prosecutorial misconduct.


      In the end, everything Sauter did and everything the government attempted to vindictively pile on was left mostly intact. Dvorin may have gotten his money back, but he’s still in prison. Sauter and the other government prosecutors are still free to abuse the system to the extent the courts will let them get away with it. This district has shown it’s willing to permit a number of violations before it will even consider tossing convictions. Those are pretty good odds, if you’re the sort of prosecutor who thinks breaking the rules is perfectly acceptable when pursuing “justice.”

    • Man says undercover cops beat, choked him unconscious

      A 23-year-old man says he was tackled and choked unconscious by two undercover officers, and that another officer ordered bystanders to delete video of the incident.

      James King claimed he thought he was being mugged when a plainclothes Grand Rapids Police detective and FBI special agent asked for his identification and held him against an unmarked SUV on July 18, 2014. He said didn’t know the men were law enforcement.

    • Video shows SAISD officer slamming middle school girl to the ground

      A police officer for the San Antonio Independent School District was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday after cellphone video emerged of the officer slamming a 12-year-old female student to the ground.

      The incident happened March 29 at Rhodes Middle School.

      In the 33-second video, posted online by ghost-0.com, Officer Joshua Kehm is seen slamming sixth-grader Janissa Valdez to the ground.

    • Italian Official Warns Egypt Over Inquiry Into Student’s Death

      The foreign minister of Italy said Tuesday that his government would take “immediate and proportional” measures against Egypt if it failed to help uncover the truth behind the death of an Italian graduate student in Cairo two months ago.

      “We will stop only when we will find the truth, the real one,” Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told Parliament, adding that he would not accept any “fabrication.”

      The threat by Mr. Gentiloni came the day before a team of Egyptian investigators was scheduled to land in Rome for meetings on the case of the student, Giulio Regeni, 28, a doctoral candidate, whose brutalized body was discovered on a roadside in February in Cairo.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality/TV/Radio

    • ISPs Now Charging Broadband Users A Steep Premium If They Want To Avoid Usage Caps

      Thanks to the lack of broadband competition, the ISP push to impose unnecessary and arbitrary usage caps shows no sign of slowing down. Comcast continues to expand its “trial” of usage caps and overage fees, while AT&T has followed suit. And both companies have now started adding a new wrinkle to the mix, charging consumers $30 to $35 more per month if they want to avoid usage caps entirely. That’s right, despite broadband getting cheaper than ever to provide, ISPs are now charging you a massive monthly premium if you want the same unlimited broadband service you enjoyed yesterday.

    • Canadian Government Fails To Force Cheaper TV Options, Blames Consumers For Not Trying Harder

      Last month we noted how Canadian regulator the CRTC tried to do something about the high cost of TV service by forcing Canadian cable operators to provide cheaper, more flexible TV bundles. Under the new CRTC rules, companies had to provide a $25 so-called “skinny bundle” of discounted TV channels starting March 1, and the option to buy channels a la carte starting December 1.

    • Radio Directive – Open letter to the French Ministry of Budget and to the French Telecom Regulator

      The Directive on the harmonisation of the laws of Member States relating to the making available on the market of radio equipment (or Radio Directive) was adopted in April 2014, with the aim to improve the management of the radio spectrum. The Directive must now be transposed and implemented in Member States before 12 June 2016. Although its goals are laudable, it establishes standards for software installed on radio equipment, thus becoming an unprecedented threat to the use of free software. It is dangerous for innovation and for users’ rights, and results in considerable legal insecurity for associations around the country that develop wireless citizen Internet networks. The French government is currently working on transposing this Directive, and must urgently tackle the situation and guarantee the right to install free software on radio equipment.

    • Would you like this hypothetical telecom regulator to head up ICANN?

      Let’s imagine a hypothetical telecom regulator getting picked as a new head of ICANN, and the consequences it might have. ICANN is the organization regulating much of the Internet’s crucial infrastructure, and there has been a continuous power struggle between the Internet’s values of transparency and openness against the dinosaur telecom values of walled gardens, monopolization, and surveillance.

  • DRM

    • Sony Finally Releases PS4 Remote Play For PC App That Isn’t As Good As A Modder’s App Is

      Late last year, we discussed how an application modder named Twisted had managed to push Sony, the megalith corporation, into producing a remote play PC application for its Playstation 4 console. Twisted had previously managed to crack open Sony’s Android remote play application, originally designed to work only on Sony brand smartphones, so that any Android user could play the PS4 on the go. This, of course, made the PS4 product more useful and added a feature to potential console buyers that Sony had, for some reason, decided to restrict. Xperia phones, it should be noted, aren’t exactly jumping off the shelves at stores, but Playstation 4 consoles certainly are. Then Twisted announced he was going to release a PC version of the app. Sony had not released any PC version of its remote play functionality. But shortly after Twisted’s announcement, Sony too announced it would be releasing a remote play for PC application.

    • the future is arriving too fast

      Is this what it was like when Apple killed the floppy? Not exactly, I think. Floppies were already inadequately sized to transfer many files of the time. Plastic circles were not just the preferable but practically only means of distributing data. Streaming may be preferable in some cases, but it’s clearly not the only means of distributing some movies. That remains the plastic circle.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • MIP Africa Roadshow 2016 – live updates

      Nicky explains how Chinese investment fuelled this growth, but notes that there has been a drop since 2012. She predicts “three tough years ahead”, but says beyond that there is great potential in the continent – partly due to under-utilised arable land and reserves of commodities. “But there is also more to Africa,” she says, as many governments are seeking to diversify their economies, for example by investing in manufacturing.

      Conflicts and corruption still present challenges, she says, but things are improving. “We’ve seen significant improvements in places like Rwanda where you can now start a business online at virtually no cost.” Telephone and internet use are growing rapidly.

      There are lots of questions, many asking Nicky to expand on some of the many charts she has presented on African economic data.

    • IP Valuation For Universities, Patent Flexibilities On Tap At WIPO

      The guide provides practical advice to assist universities and publicly-funded research organisations to identify their valuable intangible assets, rank them by using different valuation approaches, manage, and commercialise those with potential market value.

    • Copyrights

      • Swedish Court: Wikipedia Hosting Photos Of Public Artwork Is Copyright Infringement For Some Reason

        Wikimedia has, of course, a somewhat tortured history when it comes to copyright and artwork that appears on Wikipedia. Whether it’s political logos, German museum art, and this goddamned monkey, Wikipedia often finds itself targeted over uploaded photos of artwork and copyright claims that too often appear to be either baseless or at cross-purposes with the world of art more generally. When you mix all of this up with a strange sense of entitlement by those who produce public art over how that art is photographed, the result is a Swedish court declaring that Wikipedia has violated copyright by hosting pictures of public Swedish statues.

      • Swedish Supreme Court uses three-step test to interpret restrictively freedom of panorama

        As readers will remember, Article 5(3)(h) of the InfoSoc Directive allows Member States to adopt a national exception/limitation to the rights harmonised by that directive to permit the “use of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places”.

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