A Korean Android OEM is Bullied by Patent Trolls Which Microsoft Gave Patents to and Paid

Posted in GNU/Linux, LG, Microsoft, Patents at 4:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LG is the latest victim, but let’s carry on pretending that “Microsoft loves Linux”

LG phone

Summary: Even though LG already pays Microsoft ‘protection’ money for alleged patent infringements in Linux (since 2007) the trolls that are connected to Microsoft carry on chasing it with lawsuits in East Texas, so Microsoft’s ‘protection’ is illusionary at best and Microsoft is a back-stabbing ‘ally’

THE malicious MOSAID (now known as Conversant and led by Boris Teksler) is a patent troll. It was armed by Microsoft some years ago and it now attacks Android OEMs. The latest victim? LG. As IAM put it yesterday: “Over the last four years the licensing dispute between Conversant subsidiary Core Wireless and LG has had all the familiar traits of a modern day infringement spat as the battle has dragged on in two separate district court cases.”

It’s the district court in East Texas and, as a reminder, “Conversant acquired the Core Wireless portfolio of around 2,000 assets from Nokia in 2011.” Remember that Microsoft guided the transfer of patents from Nokia to Conversant (known as MOSAID back then). We have been writing a lot about that. Boris Teksler is aware of it.

LG has also just been attacked by Uniloc, which Microsoft paid a lot of money back in the days (we wrote many articles about that). Again it’s in Texas, but the troll now preys on Korean firms. The English-speaking mainstream media in Korea wrote about that yesterday:

A nonpracticing entity filed a series of patent infringement lawsuits last year against South Korea’s information technology giants, including Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, in an apparent move to ride their recently improved sales in the US market, a local intellectual property service provider said Monday.

Most recently, Uniloc filed a suit to the federal court of Texas in October last year, claiming LG Electronics infringed upon one of its patents through products equipped with smart home platform system SmartThinQ, according to Seoul-based global patent information company WIPS and US-based patent risk solution provider Rational Patent Exchange.

Notice how they target Korean companies not in Korea but in Texas. They drag their cases to the most notorious courts, which are also troll-friendly courts. This might get harder in the future because of TC Heartland. Based on this new report, patent law firms pack up and go as the number of new patent lawsuits filed in Texas fell by more than half. To quote:

San Francisco-based patent attorney Richard Hung never found an easy way to travel to eastern Texas to litigate patent cases.

But like hundreds of patent attorneys across the U.S., he had to. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas was once the most popular venue for patent infringement lawsuits in the country.

A partner at Morrison & Foerster, LLP and co-chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Litigation Group, Hung would spend at least six hours hopping through airports to the regional business hub in Shreveport, La., then drive west on I-20 for 35 miles. Once, when a return flight from Shreveport was canceled, he was forced to drive more than 200 miles to Houston to fly home.


The TC Heartland decision, which held that a domestic corporation “resides” only in its state of incorporation, upended nearly 30 years of precedent in patent law and dramatically restricted where patent cases may be litigated. Previously, the rules for where a patent infringement lawsuit could be filed made it easy to select the east Texas court, which had a reputation for being a friendly venue for patent owners.

It’s becoming a liability for firms to operate in Texas or be based in Texas because after TC Heartland it makes them susceptible to more patent lawsuits. Surely China too should know what it means to become the ‘next Texas’, but we’ll say more about that in our next post (regarding China).

St. Regis Mohawk Nation Now Exploited as a Lobby and an Attack Vector Against PTAB

Posted in America, Patents at 3:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CAFC and SCOTUS should definitely take note of the Koch Brothers' role in that lobby (which harms technology companies)

Koch Network Plans to Spend $400 Million in U.S. Midterm Cycle
Reference (in the news 2 days ago): Koch Network Plans to Spend $400 Million in U.S. Midterm Cycle

Summary: The anti-PTAB lobby, which is basically attempting to influence Oil States v Greene's Energy (imminent Supreme Court decision), still tries hard to find scandals or make up scandals; the Mohawk tribe became a convenient channel for that (paid to participate in a scam)

THE biggest PTAB story of 2017 was probably the Mohawk patent scam. It carries on; it’s piggybacked by patent extremists. The USPTO granted some dubious patents and now they’re being shielded using a tribe which has absolutely nothing to do with them. An unethical lawyer paid them some money through shell entities for this (makes one wonder where the money really comes from). Here’s a long new article by Kevin E. Noonan. It’s about the amicus briefs which support the scam (the patent microcosm would rather focus on these):

In what everyone (including the Patent Trial and Appeal Board) considers an unprecedented administrative action, the PTAB late last year set out an order (Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s Order, 2017 WL 5067421, P.T.A.B. Nov. 3, 2017) inviting amicus briefing on the question of whether the transfer of patent rights from Allergan to the St. Regis Mohawk Nation should lead the Board to dismiss several consolidated inter partes review actions (Nos. IPR2016-01127, IPR2016-01128, IPR2016-01129, IPR2016-01130, IPR2016-01131, and IPR2016-01132, instituted against U.S. Patent Nos. 8,685,930, 8,629,111, 8,642,556, 8,633,162, 8,648,048, and 9,248,191, respectively) on the grounds of sovereign immunity (see “Mohawk Nation Exercises Sovereign Immunity in Inter Partes Review”).


A brief from the High Tech Inventors Alliance, Computer & Communications Industry Association, and Internet Association repeats the argument that patent laws are law of general applicability from which sovereign immunity provides no protection, basing this characterization in part because “[private petitioners] cannot compel the Patent Office to conduct a review and their ongoing participation is unnecessary to complete one” (another argument also made in the brief from Askeladden LLC). According to this brief, “[i]nter partes review is thus ‘less like a judicial proceeding and more like a specialized agency proceeding’ in which third parties that petition for review ‘need not have a concrete stake in the outcome; indeed, they may lack constitutional standing,’” citing Cuozzo Speed Techs., LLC v. Lee, 136 S. Ct. 2131, 2143-44 (2016). According to this brief (in an argument made nowhere else), “tribes that own patents must, like all other patentees, pay the fees to maintain the patent, or else the patent will expire. See 35 U.S.C. § 41(b). The condition that the Patent Office may reexamine or review the patent is no different.”

The Mohawk people/tribe hired lawyers who take the tribe for a ‘ride’, looking for anything by which to shoot the messengers (PTAB judges) while pretending to be poor Natives (they’re not; they’re rich, corrupt lawyers). The lawyers picked by the Mohawk people have disgraced the tribe to the point where it’s accused of “conspiracy theories” and a “scam”. Why can’t this tribe see the incredible damage already done to its reputation? It’s never too late to end this. They sold out though and ending it may result in loss of money (funneled through shells).

Watchtroll, in its usual fashion, has just used the Mohawk patent scam in an effort to make PTAB look bad. The tribe has been reduced to a tool.

Watchtroll, relying on two decisions among many thousands, says the “the entirety of the concurring opinions are word for word identical. Obviously, the concurring opinions were shared internally in some form or fashion prior to being issued by the PTAB. But why? It seems perfectly reasonable for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe to want to know who actually wrote these two concurring opinions.”

They’re aiming to discredit PTAB rather than justify their ‘case’ (scam). Classic “shoot the messenger”.

“In light of these two identical concurring opinions,” Watchtroll concluded, “the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe raised the plausible possibility that ex parte oral or written communications may have occurred involving APJs on the merits panels of these cases. If such communications did occur they should be made public. The PTAB should not refuse to answer these legitimate questions, because at some point they will have to answer how and why this happened.”

These have absolutely nothing to do with the Mohawk scam; the lawyers they hired simply use them as a tool for anti-PTAB lobbying while attending events hosted by a think tank of the Koch Brothers. This doesn’t look good at all. Another attack on the same day (Watchtroll against PTAB) called PTAB a kangaroo court. Got to protect bad patent and patent trolls, eh? And the Mohawk people are used as a moral shield for people who are aligned with billionaires’ interests.

To better understand what the Kochs have at stake here, remember Oil States. As Patently-O reminded readers yesterday, the Supreme Court is not assessing any cases which give hope for software patents, but it will rule (probably this summer) for or against PTAB (which asserts/applies Alice). This is important. Also yesterday, as can be seen in this post, Patently-O was back to belittling PTAB judges. Not only does Patently-O cite Watchtroll’s attacks on PTAB but it also makes it blatantly obvious that it wants PTAB obliterated. From the post:

In 2007, Prof. John Duffy penned a Patently-O essay explaining that Administrative Patent Judges are at least “inferior officers” under the US Constitution (art. II, § 2, cl. 2) — requiring appointment by a Head of Department (i.e., Secretary of Commerce). Duffy’s work on the topic prompted statutory reform and now all PTAB follow that appointment process.

In a new article, Prof. Gary Larsen takes Duffy’s analysis a major step forward – explaining that the PTAB is special because its Inter Partes Review actions are not further reviewed by any executive actor — rendering Administrative Patent Judges principal officer (rather than inferior) and requiring appointment by the President with Advice and Consent of the Senate.

These people have long attempted to convince SCOTUS Justices that patents are “property” (that's a lie), that PTAB lacks certain authority and so on. They try to influence the outcome in Oil States. Duffy is from the University of Virginia School of Law and Crouch is from Kansas, where the Kochs are known to be throwing lots of money at universities. It’s worth checking what motivates these scholars, either consciously or subconsciously.

A Danish Company Has Just Collapsed Due to Patent Quality Issues at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Forward PharmaSummary: Rushed examination at the EPO is taking its toll on companies that need legal certainty and instead get just Early Certainty™ (which is no certainty at all, just an excuse to fake ‘production’ numbers for Battistelli)

THE EPO may have become worse than the USPTO when it comes to patent quality if it’s true that it’s now easier to get software patents at the EPO than at the USPTO (as some law firms publicly claim). Then there’s the aspect of patents on life.

This is alarming because the EPO used to be the best bar none when it comes to patent quality. A European Patent (EP) offered very high legal certainty, e.g. in case a lawsuit gets filed.

Yesterday, IAM’s editor was reposting for Haseltine Lake LLP. It’s about that latest study of theirs (first mentioned by us about 3 weeks ago). It is, however, preceded by his introduction, which goes as follows (after calling the Battistelli era “highly controversial” — a gross understatement).

As President Battistelli sees out his final months, the big question is how much of an impact the changes have had. Well, if research by James Ward and Frances Wilding, partners at Haseltine Lake LLP, is correct, the answer is a great deal. In the following overview of detailed number-crunching they have done, the pair explain that the amount of grants the office made in 2017 is likely to have exceeded 100,000 for the very first time, while the examination backlog could be on the way down; though the number of oppositions is on the rise. What the numbers cannot tell us is whether there has been any impact on the quality of the rights the EPO issues – that, of course, will always be subjective (IAM readers have always seen the office as being the leader of the pack among the IP5).

IAM cites IAM to maintain the illusion that patent quality is OK under Battistelli. This is also what Battistelli keeps citing. Circular logic?

Either way, there have been several high-profile mistakes lately. Thankfully, these were corrected upon opposition. The most famous example is the Broad Institute's CRISPR patent, which has just been mentioned again by Awapatent’s Sofia Willquist. Here is what she wrote: “The CRISPR systems are covered by several patents and patent applications filed by different applicants, and are currently owned by the Broad Institute at MIT, the Max-Planck Institute in Berlin, University of California and MilliporeSigma. Early last year, the Broad Institute won a first dispute, which concerned fundamental patent rights in the US, as previously reported here. However, last week on this side of the ocean, the pendulum swung the other way and Broad suffered a serious set-back when one of the core patents was revoked by the European Patent Office (EPO).”

Rightly so.

Mark Summerfield, an Australian patent maximalist, wrote that “Loss of CRISPR Priority in Europe is a Warning to All Patent Applicants” (more like “Loss of CRISPR Priority in Europe is Great News to People Who Object to Patents on Life”).

From his blog post:

On 17 January 2018, a panel of the European Patent Office (EPO) opposition division wholly revoked a patent co-owned by the Broad Institute (‘Broad’) relating to CRISPR/Cas9 ‘gene editing’ technology. The European patent in question, number EP2771468, is entitled ‘Engineering of systems, methods and optimized guide compositions for sequence manipulation’, and is a European equivalent to US patent no. 8,906,616, which is one of the key Broad patents involved in the US patent interference dispute with the University of California (UC) – which is currently on appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. As is usual with European opposition proceedings, the ruling was issued immediately at the hearing (which had originally been scheduled to continue for two further days). A full written decision providing detailed reasons is likely to be a few weeks away.

Technically, the basis for revocation in the final decision is likely to be lack of novelty and/or inventive step of all claims of the Broad patent. However, the underlying reason for Broad’s failure to defend its patent is a loss of priority. In particular, the EPO panel determined that Broad was not entitled to claim priority from four of its earlier US provisional applications, including the earliest filing, US provisional application no. 61/736,527, which was filed on 12 December 2012. This loss of priority was fatal to the patent, as a result of a number of publications – including Broad’s own – that occurred subsequently, but prior to the full application’s filing date of 12 December 2013.

The good news is, the Office managed to correct it. It’s now likely to be on its way to the EPO’s Enlarged Board (on appeal). It’s incredible that such a ludicrous patent can even get this far. It’s also incredible that the Enlarged Board can still get some things done in spite of Battistelli (they’re constantly under several attacks from him). Here’s yesterday’s coverage from Denmark regarding decision G 1/16:

The EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) recently issued its long-awaited decision G 1/16 relating to undisclosed disclaimers. The decision lays down under which circumstances the introduction during prosecution of a patent application before the EPO of a disclaimer not disclosed in the application as filed may be allowable under Article 123(2) EPC. The decision essentially confirms the standard defined in decision G 1/03 of 2004.

The more interesting news from Denmark, however, started with this press release (“Forward Pharma Announces the Decision of the European Patent Office in the Opposition Proceedings for the EP2801355 Patent”) and then an article titled “Here’s Why Forward Pharma Lost 30% Today” (published only hours ago).

Based in Copenhagen (Denmark) on the face of it, Forward Pharma has collapsed. The EPO has just managed to correct itself after nearly granting a bogus patent. Watch the effect of the EPO rejecting a bogus patent after false hopes were given: “Shares of Forward Pharma A/S (NASDAQ: FWP), a Denmark-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, lost around 30 percent Monday after the company announced a disappointing update related to its patent.”

From the press release:

Forward Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:FWP) (“Forward” or the “Company”) today announced that the European Patent Office (the “EPO”) has revoked the EP2801355 patent (the “’355 patent”) following the oral hearing in the Opposition Proceedings.

The EPO Opposition Division revoked the ’355 patent after considering third-party oppositions from several opponents. The Opposition Division will issue detailed reasons for the decision in written form in due course, and following receipt and review of these, Forward plans to appeal the Opposition Division’s decision to the Technical Board of Appeal, with an expected duration of the appeal process of an additional two to three years.

It probably serves to show how rushed examination, Early Certainty™ etc. can do more harm than good. These put a strain on the EPO Opposition Division (now dealing with about 4,000 oppositions per year) because examiners are pressured to work in a rush. How much of this work won’t be corrected by the Opposition Division or the Boards but by the courts? At a huge expense to both plaintiff and defendant/s…

The patent certainty surrounding EPs is gone. So much for Early Certainty™…

ILO Has Once Again Let Down Labour at the EPO by Siding With Union Busters

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 2:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So much for Labour Org…

ILO and Battistelli

Summary: ILO continues to protect Battistelli as the ILOAT fails to see a pretty blatant union-busting campaign for what it really is

THE EPO has already come under several legal actions in Dutch courts. It sometimes even refused to obey court orders from Dutch judges whilst attacking Dutch nationals like Elizabeth Hardon (an EPO staff representative). It was around that time that the EPO funneled money to better control (mislead/silence/bribe) Dutch media with FTI Consulting's outside help. Battistelli, in his typical fashion, sought to derail journalism (nowadays the EPO does the same to academia). He tried hard; he just flings EPO budget at whatever official he needs a vote from, so why not publications too?

FNV, which we mentioned here before [1, 2] (it’s mentioned a lot in Dutch articles), is in the news again [1, 2, 3, 4]. These articles are all in Dutch and they might be translated by SUEPO some time soon (into English and maybe French). An automated translation of the original from FNV says this: “The FNV called Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees in a letter to intervene at the European Patent Office (EPO). EPO again violates Dutch law.”

This comes in a timely fashion because a couple of hours ago an anonymous blogger said that “ILO Administrative Tribunal dismisses complaints against EPO president,” alluding specifically Hardon’s case and then moving on to a few others:

The Administrative Tribunal of the ILO (ILOAT), which decided a series of cases concerning the EPO in its 125th session last week, dismissed a complaint of the former SUEPO trade union chairman Elizabeth Hardon against her downgrading by EPO president Benoit Battistelli.


Another case the ILOAT decided last week concerned Aurélien Pétiaud, a long-time EPO employee and staff representative. He had been ordered to participate in sessions of the Internal Appeals Committee (IAC). ‘On 25 March 2014 the complainant informed the Chairperson of the IAC that he would not participate in the IAC session held that day as he was on strike. He subsequently informed the Chairperson of the IAC that he would not be able to attend the June and July sessions of the IAC because of his existing workload and the limited support received from the secretariat.’

We knew that ILOAT would rule on some staff representation cases, but we did not imagine that ILO would show such incredible weakness and cowardice. A sad day (or week) for the EPO…

The EPO’s Central Staff Committee Explains How Battistelli’s Attacks on Judge Corcoran Annul Any Perception of Independence

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 1:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And the German Constitutional Court should thus can the UPC

Fair trial

Summary: The letter regarding the ‘exile’ of Patrick Corcoran (currently in DG1) is trickling out in spite of efforts to suppress its publication (even internally)

THE staff representatives of the EPO have plenty to worry about because ILO and the AC remain in Battistelli’s pocket and he seems capable of doing whatever he wants without any consequences.

A report which we saw last week mentioned a letter regarding the forced removal (‘exile’) of a judge to The Hague, under the direction (his DG!) of Battistelli. Since then we have tried getting hold of that letter, hoping someone will eventually send it to us.

“The EPO is currently censoring the publication on the Intranet of a CSC open letter to the Delegations of the AC,” SUEPO wrote. “Following a request from the CSC we hereby publish the letter with its accompanying text.”

So here we have censorship by the EPO yet again. Here’s the accompanying text:

AC Disciplinary Case [D1/15] settled?

In its Communiqué of 19 December 2017, the Administrative Council announced that “it took a final decision in a disciplinary case [D1/15] against an employee appointed by the Council – a case which had attracted significant public attention.” and for which the ILO Administrative Tribunal already delivered Judgments 3958 and 3960 ordering the immediate reinstatement of the suspended member of the Boards of Appeal (BoA), whom the Council then declined to re-appoint. The employee was first reinstated in the BoA in Munich for a few days.

In January 2018, the Office informed him that he will be permanently transferred in February 2018 to a post of Senior Expert in Classification expressly created for him in The Hague, pursuant to Art. 41(3) ServRegs.

However, the employee never performed classification work and is instead specialised in substantive examination and legal matters. The assignment to completely new duties is clearly against the interests of the service and betrays the aim of the Office Administration: impose a further covert disciplinary sanction and ultimately engineer a situation of “constructive dismissal” for professional incompetence under Art. 52 ServRegs.

This decision will reopen the discussion on a case meant to be settled.

In its Communiqué, the Council “underlined its expectation that now – after a long period of intense debate – legal peace would be restored.” The ball is now again with the AC if it wants it to be fulfilled.

The letter to the Heads of Delegations of the Administrative Council can be found here.

Your Central Staff Committee

Here is the letter referred to:

Heads of Delegations of the
Administrative Council

Open letter

Forced transfer of a former judge from Munich to The Hague

Dear Heads of Delegations,

In its Communiqué1 of 19 December 2017, the Administrative Council announced that “it took a final decision in a disciplinary case [D1/15] against an employee appointed by the Council – a case which had attracted significant public attention.” and for which the ILO Administrative Tribunal already delivered Judgments 39582 and 39603 ordering the immediate reinstatement of the suspended member of the Boards of Appeal (BoA), whom the Council then declined to re-appoint. The employee was first reinstated in the BoA in Munich for a few days.

In January 2018, the Office informed him that he will be permanently transferred in February 2018 to a post of Senior Expert in Classification expressly created for him in The Hague, pursuant to Art. 41(3) ServRegs. This decision will reopen the discussion on a case meant to be settled:

• First, the Tribunal clearly acknowledged the moral prejudice caused to the employee since December 2014. Transferring him to a country in which he had never lived is a further burden for him and his family. The Office did not fulfil its duty of care by assessing medically whether the employee was fit for a transfer. For medical or personal reasons, the employee may have to refuse to be transferred and in such case the President may decide to terminate his service (Art. 53(1)(b) ServRegs).

1 https://www.epo.org/about-us/governance/communiques.html#a36
2 http://www.ilo.org/dyn/triblex/triblexmain.fullText?p_lang=en&p_judgment_no=3958
3 http://www.ilo.org/dyn/triblex/triblexmain.fullText?p_lang=en&p_judgment_no=3960

• Second, the employee never performed classification work and is instead specialised in substantive examination and legal matters. The assignment to completely new duties is clearly against the interests of the service and betrays the aim of the Office Administration: impose a further covert disciplinary sanction
and ultimately engineer a situation of “constructive dismissal” for professional incompetence under Art. 52 ServRegs.

France Telecom, a company formerly including civil servants with lifetime job guarantees in its workforce, organized involuntary transfers of employees in order to pressure them to leave. At the same time the number of suicides increased drastically. Since then, such practices are considered4 to be “particularly disruptive”.

The decision of the Office Administration will also have consequences in pending national proceedings before the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassunsgericht), which concern the standing and independence of the BoA. The Court will pay particular attention to the treatment of a former member of the BoA under the authority of a President who was already found by the Tribunal to have a conflict of interest in the matter.

More generally, interested circles will also note how easily the EPO Service Regulations can be misused to (try to) get rid of colleagues, who are supposed to be “permanent employees”, in times where the President of the Office is about to submit to the Council CA/121/175 , a proposal for “modernisation” of the employment framework making the exercise even easier.

In its Communiqué, the Council “underlined its expectation that now – after a long period of intense debate – legal peace would be restored.” The ball is now again with the AC if it wants it to be fulfilled.

Sincerely yours,

Chairman of the Central Staff Committee
cc: Mr B. Battistelli, President of the EPO
4 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/10/business/global/10ftel.html
5 http://www.epo.org/modules/epoweb/acdocument/epoweb2/304/en/CA-121-17_en.pdf

Battistelli’s EPO suppressed the publication of this letter even internally, so the EPO’s management clearly worries that the letter will be seen, e.g. by the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassunsgericht). It can doom the UPC almost instantaneously (if judges see just to what degree the EPO continues to attack judges and disobey orders of judges from ILO).


Links 29/1/2018: Parrot 3.11, OPNsense 18.1

Posted in News Roundup at 4:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Advice for Buying and Setting Up Laptops When You’re Traveling or On-Call

      The key to a good on-call or travel laptop is to get something cheap. As computers have continued to get faster, the fact is that many people can get their general work done (especially in a pinch) with laptops that are many years old. This is especially true on a Linux desktop, even if you aren’t someone who spends a decent amount of time on a terminal.

      Used Thinkpads are a great choice for travel laptops, because they have good Linux compatibility and are rugged and easy to repair with replacement parts that are easy to find. Because so many organizations have used them as company laptops, you almost always can find a used one cheap on an auction site. Keep an eye out for a model that is listed as having no OS. Those laptops tend to be cheaper because people want to avoid having to install an OS, but as Linux users, we would just overwrite the OS anyway! I’ve consistently found that if I’m patient, I can get a Thinkpad with reasonable specs for less than $50 on auction sites. If you are willing to splurge on extra RAM or an SSD, these old machines can be surprisingly speedy.

      Another option, especially if you want a more portable laptop, is a Chromebook. Although these machines normally are designed to run a limited, secured OS that centers on Google services, they also can run Linux well once you switch into developer mode. Some people use cheap Chromebooks as their default travel computers since they just want to check Gmail and browse the web while traveling. Personally, I found a used Acer C710 for $40 and was able to add RAM and an SSD from a spare Thinkpad, and it turned out to be a rather capable Qubes-compatible machine.

    • Why my next laptop isn’t gonna be a Mac, either

      Tell me how Apple’s doing their users a favour by getting rid of those crufty niche tools that “nobody” uses anyway, and how I can just deal. If this is what you want from your computer vendor, then good for you because by golly you’re getting it, good and hard. For me, this MacBook’s staying on Sierra and I’ll wipe it with Linux or FreeBSD when Sierra doesn’t get any more updates. Maybe there will be a nice ARMbook around by then because I definitely won’t be buying another Mac.

  • Kernel Space

    • Allwinner SUNIV Old ARM9-Based SoCs Worked On For Upstream Linux Kernel Support

      From the mid-2000′s to 2011 Allwinner was marketing their F-Series processors with ARM9 32-bit RISC processors while finally in 2018 these SoCs might have upstream Linux kernel support.

      Linux SunXI developer Icenowy Zheng last week sent out the initial kernel patches for supporting these “SUNIV” Allwinner ARM9 SoCs.

    • Linux Driver Management 1.0 Released

      We’re proud to announce the release of Linux Driver Management 1.0, a reworked implementation with the focus on being an agnostic, GObject-style library for the detection and enumeration of devices, with bindings for popular languages such as C, JS via GJS, Python, and Vala, as well as support for matching devices to driver packages.

    • Solus Releases Linux Driver Management 1.0

      The Solus Project this week released Linux Driver Management 1.0, a library created by this innovative Linux distribution for enumerating system components and detecting matches between said components and packages/drivers providing additional functionality.

      This library is about improving the user experience for devices that may not be playing out-of-the-box on Solus or other Linux distributions. Among the hardware initially focused on supporting, for example, is the NVIDIA graphics cards with the proprietary drivers.

    • Linux 4.15 Is Set To Sail Today With AMDGPU DC, Zen Temperature Monitoring, RISC-V

      After going through nine weekly release candidates, the Linux 4.15 kernel is set to be released today as the first major stable update of 2018.

      Due to all of the ongoing KPTI/Retpoline changes over the past month to address Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities, the Linux 4.15 development cycle dragged on much longer than anticipated and the longest cycle in about seven years. But there is the initial KPTI and Retpolinue support baked in, which has also been backported to some recent stable series. However, further tuning and optimizations to these mitigation techniques are still expected for Linux 4.16 and beyond. Using this functionality can degrade performance particularly for I/O workloads and others interacting heavily with the kernel, but hopefully some of the work coming up will further lighten the impact. Among the many features coming to Linux 4.16 are also PowerPC and ARM work in this space for their relevant exposure.

    • Linux 4.15

      After a release cycle that was unusual in so many (bad) ways, this
      last week was really pleasant. Quiet and small, and no last-minute
      panics, just small fixes for various issues. I never got a feeling
      that I’d need to extend things by yet another week, and 4.15 looks
      fine to me.

      Half the changes in the last week were misc driver stuff (gpu, input,
      networking) with the other half being a mix of networking, core kernel
      and arch updates (mainly x86). But all of it is tiny.

      So at least we had one good week. This obviously was not a pleasant
      release cycle, with the whole meltdown/spectre thing coming in in the
      middle of the cycle and not really gelling with our normal release
      cycle. The extra two weeks were obviously mainly due to that whole
      timing issue.

    • Linux Kernel 4.15 Officially Released, Includes Patches for Meltdown and Spectre
    • Linux 4.15 Kernel Released, Time For The Linux 4.16 Merge Window
    • Linux 4.15
    • ​Linux 4.15: Good news and bad news about Meltdown and Spectre

      Linus Torvalds, Linux’s primary creator, had good and bad news about the chip security problems Meltdown and Spectre. The good news is the lead up to the Linux 4.15 was “quiet and small, and no last-minute panics, just small fixes for various issues”. The bad news? “It’s not like we’re ‘done’ with Spectre/Meltdown.”

      On the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML), Torvalds explained, “The bulk of the 4.15 work is all the regular plodding ‘boring’ stuff. And I mean that in the best possible way. It may not be glamorous and get the headlines, but it’s the bread and butter of kernel development, and is in many ways the really important stuff.”

    • I want life to be boring says Linus Torvalds as Linux 4.15 debuts

      ‘This was not a pleasant release cycle’ says Linux overlord, who prefers things boring, ‘Because boring really is good’

      Linus Torvalds has hit the Go button for version 4.15 of the Linux kernel, blamed the Meltdown and Spectre CPU design flaws for the delay and warned of more pain to come as fixes trickle out for silicon architectures.

      “This obviously was not a pleasant release cycle, with the whole meltdown/spectre thing coming in in the middle of the cycle and not really gelling with our normal release cycle,” Torvalds wrote.

    • The 4.15 kernel is out
    • Ryzen Threadripper 1900X Should Report The Correct Temperature With Linux 4.16

      While the just-released Linux 4.15 kernel brings AMD Zen CPU temperature reporting support for Ryzen/Threadripper/EPYC processors, an oversight in the k10temp driver code is yielding an incorrect temperature for the Threadripper 1900X.

    • Systemd 237 Released With WireGuard Support, Keyboard See-Saw/Rocker Changes

      Not only is Linux 4.15 coming today but the first systemd stable release of 2018 is also now available.

    • Torvalds Releases Linux 4.15 With Improved Meltdown, Spectre Patches
    • GNU Linux-libre 4.15-gnu Deblobs Two New Drivers, Drops More Upstream References

      Once again being punctual with their releases, the GNU Linux-libre volunteers managed to release the GNU Linux-libre 4.15-gnu kernel a short time after Linus Torvalds on Sunday released the official Linux 4.15 kernel.

      Two new drivers to the upstream Linux 4.15 kernel needed deblobbing/cleaning work. Those new drivers were the HiDeep touchscreen and Broadcom BCM7xxx boards memory. The project’s deblobbing scripts also had to be updated for some existing drivers that were previously cleaned including i915, Adreno, AMDGPU, Tegra, and others.

    • GNU Linux-Libre 4.15 Kernel Officially Released for Those Who Seek 100% Freedom
    • GNU Linux-libre 4.15-gnu

      GNU Linux-libre 4.15-gnu sources and tarballs are now available at


      It didn’t require any deblobbing changes since -rc6-gnu. Binaries are
      already available in the Freesh .deb repository (thanks, Jason Self!);
      others are expected to show up over the next few days.

      This release introduces changes in scripts/package, so that .deb and
      .rpm scripts built with the scripts in there will refer to GNU
      Linux-libre rather than upstream. This is in line with our goal of not
      leading users to non-Free Software.

      There are two new drivers that needed cleaning up: HiDeep touchscreen,
      and Broadcom BCM7XXX based boards memory (!!!).

      A number of drivers needed updating in their cleaning up: i915, adreno,
      amdgpu, tegra, silead dmi, and atomisp.

      Upstream has removed oss (sound) drivers, and the ap1302 driver from
      staging, so the logic to clean them up is gone from deblob-4.15.

      For up-to-the-minute news, join us on #linux-libre of irc.gnu.org
      (Freenode), or follow me (@lxoliva) on Twister http://twister.net.co/,
      GNU social at social.libreplanet.org, Diaspora* at pod.libreplanetbr.org
      or pump.io at identi.ca. Check my web page (link in the signature) for
      direct links.

      Be Free! with GNU Linux-libre.

    • Linux 4.16 Is Tightening Up Access To /dev/mem By Default

      One of the security improvements to Linux 4.16 is improving the default behavior for restricted access to /dev/mem for x86/x86_64 and ARM64 systems.

      The CONFIG_STRICT_DEVMEM Kconfig switch that has been around since the end of the 2.6 kernel days is now going to be enabled by default for x86/x86_64 and ARM platforms.

    • Linux 4.16 Getting Tweak For Smarter Task Migration, Yielding Better Scalability

      Ingo Molnar began sending in his various Git pull requests this morning for targeting the Linux 4.16 kernel merge window, including the scheduler updates.

      One of the kernel scheduler changes catching our attention was Mel Gorman’s sched/fair: Only immediately migrate tasks due to interrupts if prev and target CPUs share cache.

    • Linux Kernel 4.15 Now Available for Linux Lite Users, Here’s How to Install It

      Not even a day after the release of the Linux 4.15 kernel, Linux Lite creator Jerry Bezencon managed, once again, to be the first to deploy the new kernel series for all users of his Ubuntu-based operating system.

    • Six Collabora Developers Have Contributed 19 Patches to the Linux 4.15 Kernel

      With the release of the Linux 4.15 kernel series out the door, it’s time to take a look at the contributions made by Collabora’s developers during this development cycle.

      Linux kernel 4.15 was released yesterday by Linus Torvalds, and it’s the first kernel series to come built-in with patches for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities. However, the Linux 4.15 kernel also offers many new features like support for the RISC-V architecture and AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization.

      In addition, there’s also support for the User-Mode Instruction Prevention feature for Intel processors, modesetting support and improves video support for the AMDGPU open-source graphics driver for supported AMD Radeon graphics cards, as well as better power usage for machines with the SATA Link Power Management feature.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Rook, an open-source project adding storage to Kubernetes, joins the Cloud Native Computing Foundation

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation has agreed on the 15th project to grace its roster: Rook, a storage-oriented plugin for Kubernetes.

        Developed by Seattle’s Bassam Tabbara while he was CTO of Quantum Systems, Rook is an open-source project that allows Kubernetes users to enjoy the benefits of having storage more closely connected to their clusters. It’s the latest move by the CNCF community to make Kubernetes — the popular open-source project used to manage large deployments of applications built around containers — easier to use for a wider base of technology organizations.

      • Linux Foundation Seeks Open Source Networking Collaboration

        The Linux Foundation, said to host nine of the top 10 open source networking projects, is seeking to foster collaboration among those disparate offerings with a new “administrative structure” called the LF Networking Fund.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa 18.0 Features Include Many OpenGL/Vulkan Improvements, Intel Shader Cache & Extras

        Mesa 18.0 is currently being prepared for release by mid-February and is yet another feature-packaged, quarterly update to this open-source 3D graphics driver stack with significant improvements for OpenGL and Vulkan support and performance.

      • Keith Packard’s video from ‘LinuxConfAu 2018′ talking about Virtual Reality and Linux is up

        Keith Packard has been consulting for Valve for the past year to get Virtual Reality devices hooked up and properly working on Linux. Take a look at his presentation from LinuxConfAu 2018 [Official Site].

        It’s all pretty technical as expected, but all very interesting too. It sounds like a massive amount of work, since they’ve had to come up with a way to have VR devices treated as a different type of display and not have your normal windowing system cause issues. The most important thing to note, is that he said at the end of the video “Virtual Reality in Linux is working great, and it should be coming to your desktop pretty soon”—nice!

      • Open-Source Project Trying To Map Vulkan Onto Direct3D 12 & Metal

        While we are seeing exciting projects at the moment about mapping Direct3D 11 over Vulkan (as well as D3D9 and D3D12 over Vulkan projects too), there are new open-source projects for mapping Vulkan over Direct3D 12 and Metal.

      • It’s Going To Take More Time To Get Vega Compute Support With The Mainline Kernel

        This weekend I wrote how the AMDKFD discrete GPU support should be in place for the next kernel cycle, Linux 4.17. This is going to allow discrete Radeon GPUs to have ROCm working off the mainline kernel for OpenCL/compute support, but for 4.17 it’s unlikely RX Vega GPUs will have compute working.

      • Mesa 18.0-RC3 Released With 50+ Changes

        Emil Velikov announced the release today of Mesa 18.0-RC3 with 50+ changes comprising of many Intel ANV and Radeon RADV Vulkan driver fixes.

        It was just last week that the Mesa 18.0 code was branched and first release candidate issued. If you’re wondering how we’re already up to RC3, the RC2 release was a “brown paper bag” release that happened almost immediately after RC1 after the version string for RC1 was accidentally messed up. So in reality, this is the second real release candidate for Mesa 18.0.0.

      • NVIDIA 390.25 Linux Driver Released With GTX 1060 5GB & Quadro P620 Support

        After rolling out the 390.12 beta Linux driver in early January as the first public driver in the 390 series, NVIDIA is ending January by the first 390 stable release: 390.25.

        The NVIDIA 390.25 Linux driver is shipping this Monday as the first stable driver with various fixes, new product support, and other minor improvements over 390.12.

        New product support includes the GeForce GTX 1060 5GB and Quadro P620 Pascal graphics cards now being officially supported.

      • RADV Reworking Pipeline Emitting To Improve CPU Usage

        While using Vulkan lowers the CPU utilization compared to OpenGL, in our testing of NVIDIA versus the open-source Radeon drivers we generally have found the red team’s drivers to consume more CPU resources. Thus it’s good to hear that RADV co-conspirator Bas Nieuwenhuizen is working on reworking how this Radeon Vulkan driver handles pipeline emitting.

      • R600 Gallium3D Now Effectively At OpenGL 4.4, A Nudge Away From GL 4.5

        As a follow-up to the article a few days ago about nearly complete OpenGL 4.4~4.5 support for R600g, this pre-GCN older Radeon Gallium3D driver has landed in Mesa 18.1-dev Git support for its final OpenGL 4.4 extension.

        ARB_query_buffer_object is now in place inside Mesa Git following the patches David Airlie published a few days ago on the mailing list. This was the last OpenGL 4.4 extension incomplete for R600g in hitting OpenGL 4.4.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KStars 2.9.2 Released!

        Glad to announce the release of KStars 2.9.2 for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

        In addition to the usual bug fixes and enhancement, we finally have proper cross-platform theming support! Most of the code was based on Digikam’s theming code so Kudos to Digikam team for their great work!

        Now Windows and MacOS users can enjoy the KStars dark theme in all of its glory!

      • digiKam Recipes 18-01-25 Released

        After a somewhat prolonged hiatus (my move from Denmark to Germany and full-time job at SUSE Linux GmbH had something to do with this), a new revision of the digiKam Recipes book is ready for your reading pleasure.

        A new book cover is probably the most visible change, but it’s certainly not the only one. All the screenshots have been updated to reflect changes in the latest version of digiKam. Obsolete content has been pruned, and some of the existing material has been revised and updated.

      • Events: FOSDEM 2018

        There’s a KDE stand where you can see some of the latest KDE bits and pieces, including Plasma 5 running on low-power hardware. 2GB ought to be enough for everyone, right? We might have a phone available running the existing Plasma Mobile code, since hardware continues to be tricky to come by (Nexus5X is fine).

      • This week in Discover, part 3

        In addition, we fixed bugs, including a few corner-case issues for workflows where Flatpak apps are available alongside apps from your distro. Flatpak support is constantly improving!

      • Plasma Vault and CryFS upgrades

        CryFS is considered beta software by its developers.

        While that is completely fine, it is a bit of a problem for the LTS release of Plasma Vault.

        The most recent problem that I was made aware of is that CryFS breaks its filesystem layout in new releases. While this is not a problem when using cryfs from the command line, it is a problem for UIs that use it like Plasma Vault, SiriKali and others.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GTK+ 4.0 Might Be Ready To Ship This Year With Its Many Toolkit Improvements

        Famed GNOME developer Matthias Clasen of Red Hat provided an update on the state of the GTK4 tool-kit during this week’s DevConf.cz event in Brno.

        Clasen covered the differences in drawing, input, and widgets between GTK3 and GTK4. He also reiterated how the Vulkan renderer, OpenGL renderer, new GDK APIs, event controllers, and composite widgets are among the headline features for GTK+ 4.0.

      • GIMP Picks Up Better Debugging Support, Backtrace GUI

        Adding to the list of features for the long overdue GIMP 2.10 release is better debugging support.

        Being added to the GIMP code-base today is a backtrace GUI for displaying backtraces when critical crashes occur with this image manipulation program. With having this GUI, they hope those experiencing crashes will be more prone to reporting their bugs upstream to the developers. This backtrace GUI optionally supports GDB or LLDB debuggers.

      • GNOME Photos: an overview of thumbnailing

        From time to time, I find myself being asked about various details about how content is thumbnailed in GNOME Photos, and the reasons behind various implementation decisions. I can never remember all the details, and always have to dig through Git history and bug reports across multiple modules to come up with an answer. I am hoping that this brain dump will be more persistent than my memory, and more holistic than random comments here and there.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Parrot 3.11 Security OS Brings New “Car Hacking” Menu, Meltdown/Spectre Patches
      • Parrot 3.11 release notes

        Parrot 3.11 is now available for download.

        This new release introduces many improvements and security fixes compared to the previous versions. It includes by default all the spectre/meltdown security patches currently available and an updated version of the Linux 4.14 kernel.

        A new car hacking menu now contains a collection of useful open source tools in the automotive industry to test real world cars or simulate CANBus networks.

        Metasploit and postgresql are now patched to work flawlessly out of the box in live mode.

        Other important updates include Firefox 58, increased installer stability, many updated security tools and some important graphic improvements.

        Parrot Studio was reintroduced with many improvements, this special derivative of Parrot is designed for multimedia production as an improved version of Parrot Home for workstations, with many useful productivity tools pre-installed.

        This release will probably be the last version of the 3.x series (except for eventual security updates), and we wanted to include some of the changes that we planned for parrot 4.x as a gift for our community.

      • Q4OS 3 “Centaurus” Linux OS Development Kicks Off Based on Debian 10 “Buster”

        Dubbed Centaurus, the Q4OS 3.1 series of the open-source distro is based on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” operating system, which currently lives in the Debian Testing repositories, and uses the development branch of the Trinity Desktop Environment (TDE), version 14.0.5.

        “Q4OS Centaurus will be in development until Debian Buster becomes stable, and will be supported at least five years from the official release date,” reads today’s announcement. “Anybody is invited to try out the brand new version and report bugs and glitches.”

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia Weekly Roundup 2018 – Weeks 3 & 4

        Apologies are due for the missing Roundup for Week 3; while the northern hemisphere has been freezing, down here in the south we have been boiling. Alas, all that heat doesn’t help with concentration! So, this is an aggregated Roundup.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Education Project Is Going Bye-Bye After Release of openSUSE Leap 15.0

        A public announcement was made last week by OpenSuSE Project’s Lars Vogdt to inform the community about the future of the openSUSE Education project, which tried to support schools in the past several years using the latest openSUSE Leap and SUSE Linux Enterprise technologies.

        The latest release of the openSUSE-Edu Li-f-e (Linux for Education) operating system was based on openSUSE Leap 42.1, and the team appears to still spend a lot of time maintaining more than 460 packages in the openSUSE Education project, but did not manage to find new contributors to maintain its repositories or create a new release.

      • openSUSE Continues to Work on Spectre V2 Mitigations for Leap and Tumbleweed

        openSUSE Project’s Richard Brown has shared some insight into the work that the openSUSE Linux security team is doing to protect users against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities.

        openSUSE Leap and Tumbleweed users were among the first to receive the patches against Meltdown and Spectre hardware bugs that put billions of devices at risk of attacks. The first kernel updates were made available early this month for both OpenSuSE Leap 42.2 and 42.3, though the former reached end of life on January 26, 2018.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Policy call for participation

        Looks like there won’t be a release of Policy this month, but please consider contributing so we can get one out next month.

      • Derivatives

        • Review: siduction 2018.1.0

          Running siduction was a pretty good experience for me. The distribution is very easy to set up and the Calamares installer gets the user up and running with fewer steps than Debian’s system installer. The LXQt edition of siduction works quickly and the desktop environment is pleasantly lightweight. I found LXQt generally provided me with all the features I wanted to use while staying out of my way, which was appreciated.

          One of the few concerns I had was with the confusing way video playing worked on the distribution. I think it would have been easier if siduction simply shipped with VLC or Totem for playing videos. Otherwise, the applications which shipped with the distribution worked well and I found running siduction was generally pleasantly boring.

          For people who like running cutting edge software and want to take advantage of Debian’s massive supply of open source software, I think siduction is an excellent option. The user needs to be prepared to handle a lot of updates, dozens or (in my case) maybe even hundreds per week. But if you don’t mind installing waves of updates, then siduction offers good performance, an easy to use installer and a wide range of desktop editions. I especially appreciate the Synaptic feature which allows us to restart services which have been updated and I suspect people running network services will really like having this ability.

          siduction didn’t really do anything which stood out as different or amazing, but on the other hand I didn’t run into any serious problems. The distribution provided a solid, easy to use rolling release with a huge amount of software in the repositories and handled all my hardware beautifully. I think people who like running openSUSE Tumbleweed or Arch Linux may want to check out siduction as an alternative, especially since the distribution can be set up with little more than a few mouse clicks.

        • SolydXK – A New Distro for Your Collection

          For a Linux user, every new distro is a whole new experience. For normal to advanced users, SolydXK is a great opportunity to use the most out of the computer. SolydXK is a distro based on Debian, the core of Ubuntu. It’s highly like that you’re using Ubuntu or other Ubuntu flavors. As SolydXK is based on Debian, you’ll feel nothing different with the functionalities and features different than Ubuntu. SolydXK also provides optimized Raspberry Pi version.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why is Open Source software so popular? [iophk: "still caught in th 1980s mindset of selling software"]

    Again, this goes back to the idea of open collaboration. A product gets better with more contributors than just a few of them. A large community gets built around a certain product, which helps it gain validation and feedback from a large audience. The beauty lies in seeing the product get better and better with contributions from a large vibrant set of users.

  • Mycroft Mark II: the open source Amazon Echo you’ve always wanted

    Smart speakers are all the range in tech these days and soon it will be the battle of the titans. But as those giants scuffle, the small men, the consumers, sometimes get trampled on. Especially their privacy. It’s no secrets that the likes of Amazon and Google want your data. They promise to do no evil, but you can never really tell. Consumers have opted to just accept the status quo in exchange for convenience. Now, however, they don’t have to compromise just to get an Amazon Echo or Google Home experience, with the Mycroft Mark II Open Voice Assistant speaker.

  • Events

    • Find Out the Visa Requirements to Attend oSC18

      For people planning on attending the openSUSE Conference 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic, from May 25 – 27, there are certain requirements necessary to receive a visa for those who are not citizen of the European Union.

    • Let’s talk about Hacking (EPFL, Lausanne, 20 February 2018)

      I’ve been very fortunate to have the support from several free software organizations to travel to events around the world and share what I do with other people. It’s an important mission in a world where technology is having an increasing impact on our lives. With that in mind, I’m always looking for ways to improve my presentations and my presentation skills. As part of mentoring programs like GSoC and Outreachy, I’m also looking for ways to help newcomers in our industry to maximize their skills in communicating about the great work they do when they attend their first event.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • A rule-based framework to create dynamic themes

        In December, I gave an introduction to the theming API in Firefox. While it allows you to do many things like animated themes, macOS-style overscroll or interactive theme editors, the API has some limitations. One issue with dynamic theming API compared to traditional CSS theming is that it requires familiarity with JavaScript and WebExtension APIs to make a basic dynamic theme.

      • WebRender newsletter #13

        Greetings! Time for issue #13 of your favorite newsletter, where you can follow the progress of WebRender and it’s integration in Gecko. We are still busy fixing correctness issues (as you can see by the number of times the word “fixed” appears in the lists below), modulo Glenn’s usual big perf optimization.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • AMD AOCC Compiler 1.1 Released For Zen CPUs

      AOCC 1.1 is the second public release of the AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler designed for Ryzen/Threadripper/EPYC processors.

      Back in May AMD released AOCC 1.0 as their optimized compiler stack for Ryzen CPUs. AOCC is the replacement to the company’s older AMD Open64 compiler designed for older CPUs. With Open64 sadly being a relic now of the past, AOCC is based upon LLVM/Clang.

    • Our 2018 Fundraising Campaign

      The OpenBSD Foundation needs your help to achieve our fundraising goal of $300,000 for 2018.

      Reaching this goal will ensure the continued health of the projects we support, will enable us to help them do more, and will avoid the distraction of financial emergencies that could spell the end of the projects.

    • OPNsense 18.1 released

      For more than 3 years now, OPNsense is driving innovation through modularising and hardening the open source firewall, with simple and reliable firmware upgrades, multi-language support, HardenedBSD security, fast adoption of upstream software updates as well as clear and stable 2-Clause BSD licensing.

      We humbly present to you the sum of another major iteration of the OPNsense firewall. Over the second half of 2017 well over 500 changes have made it into this release, nicknamed “Groovy Gecko”. Most notably, the firewall NAT rules have been reworked to be more flexible and usable via plugins, which is going to pave the way for subsequent API works on the core firewall functionality. For more details please find the attached list of changes below.

    • OPNsense 18.1 BSD Firewall/Network OS Released

      After hitting the RC phase a few weeks ago, OPNsense 18.1 has been officially released as the latest version of this pfSense-forked network/router-oriented BSD operating system.

      OPNsense 18.1 is based on FreeBSD 11.1 while pulling in the HardenedBSD security changes. OPNsense 18.1 reworks its firewall NAT rules, PHP 7.1 and jQuery 3 are powering the web interface, there is now OpenVPN multi-remote support for clients, IPv6 shared forwarding support, improvements for intrusion detection alerts, a rewritten firewall live log, reverse DNS support for insight reporting, and a variety of new plugins.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Apollo astronaut keypad being rebooted as open source replica

        Compared to the computer interfaces of today, the display keyboard used by the Apollo astronauts aboard their spacecraft might look quaint — until you recall that it was central to flying to the first humans to the moon almost half a century ago.


  • Apple reportedly halves iPhone X production after disappointing holiday sales

    Starting at $999, the iPhone X is Apple’s most advanced model to date, but it’s apparently not selling well enough to keep manufacturing at current rates. Nikkei reports that Apple is cutting iPhone X production in half due to slower-than-expected sales in the U.S., Europe, and China. Notably, production is being ramped down on the device after it’s been on the market less than three months.

  • China launches cloud platform of integrated circuits, microsystems

    China’s first online sharing platform for integrated circuits and microsystems has been launched by a state-owned enterprise.

    The platform, initiated by China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), enables the public to have access to the CETC intellectual property database, software tools and production line.

  • Google slaps mute button on stupid ads that nag you to buy stuff you just looked at

    Google says it will allow netizens to block nuisance “reminder” adverts that follow them around across websites.

    The Mountain View advertising giant said the new feature, launching first on its own sites and in Android apps, will let users rid themselves ads that prod people about products they had previously viewed. You know the ones: you search for a camera, and then you get stalked by camera ads all over the place. The feature can be toggled on through an ad settings menu.

    “Today, we’re rolling out the ability to mute the reminder ads in apps and on websites that partner with us to show ads,” said Google data privacy and transparency group product manager John Krafcik.

  • Movie composer worked with Mel Brooks on Blazing Saddles and The Producers

    John Morris, a composer who had a long list of movie, theatre and television credits but was best known for a long association with Mel Brooks that earned him Academy Award nominations for Blazing Saddles and The Elephant Man, has died at his home in Red Hook, New York aged 91.

    Morris, a genial son of British parents, and Brooks, a boisterous comedy director from Brooklyn, had worked on two short-lived Broadway musicals when Brooks asked him to write the film score for The Producers (1967). It was Morris’ first movie score and Brooks’ first feature. Over the next 24 years, they would collaborate on 10 more films.

  • Apple whispers farewell to macOS Server

    Apple appears to have all but killed macOS Server by deprecating most of what distinguishes it from a desktop OS.

    The company slipped out news of the software’s demise in a nondescript forum post that details how Cupertino plans to stop supporting DHCP, DNS, mail, messages, NetInstall, VPN, the Web server, the Wiki, as well as calendar and contact support. There’s also a handy list of open source alternatives to each of these, so you can run them on proper, redundant, resilient server hardware.

  • Science

    • South Korean Universities Make Deal with Elsevier

      After long negotiations over proposed price hikes for access to Elsevier’s academic literature database ScienceDirect, a consortium of 300 South Korean universities and college libraries came to an agreement with the Dutch publishing giant last week. The consortium had pushed back against a 4.5 percent price hike suggested by Elsevier, but agreed to price increases of up to 3.9 percent after the publisher threatened to withdraw access to the database.

    • China is the world’s new science superpower, topping the U.S. in publications

      The National Science Board (NSB) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) has just released its Science & Engineering Indicators 2018, which it describes as, “Broad-based, objective information on the U.S. and international S&E enterprise” — S&E being short for science and engineering. The report shows that, for the first time, China is the world leader in the publication of scientific papers, besting the previous leader, the United States. While there are still lots of areas in which the U.S. leads China and the rest of the world, the new ranking reflects China’s increasing importance in the world of S&E.

    • Google, Tencent, and Sequoia invest in pharmaceutical startup XtalPi

      Alphabet’s Google, Tencent Holdings, and Sequoia Capital China have joined a $15 million B series funding round for Boston- and Shenzhen-based artificial intelligence (AI) pharmaceutical firm XtalPi.

      Sequoia led the round, which brings the startup’s total funding amount to $20 million, XtalPi and Google said in statements on Wednesday.

      XtalPi uses AI, cloud computing and quantum physics to improve drug design processes.

    • Trump seeks to halt funding for International Space Station by 2025: report

      President Trump is reportedly planning to request an end to funding for the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025, a move that would be a major hurdle to expanding space exploration efforts.

      The president’s official budget for fiscal year 2019 is scheduled to be released next month, but a draft proposal, seen by The Verge, would call for U.S. support for the program, which has been in place for more than 20 years, to end.

    • Here’s How Graphene Makes Photodetectors 100,000 Times More Responsive Than Silicon

      Two years ago, we covered research out of the University of Manchester that demonstrated that graphene-based membranes could serve as a filter for cleaning up nuclear waste at nuclear power plants.

      While it’s not clear that this particular application for the graphene membranes ever made much headway in nuclear waste cleanup, they did discover an interesting phenomenon about these graphene membranes in the ensuing two years: protons can transport through graphene.

      Based on that knowledge, Andre Geim’s team at the University of Manchester began to investigate whether light could be used to enhance proton transport through graphene by the addition of other light sensitive materials, such as titanium dioxide (TiO2). Turns out that graphene did the job quite effectively on their own.

    • Technology to watch in 2018

      For all the excitement surrounding the gene-editing tool CRISPR, it is not that efficient or precise. It’s hard to make many changes at once. My lab has set the record so far — making 62 modifications to the genome of a single cell — but we have compelling applications that need a greater number of simultaneous changes. Now, however, we have the technologies required to make this feasible.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO Antibiotic Resistance Data Shows Worrying Trend; Industry Ready To Help

      The new WHO Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System (GLASS) released its report [pdf] (Early implementation 2016-17), which found that there is widespread antibiotic resistance among 500,000 people with suspected bacterial infections across 22 countries, according to a press release.

      Most commonly reported resistant bacteria were Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, followed by Salmonella spp.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Majority of Democrats now hold favorable views of mass-murdering simpleton George W Bush

      Whenever we drive on the Ronald Reagan Expressway, my daughter asks me to remind her what Reagan was famous for, and I have to recount as much as I can recall: brought us to the brink of nuclear extinction, murdered a generation through homophobic indifference to the AIDS crisis, put the War on Drugs on overdrive, funded terrorists throughout Latin America, grew the national debt by trillions, and literally allowed astrology to steer the course of the nation.

      And yet, he was rehabilitated in the public imagination, so much so that Republicans and Democrats in the 2016 election vied to declare themselves the second coming of Ronald Fucking Reagan.

      If that wasn’t evidence enough of the short memories of the American public, consider that the torturer GW Bush’s popularity has more than doubled since he left office, having presided over the destruction of the world’s economy and a war based on a lie that destabilized the Middle East and led to literally uncounted deaths (because he refused to count them), spending the country into a Reagan-sized hole while clearing brush on his ranch and affecting a Texas accent.

    • “Those were the days”: Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush reminds us he was “really bad”

      Actor Will Ferrell revived his role as former President George W. Bush, and opened this week’s “Saturday Night Live” sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office to deliver a stern warning about the dangers of rehabilitating his image in the wake of a Donald Trump presidency.

      The faux Bush said he’s been “too busy doing oil paintings,” to keep up with the news lately, but referenced a new poll that recently revealed his approval to be at an all-time high. Bush said that Trump came into the White House “and suddenly I’m looking pretty sweet by comparison.”

      Since Trump took office there has been plenty of nostalgia for the Bush presidency, and last week, a new poll showed that 61 percent of Americans had a favorable view of Bush.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Warning to Churches: ‘WikiLeaks for Religion’ Is Here

      We live in an age where privacy is quickly becoming a relic from the past, much like dial-up modems and AMC Gremlins. No longer can we have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in our communications, whether online or on our smartphones.

    • Eerily similar suicides of Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz and an internet activist who together created a whistle-blower submission system spark conspiracy theories

      An outspoken internet activist killed himself in a New York hotel in eerily similar circumstances to fellow hacker and Reddit co- founder Aaron Swartz.

      James Dolan, 36, took his own life at a newly opened hotel, Gowanus Inn and Yard, in Brooklyn just after Christmas.

      He is the second developer of the whistle-blower submission system SecureDrop to commit suicide by hanging in the same area.

      Soon after his death, the internet started drawing similarities between Dolan’s suicide and that of Swartz who hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment in 2013 as he was being pursued by federal agents.

    • Julian Assange Asks U.K. Court to Drop His Arrest Warrant

      Lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asked a British judge on Friday to drop a 2012 arrest warrant, a request that if granted could allow Mr. Assange to leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has been living for five and a half years, and fly to Ecuador, which has granted him citizenship.

    • British judge to decide next month on #Assange bid for possible freedom

      British police have said the charge of skipping bail is a much less serious offence than rape, but he could still face a one-year prison sentence if convicted, which in effect would mean six months behind bars.

      Ecuador said this month it had given citizenship to Assange, hours after the British government refused a request for him to be given diplomatic status, which could have given Assange immunity from arrest should he try to leave the embassy.

      England Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said she would make her ruling on the arrest warrant on 6 February.

    • Longtime Investigative Journalist Robert Parry Dies at 68

      The longtime investigative journalist Robert Parry has died at the age of 68. As a reporter at the Associated Press in the 1980s, he helped expose how the Reagan administration was secretly sending arms to Iran in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. Parry also revealed the role of the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Contras in drug trafficking here in the United States.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Overlooked Tiny Air Pollutants Can Have Major Climate Impact

      Pollution in the form of tiny aerosol particles—so small they’ve long been overlooked—may have a significant impact on local climate, fueling thunderstorms with heavier rainfall in pristine areas, according to a study released Thursday.

      The study, published in the journal Science, found that in humid and unspoiled areas like the Amazon or the ocean, the introduction of pollution particles could interact with thunderstorm clouds and more than double the rainfall from a storm.

    • Salt, the solution to winter’s dangers, threatens US waters

      When roads turn into ice rinks, consider trying beet juice, molasses, and even beer or cheese waste to make them safer. So say experts who fear road salt is starting to take a toll on the nation’s waterways, putting everything from fish and frogs to microscopic zooplankton at risk.

      Tossed onto sidewalks and dumped onto highways, salt for decades has provided the cheapest and most effective way to cut down on traffic accidents and pedestrian falls during winter storms. But researchers cite mounting evidence that those tons of sodium chloride crystals — more than 20 million nationwide each year — are increasing the salinity of hundreds of lakes, especially in the Northeast and Midwest.

  • Finance

    • Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse

      You might say, having read some of my recent essays, “Umair! Don’t worry! Everything will be fine! It’s not that bad!” I would look at you politely, and then say gently, “To tell you the truth, I don’t think we’re taking collapse nearly seriously enough.”

      Why? When we take a hard look at US collapse, we see a number of social pathologies on the rise. Not just any kind. Not even troubling, worrying, and dangerous ones. But strange and bizarre ones. Unique ones. Singular and gruesomely weird ones I’ve never really seen before, and outside of a dystopia written by Dickens and Orwell, nor have you, and neither has history. They suggest that whatever “numbers” we use to represent decline — shrinking real incomes, inequality, and so on —we are in fact grossly underestimating what pundits call the “human toll”, but which sensible human beings like you and I should simply think of as the overwhelming despair, rage, and anxiety of living in a collapsing society.

      Let me give you just five examples of what I’ll call the social pathologies of collapse — strange, weird, and gruesome new diseases, not just ones we don’t usually see in healthy societies, but ones that we have never really seen before in any modern society.

      America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days. That’s one every other day, more or less. That statistic is alarming enough — but it is just a number. Perspective asks us for comparison. So let me put that another way. America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days, which is more than anywhere else in the world, even Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, the phenomenon of regular school shootings appears to be a unique feature of American collapse — it just doesn’t happen in any other country — and that is what I mean by “social pathologies of collapse”: a new, bizarre, terrible disease striking society.

    • Shirish Agarwal: Economic Migration, Unemployment, Retirement benefits in advanced countries etc.

      Also similarly in the context of median age of Americans rising which was shared in the previous article, I don’t see them replenishing their own ranks with young blood. The baby boom years for America seem to be over (for now and bit into the future). On the medicine side, since we have been talking about nursing. another observation is it seems that the American Government will cut off whole lot of Americans from medical care which Mr. Trump did few days back. The statements shared therein seems much a spin story as no numbers were shared or anything. There was this report I read last year which tells how an urban middle-class American family might suffer depending on how much medicare is cut.


      On the labor front I don’t see a way out for Americans to work. For e.g. Patels (a caste and a community) went to States and found that most Americans do not or did not like maintaining motels and they provided/took over the that service, partly as it’s a risky business and partly most motels are run-down etc. Apart from the spin being put in the context of both legal and illegal immigration in States, it seems, at least to me there would be more undocumented illegal Americans living then those coming legally and America would suffer economically due to that.

    • Why Apple Isn’t Worried About Broadcom’s $105 Billion Bid for Qualcomm

      So when Broadcom Ltd. went public with a hostile $105 billion bid for Qualcomm Inc. — potentially creating a colossal maker of chips used in wireless handsets — mobile phone makers had cause for concern. Chief among them: Apple Inc.

      If Broadcom succeeds in buying Qualcomm, itself seeking to close a deal for chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV, the transactions would bring a quarter of the chip suppliers used in the iPhone X under one roof. That kind of market concentration should be anathema to a customer like Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, a master manager of his company’s long, diverse, global chain of parts providers.

    • What Happened to All the Jobs Trump Promised?

      Since the election, President Trump has made 31 specific claims about companies adding or saving American jobs thanks to his intervention. We went back to see what’s become of those announcements.

    • De Beers turns to blockchain to guarantee diamond purity

      Anglo American’s (AAL.L) diamond unit De Beers aims to launch the first industry-wide blockchain this year to track gems each time they change hands starting from the moment they are dug from the ground, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

      De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer by the value of its gems, has led industry efforts to verify the authenticity of diamonds and ensure they are not from conflict zones where gems could be used to finance violence.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • New York AG will investigate firm selling fake followers to stars

      While bots by themselves aren’t automatically illegal, the company also offered “at least” 55,000 accounts using the personal details of real people, some of whom live in New York. That’s “impersonation and deception,” Schneiderman said, and it’s made all the worse when some of those people aren’t legal adults.

    • Social media giants pressed on foreign bots after memo campaign

      Republicans want the memo in question — a classified report created by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that supposedly offers proof of malfeasance in the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia — declassified and released to the public.

    • Twitter: Russian bots retweeted Trump nearly 500,000 times in last months of election

      The company revealed to lawmakers on Thursday that the Russian-linked accounts had retweeted Trump nearly 470,000 times from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15, 2016. The accounts retweeted Hillary Clinton less than 50,000 times during the same timeframe.

    • Google, Facebook are bad for democracy: George Soros

      “Social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections,” Soros said.

    • Facebook Only Cares About Facebook
    • Facebook announces $1 million in journalism [sic] scholarships

      In a Friday release, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, wrote that the Facebook Journalism Project Scholarship program will partner with four organizations focused on increasing newsroom diversity.

    • Unpacking the Shadowy Outfit Behind 2017’s Biggest Fake News Story

      Now we have the first layer of PropOrNot and our first four contestants. We have a slew of new media organizations that are influenced by, or feeding PropOrNot. Remember, fake news got off the ground and got its wings because of the attention this website received from the Washington Post in Dec. 2016.

      At the Interpreter Mag level, here are the people:

      Michael Weiss is the Editor-in-Chief at the InterpreterMag.com. According to his Linkd profile, he is also a National Security Analyst for CNN since July 2017 as well as an Investigative Reporter for International Affairs for CNN since April 2017. He has been a contributor there since 2015. He has been a Senior Editor at The Daily Beast since June 2015.

    • Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews

      I remember asking him why he had to go, why he couldn’t just stay at home with us. He replied that it was important to go to these places and tell the truth about what was happening there. He mentioned that children my age were being killed in these wars and that somebody had to tell their stories. I remember asking, “Kids like me?” He replied, “Yes, kids just like you.”

      Bob was deeply impacted by the dirty wars of Central America in the 1980s and in many ways these conflicts – and the U.S. involvement in them – came to define the rest of his life and career. With grisly stories emerging from Nicaragua (thanks partly to journalists like him), Congress passed the Boland Amendments from 1982 to 1984, which placed limits on U.S. military assistance to the contras who were attempting to overthrow the Sandinista government through a variety of terrorist tactics.

      The Reagan administration immediately began exploring ways to circumvent those legal restrictions, which led to a scheme to send secret arms shipments to the revolutionary and vehemently anti-American government of Iran and divert the profits to the contras. In 1985, Bob wrote the first stories describing this operation, which later became known as the Iran-Contra Affair.

    • Finns, worried by Russia, hand cautious president huge election win

      Finland’s moderate President Sauli Niinisto cruised to a rare first round election win on Sunday as his delicate balancing of ties with neighbor Russia and the U.S.-led NATO military alliance resonated with voters.

      The 69-year-old Niinisto, known for cultivating good relations with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, won his second six-year term with an overwhelming 62.7 percent of the vote. His closest rival, Pekka Haavisto of the Greens of Finland, secured just 12.4 percent.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Trump to Sign Order Keeping Guantanamo Open

      Human Rights First today condemned President Trump’s reported decision to sign an executive order to keep open the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, a move that threatens the United States’ national security and is out of step with American ideals. In response to the news, the first commanding officer of Guantanamo Bay, Major General Michael Lehnert, issued the following statement:

      “There is substantial evidence that Guantanamo does not provide any useful options to deter our adversaries. In fact, its continued existence provides a recruiting tool and a rallying cry for our enemies. Guantanamo, therefore, is contrary to our national interests. For those terrorists we capture, federal courts and prisons have been much more effective in bringing our enemies to justice. We need to close Guantanamo for the security of our nation and our historic legacy.”

    • Israel will pay civilians $9,000 to capture African migrants

      Israel is hiring civilian “immigration inspectors” to crack down on “illegal aliens and their employers,” marking a turning point in the Middle Eastern nation’s relationship with migrants and refugees.
      In an advertisement this month, the Population and Immigration Authority said it would pay up to 30,000 Israeli shekels ($8,845) for civilians to carry out an “enterprise of national importance.” That included undertaking “enforcement tasks” against migrants that involved detecting, investigating, and arresting them. Candidates are expected to start in March 2018, a month before the country starts its designated “voluntary” process to return migrants to their country of origin or a third one.
      The move comes a few weeks after Israel said it would help purchase tickets, obtain travel documents, and give $3,500 to African illegal migrants to leave—threatening them with arrest if they are caught after the end of March.

    • Actor & Musician Common on Erica Garner, Colin Kaepernick, DREAMers, Trump & Standing Up for Justice

      We speak with Oscar-winning musician and actor Common, who was nominated again for an Oscar on Tuesday for his song “Stand Up for Something” from the film “Marshall” about former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Common is also starring in “The Tale,” a film about child sexual abuse. On Saturday, Common also performed at the Respect Rally in Park City. He discusses civil and voting rights, Colin Kaepernick, the late anti-police brutality activist Erica Garner and President Trump.

    • Islamist newspaper calls for closure of Turkish Medical Association

      The Health Ministry condemned the TTB and called for its central committee to resign and apologise to society for its “non-national” statement, the newspaper said.

    • Kasganj Violence: 49 People Arrested, Internet Suspended

      Internet services have also been suspended till 10 pm on January 28 in trouble-torn areas in western UP.

    • View: Are we ready for a digital tax?
    • Let’s Stop Sexual Harassment and Violence Before They Begin With Comprehensive Sex Ed

      To fuel true cultural change, we need to start long before anyone enters the workforce.

      When I was in middle school, I got some very basic sex ed. For one week, a very uncomfortable health/gym teacher taught me about body parts and reproduction, that sex — always heterosexual — can lead to pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and that we should therefore abstain from sex or use condoms. I was lucky because most people I know didn’t get the condom bit.

      What I didn’t learn was key information and skills that would have equipped me to have healthy relationships. I didn’t learn about gender and power. I didn’t learn what consent meant and how to give, refuse, or make sure you have it. There was nothing about what sexual harassment is or how gender stereotypes play out in harmful ways. And I most certainly didn’t learn how to navigate the many unsafe, threatening, harassing, and violent situations I’ve experienced in the workplace and beyond. I wish I — and all the men who have harassed, demeaned, and harmed me — had.

    • Dutch Approach To Asset Forfeiture Will Literally Take The Clothes Off Pedestrians’ Backs

      We’ve long complained about civil asset forfeiture in the United States. Law enforcement agencies, thanks to a series of perverse incentives, have grown to love taking people’s property (usually cash) without charging them for crimes. The excuse is that lifting a few thousand dollars from some random person somehow chips away at drug cartels located overseas.

      It would seem to be more crippling if criminal charges were pursued and suspects interrogated, jailed, and flipped. But law enforcement has no time for that, not when a pile of cash is only a few pieces of paperwork away from changing ownership.

    • Dutch police to ‘undress’ youths wearing clothes deemed too expensive for them

      Police in the Dutch city of Rotterdam have launched a new pilot programme which will see them confiscating expensive clothing and jewellery from young people if they look too poor to own them.

      Officers say the scheme will see them target younger men in designer clothes they seem unlikely to be able to afford legally – if it is not clear how the person paid for it, it will be confiscated.

      The idea is to deter criminality by sending a signal that the men will not be able to hang onto their ill-gotten gains.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Scoop: Trump team considers nationalizing 5G network

      Trump national security officials are considering an unprecedented federal takeover of a portion of the nation’s mobile network to guard against China, according to sensitive documents obtained by Axios.

      Why it matters: We’ve got our hands on a PowerPoint deck and a memo — both produced by a senior National Security Council official — which were presented recently to senior officials at other agencies in the Trump administration.

    • Another Day, Another Flimsy Report Claiming TV Cord Cutting Won’t Save You Money

      Once a month like clockwork, somebody in the tech press proudly decides to inform their readers that you can’t save any money by cutting the traditional TV cord and going with cheaper, more flexible streaming alternatives. The logic in these reports almost always goes something like this: “Once I got done signing up for every damn streaming video service under the sun, I found that I wasn’t really saving much money over traditional cable.”

      Writers leaning into this lazy hot take almost always tend to forget a few things.

      One, the same broadcasters dictating cable TV rates dictate streaming video rates, so in some ways pricing will be lateral. Two, adding a dozen streaming services to exactly match your bloated, 300 channel cable subscription misses the entire point of cord cutting, which is about customization and flexibility. Three, if writers actually stopped and talked to real consumers (like in the cord cutting subreddit), they’d be told (repeatedly) how customers routinely save money each month by breaking free of the traditional, bloated cable TV bundle.

    • Federal 5G Wireless Network Is Panned by F.C.C. and Industry

      Federal regulators and major telecommunication companies pushed back on Monday against the idea of the government running a next-generation mobile broadband network as a way to address economic and security concerns related to China.

      The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, said he opposed the notion. He argued that the federal government taking control of developing 5G networks, as the mobile technology is called, could hurt the private sector and the economy.

      “The market, not the government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment,” Mr. Pai, a Republican, said in a statement. “Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future.”

    • This incredible map shows the undersea cables that keep the internet alive — and security services are worried Russia could cut them

      This map shows how the huge, complicated network of undersea cables which keep the internet running is spread around the world.

      The map, by telecom analytics company Telegeography, uses coloured lines to show how there are many hundreds of fibre optic cables running under the world’s oceans.

      It shows the sheer scale of the infrastructure which keeps the internet running. It’s built up over decades, mainly as a result of private enterprise rather than coordinated state infrastructure projects, like road or water networks.

      Lines shown on the map above are not exactly geographically correct, but they show the broad path of the cables and which territories they connect.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • The NFL Pretending Trademark Law Says Something It Doesn’t Leads To Hilariously Amateurish Ads For ‘The Big Game’

        Every year, right about this time, this site is forced to remind everyone that the NFL is completely full of crap when it comes to how it enforces its supposed trademark rights for the Super Bowl. While the NFL does indeed have some rights to the phrase and to controlling how it’s used, those rights generally amount to prohibiting companies from falsely implying sponsorship of the game or a relationship with the NFL in commercial speech. What the NFL pretends is the case, on the other hand, is that it can somehow prohibit any company from even mentioning the Super Bowl in any context, up to and including simple factual statements.

        All of this leads to the absurdity of every company that has chosen not to sponsor the NFL diving into the euphamism business, gleefully referring to the Super Bowl by any other name. “The Big Game” is the most popular of these, although the NFL has actually gone so far as to look into trademarking that phrase as well. The end result is the Picasso-ing of reality in which companies make references which every member of the public gets but that fall short of calling the NFL’s biggest show by its proper name, something you would think the NFL would want everyone everywhere talking about.

      • Is a circular logo for coffee confusingly similar to the Starbucks’ one? Yes, says the General Court

        Travelling on your way to work in the morning can sometimes be a real struggle and, to enlighten the travel experience, spoiling oneself by purchasing a cup of coffee is not a bad idea.

        But can a wannabe coffee drinker look at coffee shops’ logos, and be confused and think that a circular figurative sign which depicts a musical note and contains the words ‘COFFEE ROCKS’ is similar or associated with the logo of Starbucks?

    • Copyrights

      • Piracy Can Help Music Sales of Many Artists, Research Shows

        A new academic paper published in the Information Economics and Policy journal shows that piracy can help many artists to sell more music. Results from the peer-reviewed paper are consistent for both digital and physical sales and affect mid-tier artists. Top musicians are not so lucky, as they sell less.

Distortion of the Patent System Masked Behind Acronyms Like CAFC/PTAB and Foreign-Sounding Jargon Like Estoppel or Inter Partes Review (IPR)

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s no secret, some argue, that lawyers make it difficult to understand the law so that you’ll always need them to ‘help’

Reference: Estoppel at Wikipedia

Summary: A quick look at some recent decisions/developments from the higher/highest patent courts in the US and PTAB’s judgments that help improve patent quality (and are therefore hated by the patent ‘industry’)

CAN one patent a GUI at the USPTO? The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) does not understand GUIs/software development [1, 2], so it recently defended a patent on a GUI, contrary to common sense. As somebody from Texas put it (Jonathan Szarzynski): “Nice Precedential win for Core Wireless at the CAFC. A precedential opinion that discusses 101 and eligibility, and finds that a user interface that speeds a user’s navigation through various views and windows is patentable subject matter.”

“The case involves Synopsys, which now owns the nefarious, Microsoft-connected Black Duck.”This is a potentially dangerous decision. Cascading menus are nothing new and to uphold a patent on those would open the floodgates to all sorts of trivial lawsuits (like Apple’s “slide to unlock”).

Recently, CAFC also looked at the case of patent assignor Hsiun (mentioned here before). The case involves Synopsys, which now owns the nefarious, Microsoft-connected Black Duck. The case is about assignor estoppel and it was mentioned by Patently-O a few days ago. As a bit of background:

EVE-USA was founded by former employees of Mentor — the named inventors on Mentor’s emulation software patents. Initially Mentor licensed the patents to EVE for its use, but that license was terminated when Synopsys later acquired EVE. Mentor then sued Synopsys and won a $36 million jury verdict for infringement of its U.S. Patent No. 6,240,376. Following the Federal Circuit’s decision largely supporting the verdict, EVE/Synopsis have petitioned the Supreme Court for writ of certiorari asking two questions relating respectively to Assignor Estoppel and Apportionment of Damages.

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will look into it. This means that briefs will likely be submitted by the patent microcosm and we know in whose favour. The patent microcosm generally wants patents to get more ‘teeth’ at SCOTUS. The other day it wrote about the WesternGeco case, arguing that “SCOTUS could make patents more valuable in WesternGeco case” (not about patent scope).

“The patent microcosm generally wants patents to get more ‘teeth’ at SCOTUS.”“Can a patent holder collect lost-profit damages if infringement of a US patent occurs abroad? The US Supreme Court will decide in WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical,” Managing IP wrote. This may have an impact on trade, e.g. with China.

Going back to CAFC, there’s the Arthrex patent (8,821,541) which CAFC recently decided on. PTAB was supported by CAFC (as usual) and Dennis Crouch wrote about the estoppel (it’s an edge case at CAFC). To quote:

The dispute in this case is about what should happen when a patentee disclaims its patent claims prior to an inter partes review institution decision. The Arthrex patent at issue is U.S. Patent No. 8,821,541 which covers a suture anchor — similar to a dry-wall anchor, but sticks into flesh.

After Smith & Nephew filed its IPR petition Arthrex disclaimed the challenged claims. PTO rules state that “No inter partes review will be instituted based on disclaimed claims.” 37 C.F.R. § 42.107(e). And, following the rule, the PTAB (acting pre-institution on in the shoes of the PTO director) terminated the petition without instituting the IPR.

Estoppel is becoming more of a ‘thing’ in relation to PTAB nowadays. Consider this post titled “The PTAB Estoppel Keeping Patent Prosecutors Awake at Night”. Does the author, Scott McKeown, think that people who are bullied using patents don’t lose sleep or stay awake at night? Anyway, here is what he said: “Patent prosecutors might consider PTAB estoppel a pure post-grant concern. That is, a litigation issue restricted to district courts after a failed PTAB challenge, or an issue raised in the context of a second-bite at the PTAB apple. But, PTAB estoppel can effect both failed petitioners and unsuccessful patent owners. Patent owner estoppel, often overlooked, is only now beginning to impact patent prosecution.”

It’s a fairly new thing in this context. Expect this to be increasingly used to defang PTAB petitions.

Dennis Crouch has just mentioned bizarre if not laughable patents that PTAB belatedly tossed out:

Ex Parte Barrego, APPEAL 2016-006527 (PTAB January 2018). Barrego’s claim is directed to a roofing underlay with a number of features including “a pattern having the appearance of a shingled roof printed on at least one surface of the underlayment.” Here, the PTAB affirmed the indefiniteness rejection — finding that “one of ordinary skill would [not] be able to determine definitely whether many particular underlayment patterns do or do not have the appearance of a shingled roof.”

“Unfortunately, the patent microcosm relies on legalese to keep technical people out of the discussion, thus uninvolved or apathetic.”This is actually a good thing, but not for the patent microcosm. Watchtroll just continues its ritualistic attacks on the integrity of PTAB (in order to help patent trolls) and although it habitually publishes something worth reading (e.g. [1, 2]) the site is polluted with ads, press releases and even pure puff pieces (like this borderline marketing from Dan Ovanezian and Scott Breining); no depth, classic fluff. We have chosen to keep an eye on Watchtroll (especially because of its attacks on PTAB and CAFC judges), but we prefer not to entertain it too much.

Unfortunately, the patent microcosm relies on legalese to keep technical people out of the discussion, thus uninvolved or apathetic. This is a problem we have been mentioning for years. Sadly, we need to adopt some of their own (often misleading) terms. It has become essential for communication.


The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Revisits ‘Divided Infringement’

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 11:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Judge O’Malley on Travel Sentry v Tropp

Divided infringement
Reference: Divided infringement

Summary: Alluding again to the Akamai case (a famous GNU/Linux user), the Federal Circuit debates the practice of working around patents in creative ways

IN a recent case which is not about patent scope, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled on divided infringement.

While more radical sites such as Watchtroll wrote about it, so did more moderate sites. “This recent interpretation of the Akamai test may at the very least make it more difficult for accused infringers to have divided infringement cases dismissed at the summary judgement stage,” said a blog a couple of weeks ago.

Divided infringement is explained below:

Enforcing a patent with claims that raise the specter of divided infringement can be a difficult plight for patent owners. Even under the more liberal standard set forth in the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision in Akamai v. Limelight, it has proven difficult for patent owners to establish the necessary levels of control or cooperation between two or more parties who together perform the steps of a method claim. However, the Federal Circuit decision in Travel Sentry, Inc. v. Tropp suggests that the requisite level of cooperation or control should be considered broadly. This recent interpretation of the Akamai test may at the very least make it more difficult for accused infringers to have divided infringement cases dismissed at the summary judgement stage.


The Federal Circuit was authored by Judge O’Malley and joined by Judges Lourie and Taranto.

Divided infringement was also mentioned by Peter Keros earlier this month. He wrote:

For divided patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b), a patent owner must show that a single party has directly infringed the patented claims under 35 U.S.C. § 271(a).

We typically write about 35 U.S.C. § 101, but in this particular case we deal with a decision that can soon be cited again. Hence we take note of it, for future reference.

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