Bad Service at the European Patent Office (EPO) Escalated in the Form of Complaints to European Authorities/Politicians

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Toxic work environment has destroyed the quality of the EPO’s work and nobody can even be held accountable?

By Factio popularis Europaea, CC BY 2.0

Summary: A look at actions taken at a political level against the EPO in spite of the EPO’s truly awkward exemption from lawfulness or even minimal accountability

EARLIER TODAY we leaked a letter which had been sent to Quality Support (DQS) at the European Patent Office (EPO), demonstrating just how terrible things have become. Things were so terrible on so many levels (see the 7 points in the letter) and apparently it’s not so exceptional, either.

“I just read your article on Techrights about the leaked letter to the DQS at EPO,” one reader told us, “complaining about that mess made by examiners on Art 94 etc.”

“It is a general harassment climate made of mean and cheap feuds that examiners do perpetrate among themselves when induced by pressure from above, fed by malevolent lies and spread further by people with low social competence, highly and chronically frustrated, both in their work and in their life (I must assume).”
This reader told us this “can be a good example of how bad the “malevolent climate” (to use the words chosen by the Technologia survey) can influence the work of examiners, up to the point that the substantial quality of the job is compromised. It is a general harassment climate made of mean and cheap feuds that examiners do perpetrate among themselves when induced by pressure from above, fed by malevolent lies and spread further by people with low social competence, highly and chronically frustrated, both in their work and in their life (I must assume).”

There is an interesting followup on the said case, which we decided to also publish in redacted form (but separately from the letter so as to keep things tidier). We kindly asked, repeatedly in fact, for updates regarding interactions with MEPs and EPO ‘support’ folks. We won’t be revealing any names here, probably because some of those involved (even at the EPO) are not directly culpable and we definitely don’t want to interfere with ongoing political processes (wheels in motion, so to speak). Other people say to us that they’re having the same experience as in the said letter and it helps them to see evidence of that pattern. We need to aspire for power in numbers (number of complainants), as only this way we can demonstrate that there is a widespread, systemic failure, as some attorneys are already noticing and writing about.

The E-mails below show some input from European politicians. “This shows that matters are being progressed on a number of fronts,” as our source put it to us. Our source added that s/he “wonder[s] when they’ll [politicians] realise the EPO appears to be unaccountable to anyone.”

“The E-mails below show some input from European politicians.”Well, this is a known problem. “State within a state” some called it (there were press articles about that on numerous occasions* prior to the EPO's FTI Consulting Web-gagging/media manipulation deal). Our article about the unaccountability of the EPO go back to 2014 and nothing has improved since then. To make matters worse, the German media effectively gagged itself (maybe in connection to FTI Consulting and SLAPP actions from the EPO's lawyers).

We have been gathering this input for quite a while as confidentiality was needed and now is probably a suitable time to publicise it. Publishing at this late stage would probably not compromise the political process as much as before and as long as names are left out, retribution and witch-hunts from Team Battistelli — as notorious as this modus operandi has become — are not possible.

An early message about this actually relied a great deal on reporting by Techrights:

From: ███████
Sent: █████████
To: [Conservative in the European Parliament]
Subject: EPO – Techrights Blog

Dear █████,

Please note that the following site http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/EPO has now published on its blog the generic problems I referred to: ██████.



The European Ombudsman and the European Commission got brought up/involved as follows:

From: [Conservative in the European Parliament]
To: ███████
Sent: ███████
Subject: RE: EPO – Techrights Blog

Dear ███████,

Thank you for your emails & ███████ to you too- I have only returned to the office today and have been reading through your correspondence.

I did manage to discuss this quickly with ███████ before ███████ and he wanted me to contact both the European Ombudsman and the European Commission to try and establish if there is a role they could play here. I would like to see if they come back to me before sending off the letter.

The next meeting I have with ███████ is on Tuesday, if we have not had a response by then we will send the letter regardless. This should mean that it reaches Munich well before the end of ███████. I will also ask him then about the techrights campaign.

I have also thought about the prospect of contacting the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills- as they are responsible for the UK Intellectual Property Office. Have you had any contact with them? A letter from them to the EPO might be useful too.

Please let me know your thoughts



Now the British Department of Business, Innovation and Skills gets brought up:

From: ███████
To: [Conservative in the European Parliament]
Sent: ███████
Subject: Re: EPO – Techrights Blog

Dear ███████,

Sorry that I have landed you with so much on your ███████.

I think contacting the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills a great idea. I haven’t contacted them at all. I was keen to get a further push from the UK so earlier today I had written to ███████ my MP asking if she could put her ore in too. I have told her that ███████ is already on the case. Clearly the more angles we explore the better provided we don’t trip over each other. With this in mind I will aim to share the actions with you and her so we are all on the same page at the same time. If you would like it handled differently please do let me know.

I also know a former judge who usually has an interest in people’s rights. I have asked her if she might be interested in helping but since I only asked today I at present don’t know if she will be willing to help. I will keep you posted.

Many thanks


One week later the UK Intellectual Property Office got mentioned along with Lucy (who is no longer in that job):

From: [Conservative in the European Parliament]
To: ███████
Sent: ███████
Subject: RE: EPO – Techrights Blog

Dear ███████,

Thank you for your patience whilst I get back to you

I’ve now heard back from the European Ombudsmen, they have confirmed that the EPO is outside of their mandate (Unfortunately the European Patents Office is not one of the bodies, offices or agencies of the EU. It was established under the European Patent Convention 1973 and finally set up in 1977. It contains the all the Member States of the EU and other countries which are not part of the EU. Further, the EU is also not a member of the Convention. As such it is a separate intergovernmental organisation and so not part of the Ombudsman’s mandate.) They have recommended the UK Intellectual Property Office as a further point of contact, in line with what I suggested last week.

As we have yet to receive a response to our Parliamentary Question, I have taken a look at some of the others submitted to the European Commission on this topic. Like the Ombudsmen, the Commission is also insistent that the EPO is outside of their mandate, therefore I do not think that it will be very useful for us to wait for their response.

So moving forward,

I have now spoken to ███████ and we have sent off a letter to Baroness Neville Roche, the head of the UK Intellectual Property Office. I have passed her along a copy of the original letter you sent to ███████, outlining your case, as well as a cover letter with an update on your case. ███████ has asked her to review your case and offer assistance.

Furthermore, we have now send [sic] off the response to the EPO in line with the drafting you sent through.

I will let you know when we have a response. Please keep us informed of any updates your end.

Best wishes,


“I believe the action of the EPO has effectively stripped me of all economic value of my invention already,” our source told us. “I think the only thing that will get them to sit up and pay attention/change is if they are sued. I am not sure if this is possible and what the risks and costs to myself might be. have you ever heard of them being sued?”

Well, my lawyers once explored that option and various people sent input about that. It seems as though the EPO is almost immune to lawsuits too — not just to the law itself — and as Minnoye serves to remind us, the EPO is happy to just ignore even a ruling from the highest Dutch court, so why bother? The European Patent Convention inadvertently created quite a monstrous institution. Monsters don’t die in peace; they fight whoever is eager to challenge them.
* In the EPO Wiki at Techrights, look under entries that fall (by colour coding) under “state within a state”. This links to (and translates into English) quite a few articles from German and Dutch media, published at a time when they still bothered covering the issue.

No “New Life to Software Patents” in the US; That’s Just Fiction Perpetuated by the Patent Microcosm

Posted in America, Courtroom, Deception, Patents at 2:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No New Life to Software Patents

Summary: Selective emphasis on very few cases and neglect of various other dimensions help create a parallel reality (or so-called ‘fake news’) where software patents are on the rebound

“In 2014,” Joe Mullin recalls in a new article (published earlier today), “the US Supreme Court dealt a major blow to software patents. In their 9-0 ruling in Alice Corp v. CLS Bank, the justices made it clear that just adding fancy-sounding computer language to otherwise ordinary aspects of business and technology isn’t enough to deserve a patent.”

“Since then,” he continues, “district court judges have invalidated hundreds of patents under Section 101 of the US patent laws, finding they’re nothing more than abstract ideas that didn’t deserve a patent in the first place. The great majority of software patents were unable to pass the basic test outlined by the Supreme Court. At the beginning of 2016, the nation’s top patent court had heard dozens of appeals on computer-related patents that were challenged under the Alice precedent. DDR Holdings v. Hotels.com was the only case in which a Federal Circuit panel ruled in favor of a software patent-holder. The Alice ruling certainly didn’t mean all software patents were dead on arrival—but it was unclear what a software patent would need to survive. Even DDR Holdings left a teeny-tiny target for patent owners to shoot at.”

“The patent law firms want us to believe that software patents are rebounding or something, even though CAFC invalidates them as quickly as ever, SCOTUS repeatedly rejects attempts to override Alice, and the number of lawsuits involving software patents sank considerably this past year, based on numerous comprehensive/exhaustive surveys.”Ignoring some of the biggest cases of 2016, Mullin then argues that “[j]udges on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found three more cases in which they believe that software patents were wrongly invalidated. What once looked like a small exception to the rule now looks like three big ones.” What about that one single CAFC case involving not one but three invalidations, courtesy of the judge some hold responsible for software patents in the US? Here is a new article about it (bumped earlier today):

Intellectual Ventures recently filed for a rehearing en banc in Intellectual Ventures LLC v. Symantec Corp. and Trend Micro Inc. for a decision made in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that invalidated three of its software patents. The variety of patents at issue, colloquially dubbed the “Do-It-On-A-Computer” patent, have been increasingly invalidated after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International.

The Intellectual Ventures loss (covered here many times at the time) isn’t the only such loss this year (for software patents at CAFC). We actually covered quite a few other such cases, but the patent microcosm prefers to obsess over just 3 or 4 cases, i.e. less than it takes one hand’s fingers to count. In our humble assessment, Mullin, who is an excellent journalist, fell prey/victim to the endless propaganda from the patent microcosm. The patent law firms want us to believe that software patents are rebounding or something, even though CAFC invalidates them as quickly as ever, SCOTUS repeatedly rejects attempts to override Alice, and the number of lawsuits involving software patents sank considerably this past year, based on numerous comprehensive/exhaustive surveys.

Links 27/12/2016: Chakra GNU/Linux Updated, Preview of Fedora 26

Posted in News Roundup at 2:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Top 3 NFV & SDN Open Source Trends in 2016

    The first few years of open source work on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) were defined by some nebulous goals. But this year, three clear trends emerged from the haze.

    First, the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD) became really popular. It garnered so much attention in 2016 that its originator — On.Lab‘s Open Network Operating System (ONOS) — established CORD as a separate open source entity.

  • Reality Check: Open source and the coming disruption of the telecom value chain

    The convergence between the internet and telecommunications worlds is bringing to the forefront different approaches to deploying services. In the internet world, large cloud players built their data centers using white box hardware and open source software to ease and improve service delivery. In the process, they achieved unparalleled scale and cost efficiency. On the other hand, telecom service providers have relied on specialized vendors, whose solutions were based on proprietary, in-house implementations of standards-based technologies. This lengthens the service creation cycle and reduces the ability of service providers to compete effectively especially with over-the-top players.

  • Tor at the Heart: Tahoe-LAFS

    Tahoe-LAFS is a free and open source decentralized data storage system, with provider-independent security and fine-grained access control. This means that data stored using Tahoe-LAFS remains confidential and retrievable even if some storage servers fail or are taken over by an attacker.

    Using a Tahoe-LAFS client, you turn a large file into a redundant collection of shares referenced via a filecap. Shares are encrypted chunks of data distributed across many storage servers. A filecap is a short cryptographic string containing enough information to retrieve, re-assemble and decrypt the shares. Filecaps come in up to three variants: a read-cap, a verify-cap and (for mutable files) a write-cap.

    Starting with version 1.12.0, Tahoe-LAFS has added Tor support to give users the option of connecting anonymously and to give node operators the option of offering anonymous services.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome Remote Desktop Setup: Windows/MacOS/Linux

        Chrome Remote Desktop has been around since the early days of Chrome. Even before Chrome OS existed, Chrome Remote Desktop was a shining example of how powerful the Chrome apps could be.

      • How to use Chrome Remote Desktop to help friends and family with new devices

        If you’re anything like me, you spend basically all of your time on “holiday” not with family enjoying a nice cup of cocoa, but rather fixing and setting up all their devices. This can be annoying itself, but when you go back home, it can be even more of a pain helping out remotely without being able to see what they see. One app from Google that can help in this situation — it’s been available for Chrome and Chrome OS for a while now — is Chrome Remote Desktop.

    • Mozilla

      • Ex-Mozilla dev talks about Firefox

        World-renown programmer and ex-Mozilla developer Risitas, the CIO of the highly prestigious Spanish alt-browser company Las Paelleras S.A., talks about Firefox in an exclusive interview.

  • Education

    • Kids on Computers establishes computer labs in five countries

      Linux and open source software are not just fueling charities, they are gifting the freedom of education and knowledge to the people the charities are helping because of the low cost, yes, but also the exceptional technology. This sentiment is proven when you look at the work the Linux Foundation does supporting a variety of community initiatives and organizations that are using Linux and open source software.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • 3 keys to unlocking your 2017 open organization resolutions [Ed: openwashing of Red Hat and book promotion for Red Hat's CEO]
    • Thank you, …we’re not there yet.

      Expose those who abuse the open source label and community: Each year we discover more and more disingenuous organizations that promise open source software, yet do not release their work under an OSI approved open source license, risking our software freedom, or, promise the ideals of open source software but in fact only use the label to promote their proprietary interests. We want to raise $2,500 to develop a system to verify claims of open source licensing made through crowd-funding efforts.

  • BSD

    • NewGVN Merged Into LLVM

      The long in-development “NewGVN” code to provide a new global value numbering (GVN) algorithm within the LLVM code-base has been merged to master.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • A Grassroots Case Study: Cal Poly’s Free Culture Club

      Among the ways in which the Electronic Frontier Alliance supports the digital rights movement is amplifying creative grassroots tactics that concerned individuals around the country are using to promote digital civil liberties. By finding ways to demonstrate these principles within their community, even small groups can help shift cultural norms, as well as public policy.

      The Free Culture Club, a student organization at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, is supporting creativity and access to knowledge by providing a repository of openly licensed intellectual works in a common campus space.

    • Science Needs an Upgrade to ‘Open’

      For too long, much of our science has been kept behind doors that are both closed and locked. It’s past time to bring openness to science, in much the same way we’re bringing openness to software.

  • Programming/Development

    • DevLog: Meson and Beast threading (33c3)

      Meson also has/had a lot of quirks (examples #785, #786, #753) and wasn’t really easier to use than our GNU Make setup. At least for me – given that I know GNU Make very well. The number one advantage of Meson was overcome with migrating Rapicorn to use a non-recursive Makefile (I find dependencies can still be expressed much better in Make than Meson), since parallel GNU Make can be just as fast as Ninja for small to medium sized projects.


  • Muslim-owned restaurant offers elderly and homeless free meals on Christmas Day so ‘no one eats alone’

    A Muslim-owned restaurant in London is offering a three-course meal to homeless and elderly people on Christmas Day so that “no one eats alone”.

    Shish Restaurant, in Sidcup, is asking local residents to spread the word of its offer and has put up posters saying “We are here to sit with you” on 25 December.

    The restaurant urged people to share its plan through social media – where the initiative was widely praised.

  • George Michael was a ‘generous philanthropist’ who anonymously donated millions to charity

    George Michael was secretly trying to heal the pain around the world.

    The superstar singer — who died on Sunday at 53 — never boasted about his charitable side, but now countless people are coming forward to share stories of Michael’s giving ways.

    “A woman on ‘Deal Or No Deal’ told us she needed £15k for IVF treatment. George Michael secretly phoned the next day and gave her the £15k,” game show host Richard Osmond tweeted on Monday.

  • People want to tear down these architectural masterpieces because they’re too depressing

    The term Brutalism, or New Brutalism, was coined to describe an emerging international style of architecture in the early 1950s. The name referenced Le Corbusier’s use of “béton brut,” or unfinished concrete, and described large, usually government or institutional buildings characterized by the rejection of Beaux-Arts styles. A relatively cheap way to build, Brutalism grew popular in post-war Europe and emerging countries like India and the eastern bloc. But architects were looking for more than cost cutting: for many, Brutalism represented a rejection of bourgeois comforts and pretense. The movement emphasized the valuation of existing materials (no paint, no dressings), the importance of image (an imposing presence) and the “clear exhibition of structure” to lay bare a building’s function.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Russia shocked by video of bear being crushed to death

      Russian investigators are looking into a disturbing video of a bear being crushed to death by a group of men riding in off-road vehicles over Siberian tundra.

      In the video, apparently shot by one of the assailants, two trucks normally used by Russian oil and mining workers in off-road conditions repeatedly drive over a brown bear sitting in the snow.

      Investigators in Russia’s Yakutia region, which spans the Siberian Arctic, said they were examining the incident to determine whether it constitutes an animal cruelty criminal offence.

      In the clip, which went viral on Tuesday and was picked up by state media, one of the men in the truck shouts “Squash him! Squash him!” and squeals as the vehicle runs over the bear.

    • Mothers, Babies on Navajo Nation Exposed to High Levels of Uranium

      Researchers with the Navajo Birth Cohort Study aren’t looking for simple answers about how uranium exposure affects health. We already know—and have known for decades—that contact with uranium can cause kidney disease and lung cancer.

      This study is the first to look at what chronic, long-term exposure from all possible sources of uranium contamination—air, water, plants, wildlife, livestock and land—does down through the generations in a Native American community.

      Since the study began in 2012, over 750 families have enrolled and 600 babies have been born to those families, said Dr. Johnnye Lewis, director of the Community Environmental Health Program & Center for Native Environmental Health Equity Research at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and NBCS principal investigator.

  • Security

    • SQL is Insecure

      SQL is insecure, tell everyone. If you use SQL, your website will get hacked. Tell everyone.

      I saw the news that the US Elections Agency was hacked by a SQL injection attack and I kind of lost it. It’s been well over two decades since prepared statements were introduced. We’ve educated and advised developers about how to avoid SQL injection, yet it still happens. If education failed, all we can do is shame developers into never using SQL.

      I actually really like SQL, I’ve even made a SQL dialect. SQL’s relational algebra is expressive, probably more so than any other NoSQL database I know of. But developers have proven far too often that it’s simply too difficult to know when to use prepared statements or just concatenate strings — it’s time we just abandon SQL altogether. It isn’t worth it. It’s time we called for all government’s to ban use of SQL databases in government contracts and in healthcare. There must be utter clarity.

    • Cyber-criminals target African countries with ransom-ware

      Once again Conficker retained its position as the world’s most prevalent malware, responsible for 15% of recognised attacks. Second-placed Locky, which only started its distribution in February of this year, was responsible for 6% of all attacks, and third-placed Sality was responsible for 5% of known attacks. Overall, the top ten malware families were responsible for 45% of all known attacks.

    • It’s Incredibly Easy to Tamper with Someone’s Flight Plan, Anywhere on the Globe

      It’s easier than many people realize to modify someone else’s flight booking, or cancel their flight altogether, because airlines rely on old, unsecured systems for processing customers’ travel plans, researchers will explain at the Chaos Communication Congress hacking festival on Tuesday. The issues predominantly center around the lack of any meaningful authentication for customers requesting their flight information.

      The issues highlight how a decades-old system is still in constant, heavy use, despite being susceptible to fairly simple attacks and with no clear means for a solution.

      “Whenever you take a trip, you are in one or more of these systems,” security researcher Karsten Nohl told Motherboard in a phone call ahead of his and co-researcher Nemanja Nikodijevic’s talk.

    • Open source risks and rewards – why team structure matters

      An impressive and user-friendly digital presence is an indispensable asset to any brand. It is often the first point of contact for customers who expect and demand great functionality and engaging content across multiple platforms. The finding that nearly half of us won’t wait even three seconds for a website to load bears witness to ever increasing customer expectations which must be met.

      Partnership with a digital agency can be a great way to keep up to speed with rapid change and innovation but to ensure the very best outcome, both client and agency need to find an optimum commercial, creative and secure cultural fit. This should be a priority for both sides from the very first pitch. The promise of exceptional creativity and customer experience is one thing, but considering the more practical aspects of how the relationship will work is entirely another.

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Is Mirai Really as Black as It’s Being Painted?

      An important feature of the way the Mirai botnet scans devices is that the bot uses a login and password dictionary when trying to connect to a device. The author of the original Mirai included a relatively small list of logins and passwords for connecting to different devices. However, we have seen a significant expansion of the login and password list since then, achieved by including default logins and passwords for a variety of IoT devices, which means that multiple modifications of the bot now exist.


      If you ignore trivial combinations like “root:root” or “admin:admin”, you can get a good idea of which equipment the botnet is looking for. For example, the pairs “root:xc3511” and “root:vizxv” are default accounts for IP cameras made by rather large Chinese manufacturers.

    • Traveling Computer Security

      7 things all travelers with smartphones and computers should do to be secure while traveling.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Suspect in Berlin market attack was radicalized in an Italian jail

      When Anis Amri washed up on European shores in a migrant boat in April 2011, he landed on the windswept Italian island of Lampedusa already a fugitive. Sought in his native Tunisia for hijacking a van with a gang of thieves, the frustrated Italians would jail him for arson and violent assault at his migrant reception center for minors on the isle of Sicily.

    • First female Afghan Air Force pilot has applied for asylum to the United States

      The first female pilot to serve in Afghanistan’s air force has applied for asylum in the United States because she is “scared” for her life.

      Captain Niloofar Rahmani, 25, made headlines when she completed her training in 2013, having defied her parents to join the programme in Texas.

      She persisted despite receiving death threats during and after she completed her training.

    • First Female Pilot in Afghanistan Requests Asylum in U.S.

      As the first female airplane pilot in Afghanistan, Niloofar Rahmani became a powerful symbol of what women could accomplish in the post-Taliban era. But in the ultraconservative country, the limelight also brought threats, sending her into hiding from insurgents and vengeful relatives.

    • Intent on Unsettling E.U., Russia Taps Foot Soldiers From the Fringe

      To his neighbors in a village in western Hungary, 76-year-old Istvan Gyorkos was just an old man who mostly kept to himself. Hardly anyone looked askance at his passion for guns and for training youths in paramilitary tactics.

      In late October, however, Mr. Gyorkos, a veteran neo-Nazi and the leader of a tiny fringe outfit called the Hungarian National Front, suddenly took on a more sinister visage when, according to Hungarian police officers who raided his home in search of illegal weapons, he shot and killed a member of the police team with an assault rifle. Members of his family say the dead policeman was shot by a fellow officer.

      The saga then took an even stranger turn: Hungarian intelligence officials told a parliamentary committee in Budapest that Mr. Gyorkos had for years been under scrutiny for his role in a network of extremists linked to and encouraged by Russia. So close was the relationship, the committee heard, that Russian military intelligence officers, masquerading as diplomats, staged regular mock combat exercises using plastic guns with neo-Nazi activists near Mr. Gyorkos’s home.

    • A Bigger Problem Than ISIS?

      The next day, Vice-President Joe Biden telephoned Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdish region, and urged him to retake the dam as quickly as possible. American officials feared that ISIS might try to blow it up, engulfing Mosul and a string of cities all the way to Baghdad in a colossal wave. Ten days later, after an intense struggle, Kurdish forces pushed out the ISIS fighters and took control of the dam.

      But, in the months that followed, American officials inspected the dam and became concerned that it was on the brink of collapse. The problem wasn’t structural: the dam had been built to survive an aerial bombardment. (In fact, during the Gulf War, American jets bombed its generator, but the dam remained intact.) The problem, according to Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi-American civil engineer who has served as an adviser on the dam, is that “it’s just in the wrong place.” Completed in 1984, the dam sits on a foundation of soluble rock. To keep it stable, hundreds of employees have to work around the clock, pumping a cement mixture into the earth below. Without continuous maintenance, the rock beneath would wash away, causing the dam to sink and then break apart. But Iraq’s recent history has not been conducive to that kind of vigilance.

    • German Resistance to Russia Detente

      The German political hierarchy and major media remain hostile to any détente with Russia, but the ground may be shifting under the feet of Chancellor Merkel and her allies, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

    • Hong Kong, where history has become a battleground for Beijing

      Stepping off the subway in his army uniform, Victor Yu prepared to face the onslaught ahead. Instead of charging into a crowd armed with rifles, he was met with smartphones, overwhelmed on a street in Hong Kong by pictures and selfies rather than enemy fire.

      Yu is a member of Watershed, a local historical group working to raise awareness of what they feel is Hong Kong’s forgotten history. The performance comes at a time when instruction of the city’s history is becoming increasingly politicised, with recent government attempts to bury details that may be embarrassing for China.

    • Israel threatens to give Trump ‘evidence’ that Obama orchestrated UN resolution

      Israel has escalated its already furious war with the outgoing US administration, claiming that it has “rather hard” evidence that Barack Obama was behind a critical UN security council resolution criticising Israeli settlement building, and threatening to hand over the material to Donald Trump.

      The latest comments come a day after the US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, was summoned by Netanyahu to explain why the US did not veto the vote and instead abstained.

    • Sanders Says Trump’s “Dangerous” Nuclear Arms Race Talk Must Be Challenged

      Sen. Bernie Sanders has made it known that Donald Trump should not go unchallenged by his congressional colleagues as troubling comments by the President-elect about nuclear weapons this week sparked alarm across the United States and the world.

      Following an initial out-of-the-blue tweet Thursday saying the U.S. should “expand” its nuclear arsenal followed by “clarifying” remarks Friday to MSNBC in which Trump said, “Let it be an arms race,” Sanders responded: “It’s a miracle a nuclear weapon hasn’t been used in war since 1945. Congress can’t allow the Tweeter in Chief to start a nuclear arms race.”

    • Israel says ‘reducing’ ties with nations over UN vote

      Israel’s foreign ministry said Tuesday the country was “reducing” ties with nations that voted for last week’s UN Security Council resolution demanding a halt to settlement building in Palestinian territory.

      Refuting reports that ties had been suspended, foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a message to journalists that Israel was “temporarily reducing” visits and work with embassies, without providing further details.

      Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said Tuesday she was concerned that Israel would miss opportunities to explain its position by cancelling visits, but that she supported making clear “you can’t take Israel for granted.”

    • World War Three, by Mistake

      The personnel who command, operate, and maintain the Minuteman III have also become grounds for concern. In 2013, the two-star general in charge of the entire Minuteman force was removed from duty after going on a drunken bender during a visit to Russia, behaving inappropriately with young Russian women, asking repeatedly if he could sing with a Beatles cover band at a Mexican restaurant in Moscow, and insulting his military hosts. The following year, almost a hundred Minuteman launch officers were disciplined for cheating on their proficiency exams. In 2015, three launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, in Montana, were dismissed for using illegal drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine, and amphetamines. That same year, a launch officer at Minot Air Force Base, in North Dakota, was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for heading a violent street gang, distributing drugs, sexually assaulting a girl under the age of sixteen, and using psilocybin, a powerful hallucinogen. As the job title implies, launch officers are entrusted with the keys for launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘This is possible. We did it’: the week Portugal ran on renewables

      If you can keep your gaze off the hilltops, imagine away the pylons and forget the occasional tractor of an uncertain vintage coughing along the narrow roads, little appears to have changed in the valleys of north-eastern Portugal for decades, perhaps even centuries.

      The gnarled alvarinho vines have been relieved of their fruit to make vinho verde, an old woman in black herds her sheep through a hamlet and hungry eagles hover over the fields, scanning the land for lunch.

      But look up, past the villages, the clumps of stout ponies and the wolf-haunted forests of pine, oak and eucalyptus, and the harbingers of an environmental revolution are silhouetted against the December sky.

    • New Study ‘Sounds Alarm’ on Another Climate Feedback Loop

      The loss of Arctic sea ice has already been shown to be part of a positive feedback loop driving climate change, and a recent study published in the journal Nature puts the spotlight on what appears to be another of these feedback loops.

      It has to do with soil, currently one of Earth’s carbon sinks. But warming may lead to soils releasing, rather than sequestering, carbon.

      As study co-authorJohn Blair, university distinguished professor of biology at Kansas State University, explained, “Globally, soils hold more than twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, so even a relatively small increase in release of carbon from the Earth’s soils can have a large impact on atmospheric greenhouse gases and future warming.”

      For the study, the researchers took data from over four dozen sites across the globe representing a variety of ecosystems and heated them approximately one degree Celsius.

    • Arctic Waters Have Been Rescued From Drilling, But What About the Land?

      I’d like to reframe what happened in early November as the opposite of tragedy. Instead of looking at the election results through a lens of doom and gloom, let us view this moment in history as a leverage point, one that has the ability to unite people across the country and the world.

    • Trump could face the ‘biggest trial of the century’ — over climate change

      A few weeks ago, a federal judge in Oregon made headlines when she ruled that a groundbreaking climate lawsuit will proceed to trial. And some experts say its outcome could rewrite the future of climate policy in the United States.

      The case, brought by 21 youths aged 9 to 20, claims that the federal government isn’t doing enough to address the problem of climate change to protect their planet’s future — and that, they charge, is a violation of their constitutional rights on the most basic level. The case has already received widespread attention, even garnering the support of well-known climate scientist James Hansen, who has also joined as a plaintiff on behalf of his granddaughter and as a guardian for “future generations.”

    • Renewable Energy: An Exxon Investigation Given Second Life as Trump Taps Exec for Cabinet

      In 2015, Neela Banerjee, John H. Cushman Jr., David Hasemyer and Lisa Song of Inside Climate News spent close to a year producing “Exxon: The Road Not Taken” — a comprehensive portrait of four decades of the oil giant’s relationship with climate science. The reporting showed, among other things, how Exxon lobbied against action on greenhouse gases.

      The work won an array of awards and was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service, and the hard-won reporting has renewed relevance now that Exxon’s chairman and chief executive officer, Rex Tillerson, has been picked by President-elect Donald J. Trump to lead the State Department.

      The project on Exxon was just the latest triumph for Inside Climate News. The news organization, founded in 2007, has become widely respected for its in-depth journalism. Its team of reporters pursue both news and investigative breakthroughs related to human-driven global warming and efforts to move beyond fossil fuels.

    • 2016 was the year solar panels finally became cheaper than fossil fuels. Just wait for 2017

      The renewable energy future will arrive when installing new solar panels is cheaper than a comparable investment in coal, natural gas or other options. If you ask the World Economic Forum (WEF), the day has arrived.

      Solar and wind is now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries, the WEF reported in December (pdf). As prices for solar and wind power continue their precipitous fall, two-thirds of all nations will reach the point known as “grid parity” within a few years, even without subsidies. “Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, said in a statement. “It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

  • Finance

    • Online banking access soon guaranteed for EU citizens

      Finland has followed the European Union’s lead and reformed its laws to grant citizens the universal right to open a bank account and receive online banking access codes, regardless of their place of residence in the union. How the change, which will come into effect on 1 January 2017, will affect foreigners from outside the EU’s access to bank services in Finland remains to be seen.

    • Apple CEO Tim Cook Met With Trump to “Engage” on Gigantic Corporate Tax Cut

      Why did executives from 11 of America’s biggest technology companies obediently show up when they were summoned by the president-elect to meet at Trump Tower?

      Some might suspect it has something to do with the $560 billion in profits those companies have stashed overseas — and refuse to bring back until the U.S. government gives them an enormous tax break.

      Apple CEO Tim Cook has now confirmed that that was indeed part of his motivation to attend the tech summit with Donald Trump.

      On Tuesday, TechCrunch obtained Cook’s response on Apple’s internal network to a question from an employee about the Trump meeting.

    • Private firms earn £500m from government’s fit-to-work scheme

      Two private firms have earned more than £500m in taxpayers’ money for carrying out controversial work capability assessments.

      The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) paid Atos and Capita £507m for the “fit-to-work” tests between 2013 and 2016, despite fierce criticism of their services by MPs.

      Figures up until September this year reported by the Daily Mirror suggest that 61% of the 90,000 claimants who appealed against personal independent payment (PIP) decisions surrounding their benefits by the DWP, based on these companies’ assessments, won their case at tribunal. The DWP said it was unsure where this figure came from.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump and the Triumph of Climate-Change Denial

      Denial of the broad scientific consensus that human activity is the primary cause of global warming could become a guiding principle of Donald Trump’s presidential administration. Though it’s difficult to pin down exactly what Trump thinks about climate change, he has a well-established track record of skepticism and denial. He has called global warming a “hoax,” insisted while campaigning for the Republican nomination that he’s “not a big believer in man-made climate change,” and recently suggested that “nobody really knows” if climate change exists. Trump also plans to nominate Republicans to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department who have expressed skepticism toward the scientific agreement on human-caused global warming.

    • ‘Queen backed Brexit’, BBC political editor told – but she decided NOT to report it

      The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg has admitted that she was told that the Queen backed EU but decided not to report.

    • Rupert returns

      21st Century Fox – the Murdoch family’s entertainment conglomerate – is bidding for the 61% of satellite broadcaster Sky it does not own. Predictably, alarm bells are ringing? What is at stake?

    • A Quarter of Florida’s Black Citizens Can’t Vote. A New Referendum Could Change That.

      For more than a century, the state of Florida has presided over one of American history’s single most effective and enduring efforts to disenfranchise voters. By far the most populous of the three states that strip lifelong voting rights from people with felony convictions, Florida is home to some 1.5 million residents who can never again cast a ballot unless pardoned by the state’s governor, according to a calculation by The Sentencing Project.

      Florida’s legions of disenfranchised voters are disproportionately Democrat-leaning minorities — including nearly a quarter of Florida’s black population — numbers that advocates say amount to a long-standing and often ignored civil rights catastrophe. This racial skew means that the state’s mass disenfranchisement could have changed the outcome of some particularly important elections — such as Bush v. Gore — and thus the direction of modern American history itself. Most recently, after the state’s Republican governor clamped down on the ability of ex-felons to have their rights restored, Donald Trump won the crucial swing state by a margin less than a tenth the size of the state’s disenfranchised population, leading some to question the effect that felony disenfranchisement may have had on the size of Trump’s Electoral College win.

    • “The Apprentice” Employees Feared Professional Reprisal Over Leaks

      After the infamous “grab her by the pussy” Access Hollywood tape, many expected footage of Donald Trump’s hundreds of hours in “The Apprentice” boardroom to yield something just as incendiary. But outtakes from the show were never leaked. One of the plausible reasons why this footage hasn’t seen the light of day is that, simply put, many of the employees with access to the footage feared the end of their careers.

      It’s a concern that highlights the dangers of working in an industry without job security or union representation.

      On a Seattle radio show this week, comedian Tom Arnold claimed the existence of an old edited video of Trump “saying every dirty, offensive, racist thing ever.” Explaining why “The Apprentice” staffers who made the reel never tried to release it, Arnold said, “They were scared to death. They were scared of (Trump’s) people. They’re scared they’ll never work again.”

    • Trump’s Disappearing ‘Neutral Guy’

      President-elect Trump’s attack on the U.S. abstention to a U.N. vote condemning illegal Israeli settlements raises doubts about his vow to be a “neutral guy” on Palestinian issues, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • Bernie Sanders: Corporate Media is a Threat to Democracy

      Three weeks after the election of Donald Trump, Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke at the Free Library of Philadelphia as part of his “Our Revolution” book tour. He spoke harshly about the corporate media. “What media does and what media loves is conflict and political gossip and polls and fundraising and all that stuff,” Sanders said. “What media loves is to focus on the candidates. What the American people, I believe, want is for us to focus on them, not the candidates, not anymore.”

    • Trump’s Election Has Led to Massive Wave of Donations to Progressive Groups

      If there is any upside to the U.S. presidential election, it could be that progressive causes around the country are reporting an “unprecedented” surge in donations, the Guardian wrote on Sunday.

      In the wake of the election that vindicated Donald Trump’s racist, sexist, and xenophobic campaign, many Americans are turning their despair into action, supporting a range of organizations that fight for equality and civil rights.

      Planned Parenthood, which has quickly become a target of the newly emboldened Republican party, has received more than 300,000 donations since November 8, which is 40 times higher than its normal rate, the Guardian’s Joanna Walters reports.

    • President Duterte of the Philippines for Dummies

      When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ascended to power in 1999, almost no one in the West, in Asia and even in most of the Latin American countries knew much about his new militant revolutionary anti-imperialism. From the mass media outlets like CNN and the BBC, to local televisions and newspapers (influenced or directly sponsored by Western sources), the ‘information’ that was flowing was clearly biased, extremely critical, and even derogatory.

      A few months into his rule, I came to Caracas and was told repeatedly by several local journalists: “Almost all of us are supporting President Chavez, but we’d be fired if we’d dare to write one single article in his support.”

      In New York City and Paris, in Buenos Aires and Hong Kong, the then consensus was almost unanimous: “Chavez was a vulgar populist, a demagogue, a military strongman, and potentially a ‘dangerous dictator’”.

      In South Korea and the UK, in Qatar and Turkey, people who could hardly place Venezuela on the world map, were expressing their ‘strong opinions’, mocking and smearing the man who would later be revered as a Latin American hero. Even many of those who would usually ‘distrust’ mainstream media were then clearly convinced about the sinister nature of the Process and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’.

      History repeats itself.

      Now President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is demonized and ‘mistrusted’, ridiculed and dismissed as a demagogue, condemned as a rough element, mocked as a buffoon.

      In his own country he is enjoying the highest popularity rating of any president in its history: at least well over 70 percent, but often even over 80 percent.

    • Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte

      Now the process to discredit the rebellious President of the Philippines is already in full swing. Would Duterte’s liberal Vice-President Leni Robredo (recently expelled from the cabinet), be elevated by the Western establishment to stardom? She is pro-Washington, she is against all Duterte’s ‘wars,’ and, above all, she is against his increasingly close relationship with China. She could soon join the band of the ‘Color Revolutions’ leaders, as she leads the “yellow” Liberal Party.

    • [Old] It’s ON! Between Duterte and America

      The US seems to be embedded in a colonial mindset when it comes to the Philippines, something along the lines of “we’ve been selflessly looking after the Philippines for a century, and that thug Duterte won’t be allowed to screw that up during his brief (maybe curtailed) presidency.”

    • [Old] Duterte’s Death Squads, and Ours

      Duterte was right to be agitated. Typically, the United States calls attention to the deficiencies in a country’s human rights record as a prelude to invasion.

      Duterte cannot plead innocent in the matter of extrajudicial killings. Before he became President at the end of June, Duterte had been mayor of Davao, the Philippines’ third-largest city. During Duterte’s 22 years as mayor one thousand people were killed by the so-called Davao Death Squads. The victims are people suspected of selling or even just using drugs.

    • The Continuing Muddle at a Pro-Trump Political Committee

      A political action committee that backed Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency is continuing to flout campaign finance laws.

      Earlier this month, ProPublica reported that the America Comes First PAC had violated the rules by not disclosing the source of its funding before Election Day and by exceeding caps on contribution amounts.

      America Comes First gave $115,000 to Trump Victory, a group that raised money for the Trump campaign and for national and state-level Republican groups. It now ranks as the second-biggest PAC contributor to Trump Victory, according to a list compiled by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics — behind GEO Group, a private prison company.

      After the ProPublica article was published, the treasurer of the PAC, David Schamens, said the group’s filings with the Federal Election Commission were inaccurate, and that they would be amended. Last week they were — but the amended filing includes new irregularities.

    • Under Cover of Christmas, Obama Establishes Controversial Anti-Propaganda Agency

      In the final hours before the Christmas holiday weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law—and buried within the $619 billion military budget (pdf) is a controversial provision that establishes a national anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press freedoms.

      The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, introduced by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, establishes the Global Engagement Center under the State Department which coordinates efforts to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United Sates national security interests.”

      Further, the law authorizes grants to non-governmental agencies to help “collect and store examples in print, online, and social media, disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda” directed at the U.S. and its allies, as well as “counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability” of the U.S. and allied nations.

    • Chris Hedges Explores the New McCarthyism With Historian Ellen Schrecker

      On his RT show “On Contact,” Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges explores the rise of a new McCarthyism with Yeshiva University professor Ellen Schrecker, author of “Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America.”

      Hedges and Schrecker examine the role of President-elect Donald Trump and the impact the suppression of dissent has had on higher education.

    • Voter ID proposal could disenfranchise millions, Labour warns

      Millions of people may be disenfranchised by the government’s plans to trial asking for ID in order to vote, Labour has said.

      Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, raised concerns that 7.5% of the electorate may not have the right kind of identification in order to exercise their right to vote.

      “Labour supports measures to tackle electoral fraud and will be backing a number of the reasonable proposals planned by the government,” she said on Tuesday. “However, requiring voters to produce specific forms of photo ID risks denying millions of electors a vote.

      “A year ago the Electoral Commission reported that 3.5 million electors – 7.5% of the electorate – would have no acceptable piece of photo ID. Under the government’s proposals, these voters would either be denied a vote entirely, or in other trial areas, required to produce multiple pieces of ID, ‘one from group A, one from group B’.

    • Donald Trump, Republicans threaten to get back at UN for Israel resolution

      President-elect Donald Trump is joining the cavalcade of Republicans who are denouncing the United Nations over its Friday resolution to stop Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    • Alt-right leaders are predicting a “revolt” if Donald Trump doesn’t do their bidding

      ist movement known as the alt right are rumbling early discontent at the prospect of President-elect Donald Trump not doing their bidding.

      “In January Trump will start governing and will have to make compromises,” said Holocaust denier and Taki magazine writer David Cole in an interview with The Guardian on Tuesday. “Even small ones will trigger squabbles between the ‘alt-right.’ ‘Trump betrayed us.’ ‘No, you’re betraying us for saying Trump betrayed us.’ And so on. The alt-right’s appearance of influence will diminish more and more as they start to fight amongst themselves.”

      Jared Taylor, the creator of so-called “race-realist” magazine American Renaissance, denounced Trump for rolling back one of his core campaign pledges on immigration.

      “At first he promised to send back every illegal immigrant,” Taylor said to The Guardian. “Now he is waffling on that.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Obama Pulls Cybercommand Control From NSA; Changes To Take Effect Whenever

      The NSA will have to satisfy itself with being the most powerful intelligence agency in the world. President Obama, rushing through some last-minute presidential business before handing over the title to an aspiring plutocrat, has split up the nation’s cyberware command. This siloing prevents Cybercom from being run by the same military officer who oversees the NSA.


      The offensive end of the nation’s cyberwarfare will now have its own leader, which points towards an increase in offensive efforts, rather than tighter handling of the reins.

      Sticking the NSA with defense doesn’t make it happy, considering the wealth of offensive weapons it has at its disposal. But having a new singular focus may help it refine its pitch for a cut of some unfiltered domestic data. The NSA would rather be in on the ground floor of the information sharing forced on private companies by the recent passage of cybersecurity legislation. If it can defend the government’s most sensitive networks, surely it can be trusted handling the civilian side as well?

      Obama’s approval of the defense spending bill may be putting different hats on different individuals, but his letter also notes that the more things change, the more things aren’t really going to change for the foreseeable future.

    • Newly Declassified House Intel Report on Snowden Is “Rifled With Obvious Falsehoods”

      The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Thursday unveiled its full 37-page report on its three-year investigation into Edward Snowden, drawing even more criticism for conclusions that have been called biased by supporters of the former NSA contractor.

      The report, released just days before a holiday weekend, is an extended version of a highly acerbic — and disputed — unclassified summary the committee published in September, describing the former NSA contractor as a “serial exaggerator and fabricator.”

      Snowden and other critics have vehemently denied the report’s conclusions.

      The House Committee authors allege Snowden’s concerns had more to do with petty workplace spats than moral uncertainty, citing interviews with his coworkers as well as his superiors — and suggest that he is not legally a whistleblower because he did not take advantage of internal channels available for formal complaints such as Congress and the inspector general.

      Snowden quickly derided the report, which delves into his personal and professional life, often citing seemingly petty workplace grievances. He tweeted to his more than 2.5 million followers that the document is “rifled with obvious falsehoods” — citing reporting by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Barton Gellman, who has also criticized the report.

      The extended report, according to U.S. News & World Report, actually addresses some factual concerns critics had about the summary published in September. The original report argued Snowden overstated his injuries and lied about his education, while the full investigation includes contrary evidence.

    • EU Court slams UK data retention surveillance regime

      Here’s our quick overview of what the CJEU has told the UK and Sweden they must do to fix requirements for data retention.

    • Virtual Reality Allows the Most Detailed, Intimate Digital Surveillance Yet

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on stage wearing a virtual reality headset, feigning surprise at an expressive cartoon simulacrum that seemed to perfectly follow his every gesture.

      The audience laughed. Zuckerberg was in the middle of what he described as the first live demo inside VR, manipulating his digital avatar to show off the new social features of the Rift headset from Facebook subsidiary Oculus. The venue was an Oculus developer conference convened earlier this fall in San Jose. Moments later, Zuckerberg and two Oculus employees were transported to his glass-enclosed office at Facebook, and then to his infamously sequestered home in Palo Alto. Using the Rift and its newly revealed Touch hand controllers, their avatars gestured and emoted in real time, waving to Zuckerberg’s Puli sheepdog, dynamically changing facial expressions to match their owner’s voice, and taking photos with a virtual selfie stick — to post on Facebook, of course.

    • Smart Vibrator Company Settles Lawsuit For Over-Collection Of, Uh, Personal Data

      The internet of really broken things is raising no limit of privacy questions. As in, companies are hoovering up personal data on smart-device usage, often transmitting it (unencrypted) to the cloud, then failing to really inform or empower consumers as to how that data is being used and shared. Though this problem applies to nearly all IoT devices, it tends to most frequently come up when talking about the rise of smart toys that hoover up your kids’ ramblings, then sell that collected data to all manner of third parties. A company named Genesis toys is facing a new lawsuit for just this reason.

      Since your toys, fridge, tea kettle and car are all collecting your data while laughing at your privacy and security concerns, it only makes sense that your sex toys are doing the same thing.

      Back in September, a company by the name of Standard Innovation was sued because its We-Vibe vibrator collected sensitive data about usage. More specifically, the device and its corresponding smartphone app collect data on how often and how long users enjoyed the toy, the “selected vibration settings,” the device’s battery life, and even the vibrator’s “temperature.” All of this data was collected and sent off to the company’s Canadian servers. Unlike many IoT products, Standard Innovation does encrypt this data in transit, but like most IoT companies it failed to fully and clearly disclose the scope of data collection.

    • Police’s secret cellphone-surveillance tool can also block calls by the innocent

      It’s no secret that state and local law enforcement agencies have grown more militarized in the past decade, with armored personnel carriers, drones and robots.

      But one item in their arsenal has been kept largely out of public view, to the dismay of civil liberties advocates who say its use is virtually unregulated – and largely untracked.

      The device is a suitcase-size surveillance tool commonly called a StingRay that mimics a cellphone tower, allowing authorities to track individual cellphones in real time. Users of the device, which include scores of law enforcement agencies across the country, sign a non-disclosure agreement when they purchase it, pledging not to divulge its use, even in court cases against defendants the device helped capture.

    • Politicians vs. human rights

      The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has – once again – ruled that data retention (storage of data on everybody’s phone calls, text messages, e-mails, Internet connections, mobile positions etc.) is in breach of fundamental human rights.

      Nevertheless, politicians in several EU member states are trying their hardest to ignore the court. For them, Big Brotherism carries more weight than human and civil rights.

    • Need a Yahoo Mail Replacement? Here’s How ProtonMail is Different

      The large number of new users coming from Yahoo Mail is not very surprising given that ProtonMail’s core focus is email security and privacy. We first noticed the trend on social media when a large number of Tweets began appearing mentioning ProtonMail as a Yahoo Mail replacement. Starting on December 15th, the day the Yahoo breach was announced, ProtonMail’s growth rate effectively doubled as can be seen in the above chart.

    • City Passes Ordinance Mandating CCTV Surveillance By Businesses, Including Doctors And Lawyers Offices

      While there have been similar statutes enacted in other cities, these have generally been targeted at businesses already subject to extra regulation, like pawn shops, gun stores, and pharmacies. There has been some mission creep in recent years, leading to other businesses being ordered to install surveillance systems, like cellphone resellers and scrap metal dealers.

      On top of that, many of these ordinances also allow for on-demand law enforcement access, allowing the government to extend its surveillance reach without having to pay for the equipment. The specifics of Madison’s new statute haven’t been made available yet, so it’s unclear whether the collection of footage from businesses will be voluntary and tied only to investigations requested by business owners, or whether law enforcement will just be able to show up and demand to see recordings.

    • The Surveillance Oversight Board Is Dead And It’s Unlikely President Trump Will Revive It

      The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) — at least partially responsible for recent surveillance reforms — is dead. The first hints of its demise were tucked away in the annual intelligence budget, which gave Congress direct control of the PCLOB’s investigative activities.

      The last vestiges of the board’s independence have been stripped away and it seems unlikely the incoming president is going to have much interest in restoring this essential part of intelligence oversight. Congress now has the power to steer the PCLOB’s investigations. A new stipulation requiring the PCLOB to report directly to legislators means intelligence officials will be less forthcoming when discussing surveillance efforts with board members.

      At best, the PCLOB would have limped on — understaffed and neutered. That was back when the news was still good (but only in comparison). The Associate Press reports that Donald Trump is being handed the keys to a well-oiled surveillance machine, but with hardly any of the pesky oversight that ruins the fun.

    • Cyber War: Obama Wants To Split Cybercom From The NSA

      With looming threats of an open cyber war with Russia, U.S. President Barack Obama has moved to split the leadership of the NSA and the United States’ cyber warfare command. Obama supported made the following statement.

    • Government data requests on Facebook up by 27 percent

      SELF PROMOTION, AND ADVERTISE TO ME PORTAL Facebook, has seen a 27 per cent increase in the number of government demands for its data in the first half of this year.

      If there are two things that the INQUIRER does not much like they are government data demands and Facebook. A combination of the two just before Christmas is ill-timed but we can’t help that.

    • Twitter Says It Inflated Video Ad Views, Refunded Clients

      Twitter Inc. discovered a software bug that overstated how often video ads were viewed on Android phones, the latest snafu to shake faith in the measurement of digital advertising.

      The company issued refunds to some clients who ran video ads on the Twitter Android app from Nov. 7 to Dec. 12. The bug caused views to be overstated by as much as 35 percent, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    • MegaFon to Buy Mail.ru Stake for $740 Million From Usmanov

      Alisher Usmanov and his partners are set to pocket $740 million from moving a stake in internet company Mail.ru Group Ltd. to MegaFon PJSC, as the Russian billionaire consolidates his technology holdings into the wireless carrier.

      MegaFon plans to buy 33.4 million shares, equal to an almost 64 percent voting stake in the web company, from Usmanov’s USM Holdings, according to a statement Friday. The price is $640 million on completion plus $100 million after one year, which MegaFon said implies a premium of about 24 percent on Thursday’s closing price.

    • Expanding state power in times of ‘surveillance realism’: how the UK got a ‘world-leading’ surveillance law

      With the fallout of the Brexit referendum and the Trump election dominating the news, one important story of 2016 did not receive the attention it deserved: in late November, the British parliament adopted a law with an obscure name but far-reaching implications for citizens in the UK and, potentially, beyond. The ‘Investigatory Powers Act’ is a comprehensive legislative framework that regulates the surveillance powers of intelligence agencies and other public authorities.

      While the government has maintained that the new law is “world-leading”, critics have pointed out that it allows for some of the most extensive and intrusive surveillance practices in the world, and have asked: “What part of the world are we leading exactly: North Korea, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia?”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Forced marriage victims are made to pay to go home to UK

      The Foreign Office has come under fire for ordering victims of forced marriage to repay the government the costs of their repatriation.

      In a letter seen by the Guardian, a Muslim women’s charity has written to the Foreign Office on behalf of a British woman who arrived at the UK embassy in Islamabad in 2014, aged 17, seeking help to escape a forced marriage.

      She was required to sign a loan agreement and surrender her passport before she was flown back to the UK. She was then issued a bill for £814, the cost of her repatriation from Pakistan, and will not have her passport returned until she repays the money.

    • Is Women’s Basketball Un-Islamic? Muslim Group Religious Group Says So

      A women’s basketball tournament in Somalia was denounced and declared “un-Islamic” by the Somali Religious Council Thursday, a tremendously influential force in the East African nation that is more than 99 percent Muslim.

      The female competition, which was to begin Thursday, is the first-ever national women’s basketball tournament in Somalia, local reports said. The games will feature teams from each of the Somalia’s five administrative regions, along with some from the capital, Mogadishu.

      The first game was scheduled for the northeastern town of Garowe Thursday, roughly a 13-hour car ride from Mogadishu.

    • Who funds Swiss mosques?

      Getting hold of independent information on funding is extremely difficult, however. Federal or cantonal statistics are non-existent.

      “The Confederation has no data on the funding of Muslim associations and mosques – it is not its competence – except in exceptional circumstances when national security is threatened,” the Swiss government wrote in June in reply to a recent parliamentary question by Christian Democrat Ruth Humbel.

      “It is however of public knowledge that governmental organisations and private individuals send donations from abroad. But the Federal Intelligence Service has no intelligence to suggest that the external funding of mosques could have a consequence for state security,” the cabinet told Fiala in July in answer to another parliamentary question.

    • Foul-mouthed Duterte back on the offensive as more innocent lives are taken

      “Mamma, mamma,” 12-year-old Kristine Joy Sailog said, moments before a stray bullet struck her heart as she stood with her family at the gate of a Catholic church on the outskirts of the Philippine capital Manila.

      Kristine died in her mother’s arms, one of the latest innocent victims of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on drugs.

    • ‘Only one person should be in control’: Rodrigo Duterte is again flirting with an ominous idea about the rule of law in the Philippines

      Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s rhetoric on a number of issues has zig-zagged during his six months in office.

      He has vacillated on his stance toward US-Philippine ties, alternately repudiating the Obama administration and embracing the incoming Trump administration.

      Domestically, he has gone back and forth on the issue of martial law, repeatedly suggesting imposing it before backing off.

      Duterte returned to the subject this week, bemoaning the constitutional limits on how the Philippine president could deal with security threats like war.

      “If you have martial law, only one person should be in control,” Duterte said during a visit to the northern Philippines on Thursday.

    • The Cops Have Become The Thieving Thugs Through “Civil Asset Forfeiture” And Now — Through “Booking Fees”

      It’s so often the poorest, least powerful people they fund their departments through, by seizing cash as supposed illicitly earned — without proof it actually was. (In the Orwellian-named “civil asset forfeiture,” citizens must prove their money innocent — which often would mean hiring a lawyer who will cost them more than the money that was seized.)


      Some of you may know that I’ve been friends for a long time with a guy who’s been homeless. He is in Illinois now, with a roof over his head, and I receive mail for him and send it to him. Though he is a very hard worker when he gets work and a talented artist, we all have our issues, and he just hasn’t been able to maintain a bank account or do things that many of us find easy.

      Personally, with ADHD, I find certain tasks that others find simple really overwhelming — yet, I can spend a day researching science to get a single line correct and then throw the whole thing out the next day, because it makes some paragraph of the column too long — and yes, ventral tegmental area, I mean you!

    • Stun guns and male crew: Korean Air to get tough on unruly passengers

      Korean Air Lines said it will allow crew members to “readily use stun guns” to manage violent passengers, and hire more male flight attendants, after coming in for criticism from U.S. singer Richard Marx over its handling of a recent incident.

      The new crew guidelines, announced on Tuesday following the Dec. 20 incident, will also include more staff training, use of the latest device to tie up a violent passenger, and the banning of passengers with a history of unruly behavior.

      Men account for about one-tenth of Korean Air flight attendants, and the carrier said it will try to have at least one male on duty in the cabin for each flight.

      “While U.S. carriers have taken stern action on violent on-board behavior following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 (2001), Asian carriers including us have not imposed tough standards because of Asian culture,” Korean Air President Chi Chang-hoon told a news conference.

      “We will use the latest incident to put safety foremost and strengthen our safety standards,” he said.

      In South Korea, the number of unlawful acts committed aboard airplanes has more than tripled over the past five years, according to government data.


      The incident came to light when Marx said on Facebook and Twitter that he helped subdue “a psycho passenger attacking crew members and other passengers,” accusing crew members of being “ill-trained” and “ill-equipped” to handle the “chaotic and dangerous event”.

    • The Year in Government Hacking: 2016 in Review

      There’s no question that this has been a big year for government hacking. Not a day has gone by without some mention of it in the news. 2016 may forever be remembered as the year when government hacking went so mainstream that Stephen Colbert cracked jokes about Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear on The Late Show. The Obama administration has publicly blamed the Russian government for a series of compromises of U.S. political institutions and individuals in this election year, including the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee, and John Podesta, former Chairman of the Hillary Clinton election campaign. Political espionage is nothing new, but what distinguishes this series of attacks is the element of publication. This election cycle was dominated by news stories stemming from DNC and Podesta emails leaked to and published by Wikileaks, which has repeatedly said that it will not comment on sources but denies that the source of the documents is Russian.

    • All I Want for Christmas Is to Get Out of Immigration Detention

      Families are not supposed to be in immigration detention at all — and certainly not for more than a few days — but these children have been locked up with their mothers for more than a year. They are fleeing violence in Central America and asked for asylum in the United States. They got caught in legal limbo while their lawyers press for the Supreme Court to hear their case.

    • A Seminole Christmas Gift of Freedom

      Traditional U.S. history downplays Native people who settled the land and Africans enslaved to cultivate it while glorifying European whites and ignoring when the “other side” won, as on Christmas Day 1837, writes William Loren Katz.

    • After 10-year Legal Battle, a Victory for Undocumented Workers Injured on the Job

      In 2004, Leopoldo Zumaya was working as an apple picker in Pennsylvania when he fell from a tree, breaking his leg and leaving him with permanent nerve damage and chronic pain. A treating physician said Zumaya’s injuries were among the worst he’d ever seen. Most workers in Zumaya’s position would have received workers’ compensation benefits. But instead of disbursing his rightful worker’s compensation, his employer reported his immigration status to the insurance company, which then refused to pay his benefits, leaving him unable to access medical care.

    • The NYCLU Will Continue to Watch the NYPD, so Its Lawyers Don’t Institutionalize a Protester Prosecution Program

      People who take to the streets to protest should not be subject to a different form of justice than everyone else. But lawyers for the NYPD are doing exactly that when they selectively step in and act as prosecutors in cases that involve demonstrators, reportedly to keep those protesters from suing the department for false arrest.

      The eyebrow-raising agreement between the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the NYPD, in which the district attorney allows NYPD lawyers to prosecute certain criminal summons cases, was revealed by the New York Daily News earlier this year. Police officials told the Daily News that the arrangement came about after the NYPD grew frustrated with paying out settlements to protesters who sue after their summonses are dismissed. It’s important to note that the NYPD gets sued a lot. Over the last five years, the city shelled out $837 million in lawsuits brought against the police.

    • Obama’s Clemency Problem – And Ours

      Earlier this week, President Obama broke his own remarkable clemency record, granting an unprecedented 231 commutations and pardons in a single day. Headlines and tweets broadcast the historic tally; on the White House website, a bar graph tracks Obama’s record to date, which has dramatically outpaced that of his predecessors. With a total of 1,176 recipients, the White House boasted, Obama has granted clemency “more than the last 11 presidents combined.”

      The president certainly deserves credit for making clemency a priority before leaving office. His efforts are especially laudable in contrast to the lazy rhetoric of President-elect Donald Trump, who has cluelessly condemned clemency recipients as “bad dudes.” In reality, to use language Trump might understand, all successful applicants go through a process of extreme vetting: only a fraction of people in federal prison are eligible in the first place, and selections rely on a careful review of each candidate’s history and behavior behind bars. A record of violence, including as a juvenile, is disqualifying.

    • Belatedly, a Defense of a Whistleblower

      After vowing to run a transparent government, President Obama oversaw an unprecedented legal assault on whistleblowers, only now offering up a modest concession, as Linda Lewis explains.

    • Principal of Taiwan school resigns over Nazi-themed parade

      The principal of a high school in northern Taiwan has resigned following widespread criticism over an event staged by students that featured Nazi-themed costumes and swastika banners.

      Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported this week that Cheng Hsiao-ming, principal of Kuang Fu High School in the city of Hsinchu, apologized for the incident as he announced his resignation.

    • Top 5 Threats to Transparency: 2016 in Review

      Journalists investigating national security agencies have faced unprecedented threats, alongside government employees and contractors who come forward to reveal fraud, waste, and abuse. Conscientious public servants—people who have risked (and often resigned) their careers in order to do the right thing—have been thanked for their public service with criminal prosecutions for espionage, as if they were subverting the U.S. rather than performing their constitutional function or fulfilling their oaths of office.

      Under the Obama administration, more federal employees faced accusation of espionage based on their public interest whistleblowing activities than during the entire preceding history of the U.S. put together.

      For instance, military whistleblower Chelsea Manning filed an appeal in May, noting that her 35-year sentence in military prison is “grossly unfair” since “no whistleblower in American history has been sentenced this harshly.” Manning revealed documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to Wikileaks, including a video revealing a U.S. military coverup following the assassination of Reuters journalists and evidence that the Pentagon suppressed accurate data about civilian casualties that were in fact higher than those officially acknowledged.

      EFF submitted a brief to the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, arguing that her conviction for violating the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act was inappropriate since the law was designed to punish people for breaking into computers systems, which Manning never did.

      Informed by Manning’s treatment and due process violations pervading her prosecution, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden continued to seek refuge internationally. Meanwhile, a domestic coalition petitioned the Obama administration to pardon Snowden, given the public interest in his revelations and failure of congressional oversight to expose policymakers to the unconstitutional surveillance programs—including PRISM and upstream collection, which Congress will examine in 2017—that Snowden uncovered.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Protecting Net Neutrality and the Open Internet: 2016 in Review

      In 2016 we won one battle in the fight for the Open Internet – but several others are well underway and we expect Team Internet will have to mobilize once again to protect our gains and prevent further efforts to undermine network neutrality.

      Almost two years ago, thanks in large part to a massive mobilization of Internet users, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finally issued an Open Internet Order to protect net neutrality. While far from perfect, the new Order was on strong legal footing, with some limits in place to help prevent FCC overreach. Before the year was out, however, the battle for the Internet moved to the courts, as broadband providers tried to get a judge to derail the new rules. After months of wrangling, in June 2016 a federal appeals court instead approved the Order – a crucial win for Team Internet.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Australian Productivity Commission Report Sparks More Unproductive Whining from Monopolists

        Back in May, we wrote about a draft report by Australia’s Productivity Commission on how Australia’s copyright and patent laws could be reformed to foster domestic production and innovation. That report is back in the news this week, after it was released in its final form, and a consultation seeking public feedback was opened.

        The most important proposed change would introduce a fair use right into Australia’s copyright law. Currently Australia’s copyright flexibilities are narrowly pre-defined; for example, it is lawful for Australians to backup their computer software and to digitize their video tapes (remember those?), though there is still no similar exception allowing them to back up their iTunes downloads or to rip copies of their DVDs. This approach has made Australia’s copyright law a complicated and anachronistic mess.

      • USTR Gets Piracy Website Listing Notoriously Wrong

        The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has just released another edition of its periodic Notorious Markets List, a spotlight on websites and physical markets that it claims facilitate copyright or trademark infringement, and a supplement to its regular Special 301 Report on countries that allegedly do the same.

        Here are just a few of the problems we’ve identified in this year’s list, illustrating the overreach of the USTR’s single-minded enforcement agenda.

      • Swedish Supreme Court has ruled that sport broadcasts are not protected by copyright

        Back in 2015 this blog reported and commented [here and here] on the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in C More, a reference for a preliminary ruling from the Swedish Supreme Court seeking guidance on whether – among other things – the unauthorised live streaming of broadcasts of ice hockey matches could be regarded as an act of making available to the public within the meaning of the Swedish implementation of Article 3(2) of the InfoSoc Directive and, if so, a potential copyright infringement.

Leaked: Letter to Quality Support (DQS) at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One has to wonder how many more letters like this are being suppressed (never seen by the outside world) and how widespread these problems really are


Summary: Example of abysmal service at the EPO, where high staff turnover and unreasonable pressure from above may be leading to communication issues that harm stakeholders the most

THE FOLLOWING IS AN anonymised letter to senior EPO staff, bemoaning what was a horrible (and possibly not exceptional) service from the EPO, which caused enormous financial loss and the loss of many years (stuck in a limbo).

████████████████ ████████████████
Director, Directorate 2.5.2
Quality Support (DQS)
Principal Directorate Quality Management I DG2
European Patent Office
80298 Munich

Application No: █ █ █ █ █

Dear Mr. ████████████████████,

Re Letter of ██ & ██ ███

Under rule 71 (2): -

‘Any communication under Article 94, paragraph 3, shall contain a reasoned statement covering, where appropriate, all the grounds against the grant of the European patent.’

At the first oral hearing the EPO stated that Claim 1 as set out in document ██ met the EPC criteria for grant. It was recognised that dependent claims along with possible additional IP that could be added. The directions of the chairman were that these small outstanding matters were to be addressed by email. This resulted in submission of ██████. This provided 4 areas for discussion and detailed mark-up of the changes. There was no separate response to this communication. The response that was given was added by way of an addendum to the intention to grant Rule 71 (3) of ████.

In contravention of Rule 71 (2) the response did not include a reasoned response on all grounds. There was no way of telling which mark-up was acceptable and which wasn’t. Had a full response been provided I would have known those part that may have been acceptable or not could have been addressed or incorporated into any further revision. In fact this failure to provide a full response is confirmed by the fact that no sooner than the initial objections were met than further grounds of objection by the EPO were added (see EPO’s later correspondence). The last such revision of objection being set out in the examining divisions letter of ███. Not only have I been subject to a grossly incomplete first response but further objections have been drip fed over months greatly adding to delay. The last of these objections I haven’t even been given an opportunity to contest because the examining division has refused the application in its entirety; not withstanding that the EPO has stated that a patent could be granted. It would appear that if you challenge the EPO you simply lose the IP that is rightly yours. Why was Rule 71 (2) not followed and why am I not given the opportunity to respond and possibly correct objections before my application is refused?

In your letter you state: “A grant can only be given on the basis of text approved by the applicant.” This would suggest that Rule 71 (3) (the intention to grant) is only instigated when agreement has been reached. I am left confused by the approach of the EPO on this front. The first letter of intent to grant was made under Rule 71 (3) on ███. This was later withdrawn. The exact same approach was then adopted on ████. In your letter of ███ you state that the text was not approved by me. The text in both instances was the same. As the text was not approved I do not understand why the EPO moved to issuing a letter of intention to grant. What had changed between the withdrawal of the intention to grant of ██ and later resubmission of the same words in ██? As detailed in the previous paragraph it is clear from the changing grounds of the EPO that discussions with the EPO were ongoing as at ███. Why are applications refused when discussions are ongoing? Does the applicant have no right of reply? Why was the intention to grant issued when clearly agreement had not been reached? The evidence suggests that this approach has simply been used as a procedural move to refuse the application and curtail criticism.

From paragraph 7 of your letter of ███ it would appear that under Rule 71 (3) applicants are allowed to contest wording but if they do so they run the risk of a complete refusal of your application! The right to contest looks more like Russian Roulette. It would appear that the applicant is being restricted from contesting his case. At the point applicants are offered the prospect of contesting wording, the consequences of doing so should be set out in BOLD print. This they are not. In fact the insight in your letter is the first I have heard of this position and it came precisely at the same moment that this action was taken. You have previously provided a full set of references to substantiate the legal basis for the actions of the EPO but alas there are none here. Please could you supply me with the legal basis for this and references as you have done previously. I think it is critical that all applicants should understand when they are genuinely allowed to contest points and clearly when they are not.

In your letter of ████ paragraph ███ you have still failed to address the contradiction that the EPO is claiming inventive step and no inventive step on identical wording. You claim that my suggestion that the division contradicts itself may simply be due to a misinterpretation of the communication of the division (para 11). Please could you tell me what this misinterpretation is because I haven’t clue and you haven’t stated what it is? In para ██ you state that ███ has been deemed inventive with regard to the document ██. This issue concerning contradiction can readily be resolved if you or your examining division simply tell me what this inventive step is. Currently the examiner is complaining about the metal pipes of the heat exchanged as not being inventive, yet the wording concerning the metal pipes is the same in all documents ██, ██ and ██. You have asserted that ██ shows inventive step over ███, please can you tell me what it is? I bet this cannot answered honestly without agreeing with my assertion about contradiction is correct. Why is the inventive step not documented in the minutes of the oral hearings?

In para ██ of your letter ███ you claim that; “the EPO has taken all possible steps to support your constituent (me)”. I ask you then: -

1. Why did the EPO not suggest I seek, or they themselves seek, an adjournment to the oral proceedings when they knew I could not attend due to being on my honeymoon?
2. Why did the EPO not tell me that I may lose my patent all together if I contested the EPO’s wording or lack of dependent claims?
3. Why has the EPO steadfastly refused to address the issue that the EPO contradicts itself?
4. Is the median turn around for applications greater than 6.5 years?
5. Is it normal to simply refuse an application on which the EPO asserts a patent can be granted without first consulting the applicant?
6. Why has the examining division not followed the order of priority for reviewing claims as set out in correspondence? This would have prevented the refusal letter from being submitted.
7. How are my interests served by being forced into an appeals process that will costs a minimum of 1,860 euros for the appeal, probable a further circa 3,500 euros on renewal fees and a further wait of 3 years when it is accepted by invention is patentable!?

In paras ███, ███ and ███ you suggest that I should employ the services of a competent professional. Setting aside the inference that I am not competent and setting aside all possible steps of support that the EPO has given me I have to ask what happens when the lack of competence lies with the EPO?

In the letter of refusal of ███ the examiners claim there is no ███ document on file. Is there little wonder then that I, and probably many others too, lose all faith in the EPO as an organisation when one realises that not only does the document exist on file but it has historically been replied to. This statement that the document does not exist on file has been signed by three of your examiners! What legal options for redress are there available to applicants who find their applications so evidently mistreated? What actions will you be taking to ensure this does not happen again?

In accordance with the spirit of Rule 71 (2) please could I have a full response to all points raised in this letter. May I suggest a response by email will significantly save time.


████████████ ██████████████████

Have you encountered similarly bad service? If so, please get in touch with us.

Negative Publicity (Personal or by Association With the EPO) is Devouring the Institution

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The precious snowflakes of EPO management cannot handle criticism from the public


Summary: Willy Minnoye, Ciarán McGinley, Lionel Baranès, Theano Evangelou and others near the top of the EPO pyramid recalled in light of old news about them

THE EPO is about to have an exceptionally tough year that’s agonising to Battistelli’s circle (or “Team Battistelli”), which already falls apart (Minnoye will be leaving before his term ends and so will Ciarán McGinley).

“I very much liked what you published in this article, which I second,” one reader told us, regarding the article that led to the following E-mail being sent to me in March:

Dear Sir,

I would like to refer to the Article/post on the EPO published on the Techrights webpage on the 15.3.2016 which quotes an anonymous reader who inter Alia makes reference to my name Theano Evangelou.

I would like to note that I do not wish to be mentioned neither by name nor would I like to be identifiable. I would thus kindly ask you to withdraw my name or any such information from the blog and not to spread it further. I must further note that I feel personally impacted by such mention.

Yours faithfully,

Theano Evangelou

Some people at the EPO’s management foolishly think we’ll self-censor just because they don’t want to be held accountable for their behaviour. Some even resort to legal threats. These precious snowflakes think that as heads of an international public institution they deserve to live in a cocoon with privacy levels greater than those of the CIA? They want not only immunity from the law but also invisibility (from the public which they purport to be ‘serving’)?

“They want not only immunity from the law but also invisibility (from the public which they purport to be ‘serving’)?”I shared the above letter with someone, who later said to me: “if you want to have a bit of fun with it…. You may ask back if being mentioned as “head of legal department, lawyer” of such an ethically challenging (and challenged) organization is of any bother: If you search in Google for “theano evangelou legal patent”, the first result is her LinkedIn profile in all its pretentious pride. I mean, not just a lawyer, but the Head of the Legal Department! Of EPO! And she feels “impacted” by seeing her name? … give me a break. What a laugh…”

“I think Ciarán McGinley also belongs in the list of rogues,” another person added. “He’s a former SUEPO official turned manager. (This phenomenon isn’t unique to the EPO.)”

Well, McGinley is leaving soon. Maybe seeing SUEPO under attack, combined with a morsel of consciousness, was enough to compel him to withdraw from his “Career Climber” tendencies.

“Remember the PR head that left the EPO almost as soon as he had joined?”“My memories of Lionel Baranès are about as faint as his tenure was brief (2002-2004, IIRC),” told us another person. Well, maybe he didn’t ‘fit in’, so to speak. Remember the PR head that left the EPO almost as soon as he had joined? Not just Vincent Bénard

Baranès’ open letter of resignation is quite revealing, but few people even care to remember it. If anyone has a copy of that letter, please get in touch with us.

2017 Will be the Year Team Battistelli Collapsed and EPO ‘Reform’ Became All About Detoxifying the Organisation

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Board of the Organisation admitted there was "a crisis" in 2016. Now it’s time to act.

EPO crisis

Summary: Battistelli’s circle (or “Team Battistelli”) is starting to disintegrate, perhaps in anticipation of a tough year full of new leaks (“WillyLeaks” as some put it)

EARLIER this year we saw some big changes at the EPO, where the management is now undoubtedly on the defensive (under growing scrutiny from many directions). We have already found out Battistelli’s salary, who left (statistics indicating brain drain), and who signed off many of the attacks on staff representatives. Battistelli’s circle does not like transparency because it leads to accountability, which is like sunshine to a vampire. What lowers the circle’s morale these days is truth itself, or facts, which is why Team Battistelli blatantly lies so routinely and covers up — even using threats — anything not convenient to its agenda.

“What lowers the circle’s morale these days is truth itself, or facts, which is why Team Battistelli blatantly lies so routinely and covers up — even using threats — anything not convenient to its agenda.”Earlier on (yesterday) we found this new comment stating: “When people retire, it is up to them whether they want an article in the censored Gazette. This chairman would not be the first one to leave without it.”

Now, for those wishing to see the context, it said: “One of the members of the EBA [Enlarged Board of Appeal] who participated in the decision Art 23 has retired. Normally when a chairman of a BA retires, there is an article in the internal journal of the EPO (the Gazette). For this chairman, there is nothing. Is this a mere coincidence? I doubt it.”

This is indicative of the growing culture of secrecy at the EPO, only combated because of sites like ours or groups like SUEPO (although SUEPO is increasingly afraid and thus silent).

“Normally when a chairman of a BA retires, there is an article in the internal journal of the EPO (the Gazette). For this chairman, there is nothing. Is this a mere coincidence? I doubt it.”
Earlier this year we wrote about yet another ILO case citing the Bernard Paye case (at the time, ILO released dozens of EPO decisions, more than 80% of which ruled against the EPO's management). ILO is, thankfully, starting to handle more of the appeals from the year Battistelli went mad. Recently, two such appeals and the decisions on them served to reveal that Battistelli had made a mockery of justice itself. Taking into account actions by Team Battistelli Against the European Patent Convention (EPC) as well, what we have here and what it boils down to is a regime above the law and doing what’s outlawed. It’s positioned somewhere in Bavaria where no politician has effectively tackled some truly serious abuses (which in the absence of immunity for Battistelli would possibly have him and his goons criminally charged).

We expect a growing number of groups and politicians to scrutinise Team Battistelli in 2017. We have some leaks coming and the more the public knows, the worse it will get for Battistelli. Here is a recent letter (in French) from CERN’s Staff Association:

CERN's Staff Association to SUEPO

A year or so ago EPSU and FNV, which represent unions, had already become aware of the situation and wrote letters about it. To quote some text from that time:

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) which represents more than 265 unions, and the Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging (FNV), the largest union in the Netherlands, have sent a letter to Mr Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The letter recalls that the judgment of Dutch Court of Appeal gave explicit instructions to the EPO which the EPO decided to ignore by raising an illicit immunity of execution objection: “breaches of fundamental workers’ rights on the Dutch territory are a first serious embarrassment for the Dutch government and that challenging the respect of these rights side by side with an obviously ill-run international organisation before the highest Court of the Netherlands is an even worse embarrassment.”

A copy of the letter was sent to the Dutch Foreign Office and Ministry of Economy, the Ambassadors of the 27 EU Member States in The Hague, Ver.Di (Berlin) and USF (Brussels).

Institutions which are positioned above national laws and claim to enforce their own rules (but don’t, management is exempted also) must be brought under control and those responsible for abuses have their protection stripped off, potentially to face jail time like Sepp Blatter did. Some people actually think that Battistelli too belongs in prison.

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